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!

Northern Italy

Central Italy

Southern Italy

Our itineraries




Our hotels








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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 structure

The house was built around 1784, when it originally housed nuns. In the early 1900’s, however, it was transformed into a small farm.   The building has been finely restored, preserving the stone exterior, and is ready to offer tourists an authentic experience. The structure is located in the neighborhood called vicinato, perhaps because it is isolated, but yet close to the real village. This area is the oldest part of the town and if its walls could only talk!


What to Do and See

Lucchesia, as it’s known in Italianis an area of Tuscany rich in art and culture, but also in various events that attract tourists and enthusiasts from all over Italy and beyond!

The city of Lucca is one of the jewels of Tuscany. The town is protected by walls on which you can take pleasant walks accompanied by the sound of rustling trees. You’ll see the famous towers (Torre delle Ore and Torre del Guinigi) above the rooftops. In the historic center you’ll find the Cathedral: Lucca is nicknamed the “city of a hundred churches” due to the large number of sanctuaries scattered within the city walls.

As you wander along the cobblestone streets of the city and window shop, you’ll make your way to Piazza Napoleone, or Piazza Grande as it’s known by the locals. This is where most of the events, such as Lucca Comics and Games and the otaku event, take place. The piazza is also home to concerts like the Lucca Summer Festival which brings international stars such as Elton John.

Going back towards the village of the camellias, or Pieve and Sant’Andrea di Compito, art and nature come together. Strolling along the streets of these villages, you’ll be able to witness the most spectacular camellias, parks and historic villas. Sant’Andrea di Compito is a charming Tuscan village with narrow streets, stone walls, ancient buildings and even some villas from the 1700s.

Contact Us

If you need additional information or if you’d like to personalize your package, please fill out the contact form below or send us an email at 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 CataniaSicily sound? Overlooking the Ionian Sea and Mt. Etna, you’ll discover Catania’s art and natural beauty. With this special Catania package you can enjoy a well-deserved break and indulge in Catania’s amazing cuisine!


Cost and Terms & Conditions

199€ per couple (meat dinner menu)

225€ per couple (fish dinner menu)

Offer Includes:

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

Payment Method: Deposit of 99 € required, balance due at check in. You can book at any time, even last minute (subject to availability).

How to Purchase: Read the final paragraph and fill out the form below

Cancellation Policy: Cancellation policy: the deposit amount paid will not be refunded, but you will be given the option of applying it towards a credit for a future reservation (within 6 mos).

Valid During: all year except 3-day weekends and holidays at which point there would be an increase of the offer price.

The Hotel

Casa Provenza

An oasis in the baroque heart of Catania where you’ll enjoy the comforts of personalized rooms, completely renovated spaces, furnishings and colors.

On the fourth floor of the building (equipped with elevator) you will enjoy a 180 ° view from the covered terrace of the most beautiful façade of the city center, in an area with limited evening traffic on weekends.
Ideal for leisure stays, individual or group, or business trips, you will be “pampered” by the managers and the attentive and dedicated staff. Free Wifi, available in all indoor and outdoor areas.

Also available for your leisure: a reading area with seasonal guides and information, tour desk, book-exchange and relaxation room, with refrigerator and drinks, kettle and herbal tea, toaster and microwave.


What to Do and See

Catania is not just a city of art! It overlooks a crystal clear sea just waiting to be discovered! 
The Riviera dei Ciclopi or the Cyclops Riviera is stunning: characterized by black lava that has reached the sea. Equally beautiful and noteworthy are the Grotte di Ulisse or the Ulysses Grotto where you can take a swim in the clear waters. In the fishing village of Acitrezza you can visit the protected area around the Faraglioni and the Lachea Island by pedal boat. And you cannot leave without tasting the best granita and pastries in the area at the Eden Bar!

Admiring Mount Etna, whose prominent outline is the backdrop to the whole city, is obviously a must.

Besides the amazing gifts of Mother Nature, you’ll also want to visit the Cathedral of St. Agnes which dominates the Piazza del Duomo; the town hall and the elephant fountain; the Roman Theater; Via Etnea and so much more!

Contact Us

If you need additional information or if you’d like to personalize your package, please fill out the contact form below or send us an email at You can also contact us on our Facebook page.

If you’re interested in this offer, contact us for additional information!
Let us organize your Catania package:
from your hotel to everything you might need for a pleasant trip!

Package code: 201903081544

Folk Traditions Festival in Petralia

That’s right, folk is not just tradition, but a life style! It’s like a drug; once you go into the tunnel, you can’t come out. You don’t even try to stop, but if for some reason, you distance yourself from it for awhile, you miss it. After awhile you get used to being without it, but as soon as you hear that distinct sound of a cheerful accordion or an upbeat mazurka, you realize that your feet are independent of the rest of your body being commanded by the beat.

The Festival of Popular TraditionsPantomime dance of Cordella in Petralia Sottana (Palermo) is an example. This will be the XXXV Mediterranean Meeting of International Folklore held every year during August in this beautiful location within the Madonie Park. During the typical celebration of the Cordella dance, the ancient peasant traditions are recalled as a sign of hope for a fruitful harvest and married life. The festival lasts for four intense days that are packed with events, workshops and concerts from morning until late evening. There are even signing and dance workshops for children.

petralia-folk-festival-2018The last day is where the real party takes place which consists of the re-enactment of the traditional Sicilian wedding complete with a church ceremony and a wedding procession that from the village parades up to the pine forest above Petralia Sottana. The traditional Cordella dance concludes the festivities in a blaze of colored ribbons woven by twelve pairs of dancers to the rhythm of the cheerful sound of the tambourines.
Over the course of these four days the city changes its appearance, coming alive with people of all ages who fill the streets. Guests will notice the proud faces of children in their traditional garb and locals who participate enthusiastically keeping their island’s folk culture alive. Parades of local folk groups and international guests, cuisine from around the world, book lectures and finally concerts will delight.

But that’s not all. Grab a speaker, connect to a telephone, find a free square, some dancers and start again. Maybe you’ll only start with a few, 6 or 8 people, but as the music goes on, some passerbys stop to look. The energy and enthusiasm soon overwhelms them, and their swept into the growing climax of the dance. 

Folklore-petralia-sottana-eventiIt captures you and overwhelms you in its vortex.
It is an indispensable exchange of energy! You suddenly realize you are very tired, but the energy that your body expended is all returned to you in spirit by your dance partner, the people who dance around you, the music, the joviality of the moment, the desire to dance until exhaustion, to make friends and to fly … you realize that your body  no longer feels tired.

The newcomers can initially be skeptical, embarrassed because they do not know the steps or people with whom you dance; it’s normal. The Circassian circle loosens tension, loosens the body, confuses you, amuses you. You are inexorably involved. When the music starts, the dancers frantically run in search of a partner. There are never enough men. You search through the crowd looking for a volunteer. You can not find one. You draw one against his will. Resistance. You hastily reassure him that the steps are easy and that he will learn them in a few rounds, at each change of partner. It begins. He’s tense and embarrassed. He hesitates and his steps are uncertain. He continuously makes mistakes, again and again until finally, he’s having fun. He’s passionate and alive.

There is no age. Everyone is dancing with everyone. It is pure magic.

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


photo copyrights:

Artigianato Vivo Festival in Cison di Valmarino


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.


Castle Brandolini


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.


Antiche Cantine Brandolini

Another example of the restoration of feudal buildings is the Antiche Cantine Brandolini. The building already appeared, as a basic structure, in fifteenth century maps. It has always been a particularly important place for the life of the village: built by the Brandolini family, it was initially used as a stable and then adapted to the wine production and conservation of agricultural products. It’s proof that the viticulture industry was already present in this area in distant times due to the high demand from Venice and the entire Veneto region.

As early as 1440, Valmareno already specialized in the cultivation of vines … and even today the entrire economy of the area is based on the production of wine, especially Prosecco.

Needless to say, this is an area where food and wine tastings are among the top tourist attractions. 

Cison-artigianato-vivo-2018-rolleRolle of Cison di Valmarino

You can not go to visit Cison di Valmarino without going through Rolle, a very small town surrounded by Prosecco vineyards. The poet Andrea Zanzotto defined it as “a postcard sent by the gods”. Beautiful all year through, the most fascinating season to visit Rolle is undoubtedly in autumn when the hills glow red.


Copyright photo The most beautiful village in Italy + Antiche Case Brandolini + Rolle: Carla La Rocca

Copyright photo Palazzo Marcello:

Copyright photo Castelbrando from above:

The Real Narnia: Narni in Italy’s Umbria Region

If you’re thinking the name Narni reminds you of something, you’re right. The setting of the Chronicles of Narnia is a real city in Umbria with a story to tell.

The History of Narni

Narni is a city in southern Umbria rich in history and natural beauty. Its history dates back to the protohistoric period when this land was inhabited by the people of the Osco Umbri, one of the first Italian populations. It was the last stronghold of Umbria before it fell and was conquered by the Roman Empire.

When it became a Roman colony, its name changed from the Umbrian name of Nequinum to the Roman name of Narnia. Its name made reference to the river Nahar, now called Nera.

British writer C.S. Lewis was inspired by Narni for his famous Chronicles of Narnia and what he describes in his novels beautifully conveys the image of what the landscape looks like. 

…Narnia. The happy land of Narnia- Narnia of the heathery mountains and the thymy downs, Narnia of the many rivers, the plashing glens, the mossy caverns and the deep forests ringing with the hammers of the Dwarfs. Oh the sweet air in Narnia! An hour’s life there is better than a thousand years in Calormen.



Narni Park

And as if you were being welcomed into Narnia by the Faun who guards the forest, you will be welcomed into the enchanted oak forest. This wood takes the name of Cardona after the Roman bridge that is located deep within the trees. Ponte Cardona is the fourth bridge of the Formina Roman aqueduct, an ancient structure inherited by the imperial colonists of these lands. This architectural work is 13 km long, most of which was carved out of the limestone by hand. It supplied the city of Narni with its water up until the 1920s.

A road was constructed just above it which over time became known as the Formina. Over the past 2,000 years, this path was crossed by many illustrious people, but perhaps the most relevant was Francis of Assisi. During one of his spiritual retreats, Francis spent time in a hermitage in a hamlet of Narni, near Caput Acquae, the first of the seven springs that feed the aqueduct. He walked the road of the Formina to reach the Sacro Speco di Sant’Urbano in Narni. Even today, it’s easy to imagine his passage and to understand how important nature was to Saint Francis- especially here where it has remained unchanged even centuries later.

In 2014, a Perugian scholar who was passionate about geography began researching the exact geographical center of Italy. With the help of satellite technology, he discovered that while the exact geographical location is Rome, the peninsular center is Narni. This study proved a theory from the 1990s when Narni’s Cardona bridge was identified as the center since the central meridian of Italy crosses Narni but passes a few kilometers from the bridge.


Art, Culture, and Nature

From the 1990s to 2014, the archaeological area was basically abandoned but recently, a local association began a reconstruction and conservation project that consisted of a 13 kilometer-long stretch along the aqueduct. To date, the association has reopened the first stretch of road that connects the historic center of the city to Cardona bridge- an easily accessible path of 5 km through the woods and along the ancient aqueduct. This is a unique experience where you can appreciate nature and man coexisting in a balanced way.

Within the park, there is also a museum and the Villa Montiello garden, a nineteenth-century residential complex located along the route. Countless activities including outdoor sports, hiking, and events are planned by the local association.

This true center of Italy is a place where man can behold the sacredness of this Earth and where the ancient, forgotten link between man and nature still exists.


Visit the official website for more information (Italian only).

Photo credits:

Articolo di: V. Filippi


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Valtournenche: the Place Closest to My Heart

Valtournenche and Cervinia in the Aosta Valley are the places I hold most dear. I have memories of my first endeavors with a camera under the guidance of my father, who had conquered the Matterhorn from the Swiss side and who loved to photograph it more than anything else in the world. Then, there are the moments spent with my friends at the picnic area during town festivals, the most beautiful conversations of my life thus far- all preserved in the depths of this heart.


©Stefania Grasso

These photographs symbolize the Matterhorn immortalized at the end of the main street of Cervinia on a summer day under an incredibly clear sky. I love photographing this mountain framed by flowers, a symbol of purity, of absolute majesty.

And then when you start to climb towards Valtournenche, the mountain seems to greet you every time, welcoming you into the arms of this immense valley. The mountains so close to my heart seem to welcome me back home.

Find out more about the Aosta Valley region 


Article and photos by: Stefania Grasso

Virtual Museum Tour: Raffaello at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome

The largest exhibition dedicated to the artist Raffaello ever organized in the entire world is now available online! The actual exhibition was inaugurated on March 5th at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale and for the few days that it was open to the public, it was hugely successful. This is one of the most anticipated events in the year 2020 and it is especially poignant since it celebrates the 500 year anniversary of the artist’s death. 



The Exhibition

The exhibition-event “Raffaello. 1520-1483” is available online on the Scuderie del Quirinale website and on social media. Via their official Youtube channel, visitors can also take a virtual tour. Amazing technology allows virtual visitors to study the various works on display in great detail.

The video story of the exhibition entitled “A walk in the exhibition” will be online beginning March 26 and will accompany visitors on a walk through the life, death, and works of Raphael Sanzio. Spectators will be able to walk among the various rooms of the museum and admire the exhibition.

The virtual tour will include a glimpse into Raffaello’s life which ended early and abruptly at the young age of 37 due to a respiratory illness. His remains and tomb are in the Pantheon in Rome. 

Works on Display

Many of the works on display are on loan from internationally-acclaimed museums such as La Velata from the Uffizi Gallery, the Madonna Alba from the National Gallery in Washington, and the portrait of Baldassarre Castiglione. In total there are 200 works on display (120 by Raffaello) ranging from paintings, drawings, tapestries, and letters. Among the various masterpieces, you’ll also see the Santa Cecilia Altarpiece directly from the Pinacoteca di Bologna.

Many illustrious names have collaborated with the museum in order to ensure an unparalleled event: the Uffizi Gallery, the Borghese Gallery, the Vatican Museums and even the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum. Curated by Maria Faietti and Matteo Lafranconi, with an important contribution from Vincenzo Farinella and Francesco Paolo Di Teodoro.

The museum has done an excellent job of adapting the exhibition to a virtual platform and thanks to technology, the world can still appreciate Raffaello from the comfort of their own homes.

Originally, the exhibition was to end on June 2 and represented an incredible opportunity to be able to admire the works of one of the most famous painters in history. 

Links for the Virtual Tour

Official website:

Social Media Sites:







A Real Garden of Eden Near Pavia: the Oasis of Sant’Alessio

If you love the outdoors and being in touch with nature then the Oasis of Sant’Alessio (l’Oasi di Sant’Alessio) just outside of Pavia is perfect for you! Spend a day immersed in greenery and tranquility with some amazing animals. This protected nature reserve is located in a small town named Sant’Alessio con Vialone and is just 6 km from Pavia and 25 km from Milan. The park entrance is the same as the village’s 14th-century castle entrance. 


Oasis’ History

Antonia and Harry Salamon, who also bought the castle, founded the oasis in 1973. Their idea was to create a wildlife area where animals, especially those species at risk of extinction, could be protected and naturally repopulated. The park was the first center in Italy of its kind and the animals are still closely monitored by a team of specialists.

It was only in 1994, however, that the area was made accessible to visitors thanks to LIPU (Italian League for Bird Protection). Today, we can observe various species of animals, which are allowed to roam freely or are contained in carefully constructed habitats and aviaries. Mammals such as roe deer, beavers, squirrels, and wild horses, as well as reptiles and birds are present.


Visiting the Oasis

Various itineraries can help you make the most of your visit.

The European route

The humid habitats of southern Europe have been reconstructed on this route and are characterized by a large forest. You can primarily see bird species such as hoopoes, storks, herons, and kingfisher, which, for the first time in the world, bred in this park. Aviaries are used for the reproduction of the species which then go on to repopulate various areas of Lombardy and other regions. The white stork, for instance, had not been seen in Italy for five centuries until the repopulation program. You will also find swamps and ponds with cranes and wild flamingos. The Oasis’ staff is restoring a watercourse which will soon be populated by fish from the rivers of the Po Valley. 


Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Along the same route, you can find both hummingbirds and a large variety of colorful butterflies that are bred during the summer thanks to a large number of flowers, plants, and caterpillars. Breeding begins in April and continues until the winter when it stops and resumes the following spring. 

The tropical route

This area is dedicated to aquariums, reptiles and insects. You’ll find interesting species from various tropical habitats across the globe including the chameleon, anteaters, turtles, the bird of paradise and the sloth. 

Other Activities

As you walk through the oasis you will eventually come across the heron nesting area. Hundreds of herons return here to nest every year after returning from Africa.

In addition to visiting all these fantastic animals, the park also offers educational tours for schools and some events, such as falconry shows. If you want to spend the day in the oasis, you can have lunch at the restaurant or have a nice outdoor lunch in the picnic area.

This park is suitable for everyone- adults and children. When the famous director Ermanno Olmi visited, he was so impressed with its beauty that he called it “the Garden of Eden”.

You’ll just have to visit and find out if you agree with him.

Visit the official website (Italian only) for the calendar, hours, and ticket prices. 


Copyright photo 1:

Copyright photo 2, 3 and 4:

Mercurago Lakes Park Near Lake Maggiore

Not far from Lake Maggiore, there is a lovely park in the Ticino Valley known as the Parco dei Lagoni di Mercurago. Located near the surrounding towns of Arona, Dormelletto and Oleggio Castello, visitors can choose from various entrances into the park. 


At each entrance, you’ll find a parking lot where you can leave your car and take the walking trail into the park. From Arona, you can also take the Comazzi bus line. 

At the entrances, you can pick up a  park map to get you started on your journey. There are four routes which are color-coded: the light blue path for wetlands, the purple path for archaeology (which guides you to historical remains), the red path to indicate the woods and the orange one for various activities that are carried out inside the park.

Once you set foot in the park, you’ll immediately realize how far away you feel from the crowds and hectic city life. Pebbles rustle under your feet and tree branches criss-cross to conceal and then reveal landscapes. The paths are slightly winding but easy enough for all ability levels. Benches are scattered throughout where you can contemplate by the lake or have a picnic. Cycling, horseback riding, and running are all popular within the park.


Useful information

Route length: 8 km

Walking time: 4 hours

Opening hours: 6 am-10:00 pm


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

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



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

In a Class of Its Own

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

Versions of the Classic

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

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


The Hermitage of the White Friars in Ancona

The arrival of spring is highly-anticipated by everyone, but for those who love nature, it is especially momentous. Places like Cupramontana in the Ancona province of Italy’s central Marche region are a prime example of Mother Nature at her finest. 


The Hermitage of the White Friars in Cupramontana

Completely surrounded by trees and greenery, and nestled in the mountains, the hermitage (known as l’Eremo dei Frati Bianchi) is a hidden treasure. The name derives from the white habit worn by the friars who have lived here for centuries. Interestingly, it is also known as the Hermitage of the Grotte del Massaccio. These magnificent caves or grottos were carved into the rocky walls where the monks’ cells are still preserved today.

The hermitage is immersed in the woods where rare plant species can be found. This area is protected by the Marche region and rightfully so. You can encounter species like the red lily, the black alder or pyramidal orchids. Peace and silence reign supreme in these secluded woods and the only noises that can be heard are birdsongs or the gushing water from the creek nearby.

In recent years, the hermitage has even been hosting weddings. A fairytale setting in which to celebrate one of the most important days of your life. But the possibilities don’t end there because visitors can actually arrange to spend the night in one of the ancient cells and experience what it was like to live like the real White Friars.

For additional information or for reservations, visit the official website.


Visiting the Cupramontana Hills

If you’d like to visit the hermitage, you will need to plan to arrive on foot. The tour that we recommend lasts about an hour. Starting from the parking lot at the foot of the hill, you will find a dirt road that cannot be traveled by car which then leads to the hermitage. You will find yourself on a path surrounded by dense vegetation with lush shrubs and tall trees. In a short time, you will reach the sanctuary. Once you get here, there are two options: the first includes a visit to the hermitage and the caves, or the second option is to continue on following the route along the stream. Following the signs for San Giovanni, you can enjoy magnificent views of Mount Murano, then reach a small settlement of houses. The path will lead you back around to your starting point in the parking lot. 

Sila and Its National Park in Calabria

Between Crotone and Catanzaro in the southern Italian region of Calabria, we find an area known as the Sila. This mountainous area offers incredible landscapes, quaint villages, outdoor sports, and a national park. It’s a treasure trove just waiting to be discovered!


The Sila

This unique territory is divided into various hamlets with hotels, restaurants, and recreational activities.

Villaggio Mancuso is the oldest and most famous of these. This vast area is also home to the Sila National Park which has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fascinating park is full of plants and wildlife as well as hiking trails and outdoor sports of all kinds including skiing. 

Passante Lake (Lago Passante) is another fabulous location to visit while in the area. Located in the heart of the area known as “Sila Piccola”, the majestic mountains and alpine scenery are stunning. In the wintertime, snowfall transforms it into a postcard-worthy winter wonderland.


What to Eat

Genuine, local products with hundreds of years of tradition are at the heart of the cuisine. Several fine varieties of mushrooms such as rositi, porcini, and chanterelle are served throughout the area and often top homemade pasta like tagliatelle and cavatelli. Wine, cheese (the famous caciocavallo) and meat are also abundant. 

The mountain resorts and villages of Calabria offer a fabulous alternative for those who simply want to experience nature and an authentic side of rural Italy.



The Charm of the Madonie Mountains and their rare tree

A winding road climbs the mountain, gradually becoming narrower and narrower, the colors of the changing landscape, passing from the warm shades of red and orange to the cold ones of green, white and gray. The road seems to never end, you have the impression of having walked for hours and as you proceed, you cannot imagine what you will find once you reach your destination. But after just a few miles and some slow and tortuous turns, you realize that even in your wildest dreams you couldn’t have imagined the view before you.

Sperlinga Castle


Castle of Sperlinga

A unique castle, carved into the rock, with smooth, steep walls, with several loopholes that look like eyes spying on approaching visitors. From afar, the castle looks like a simple natural rock on a ridge, but once you reach its walls, you will be amazed by its grandeur which makes you feel like a tiny grain of sand in comparison. You will also be surprised by the genius of the residents who transformed a rocky hollow into an impregnable fortress.

The Castle of Sperlinga is located within the province of Enna which was once a Lombard community. The Lombards arrived in Sicily from northern Italy in the 12th century and left a precious legacy. In particular, the “Gallo-Italic” dialect is still spoken by local people.

Madonie Regional Park

This is only the beginning of the journey. From the province of Enna, we can travel to the nearby province of Palermo and its picturesque surrounding municipalities. We are a few miles from the Madonie, a 2,000-meter mountain massif, and its regional park which was established in 1989.

This is an area rich in history and legends. One, in particular, is related to Christmas traditions and the close relationship between man and nature. In the town of Polizzi Generosa there is a very unique story that is both the source of a tourist attraction and scientific interest. 


Panoramic view of Polizzi Generosa

Madonie Fir Tree

The story is about a rare variety of fir trees, the Abies nebrodensis, that is only found in these parts of Sicily. In 1957, a group of botanists noticed some particular firs that were not like the others in the area and, after a thorough analysis, they came to the conclusion that it was Abies nebrodensis. 

Unfortunately, as a result of the unbridled and unscrupulous deforestation due to construction and naval engineering only about twenty or so trees were left, all of them enclosed in a small piece of land at an altitude of about 1500 meters in the Madonna degli Angeli Valley. Thankfully, the fir tree was declared a critically endangered species and it became protected by law as well as undergoing an extensive replanting effort.


Madonie’s fir tree

Nowadays, the noble tree is for all intents and purposes known as “Madonie’s Fir Tree”, a symbol of rebirth. It is also “the tree of life” because, in the past, men used its wood to build their houses and warm themselves during the cold winters, with temperatures that can reach -10°C. Highly respected and almost held as sacred, visitors can see these trees in all their glory reaching heights of up to 25 meters.

Activities Within the Park

If you are a nature lover and feel like exploring the territory, the Madonie Park with its 16 municipalities, is an excellent alternative to other Sicilian destinations within the major mountain ranges such as the Nebrodi, the Peloritani, and Etna. It is also suitable for those who usually prefer going to the Alps to hike or ski.


Hiking and skiing on the Madonie

Hiking the trails, bird-watching, horseback riding or mountain biking are all possibilities here. You can also visit caves, natural hollows and geological sites with fossils, hike along the waterways and try cross-country or alpine skiing. Choosing Sicily in the winter offers the traveler the chance to change the scenery by traveling just a few kilometers and heading for the coastal strip, with warmer temperatures compared to the Sicilian hinterland. The variety is astounding. 

Further information can be found on the Parco delle Madonie website and on the Artemisia website (Italian only).

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Virtual Museum Tours: Italy’s Most Famous Museums Are Online

Art lovers take note. Thank goodness for technology in times like these when it’s not possible to explore new places, get to know distant cities and visit museums in depth. Some of the most famous Italian museums are offering a virtual tour of their priceless treasures.


Online Museums

You can visit some of the most famous museums in the entire world from the comfort of your own home. High-definition images and 3-dimensional panoramic shots make the experience almost life-like. You can “tour” the Vatican Museums, the Duomo in Milan and the Uffizi in Florence. Today’s cutting-edge technology makes it as close to the real thing as possible.

Almost all Italian museums are participating in the #iorestoacasa (#stayhome) campaign. Some of the most noteworthy museums include the Vatican Museums in Rome where you can also see the Sistine Chapel and the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. You’ll be able to see the amazing paintings in high definition and watch videos as well. You may even notice details that you wouldn’t have in person!

The virtual tours also accompany us to archaeological sites and monuments such as Rome’s Trajan’s Market or the Ara Pacis.

At the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome, you can visit the “Raffaello. 1520-1483″ exhibition which offers extraordinary insights on one of the most famous painters of all time. 

Another fabulous tool is Google Earth Pro. It can be installed for free and enables us to have a 3D view of some of the most famous buildings,  monuments, and piazzas in the entire world. Imagine visiting the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain or St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice with just a few clicks!