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
Visiting San Leo in Emilia-Romagna
Perched atop a massive rock in the Emilia-Romagna region, San Leo is one the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”. Its history is closely linked with nearby San Marino and the saints Leo and Marinus. It makes a perfect day trip while in the area of Rimini, San Marino, or even parts of Tuscany and the Marche regions.
San Leo’s Beginnings
Also known as Montefeltro, San Leo’s Roman name was Mons Feretrius. By the 3rd century AD, Romans had begun building temples upon this rock mass that was the perfect vantage point of the surrounding Marecchia valley. There was no need for walls because, at 600 meters, the rocky cliff provided all the protection they needed. At some point at the end of the 3rd century, Dalmata Leone and Marinus came here from Dalmatia (Croatia) and began spreading Christianity. They would become Saint Leo and Saint Marinus.
The Pieve is the oldest church in town, and in the entire area, with elements dating back to the 8th century or before. Its capitals and columns were recuperated from Roman temples and date to between the 1st and 4th centuries. Legend has it that San Leo himself built the church and beneath the church there is a crypt and a shrine to the saint.
One of the finest examples of Lombard-Romanesque architecture, the Duomo originally dates to the 7th century when San Leo became the seat of the Diocese of Montefeltro. It was rebuilt in the 12th century out of local sandstone. It once held the remains of Saint Leo but now all that is left is the sarcophagus lid.
The magnificent bell tower erected out of rock stands tall right next to the Duomo. Very little is known about its construction but it was most likely built at the same time as the Duomo in the 12th century. It is only open to the public on special occasions, but when it is, it is a rare opportunity for a breathtaking panoramic view from the top.
Appreciated by the Romans and later, by the Byzantines, Goths, and Lombards, San Leo’s fortress is truly amazing for both its architecture and strategic location. In the 10th century, for a very brief period, it was actually the capital of Italy. By the mid-1600s it began serving as a prison and continued to do so until 1906. The very famous “free-thinker”, alchemist, and magician Alessandro Cagliostro died here in 1795 after being sentenced for heresy.
Piazza Dante is the only square in San Leo and is where various palaces are located as well as the Pieve. A beautiful fountain adorns the center.
You’ll find lots of souvenir shops as well as cafes and restaurants. San Leo’s culinary traditions are a mixture of both the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions. Depending on the season, chestnuts, both black and white truffles, Prugnolo mushrooms, cherries, honey, and potatoes are all produced in the Montefeltro area. Cheeses include Raviggiolo, Fossa, and Slattato and pork, as well as beef, are widely-used. Red wines include San Giovese and the white wine of choice is Trebbiano di Romagna. If you want to try something completely unique to San Leo, then taste the liqueur named after the famous alchemist, Balsamo di Cagliostro.
The Republic of San Marino: a Country Within a Country
The Republic of San Marino is a sovereign state located within the borders of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions. Like Vatican City, Monaco, or the country of Liechtenstein, it is a microstate or a very small state with very few people. San Marino happens to be one of the richest countries in the world and is a unique experience while visiting Italy. It’s almost like visiting a country within a country!
About San Marino
With under 40,000 people and covering an area of just 61 square kilometers, San Marino is one of the smallest sovereign states in the world. Its residents have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and also one of the highest life expectancies with the average person living to be 84 years old.
Legend has it that San Marino was founded by Marinus, a stonemason from Dalmatia (Croatia) who fled persecution under Emperor Diocletian. By 301 AD, the first group of immigrants arrived in the area of San Marino and documents show that by the 9th century AD, a republic had formed. Amazingly, throughout its history and as wars waged all around its borders, San Marino maintained its independence with the exception of just two times (1503 and 1739) when it was briefly occupied by military forces. So now that you know it’s a wonderful place, let’s find out what to see.
The Historic Center
The capital city is also called San Marino and Mt. Titano, precisely where Marinus and the first immigrants are said to have settled, is where you’ll find the historic center. In 2008, it became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Enclosed by stone walls and sitting at an elevation of 750 meters, San Marino is nothing short of spectacular.
There are three fortresses (one of which houses a museum of historical weapons) with towers that give the town its signature look. They are connected by a path known as the “Passo delle Streghe” or the “Witches’ Path” whose name is thought to have derived from the sound of the howling wind as well as that it was probably a meeting place for sorcerers during the Middle Ages. Today, you can access the stone path by cableway.
Numerous churches adorn the historic center including the Basilica del Santo (the Duomo) which is not old by European standards. Built in the mid-1800s, the Basilica houses the relics of Saint Marinus. If you’re interested in the life of Marinus, another important site is St. Peter’s Oratory which holds two beds carved into the rock that are thought to be those of Marinus and Leo and to have healing powers.
In Piazza della Libertà you’ll find the Public Palace or the Palazzo Pubblico which is still where San Marino’s government convenes and where you can witness the changing of the guard every 30 minutes.
Piazza Titano holds the State Museum with over 5,000 pieces spanning from the Neolithic period all the way up through the 19th century. Other interesting museums include the Museo della Tortura with some very scary torture devices and a wax museum.
Stamps, Coins, and Shopping
Another interesting fact about San Marino is that it had one of the first known postal systems in the entire world which was established in the early 1600s. Its tradition of stamps has lived on throughout the centuries and many come here specifically for stamp collecting as well as coin collecting (it is not part of the European Union but does use the Euro as its currency).
Shopping is also a major reason Italians and Europeans flock to San Marino. Aside from all the beautiful merchandise and souvenirs, the prices are attractive because tourists can enjoy the privilege of tax-free purchases.
The cuisine is, of course, superb and resembles that of both the neighboring Emilia-Romagna and Marche culinary traditions.
Experience the Village of Capestrano in Abruzzo
In Abruzzo’s L’Aquila province and at the gates of Italy’s largest national park, Gran Sasso, lies the village of Capestrano. This tiny hamlet offers visitors a unique insight into Abruzzo’s rich history, culture, and exquisite natural beauty. This is the type of place that not all tourists manage to visit but when they do, the experience is like no other.
At under 1,000 residents, Capestrano is less than an hour by car from the regional capital of L’Aquila. Its history can be dated to the ancient Picene people who inhabited this area in the 6th century BC.
They left behind one of the most famous statues in all of Italy right here in Capestrano. Known as the “Warrior of Capestrano”, this 2-meter tall limestone statue depicting a Picene king was found in a field in the 1920s. It is now housed alongside its female counterpart in the Abruzzo city of Chieti at the Archaeological Museum.
The Historic Center
Capestrano’s historic center is entirely enclosed in ancient walls and is a mixture of Medieval and Renaissance architecture. The church of Santa Maria del Rosario is where Antonio Piccolomini’s tomb can be found and, legend has it, that it was also the place where Saint John of Capistrano (San Giovanni di Capestrano) was baptized.
St. John of Capestrano
Born here in 1386, John of Capistrano was a Franciscan friar and Catholic priest who was known as the “soldier saint” for leading a crusade against the Ottoman Empire in Belgrade at the age of 70. He began construction of a convent in Capestrano in 1447 which was continuously expanded over the centuries. Today, visitors can see manuscripts and all sorts of items belonging to the saint in the museum as well as the magnificent church.
St. Peter ad Oratorium
Another amazing tidbit about Capestrano is that it is one of the very few cities where Sator Squares have been found. Along with Pompeii, Rome, and Siena, these five-word squares are known as palindromes. The one in Capestrano can be found on the facade of the Benedectine Abbey of St. Peter ad Oratorium just outside of town.
Castle Piccolomini (also known as Castle Mediceo) is also located just outside the village near the Tirino river and the abbey. The original structure dates to the 13th century but it was in the 1400s when it became the property of the Piccolomini family and was later sold to Francesco de Medici.
Its strategic position allowed ruling families to keep an eye on the shepherds’ route (known as the transumanza) which would have as many as 30,000 shepherds moving their flocks through the mountains to Foggia (Puglia) at certain times of the year. Today, the Via della Transumanza, along with the Via Francigena, is widely known as one of the five most important pilgrimages in Italy.
All of the above-mentioned sights can be visited by contacting the Pro Loco Association of Capestrano.
Capo d’Acqua Lake
While you’re in the area you cannot miss seeing the Capo d’Acqua (also written Capodacqua) Lake known as the “Atlantis of Abruzzo”. In 1965, part of the river Tirino was dammed and is now used for hydroelectric power. Natural springs from the mountains constantly flow into the lake making it one of the most pristine and unusual in all of Italy. Visibility is as great as 40 meters deep! But, it gets better! There are two ancient mills that probably date to the Middle Ages that are completely submerged and have been for hundreds of years. The diving company Atlantide has exclusivity of the lake and can organize scuba diving experiences.
The nearby Tirino river has provided the village with delicious fresh trout for centuries and even today, it is still a staple of the Capestrano diet. You’ll find it on menus prepared in multiple ways as well as in pasta sauces. Freshwater shrimp are also commonly used. Saffron was discovered in this area in the 1200s and has since become the finest in the world. Fried pizza and legumes like chickpeas and lentils are also staples here. Almonds are used in sweets and cookies like amaretti. Wines include Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano, and Pecorino.
Visiting Genoa’s Aquarium and Historic Harbor
Genoa’s ancient port represents the fulcrum of the tourist phenomenon and the Aquarium is its beating heart.
If it is true that the area designed and built by Renzo Piano, a Genoese architect known throughout the world, has several accredited attractions for the tourist who decides to make a stop in Genoa, then even more certain is that the Aquarium, one of the most important in Europe for the number and variety of animal species present, has exponentially increased tourism in the Ligurian capital.
Genoa’s Porto Antico
The old port is close to the center of Genoa which allows visitors to enjoy both areas. The historic center still shows signs of its medieval past with its stunning palaces and churches.
Today, the whole world has finally come to know Genoa’s infinite beauty and riches.
Conceived in 1992, on the occasion of the 500-year anniversary of the discovery of America and inaugurated the following year, the aquarium offers its visitors an experience like no other: a sensation of coexisting in the water with the most diverse marine animals. It’s a feeling that stays with you even after the visit because it affects the heart and soul of all those who want to indulge in this unforgettable experience.
In the Grande Nave Blu (“Great Blue Ship”), the dream of actually touching the fish becomes a reality with careful attention to respecting the marine life.
At the Aquarium, familiarization with dolphins becomes a reality; the nicest and most sociable inhabitant of the seas is at hand. Visitors learn about turtles, walrus seals, and even penguins and their unique social practices.
A very different experience is the shark tank where its residents tirelessly travel through the available space with their unmistakably severe, and even a little sinister physiognomy. Most observe the shark in silence because they demand our respect as they elegantly and stealthily cut through the water. Other areas of the aquarium are filled with shouts of joy, delight, and awe by visitors of all ages. For complete details and ticket information, visit the official website: Acquario di Genova.
In the old port area, there are all kinds of restaurants to suit every desire. You can try Ligurian and Genoese specialties as well as the more traditional Italian cuisine. Or maybe, you’ll just want to grab a quick espresso or a cappuccino to give yourself more time to visit the city.
Copyright foto 1: liguriaforyou.com
Copyright foto 2: c-way.it
Copyright foto 3: delphinarium.it
Copyright foto 4: marinaportoantico.it
A Castle to Discover in Pavia
When you think about the castles of Lombardy, the Sforza Castle in Milan, with its majesty and its beautiful park, immediately comes to mind. In this article, however, I’ll tell you about another castle, not widely know, but equally important and beautiful: the Visconti castle of Pavia.
The castle dates back to the Middle Ages and it is called Visconteo because it takes the name from a member of one of the most important families in Milan, the Visconti. I am talking about Galeazzo II Visconti, Lord of Milan, who conquered Pavia in 1359. He enjoyed the city so much that he decided to build his palace there. Galeazzo II did not waste any time. In fact, construction began in the following year and it only took five years to complete. It became a refined court residence.
The castle is square-shaped, composed of four quadrangular towers and it is surrounded by a moat. Nowadays, the moat is empty like the Sforza Castle in Milan but, in the past, it was filled with water from the Naviglio. Galeazzo II had the canal built to have a direct connection with Milan. The castle is on two floors and it has a courtyard surrounded by arcades.
One of the curiosities about the castle is that it was initially surrounded by a huge park which today can no longer be admired. However, people from Pavia are lucky, because a part of the park is still visible. It is located it the suburbs of Pavia and it is now known as Parco della Vernavola. The park used to connect Galeazzo II Visconti’s residence to his family’s mausoleum, which nowadays is the Certosa of Pavia.
The second curiosity is that an important personality is related to the castle: the poet Francesco Petrarca. His patron was Galeazzo II, who invited him to Pavia to contribute to the creation of the library of the castle, precisely during the years when the castle took shape.
Later, I will mention another curiosity related to the castle and to the city of Pavia.
The castle remained intact for two centuries, until 1525, the year of the Battle of Pavia fought between the Spanish and French armies. They both wanted to conquer the city and, during the battle, the northern area of the castle and two of the towers were demolished.
In 1951, the municipality of Pavia purchased and restored the castle. Today it is the location of all the sections of the City Museums of Pavia and it hosts temporary exhibitions. The sections of the City Museums include archeological works, paintings and sculptures from the Roman and Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Some important ones are:
• The Blue Room: named after the color of the frescoes.
• Early Medieval section: with works dating back to the time when Pavia was the capital of Italy. Pavia was the capital of Italy during the Kingdom of the Lombards, between the 6th and 8th centuries, after the fall of the kingdom caused by the Franks under Charlemagne’s ruling.
• Room of the wooden model of the Cathedral of Pavia, where you can admire one of the most magnificent models still intact.
• Malaspina Gallery: housing the works of Antonello da Messina.
• Rooms with paintings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, where you can find paintings of artists from Pavia and other well-known painters, including Francesco Hayez, Tranquillo Cremona and Giovanni Segantini.
• Room of the Italian Pavilion of the Risorgimento, with important spaces dedicated to Garibaldi and another family from Pavia, the Cairolis. This family was greatly praised by Garibaldi.
The area where you can see temporary exhibitions is called the Scuderie project of the Visconti Castle.
The castle is not just art and history. Throughout the year there are many events such as concerts and shows that take place in the gardens. The 68th edition of Autunno Pavese, the biggest wine and food event in the province of Pavia, has yet to be announced.
The King of Wines: Barolo and Its Castle and Wine Museum
Just a few kilometers away from Alba, in the heart of the Langhe hills, you’ll find the birthplace of the “king of wines”: Barolo.
Barolo wine is made from the nebbiolo grape (most likely derived from the Italian word for “fog”- nebbia). It’s often described as both the “king of wines” and as the “wine fit for kings”. Barolo is produced exclusively in Piedmont in the municipalities of: Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba and parts of Cherasco, Diano d’Alba, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Novello, Roddi and Verduno.
A land filled not only with intense aromas and breathtaking views, but also with a millennial history: the Romans, the Lombards, Charlemagne and the Saracens all left their mark. In fact, defending itself from the latter was precisely the reason its magnificent castle was built.
Perfectly nestled into the landscape, the Barolo Castle represents more than five centuries of history and the fascinating life of the people who lived here. Around the year 1250, the manor and its possessions became the property of the Falletti family of bankers. Later, the castle was reconstructed by Giacomo and Manfredo Falletti after being gravely damaged in the wars of the 16th century. Its resulting new facade remained intact until the death of Juliette Colbert, the last marquis of the Falletti family, better known as Giulia of Barolo. She was a prominent woman in the intellectual panorama of the time, with innovative ideas and therefore not always appreciated by the bourgeoisie of the kingdom. It was she who baptized the first wine of the same name in the early 1800’s and supplied the cellar of King Carlo Alberto of Savoy.
The castle is open to the public and inside you can admire the family crest room, the empire-style furnishings which belonged to the Marquis Colbert herself and the library of which Silvio Pellico was in charge. Silvio Pellico was a counselor of the Falletti marquises and a patriot who contributed to the Unification of Italy.
Barolo Wine Museum
Since 2010, the Castle has also housed the Wine Museum (acronym WiMu). It’s considered the most innovative wine museum in Italy and among the most important in Europe. It is an interactive and experiential itinerary (either with audio-guide or on your own) that starts from the panoramic terrace of the third floor and descends towards the cellars in the basement.
The journey begins with exhibitions connecting geology, astrology and life cycles and how wine has changed over the centuries. From mythology to the modern world, from art to literature, cinema and lifestyle, ultimately representing the bond between history, agricultural traditions and local identity. Its designer François Confino describes the experience:
“I have visited several museums dedicated to wine in the world. But none of them told of wine’s extraordinary cultural dimensions. It was fundamental that I create a creative and poetic museum course for visitors. Not a place where you learn how wine is made, but a place for talking about the relationship between us and it.”
The WiMu is open every day from 10:30 to 7:00 pm, with last admission at 6:00 pm. For complete details, visit the official website (Italian only). Of course, the visit wouldn’t be complete without wine tasting and numerous labels available for purchase.
And if you are visiting Piedmont, don’t stop here! Find out more about this amazing region!
Visiting the Medieval City of Gubbio in Umbria
And yet again, another fabulous medieval city in the Perugia province of Umbria- Gubbio. From Roman amphitheaters to medieval palaces and delicious food, Gubbio has it all!
A Bit of History
Gubbio is no tiny city by any means. With about 30,000 people, Gubbio sits at an elevation of over 500 meters on the slope of Mt. Ingino in the Apennines.
This area was populated in the Bronze Age by the ancient Umbri people (pre-Roman). In the 15th century, a set of bronze tablets inscribed in the Umbrian language were found here. Known as the Iguvine Tablets, these are some of the rarest examples in the entire world from this time period and they are right here in Gubbio!
The Romans renamed the city Ignuvium after their conquest in the 2nd century BC and built a massive amphitheater which was one of the largest in the Empire holding 6,000 spectators.
Dating to the 13th century, the historic center is surrounded by the original medieval walls and gates. Five parallel vias make up the center giving it a slight labyrinth-like feel.
Porta dei Morti
As you’re walking through the streets, you’ll most likely notice that many of the old houses have two doors. This is an interesting phenomenon found in some medieval cities known as the porta dei morti (“door of the dead”). The reason behind this isn’t completely clear. Although the name suggests that it was a door, in fact, used to remove the deceased from the home, another likely motive may have been to provide protection for the person answering the door by raising them up from the street level.
Gubbio is full of spectacular palaces and churches that will keep any visitor busy for several days, but if time doesn’t allow, these are the absolute must-sees.
Where to begin? Piazza Grande of course! Because it is just that- grande! This spectacular square includes Palazzo Pretorio and Palazzo dei Consoli (houses the civic museum where the Iguvine Tablets are located). This isn’t your typical piazza in that it was actually constructed at a raised level and is supported by the fabulous arches that make it so picturesque. From here, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Palazzo Ducale is a rare example of Renaissance architecture in this medieval city. Commissioned by Duke Federico of Montefeltro, the study is exquisitely carved in inlaid wood. There is also a museum inside.
Rivaling for the title of one of the most beautiful buildings in Gubbio is Palazzo del Bargello. Today, it houses the Museo della Balestra (crossbow). The fountain in front is known as the Fontana dei Matti or the “Fountain of the Mad or Crazies” which takes its name from a popular legend. So if you’d like to become an honorary “mad” citizen of Gubbio, run around the fountain three times and splash some water on yourself.
Every beautiful city has a beautiful Duomo and Gubbio is no exception. Ten ogival arches set this church which originally dates to the year 1000 apart from the others.
Umbria is synonymous with the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and one of the most spectacular churches (Church of San Francesco) was built just after the saint’s death on the property of the Spadalonga family who is believed to have given Saint Francis refuge.
Another historic site connected to the life of St. Francis is the Church of St. Francis della Pace (or dei Muratori). It is believed that this is where Francis made the pact with a wolf that was terrorizing Gubbio.
From the town center, you can take the cableway up to Mt. Ingino and visit the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo. This 500-meter climb is a sensational experience and provides breathtaking views of Gubbio from above. Gubbio’s Patron Saint Ubaldo’s perfectly conserved body lies within the church. Also here are the famous candles for the “Race of the Ceri” held in honor of St. Ubaldo every year on May 15.
Amazingly, Gubbio has also held the record for the largest Christmas tree in the world! Every year, a gigantic LED Christmas tree is lighted on Mt. Ingino.
Cuisine in Gubbio
Gubbio is famous for its hearty legume-based soups and stews and a flatbread called crescia. Friccò is a combination of lamb, duck, chicken, and rabbit sauteed in white wine. This area also produces delicious mushrooms as well as truffles.
Writer and traveler Guido Piovene defined Gubbio as “sublime monotony” for its grey stone blocks and similarly-constructed buildings. Let us know if you agree!
If you enjoyed this article, check out these other fabulous towns in Umbria!
What (else) to See in Matera
In part I of our article on Matera we explored Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso, or the rupestrian part of the ancient city. Part II will focus on other parts of the city (and beyond) that should definitely be included in any visit to Matera. We’ll also give you tips on what to eat while you’re here! Let’s go!
Let’s begin by highlighting some incredible museums that were not mentioned in part I of our tour. Not far from Sasso Caveoso, you’ll find the archaeological museum, Museo Ridola. Artifacts dating as early as 6,000 BC including bronze armor have all been found in the surrounding area. If you’re fascinated with rupestrian Matera, then you’ll also enjoy MuDeSca, or Museo dello Scavo, located in Sasso Barisano.
One of the newest museums in the city pays homage to a collection of art ranging from medieval to modern-day: the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art located within Palazzo Lanfranchi.
In Sasso Caveoso, another impressive collection of sculpture lies within the MUSMA, or the Contemporary Sculpture Museum.
For a complete list of Matera’s museum system, visit this link.
The Crypt of Original Sin
One of the most visited sites just outside of Matera, and considered an absolute must-see by any proper guide, is the Cripta del Peccato Originale or the Crypt of Original Sin. Referred to as the “Sistine Chapel of rupestrian art”, this chapel is a fabulously-frescoed underground wonderland. To think that this 8th-century masterpiece completed by an unknown artist(s) was discovered in the early 1960s by a group of young kids!
You can also visit the underground water system known as the Palombaro Cistern. Getting water to its residents has always been a challenge in Matera and so a system of cisterns was devised in order to solve the problem. Palombaro is located under Piazza Vittorio Veneto and is navigable by boat!
There are also natural parks and reserves located around Matera for those who want to explore outside of the city. The Parco della Murgia Materana is a fascinating place between Matera and Montescaglioso that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Here, you’ll find more caves and entire villages (Murgecchia, Murgia Timone, and Trasanello) carved out of the limestone landscape that date to the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Age. Not to mention rupestrian churches and over 1,200 species of wildlife and plants.
Matera’s culinary traditions have remained very much intact for centuries due to its geographic isolation. Many dishes are similar to those found in neighboring Puglia and reflect the agricultural and pastoral traditions of the area. Dishes are hearty and often vegetable or legume-based.
Pane Materano is the delicious bread made from durum wheat that can weigh up to 2 kg! Pasta is also made exclusively from durum wheat and many times, still by hand. Varieties include orecchiette, cavatelli, and strascinati. One of Matera’s signature dishes is Orecchiette alla Materana which involves topping the pasta with a rich tomato sauce (usually lamb-based), mozzarella, and pecorino cheese and then baking it in the oven.
If the weather is chilly then make sure to enjoy any of these traditional dishes that include legumes, grains, and vegetables and are sure to warm your heart and belly: Ciallédd, Crapiata, and Cutturidd.
Probably the most famous dessert is the scrumptious strazzate. These cookies are made of almond paste with a hint of lemon and liqueur! Yum!
The Church of Dante and Beatrice in Florence
Really close to the Duomo in Florence and to Piazza della Repubblica, there is a little church called Santa Margherita dei Cerchi, one of the most ancient churches of the old town center.
Named after Santa Margherita d’Antiochia (patroness of women in labor) and the Cerchi family, who owned the patronage of the church from 1353 after the Portinari. Inside the church you will find an altarpiece dedicated to the Virgin Mary by Neri di Bicci (a reknown painter from Florence). This magical place tells two stories about topics that are always near and dear to the heart of Italian people: love and food.
A little love story
It is said that the first encounter between Dante and Beatrice (described by the Tuscan poet in his work Vita Nova) took place right in this church. Even today, the remains of Beatrice rest in this church. A few roses and little sheets of paper where Florentines write about their love sorrows, are easily found on her grave.
A little story of food
This church is still the headquarters of the Venerabile Compagnia di Quochi, a historical brotherhood which today is part of the largest Florentine Chefs’ Association.
The church still preserves the remains of the oldest members of the confraternity, which is dedicated to St. Pasquale Baylón- famous for inventing the Italian dessert, Zabaione cream. Initially, it was called “Cream of San Baylón” which later became Sambajon and finally, into the modern Italian word, Zabaione.
Copyright photos: C.F. Ottaviani
Article written by: C.F. Ottaviani
DiVin October: an Entire Month of Events in Trentino
The wonders of the autumn harvest season will be celebrated the entire month of October in Trentino with the tasting event “DiVin October“. Every weekend of October will be booked with various tasting events located throughout the province of Trento.
Strolling through the ever-changing colors of the vineyards in autumn, sipping a glass of red wine accompanied by the crackling sounds of the first fires, enjoy a warm meal and the unmistakable flavor of roasted chestnuts.
The 15th edition of the DiVin October is back again every weekend of October and includes everything from trekking to pumpkin festivals. Every town involved will be able to show off its unique contribution to the local and national territory. From food products such as wine, pumpkins, chestnuts, radicchio, corn, and potatoes, and other events that will let visitors discover the secrets of winemaking and tasting.
The First Weekend: October 2-4
Beginning on Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at 10.00, with Un Inkino in autumn in the hills of Trento with a guided tour of the cellar, a walk and a picnic among the vineyards. This event will repeat each weekend throughout the month.
On Saturday, October 3, in Cavedine, in the Valle dei Laghi starting at 10.30, Il ciclo della vite/vita takes place. A day discovering the various production phases of the vine that begins with a beekeeping tour followed by a visit to the vineyard with tasting, lunch in the farmhouse, and finishing off the afternoon in the distillery. This event will be repeated on Saturday 10 and Saturday 17 October.
In Ala, on Saturday and Sunday, October 3/4, from 9.00 to 18.00, the October Enotour program is scheduled, a “multisensory” itinerary with wine tasting among the vineyards and local products. Event repeats every weekend in October.
A real dive into the traditions of Alpe Cimbra with Herbsttorgelen Zimbar, scheduled for Sunday, October 4, from 10.00 in Luserna: food and wine trekking to discover the delicacies of local cuisine. In Valle di Cembra, again on Sunday, October 4, starting at 4.00 pm in Altavalle there’s Musica & Gusto, a musical aperitif dedicated to local food and wine excellences.
The Second Weekend: October 9-11
The second weekend of October is in Marzemino with La Vigna Excellent. Isera is scheduled for Sunday, October 11 with a special day in the “City of Wine” to experience this typical red wine that has been able to express itself at its best in this area. In addition to tastings and Marzemino themed menus, the day includes the award ceremony of the La Vigna Excellent competition, the first and only one in Italy and Europe that rewards, not the best wine but the most refined grape variety and the farmer who cultivated it.
The Third Weekend: October 15-17
The third weekend is dedicated to Müller Thurgau, a typical vine of the Cembra Valley, with the XXXIII Müller Thurgau: Mountain Wine Festival, scheduled from Thursday, October 15 to Saturday the 17th in Trento at Palazzo Roccabruna-Enoteca Provinciale del Trentino which will offer more than 50 labels of wines nominated for the Müller Thurgau International Wine Competition.
On Friday, October 16, from 6.00 pm, a special aperitif is scheduled in the cellar in the hills of Martignano di Trento with Coralli and Bollicine. This event celebrates a card game invented by Trentino women.
Saturday, October 17, is Caneve en festa, dinner through the streets of the village of Cembra Lisignago experiencing local flavors and knowledge.
The Fourth Weekend: October 24-25
Beginning at 6 pm on October 24-25, it’s time for an aperitif with autumn flavors of local specialties in Val Sugana’s Roncegno Terme.
Alternatively, you can choose to participate in the Sagra della Ciuìga in San Lorenzo Dorsino, where this particular Slow Food Presidium cured meat will be celebrated, obtained from the encounter between pork and white turnips in the setting of one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”. An arts and crafts market with local specialties, music, and lots of tastings too!
The Fifth Weekend: October 31-November 1
In addition to the second weekend of the Ciuìga Festival, scheduled for Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1, the last weekend of October gives wine lovers an appointment with Reboro. Territorio & Passione. Scheduled for October 31 in Valle dei Laghi, this event is dedicated to a special wine- the result of a project shared between some local wineries.
Plus, Every Saturday in October …
Every Saturday in October, from 9.30 onwards, Taste & Bike is a day to discover the food and wine side of Vallagarina, between Rovereto, Mori, Isera and Nogaredo. The tour, which includes a cooking workshop, lunch, and various tastings, includes stops in different wineries of the Trentino Wine and Flavors Road, which can be reached by e-bike or, if you prefer, by car.
DiVin Ottobre is part of the calendar of wine events called #trentinowinefest. During the events it will also be possible to taste La Trentina local apples.
The official website is currently updated in Italian only. The official hashtags are as follows:
Press Office Strada del Vino e dei Sapori del Trentino