Dooid’s Suggestions for This Weekend in Italy
Are you in Italy this weekend and wondering what events might be going on near you? We have you covered here with lots of ideas in every part of the Bel Paese!
- Marché Vert Nöel – Aosta Valley
- Christmas in Bolzano – Trentino Alto Adige
- Christmas in Spilimbergo – Friuli Venezia Giulia
- Beatles Exhibition – Lombardy
- The Biggest Christmas Village in Italy – Lombardy
- Villaggio di Babbo Natale – Emilia Romagna
- Niki de Saint Phalle Exhibition – Emilia Romagna
- Christmas market in Palazzuolo – Tuscany
- Christmas in Palazzuolo – Tuscany
- Tyrolese Village– Tuscany
- Christmas in Florence – Tuscany
- Christmas market in Siena – Tuscany
- Book Fairs – Lazio
- Christmas market in Perugia – Umbria
- The Gradara Castle – Marche
- Luci d’artista – Campania
- Christmas Traditions in Agnone– Molise
- Night of the Faugni– Abruzzo
- Caria Exhibition in Cagliari – Sardinia
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Stay in Lucchesia: discover Lucca and its surrounding area
Have you ever visited the beautiful city of Lucca? Have you ever been there when the camellias are in full bloom? Have you ever dressed up as a ninja with your friends for the famous Lucca Comics event? If not, the time has come for you and a group of friends or family to make unforgettable memories in Lucca. Enjoy this Stay in Lucchesia package!
Cost and Terms & Conditions
Up to 4 guests ( 2 rooms ) € 160,00/per night.
Each additional person is € 25.00 / night. The offer varies according to the number of people.
Minimum stay 4 nights.
10% off only with dooid (taxes included) on a minimum of a 7-night stay
Payment Method: by bank transfer
How to Book: read the final paragraph and fill out the form below.
Cancellation policy: free up to 30 days before arrival, after this deadline, 50% of the price of the stay will not be refunded.
An additional security deposit of € 400.00 is required for any damage caused to the property which will be refunded upon check out (after checking the house).
The house was built around 1784, when it originally housed nuns. In the early 1900’s, however, it was transformed into a small farm. The building has been finely restored, preserving the stone exterior, and is ready to offer tourists an authentic experience. The structure is located in the neighborhood called vicinato, perhaps because it is isolated, but yet close to the real village. This area is the oldest part of the town and if its walls could only talk!
What to Do and See
Lucchesia, as it’s known in Italian, is an area of Tuscany rich in art and culture, but also in various events that attract tourists and enthusiasts from all over Italy and beyond!
The city of Lucca is one of the jewels of Tuscany. The town is protected by walls on which you can take pleasant walks accompanied by the sound of rustling trees. You’ll see the famous towers (Torre delle Ore and Torre del Guinigi) above the rooftops. In the historic center you’ll find the Cathedral: Lucca is nicknamed the “city of a hundred churches” due to the large number of sanctuaries scattered within the city walls.
As you wander along the cobblestone streets of the city and window shop, you’ll make your way to Piazza Napoleone, or Piazza Grande as it’s known by the locals. This is where most of the events, such as Lucca Comics and Games and the otaku event, take place. The piazza is also home to concerts like the Lucca Summer Festival which brings international stars such as Elton John.
Going back towards the village of the camellias, or Pieve and Sant’Andrea di Compito, art and nature come together. Strolling along the streets of these villages, you’ll be able to witness the most spectacular camellias, parks and historic villas. Sant’Andrea di Compito is a charming Tuscan village with narrow streets, stone walls, ancient buildings and even some villas from the 1700s.
If you need additional information or if you’d like to personalize your package, please fill out the contact form below or send us an email at email@example.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page.
If you’re interested in this offer, contact us for additional information!
Let us organize your stay in Lucchesia:
from your hotel to everything you might need for a pleasant trip!
Package code: 201903141658
Catania package, Sicily: includes hotel, shuttle, meals!
How does a relaxing weekend in Catania, Sicily sound? Overlooking the Ionian Sea and Mt. Etna, you’ll discover Catania’s art and natural beauty. With this special Catania package you can enjoy a well-deserved break and indulge in Catania’s amazing cuisine!
Cost and Terms & Conditions
199€ per couple (meat dinner menu)
225€ per couple (fish dinner menu)
Payment Method: Deposit of 99 € required, balance due at check in. You can book at any time, even last minute (subject to availability).
How to Purchase: Read the final paragraph and fill out the form below
Cancellation Policy: Cancellation policy: the deposit amount paid will not be refunded, but you will be given the option of applying it towards a credit for a future reservation (within 6 mos).
Valid During: all year except 3-day weekends and holidays at which point there would be an increase of the offer price.
An oasis in the baroque heart of Catania where you’ll enjoy the comforts of personalized rooms, completely renovated spaces, furnishings and colors.
On the fourth floor of the building (equipped with elevator) you will enjoy a 180 ° view from the covered terrace of the most beautiful façade of the city center, in an area with limited evening traffic on weekends.
Ideal for leisure stays, individual or group, or business trips, you will be “pampered” by the managers and the attentive and dedicated staff. Free Wifi, available in all indoor and outdoor areas.
Also available for your leisure: a reading area with seasonal guides and information, tour desk, book-exchange and relaxation room, with refrigerator and drinks, kettle and herbal tea, toaster and microwave.
What to Do and See
Catania is not just a city of art! It overlooks a crystal clear sea just waiting to be discovered!
The Riviera dei Ciclopi or the Cyclops Riviera is stunning: characterized by black lava that has reached the sea. Equally beautiful and noteworthy are the Grotte di Ulisse or the Ulysses Grotto where you can take a swim in the clear waters. In the fishing village of Acitrezza you can visit the protected area around the Faraglioni and the Lachea Island by pedal boat. And you cannot leave without tasting the best granita and pastries in the area at the Eden Bar!
Admiring Mount Etna, whose prominent outline is the backdrop to the whole city, is obviously a must.
Besides the amazing gifts of Mother Nature, you’ll also want to visit the Cathedral of St. Agnes which dominates the Piazza del Duomo; the town hall and the elephant fountain; the Roman Theater; Via Etnea and so much more!
If you need additional information or if you’d like to personalize your package, please fill out the contact form below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact us on our Facebook page.
If you’re interested in this offer, contact us for additional information!
Let us organize your Catania package:
from your hotel to everything you might need for a pleasant trip!
Package code: 201903081544
Folk Traditions Festival in Petralia
That’s right, folk is not just tradition, but a life style! It’s like a drug; once you go into the tunnel, you can’t come out. You don’t even try to stop, but if for some reason, you distance yourself from it for awhile, you miss it. After awhile you get used to being without it, but as soon as you hear that distinct sound of a cheerful accordion or an upbeat mazurka, you realize that your feet are independent of the rest of your body being commanded by the beat.
The Festival of Popular Traditions – Pantomime dance of Cordella in Petralia Sottana (Palermo) is an example. This will be the XXXV Mediterranean Meeting of International Folklore held every year during August in this beautiful location within the Madonie Park. During the typical celebration of the Cordella dance, the ancient peasant traditions are recalled as a sign of hope for a fruitful harvest and married life. The festival lasts for four intense days that are packed with events, workshops and concerts from morning until late evening. There are even signing and dance workshops for children.
The last day is where the real party takes place which consists of the re-enactment of the traditional Sicilian wedding complete with a church ceremony and a wedding procession that from the village parades up to the pine forest above Petralia Sottana. The traditional Cordella dance concludes the festivities in a blaze of colored ribbons woven by twelve pairs of dancers to the rhythm of the cheerful sound of the tambourines.
Over the course of these four days the city changes its appearance, coming alive with people of all ages who fill the streets. Guests will notice the proud faces of children in their traditional garb and locals who participate enthusiastically keeping their island’s folk culture alive. Parades of local folk groups and international guests, cuisine from around the world, book lectures and finally concerts will delight.
But that’s not all. Grab a speaker, connect to a telephone, find a free square, some dancers and start again. Maybe you’ll only start with a few, 6 or 8 people, but as the music goes on, some passerbys stop to look. The energy and enthusiasm soon overwhelms them, and their swept into the growing climax of the dance.
It captures you and overwhelms you in its vortex.
It is an indispensable exchange of energy! You suddenly realize you are very tired, but the energy that your body expended is all returned to you in spirit by your dance partner, the people who dance around you, the music, the joviality of the moment, the desire to dance until exhaustion, to make friends and to fly … you realize that your body no longer feels tired.
The newcomers can initially be skeptical, embarrassed because they do not know the steps or people with whom you dance; it’s normal. The Circassian circle loosens tension, loosens the body, confuses you, amuses you. You are inexorably involved. When the music starts, the dancers frantically run in search of a partner. There are never enough men. You search through the crowd looking for a volunteer. You can not find one. You draw one against his will. Resistance. You hastily reassure him that the steps are easy and that he will learn them in a few rounds, at each change of partner. It begins. He’s tense and embarrassed. He hesitates and his steps are uncertain. He continuously makes mistakes, again and again until finally, he’s having fun. He’s passionate and alive.
There is no age. Everyone is dancing with everyone. It is pure magic.
Artigianato Vivo Festival in Cison di Valmarino
ArtigianatoVivo is an artisan festival held from 5 to 15 August in Cison di Valmarino in the province of Treviso, between Follina and Vittorio Veneto. It has steadily and increasingly attracted thousands of tourists from far and wide since 1980. There is talk of a turnout of 400,000 people this year.
The town of Cison – which has recently been inducted into the exclusive “club” of Borghi Più Belli d’Italia (Most Beautiful Villages of Italy)– comes to the forefront of excellent artisan craftsmanship that Italy truly does best.
200 exhibitors will present their unique products made strictly by hand at stands throughout the village. These types of festivals keep the Italian tradition and the art of “know-how” alive in this technological era in which craftsmanship is slowly dying.
In conjunction with the event, the Proloco organizes a series of side events such as concerts, animation shows, exhibitions and literary meetings.
ABOUT CISON DI VALMARINO
As I said, the tourist turnout is very high, and the whole territory merits a holiday of at least a few days. The artisan festival is a great opportunity to explore this beautiful area.
Cison di Valmarino is located in Valmareno, a valley dominated by the fortifications of the XII century Brandolini Castle which has been converted into a luxury hotel.
The Brandolini Counts were men of arms in feudal times and later became gentlemen dedicated to the economy, leaving an indelible imprint throughout the village.
The heart of the historic center is Piazza Roma which is dominated by Palazzo Marcello. It was the ancient Venetian villa of the Venetian doges Marcello, famous winners of the battle of Lepanto and the Loggia.
You will notice while walking through Cison that almost all the old houses have red or maroon shutters; a red that in these parts is called Rosso Brandolini.
Another example of the restoration of feudal buildings is the Antiche Cantine Brandolini. The building already appeared, as a basic structure, in fifteenth century maps. It has always been a particularly important place for the life of the village: built by the Brandolini family, it was initially used as a stable and then adapted to the wine production and conservation of agricultural products. It’s proof that the viticulture industry was already present in this area in distant times due to the high demand from Venice and the entire Veneto region.
As early as 1440, Valmareno already specialized in the cultivation of vines … and even today the entrire economy of the area is based on the production of wine, especially Prosecco.
Needless to say, this is an area where food and wine tastings are among the top tourist attractions.
Rolle of Cison di Valmarino
You can not go to visit Cison di Valmarino without going through Rolle, a very small town surrounded by Prosecco vineyards. The poet Andrea Zanzotto defined it as “a postcard sent by the gods”. Beautiful all year through, the most fascinating season to visit Rolle is undoubtedly in autumn when the hills glow red.
Copyright photo The most beautiful village in Italy + Antiche Case Brandolini + Rolle: Carla La Rocca
Copyright photo Palazzo Marcello: villevenetecastelli.com
Copyright photo Castelbrando from above: hotelcastelbrando.com
Acireale: The Most Beautiful Carnival in Sicily
Although the exact origin of Acireale’s Carnival in Sicily (Catania province) is unknown, most believe that like all Italian Carnivals, it probably derived from the ancient Roman Saturnal Games. Let’s explore the reasons why it’s known as the “most beautiful Carnival in Sicily”!
The first written documents of Acireale’s Carnival date back to 1594. In the past, the tradition was for people to dress in masks and go into the streets throwing oranges at each other. However, due to too many injuries, the tradition was banned in the mid-17th century. After the devastating earthquake of 1693, Carnival was suspended for a very long time and didn’t resume until 40 years later.
It was in the 19th century that it took on the particular identity that sets it apart- the paper-mâché floats. This ancient craft had been practiced for centuries in Acireale, so it made sense that it became the main attraction in 1880. Beginning in 1930, the floats began their evolution to include intricate floral arrangements.
The Third Largest Carnival in Italy
Over the following years, the Carnival of Acireale has grown and expanded so much that it began to attract more and more crowds of visitors not only from Sicily (where it’s been named the “most beautiful Carnival of Sicily”) but also from Italy and Europe. Between the end of the 1970s and the 1990s, it was the third most important Italian Carnival after Venice and Viareggio. Over time it has lost its title to many other Carnivals (for example, Ivrea, Cento, Putignano, and, in Sicily, those of Sciacca and Misterbianco).
In the 2000s, the Acireale Carnival was enhanced with technology: LED lights were added, as well as computerized movements of the allegorical masks, and the paper-mâché process was modernized. All of these contemporary modifications have made the floats truly spectacular. These moving floral giants each consist of over 13,000 real flowers (geraniums, mainly), and include computerized movements.
Acireale’s Carnival Today
The magnificent floats are prepared throughout the year by specialized cultural associations, almost all family-run, in Acireale’s citadel.
The 2023 edition dates are from February 4- 21 and the categories include allegorical and grotesque paper-mâché floats, floral, and others. There will also be music and vendors and food stands present on all the dates.
Since 2019, you can also visit the Acireale Carnival Museum, where you can get an in-depth look at the history of the event in a splendid showcase that includes metal and plaster work, miniature floats, sketches, and many historical pieces.
The museum is located inside the Palazzo del Turismo, at via Ruggero Settimo 5, and from 4 to 21 February, it will be open every Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm.
For the complete program and for ticket info, please visit the official website.
The Larino Carnival: One of the Most Historical in Italy
It’s almost time for Carnival in Italy and today, we’ll take you to the city of Larino in Italy’s Molise region.
Carnival in Larino
Recognized as one of Italy’s 27 Historical Carnivals, Larino in the Campobasso province of Molise, will be back in all its grandeur on February 18, 19, 25, 26. In its 48th edition, it will be a celebration of beautiful, allegorical floats. Professionals build the paper-mâché floats which are modeled after famous people well-known in the region or after famous Italians. Because of their towering height, up to 6 meters tall, they are called “paper-mâché giants”. Dancers dressed in bright colors and children in masks accompany the allegorical floats in the parade.
The Floats and the Parade
The event is the result of the commitment of Larino’s youth who, together with the Larinella Association, begin preparing many months before the actual event. Two separate techniques are used to create the characters. The first technique uses an iron structure as a base which is then covered with newspaper sheets to give it its form. The forms are then coated with layers of newspapers and glue. The last layer, called “brown paper”, is applied followed by a base coat of white paint. The finishing touches are then added to bring the characters to life.
The second technique employs the use of clay molds as a base to construct some parts of the float. First, the clay mold is made and then the paper-mâché process described above is used.
Larino’s Carnival is packed with fun where young and old alike can admire the skills of jugglers and dancers, as well as taste chiacchiere, a local Carnival dessert.
The party begins on February 19th at 5 pm with the inauguration and floats parading through the streets of Larino’s town center. You can even sign up for the best individual or group costume competition.
Be sure to follow their official Facebook page for complete details.
By car: along the A14 towards Pescara until the Termoli exit, then continue towards Campobasso / Larino, take the SS87 following the destination
By bus: SATI bus lines (Campobasso / Termoli and then take from Termoli to Larino) – consult the website for bus timetables.
photo copyrights: www.facebook.com/carnevaledilarino/; www.dimoramonsignore.it
A Journey Back in Time Discovering Forgotten Places in Vercelli, Piedmont
And here we are once again for a second time, after our first “trip” to Villa del Barone in Strevi. Hopefully, I succeeded in arousing your curiosity about this hobby called “urbex”, previously unknown to many of you. I thought I’d take you with me once again on a virtual journey.
Urban exploration of abandoned places gives me the opportunity to see so much beauty in their imperfection and they often express their own feminine sensuality.
…Mother Nature has returned to reclaim her property…
For me, it was love at first sight, hit by Cupid’s arrow. I haven’t had many, a passion that grows from time to time, one experience after another. I discovered a part of my romantic and passionate personality that had previously been obscured. It just so happens that I go to places where unfortunately only dust and rubble remain, buildings in which Mother Nature has returned to reclaim her property. Locations in which I am not even sure that the floor won’t suddenly give under my feet or that the ceiling won’t crumble on top of my head. Another reason why I implore you not to improvise as a new pioneer of this practice.
The Unwritten Rules of Urbexers
Urbex has its positive and negative aspects. I have already mentioned the risks that one may encounter from physical safety to the possibility of legal issues, but, in reality, there is also something else.
Among urbexers, there is a sort of “unwritten rule”. The understanding is that we will respect these places, protect and preserve them from acts of looting, leave everything just as it was found without altering, moving, or destroying, and certainly not take anything so as to allow future urban explorers to photograph the same scenario.
Unfortunately, from time to time there are people who feel entitled to go beyond the limits, who in order to ensure “exclusivity” spoil the scene after the shot.
I have explored many places, traveling kilometers on roads and highways, from one part of Italy to the other, passing through Tuscany, Emilia, Marche, Veneto, Lombardy, and Piedmont, unfortunately encountering locations devastated and stripped of many objects, taken almost like “souvenirs “. I want to clarify, that is not urbex and those people are not urbexers!
Three Locations in the Vercelli Province
Alright! Now, we’re ready.
Today, we’ll be staying in the Piedmont region and we’ll be making more than one stop. I will accompany you to the spectacular province of Vercelli and its rice fields often referred to as the “checkered sea”. The location is hidden among the patchwork landscape in one of the seven granges in Trino, close to the former Galileo Ferraris thermoelectric plant (no longer active).
The Ex-Residence of Camillo Benso Conte
We’re in the village of Leri at the former summer residence of the politician and very important historical figure in Italy, Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour. Many illustrious guests stayed here, including, Napoleon Bonaparte, King Vittorio Emanuele, Giuseppe Verdi, Massimo d’Azeglio, Costantino Nigra, and Sir James Hudson. Unfortunately, the building is in extreme ruins, violated and sacked- not even the small village church was spared with piles of books burned at the altar. I had the fortune of being authorized to access the building by the President and Vice President of the L.e.r.i. Cavour Association, Roberto Amadè and Marianna Fusilli. These volunteers are trying their best to protect this place from vandals. There is talk of giving it a future as a museum, to tell the stories from the Vercelli area and host traveling exhibitions using interactive multimedia, projections, and holograms for the little ones. But also as a point of reference in the Vercelli area to encourage tourism with reception, catering, and wellness center services. The first phase of redevelopment will start soon with the installation of solar panels in the immediate vicinity. I was accompanied inside the property, one room after another, on a sort of journey into the past.
The Sanctuary of Madonna delle Vigne
But let’s leave Leri. About 10 km away from the village, I go as far as the ancient Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Vigne, a place linked to the history of the so-called “Devil’s Score” (the legend tells of a magical piece that if played backward, from right to left and from bottom to top, would free a demon imprisoned in a crypt of the nearby abbey of Lucedio). Over the years, it was a place where black masses were celebrated; built in the 17th century, it’s an example of Piedmontese Baroque, with a horizontal octagonal plan to symbolize infinity.
It remained active until about 1920 when it then fell into oblivion until about the 2000s. Despite its absolute state of degradation, vandalization, and now without so much as a floor (removed by someone looking for who knows what), the interiors are no longer furnished, yet it still preserves precious frescoes and stuccos. The magical score, painted in a fresco depicting a pipe organ, is located above the entrance door.
It is completely abandoned, laying in silence and in poor condition, and is now only a destination for vandals and some explorers who photograph what remains.
We get back in the car and change the scenery completely. Immersed in the rice fields of the area known as Bassa Vercellese, we arrive at the ancient uninhabited village of Vettignè. Inside the city walls, stand the castle ruins with its cylindrical tower dating back to the 14th century, which dominates the surrounding landscape. Today, the whole area is in perilous condition from a structural standpoint, having been abandoned for over 50 years at the beginning of industrial development and the “escape” to the big cities. An immense area of dust and ruins where only a few rooms have survived and can be visited. Colored and frescoed with floral ornaments, lilies, images faded by time and exposed bricks, and frames of crumbling fireplaces, all scenes that lend themselves perfectly as photographic sets in which our imaginations can run wild. For safety reasons, the ascent to the top of the tower is no longer accessible; the staircase is unrecognizable and covered with fragments of plaster that have fallen from the walls and whitened and consumed the steps.
Only a portion of an old inn was saved, and in fact, today there is a charming Bed and Breakfast, “Il Passatempo di Enrica”. Immersed in the quiet and in a setting of a different era, the inn’s 3 bedrooms and 8 beds and traditional furnishings are inserted in rooms that once belonged to the old tavern and inn of the castle. The very kind host Enrica allowed me to go inside, take photos, and gather information about the inn’s history. She told me about ambitious plans for Vettignè, an impressive redevelopment plan awaiting approval, which would link about 42 neighboring municipalities located between the provinces of Biella and Vercelli, requiring significant resources.
Our day of urban exploration has come to a close but in the future, I wouldn’t mind taking you with me as I embark on new adventures from the past, turning back the hands of time on an antique clock.
Article and photos by Pamela Nanetti
Carnival in Viareggio 2023: Celebrating 150 Years
150 years of celebrating one of Italy’s most prized Carnivals is certainly quite a milestone! The city of Viareggio in Tuscany’s very first edition was held in 1873, exactly 150 years ago, and since then it has become one of the biggest festivals in the world. This year’s dates are from February 4th through the 25th.
The traditional parades of the giant paper mache floats will be held on the following dates: February 4, 12, 16, 19, 21, and 25.
Every year the allegorical and highly satirical floats leave onlookers in awe because of their sheer size, originality, and artistry.
This year’s theme is “Dreams, hopes, and wishes for a better world”. For obvious reasons, the theme reflects the current state of the world right now with subject matter ranging from war to the environment but also reflecting on the 150 years of past carnivals.
The official opening date will be on February 4 at 3 pm with the traditional opening ceremony followed by the first parade at 4 pm. It will then close with a fireworks show.
The closing parade will take place on February 25 at 5 pm and will also end with a spectacular fireworks display.
For complete details and ticket information, visit the official website at Carnevale di Viareggio!
The Terrazzo sul Sinni Bed & Breakfast Near Matera, Basilicata
Maybe you have finally decided to take that dream trip to Italy or maybe, you have already seen all the major art cities and now you’d like to explore some lesser-known areas. How about the Basilicata region in the “toe” of Italy’s famous boot shape? By now, everyone has heard about the fascinating city of Matera, the so-called “city of stones”. Actually, the entire region offers everything from ancient history to stunning beaches to forgotten mountain villages. If you’re looking for the perfect location for your adventure, look no further than the Terrazzo sul Sinni Bed & Breakfast agriturismo in Rotondella, just an hour from Matera.
The Terrazzo sul Sinni Property
This bed & breakfast farmhouse is located in the open countryside just outside of the charming village of Rotondella. In this context, guests will have a chance to experience authentic rural life in Basilicata. The farm itself harvests organic fruit including apricots, kiwi, plums, citrus, olives, cherries, and various grains. There are also farm animals and trails on the property that can be explored either on foot or bike (bike rental available on-site). Throughout the year, the owners also organize various workshops and experiences from making homemade jam harvested directly from the farm to learning about various types of grain.
There is also a playground for the kids and trails that are geared especially for them. And for those warm summer days, there is a swimming pool accessible to all guests.
The Farmhouse Apartments
The Terrazzo sul Sinni offers five apartments, all with fully-equipped kitchenettes, and with a variety of standard features including air conditioning and heating. They are fully furnished and accommodate either a couple or a large family, depending on your needs.
Breakfast is included with your stay and guests also have the option of dining for lunch and/or dinner at the on-site restaurant. This is a wonderful opportunity to taste classic, regional dishes made from scratch with only locally sourced, high-quality ingredients (many of which are from the Terrazzo sul Sinni farm itself).
In the Area
As already mentioned, the lovely hilltop village of Rotondella is just a few kilometers away where you can spend a leisurely afternoon walking through its cobblestone streets and enjoying spectacular views that stretch all the way to the Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Taranto. It isn’t called the “Balcony on the Ionian Sea” for nothing!
Speaking of the sea, from Terrazzo sul Sinni, you’ll only be about 20 minutes away from some of the most beautiful shores of southern Italy. Policoro on the Gulf of Taranto happens to be famous for its sea turtle population thanks to the efforts of the WWF and the nature reserve. Nova Siri is another favorite, also on the Gulf of Taranto, and borders the neighboring region of Calabria.
Heading north along the coast, in just 30 minutes by car, you can be on the famous sandy beaches of Marina di Pisticci. Slightly further north, you cannot miss the Lido di Metaponto which has something for everyone from beach cabanas to great dining.
While you are in the area of Metaponto, you must visit two of the most famous archaeological sites in southern Italy. This area was once one of the most important cities of Magna Grecia. One of the sites is known as the Tavole Palatine, or the Doric Temple of Hera, which dates to the 6th century BC. Just a few kilometers away is the Archaeological Park of the Urban Area of Metaponto with the remains of several ancient Greek temples.
No trip to Basilicata could be complete without visiting the “City of Stones”, the one and only, Matera. It fell under the spotlight after Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was released in 2004. Then, it was awarded the European Capital of Culture in 2019, and now, post-Covid, it is enjoying tourists from all over the world who want to explore this mysterious, ancient city.
These are just a few exciting destinations that will be within reach when you stay at the Terrazzo sul Sinni farmhouse.
Most of all, staying at a rural location like this one, which is family owned and operated, you will get to experience authentic Italy and it will be even better than you could have imagined.
What are you waiting for?
Book your stay at the Terrazzo sul Sinni Agriturismo in Rotondella (Matera province)
|8 km away||The village of Rotondella|
|15 km away||The beaches of Policoro & Nova Siri|
|32, 41 km away||Marina di Pisticci & the Metaponto Lido|
|40 km away||The “ghost village” of Craco|
|42 km away||Metaponto Archaeological Park & Doric Temple of Hera|
|65 km away||Pollino National Park|
|83 km away||Matera|
|90 km away||Gallipoli Cognato Regional Park|
San Sisto in Cortevecchia: The Oldest Church in Pisa
So you’re finally visiting the magnificent art city of Pisa in Tuscany! It has been your lifelong dream, on your bucket list, or possibly, you’ve been here before. I want to let you in on a little secret that I only just discovered myself. Recently, on a “routine” trip to Pisa, I took a chance on a church that could be considered somewhat of an “ugly duckling” compared to its neighbors. “Ugly” is not really the right word for the church of San Sisto in Cortevecchia, but the truth is that being just steps away from the Leaning Tower, the magnificent Duomo, and the Baptistry, its competition in this beauty pageant is stiff. But, I’m here to tell you, it is worth your time if only you’ll give it a chance.
The Unassuming Facade
I had walked past this church, this diamond in the rough if you will, too many times to count. Maybe, as we mature, we begin to realize that not all things are as they appear from the outside. San Sisto is stuck up against some other very average-looking buildings and typically, hidden behind a row of cars and Vespas. Its exterior is made of stone, or to the untrained eye, you may even think it’s brick.
On this particular day, maybe it was because we were traveling with relatives from northern Italy, or maybe, it was just destiny, but I decided to go inside for the very first time ever. I was instantly awe-struck; not in the same way that Pisa’s Duomo or Firenze’s strikes you, but in a gentler, more curious way. It was as if I knew immediately that San Sisto in Cortevecchia had an awesome story to tell.
Dedicated to Pope Sixtus II
I grabbed a brochure that was laying on a table at the entrance and used it as my guide as I slowly walked the interior perimeter of the church. I found out that it was built almost a thousand years ago, in the year 1087, making it the very oldest church in Pisa.
It was dedicated to Pope Sixtus II whose Patron Saint day of August 6th proved to be extremely lucky for Pisa in numerous battles including an expedition in Tunisia. I also found out that the stone facade is made out of pietra verrucana mined from Mount Verruca in the nearby mountains. If you look closely, you’ll also notice some colorful ceramic bowls, Islamic in nature, above the mullioned window. These are actually replicas of the originals which are kept in the Museum of San Matteo also in Pisa.
If this was all I had learned, it would have been enough, but there was more.
The three naves are divided by stunning columns with ancient Roman capitals that were brought in from other locations. The Islamic influence is also blatantly obvious and not that uncommon in medieval architecture. The naval fleets of Pisa, Genova, Amalfi, and many others were frequent visitors to the northern coast of Africa where trade had been established. Inside the church, there is also a stone epigraph, a funerary monument inscribed in Kufic for emir Al Murtadà and taken as loot from the Balearic Islands in 1115.
Other interesting things not to miss inside are a rudder taken from a Pisan ship that dates to between the 14th and 15th centuries, and also a mast (date unknown). I’m sure the statue of the Virgin Mary will catch your eye. The Virgin Mary of Loreto is depicted as being black. Near the confessional, the wooden Crucifix dates to 1370 and was created in the likeness of the Volto Santo or Holy Face in Lucca.
So, I’m asking you, whether it’s your first trip to Pisa or your one hundredth, whether you got that perfect pose “holding up” the Leaning Tower, or a dinky souvenir statue of it, please give the Church of San Sisto in Cortevecchia a chance. You won’t be sorry.
Article by Marie Contino
copyright photo of church facade: Giuseppe Capitano – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73749146
St. Agatha in Catania, Sicily: The Best Festival Ever
Perhaps the people of Catania are exaggerating a bit when they say this is the “second biggest religious festival in the world”. Well, maybe we are not quite at a planetary level, but the feast of St. Agatha is a show that goes on for almost three full days. St. Agatha was a Christian martyr who actually lived in Catania at the foot of Mt. Etna in the 3rd century AD. In a small town, a procession brings everything to a standstill, but nowhere else in Europe can it bring a city of almost 500,000 people to a screeching halt for 72 hours!
Although the real party is from February 3rd until the morning of the 6th, the city of Catania has thoroughly planned many events beginning on January 4th through February 12th. On February 2nd the traditional Candelora evening will take place with various events scheduled in Piazza Duomo and throughout the city. Then on February 3 “Hymns and classical music in honor of Sant’Agata” at 20:00 in Piazza Duomo. They will be performed by the Choir “G. Tovini” and followed by the traditional fireworks show.
A Three-Day Long Party
All of Catania seems to crowd into Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral square) on the evening of February 3rd when the feast begins with I fochi d’a sira or tri (or “the fireworks of the 3rd in dialect). The sky explodes with fiery, beautiful colors. On the afternoon of February 4th, the first procession starts: the heavy silver cart that holds Agatha’s reliquary bust is carried in the procession along the outskirts of Catania’s historical center. The route ends late at night, and you’ll barely have time to rest because the real festival begins the next day. On February 5th the procession follows the inner route along Via Etnea, Via A.Di Sangiuliano and Via Crociferi until finally winding back to the Duomo (sometimes not until the following morning!). The procession moves very slowly, among the dense crowd, and arrives first in Piazza Cavour for the “fires of the Borgo”. Then it ascends along Via Di Sangiuliano (which once took place at dinner time, but over the years has become progressively later), and stops to listen to the Song of the Nuns of Via Crociferi that once took place at dawn’s first light (now it’s at 10 in the morning).
Where to Stay
Nowadays St. Agatha’s return to the church almost always takes place the morning of the 6th, and sometimes as late as after lunch. Doing the entire procession on foot is impossible, so we suggest you reserve a room in one of the many hotels or B & Bs located along Via Etnea, Via Di Sangiuliano, Piazza Duomo or Via Vittorio Emanuele (the inner route). Remember that Via Etnea is a very long (3 km) street and that the procession only covers the first part of it. Make sure that your B & B is located near the Piazza Duomo-Piazza Cavour part. The same goes for Via Di Sangiuliano (make sure that your accommodations are before or on Via Crociferi) and Via Vittorio Emanuele (better to stay near the Piazza Duomo).
Photos by Grazia Musumeci
Carnival in Venice: The Flight of the Angel and Other Famous Traditions
For centuries, visitors and tourists have flocked to the streets and Venice’s most famous landmark- St. Mark’s Square– to enjoy its Carnival. A more select audience will participate in the sumptuous masquerade balls, including the most famous of them all, Il Ballo del Doge, reliving the splendor of the 1700s, in the most renowned hotels in Venice and in historic buildings such as the Contarini Palace and Pisani Moretta Palace.
Carnival in Venice
If you want to embrace the eighteenth-century atmosphere of Venice’s Carnival, I suggest you sip on hot chocolate (in costume, of course) at the Florian Café or the historic cafés in St. Mark’s Square.
All of Venice will become a giant stage ready to welcome its parading guests. Those who want to capture the most beautiful masks in photographs, those who want to be partially disguised by having their faces painted by the many street artists, and those who want to take on a completely new persona by getting in full costume.
Remember that strolling through Venice during this world-renowned festival will not be a simple task!
In anticipation of the multitude of people who will invade the city, the city can decide to limit the number of people entering St. Mark’s Square. This is all part of the magic but still, it’s wise to do your research first.
2023 Carnival Dates
The 2023 Venice Carnival will officially begin in the Cannaregio Canal on Saturday, February 4, with the Venetian Festival on the Water. On Sunday, February 5, the parade on the water, led by Venetian Rowing Association Voga alla Veneta, will sail along the Grand Canal where onlookers will watch these unique boats.
On February 4, 5, 11, 12 and from the 16-21, the Carnival will celebrate with music and various street performances throughout the streets and squares of Mestre, the Piazza Ferretto stage, and various piazzas and streets in the historic center.
Il Volo dell’Angelo
It is impossible to describe all the events that will animate these two weeks. One truly magical event will be noticeably absent this year: the Flight of the Angel or il Volo dell’Angelo.
This event dates back to the middle of the 16th century, when a young Turkish acrobat walked across a rope from an anchored boat to St. Mark’s bell tower, with only the help of a barbell for balance. During his descent, he paid tribute to the Doge who was watching from the balcony of the Ducal Palace.
The enterprise was a huge success and was named the “Turkish Gully”. Over the years, it underwent variations until it became similar to what it is today- a winged man dropped at great speed and suspended on a rope. Hence the name, the “Flight of the Angel”.
The flight turned into tragedy in 1759 when the acrobat crashed to the ground among a screaming crowd. From that moment, the man was replaced by a wooden dove and became the “Flight of the Dove”.
Since 2001, the “angel” acrobat was once again human and has been interpreted by various women who were secured with a metal cable as they descended from the bell tower.
In 2011, it was decided that the “angel” to take flight would be the young Venetian who had been crowned “Maria del Carnevale” the previous year.
Festa delle Marie
With its revival, the Festa delle Marie is one of the oldest of the Carnival traditions. On the day of the Purification of Mary, or February 11, twelve girls are chosen together with their betrothed to represent the people and receive a wedding blessing.
Don’t forget to try the galani and frittelle– Carnival delicacies that are indulgently Venetian!
Continue reading about the magical city of Venice.
For more information consult the official website of the Venice Carnival.
photo credits: www.evenice.it, www.donnafanpage.it, www.nuovavenezia.geolocal.it, carnevale.venezia.it
Visiting the Village of Tiggiano in Italy’s Salento Region
If by chance you have heard of the small village of Tiggiano in Italy’s southern region of Apulia (Puglia), it is likely only because of Helen Mirren. A few years ago, the acclaimed British actress purchased a large property, known as a masseria, here and has since become quite an advocate for the region’s art and culture. In this article, we’re here to show you that while Mirren may have put Tiggiano on the map, the truth is, Tiggiano is where it has “always” been. Here is a mini-guide on everything you need to know when you visit Tiggiano in Apulia’s Salento region.
- A brief introduction to its history
- Art and architecture
- Cuisine and culture
- Outdoor activities
- Tips for your visit
It is a fact that this part of southern Puglia was occupied as early as Neolithic times as evidenced in many of the sea grottoes that have been excavated along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts. Then, it was populated by the Messapians, Greeks, and Romans. Interestingly, none of these cultures left any physical traces in Tiggiano, if not their customs and dialect.
It isn’t until the 13th century with the arrival of the Normans and the Angevins that Tiggiano officially shows up in historical records. Most of its buildings can be attributed to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries in an interesting combination of Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
Art and Architecture
Tiggiano’s cathedral is dedicated to its patron saint, Hypatius of Gangra (Ippazio di Gangra in Italian) who was a 4th-century martyr from Turkey. The building dates to the late 1500s but was redone many times over the centuries. The altar has an inscription that dates to 1601 which explains Hypatius’ virtues. He is unique for a couple of reasons: one, Tiggiano is the only town in all of Italy devoted to him; and two, he is the protector of male virility and inguinal hernias.
There are three other small churches in the historic center including the Chapel of Madonna Assunta (18th century), the Oratory of Saint Michael Archangel (16th century), and the 19th-century Chapel of the Immaculate.
Palazzo Baronale, currently Tiggiano’s Town Hall, overlooks Piazza Castello and dates to the mid-1600s. It belonged to the Serafani-Sauri ruling family and has been renovated various times over the centuries. Numerous stately rooms belonging to nobles, beautiful courtyards, and even the palace’s orchards and woods can be visited.
Along the coast, you’ll find what remains of the Nasparo Tower. This defensive tower was built during Spanish rule in 1565.
Cuisine and Culture
Salento is known for its simple, genuine food that is deeply rooted in its agricultural traditions. Homemade orecchiette pasta as well as minchiareddi (maccheroni in standard Italian) are laboriously made by local women using nothing but barley flour and water. Typically, pasta dishes will be simply topped with homemade tomato sauce from the summer harvest. Broccoli rabe, other wild greens, and also fava beans are widely used as well. Bread baked with olives known as puccia and also friselle (a type of dry, baked bread that gets a second life by soaking it in water) are must-tries as well. And you absolutely cannot leave the area without having their signature pastry, the one and only, pasticciotto.
Something unique to Tiggiano and also tied to its Sant’Ippazio festival on January 19th is a purple carrot known as the pestanaca or the pastanaca. Remember how the saint’s virtues include virility and curing inguinal hernias? Well, let’s just say that the carrot is typically sold with two local berry fruits known as giuggiole and we’ll just leave the symbolism to your imagination.
Enjoying the Outdoors
No article about anywhere in Salento would be complete without devoting at least an entire paragraph to its sea. As already mentioned, Tiggiano is just minutes away from some of the most sought-after seaside destinations in all of Italy. Its closest beach happens to be Marina Serra, a fantastic natural pool and grotto. The very tip of Italy’s heel and where the Ionian and Adriatic Seas meet is the iconic Santa Maria di Leuca, just a 20-minute drive away.
Traveling up the Adriatic coastline towards Otranto, you’ll find Castro, the Zinzulusa Grotto, Santa Cesarea Terme and so many more of Salento’s top destinations. Going the other direction, on the Ionian side, you can be at the world-renowned beach of Pescoluse (called the “Maldives of Salento” for its turquoise water and white sand beaches) in just 30 minutes by car.
Aside from enjoying the extensive park and wooded area attached to Palazzo Baronale, Tiggiano is very close to one of the oldest oak trees in Europe, the Quercia Vallonea di Tricase named “Italian Tree of the Year” in 2019. This 700-year-old oak tree is truly a sight to behold!
You should know that Salento is no longer a well-kept secret. It has enjoyed mass tourism for the past fifteen or so years from international visitors. The very best time to enjoy everything Tiggiano and Salento have to offer weather-wise and crowd-wise are the months of June, September, and early October.
The nearest airport to Tiggiano is Brindisi about an hour away. Train connections are, unfortunately, very limited and most people prefer to travel by car. The closest major city is Lecce which is 45 minutes.
As you can see, Tiggiano is the perfect location to enjoy everything Salento has to offer: on the one hand, small village authenticity; and on the other, an ideal starting point for seeing the entire area!
We suggest staying at the Casa di Giò Bed & Breakfast conveniently located in the historic center of Tiggiano!
Photo credits: second photo from the top, Palazzo Baronale © Melissa Clelia Calo’; third photo from the top, Sant’Ippazio Festival © Daniele Met Photography
Faenza: A City of Art, Ceramics, and Fine Cuisine in the Romagna Region
The region of Emilia-Romagna is full of fascinating art cities, hilltop villages, and beautiful beaches along the Adriatic. While Bologna, Ravenna, Parma, Modena, Rimini, and others earn most of the attention, the lovely city of Faenza shouldn’t be overlooked! We’re taking you on a whirlwind trip to Faenza to give you an introduction to its history, art, culture and cuisine, nature, and even some insider tips. So…andiamo a Faenza!
In this article, you’ll find information about Faenza’s:
- History in brief
- Culture and Cuisine
- Outdoor Activities
It’s of no surprise that Faenza’s history likely dates back to the Etruscan civilization. It was a Roman city of great importance known for its agriculture and ceramic pottery. In fact, the city’s Latin name was Faventia which became synonymous with majolica pottery in many languages. More on that later.
This city of 60,000 people has seen great battles and many powerful rulers over the centuries from the Romans to the Ostrogoths to the Manfredis. Faenza’s glory period began in the 14th century under Carlo II Manfredi. Most of the architecture and monuments in the historic center can be attributed to this period, but there is also Roman influence, Baroque, and art nouveau.
Any decent tour of an Italian city should begin with its cathedral and Faenza is no exception to the rule. The Duomo of St. Peter the Apostle is a magnificent building in the Tuscan Renaissance style that was built between the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Its facade is brick rather than marble like many of its counterparts and it has been compared to Florence’s San Lorenzo Church designed by Brunelleschi.
Along with the Duomo, Piazza della Libertà also boasts the monumental fountain dating to 1621 and the civic tower which was rebuilt after WWII. The characteristic loggia known as the Loggia degli Orefici (Goldsmiths’ Portico) is also considered Baroque.
Piazza del Popolo is “separated” from Piazza della Libertà by vias Saffi and Mazzini but the locals rarely refer to the piazzas by name and tend to just refer to both as one “piazza”. Having said that, Piazza del Popolo is where you’ll find the Palazzo del Podestà and the Town Hall, both symbols of the city.
As mentioned earlier, Faenza has been known for its fine pottery and ceramics for centuries. Faenza’s International Ceramics Museum (acronym MIC in Italian) is the largest of its kind in the world boasting collections from 4,000 BC to the present day.
Don’t skip Palazzo Milzetti, the superb Neo-classical former residence of Nicola Milzetti. From its lavish ballroom to its silk-adorned walls, the entire tour is a rare glimpse into this era in Romagna.
Culture and Cuisine
Like Siena and others, Faenza’s most well-known annual event is its palio or horserace known as Niballo di Faenza. Since 1959, the fourth Sunday of June has been dedicated to this historic reenactment and horserace. The flag wavers (sbandieratori) represented Faenza’s amazing talent at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
You can also catch a performance at the fantastic, Neoclassical theater Masini inaugurated in 1788. It also underwent a major renovation in the 1990s and has been restored to its original state.
It’s no secret that the entire region is widely considered to have the very best cuisine in all of Italy (and that’s stiff competition!). The absolute must-try dishes while you’re in Faenza include a piadina romagnola (a flatbread stuffed with any number of toppings similar to a tortilla); cappelletti or passatelli pasta; and for your sweet tooth, tortelli di San Lazzaro and zuppa Inglese (English trifle). Make sure to enjoy a bottle (or two) of the area’s wine including its Albana di Romagna Dolce DOCG and Sangiovese di Romagna DOC.
Just outside the city center, visitors can find Parco Bucci with its eight hectares of greenery, lakes, creeks, and animal life. So grab a delicious piadina and head for a picnic in the park on a sunny day.
If you want to explore the surrounding area, then head to the tiny village of Oriolo dei Fichi in the foothills just 10 km outside the historic center. Along with visiting the majestic tower (Torre di Oriolo) dating to the 15th century, you can enjoy walking trails and even dine at one of the agriturismo farmhouses. Note that according to the official website, the tower is open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons but remains closed during the months of December, January, and February.
One possibility for getting here is via the Treno di Dante, a historic train that travels between Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station and Ravenna. The ride takes you on a scenic route through the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and Lamone river valley. In addition to Faenza, it also stops in the lovely village of Brisighella as well as many others.
As you can clearly see, Faenza has just about everything you have come to expect from an Italian art city. Surely, this article has convinced you to include Faenza on your next trip to Italy!
We suggest staying at either of the following accommodations in Palazzuolo sul Senio
Book your stay at Ca’ di Scheta immersed in nature
For a unique experience, book at the Torre del Vicario Holiday Residence
From Palazzuolo, you’ll be able to visit…