Dooid’s Suggestions for This Weekend in Italy
Are you in Italy this weekend and wondering what events might be going on near you? We have you covered here with lots of ideas in every part of the Bel Paese!
- Marché Vert Nöel – Aosta Valley
- Christmas in Bolzano – Trentino Alto Adige
- Christmas in Spilimbergo – Friuli Venezia Giulia
- Beatles Exhibition – Lombardy
- The Biggest Christmas Village in Italy – Lombardy
- Villaggio di Babbo Natale – Emilia Romagna
- Niki de Saint Phalle Exhibition – Emilia Romagna
- Christmas market in Palazzuolo – Tuscany
- Christmas in Palazzuolo – Tuscany
- Tyrolese Village– Tuscany
- Christmas in Florence – Tuscany
- Christmas market in Siena – Tuscany
- Book Fairs – Lazio
- Christmas market in Perugia – Umbria
- The Gradara Castle – Marche
- Luci d’artista – Campania
- Christmas Traditions in Agnone– Molise
- Night of the Faugni– Abruzzo
- Caria Exhibition in Cagliari – Sardinia
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Stay in Lucchesia: discover Lucca and its surrounding area
Have you ever visited the beautiful city of Lucca? Have you ever been there when the camellias are in full bloom? Have you ever dressed up as a ninja with your friends for the famous Lucca Comics event? If not, the time has come for you and a group of friends or family to make unforgettable memories in Lucca. Enjoy this Stay in Lucchesia package!
Cost and Terms & Conditions
Up to 4 guests ( 2 rooms ) € 160,00/per night.
Each additional person is € 25.00 / night. The offer varies according to the number of people.
Minimum stay 4 nights.
10% off only with dooid (taxes included) on a minimum of a 7-night stay
Payment Method: by bank transfer
How to Book: read the final paragraph and fill out the form below.
Cancellation policy: free up to 30 days before arrival, after this deadline, 50% of the price of the stay will not be refunded.
An additional security deposit of € 400.00 is required for any damage caused to the property which will be refunded upon check out (after checking the house).
The house was built around 1784, when it originally housed nuns. In the early 1900’s, however, it was transformed into a small farm. The building has been finely restored, preserving the stone exterior, and is ready to offer tourists an authentic experience. The structure is located in the neighborhood called vicinato, perhaps because it is isolated, but yet close to the real village. This area is the oldest part of the town and if its walls could only talk!
What to Do and See
Lucchesia, as it’s known in Italian, is an area of Tuscany rich in art and culture, but also in various events that attract tourists and enthusiasts from all over Italy and beyond!
The city of Lucca is one of the jewels of Tuscany. The town is protected by walls on which you can take pleasant walks accompanied by the sound of rustling trees. You’ll see the famous towers (Torre delle Ore and Torre del Guinigi) above the rooftops. In the historic center you’ll find the Cathedral: Lucca is nicknamed the “city of a hundred churches” due to the large number of sanctuaries scattered within the city walls.
As you wander along the cobblestone streets of the city and window shop, you’ll make your way to Piazza Napoleone, or Piazza Grande as it’s known by the locals. This is where most of the events, such as Lucca Comics and Games and the otaku event, take place. The piazza is also home to concerts like the Lucca Summer Festival which brings international stars such as Elton John.
Going back towards the village of the camellias, or Pieve and Sant’Andrea di Compito, art and nature come together. Strolling along the streets of these villages, you’ll be able to witness the most spectacular camellias, parks and historic villas. Sant’Andrea di Compito is a charming Tuscan village with narrow streets, stone walls, ancient buildings and even some villas from the 1700s.
If you need additional information or if you’d like to personalize your package, please fill out the contact form below or send us an email at email@example.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page.
If you’re interested in this offer, contact us for additional information!
Let us organize your stay in Lucchesia:
from your hotel to everything you might need for a pleasant trip!
Package code: 201903141658
Catania package, Sicily: includes hotel, shuttle, meals!
How does a relaxing weekend in Catania, Sicily sound? Overlooking the Ionian Sea and Mt. Etna, you’ll discover Catania’s art and natural beauty. With this special Catania package you can enjoy a well-deserved break and indulge in Catania’s amazing cuisine!
Cost and Terms & Conditions
199€ per couple (meat dinner menu)
225€ per couple (fish dinner menu)
Payment Method: Deposit of 99 € required, balance due at check in. You can book at any time, even last minute (subject to availability).
How to Purchase: Read the final paragraph and fill out the form below
Cancellation Policy: Cancellation policy: the deposit amount paid will not be refunded, but you will be given the option of applying it towards a credit for a future reservation (within 6 mos).
Valid During: all year except 3-day weekends and holidays at which point there would be an increase of the offer price.
An oasis in the baroque heart of Catania where you’ll enjoy the comforts of personalized rooms, completely renovated spaces, furnishings and colors.
On the fourth floor of the building (equipped with elevator) you will enjoy a 180 ° view from the covered terrace of the most beautiful façade of the city center, in an area with limited evening traffic on weekends.
Ideal for leisure stays, individual or group, or business trips, you will be “pampered” by the managers and the attentive and dedicated staff. Free Wifi, available in all indoor and outdoor areas.
Also available for your leisure: a reading area with seasonal guides and information, tour desk, book-exchange and relaxation room, with refrigerator and drinks, kettle and herbal tea, toaster and microwave.
What to Do and See
Catania is not just a city of art! It overlooks a crystal clear sea just waiting to be discovered!
The Riviera dei Ciclopi or the Cyclops Riviera is stunning: characterized by black lava that has reached the sea. Equally beautiful and noteworthy are the Grotte di Ulisse or the Ulysses Grotto where you can take a swim in the clear waters. In the fishing village of Acitrezza you can visit the protected area around the Faraglioni and the Lachea Island by pedal boat. And you cannot leave without tasting the best granita and pastries in the area at the Eden Bar!
Admiring Mount Etna, whose prominent outline is the backdrop to the whole city, is obviously a must.
Besides the amazing gifts of Mother Nature, you’ll also want to visit the Cathedral of St. Agnes which dominates the Piazza del Duomo; the town hall and the elephant fountain; the Roman Theater; Via Etnea and so much more!
If you need additional information or if you’d like to personalize your package, please fill out the contact form below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact us on our Facebook page.
If you’re interested in this offer, contact us for additional information!
Let us organize your Catania package:
from your hotel to everything you might need for a pleasant trip!
Package code: 201903081544
Folk Traditions Festival in Petralia
That’s right, folk is not just tradition, but a life style! It’s like a drug; once you go into the tunnel, you can’t come out. You don’t even try to stop, but if for some reason, you distance yourself from it for awhile, you miss it. After awhile you get used to being without it, but as soon as you hear that distinct sound of a cheerful accordion or an upbeat mazurka, you realize that your feet are independent of the rest of your body being commanded by the beat.
The Festival of Popular Traditions – Pantomime dance of Cordella in Petralia Sottana (Palermo) is an example. This will be the XXXV Mediterranean Meeting of International Folklore held every year during August in this beautiful location within the Madonie Park. During the typical celebration of the Cordella dance, the ancient peasant traditions are recalled as a sign of hope for a fruitful harvest and married life. The festival lasts for four intense days that are packed with events, workshops and concerts from morning until late evening. There are even signing and dance workshops for children.
The last day is where the real party takes place which consists of the re-enactment of the traditional Sicilian wedding complete with a church ceremony and a wedding procession that from the village parades up to the pine forest above Petralia Sottana. The traditional Cordella dance concludes the festivities in a blaze of colored ribbons woven by twelve pairs of dancers to the rhythm of the cheerful sound of the tambourines.
Over the course of these four days the city changes its appearance, coming alive with people of all ages who fill the streets. Guests will notice the proud faces of children in their traditional garb and locals who participate enthusiastically keeping their island’s folk culture alive. Parades of local folk groups and international guests, cuisine from around the world, book lectures and finally concerts will delight.
But that’s not all. Grab a speaker, connect to a telephone, find a free square, some dancers and start again. Maybe you’ll only start with a few, 6 or 8 people, but as the music goes on, some passerbys stop to look. The energy and enthusiasm soon overwhelms them, and their swept into the growing climax of the dance.
It captures you and overwhelms you in its vortex.
It is an indispensable exchange of energy! You suddenly realize you are very tired, but the energy that your body expended is all returned to you in spirit by your dance partner, the people who dance around you, the music, the joviality of the moment, the desire to dance until exhaustion, to make friends and to fly … you realize that your body no longer feels tired.
The newcomers can initially be skeptical, embarrassed because they do not know the steps or people with whom you dance; it’s normal. The Circassian circle loosens tension, loosens the body, confuses you, amuses you. You are inexorably involved. When the music starts, the dancers frantically run in search of a partner. There are never enough men. You search through the crowd looking for a volunteer. You can not find one. You draw one against his will. Resistance. You hastily reassure him that the steps are easy and that he will learn them in a few rounds, at each change of partner. It begins. He’s tense and embarrassed. He hesitates and his steps are uncertain. He continuously makes mistakes, again and again until finally, he’s having fun. He’s passionate and alive.
There is no age. Everyone is dancing with everyone. It is pure magic.
Artigianato Vivo Festival in Cison di Valmarino
ArtigianatoVivo is an artisan festival held from 5 to 15 August in Cison di Valmarino in the province of Treviso, between Follina and Vittorio Veneto. It has steadily and increasingly attracted thousands of tourists from far and wide since 1980. There is talk of a turnout of 400,000 people this year.
The town of Cison – which has recently been inducted into the exclusive “club” of Borghi Più Belli d’Italia (Most Beautiful Villages of Italy)– comes to the forefront of excellent artisan craftsmanship that Italy truly does best.
200 exhibitors will present their unique products made strictly by hand at stands throughout the village. These types of festivals keep the Italian tradition and the art of “know-how” alive in this technological era in which craftsmanship is slowly dying.
In conjunction with the event, the Proloco organizes a series of side events such as concerts, animation shows, exhibitions and literary meetings.
ABOUT CISON DI VALMARINO
As I said, the tourist turnout is very high, and the whole territory merits a holiday of at least a few days. The artisan festival is a great opportunity to explore this beautiful area.
Cison di Valmarino is located in Valmareno, a valley dominated by the fortifications of the XII century Brandolini Castle which has been converted into a luxury hotel.
The Brandolini Counts were men of arms in feudal times and later became gentlemen dedicated to the economy, leaving an indelible imprint throughout the village.
The heart of the historic center is Piazza Roma which is dominated by Palazzo Marcello. It was the ancient Venetian villa of the Venetian doges Marcello, famous winners of the battle of Lepanto and the Loggia.
You will notice while walking through Cison that almost all the old houses have red or maroon shutters; a red that in these parts is called Rosso Brandolini.
Another example of the restoration of feudal buildings is the Antiche Cantine Brandolini. The building already appeared, as a basic structure, in fifteenth century maps. It has always been a particularly important place for the life of the village: built by the Brandolini family, it was initially used as a stable and then adapted to the wine production and conservation of agricultural products. It’s proof that the viticulture industry was already present in this area in distant times due to the high demand from Venice and the entire Veneto region.
As early as 1440, Valmareno already specialized in the cultivation of vines … and even today the entrire economy of the area is based on the production of wine, especially Prosecco.
Needless to say, this is an area where food and wine tastings are among the top tourist attractions.
Rolle of Cison di Valmarino
You can not go to visit Cison di Valmarino without going through Rolle, a very small town surrounded by Prosecco vineyards. The poet Andrea Zanzotto defined it as “a postcard sent by the gods”. Beautiful all year through, the most fascinating season to visit Rolle is undoubtedly in autumn when the hills glow red.
Copyright photo The most beautiful village in Italy + Antiche Case Brandolini + Rolle: Carla La Rocca
Copyright photo Palazzo Marcello: villevenetecastelli.com
Copyright photo Castelbrando from above: hotelcastelbrando.com
The Hilltop Village of Montecarlo in the Lucca Province
Just 25 km east of Lucca lies the quaint hilltop village of Montecarlo. You may not have heard of it until now, but it became quite well-known in the year 1333. Its rich history, famous wine, and beautiful surrounding landscape make it a must-visit if you are meandering through Tuscany in search of yet another borgo. Then again, why wouldn’t you be?
A settlement and fortress already existed in this strategic position between the then territories of Lucca, Pisa, and Florence in the 1200s. It was King John of Bohemia and his son Charles IV (who would later become Emperor) who helped the villagers in the area fight their battle against the Florentines. In honor of Charles, the new town erected was named Mons Karoli, later becoming Montecarlo. The large fortress was built with additions being made in the 16th century by Cosimo I dei Medici. It is now privately owned.
What to See in Montecarlo
The walled, historic center is very tiny and concentrated making it the perfect town to see if you just have a couple of hours and want to get away from the more touristy areas of Tuscany. You can sip a glass of wine (Colline Lucchesi and Montecarlo DOC), taste the Lucca DOP olive oil on some crusty Tuscan bread, or maybe, a delicious artisan gelato on the main via. Pick up a handpainted, ceramic souvenir as well.
The fortress officially called the Rocca del Cerruglio, is well worth the visit but does require a ticket. Its gardens are also lovely and well-kept.
As in any Italian village, churches abound and Montecarlo is no exception. The main church of the Chiesa Collegiata di Sant’Andrea dates to 1333 as well. The town’s patron saint, the Madonna del Soccorso, or Mary of the Rescue, is depicted in the fresco inside the chapel and references the legend that tells of the Virgin Mary appearing in the fortress during the battle against Pisa.
Interestingly, the church’s belltower was intentionally constructed to be lower in height so as not to provide a view into the fortress revealing their defensive secrets.
Piazza Carrara holds the Monumento ai Caduti, or the monument to the fallen of Montecarlo in both World War I and II. There is also a lovely panoramic view here with a terracotta map.
Don’t Miss in the Immediate Area
We are about to reveal a secret to you that many native Tuscans don’t even know about: an absolutely magical place just a couple of kilometers from the historic center of Montecarlo. You’ll have to be willing to either walk or drive down a windy, unpaved road but the reward is well worth it.
Surrounded by the feeble protection of nothing more than a wooden fence lies the magnificent Quercia delle Streghe, or the Oak of the Witches. This is not just any oak tree, but instead has been growing in this spot for over 600 years. Its limbs stretch out an astounding 40 meters and some have been lovingly propped up for support in its old age. Its massive trunk is 4 meters in diameter and although it’s difficult to see, its crown reaches somewhere around 20 meters into the Tuscan sky. This is the kind of tree you wish could speak and tell you all of the secrets it’s seen as its leaves rustled in the soft winds for the past six centuries. (If you love giant trees, check out this article as well).
The next spot is the Pieve di San Piero in Campo, a Romanesque church that originally dated to the 9th century, but what is mostly the result of the reconstruction from the 12th century on. It is only open by appointment (we found this link and contact information).
You will need a car to reach Montecarlo and there are numerous agriturismo/farmhouses in the immediate area should you choose to stay overnight.
Photo credits: 1) montecarloditoscana.it; 2) Croosadabilia, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons; 3) Di SonOfMySorrow – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91583322
What to Do in Sicily: Messina
If you’re wondering what to do in Sicily, look no further than Messina. A clear sky, bright sun, and a shimmering sea are the premise for a summer to be enjoyed on the beaches of Sicily. Messina is the perfect destination for those who want to spend their holidays relaxing, and for those who prefer to combine relaxation and fun.
Capo Peloro is on the north-eastern tip of Sicily where the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian sea meet. It’s a spacious beach, with transparent waters and an enchanting view of the Strait of Messina. It’s a wonderful setting to spend a pleasant day.
Messina also offers other beaches that overlook the unmistakable waters of the Strait: north of the city, there is the Ionic stretch that offers various bathing sites with the same charm.
If you’re exploring the southern part of the city, after doing some shopping at Tremestieri, you can refresh in the waters of the Santa Margherita area.
If you want to change the landscape, the Tyrrhenian coast offers a different perspective for a beautiful sunset.
Whatever your choice, you will certainly not be disappointed by this enchanting region. You can spend the day on the section of beach that you have claimed with your umbrella and beach towels, or rent a chaise lounge at a private establishment. You’ll want to visit the historic center of Messina. The cathedral and bell tower are true architectural masterpieces!
If you’d like to try something more adventurous, you can book a fishing excursion that will take you out with local fishermen- master swordfish fishermen- on boats that you’ll only find in the Strait- the felucca. You can fish with the pros and also enjoy the fruits of your labor.
When the sun goes down, you can enjoy a gelato and stroll along the promenade or around the lakes of Ganzirri, and then dine on the fresh catch of the day. The city offers various culinary opportunities; why not try the traditional Messina focaccia, or let yourself be tempted by the famous arancini?
Why not do it all?
photo credits: (photo 1) commons.wikimedia.org ;(photo 2, 3) Marica Santoro
Italia in Miniatura Theme Park
If you’re staying along the Riviera Romagnola on Italy’s Adriatic Coast, then it’s quite likely that you won’t be able to visit all of the country’s stunning architecture, ancient ruins, and art cities. Not to worry because a visit to Italia in Miniatura will have you covered. Just as its name reveals, it is a small theme park that has managed to recreate over 270 of Italy’s amazing monuments and sites in a fairly compact space. Their slogan is, “Where little ones can feel big”, but don’t let that fool you; even if you visit without kids, you will definitely enjoy this park. Think of how Las Vegas has managed to recreate major wonders and monuments of the world on an enormous scale- now imagine it shrunk down into an adorable, yet well-designed, mini park.
From Rome’s Spanish Steps and St. Peter’s Square to Florence’s Duomo to the Alps of Valle d’Aosta- all of Italy’s 20 regions are represented in full splendor. There are numerous spots where you can pose for pictures or selfies with backdrops that seem completely real! There is even an area dedicated to the famous sites of Europe called Europa in Miniatura.
If you didn’t make it to Venice, or maybe you just didn’t get the chance to take a gondola ride in the Grand Canal- now’s your chance! The park has a replica of St. Mark’s Square that can actually hold 280 people and the gondola ride is included in your ticket price. Other attractions included in the ticket price include a kids’ race track, a castle complete with a water attraction, and a monorail. There’s also a water ride that has some pretty exciting drops, a ropes course (not included in ticket price), a 7D cinema experience (not included) a hands-on science museum, and even an aviary with parrots from all over the world.
Located in the Rimini province, just 20 minutes south of Cervia by car, it would make a perfect day or even half-day trip. We visited in the month of April on a lovely spring day. The park is entirely outdoors and perfect for visiting on a warm spring day. Remember to bring your sunscreen and hat and a change of clothes, towel for the little ones.
Please consult the park’s official website for complete details and opening dates during the month of September.
I can honestly say that my family and I had a great time at this very simple, yet well-thought-out park and that it was a nice break away from the crowds. I know you’ll love Italia in Miniatura!
photo copyrights: italiainminiatura.com
The LIPU Oasis and the Contemporary Art of Casacalenda
For those who want to immerse themselves in uncontaminated nature for a totally relaxing and regenerating experience, come to the LIPU natural oasis in Casacalenda. Located in the Campobasso province of the Molise region, the oasis is immersed in the woods and characterized by a hilly oak forest with streams that give life to a multitude of species of flora and fauna.
Plant and Animal Species
Among the fauna species, there is the badger, roe deer, amphibians like the spectacled salamander, and a hundred species of birds including the pommel that can fly around peacefully thanks to the protected area. Among the flora species, there are precious orchids and a variety of multicolored flowers that make the oasis a show not to be missed. In the spring months, the trails are invaded by a hundred species of colorful butterflies.
For environmental enthusiasts, the LIPU Oasis organizes various events throughout the year dedicated to the various expressions of nature, from bird songs to forest blooms, from educational activities for children to days dedicated to butterflies.
Village of Cascalenda
Casacalenda is also characterized by a small medieval village full of history, culture, and traditions. Walking through its alleys, you can see eighteenth-century churches, ducal palaces, and stairways.
The Civic Gallery of Contemporary Art, which is housed in the town hall, houses works by famous contemporary artists who stand out for their colorful paintings and for the arrangement of some modern objects in specific points of the municipal halls. In the building, you can admire the multimedia museum of the Bufù and the Giro del Cigno Gallery- a cycling race of national importance that is taking on ever more considerable proportions.
The Kalenarte open-air museum is spectacular: an original and unique project for the whole region where artists from all over the world have created enchanting and symbolic works, including the Cromoscala, the Guardiano del Bosco and the Poet of Casacalenda. Kalenarte was born as a street furniture project to enhance the entire territory.
copyright photos: moliseweb.it, lipu.it, MAACK Massimo Palumbo
The Fortress Town of Palmanova
Perhaps many do not know that in the southeastern part of Friuli Venezia Giulia a few kilometers from Udine and Gorizia, there is an incredible town with a polygonal star-shaped fortress called Palmanova.
A real “star on earth” built by the Venetians with the probable intent to erect a fortress city to protect against Turkish and Austrian raids.
Although it is believed that its star shape derives from a shepherd’s dream (or another tale claims it’s from a spiderweb), it is possible that the design is owed to the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s been historically ascertained that he arrived on-site to inspect it.
Credit has been given to the Venetians who began construction in 1593 and made it the bulwark of a geometrically perfect urban center. Palma (as it was initially called) perfectly reflected the Renaissance model of the “ideal city” from the rigorous philosophical-building conceptions of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Because of its privileged position below the line of the horizon, designed to give it the character of an impregnable stronghold, it was used to accommodate and centralize the people of the Republic of Venice. Despite this plan, when construction was finished, it ended up that nobody wanted to live in such an unusual and unconventional city. So the government was left with no choice but to populate it with prisoners from Venice.
If nowadays the museums (the Historical Civic and the Military) and the seventeenth-century Duomo overlooking the Piazza Grande provide ample evidence of its history and its structure, the sentences engraved on the six sides of the square embody the character of its inhabitants, who survived the French and Austrian dominations. One professes the golden rule and another, “Enjoy your rights but never forget your duties”.
Palmanova (from the original “Palma” or victory, and “nova”, suffix allegedly added by Napoleon Bonaparte) has been a national monument since 1960. In 2017 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list as “Venetian Works of Defence between 15th and 17th centuries”.
Together with the Croatian cities of Šibenik and Zadar, the Montenegrin Cattaro as well as the local Peschiera del Garda and Bergamo, is recognized among the six cities that best exemplify the urban defense systems era of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.
But oh how beautiful this “starry city” is!
To visit Palmanova is to find yourself literally in a nine-pointed star: between nine bastions, a perfectly hexagonal center (piazza grande) from which six arterial roads start, and many “doors” to the city (facing respectively Cividale, Udine and Aquileia).
And while wandering about, it is always easy to come across some tantalizing event …
The months of May (with “Flavors of History, History of Flavors”) and of October (with the “Fiera dei Sapori Friulani”) bring to the city the tastes of the most genuine enogastronomy; the whole summer is instead a harbinger of exhibitions, cinema, music, tastings and competitions with “Guarda Che Luna”; July and September are dedicated to historical re-enactments in costume, while the last weekend of November hosts the Alfa Romeo End-of-Season Grand Gala.
Getting lost in the streets of Palmanova is inevitable, but necessary; the feeling of disorientation that comes from it is surreally pleasant.
copyright foto: placesfromabove.altervista.org, artwave.it, scacchierando.it, rete.comuni.italiani.it
Island of Ortigia: Art, History and a Beautiful Sea
The Island of Ortigia is the oldest nucleus of Syracuse. Linked to the town by the Ponte Umbertino, Ortigia is surrounded by blue waters, where you can see sailboats, fishing boats, and other ships.
The aroma of saltiness and the shining sun on the sea waves beckon you to take a tour by boat where you’ll be able to see grottoes along the coast. Among these, there’s a heart-shaped cave which is a favored destination for romantic trips.
History reigns in Ortigia where, just before entering the real core of the island, the majestic ruins of the Temple of Apollo (6th century B. C.) rise with their columns in limestone. This is a reminder of the Greek past of Syracuse, a town that rises from the dust of time, leaving its evidence. Don’t forget that in the hinterland the Greek theatre of Syracuse still welcomes spectators with numerous performances inspired by ancient comedies and tragedies.
The magnificent Fountain of Artemis in piazza Archimede, which shines in its own light during the evening, leads to via della Maestranza, full of shops and perfect for shopaholics. Here you’ll find contemporary clothing shops next to artisans.
Walking up the alleys of this part of the town, you’ll reach the Giudecca, the ancient Jewish district. Go inside the church of Saint John the Baptist, built with the typical limestone. Its architectonical features recall something older. This roofless building set on arches, with a fifteenth-century portal with a rose window on top of it was built on a fourth-century A.D. basilica. Visiting this church is a great experience: you have the opportunity to admire the yellow and rose reflections of the light on the stone, with the blue sky above your head. An ancient synagogue most likely used to be situated next to the basilica.
Going on with the tour, you can immerse yourself in the narrow alleys colored by fuchsia and red bougainvilleas. Then you can visit the oldest Jewish ritual bath in Europe, situated just under the residence-hotel “La Giudecca“. It’s the mikveh of Casa Bianca, accessible thanks to a long staircase carved in the rock. The aim of the brief guided visit is to let you know the fascinating history of the site while learning important information about the ancient Jewish culture.
Sicily is also famous for the so-called “pupi“, colorful puppets dressed as knights with brilliant armor. You can also decide to visit the museums dedicated to them and learn more about this southern Italian tradition carried on by the Vaccaro family. Inside the museum, you can see the studio where paperback cutouts are mixed with colored tubes and paintbrushes under the watchful eye of wizards, witches, and other fantasy creatures.
Turning to other historical alleys, you’ll arrive in piazza di Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy’s square) where the spectacular Cathedral (Duomo) rises in all its splendor with its magnificent Baroque façade. An attentive eye can catch some important details when entering the building: some giant columns support the roof, while rich Baroque fitments decorate the chapels. The Cathedral of Syracuse (Duomo di Santa Lucia), in fact, has an ancient story that once again is rooted in the island’s Greek past. The columns belong to the Temple of Athena (5th century B. C.). Christians incorporated them into Saint Lucy’s sanctuary, creating a case of historical, archaeological and devotional stratification.
In the same square, art lovers will also find the little church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, where Caravaggio’s magnificent painting “Burial of St. Lucy” lies.
Like sirens, the blue waters of the Syracusan sea need attention and it’s good to listen to their call, walking along the many alleys and eating cannoli or arancini. The Fountain of Arethusa, whose name comes from the nymph who took shelter in Syracuse, is just beautiful. Arethusa asked to be transformed into a fountain but Alpheus, who had fallen in love with her, chased the nymph until Zeus, moved by compassion, diverted Alpheus’ river to Syracuse.
The Castello Maniace overlooks the sea. It’s a masterpiece of military architecture ordered by the Holy Roman Emperor Federick II, also known as Stupor Mundi, between 1232 and 1240. Its high steeples in the rooms meet the strong defensive wall.
Finally, the Bellomo Palace Regional Gallery preserves and displays sculptures and artworks from destroyed convents of Syracuse and other places. It’s a little museum, divided into rooms situated both on the ground floor and the first one. From there, you can see the Palm Court courtyard whose walls are covered in coats of arms made of marble.
The tour of Ortigia doesn’t end here: its narrow alleys are full of details and stories of a distant past, aromas and colors, mixed with the traditions and smiles of the residents who will always have a place in the visitors’ hearts.
Copyright photos of the article: Cristina Cumbo
The Etruscan Coast in Tuscany
When you think of Tuscany, the first thing that probably comes to mind are the rolling, green hills dotted with olive trees and vineyards that produce some of the finest wines the world has ever known. You probably haven’t considered its coastline much. The truth is that the entire peninsula of Italy is blessed with pristine shores that rival, if not surpass, the beauty of the Caribbean. The Etruscan Coast is a stretch of heaven from Livorno to Piombino. Only about a two-hour ferry ride to the islands of the Tuscan archipelago including Elba and Capraia, it’s also a perfect port for those wanting to explore. The towns of San Vincenzo, Baratti and Populonia are probably the most characteristic.
San Vincenzo is a lovely, coastal town with everything a visitor could possibly need- and then some- for a fantastic vacation. Its pedestrian-friendly corso has hundreds of shops that vary from boutique-style to souvenirs. It boasts fine restaurants and bars where you can taste the best of Livorno’s classic seafood dishes such as cacciucco.
Its 11 km of beaches have consistently been awarded the “blue flag” and the “green flag” (suitable for children) and are varied enough that you’ll find not only the perfect spot in shallow waters for young children, but also for water sports of all kinds. In fact, scuba diving is very popular in the area because of the crystal clear waters and unique species you’ll encounter when exploring. The loggerhead sea turtle routinely deposits its eggs in the Rimigliano Park area. Beachgoers will enjoy numerous options available from “free” beaches to fully-equipped bathing establishments. If you’re traveling with “Fido”, the area is also famous for its dog beaches located along the shores in Rimigliano Park.
The Tower of San Vincenzo dates back to 1300 and was constructed to defend the coast from frequent pirate attacks. Giorgio Vasari depicted the famous battle of San Vincenzo of 1505 between the Pisans and the Florentines which is now housed in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Getting around San Vincenzo is a visitor’s dream because the city has gone to great lengths to make your stay as convenient as possible. The entire area is bike-friendly and if you weren’t able to bring yours, have no fear because there are multiple places from which to rent your wheels! There is also a shuttle called the “trenino” which runs throughout the town in the evenings from the end of June through mid-September. It’s also a free Wi-Fi city allowing you to connect for several hours a day throughout the city. During the summer months, you can also enjoy loads of free entertainment from music to children’s programs.
Located just south of San Vincenzo’s Rimigliano Park, the area of Baratti is the heart of the ancient Etruscan settlement dating back to the 9th century BC. This industrious population thrived using the area as a coastal hub and importing hematite from nearby Elba island to be used for ironwork. They also mined silver, copper and lead and evidence of their amazing civilization can be seen in the archaeological park in Baratti and Populonia. There are guided visits and various itineraries depending on how much time you plan to dedicate. Baratti’s beaches are unique due to their slightly red-tinted sand coming from the rich, iron mineral deposits. If you’re willing to explore, there are still spots during low-season months where you can enjoy almost complete silence and of course, crystal clear waters.
Located on the top of a hill, the town of Populonia was one of the twelve city-states of ancient Etruria. It was later populated by the Romans beginning in the second century BC. You’ll find parking at the top of the hill and enter through the old gate. You can picnic on the grassy area just before you enter if you like. Its most striking feature is the castle that dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Views from the top are absolutely stunning! The Cornia Valley, Baratti Gulf and the Tuscan archipelago will take your breath away.
The Etruscan Coast is a tourist’s paradise providing everything you need for the perfect vacation– from fine, coastal living to history and culture to gorgeous beaches.
What are you waiting for?
Book your room at the Due Ponti Farmhouse/Agriturismo
Agriturismo/Farmhouse Due Ponti is located in Tuscany’s Valdera in the Pisa province. The property is situated on 100 hectares of farmland and has been renovated in rustic, Tuscan style.
From the hotel, you can visit…
|41km away||San Gimignano|
|55km away||Etruscan Coast|
Trekking in Abruzzo’s Majella National Park
Pennapiedimonte, a mountain village in Abruzzo, occupies the eastern slope of the Majella National Park. On its summit lies the panoramic balcony called Balzolo from which numerous suggestive trails branch off. Some of which are complicated, ideal for those accustomed to mountain terrain, others less difficult and suitable for all, but no less enchanting.
So get your trekking shoes and backpacks ready and prepare to climb a short path on a mighty rock that resembles a woman who seems to be carrying something in her arms. Legends attribute it to the Goddess Maja who lost her son Mercury in this area. Going further on, you’ll pass a short tunnel to continue along the numerous rock faces on one side, and on the other, the open passage to the beautiful canyons of the Valle dell’Avello.
The dry, stony path below your feet contrasts with the lush Mediterranean vegetation that grows around it. With the sun to keep you company, it’s a very pleasant, mostly open route. There are some caves scattered along the path that have been used for centuries by shepherds to shelter their flocks. The relaxing landscape and the rushing sound of water flowing and crashing against the rocks will calm your mind.
If you get weighed down with fatigue, just remember that just 5 km away lies the village of Guardiagrele and its traditional sweets await you as your reward. The dessert resembles the three highest mountain peaks of the Apennine range: Gran Sasso, Majella and Sirente-Velino.
Guardiagrele merits a visit not just for its sweets but also for its artisan traditions. It’s especially known for its metal craftsmanship such as wrought iron and copper. Stroll through its streets full of history and reflect on your day and how much you broadened your horizons by taking time out from the monotony of the daily routine.
copyright photos: ilmeteo.it, abruzzoturismo.it
Monteriggioni’s Castle and Medieval Village in the Siena Province
Monteriggioni is a little town with a rich history located in the province of Siena. The primary attraction is its castle surrounded by towers. The castle was built between 1214 and 1219 by the Sienese and is situated in a prominent position on the Via Francigena. Although disputed by the Florentines, the castle remained in Sienese possession even after numerous battles and assaults.
Located in a dominant position, you can admire the majesty of the castle surrounded by vineyards and olive trees that are still productive. At the foot of the castle there is a large parking lot and climbing the steps (or ramps for disabled access) you will find yourself in front of one of the two gates of the castle (Porta Romea / Franca) from which you enter the large square that overlooks the Romanesque Pieve, the Museum of Medieval Armor, (interesting attraction for children too) and the tourist office.
There are also some excellent Tuscan restaurants with medium-high prices, local products and souvenir shops. You can climb some parts of the walls and follow the ancient walkways.
“Monteriggioni of towers crowned”
During the first two weekends of July every year*, the now-famous medieval festival takes place during which the castle and all its inhabitants return to their origins. There is the sensation of going back in time. During the event, you can watch performances by the best street artists. The whole castle is populated by artisan shops that reconstruct the activities of that time. During the festival days, there is an entrance fee to the castle; otherwise, it’s free.
It will be impossible to forget Monteriggioni!
*Covid restrictions permitting
copyright foto: www.valdelsa.net, www.10cose.it
Visiting Chioggia: the Colorful Little Venice
Located in the southernmost outpost of the Venetian lagoon, in a strategic position to defend the Most Serene Republic of Venice, Chioggia, the ancient Clodia, today appears as a cheerful, lively city on the water.
Chioggia is full of splendid historic buildings interspersed with small canals connected by classic bridges and an incredible amount of people who, at all hours, move on foot and by bicycle, and, as in Venice, aboard boats of all kinds.
The party atmosphere reigns supreme between the main street and the adjacent streets, where you will come across characteristic seafood restaurants.
And fresh fish is one of the main characteristics of this beautiful town. Today Chioggia boasts one of the largest fisheries in Italy, well organized and managed, which allows the city to have fresh fish every day. Every morning, adjacent to the main street, the famous retail fish market is celebrated, open to all, where you can experience an emotion of bygone times in a location with an incredible atmosphere. You will find the locals intent on bargaining for the delights of the sea, tourists looking for a souvenir photo, curious people wandering among the fish stalls, and above all loads of freshly caught fish.
And if you happen to be here on a Thursday, be careful, the entire corso becomes a gigantic local market, one of the largest in Veneto, called “el zioba” meaning “on Thursdays” in dialect. But the apex of the food and wine culture of the city of Chioggia takes place during the month of July with the famous fish festival which for 80 years has attracted thousands of tourists from all over Italy.
But Chioggia is not only fishing and great food, but it also boasts centuries of history. A visit to the centenary cathedral as well as the tower with the oldest clock in the world is a must. Not to mention its museums dedicated to the lagoon and to Adriatic zoology where inside you will find an 8-meter embalmed shark, which ended up by mistake in the nets of the Chioggia fishermen in 2003.
But let’s go back to the main street, the beating heart of the city. A true piazza developed over time, full of bars, shops, porticos, restaurants and buildings in Venetian style. It culminates with the small square where the famous Vigo bridge is located, made famous by the “cat” statue (supposedly built intentionally small to show Venice it wasn’t impressed with its rule).
And here, right at this point where the walk ends the incredible scenery of the Venetian lagoon opens up. An endless coming and going of boats dedicated to work, entertainment, transport, and especially tourism. From here in fact (but not only from here) for just a few euros you can take a tour of the canals of Chioggia, or even go by boat to the island of San Pietro in Volta, a long strip of land between the Adriatic Sea and the Venetian lagoon.
And if you love the sea … Chioggia is connected by a long driveway with its sister Sottomarina, very famous for its beaches famous throughout Europe for its high iodine content. You will find the inevitable fish restaurants, an infinity of hotels, modern campsites, theme parks for children, organized beaches, and much more.
Do not miss the dam, huge boulders defending the beach and delimiting the access channel to the city, a beloved destination by the locals who frequent it at all hours. A very long walk suspended between the sea, the lagoon and the beach among ancient renovated fishing balances, which will take you right in front of one of the most beautiful stretches of the Adriatic Sea.
A romantic, active, colorful city to visit at any time of the year and not just on weekends.
Photo copyrights: www.confesercenti.ve.it; www.itlietuviai.it
Article by: S. Ghezzo