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

Orta San Giulio – One of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy

orta-giulio-san-islandAt first sight, coming down State road 229, it’s easy to see how our visit to Orta San Giulio will leave us speechless. The road, surrounded by trees and stonewalls at first, suddenly offers us a glimpse of Lake Orta, which gets wider and wider as we proceed to the village.

As we come into this northern Italian village, we’re welcomed by Villa Crespi; the magnificent palace which leaves tourists dismayed by its unexpected Moorish style in the midst of the mountains.

Today, Villa Crespi is a hotel and restaurant managed by well-known Italian chef, Antonino Cannavacciuolo (Master Chef and other tv programs).
Going down the road just beyond Villa Crespi, a surprise awaits. Right in front of your eyes, San Giulio Island appears in the middle of the lake; however, it is from Orta’s main square that you can best admire it in all its beauty and magnificence.
Just past the parking area, you’ll find a mini-golf course where tourists entertain themselves during their holidays while enjoying the view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. 

island-san-giulio-ortaWalking through the cobblestone alleys and following Ettore Bossi Street, you’ll reach the main square, Piazza Mario Motta, which rewards you with a final surprise. In front of our eyes, you’ll have a perfect, unique view of the lake and San Giulio Island with all of its fascinating buildings and the monastery with its bell tower overlooking the island itself.
You cannot help but to sit by the pier and enjoy the view, perhaps while eating an ice cream from one of the various gelaterie along the main road.

However, it is in the morning that you can enjoy the quiet of this place. In the early morning, around 9 a.m., the visitors who will be coming for a day-trip have not yet arrived, and the rest of the tourists staying in the village are probably still sleeping or having breakfast in their hotel. The silence of this place is only interrupted by a few early visitors or by the shopkeepers and the restaurateurs who are opening their little shops and cafes.

In this exact moment, you can hear the gentle sound of the waves breaking against the pier or the ducks quacking. Why not have breakfast here and enjoy your cappuccino and croissant with this magnificent view? Perhaps at Venus Cafe, which places some tables outside by the water in the summertime. It’s the ideal time to enjoy some cool air before the heat of the day.

Sacro Monte Monastery

After breakfast, you can go for a walk uphill to Sacro Monte where you’ll have a spectacular view of the lake and the mountains. Sacro Monte, literally, the “sacred mountain”, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you prefer to take it easy, you can also reach it by car, taking the uphill road just after Villa Crespi. Here, you can take a walk surrounded by nature while observing the twenty chapels, all dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. If you want to, you can also have a picnic in the designated picnic areas.

san-giulio-orta-island-lakeGetting back to the village, you can stroll by the lake, take a rest, or walk through the alleys discovering new spots, restaurants, and gardens.

San Giulio Island

You can reach San Giulio Island by taking one of the ferries that depart from Orta throughout the day. On the remote island, you can stroll through the silent alleys and visit the monastery, inhabited by cloister nuns who never leave the island. You can also visit the church and admire its frescoes. You can also take the ferry to Pella, another quaint village, on the other side of the lake.

In short, Orta San Giulio is perfect for those who are looking to relax and experience nature and its beauty. It might seem that it’s a place for people of a certain age, but actually, it’s loved by the younger generation as well. Walks around the lake, as well as sunbathing and swimming are popular. 

It’s a place for everyone where you can spend a relaxing weekend or longer in the company of good Italian cuisine and culture, and where you can immerse yourself in a timeless place, where nature and man co-exist in perfect harmony.

 

Article and photos by: Cristina Brovelli

Stay at the Due Ponti Farmhouse in Chianni, Tuscany

Tuscany’s Valdera region is known for its beautiful green countryside, the major cities of Pisa and Pontedera, hilltop villages like Peccioli and Chianni, and Lajatico, the birthplace of the famous singer Andrea Bocelli. The Due Ponti Farmhouse/Agriturismo is the perfect place to stay when you visit this part of Tuscany!

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The Due Ponti Farmhouse

Surrounded by 100 hectares of farmland, sunflower fields, and oak woods, this farmhouse is exactly what you imagine when you think of Tuscany. The building itself was once what is known as a casale, or a large farmhouse, and has now been completely renovated and divided into 6 quaint apartments.

Agriturismo-due-ponti-chianni-pisaEach apartment has its own private entrance as well as a kitchenette, bathroom, and private veranda. The largest has three bedrooms and can accommodate a large family or group of friends. All of the apartments are furnished in classic Tuscan style and will add a touch of charm to your holiday experience.

The farmhouse also has a lovely pool and deck area where you can relax and soak up the warm, Tuscan sun surrounded by nature and far away from the noise of the big city. 

In the Immediate Area

Located just 10 minutes from the charming town of Chianni, the Due Ponti Farmhouse gives you easy access to conveniences like grocery shopping as well as putting you in the ideal location for day trips all around Tuscany.

The area is also known for its traditional Tuscan restaurants serving up the finest in local products and wine. A wine trail known as the Strada del Vino delle Colline Pisane passes right through here.

Many visitors also enjoy the outdoors during their stay and choose to wander the countryside on any of the numerous bike trails and trekking trails. In the month of June, you will think that you’ve gone to Provence instead of Tuscany because the area’s lavender fields will be in bloom! Truly spectacular!

Also just 10 minutes away by car is the town of Casciana Terme famous for its natural hot springs. The area is also home to archeological sites from Paleolithic to Etruscan.

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Other Sights 

Just 10 minutes away by car is the lovely area of Lajatico, the birthplace of Andrea Bocelli and the home of his Teatro del Silenzio. Even if you are not able to see one of his concerts in the summertime,  you can still visit the open-air theater and admire the ever-changing art sculptures from up close.

Volterra, an ancient Etruscan city, is just 30 minutes away by car. This hilltop town is a walled city with a fabulous Etruscan museum, the remains of a Roman forum, and a quaint historic center. Make sure to pick up a souvenir made from Volterran alabaster stone!

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The art cities of Pisa and Florence are less than an hour away as well as another unforgettable medieval village, San Gimignano.

And in any season of the year, the Tuscan coast is always beautiful and only 45 minutes away. If you’re traveling with children, the Cavallino Matto amusement park is always a hit with all ages as well.

What are you waiting for?
Book your room at the Due Ponti Farmhouse/Agriturismo

From the hotel,  you can visit…

15km away

Casciana Terme
29km away Volterra
41km away San Gimignano
53km away Pisa
55km away Etruscan Coast
85km away Florence
81km away Siena

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Tuscania and Tarquinia: Lazio’s Ancient Etruscan Sites

In Lazio’s Viterbo province and in the heart of the ancient Etruscan land of Tuscia, lie two of the civilization’s most important necropolises and tombs: Tuscania and Tarquinia. The two cities are just 25 minutes apart and make an excellent day trip from nearby Lake Bolsena, Saturnia, Viterbo, or the Argentario Coast. Let’s go!

Tuscania

The Etruscan settlements uncovered here (7 in all) date back as far as the 7th century BC. By the 4th century BC, Tuscania was a thriving village connected to Tarquinia. Concentrated within a 10 km radius around the current St. Peter’s hill and church, the necropolises and tombs uncovered today include those of Ara del Tufo, Casa Galeotti, Madonna dell’Olivo, Peschiera, and Pian di Mola. 

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©https://www.facebook.com/MuseoArcheologicoTuscania/

Just outside the old city walls, lies the Archeological Museum which is housed in the ex-Franciscan convent and now Church of Santa Maria del Riposo. A significant find was the tombs of Curunas and Vipinana families which includes sarcophagi and furnishings giving us an accurate picture of what life must have been like for the Etruscan aristocracy. There is also a large collection of Roman findings as well. 

The town itself is lovely as well and while you’re here, you’ll want to visit St. Peter’s Basilica which originally dated to the 8th century and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore also in Romanesque style.

The ancient Etruscan/Roman route, Via Clodia, runs through Tuscania and connected Rome with Etruria. Today, it is a popular trekking destination and portions of it can be done on horseback. 

Tarquinia

Just 25 km southwest of Tuscania is the ancient civilization of Tarquinia. The official name of the site is the Monterozzi Necropolis and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. When you visit, it isn’t any wonder why.

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By AlMare – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=657901

6,000 graves were discovered here with the oldest dating to the 7th century BC. It is the finest and most complete display of Etruscan frescoes revealing priceless clues into the world of this mysterious civilization. The paintings depict daily rituals including hunting, music, dance, and religious ceremonies. One of the most famous and well-preserved is the stunning Tomb of the Leopards dating to 473 BC.

The National Archeological Museum of Tarquinia located in Palazzo Vitelleschi holds priceless artifacts dating as early as the 9th century BC up until the Roman period. 

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Ulrich Mayring, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

Just a few kilometers from the necropolis and museum lies another very important Etruscan site that is absolutely worth visiting. The remains of the Ara della Regina Temple dates to the 4th century BC and in its glory, measured 44 by 25 meters. One of the most important Etruscan artifacts ever discovered was found here and is now located in Tarquinia’s museum: the “Winged Horses of Tarquinia”

 

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

The Fonte del Cerro Hotel is located in the Tuscan Maremma countryside just steps away from the Saturnia hot springs. You’ll enjoy delicious homemade dishes grown directly on the farm. It is also the perfect location for visiting other beautiful destinations from hilltop villages to the sea. 

From the hotel,  you can visit…

22km away

Pitigliano
38km away The Tarot Garden
42km away Monte Amiata
50km away Argentario Coast
52km away Bolsena
65km away Civita di Bagnoregio
65km away Tarquinia

 

 

 

 

 

In Times Like These, We Could All Use Some Tiramisù!

Almost everyone on earth has tasted, or at least heard of, one of the most famous and delicious desserts on the entire planet: the one, the only- tiramisù. Most people don’t know that the word tiramisù literally means ‘pick me up’. Let’s find out what all the fuss is about.

tiramisu-dolce-origini

Origins

The origins of tiramisù, like so many recipes, are somewhat up for debate. The two regions that feud over its beginnings border each other in the north- Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto. According to the Academy of Tiramisù, the dessert can be traced back to the city of Treviso as early as the mid-1700s or early 1800s. It is widely agreed that it was used in brothels to re-energize both patrons and mistresses. The combination of ingredients, especially egg yolks and sugar, was also commonly used in the area as a kind of elixir for frail people such as children, pregnant women, and even the elderly. It first appeared on a restaurant menu in the late 1960s at Treviso’s Le Becchiere

In a Class of Its Own

Like all things delicious in Italy, it has been registered as a  prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (an officially approved, traditional regional specialty). As already mentioned, there is an academy dedicated to it and even a Tiramisù World Cup held every year. Italians are traditionalists when it comes to food, but there is room for change in the special category “Creative Tiramisù” where past winners have included mojito and ginger-cinnamon versions. 

Versions of the Classic

There can be no debate that the classic recipe calls for five basic ingredients: ladyfingers, mascarpone, eggs, coffee, and cocoa powder. The ladyfinger cookies are key because they are just the right texture to absorb the espresso liquid without turning to mush and they are easy to layer. The combination of eggs (fresh and uncooked) and rich, decadent mascarpone cheese provide a whopping amount of calories and protein. Cocoa powder and espresso provide the extra kick of caffeine and flavor. 

So get creative and come up with your own special version of this classic Italian favorite because we could all use a real “pick me up”!

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The La Fonte del Cerro Hotel in Saturnia, Tuscany

Saturnia is a town in the heart of southern Tuscany’s Maremma region. Made famous for its hot springs and beautiful falls, Saturnia is the perfect destination for a relaxing holiday while still having the freedom to visit nearby destinations. The La Fonte del Cerro Hotel is your home away from home during your stay in Saturnia.

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La Fonte del Cerro Hotel

This hotel was once a sprawling 18th-century farmhouse with multiple living quarters which was common practice. It has recently been renovated to maintain its authentic Tuscan charm while still offering modern comforts to its guests. 

la-fonte-del-cerro-saturniaAll of the rooms and apartments are furnished with authentic 18th-century antique furniture including wrought-iron beds (some are canopy), wardrobes, and handmade lamps. Every room has a hairdryer, a fridge, and air conditioning. Some include cozy fireplaces or balconies overlooking the rolling hills of the Maremma countryside. The apartments have small kitchenettes that are fully stocked with essentials.

One of the best parts of staying at La Fonte del Cerro is that many of the foods served at the breakfast buffet are actually locally-sourced and grown directly on the farm. Grains, honey, olive oil, and wine are just some of the delicacies you’ll be able to try. 

Saturnia

The hotel is just a 5-minute walk from the famous Saturnia hot springs. Regardless of the season, the water stays a constant 37.5  degrees C. The therapeutic properties of these sulfurous waters have been known for at least 3,000 years. People come from all over Italy and beyond to treat various ailments or simply just to relax. The Cascate del Mulino produces an astonishing 800 liters of water per second! 

saturnia-fonte-del-cerro-hotel

There is also a beautiful 18-hole golf course, the only one in Italy designed by Californian architect Ronald Fream, where golfers can enjoy a game year-round thanks to Saturnia’s unique microclimate created by the hot spring vapors. 

Deluxe spas are also an option for those that wish to pamper themselves with any number of various treatments available. Cycling paths, as well as hiking and horseback riding, are also favorite pastimes when visiting Saturnia.

Two of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy are just a short drive from the hotel: Pitigliano and Montemerano. Both are exactly what one pictures in their mind when thinking of Tuscany.

In the Area

The options are truly endless when you stay at La Fonte del Cerro because in about an hour, in any direction, you can be at spectacular destinations. 

If you head towards the Tyrrhenian Sea, you can visit one of the most unique outdoor parks in all of Italy- the famous Tarot Garden in Capalbio. In just an hour, you can also be at the famous Argentario Coast with destinations like Orbetello and Porto Ercole and even Giglio Island.

Going east will take you to Lake Bolsena and the famous cities carved out of tuff stone like Civita di Bagnoregio and Orvieto.

val-dorcia-fonte-del-cerro-saturnia

To the north, you can take a day-trip to any of the fabulous towns located within the Val d’Orcia, one of the most photographed landscapes on earth! 

Monte Amiata (1,738 mt), is a popular winter destination but is lovely year-round with numerous trails and exquisite landscapes.

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

 

From the hotel,  you can visit…

22km away

Pitigliano
38km away The Tarot Garden
42km away Monte Amiata
50km away Argentario Coast
52km away Bolsena
65km away Civita di Bagnoregio
65km away Tarquinia

 

 

 

 

 

Montemerano: One of the Most Beautiful Villages in Tuscany’s Maremma

Montemerano is one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”. Located in southern Tuscany‘s Maremma region, Montemerano is just 10 minutes from the famous Saturnia hot springs. Let’s find out what to see in this picturesque Tuscan hamlet.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Montemerano; everything about it is exactly what you imagine Tuscany to be. Its location, perched atop a hill surrounded by a patchwork of olive groves, grain, and vineyards; its old stone walls and buildings; its narrow alleys and arches that spider web out from the piazzas; its cafes where you can sip authentic Tuscan wines and taste homemade dishes. If it sounds like heaven, you’re right- it truly is.

Montemerano rose to fame in about the year 1000 when the Aldobrandeschis took control and built the castle. Over the next several hundred years the town fell to Orvieto, Siena, and the Medicis. 

maremma-montemerano-toscana-borgo

What to See in Montemerano

This is our favorite kind of trip because while the art cities are fabulous, we think that everyone who visits Tuscany needs to spend some time in villages like Montemerano to unwind and truly soak in the culture. Everything is concentrated in the tiny historic center.

Porta Grossetana is the northern gate opening to the historic center while Porta del Ponte is the southern entrance. The town is enclosed by a “triple set” of walls dating to various periods and telling Montemerano’s story. The oldest encircle the castle at the highest point of the village; the second and third date to between the 13th and 16th centuries.

If you love to snap the perfect shot then this place is for you! Aside from the picturesque cobblestone streets and houses at every turn, the panoramic views as far as Monte Amiata, the Argentario Coast, and even Giglio Island will take your breath away!

The simple Romanesque Church of San Giorgio dates to the 14th century. There are numerous pieces of priceless art within its walls dating from the 14th to the 17th centuries, but by far the most famous is the Madonna della Gattaiola or Mary of the Cat Flap. In English, this doesn’t make much sense but basically, the painting has a hole in it. It is thought that its purpose was to let cats pass through the wall to keep the church free of mice.

Two more piazzas complete the historic center: Piazza del Forno and Piazza Campanile which contains the old bell tower and the old Church of San Lorenzo which has been converted into a theater.

montemerano-toscana-grosseto-maremma-saturnia

Cuisine

Make sure to stop and savor a delicious meal at any one of the authentic trattorias. Montemerano is famous for its tortelli which are filled with ricotta, herbs, and greens and topped with a rich ragù sauce. Another dish to try is acquacottaa tasty soup topped with a poached egg. Tripe is also popular and make sure to pick up a bottle of olive oil from the local olive groves. It’s known throughout the entire region of Maremma.

 

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

The Fonte del Cerro Hotel is located in the Tuscan Maremma countryside just steps away from the Saturnia hot springs. You’ll enjoy delicious homemade dishes grown directly on the farm. It is also the perfect location for visiting other beautiful destinations from hilltop villages to the sea. 

From the hotel,  you can visit…

22km away

Pitigliano
38km away The Tarot Garden
42km away Monte Amiata
50km away Argentario Coast
52km away Bolsena
65km away Civita di Bagnoregio
65km away Tarquinia

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting the Beautiful City of Bolsena and Its Lake

In the heart of the ancient Etruscan region known as Tuscia and close to the Tuscan border, lies the beautiful lake and town of Bolsena. This medieval town offers visitors a perfect holiday experience with its quaint historic center and gorgeous lake. It is also close to other major tourist attractions. Let’s find out what to see in Bolsena!

tuscia-bolsena-lazio

Bolsena’s History

Bolsena is a town of about 4,000 residents with a lovely, medieval historic center, a castle, and obviously, a spectacular lake.

Lake Bolsena was formed about 300,000 years ago when the nearby chain of Volsini Mountains erupted creating this massive crater. 

In Etruscan times, this area was named Velzna (actually present-day Orvieto) and was one of the 12 Etruscan cities that made up the dodecapoli. After the Romans conquered the Etruscans, they renamed it Volsinii and moved it to present-day Bolsena. It was positioned along the ancient Roman Via Cassia which, centuries later, proved to be more of a liability because it made the city vulnerable to frequent raids. 

After the Lombard invasion, Bolsena experienced a rebirth partly because the old Via Cassia became the Via Francigena route to Rome and to the Holy Land. 

Collegiate of St. Cristina

santa-cristina-collegiata-bolsena-grotto

The stone with the saint’s footprints

Located outside the historic center, in the lower part of the city, lies the Collegiate of St. Cristina. Erected in the 11th century in true Romanesque style, it was later renovated with its current Renaissance facade. Some of the columns inside date to Roman times.

This church is near and dear to the people of Bolsena because Cristina is the town’s patron saint. In the year 292 AD, this daughter of a Roman official converted to Christianity against her father’s will. She was tortured and thrown into Lake Bolsena with a weight tied around her neck only to float to the surface saving the girl and making believers out of the onlookers and skeptics. Every year, on July 23 and 24, the town celebrates her feast day with a reenactment and festival.

The chapel dedicated to her has priceless frescoes adorning its walls. The grotto of St. Cristina can be visited here as well and holds a slab of basalt stone containing the saint’s footprints which were cast on her way down to the lake. Her remains are also held here.

Another miracle took place at the Collegiate in 1263, the Corpus Domini. The stained marble of the bleeding host is kept in the Chapel of the Miracles. 

Monaldeschi Fortress

The historic center is a combination of medieval and renaissance architecture with its dominant feature being the magnificent Monaldeschi Fortress. This square castle with four towers was erected between the 13th and 14th centuries by Orvieto. Today, the castle houses a museum that includes artifacts dating back to the Etruscan and Roman times as well as more recent pieces. The panoramic view from the top is spectacular!

castello-bolsena-rocca-lazio

Just before entering the historic center walls, make sure to stop at the ex-Church of St. Francis which dates to the 13th century. It has now been converted into a theater that seats up to 300 people. The facade is Gothic and inside the single-nave plan, the original frescoes are still visible.

Lake Bolsena

From the center, you can make your way down to the newer part of Bolsena and walk the beautiful vias lined with gigantic Sycamore trees toward the lake. In the springtime, they explode in shades of pink putting on a show like only Mother Nature can. The lake itself is actually the largest volcanic lake in all of Europe and is 150 meters deep at its center. 

All kinds of water sports are practiced here from fishing, sailing, kayaking, and swimming. The shores are sandy and wide in some places making it a lovely alternative to the overcrowded beaches in the late spring and summer. There are also numerous places for birdwatching as well as bike paths and trekking trails.

lago-bolsena-lazio-sabbia

Bolsena’s Cuisine

Lake fish are a staple in the traditional cuisine here and the most famous dish is by far Sbroscia. This ancient dish includes fresh-caught lake fish like pike, perch, eel, and whitefish which is stewed with onions, herbs, and potatoes. It’s served on crusty bread with olive oil. 

In the Area

Bolsena is only an hour’s drive from the famous Tuscan hot springs and falls of Saturnia and about 40 minutes from the beautiful Val d’Orcia and Pitigliano. The famous hilltop cities literally carved out of tuff rock, Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio, are even closer!

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

The Fonte del Cerro Hotel is located in the Tuscan Maremma countryside just steps away from the Saturnia hot springs. You’ll enjoy delicious homemade dishes grown directly on the farm. It is also the perfect location for visiting other beautiful destinations from hilltop villages to the sea. 

From the hotel,  you can visit…

22km away

Pitigliano
38km away The Tarot Garden
42km away Monte Amiata
50km away Argentario Coast
52km away Bolsena
65km away Civita di Bagnoregio
65km away Tarquinia

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering Vieste and “Pizzomunno” in Puglia’s Foggia Province

This incredible, giant white limestone cliff is located in Vieste (province of Foggia), along one of the most beautiful coasts on earth and inside Gargano National Park. It’s a limestone monolith that is the product of natural erosion. Vieste has about thirteen thousand residents, a warm climate almost all year, and of course, spectacular beaches that attract tourists from all over the world. 

vieste-foggia-puglia

A town of Greek-Byzantine origin that became grand under Angevin rule, Vieste seems to be frozen in time. The lovely historic center with its alleys and milky-white houses overlooking the turquoise sea is truly spectacular. 

There’s so much to see from the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin (18th century), the Swabian Castle from the time of Frederick II, the Gothic arch of the Porta di Alt which was once the main entrance through the medieval walls. The Arco di San Felice is another arch that was carved in the white limestone by the same erosion process that created the many sea caves of the local coast and also the monolith of Pizzomunno.

The Pizzomunno Monolith

Pizzomunno is tied to the legend of the tragic love between the fisherman Pizzomunno and the young Cristalda (according to some versions, also named “Viesta”, hence the name of the city). As the story goes- sirens try to kidnap Pizzomunno, but he remains loyal to his beloved Cristalda. The sirens eventually kidnap Cristalda instead and drown her in the sea. Devastated, Pizzomunno is transformed into stone and remains so today- still waiting for his love’s embrace who returns every summer with high tide.

vieste-pizzomunno-apulia

If you visit Vieste in late winter or early spring, the weather is pleasant enough to enjoy the sea and also take advantage of very low prices. Early autumn is another great time to visit. If you want to book for the summer, do so well in advance because it’s really hard to find available rooms when the tourist crowds arrive.

 

 

Photo copyrights: www.bbparallelo41.it, www.tenutapadrepio.com

 

Visiting Pitigliano in Tuscany’s Maremma

Known as Tuscany’s “Little Jerusalem”, the village of Pitigliano in Tuscany’s Grosseto province just might take your breath away. This tiny hamlet has been carved out of a tufo (tuff) rock mass and seems to literally be suspended in the air. 

Pitigliano in the Tuscan Maremma

This part of southern Tuscany is known as the Maremma and stretches from Grosseto all the way to the Argentario Coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Pitigliano is only about 20 km from the famous hot springs of Saturnia and just 45 km from another spectacular village carved out of tuff, Civita di Bagnoregio.

pitigliano-borgo-grosseto-tufo

Inhabited since Neolithic times, eventually, Pitigliano became an important Etruscan and later, Roman city. Much later, it fell under Sienese rule and then to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Pitigliano got its name of “Tuscany’s Little Jerusalem” because beginning in the 16th century, it was home to a large Jewish community. Even today, you can still visit the Jewish quarters and the influences of the culture are everywhere. 

Officially one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, the sights in Pitigliano are many, yet not overwhelming! You can easily visit in a day or even a half-day.

Historic Center

This is the kind of village that you simply just want to meander through the narrow streets and labyrinth of alleys almost in hopes of getting lost. Everywhere you turn is another beautiful balcony, a characteristic wooden door, or a shop offering some kind of local delicacy or handicraft. 

pitigliano-centro-storico-grosseto

Palazzo Orsini

The striking Palazzo Orsini is at the heart of the town center which originally dated to the 1200s under the Aldobrandeschi family rule. Rebuilt by the Orsini family in the 15th century, today it houses two important museums– the Archaeological Museum and the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.

The Medici Aqueduct

Made up of two giant arches resting on 13 smaller arches, the aqueduct that the Medici family had constructed in the mid-1600s is an exceptional feat of engineering. The water feeds into three fountains one of which is the spectacular Fountain of the Seven Spouts (Fontana delle sette cannelle)

pitigliano-grosseto-fontana-acquedotto

The Jewish Quarters

Under Orsini rule, Pitigliano was one of the few cities that did not discriminate against Jewish people and this led to hundreds of immigrants relocating here. In 1598, they built a synagogue which has recently been restored and can be visited today. Pitigliano became a sort of safe-haven even during WWII when many of the locals assisted in hiding Jewish families. There is also a Jewish museum located in the synagogue.

The Cathedral

At first glance, the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul is probably not what you would expect to see in a Medieval Tuscan town. Although the building itself probably existed as early as the 13th century, its Baroque facade was redone in the 1700s. The clock tower next to it was originally the watch tower protecting the city.

Church of San Rocco

This is the oldest church in Pitigliano originally dating to the 12th century. The interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes as well as the family crests of the various ruling families.

Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie

Just before arriving in Pitigliano, along the Strada Statale 74, lies the Madonna delle Grazie Sanctuary. It dates to the 1400s and became a Franciscan monastery over the centuries and an important pilgrimage destination. Make sure to stop here on your way into town as it offers one of the best views of Pitigliano!

The Vie Cave

The ingenious Etruscans carved a series of roads out of the tufo rock which they used for protection, communication, and transporting goods between their network of cities and their necropolis. Vie Cave connects Pitigliano to Sovana, is about 7 km long and in some places, up to 20 meters deep. It was excavated entirely by hand! You can book guided walking tours or even go on horseback!

vie-cave-pitigliano

Cuisine

Some of the traditional dishes here are typical of the Maremma area of Tuscany and others are a reflection of the Jewish influence in the town. For example, a famous dessert called Sfratto di Goymor sometimes simply sfratti, can only be found here and in nearby Sovana.

This delicious cookie shaped like a log has a dark story. The word sfratto derives from the term meaning “to evict”. In the 1600s, Cosimo II issued an order forcing all Jewish residents to be confined to the ghetto of town and the dessert’s shape is a reminder of the batons they used during the round-up. 

Another famous dish is a very thin crepe called a migliaccio that is usually served as a dessert. Savory dishes include the famous potato dumpling pasta with wild boar sauce, the gnocchi di pane al cinghiale.

Both red and white wines are produced in the area and the most famous is definitely Bianco di Pitigliano DOC.

 

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

The Fonte del Cerro Hotel is located in the Tuscan Maremma countryside just steps away from the Saturnia hot springs. You’ll enjoy delicious homemade dishes grown directly on the farm. It is also the perfect location for visiting other beautiful destinations from hilltop villages to the sea. 

From the hotel,  you can visit…

22km away

Pitigliano
38km away The Tarot Garden
42km away Monte Amiata
50km away Argentario Coast
52km away Bolsena
65km away Civita di Bagnoregio
65km away Tarquinia

 

 

 

 

 

The Rocchetta Mattei Castle Near Bologna: Truly One-of-a-Kind

Let’s begin by clarifying that this is not your ordinary castle. The Rocchetta Mattei Castle is not Medieval, nor is it Swabian, nor Aragonese. It might just be what you would least expect to find in the hills of the Emilia-Romagna region, yet, there it is in all of its mystical, magical splendor.

Just an hour from Bologna in the Apennine Mountains, the “Rocchetta” rises majestically into the sky. At first glance, this surreal monstrosity will probably make your jaw drop. You’ll wonder if you’re actually still in Italy or if you’ve been transported into some wonderland out of a Lewis Carroll tale. Now that you’re curious, here is the story behind this architectural masterpiece.

castello-rocchetta-mattei-bologna

Count Cesare Mattei

In order to fully understand the “Rocchetta”, you must first understand its creator. Count Cesare Mattei was a brilliant scholar, politician, and physician who actually invented electro homeopathy. He was born in Bologna in 1809 and in 1850, he purchased the land where the ruins of a previous fortress stood. Mattei dedicated the rest of his life to the continual building of his castle and to his studies and medicine.

When he died in 1896, the family continued building on the castle until 1959 when it was sold. In 2005, the Cassa di Risparmio Bank of Bologna purchased it and began a massive restoration project which is still underway.

cesare-mattei-rocchetta-castello

The Castle

An eclectic mix of architectural styles, the “Rocchetta” is eye candy for anyone who is artistically-inclined! Mattei’s tomb is held inside a chapel intended to reflect the cathedral-mosque of Cordoba, Spain- the Mezquita. The courtyard replicates the Alhambra in Granada with authentic Majolica tiles. 

Every corner you turn, every staircase you climb, everywhere your eye wanders, will transport you to a mythical world and will have your head spinning in a Medieval-Moorish-Neo-Classical frenzy. 

Cesare Mattei had many illustrious guests who would visit him over the years and who were also his patients. One of the most sentimental rooms is the “Room of the 90s” which he designed for his 90th birthday when he had planned to invite 89 other people who were also 90 years old. Unfortunately, this dream of his never came to fruition because he died at age 87.

bologna-castello-mattei-rocchetta

Symbolism and irony are everywhere! See how many examples you can find as you wander through the rooms. 

Some of the original furnishings survived over the years but most were either destroyed or looted during WWII.

For details on how to visit and guided tours, visit the official website.

Other unique castles in Italy: Sammezzano in Tuscany and La Scarzuola in Umbria

rocchetta-mattei-castello-bologna

 

What are you waiting for?
Book your stay at the La Torretta Hotel in Castiglione dei Pepoli

This hotel is in the perfect location for visiting art cities while still being immersed in a natural setting! Perfect for families, La Torretta also has a restaurant and bar where guests can enjoy traditional dishes!

From the hotel, you can visit…

17km away

 Boccadirio Sanctuary
18km away  Brasimone Lake 
25km away Rocchetta Mattei Castle
30km away Barberino Outlets
 62km away Firenze
 57km away Bologna
51km away Prato