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

A Single Day in Perugia: What to See and Do

Perugia, the splendid Umbrian capital, has breathtaking views, a magical atmosphere and a medieval flair. It boasts its own, unique culinary tradition and is rich in artistic and monumental treasures. It’s been defined as a “museum city”. Let’s walk along the streets of this medieval town and find out what to see in single day in Perugia.

Fontana Maggiore 

In the heart of the city, you’ll find Piazza IV Novembre with its Fontana Maggiore. Born from the design of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, the fountain is made up of two pink and white marble basins, with a bronze amphora in the center. The water spews out from the heads of three nymphs. The upper basin is adorned with columns which depict characters from the city’s history, while the lower is decorated with fifty panels of an agricultural theme.

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Cathedral of San Lorenzo 

Also located in Piazza IV Novembre is the Cathedral whose façade and side still remain incomplete since construction ended in the year 1490. The colors of the side panel (white and pink marble) reflect those of the Fontana Maggiore. Overlooking Piazza Danti, the main entrance of the Cathedral is characterized by a Baroque portal. Inside, we find ourselves in front of three large naves divided by pillars and beautiful decor also made by famous names. If your interest is profoundly artistic, you will find the Capitular Museum (Museo Capitolare) in the cloister of the Cathedral.

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Palazzo dei Priori and the Galleria Nazionale of Umbria

On the opposite side of the Cathedral, you’ll find Palazzo dei Priori. From the Piazza IV Novembre, a stairway leads to the Sala dei Notari where magnificent frescoes from the end of the 13th century are preserved. 

On the top floors of this building is the prestigious Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. Here, there are works from the 13th to the 19th century, displayed in chronological order. It’s home to one of the largest and most prestigious collections in all of Italy. Masterpieces preserved in this Gallery include works by Duccio di Buoninsegna, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, Pinturicchio and Perugino.

For more info, opening times and tickets visit the official website.

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San Severo Church

Coming from Piazza Danti and continuing on Via Raffaello you will arrive in a small square where the Church of San Severo is located. In its chapel, you’ll find frescoes by one of the most important painters in the history of art- Raffaello– which were later completed by Perugino. 

The Aqueduct

In ancient times, the Fontana Maggiore was fed by the aqueduct that brought water from Monte Pacciano to the city center. The extraordinary aspect of this aqueduct is that in 1245, it was able to successfully supply water to the hilly city without the use of pumps. By the mid-1800’s, the aqueduct was no longer in use, but today it offers visitors a fascinating route through the city. The most beautiful and characteristic point is undoubtedly the one that goes towards Piazza IV Novembre, called Porta Sant’Angelo.

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What to Eat in Perugia

The Perugian cuisine is simple, genuine and excellent. On Umbrian tables you will find truly exceptional hams, cured meats and cheeses. One of the most famous, traditional dishes is the faraona alla leccarda (guinea-fowl similar to pheasant). Many local recipes also contain truffles. Desserts are also taken seriously in Umbria and include pinoccate (a typical dessert made from pine nuts) and torcolo (a fruit cake).

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During your visit in Umbria, don’t miss these cities:

Lake Trasimeno

Torgiano

 

 

Liguria’s Ponente Riviera in Just One Day: What to See in Savona

Savona is a beautiful seaside city and province in the Liguria region. This part of the Ligurian coast is often referred to as the Riviera di Ponente (as opposed to the Riviera di Levante where you’ll find the Cinque Terre). It’s a favorite summertime destination for sunbathers eager to get to the sea from the Piedmont and Lombardy regions. Aside from the gorgeous beaches and water, Savona has just the right mix of history, art, and culture making it the perfect weekend getaway or even day trip. It is also very well-connected by train and by bus, and it’s a walking city. Let’s find out what to see in just one day in Savona!

The great news is that Savona’s train station and bus depot are right in the heart of this seaside city. It is also a major port for various cruise ship lines including Italian Costa. 

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The Priamar Fortress

Just a 5-minute walk from the station, your first stop is the Fortezza del Priamar, a military fortress of the Republic of Genoa that dates to 1542. In order to build this massive structure, numerous historic buildings dating to Medieval times had to be destroyed. Today, part of the fortress houses Savona’s archaeological museum with some of the finds excavated directly from the grounds from the Roman age to Medieval times. Ticket information and opening hours can be found at this link

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The Old Dock, Vecchia Darsena

After your museum visit, head to the old dock, Vecchia Darsena, which is still the beating heart of Savona. You’ll see a wonderful combination of old and new painting a true picture of the residents’ deep ties to the sea. Enjoy a classic Italian croissant with a cappuccino, or later in the evening, an aperitif with Savona’s famous panissa fritta (chickpea flour bread).

Leon Pancaldo Tower

Make your way to the Leon Pancaldo Tower, a medieval tower dating to 1392. This 23-meter tall tower was named after the explorer Leon Pancaldo, who was born in Savona and followed Magellan on his first voyage around the globe. (Christopher Columbus is also believed to have hailed from Savona.) When the Genoese destroyed the city walls in 1527, the tower remained standing.

The Ceramic Museum

Onward and upward toward the Museo della Ceramica just 5 minutes away. You may not know this, but Savona has been specializing in ceramics for the past 600 years and was one of the most important centers in the Mediterranean for this fine art. Four floors of displays span the craft from the 15th century through modern day. Visit the museum’s official website for hours and ticket info. 

If you are so inclined, you can also visit the Pinacoteca, or the Civic Art Gallery housed in the same building.

The Duomo and the Sistine Chapel

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Cattedrale di Nostra Signora Assunta) is part of the monumental complex that includes the Sistine Chapel, the Treasure Museum, and Pope Pius VII’s apartments. As its “monumental” name suggests, one could easily spend the entire day here! The Cathedral dates to the 16th century with multiple architectural changes made later especially during the Baroque period. It also contains some of Saint Valentine’s relics

Pope Sixtus IV commissioned Savona’s Sistine Chapel as well as the more famous one in Rome. Whatever you do, don’t skip these spectacularly frescoed walls completed in the late 1400s. It was redone in the mid-1700s in Rococo style. 

Brandale Tower

From the Duomo complex, make a final stop at the Brandale Tower and the Palazzo degli Anziani (together forming the Brandale Complex). This is a museum in its own right with multiple rooms containing precious artifacts, coats of arms, and frescoes from the 14th century. The 50-meter tall tower likely dates to 1178.

The massive bell known as the Campanassa weighs an astounding 1,500 kg and is rung at the hour as well as half-hour. You can climb up to the top for amazing 360 views of the Ligurian coastline from Genoa to Portofino. By guided tour only on Saturday mornings. Visit the Campanassa Association’s official website for more information. 

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Dinner in Savona

Now that your day has come to a close, treat yourself to a delicious dinner Savona-style before heading back to the train station. As already mentioned, panissa and farinata are both chickpea flour specialties unique to the area and are also vegan and gluten-free! Burrida, a stockfish (dried, unsalted cod) stew, is also a favorite along the coast. Ravioli stuffed with herbs, vegetables, and even fish is another must-try first course. 

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed your time in Savona and now that you’ve seen all the major sights, you can hit the beach on your next visit. More to come…stay tuned!

Other places to see in the Savona province: Toirano Caves

 

The Tuscan Village of Capalbio in the Maremma Area

The small village of Capalbio is immersed in Tuscany’s Maremma countryside yet close to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Tiny shops line its streets and ancient alleys making it one of Maremma’s quaintest villages. Are you curious about what to see in Capalbio? Andiamo!

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A Tiny Slice of History

Nicknamed the “Little Athens” because of its rich history, Capalbio’s origins date to Etruscan and Roman times. This historical period has left its mark on the original layout of the small village. Its most prosperous period was under the dominion of Counts Aldobrandeschi and Orsini, and then in 1416, it fell under Sienese rule, giving it greater prestige. Unfortunately, from the 16th century onwards, Capalbio experienced some dark years until it was rediscovered in recent history.

Capalbio’s Historic Center

As soon as you enter through the arch into the historic town center you’re greeted with a unique statue called “Nanà Fontaine”. It was created by the famous sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle, the very artist who also created the famous Tarot Garden, located just a few kilometers away. From Piazza Belvedere, as the name suggests, you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view, maybe while enjoying an aperitif.

Fortunately for pedestrians, Capalbio is closed to traffic making it even more enjoyable to wander its intertwining alleys. When you come to Via IV Novembre, framed by an arch, you will have two options: get lost in the labyrinth of alleys or stroll along the ancient walls admiring the view. From here you can admire the Tyrrhenian coast with Giglio Island and Monte Argentario in sight, but also a hilly landscape so typical of the Maremma. Capalbio is the perfect fusion of the sea and the hills.

Another access point in the heart of the town is Porta Senese, which is located a little further on once you have passed Piazza Belvedere.

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Piazza Magenta

This little square is truly a gem and seems to have come out of a fairy tale. The flowered balconies, stone houses, and the uphill streets along with the ancient city walls all create a lovely atmosphere. As you approach Piazza Magenta, you’ll have a spectacular view off to your left.

Piazza Magenta Capalbio

Aldobrandesca Castle

The Rocca Aldobrandesca is located in the heart of the historic center and the highest point in all of Capalbio. Inside, you’ll find finely decorated rooms, including one dedicated entirely to Giacomo Puccini where his piano is still on display. Make sure to make the effort and climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the village and the surrounding countryside and sea.
Tickets only cost 2 €.

Rocca Aldobrandesca Capalbio

Pieve di San Nicola

Just opposite the fortress, there is a small church with a single nave from the 12th century, where you can see beautiful frescoes including the Madonna Enthroned with the Child.

Other Places to See Near Capalbio

The Tarot Garden

As already mentioned, just 10km away from Capalbio is the famous Tarot Garden. This is an open-air park and art museum that is perfect for children and people of all ages.
It’s open in the afternoons from 2:30 pm and your visit can be booked at this link at a cost of € 14.

tarot-garden-capalbio-grosseto

Other Destinations

Less than 20km from Capalbio, you can also visit the village of Orbetello and reach Monte Argentario. Art, culture, delicious cuisine, and the seaside all await!

If, on the other hand, you are looking for a little relaxation, the Terme di Saturnia are just 30km away.

 

What are you waiting for?
Book your room at the Fonte del Cerro Hotel in Saturnia

 

 

 

This hotel is located in a strategic area in the Tuscan Maremma and is ideal for visiting all kinds of wonderful places. Furnished in perfect Tuscan style, it is only a few steps from the famous thermal hot springs of Saturnia. A delicious breakfast with homemade Tuscan delicacies (many grown directly on the property’s farm) is always included.

From the hotel, you can visit…

4km away

Montemerano

22km away

Pitigliano
37km away Capalbio
38km away  The Tarot Garden
42km away Monte Amiata
50km away Argentario Coast
52km away Bolsena
56km away Porto S. Stefano, Giglio Island
66km away Montefiascone
65km away  Civita di Bagnoregio
65km away Tuscania e Tarquinia

 

 

 

 

Visiting Melfi, a Medieval City in the Basilicata Region

Italy’s southern region of Basilicata is one of the most intriguing and authentic on the entire peninsula. Matera (the “City of Stones”) has certainly become one of the hottest destinations as tourists continue to seek out locations off the beaten path. Allow me to introduce Melfi, a medieval hilltop village in Basilicata’s Potenza province. Getting here isn’t that easy and more than likely, none of your friends will have heard of it, but that is precisely what makes it so wonderful.

Melfi’s History 

Although its historic center is blatantly medieval, don’t allow its appearance to fool you. People have been living in this area of Lucania since Neolithic times. There are at least two theories about Melfi’s origins: one believes that it was founded by the Greeks, and the other by the Romans. Occupied by both the Byzantines and then the Lombards, Melfi’s true hay day was actually during Norman rule when it rose to its maximum splendor. 

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What to See in Melfi

At an elevation of 530 meters (1,700 feet), and at the base of the extinct volcano Mount Vulture, the historic center is enclosed in the original medieval walls with towers.

The Norman Castle

Without a shadow of a doubt, Melfi’s most prominent feature and tourist attraction is its magnificent Norman castle. Largely still intact, it is one of the grandest in all of southern Italy. Built in the late 11th century out of limestone and brick, the castle played host to numerous historic events over the centuries and was the gateway between the regions of Campania and Puglia.

Today, it houses the archaeological museum and one of southern Italy’s most prized Roman artifacts, the Sarcophagus of Rapolla (165 AD). 

melfi-sarcofago-rapolla

Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral

The Duomo, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, was built in 1153 also by the Normans. After a devastating earthquake, the church was rebuilt mainly in Baroque style, and really the only part of the original building that remains is the bell tower. Inside, you will find a stunning 13th-century fresco, The Madonna With Child.

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Rupestrian Church of Santa Margherita

If you really want to experience something unique and truly off the beaten path then you cannot miss the rupestrian church of Santa Margherita just a few kilometers from Melfi. This single-room, cave church was carved out of volcanic rock probably around the year 1000 by the Basilian monks. It was magnificently frescoed between the 13th and 14th centuries and wasn’t even rediscovered until 1899. You can tour it with an expert guide by contacting Melfi’s Pro Loco Association

Food and Culture

If you happen to visit in the autumn, you can enjoy one of Melfi’s most famous food products: chestnuts. This particular variety is called Varola and is rumored to have been brought here by Frederick II from Turkey. It has even earned the IGP label which stands for “Protected Geographical Indication” meaning that it is unique to this area.

Melfi holds a chestnut festival on the third weekend of October every year with all kinds of dishes made from Varola chestnuts as well as an open-air market with other local products.

Make sure to pick up a bottle of the area’s prized wine, Aglianico di Vulture, made from the Aglianico grape grown in this rich, volcanic soil. 

Getting Here

As we already mentioned, reaching Melfi is problematic without a rental car. The closest airport is 100 km away in Bari (Puglia). It is connected by railway on the Foggia-Potenza line, but you would still need a car if you planned to see other sights in the area, such as the magnificent city of Venosa. Nevertheless, you will not regret visiting Melfi!

 

The Pyramids of Segonzano: Walking Among Giants

Located on the northern side of the Cembra Valley, the small village of Segonzano not only has a privileged view of the charming terraced landscape of the valley but also the rare geological phenomenon of the Pyramids of Segonzano.

Formed about 50,000 years ago thanks to water erosion on the surface of a glacial moraine deposit, the Pyramids of Segonzano are extremely tall (some reaching 40 meters). They are made of solidified clay conglomerates, sand, pebbles, and porphyry stones. These stones, seemingly placed at the very top of the pyramids, are important for the life of the pyramids themselves. Their weight has made the soil below more compact and protected from rain and other atmospheric agents, thus slowing down the erosion process as compared to the surrounding soil.

piramidi-di-segonzano-cosa-vedereThe most typical shape of the pyramids is a kind of tower with a porphyry stone on top. This stone resembles a man with a hat and that’s why the locals call them Omeni de Segonzan (Men of Segonzano). Other pyramidal forms present are the crest and tower shape without a hat, which are less resistant and more at risk of deterioration.

There is an easy walking trail that allows you to walk amongst these unusual giants which takes about two hours. The route begins at the car park near the village and takes you through a small valley. Numerous panoramic views await you all along the trail.

This is the perfect outing for anyone who wants to see this strange phenomenon up close and enjoy the solitude of nature.

Continue reading about other amazing locations in the Trento province.

Photo copyright: visittrentino.it; fotopaesaggi.it

Getting to Know the Wolves of Tuscany’s Apuan Alps

“Wolf! Wolf !! ” Until the last century, this cry could only mean one thing: danger. Not to mention how they were depicted in books: the wolfman, and werewolves. There’s no denying it; wolves simply have never had a good name. Let’s reexamine these amazing mammals and their presence in Tuscany’s Apuan Alps and Garfagnana area. 

Fascinating Creatures

Wolves are one of the oldest and most fascinating creatures in the world. Aside from the fact that popular legends have always described them as monsters, wolves have a complex social structure. They live and hunt in packs raising their offspring and defending their territory in an integrated and coordinated way.

lupo-in-garfagnana-e-apuane

On hunting trips, after rubbing each other’s faces (a sort of ritual), they depart in a single file line. Once the prey has been identified (deer, moose, or smaller mammals), they alternate in pursuit until it tires, and then they attack en masse. We’re talking about a very intelligent and cunning animal.

Problems Caused by Man, Not by Wolves

Wolf hunting became a sort of hobby over time. Due to large-scale hunting by humans, wildlife has been dramatically diminished in forests and woodlands. This has happened all over the world, not only in Italy, and is one of the main reasons wolves have been forced to look elsewhere for food. Wolves instinctively have made the choice of targeting easy and abundant prey such as livestock. It is a matter of survival.

Due to a problem caused by man, the wolf started to hunt cattle more and more frequently wreaking havoc on farmers. Then to make matters worse, man found the perfect excuse to fight back bringing the wolf population to the brink of extinction. Very few know that the wolf’s presence in nature is essential!

Yellowstone’s Wolves

Not long ago I read an article in National Geographic that in 1995, fourteen wolves were placed in Yellowstone Park in a repopulation effort and that’s when something of a miracle happened. It all started when the wolves started hunting deer. Their presence meant that the deer avoided certain parts of the park which led to the grassy areas replenishing. The poplar and willow forests flourished. The trees and bushes produced more berries attracting more insects, and as a result, several animal species moved into the park.

In fact, the abundance of trees attracted other species, such as the beaver. It had previously been extinct in the region and it began to build dams that provided a perfect habitat for otters, muskrats, and the like. The number of rabbits also increased, as the wolves soon chased away the coyotes as well, which also led to more hawks, red foxes, and badgers. Wolves created a greater balance between prey and predator, managing to increase the number of some species, and over the years altered the entire ecosystem of Yellowstone for the better. They literally changed the physical geography of the park.

The Wolves of the Apuan Alps

Getting back to beautiful Tuscany, and more precisely in Seravezza (Lucca), towards the end of 2014, the wolf returned to populate the Apuan Alps almost one hundred years after the animal’s disappearance.  Today, Apuan Park has relayed that the predator’s presence is ever-increasing and becoming more and more stable.

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Coexisting

Let’s take this good news as an opportunity to coexist with these wonderful creatures and not as yet another excuse to point the finger at them and cry, “Wolf!” Hopefully, we can collectively realize that wolves are fundamental in nature, and like many other species, have falsely earned a bad reputation. 

 

Continue reading about other places in Tuscany’s Apuan Alps.

 

Article by M. Gaddini

 

Photo Copyrights: depositiphoto.com (photo 1); petleyrieri.it (photo 2)

The University of Padua’s Botanical Garden Since 1545

“The Botanical Garden of Padua is at the origin of all botanical gardens in the world and represents the cradle of science, scientific exchanges and the understanding of the relationships between nature and culture. It has largely contributed to the progress of numerous modern scientific disciplines, in particular botany, medicine, chemistry, ecology, and pharmacy. “

For these reasons, the World Heritage Committee has included the Botanical Garden of Padua in the UNESCO World Heritage Site as a cultural asset.

The Ancient Garden

The garden is the oldest in the world and the only one that has maintained the same location and architecture since its birth in 1545.
Its function was the cultivation of medicinal plants which at that time constituted the great majority of all basic medicine. It was sourced directly from nature and for this reason, the first botanical gardens were called “simple gardens”.

At the time of its founding, the treatment of diseases was very “empirical”. It relied on the doctor, often identified by the people as a sorcerer magician who prescribed bloodletting and medicinal herbal drinks.

It was easy to mistake the identification of the plants used in therapy by the famous doctors of antiquity who were the reference points of this discipline. First of all, there was Galen, a doctor of ancient Greece who between the second and third centuries AD, composed medicinal remedies “personalized” by mixing various herbal extracts and substances in appropriate concentrations.

He was the forerunner of the modern-day pharmacist whose pre-eminent work until 1930 was preparing medicinal remedies prescribed by a doctor in the pharmacy or in his laboratory in the back of the store.
It would look somewhat like the oldest European pharmacies with those wonderful vases containing various species of herbs.

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The first “guardian” of the Botanical Garden (today, called a prefect) established a medicinal garden by cultivating about 1,800 species of plants, precisely to allow pharmacy students to learn “in the field” to recognize medicinal plants.
At the entrance to the garden, they were given a sheet with a map divided into four sectors with the positioning of the various plants without their name. The future pharmacists had to write the scientific names corresponding to the individual species in order to prove their competence. Not an easy task.

The garden was enriched with plants from different parts of the world, which, due to their rarity and the cost of the medicines obtained from them, were the object of continuous theft.
For this reason, a protective wall was erected around the square that made up the ancient garden divided into four smaller squares and inscribed in a circular crown.
The plant species mostly came from the territories controlled by the Serenissima Republic of Venice, that is, all the way to Constantinople.

Also for this reason Padua had a privileged role in the introduction and study of botany. It must be said that at the time of the creation of the Botanical Garden, Padua was already famous in the world for its Athenaeum where the medical and pharmacological application of plants was studied.

This year, the University of Padua is celebrating its 800th anniversary. Founded in 1222, it has always been considered one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Make sure to include it in your visit to Padua! More information can be found at the links below:

www.800anniunipd.it
Il Bo Live

Trees and Habitats 

The Ancient Garden hosts a great variety of plants divided by categories and species: 3,500 different species represent a significant part of the plant world. There are “historic trees”, the oldest of which is the Palm of San Pietro planted in 1585, a ginkgo from 1750 and a magnolia from 1786.

orto botanico-padova-fiore
The plants are also divided into thematic collections based on common characteristics even though they do not belong to the same species: insectivorous plants, medicinal and poisonous plants, plants of the Euganean and rare hills, and introduced plants.
The reconstruction of the natural habitats where plants grow is also very interesting:
Mediterranean scrub, alpine rock, freshwater environment, succulent plants, and the tropical greenhouse also known as the orchid greenhouse.

The Biodiversity Garden

A particularly spectacular part of the Botanical Garden of Padua is the Garden of Biodiversity. This modern structure has terrestrial environments within some greenhouses that simulate the climatic conditions of the different biomes of the planet.

1,300 species are present in the tropical zone, sub-arid zones, temperate, and arid zones.
It’s an amazing journey through Earth’s vegetation from America to Africa, Madagascar to Asia, and temperate Europe to Oceania.

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Outside the biodiversity garden, make sure to check out the spectacular ponds of aquatic plants.

To prepare yourself for the visit to the Botanical Garden and to learn more about the plants you will encounter along the way, (even though there are illustrative and interactive panels located throughout) I recommend the site:

www.ortobotanicopd.it

 

Article by: C. La Rocca

Venzone: A Fortified 13th-Century Village in Friuli

If you haven’t ever heard of the village of Venzone you’re not alone. This hilltop town in Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region isn’t on most tourists’ radar, but in this article, I hope to prove that it should be. Recently inducted into the prestigious list of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”, Venzone has everything you could possibly need for the perfect Italian getaway.

A Bit of History

While Venzone may be new to you, it certainly is no novice in European history. Due to its strategic location, it found itself smack dab on the road to the north, from the Celts in 500 BC to the Romans who made it a major pit stop. In fact, it was on the Via Julia Augusta which connected Aquilea to present-day Austria. Not until the year 923 AD do we have actual evidence of Venzone being an urban center. By 1258, Venzone had double fortified city walls, a moat, and as many as five castles. It happens to be the only fortified, 13th-century city left in the entire Friuli region and it was recognized as such in 1965.

Just eleven years later, in 1976, the entirety of Venzone’s historic center was completely demolished in a devastating earthquake. It measured 6.4 on the Richter scale and Mount San Simeon, just a few kilometers from Venzone, was its epicenter.

Venzone’s Major Sights

Casa Marcurele: Entering from the Porta di sotto gate, it will be on your right. It’s the oldest building in Venzone, dating to the 11th century.

Palazzo degli Scaligeri and Palazzo Zinutti: 13th and 14th-century buildings with ornate balconies.

The Duomo: A Romanesque-Gothic cathedral built in 1338. This magnificent building above all others is a true testament to the strong-willed Friulian people and the rebuilding effort that took place after the 1976 earthquake. In the particular case of the cathedral, over 9,500 stones were numbered and painstakingly put back in their exact original position. It took almost twenty years to complete the reconstruction project. It was a jigsaw puzzle of epic proportions!

venzone-chiesa

Make sure to note the beautiful organ that was restored in 1996 but was original to master organ maker Callido and dates to 1792.

The San Michele Chapel in front of the church dates to the year 1200 and is now home to a mummy museum. About forty mummies that date from the 14th to the 19th centuries were excavated during a construction project on the Cathedral. Their natural mummification was due to a specific type of mold that dehydrated the bodies. Today, there are a total of five mummies on display. 

Piazza Municipio: The Town Hall building dates to the 14th and 15th centuries and displays the many coats of arms of Venzone’s ruling families. 

Palazzo Orgnani Martina: This 18th-century noble palace is considered the finest example of the era in Venzone. Inside you’ll also find the earthquake museum, Tiere Motuswhich tells the story of the 1976 quake’s destruction and the rebuilding effort.

Church of St. John the Baptist: This is a 14th-century church that was not rebuilt after the quake.

Porta San Genesio: The only completely rebuilt tower dating to the 14th century.

venzone-san giovanni battista-chiesa

Nature

Just outside the city walls, you can enjoy numerous trails through the Parco Naturale delle Prealpi Giulie including the ancient Celtic Way. It connects a series of churches and convents dating from the 10th through the 18th centuries with stunning views of the mountains and the Tagliamento River. 

Events and Culture

Two of Venzone’s biggest events are a week-long celebration in honor of Santa Lucia (December 13th) and the Pumpkin Festival (Festa della zucca) in October. This is a great opportunity to taste some of Venzone’s traditional recipes including tripe and bread and dessert made from millet flour. 

When to Visit

Any time of year is the right time to visit Venzone, but autumn and winter are especially lovely and put you in a strategic location to enjoy all kinds of winter sports in the Carnic and Giulian Alps. Read more in our article about Tarvisio

A Sicilian Romance: The Island of Ortigia

Ortigia-a-sicilian-romanceSpending a weekend in Sicily is not only possible, but it’s also a necessity! And it is even more beautiful than what you would expect. At least for me, a native Umbrian, Sicily has been a recent discovery and now that I’ve been, I’m totally enthralled. I decided to go back for a romantic getaway on a sunny weekend in September. I chose the Island of Ortigia, the old city of Syracuse.

Syracuse is a very ancient city, home of artists and philosophers, and Ortigia is a concentration of beauty that exudes history from every brick.

From the two bridges that connect it to Syracuse, you can immediately reach the Temple of Apollo, the most important monument on the island and one of the oldest in Sicily. The ruins of the temple, surrounded by a very nice garden, are the entrance to the old city and are only the beginning of the journey in time that Ortigia offers its visitors.

In the square in front of the Temple, concerts and meetings are often organized and we were lucky enough to be able to listen to live music the night of our arrival. You can also find the best cafe in town, known for its exquisite cannoli and typical Sicilian breakfast of a sweet roll with a granita. This is the Sicilian remedy for renewing both the body and mind on torrid summer days.

Ortigia-sicily-romantic-getaway

Continuing downtown towards the center of the island, you will have two choices: walking down the main street, full of boutiques, and up to the fountain of Diana, or taking the chaotic Via Cavour which leads to the famous Piazza del Duomo. Personally, I recommend the latter, because it is full of little characteristic shops. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can take in Ortigia’s true atmosphere. Indeed, nothing is more beautiful than getting lost in the alleys and lanes and letting yourself be carried away by the scents of the Sicilian delicacies, coming from every direction.

Ortigia’s Piazza del Duomo is surrounded on all sides by a tangled web of alleyways. You’ll likely find yourself strolling along one of them serenaded by one of the many street artists playing a melody. The Cathedral is one of the most beautiful architectural examples in all of Italy. The façade is Baroque, like all the churches in south-eastern Sicily, but the remains of the ancient Greek temple on which it was built are still visible. Places like this make you realize that true beauty is immortal.

Ortigia-romantic-getaway-in-sicilyFrom here, you cross what I have renamed “the artists’ street” for its numerous stalls selling local handicraft items. You’ll arrive at the Fountain of Artesia, a small, semi-circular lake formed by a spring of fresh water. This peculiar fountain is close to the sea and has a group of papyrus springing up from its water (said to be the only spontaneously planted in all of Europe). Whether it’s because of the papyrus or the legend of Arethusa and Alpheus, you’ll be in awe of this fountain. 

From here, you can continue on the promenade towards the extreme tip of the island and visit the Maniace Castle, dating back to medieval times. You can also go back and walk along the brand new port, perhaps under the shade of the tree-lined avenue that runs alongside it. If that is the case, you’ll have the added benefit of passing through a small park shaded by giant ficus trees. My advice is to sit here and listen to the birdsongs of the many species that populate the foliage of these majestic trees on clear sunny days, taking a break from the world.

Ortigia-island-sicilian-romanceAs you can see, much of Ortigia’s beauty is found in the open air, simply by wandering around the city in search of unique views and landscapes. The sea is just another example of its breathtaking atmosphere. Even though the coast here seems rocky and inaccessible, Ortigian ingenuity installed floating platforms for easy entry into the water.

I’ve barely touched upon the food here; it is almost impossible to eat poorly in Ortigia. There are countless places where you can sample real Sicilian cuisine and appreciate its excellent quality.

When our little getaway came to an end, we left the island with our bellies and hearts full, fully aware that it wasn’t our last goodbye. 

Read more on Ortigia by other authors who have visited!

Article and photos by: G. Sdei

The Perfect Getaway: Murano in the Venetian Lagoon

If you’ve already been to Venice, maybe more than once, then it might be time to discover something new in the lagoon! We propose the darling village of Murano. Famous for its exquisite craftsmanship of handblown glass, Murano is full of charm and is the perfect getaway. 

Murano’s Infinite Charm

Murano has a long history as rich as Venice itself. It earned its reputation for artisan glass making when the Most Serene Republic of Venice ordered all the glassmakers to transfer their shops to the tiny island of Murano in the year 1291. They realized that keeping the shops in Venice posed too great of a fire hazard. Of course, Venice has been known for its exceptional craft of handblown glass since Roman times. 

murano-venezia-case

Murano’s Colorful Houses

So you’re probably wondering what the vibrantly painted houses have to do with glass. The most plausible theory for Murano’s (and Burano’s) signature-colored houses likely stems from their ancient fishing traditions, not glassmaking. It’s believed that the fishermen needed to identify their particular house in order to dock when they returned home from sea in the thick fog. Today, the hues of blue, pink, yellow, orange, purple, and green are a big part of the villages’ appeal. 

What to See in Murano

Aside from the colors, the first thing that will strike you as interesting is that Murano is set up like a miniature Venice- it even has its own Grand Canal. There is quite a bit to see here for such a tiny island.

Church of San Pietro Martire

One of its highlights is definitely the Church of San Pietro Martire where you’ll find numerous pieces of precious art that were stashed here for safekeeping during Napoleon‘s raids. Great Venetian artists such as Giovanni Bellini, Bartolomeo Vivarini, Paolo Veronese, Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto all left their mark here. The original building dates to the mid-1300s but a devastating fire completely burned it to the ground in 1474. The church as it appears today is a result of its rebuilding in 1511.

Basilica dei Santi Maria and Donato

The Basilica of Saints Maria and Donato is a Venetian-Byzantine masterpiece of overwhelming proportions. If you think the exterior is impressive, wait until you see the mosaics inside. Both the floors and central apse contain exquisite mosaics done by master Venetian artists trained in Byzantine style from the 12th century.

murano-duomo-maria e donato

The Glass Museum

Now for the reason most people visit Murano: its signature glass. The Museo del Vetro recounts Venice’s great artisan history from the 13th century to the present with hundreds of one-of-a-kind examples. Open daily from 10 to 6. Visit the official website for more information. 

The “Glass Cathedral”

Santa Chiara, la Cattedrale del vetro is a furnace and glass factory housed in the former Santa Chiara Cathedral. It is one of the oldest buildings in Murano and has seen the likes of Casanova and many of Venice’s Doges. Today, you can tour this magnificent space and witness a live glass-blowing demonstration. Santa Chiara also holds numerous private events including weddings and masquerade balls during the Carnival season. Visit the official website for more information. 

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Getting Here

Murano is very easy to get to from Venice via public transportation, known as ACTV. You can purchase tickets in advance online on the ACTV official website