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 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 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 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 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 Best Beaches in Abruzzo’s Teramo Province
The Italian peninsula is blessed with fabulous coastlines from the Adriatic Sea to the Tyrrhenian to the Ionian! So how does one choose? In this article, we’ll introduce you to three magnificent spots along the Adriatic in the central Abruzzo region: Alba Adriatica, Cologna, and Roseto degli Abruzzi. Andiamo!
This beautiful coastal town is in the Teramo province of Abruzzo and is close to the border with the Marches region to the north. Awarded the prestigious Blue Flag in 2023, water simply doesn’t get much prettier than this. It is known in Italian as the Spiaggia d’Argento or the “Silver Beach” for its soft sand with a silvery shimmer.
Visitors, and especially families, will appreciate all of the options available whether they choose to bring their own beach umbrella or take advantage of the various bathing establishments and rent a spot for the day (or longer). There are all kinds of restaurants, cafes, and ice cream shops, as well as boat rentals available. The water is shallow enough at the shore for the little ones and gradually gets deeper further out to sea. Lifeguards are on duty patrolling the beaches as well so families can feel even more confident. In fact, Alba Adriatica has also been awarded the Green Flag which means that it has been deemed a child-friendly beach by the Italian Pediatricians’ Association.
There is also a stretch of almost 700 meters of shady woods along the coast which is just perfect for an afternoon break from the sun and a nice bike ride (see last paragraph “Cycling Path”).
The city also plans loads of entertainment for all ages during the summertime (through the first week of September) including music, theater, art, and more. There will never be a dull moment here!
Visit the city’s official tourism site for more information at goalbaadriatica.it
Just a few kilometers south of Alba Adriatica is Cologna. Immersed in the Borsacchio Nature Reserve, Cologna is one of the most untouched areas along the coastline and includes sand dunes and Mediterranean scrub. While nowhere near the abundant amount of conveniences available in Alba Adriatica or Roseto degli Abruzzi, still, there are services here including bathing establishments. The sea and sand are also impeccably clean even in the peak of the summer season.
Cologna is a great place to come for an early morning or late evening stroll along the beach in the hopes that most of the tourists will have chosen another spot.
photo credit: https://www.abruzzocitta.it/
Roseto degli Abruzzi
Just a few kilometers south you’ll find the lovely seaside town of Roseto degli Abruzzi, a favorite among locals and visitors alike. All three of its beaches have also earned the Blue Flag award as well as the Green Flag. Like Alba Adriatica, the soft, fine sand and shallow water as well as lifeguards on duty and loads of services for families truly make it the ideal location for a fun-filled family vacation in the sun.
In the evenings, you can expect lots of family-friendly entertainment of all kinds as well as amusement park rides, hundreds of dining options, bars, ice cream, and shops.
The promenade known in Italian as the lungomare is the perfect place to unwind with a relaxing stroll while window shopping and trying a fabulous gelato (we recommend a new flavor each day!). There will never be a dull moment in Roseto degli Abruzzi.
Get more information on the city’s official tourism website by clicking here.
Photo credit: https://www.visitroseto.it/
The Cycling Path
The entire coastline in the Teramo province boasts one of the best cycling and pedestrian paths in all of Italy. The Ciclovia Adriatica runs along the entire Adriatic Coast from Trieste to Puglia and the stretch of it in Teramo is known as the Corridoio Verde Adriatico. It’s a smooth, well-designed track for even the youngest and most inexperienced cyclists. Bike rental is available all along the coast, especially in Alba Adriatica and Roseto degli Abruzzi.
As you can see, these three locations along Abruzzo’s Adriatic coast have everything the heart could desire for the perfect Italian beach holiday! And what we have covered in this article, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Luciodem at Italian Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Just 4 km away from Alba Adriatica, we recommend the
Il Casale Hotel
Book your room at the Il Casale Hotel in Martinsicuro
Dolomiti Ski Jazz: 25 Years of Rhythm
From 3 to 12 March 2023, the 25th edition of the Dolomiti Ski Jazz Festival returns to the mountain refuges, squares, and slopes of the Fassa and Fiemme Valleys in Trentino. This one-of-a-kind event is a must for anyone who loves music and the snow!
15 free concerts are scheduled in various locations over the nine day festival. Some can be reached by car and others only by ski lifts!
More info is available on the Val di Fassa official website.
Renoir Exhibit in Rovigo: “The Dawn of a New Classicism”
An absolute must-see exhibition for art and Impressionism enthusiasts. From 25 February to 25 June 2023, 47 of Auguste Renoir’s works from museums in France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Principality of Monaco are on display (including a masterpiece owned by Prince Albert, the Baigneuse s ‘arrangeant les cheveux).
Exhibited alongside the works of Renoir will be masterpieces of great artists who inspired Renoir such as Vittore Carpaccio, Tiziano, Romanino, Peter Paul Rubens, Giambattista Tiepolo, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and others.
Details and ticket information can be found on Palazzo Roverella‘s official website.
Sicily’s Fascinating Mount Etna
By now, everyone on earth has heard of Mount Etna. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the entire world. Located on the eastern side of the island of Sicily within the Etna Park, this stratovolcano was formed about 500,000 years ago. If you’re not a scientist or geologist, you may be wondering why anyone would want to visit, but this natural wonder along with the surrounding area is quite the tourist attraction.
Where to Start
Thousands of people visit Etna every year. Most access the mountain via the Sapienza Refuge which is on the southern side of the crater. AST buses depart from Catania‘s Piazza Papa Giovanni every day for the Sapienza Refuge. You can also drive the panoramic route which is about an hour from Catania. Once at the refuge, you can visit the inactive caldera of Crateri Silvestri on your own. From the refuge, most visitors take the cableway all the way up to 2,500 meters. For those who want to go all the way, experienced hikers can continue up the mountain to the summit at 2,920 meters. Most choose to hire an experienced guide either by jeep or hiking.
Yet another option for visiting the entire area around Mount Etna is an old railroad known as the Circumetnea (literally, ‘around Etna’) which is a 110 km route that travels from Catania through Paternò, Adrano, Bronte, Randazzo, and finally Riposto. This option is recommended for those who want to see unusual lavic terrain and lesser-known villages in the area that you might not otherwise visit. You’ll need a minimum of three hours (one way) to complete the route and remember that these trains are very old and do not have modern luxuries such as air conditioning.
Within Etna Park
Etna Park is a regional park that was formed in 1987 and encompasses a total area of over 58,000 hectares. Years ago it was common to spot larger mammals such as wolves, wild boar, and deer, but unfortunately, today visitors are more likely to see smaller mammals such as foxes and hedgehogs as well as numerous bird species.
One of the oldest and largest trees in Italy lives within the park- the Holm Oak of Etna. There are numerous trails within the park of varying difficulty with or without guides that will allow the visitor to appreciate the vegetation. The soil here is rich and full of nutrients which have allowed agriculture to prosper in this area. Some of Etna’s most famous products are its wine, olive oil, pistachios, hazelnuts, apples, and pears.
Is It Safe?
Scientists have figured out that eruptions have been occurring on a constant basis for the past 300,000 years. In recent history, a significant event took place in 2002-2003 that was actually captured on film by Lucasfilm and used in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. 2018 saw a significant eruption that made the news across the globe, yet despite all this, Etna remains one of the safest volcanoes to visit in the world and is vigilantly monitored. In its entire recorded history, it is estimated that only 77 deaths have been caused by its eruptions.
When to Visit
Sicily enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate year-round, but when visiting Etna, you must take into consideration that it is the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps at over 3,000 meters. This elevation makes for cold winters and even skiing. Summers are quite hot and overrun with tourists. The ideal times to visit are May and October and November.
A Day Trip to Pontremoli in Tuscany’s Lunigiana Region
Tuscany has done “it” once again! “It” being the fact that the region continues to pleasantly surprise me time and time again even after having lived here for almost ten years. Although, I think anyone who is in love with Italy could say the same thing about any of its twenty regions. It is, quite frankly, hard to get enough of. On this particular one-day getaway, we headed for the small village of Pontremoli in Tuscany’s Lunigiana area.
The Gateway to the Apennines
But getting back to Pontremoli. The little hamlet is situated in Tuscany’s northernmost province of Massa e Carrara and close to both the Ligurian and Emilian borders. The Tuscan-Emilian Apennines are part of the town’s magnificent backdrop. It is also believed to have been the capital of the ancient Apuani people (a Ligurian tribe pre-dating the Romans). It was Frederick II who in 1226, made Pontremoli an independent municipality.
What to See
Castello del Piagnaro
The Castle of Piagnaro located at the highest point in Pontremoli is probably the village’s most famous attraction. It is one of the most magnificent in the entire area and dates to the year 1000 AD. A strong defensive castle was crucial during the Middle Ages since the town was located on major trade routes along the Magra river and at the gateway to the Apennines, and also along the Via Francigena.
Museo delle Statue Stele
There is also an extraordinary museum located within the castle: The Museum of the Stele Statues. I’ll be the first to admit my ignorance that prior to this visit, I had no idea these statues even existed, much less that they were found in various places in Italy and throughout Europe. These very primitive-looking, stone blocks were carved as early as 5,000 years ago and depict male and female bodies. In Italy, sixty-three examples have been found right here in the Lunigiana area. A single ticket of just seven euros (full price) gets you into both the castle and the museum. Visit the official website for more details and hours which do vary based on the season.
Torre di Cacciaguerra
The Torre di Cacciaguerra (also known as the “Campanone” by the locals) is a prominent figure in the town’s center. This impressive tower has become the symbol of the town and was erected in the year 1322. It was once part of the Cacciaguerra Fortress which divided the Guelph and Ghibelline factions of Pontremoli. In the 1600s the bells were added and it became a civic tower.
One could say that “Baroque Pontremoli” unofficially began in the year 1650 when Ferdinand II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, purchased the town from King Philip IV of Spain. In fact, there are so many examples of fine Baroque architecture that various associations organize tours here. The Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral (early 17th century) is located in Piazza del Duomo and is a must-see for its sumptuous frescoes. Other palaces include Villa Dosi Delfini just outside of the historic center and Palazzo Dosi Magnavacca centrally located within the historic center. Visit the Sigeric Tourism website for specific information about booking tours.
Culture and Cuisine
One of the best parts of visiting Italian villages is appreciating how each area has preserved its unique culture and traditions including its cuisine. In Pontremoli, a first course called testaroli could be considered its signature dish. It is thought to date back to Roman times and is possibly one of Italy’s oldest pasta dishes. Coarse salt and a crepe-like mixture of durum wheat flour and water are quickly cooked on a cast iron hot plate. Once the cooked pancake has cooled, it is then cut into pieces and plunged into boiling salt water much like fresh pasta. The testaroli are then served with olive oil, pecorino cheese, and pesto sauce.
Pontremoli’s most-famous event is in January, the Disfida dei Falò. This ancient rite places two of the village factions in a competition to build the biggest bonfire.
Enjoying the Outdoors
If you’re looking for peace and quiet, you will likely find it here. It is far enough off the beaten path that it isn’t overrun with tourists. The Lunigiana area in general is considered a remote area of Tuscany and is the perfect place to take long hikes along the many river paths. Pontremoli itself has a lovely green area with lots of picnic tables called Giardino delle Bertolini. It is located under the River Magra bridge on the Torre dei Serrati side of the village.
Few may realize that Pontremoli has a long history in the book publishing industry. In fact, as early as the 1800s, local booksellers would head to northern Italy to sell in remote areas where books were not available to most. Since 1952, it has also promoted and hosted the Premio Bancarella publishing award whose first recipient was Ernest Hemingway and The Old Man and the Sea. The influence of the printed word is everywhere from benches that look like open books, to a large permanent book fair, to literary cafes. In fact, pick up a great book and head across the piazza to Cafè degli Svizzeri, which opened in 1842.
It is also home to Zucchero Fornaciari, an internationally-famous Italian singer-songwriter known for his bluesy-rock songs.
Pontremoli makes the perfect day trip from Florence, Pisa, or even Parma. See a part of Tuscany that very few tourists get to experience. You won’t regret it!
Italy’s Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park
The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park is one of the largest and most beautiful in all of Italy. It spans 3 regions (Lazio, Abruzzo, and Le Marche) for a total of 150,000 hectares of unprecedented beauty although the vast majority of the land lies in Abruzzo’s provinces of L’Aquila, Teramo, and Pescara.
Gran Sasso- Italy’s “Great Rock”
At the heart of the park is the pride and joy of Abruzzo, the Gran Sasso massif. Its Corno Grande is the tallest peak in the Apennines at almost 3,000 meters and the second tallest in all of Italy.
Covered in snow most of the year, it is home to all sorts of species that have adapted to their harsh environment from the once-extinct Apennine chamois, to the dwindling population of Marsican brown bears, golden eagles, and wolves.
The sheer limestone cliffs make it ideal for extreme rock climbing. The Il Calderone glacier, which was one of the few southernmost glaciers existing on the planet, sadly, disappeared last year due to climate change.
Campo Imperatore- the “Emperor’s Field”
Just below the Corno Grande and Corno Piccolo lies the largest plateau in the entire Apennine chain, Campo Imperatore. It’s known as “Little Tibet” for its high altitude (between 1,500 and 2,000 meters) and seemingly endless expanse of almost 30 km.
In the springtime, it delights visitors with its lavender blanket of crocus still used for harvesting saffron. It isn’t unusual to catch a glimpse of herds of sheep, horses, and cattle grazing during the harsh winter months as they have for thousands of years.
Campo Imperatore is home to one of the oldest and most famous ski resorts in Italy, partly because Hotel Campo Imperatore was where Benito Mussolini was imprisoned in 1943 just prior to the Gran Sasso raid.
Major villages around the Campo Imperatore include one of the tallest fortresses left standing in all of Europe, Rocca Calascio. Castel del Monte and Santo Stefano di Sessanio, both part of the prestigious list of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”, are also definitely worth visiting.
Monti della Laga
On the park’s Abruzzo-Lazio border, lies the Monti della Laga mountain chain with Monte Gorzano‘s peak reaching almost 2,500 meters.
This area is characterized by numerous waterways including more than 10 waterfalls. Some of the most spectacular are the Morricana falls, the Fossi del Molinaro falls, and the Selva Grande. The trail appropriately named the “Cento Cascate”, or 100 Falls, which leads all the way up to Mount Gorzano is one of the best in this part of the park.
Villages in this part of the park include Amatrice and Accumoli.
Activities in the Park
Depending on the season and your own personal level of adventure, the possibilities for enjoying this national park are truly endless.
Just to name a few, there are over 320 km of horse trails within the park- the most in all of Italy. If hiking or mountain biking is your preference then there are hundreds of trails throughout the park during all seasons and at all ability levels. Many are categorized into themes such as food and wine, villages, churches and ancient ruins, and more. Guided tours are also available.
Because this park is so large and offers so many possibilities, it would be impossible to cover everything in a single article. The park’s official website is a rich source of information in English and should be the starting point prior to visiting.
For the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park’s official website- click here.
There are a total of 18 visitor centers within the park but the main office is located in Assergi, L’Aquila.
What are you waiting for?
Book your room at the Il Casale Hotel in Martinsicuro
From the hotel, you can visit…
|6 km away||Seaside town of Tortoreto|
|12 km away||The Controguerra Wine Road|
|20 km away||Seaside town of Grottammare|
|40 km away||Pineto and Torre del Cerano Beaches|
|47 km away||Badlands of Atri|
|50 km away||Gran Sasso National Park|
|60 km away||The village of Azzinano and its murals|
|65 km away||Pescara|
|72 km away||Pietracamela village|
The Most Cat-Loving Cities in Italy
Adored in antiquity and a source of superstition, the cat is one of the most beloved and hated pets of all. Throughout history, we have seen this animal both associated with divinity and associated with witchcraft or as a synonym for bad luck. But this domestic feline still has a fanbase, to the point of dedicating an entire day to it. In Italy, February 17th is the National Day of the Cat, but which Italian cities have the most affinity with them? Let’s find out together!
The Day of the Cat
Before talking about the most “feline” Italian cities, let’s find out more about how the Italian Day of the Cat began. Journalist Claudia Angeletti proposed a referendum to dedicate a day to this incredible feline back in 1990. There are several reasons why the choice fell on February 17, fully explained by Oriella Del Col, who first proposed this date:
- Cats are considered free spirits, independent and not very attentive to the rules. Characteristics attributable, according to the horoscope, to the sign of Aquarius. This is one of the reasons for choosing the month.
- In addition to the reference to the horoscope, the month of February was associated with witchcraft in antiquity.
- In many countries, including Italy, the number 17 is said to be unlucky much like black cats.
- By transcribing the number 17 in Roman numerals, or XVII, to then anagram it in Latin VIXI or “I lived, I died”.
- In Italy, rather than a cat having “9 lives”, the phrase says 7! So again, the number 17 could be interpreted as 1 x 7 or 1 life 7 times.
It’s all very mysterious and fascinating! Let’s find out which Italian cities have the most cats.
Italian “Cat” Cities
Rome turns out to be the Italian city most populated by cats: 55,725 of them! There is even a cat sanctuary located in the Sacred Area of Torre Argentina. Here the cunning felines find refuge and protection in the midst of the ruins of this important archaeological site.
Second to the “Eternal City”, Naples boasts 25 thousand cats! There are tons of initiatives here to support felines.
That brings us to Turin which houses about 20 thousand cats. The municipality tries to help the colonies of animals by offering food and shelter to the city’s cats. It was so successful that a well-known cat food company offered its support.
In Milan, in the middle of the Polyclinic pavilions, there is a colony of cats that has lived here for a very long time. In the Milan area alone there are 15 thousand cats.
These are just a few of the cities in Italy that love cats, but the numbers across the peninsula don’t lie- Italians love their cats! We can venture to say that Italians love their cats or just maybe, cats love Italians!
You cant own a cat. The best you can do is be partners.
Sir Harry Swanson
Carnival in Abruzzo in Francavilla al Mare
The most colorful time of the year has come, and with it, the cobblestones of the Italian squares are covered with multicolored confetti. Carnival, from the historical point of view, is considered a period of celebration and renewal so much that until the Middle Ages it was called “the feast of madness”. According to the Catholic tradition, however, the Carnival period precedes the beginning of Lent, in preparation for Easter. The name alone makes reference to the tradition of consuming large quantities of food, including meat (carne), on the evening of Ash Wednesday.
Carnival in Abruzzo
The Carnival in Abruzzo takes on another nuance linked to the hard work in the fields. The Carnival period symbolized an end to the long, frigid winter and the sweet awakening of spring and the mild temperatures that gave new life to the agricultural and pastoral traditions in the region.
Today, colorful masks and cheerful costumes invade the squares of the main cities to transform a normal Tuesday at the end of winter into a carefree day for children and adults.
Carnival in Francavilla al Mare
The Carnival of Francavilla al Mare (Chieti province), also known as the “Carnival of Abruzzo”, is the most long-lived in the region and has been celebrated since 1948. This year’s dates are February 12, 19, and 21, 2023.
The allegorical floats that parade through the streets of the town are skillfully constructed and decorated by paper mâché masters who unleash their imagination by referring to political, cultural or historical events.
The festive parade would not be complete without Patanello– the mask that symbolizes the Carnival of Abruzzo. “Zi Patanè” was an Abruzzese cobbler and sacristan who lived between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Lover of good wine and taverns, Patanello was famous for his playful jokes.
Thanks to his personality and his cheerful character, he did not go unnoticed by a Neapolitan painter who was on holiday on the coast of Abruzzo. He decided to paint a carnival mask inspired by Patanello.
Carnival Traditions in Abruzzo
Joyful and colorful, but also gloomy: the Carnival in Abruzzo also has a dark side. In Montorio al Vomano, in the province of Teramo, the death of Carnival is celebrated. This tradition dates back to the late 1920s when some local boys, rebelling against the strict rules that prohibited the Carnival celebrations, decided to host a funeral for Carnival on Ash Wednesday. The traditional procession still winds through the streets of the town but is anything but sad.
Like any self-respecting festival in Abruzzo, the Carnival also boasts its unique sweets. Unfailing and omnipresent, the element that unites the Carnival sweets of Abruzzo, is the oil in which these small and delicious specialties are deep-fried. Cicerchiata, most common in the areas of Chieti and Pescara, are small, fried balls covered with caramelized honey and colored sprinkles. Frappe or chiacchiere are fried strips of dough sprinkled with plenty of powdered sugar.
The famous Abruzzese poet, Gabriele D’Annunzio, included all the famous imagery of Carnival in his rhyme, but also made a clear reference to Ash Wednesday when he reminds us, “dalla polvere era nato, ed in polvere è tornato.”
“From dust you came and to dust you shall return.”
photo copyrights: www.facebook.com/carnevaledabruzzo, www.ilturista.info, www.visitterredeitrabocchi.it
What to See in Venice: the Most Romantic City in the World
Venice: the most romantic city in the world charms its visitors with its magical atmosphere. Let’s find out what you can see and experience in a couple of days in this fabulous city!
One of the most exciting places to visit is a workshop in Murano. Book your visit and don’t miss the chance to see glass makers at work: you’ll feel like you’re taking part in a magic show. Starting from a shapeless piece of incandescent glass, glass makers create wonderful and unique objects. Children will enjoy this show too because they’ll think they are in a transfiguration class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Based on my experience, the easiest way to get to Venice is to arrive in Mestre by car and continue by train to the Santa Lucia station. You can visit Venice on foot and by vaporetti (water taxis). Sailing between the canals and the islands of the lagoon will give you the opportunity to fully appreciate the uniqueness of the Serenissima urban structure. Walking through the alleys you risk forgetting that Venice is “suspended” on the sea. If you are traveling on the vaporetti you can enjoy the view of the city from the water. Not to mention that you will also have the opportunity to admire all the domes and bell towers of the city along the way.
What to See and Do
Piazza San Marco is the first place to visit. Why? Because it holds the most famous buildings and monuments of the city: the Clock Tower (on the top there are two statues called Mori di Venezia: two bronze shepherds which strike the hour); next the Procuratie (they hosted the procurators, the most powerful men after the doge); then the Bell Tower; the Basilica (it is worth a visit!); finally, the Doge’s Palace; and a small square, called Piazzetta San Marco, which overlooks the sea.
Take a nice walk under the porticoes on the ground floor of the Procuratie Vecchie and peek inside the windows of the historic Caffè Quadri, founded in 1755. Across the square is the equally historic and famous Caffè Florian. Don’t be discouraged by the price list; after all, you may only be in Venice once in your lifetime!
After that, I suggest walking to Punta della Dogana. From here, you can take beautiful pictures of the Doge’s Palace, the Bell Tower and the Basilica’s cupolas.
Walking through Venice also means crossing many bridges. The city center has about 121 islands linked by 436 bridges. They are all different: little, big, narrow, wide, and made of iron or stone. In my opinion, Ponte di Rialto is the most beautiful one, especially in the evening when you can enjoy the reflection of the city lights on the water below.
For us, visiting Venice was more about strolling around (rather than entering churches and museums). By day, window shop through the narrow streets and in the evening, venture out in search of the perfect bacaro. A bacaro is a rustic pub where you can eat the famous cicchetti. Similar to Spanish tapas and usually accompanied by red or white wine, cicchetti shouldn’t be underestimated based on their miniature size! Marinated anchovies, fried fish, grilled cuttlefish, sarde in saor (sardines cooked with onion, raisin and pine nuts) and meatballs– all delicious and cheap.
This is the real Venice: the rustic Venetian taverns where you can breathe in the true soul of the city.
photo credits: Silvia Mazzola (photos 1, 3, and cover); ulivita.it (photo 2)
Visiting Bormio: An Alpine Winter Paradise
Bormio is truly a winter paradise on earth and a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. This quaint Alpine town offers innumerable possibilities for a perfect winter holiday.
Bormio is located just south of the Swiss border in the Lombardy region at an elevation of 1,255 meters. Its just over 4,000 residents are accustomed to hosting the Alpine Ski World Cup every year and are preparing to host the Winter Olympics in 2026. This medieval town was on the main trade route between Venice and Switzerland but was already well-known by the Romans for its natural thermal baths. Today, tourists come to enjoy its historic town center, friendly people, delicious food, fantastic skiing, and hot springs.
For good reason, Bormio has hosted multiple world skiing championships and is gearing up to host the Winter Olympics in 2026: there are fifty kilometers (30 miles) of marked ski runs! The longest run is 6 km (4 miles) and served by fifteen lifts and several ski schools. The Stelvio Run, named after the Stelvio Pass, is the second-longest downhill run on the World Cup circuit and one of the most challenging in the world. Bormio boasts an 1,800 meter altitude difference (from its highest at 3,000 meters).
But don’t think for a second that this skiers’ paradise is just for Olympians! Families and beginners will find their niche too with a snow park for freeskiers and snowboarders, a family park, and two “fun” slopes. Parents who have kids between the ages of 4 and 10 also have the option of signing their kids up for “mini club” which will entertain them in a safe environment while mom and dad enjoy the slopes. Visit BormioSki for more information.
Bormio’s Hot Springs
After a long day on the slopes, you can relax and relieve your aching muscles in a number of natural thermal baths. Bagni Vecchi (Old Baths), Bagni Nuovi (New Baths) and Terme di Bormio are three options during your stay. If you want to feel the thrill of experiencing the very same baths that the Romans did over two thousand years ago, then head to Bagni Vecchi with its Roman baths, grotto, and a panoramic outdoor pool overlooking Bormio’s basin. Bagni Nuovi offers over thirty different spa facilities including seven outdoor pools in a large, sunny garden available twelve months a year. Bormio Terme is the best bet for families as this facility offers play areas and swimming pools for young children. All of the locations boast the very latest and most innovative beauty and massage treatments as well as fabulous restaurants and shops.
The Town of Bormio
Bormio’s historic town center is charming and has several churches and museums as well as shops and restaurants. The Civic Museum has a nice collection of objects and artifacts pertaining to local mountain traditions and artisan craft. Climb to the top of the Bajona Tower in Piazza Cavour for a beautiful view. You’ll most likely find the locals friendly and always willing to entertain with traditional folk song and dance.
No stay would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. Bormio’s traditional dishes include Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese (pasta with melted cheese, potatoes, and cabbage); chiscioi (buckwheat flour pancakes filled with cheese); pasta with venison sauce; and various local salamis and cured meats.
If you can’t visit in the winter not to worry because Bormio and the Valtellina are absolutely beautiful and an outdoorsman’s haven at any time of year!