Dooid’s Suggestions for This Weekend in Italy

 

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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!

Northern Italy

Central Italy

Southern Italy

Our itineraries

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Our hotels

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Pet-holidays-in-northern-Italy-dooidWould you like to stay up to date on all the events happening all over Italy? Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know!

Stay in Lucchesia: discover Lucca and its surrounding area

 

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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!

 

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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 structure

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!

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What to Do and See

Lucchesia, as it’s known in Italianis 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.

Contact Us

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  booking@rimmontech.it. 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!

 

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How does a relaxing weekend in CataniaSicily 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!

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Cost and Terms & Conditions

199€ per couple (meat dinner menu)

225€ per couple (fish dinner menu)

Offer Includes:

  • 2 nights in a double deluxe room with breakfast
  • 4-course dinner with wine tasting (3 glasses DOC wine)
  • shuttle service from airport/port/station
 

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.

The Hotel

Casa Provenza

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.

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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!

Contact Us

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  booking@rimmontech.it. 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 TraditionsPantomime 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.

petralia-folk-festival-2018The 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. 

Folklore-petralia-sottana-eventiIt 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.

For more exciting ideas in the Palermo area, read our other articles: HimeraPorticello

 

photo copyrights: 
www.radunodelfolklorepetralia.it

Artigianato Vivo Festival in Cison di Valmarino

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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.

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Castle Brandolini

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.

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Antiche Cantine 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. 

Cison-artigianato-vivo-2018-rolleRolle 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

Discovering Celano in the Abruzzo Region: Gorges and the Piccolomini Castle

The central Italian region of Abruzzo has become an increasingly popular tourist destination over the past decade. Natural beauty (e.g., Gran Sasso National Park), the stunning coastline (e.g., Trabocchi Coast), and some of the most beautiful villages in all of Italy (e.g., Pacentro) along with warm hospitality are just some of what makes this region so special. Celano is about an hour south of the major city of L’Aquila and an hour and a half east of Rome and should definitely make your list of priorities while visiting the region. Its Piccolomini Castle, village, and gorges will delight any visitor.

Celano

Celano lies in the area known as Marsica at an elevation of 850 meters above sea level (2,790 ft.) with a population of about 11,000 people. Throughout the centuries, it has been ruled by numerous invaders from the Lombards to the Normans to the Aragonese. 

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Piccolomini Castle 

Built between 1392 and 1463, Piccolomini is a stunning example of both Medieval and Renaissance architecture. It takes its name from Antonio Todeschini-Piccolomini, nephew of Pope Pius II, who completed the work. Its rectangular plan with four towers and Ghibelline battlements make it visible from afar. It also has five round towers, eleven shield towers, as well as a drawbridge with a moat. 

A museum is located on the main floor (the Sacred Art of Marsica and the Torlonia Collection of Antiquities of Fucino). Pieces from surrounding churches have been put on display here such as the 14th-century triptych of Alba Fucens as well as Byzantine art. The Torlonia Collection includes pieces dating to the 3rd century BC such as the Head of Aphrodite. 

Church of San Giovanni Battista

Just a few steps away from the castle, you won’t want to miss the Church of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist). This Romanesque church dates to the mid-1200s with 15th-century frescoes by Andrea de Litio of the Sienese School. Of utmost importance to the locals and the faithful, are the remains of Celano’s three martyrs and patron saints, Simplicio, Costanzo, and Vittoriano. 

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Church of Maria delle Grazie 

In the opposite direction, but still, only a 10-minute walk from the castle is another church of interest. The Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie dates to the mid-11th-century and was the only church spared when Frederick II completely destroyed the city in 1223. It also contains exquisite frescoes.

The Celano Gorges 

For many visitors, what initially draws people to Celano are the gorges located just a few kilometers away from the historic center. The Gole di Celano as they are known in Italian are actually situated within the Sirente Velino Nature Park. Formed from erosion from the Foce river, the canyons were magnificently carved into deep gorges over time. In some places, they reach 200 meters tall! There are hiking trails that take you through the canyons and to the Fonte degli Innamorati or “Lovers’ Falls”.  The park also includes the famous archaeological site of Alba Fucens.

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Make sure to continue on the trail to one of the oldest Celestinian monasteries in Abruzzo, the Eremo di San Marco alla FoceThere is documentation of its existence that dates to the late 1100s. 

Late spring and summer are definitely the best time to visit the park since the trail can be dangerous depending on the weather conditions. 

St. Francis of Assisi

Celano was the birthplace of Blessed Thomas of Celano (Tommaso da Celano), the biographer and friend of St. Francis. It is also located on the 230 km route known as the Way of St. Francis (Il Cammino di San Francesco) which winds through parts of Umbria, Lazio, and Abruzzo.

Photo credits courtesy of: The City of Celano Tourism (https://turismo.comune.celano.aq.it/home)

 

Marina di Pescoluse: the Maldives of Salento

Year after year, Puglia’s Salento region is prized for its exquisite beaches. One of these is Pescoluse which is commonly known in these parts as the “Maldives of Salento”.  As soon as you lay eyes on it, you’ll understand why. Like so many things, pictures can’t really do it justice.

What Makes Marina di Pescoluse So Special

It’s a combination of the sea air, the fine sand between your toes, the unusually warm water, the aromas of the catch of the day wafting across the beach, the distinct sound of people speaking the local dialect: it has to be experienced first-hand.

Pescoluse is located on the Ionian Sea, or the western coast of Salento, between Torre Pali and Torre Vado.  Santa Maria di Leuca (the extreme tip of the entire Italian peninsula) is just a few kilometers south. The major city of Lecce is about an hour away. 

Perfect for Families

Marina di Pescoluse is a stretch of about 4 km of fine, white sand with very shallow water perfect for young children and relaxing. There are numerous bathing establishments where beachgoers can easily rent an umbrella and chaise lounge chairs as well as cabanas for the day, or sometimes a half-day, but there are also spots where you are allowed to bring your own towel and chairs and stay as long as you like for free. 

The section known as the “Maldives” is stunningly beautiful but often extremely crowded. Slightly further north is “Seychelles” which can be less crowded. 

Aquatic sports of all kinds are the order of the day and snorkeling is a must even for the little ones since the water is so shallow. 

Tips for Visiting

Keep in mind that this part of Italy has been discovered not just by Italians but has also become a favorite of Europeans and even international tourists. High season is June through August with the peak being July and August. If at all possible, visiting in September, or even late May is ideal. Temperatures are still very warm and you will avoid the droves of people that can often ruin a relaxing vacation. 

The closest airports are Brindisi and Bari with Brindisi being preferable since it is much easier to navigate as you exit the airport and leave town with your rental car. By the way, a rental car is a must! Public transportation is somewhat limited as compared to other parts of Italy and chances are, you will not want to spend your entire vacation in just one spot. 

For other destinations in Puglia, and Salento, click here.  

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When you visit Salento, stay at…
the Lu Cantoru B&B in Marina di Pescoluse!

From the hotel,  you can visit…

10km away

Presicce
12km away Santa Maria di Leuca
40km away Gallipoli
55km away Otranto
70km away Lecce
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

The Enchanting Cycling Tour of Monte Baldo

Monte Baldo is the highest mountain around Lake Garda and, with its extension, it dominates almost the whole eastern coast. The massif offers many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

For cyclists, it’s truly paradise! The wonderful “Monte Baldo Tour” will wind you through fabulous landscapes between the provinces of Trento and Verona.

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I should point out that it would be better to do this tour on weekdays (the road is popular among motorcyclists), avoiding the month of August as the return from “Gardesana Orientale “ (SS 249) may be a little hectic due to traffic. In addition, you’ll need front and rear signaling lights as well as reflective vests in order to cycle in the tunnels between Malcesine and Torbole in total safety.

You’ll start from the little square of Torbole (62 meters above sea level) and from here take the so-called “Vecchia Nago”, which will take you to the village of the same name in just 2 km. Do not underestimate this first climb which, even if it isn’t that long, has some pretty intense slopes. 

Follow the cycle path until you reach the San Giovanni Pass (287 meters above sea level) passing through Loppio and Mori (204 meters above sea level).

At Mori, after the cycling track, after about 500 meters you’ll reach the roundabout where you’ll start your ascent towards Monte Baldo: about 24 km with an altitude of almost 1,500 meters.

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The road begins to climb immediately with a rather significant slope, reaching Besagno (383 meters above sea level) and then to Brentonico (692 meters above sea level), surrounded by the beautiful panorama of the Lagarina Valley.

Once you’ve reached Brentonico you can finally catch your breath as the road turns slightly and then descends for about 500 meters, but it’s just an illusion because the road suddenly plunges to reach a 16% slope!

It continues on with some more hairpin bends to the village of San Giacomo (1,196 meters above sea level).

And even here, after a short descent, you’ll have to deal with another, very hard, yet panoramic stretch, which leads to the village of San Valentino (1,314 meters above sea level) where the pass by the same name is located.

You can drink from the newly-built fountain before facing the last 6 km which leads to the Graziani mountain-hut (1,617 meters above sea level) among vast pastures and small huts.

The road just reaches the hut and then starts to descend towards the Bocca di Navene mountain hut (1,403 m. meters above sea level) from which you can enjoy a wonderful view over amost all of Garda.

But the hard work is not over: the road continues for about 10 km until you arrive in the village of Novezza where the true descent starts. It appears initially narrow and steep, but then it becomes wide, nosediving to Caprino Veronese village. Here the landscape changes completely: from the meadows and flowers typical of the high mountains to Lake Garda with its Mediterranean vegetation.

Caprino is the turning point: here, following the indications for the village of Garda, after about 4 km on a straight road (called “linea”), you’ll reach Lake Garda. Once in the village of Garda, make sure to stop for an ice cream to recharge your batteries. There is still 35 km to go along the “Gardesana Orientale” to Torbole!

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If your return trip is after midday, it is particularly pleasant thanks to the “Ora del Garda”, the typical wind of this lake which comes from the Po Valley. In the early afternoon hours, it starts as a gentle breeze and gradually strengthens until sunset. An interesting fact: the term “Ora” comes from the Latin word “aura” which means “breath”. In the morning “Ora” is preceded by Pèler, the wind blowing from north to south and ending around noon.

When all is said and done, you cannot help but feel tremendous satisfaction (and maybe, a bit sore) from the 155 km and almost 2,500 meters of altitude that you have just completed! Bravo!

Copyright photo 1: lavitanostra.net

Copyright photo 2: gardaoutdoor.files.wordpress.com

Copyright photo 3: visitmalcesine.com

Ostuni: the Magical “White City” near Brindisi

Ostuni, known in Italian as the Città Bianca, or the “White City” due to its blindingly white stone buildings, white-washed houses, and cobblestone alleys. It is one of the most fascinating destinations in all of Puglia and to top it all off, it’s only a few kilometers from the magnificent Adriatic Sea. Whether it’s a day trip or your main destination, let’s find out what to see when visiting Ostuni!

ostuni-brindisi-città-bianca

Ostuni’s Historic Center

The old historic center of Ostuni, which is the main tourist attraction, is known as Terra by the locals even though it actually sits at about 200 meters above sea level. It is a walled city with portions of the original wall dating back to the Messapians who founded the city in pre-antiquity, or as early as 1,000 BC. Ostuni’s other inhabitants, including the Ostrogoths, Lombards, Moors, and the Spanish, continued to rebuild and reinforce its walls over the centuries.

This area is considered part of the vast plateau known as Murgia which, in these parts, is not particularly fertile. From the numerous vantage points in the town center, you’ll have a view of vast olives groves, trulli houses, centuries-old oaks, and of course, the sea. 

ostuni-centro-storico-brindisi

It is nearly impossible not to fall in love with Ostuni- for its infinite charm, its sense of purification, its simplicity. The narrow streets, known as vicoli, climb, zig-zag, and criss-cross and seemingly, lead nowhere. They are all dead ends. It’s true. Yet, you won’t feel lost; actually, you might feel just the reverse. There is a sense of “home” here. 

Ostuni’s Duomo

The Duomo, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Mary of the Assumption), is the focal point. The original church was actually built around the year 1,000 AD but was completely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1456 that struck Brindisi. It was rebuilt in Gothic style in the late 1400s and its characteristic rose window was added. 

In the same piazzetta (“little square”), you’ll also find the Bishop’s Palace dating to the mid-1700s as well as the Seminary Palace dating to the early 1700s. The two buildings are connected by a loggia.

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Piazza della Libertà

Piazza della Libertà is considered to be the heart of the historic center and where most of the most important monuments (with the exception of the Duomo) are located. You’ll immediately notice the obelisk dedicated to one of Ostuni’s patron saints, Saint Oronzo. Behind it, is the lovely church of Santo Spirito built in the 1600s. The portal actually dates to 1450 and was moved from another church. 

The Municipal Palace or Town Hall was originally a Franciscan monastery dating to the early 1200s until it was completely restored in Neo-Classic style in the 1800s. Right next to it, lies the church of San Francesco which was of course part of the original monastery and has since been remodeled numerous times. 

Museums

There are three major museums in Ostuni for those who would like to dig deeper into this fascinating part of Italy. The first, like many major attractions in Italy, goes by two names which can be confusing even to Italian tourists. The Civic Museum (Museo Civico) or the Museum of Preclassical Civilizations in Southern Murgia (Museo di Civiltà Preclassiche della Murgia Meridionale) are one and the same. Once you get past the name confusion, it is well worth your time to visit. It includes exhibits and artifacts ranging from the Paleolithic Period through modern times with fascinating pieces that were recovered from natural grottoes including the remains of a 20-year old woman over 25,000 years old.

About 2 km outside the city walls lies the archaeological site of Agnano which is where many of the artifacts and human remains were recovered. Under normal circumstances, it can be visited on Sundays by reservation only.

The Diocesan Museum (Museo Diocesano) is located in the same piazzetta as the Duomo and holds numerous pieces of precious art and artifacts dating to the Messapic civilization and even earlier. The Anatomical Crucifix in Wax is considered a masterpiece as well as the Living Statue of the Virgin Mary of the Rosary. 

Beaches

It goes without saying that anyone in their right mind who visits Ostuni also comes for the stunning beaches for which the entire region of Puglia is so famous.

ostuni-brindisi-mare

The coastline that makes up Ostuni includes about 20 km of pristine waters and shores that have continuously been awarded the Blue Flag Award. Lido Morelli which is part of the Area Protetta del Parco delle Dune Costiere or a protected area of natural dunes is at the northernmost point of the coastline. The entire area from Morelli to Lamaforca is dotted with bathing establishments, bars, restaurants, camping, and pretty much everything your heart could desire for the perfect summer holiday. You’ll also spot the Villanova Castle and port as well as two other towers, San Leonardo and Pozzelle. 

Tips

Ostuni, like so many parts of Italy, was only recently discovered by tourists and now sometimes goes by the name of “Ostunishire”, a play on words for the number of British ex-pats that have bought homes here. In addition to the locals, the town often swells from 30,000 to over 100,000 in the peak tourist season of July and August. If at all possible, it is best to visit during the off-season when you can still enjoy wonderful weather such as during the months of May or October. 

The closest airport to Ostuni is Brindisi but Bari is better-connected and you can get a train or a rental car from both. Note that many tourists prefer Brindisi because it is much smaller and less chaotic for your arrival and eventual departure from the city with a rental car. If you plan to travel at all within the area, it is highly recommended that you do hire a car since Puglia is not very well serviced with public transportation or trains. 

You might also be interested in the following places in Puglia: Alberobello, Locorotondo, and Specchia.

 

 

 

 

Porticello Sicily

“In cities without the sea … I wonder where people go to regain their balance … perhaps to the Moon …
(Banana Yoshimoto)”

porticello-sicily

Porticello

When I read this quote I realized that I’ve had a similar thought several times in my life. Living on the Sicilian coast, the sea is almost taken for granted. It’s there, you know it. But when you move away for study or work (and in Sicily, this happens often), you realize how much its presence is not so trivial, and what a positive effect it has on your physical and psychological health and on your life in general!

Surely, those who live in cities far away from the sea are justified, and most likely, live very well without it. They probably assume that the sea has no purpose other than to sunbathe or swim. It’s a legitimate assumption by someone who has not experienced life on the coast.

The sea is always beautiful, in any season, and in all weather conditions. Have you ever had an appointment and been too early? A visit to the sea helps you pass the time. When you’re alone, the sea and a good book are the best company you could ask for.

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Fresh catch

The sea is constantly changing- from season to season, from day to day. In winter, the sea can be mysterious. One day it can be so calm that it almost convinces you it’s not real with its stillness and silence. The next day, however, the wind can blow hard and the sea rages so much that you tremble with fear at the very thought of being caught in the middle of it. I do not know why, but in both cases, the sea transmits serenity to me. It is hypnotic, like the flame of the fireplace. It unleashes the frustrations and anxieties that you might not be able to. I think that’s why in Sicily, despite everything, people are very sociable and relaxed.

In Sicily, it is not unusual to have beautiful days even in winter, but everything changes with spring. The difference is palpable. The days get longer, people get out more, and in search of what? Gelato of course! A casual stroll along the promenade is part of the culture here. The temperature allows you to peel off that winter clothing without freezing, breathe in the intoxicating smell of salty air, and relax to the sound of water lapping against the pebbles of the shoreline.

porticello-sicily-fishIn towns like Porticello, you’ll see little restaurants* and taverns with tables outside and people dining in the sun. Fishing boats will be arriving with the fresh catch of the day, still moving, with eager chefs and locals alike ready to choose their special of the day for their menu. 

Not everyone loves the sea, some prefer the mountains, others do not know how to swim or fear spending too much time in the sun, but they can still appreciate it. The sea belongs to everyone and is for everyone. The sea has many properties: it is a source of energy, it strengthens the body, it makes the islanders nostalgic when they are away, and looking at it, even if from afar, is good for the spirit. In Canada, seawater is prescribed and sold under the name of “Ocean Plasma” because it is scientifically proven to help treat symptoms of certain diseases. Just think what a few weekends a year, or a holiday in Sicily can do.

 

Photo copyrights: rete.comuni-italiani.it, trovaweb.net, baseitalia.com

The Santa Serena Agriturismo in Cerreto di Spoleto, Umbria

Umbria is one of the most sought-after destinations in Italy and is known as the country’s “green heart” for the lush, rolling hills and beautiful landscape. There are also numerous art cities that are a must-see! So if you’re wondering where to stay when you visit, look no further than the Santa Serena Agriturismo in Cerreto di Spoleto in Umbria’s Perugia province. 

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Santa Serena Agriturismo

The Santa Serena Agriturismo is a restored farmhouse immersed in the fabulous Nerina Valley. 7 apartments and 3 rooms all exquisitely furnished in rustic, authentic pieces complete the property. There is a solution for every type of guest.

A lovely swimming pool with a view of the surrounding valley and mountains completes the property and is perfect for enjoying the warm summer days.

Guests will enjoy a delicious breakfast offering homemade sweets made with locally sourced ingredients. Cold cuts and cheeses, from the area of course, as well as breads and pastries, will set guests up for the rest of their day.

Cerreto di Spoleto is located just over an hour south of the Umbrian capital of Perugia. The possibilities in the immediate area are truly endless whether it be a quick half-day trip to the art cities or a hiking expedition in the nearby Monte Sibillini National Park. It all depends on you!

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The Art Cities

Santa Serena is truly in an ideal location for making half-day and day trips to the major art cities and hilltop villages in the area. 

Spoleto is a great first trip to make from the Agriturismo at just 30 minutes away. Traces of its Roman past are everywhere and Spoleto’s Duomo is one of the most beautiful in the entire region with mosaics dating to the early 1200s. 

Assisi is just one hour away and is an absolute must-see while in the area. Millions are drawn here every year to the city of St. Francis both for its spirituality as well as its art and monuments.

Gubbio is just an hour and a half away and for anyone who appreciates art, is another must-visit. Its historic center is one of the most stunning in all of Umbria if not all of Italy. 

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Even closer to Santa Serena lies the town of Norcia* which, unfortunately, was seriously damaged during the earthquakes of 2016 and 2017.   

Just 30 minutes away is the town of Cascia* is another destination with religious significance in the immediate area. The church built in honor of Saint Rita of Cascia is here and draws thousands of pilgrims each year. The saint’s birthplace of Roccaporena is just a few kilometers from Cascia. 

Nature and Sport

The Sibillini Mountains National Park is nearby and includes the highest mountain group of the Umbria-Marche Apennines and its highest peak- Monte Vettore. All types of outdoor sports can be enjoyed here from trekking to mountain climbing and much more. If you plan to visit in the winter or early spring, then skiing is a possibility.

The Nera river runs through this valley providing rafting adventures as well as hiking or horseback riding trails. One of the favorite spots is the Marmore Waterfalls just 45 minutes from the agriturismo and is also very close to the city of Terni*

Another one-of-a-kind experience that we recommend is the tiny mountain village of Rasiglia, known as the “little Venice”. Truly a fairytale!

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Local Flavors 

This part of Umbria is famous for its grilled meat as well as its salami and prosciutto known as salumi di NorciaLentil beans are also widely used and the famous blooms of Castelluccio di Norcia are quite the spectacle in the late springtime. Another precious culinary gift from Mother Nature is saffron which is grown and harvested in Cascia.

As you can see, the Santa Serena Agriturismo truly has something for everyone from relaxing and enjoying nature to visiting the surrounding art cities.

*articles coming soon!

What are you waiting for?
Book your room at the Santa Serena in Cerreto di Spoleto!

From the agriturismo,  you can visit…

30 km away

Spoleto
68 km away Assisi
120 km away Gubbio
20 km away Monti Sibillini National Park
85 km away Perugia
25 km away Cascia
   

 

 

 

 

 

Monti Sibillini National Park in the Umbria and Marches Regions

Monti Sibillini National Park spans 70,000 hectares across part of the regions of Umbria and the Marches in central Italy. Like most of Italy’s national parks, Monti Sibillini offers its visitors an array of attractions from stunning landscapes to hilltop villages to spiritual. Let’s find out the major sights you won’t want to miss within the park.

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The Outdoors 

Of course, probably the biggest reason visitors come to Monti Sibillini is because of the stunning landscapes and endless possibilities of enjoying the outdoors. Hiking trails are practically unlimited and range from a casual stroll suitable for anyone to the intense 124 km loop known as the Grande Anello dei Sibillini which winds around the entire mountain chain. Another favorite is the percorso dello zafferano, or the Saffron Trail which is stunning when the crocus flowers are in bloom in early October. It takes over 150 flowers to produce 1 gram of saffron!

Here, Mother Nature doesn’t just “bloom” but it holds actual events, two of which are some of the most well-known in all of Italy for their rare beauty. In Castelluccio di Norcia, roughly between the months of May and July the valleys are covered with a rainbow-colored patchwork quilt containing its most famous crop- lentils. Other blooms include chickpeas (garbanzo beans) as well as lavender and poppies among others.

The area of Piani di Ragnolo (Macerata province) is a rare sight because it contains over 35 native species of orchids as well as other wildflowers which are in their peak from May to June. Remember, all flowers are protected species and cannot be picked while visiting!

Climbing excursions, mountain biking, rafting, and even paragliding and hang gliding are also extremely popular within the park. One of the best areas to experience “flying like an eagle” is in Sarnano between Lake Borgiano and Mount Vettore.

Monte Vettore at 2,479 meters is the highest peak in the park and the highest in the entire Umbro-Marchigiano Apennine range. 

Villages

There are far too many villages to name in a single article but we think some of the unmissable ones include Visso (where the park’s headquarters are located), Norcia, Castelluccio, and Montefortino.

Visso was supposedly founded 900 years before Rome and happens to be one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy. This walled medieval city has a charming historic center and central piazza with beautiful porticos and white stone churches and palaces. 

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Norcia, the birthplace of Europe’s Patron Saint, Saint Benedict was one of the most fantastic historic centers in all of central Italy. Sadly, it was at the epicenter of the major earthquakes that hit in 2016 and 2017 and underwent major damage to most of its historic center. The area is still visitable but with some restrictions due to the presence of buildings that have yet to be rebuilt and are still unstable. 

Spiritual

There are numerous hiking trails and guided excursions that will take visitors along a spiritual journey of some of the most spectacular abbeys and churches within the park. You can also visit them independently of course by car and if you had to choose, the Abbey of Saint Eutizio in Preci and the Sanctuary of Macereto in Visso would probably be our top picks. 

Astonishingly, the Abbey was founded in the 5th century by Syrian monks, Santo Spes and Eutizio, who lived as hermits in the grottoes. It is said that St. Benedict himself actually came here to pray with them before founding his own monastery. Sadly, the abbey was almost completely destroyed in the 2017 earthquake and has begun a restoration project as of 2020.

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The Sanctuary of Macereto (of “mercy”) is a Marian Sanctuary built between the 15th and 16th centuries. The interior is no longer visitable due to earthquake damage but the grounds and exterior are still worth the visit. 

For More Information

Visit the official website of the Monti Sibillini National Park as well as Umbria Tourism.

What are you waiting for?
Book your room at the Santa Serena in Cerreto di Spoleto located just 20 minutes away from the park!

From the agriturismo,  you can visit…

30 km away

Spoleto
68 km away Assisi
120 km away Gubbio
20 km away Monti Sibillini National Park
85 km away Perugia
25 km away Cascia
   

 

 

 

 

 

Where to Stay in Palazzuolo sul Senio: Torre del Vicario and Ca’ di Scheta

The Torre del Vicario and Ca’ di Scheta are two evocative and fascinating accommodation facilities with different characteristics connected by the “Viae Florentinae”, a more than 100-year-old commercial road that linked Romagna to Tuscany since the early Middle Ages. This hiking trail truly makes for an unforgettable experience during your stay in the area. 

          

The Trail that Connects Torre del Vicario and Ca’ di Scheta
in Palazzuolo sul Senio

dove-dormire-a-apalazzuolo-sul-senio-torre-del-vicario-ca-di-scheta-dooidBelow is a section of the route taken from the map of Baccio del Bianco dated 1641, the oldest existing in the town with the beginning of the path near the tower house guarding the road of the pass which has now been transformed into a holiday home. The Torre del Vicario holiday residence is a unique place where guests can savor the building’s medieval charm while enjoying a relaxing view of the mountains with a private garden.

Points of Interest Along the Trail

The trail, sentiero di crinale, indicated with the number 20 signs (or Cai 685) is one of the most panoramic of the Appennines.

Along the way you will come across old shrines and stone cottages.

ruderi-del-castellaccio-palazzuoloGoing up along the path that leads to Monte delle Tre Croci, you will come across the ruins of the ancient fortified stronghold of the Ubaldini, the castle of Val d’Agnello (renamed the Castellaccio by the locals) at 641 meters.

Continuing along the ridge, among woods and panoramic views of the valley, you’ll reach Mount Prevaligo which acts as a watershed between the Senio and Lamone valleys and which recalls Dante in the XXVII canto of the Inferno of the Divine Comedy, quoting the great leader Maghinardo Pagani … “The cities of Lamone and Santerno ⁠Governs the Lioncel of the white lair, Who changes sides ‘twixt summer-time and winter.”

Chiesa-Lozzole-percorso-trekking-palazzuoloDescending the ridge, you’ll reach the ancient town of Lozzole (796 m), once inhabited by about thirty families, with the church dedicated to San Bartolomeo. It was rebuilt in 1782 on an existing structure dating back to the 13th century and now has been admirably restored.

Continuing towards the valley, you’ll go through the charming abandoned village of Campergozzole (the buildings are unsafe so it is advisable not to enter). At the first crossroads on the right, above the “Cà Scheta” road, lies a typical farmhouse that has been converted into a B&B. Travelers can stop for a little refreshment while enjoying the panoramic view of the valley before continuing the journey towards town.

On the way back, a visit to the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Nevi in ​​Acquadalto is highly recommended. Since 1630 the sanctuary has been displaying its sacred image of the Virgin (done by one of Botticelli’s pupils) to the faithful and to pilgrims.

Since the mid-1700s, the imposing sacred building has been entrusted to the care of a community of Franciscan nuns who over the centuries have contributed to the preservation of the church and the construction of a convent.

We suggest you follow the route via GPS by downloading the appropriate Wikiloc application (itinerary no. 20) and consulting the Palazzuolo Outdoor website.

Guests who choose to stay in either of the two accommodations will be able to take advantage of free packed snacks, “themed” lunches and dinners with typical local products as well as guided tours of the ancient village.

This is just one of the many reasons to visit Palazzuolo sul Senio, one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.

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Vendicari Nature Reserve

Are you planning your holidays for this year? Whatever period you choose, spring, summer or autumn, you can not miss this wonderful spot of paradise on earth.

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The Vendicari Nature Reserve wildlife oasis, located between Noto and Marzamemi, is a fantastic combination of sea and nature. On one hand, it offers some of the most beautiful beaches of the south-eastern coast of Sicily. Characterized by crystal clear, pristine waters, they’ve been awarded with the 4 blue sails of the Legambiente. On the other hand, it offers the possibility to visit archaeological sites in a fascinating context and to observe flora and fauna beyond comparison for nature lovers.

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San Lorenzo Beach

Let’s go in order … starting from the beaches and the sea, a popular destination for those who want to relax, enjoy the sun, peace and tranquility, and get away from city noise and the daily routine. The area of Vendicari boasts over 13 km of sandy and rocky coast with various paths leading between vegetation and cliffs. Starting from the north, the beaches of the reserve are: Eloro, characterized by crystal clear water and fine sand; Marianelli, an isolated, wild and uncontaminated beach; Calamosche, a beautiful sandy cove with a calm sea; Vendicari, the central part of the reserve, whose coastline is dominated by the Tonnara and the Sveva Tower; and Citadel of the Maccari (San Lorenzo), with its turquoise sea and its light, almost white sand.

tonnara-vendicari-nature-reserveIn addition to the sea, the sun and relaxation,  you will also find various archeological sites. Beginning with the excavations of the ancient Greek city of Eloro and continuing with the Tonnara, the Sveva Tower and the salt mines of Vendicari, and ending with the Citadel of San Lorenzo with its Byzantine village. There are remains of some Byzantine catacombs, one of which is underground, and the Trigona, a Byzantine structure with a square plan and three apses.

Surely, however, one of the main attractions of Vendicari is birdwatching, practiced especially in the spring and autumn months. Its geographical position and the presence of the marshes (the small quagmire and the great swamp), make it the ideal resting place for bird migration. Therefore, Vendicari represents a true naturalistic jewel, a paradise for birds that find a first landing after the spring migration along the Mediterranean and, on the contrary, the last refreshment point before the winter. Depending on the season and temperature, the presence of various species vary from month to month.

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The most anticipated species is that of the Flamingos, which can be admired both in spring and in autumn. They stop at Vendicari on route from the North of France and before reaching the breeding areas in Africa. In addition to flamingos, gray herons can be spotted, black and white storks, or ducks in summer; trampolieri and seagulls in autumn; saffron seagulls in winter; knights of Italy, marsh harriers and fishermen, or red herons in spring. These are just some of the wonderful species that can be appreciated in the Reserve thanks to the numerous observation huts present, which every year attract fans from all over Europe.

In addition to birds, the Vendicari wildlife oasis also welcomes amphibians, reptiles and mammals. For example, there are numerous loggerhead sea turtles which lay their eggs here and testify to the fact that this territory is protected from man.

In any case, experts or not of the subject, one can not help but be fascinated by the extraordinary variety of colors and shapes that nature has given to this reserve. If you want to appreciate what nature has to offer and at the same time enjoy a crystal clear sea, do not forget to make the Vendicari Reserve part of your next holiday! You will not regret it!

 

Copyright photos: travel.corriere.it, travelersinsicily.com, riserva-vendicari.it

Article by: Salvatore Spada

Via Crucis in Matera

The year 2019 was the year of Matera: the “European Capital of Culture” reserved for the elite. Among the numerous cultural initiatives that were planned throughout the entire year in the city, this particular adventure is a journey of Matera’s Via Crucis or the Stations of the Cross.

matera-via-crucisWhen I go to a city, the first place I typically visit is the tourist office for a map and then, I get lost …

Yes. I lose myself. That is, I begin my visit without a precise destination and let myself be guided by chance, but with the certainty (provided by the map) of knowing where I am.

Matera, known as the “City of the Stones” has a special charm and due to its unusual configuration, it has also been chosen as a film set for many films, including Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

The Christian religion is well represented in this city by numerous churches, both in masonry and in the walls of the stones caves. Via Crucis winds through the city’s streets.

During my visit, I came across the fifth station by chance and came up with the idea of ​​experiencing the city along the path of the stations.

Since I started with the fifth, I decided to work backwards finding the fourth and the third, but to no avail, I couldn’t find the second and first.

Without losing heart, I left from the third station and started my hunt. Hunting is the appropriate word because the stations are not at all visible. Even if there are some indications, some are placed in small courtyards, near houses and sometimes covered with vases and flowers.

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La IV Stazione

The path is fascinating and climbs up the narrow streets bringing you to parts of the city where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Murgia– an image that will be forever with me!

The Via Crucis ends in the Madonna de Idris Church located in the center of Sasso Caveoso. On my way back to my hotel, I tried to look for the first two missing stations, but I didn’t succeed. I was left with a void, a disappointment, and unfulfilled. 

In the evening, I returned to the church of San Pietro Caveoso where I had already been in the morning and had been impressed by its interior. I admired the piazza outside it and the magnificent panorama through an arch on its left … and, well lit in the darkness of night, I found the station! You can only imagine the joy I felt!

Of course, I started looking for the second station because it couldn’t have been far. Once again, to no avail, it remained an enigma. 

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Unfortunately, my journey had to end the next morning and so, dear readers, if you have the opportunity to visit Matera, I entrust you to the task of looking for the second station! I’ll be anxiously awaiting your report.

 

 

Copyright photos: Flora Panico; commons.wikimedia.org