So much to see in La Bella Italia

Italy is a small country, and backpackers might think it’s easy to see it all—monuments, beaches, pizza—in one adventurous tour. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s not really the case. Despite being relatively small (116,347 square miles, or about the size of Arizona), Italy is long. Hostels can be hard to find. And the monuments aren’t the only thing that’s ancient—the trains are a bit out of date and often run late.

However, traveling through Italy from the top to the bottom you will experience regions wonderfully diverse in their culture, traditions and nature.

I’ll try to sum it all up with a practical top 10 list of what I believe has to be seen if you visit. I had a hard time trying to reduce the number to 10, so if you have enough time you can consider each point as a journey itself. Otherwise you can go crazy and try to see them all at once.

Torino

You’ll feel like a royalty in the first ever Italian capital, Torino. The city was long despised by tourists, since it was considered an industrial city, all gray and polluted. But times have changed, and since hosting the Winter Olympics in 2006, it never stopped improving. Royal palaces have been restored, and many now host important museums. Just to name few: the Mole Antonelliana, which hosts the museum of cinema; the Castle of Rivoli that hosts an exquisite modern art collection; and Carignano Palace, just few steps from the biggest Egyptian museum in Europe. But the best thing about Torino is its vibe, one that you will feel mainly walking at aperitivo time in San Salvario or on Saturday mornings around the Balon flea market.

Just let me suggest, if you decide to visit this city, you consider coming in autumn, when the Salone del Gusto is on. This is a huge festival of the very best Italian and international food. Yes, because if you come to Italy you will have to take into account the idea of eating a lot. And don’t fool yourself: the Mediterranean diet might be healthy, but there is a lot of food too amazing to avoid and absolutely fattening. Here in Italy, we say, “You can’t have a drunk wife and a barrel full of wine.” And where is good food, there is also good wine. So whenever you decide to visit Torino, don’t forget that just an hour away you have the Langhe hills, a beautiful vineyard area where Barolo, Barbaresco and many other wines are produced.

Dolomites

How about mountains? I am not talking about skiing, because that is a story for itself. I am talking about visiting Italy between June and August and avoiding embarrassing sweat and overwhelming heat. The Dolomites are high and wild mountains and there you can find all kinds of activities: easy hiking for the whole family; exciting, adrenalin-boosting Via Ferrata hiking; biking through the valley; and visiting the Lagazuoi tunnels built during World War I. Afterward, you can relax in a rifugio, mountain huts where you can take your time and enjoy the landscape (don’t miss the Marmolada glacier).

Venice

OK, I’ll talk about Venice because I’d be a liar to say it isn’t one of the world’s unique places. (Yes, I’ve been to Amsterdam and Hamburg, and loved them, but it’s just a different thing.) Getting off at the train station you will dive into an environment wet with history and romance … and tourists. It’s very difficult to find a moment where you can imagine Venice is just for you, especially if you follow the herd that goes to Rialto Bridge and straight to St. Mark Square. However, if you are lucky enough and you manage to go there on a weekday, say, in October, you might be able to get lost in the narrow streets around the university or in the fishermen’s neighborhood. Of course, you can’t miss Piazza San Marco, and I would say the best way to reach it is by boat. Ferries travel all day long and allow you to see Venice from what makes it so special—its canals.

Genoa

Like Venice, Genoa was a maritime republic, and they both went around half the known world to make business and exchange things, especially money and culture. I believe this is what makes them so special: the feeling of being in a very Italian city where you are also somehow reached by Eastern influences. In Genoa you won’t find as many tourists as in Venice, and you won’t feel like you are walking thorough postcard photos. Genoa’s caruggi (narrow streets) will get you lost very fast. What you can do is follow them and surprise yourself when they open up on a beautiful square, on the dome, or on the sea. The best way to enjoy this atmosphere is to have breakfast with cappuccino and focaccia, play Fabrizio De Andre on your iPod and, ideally, leave you valuable things in the hotel room.

River in Antrona Valley, North Italy

Florence

I say Florence, and I don’t even know why. I mean, you all know Florence, so I guess it doesn’t come to you as a new and surprising tip. But it’s just too beautiful not to mention. What I can do is advise you to have a good walk among the monuments, choose few museums you really want to see (there is just too much art and you don’t have to feel like you have to see it all, or else you’ll end up tired and hating Italy, and that’s not what we want), and get dizzy on Chianti and steak. Then you can rent a car and go around Tuscany, because if Florence will amaze you for how much beauty a city can contain, the surroundings will make you bond with the landscape in a way you will feel you want to walk barefoot in the fields and buy a nice house for your family. So, Pisa, Arezzo, Siena, Montepulciano, Cortona, they are all beautiful. And don’t worry if you lose your way among the tiny streets.

Umbria

With the same car you rented in Tuscany you can go deeper on the Apennine Mountains and let yourself be fascinated with the Orvieto Duomo. The Umbria region has some hidden pearls like the medieval town of Gubbio, whose Piazza Grande is probably one of the most reminiscent squares I’ve ever seen, and Assisi, where you can find one of the few examples of Italian gothic and where you can learn the history of Saint Francesco (yes, the one the new pope got his name from).

Rome

The eternal city. Same warning applies here as with Florence, but more so. The best thing you can do is decide what kind of art you want to see. The Colosseum is an amazing structure and San Pietro is as well, but you might think twice before entering them all. I am thinking of time wasted in queues and your feet hurting when you are just halfway through the Vatican museums. I’m not saying the Sistine Chapel is not worth seeing. Just be aware you might spend all day stuck among the pope’s garments. Lucky for you, the city has evolved since the Romans and now you will miss something if you forget about MAXXI, the museum of contemporary art.

Monviso, Italian Alps

Salento

I didn’t talk much about seaside and beach parties. One of the best places to be during summer is Salento, in the south of Apulia. Here you can visit the city of Lecce, also called the Lady of Baroque for its beautiful city center. Then you can choose if you want to swim in the Adriatic Sea, in the Ionian Sea, or if you want to go down to Santa Maria di Leuca, where the two meet. Also, you won’t get bored getting tanned in front of a green and blue sea, since during summer there are several music festivals, from traditional Taranta to reggae. Should I keep on saying you will eat amazing food, and fresh fish? I think you get the idea.

Aeolian Islands

Italy has many islands, and most of them are beautiful. So I don’t know why I will speak now about a place I’ve not been to, yet. The Aeolian Islands, a bit northern of Sicily, are a geological and sociological phenomena. Everything there is shaped by sea and fire: the landscape, the people, the culture. I think this is the place I would love to bring my children to have a simple and relaxing time. Swimming and chasing sea urchins, waiting for fishing boats in the early morning, chatting with the old ladies selling fruit. Am I being too dreamy? I’ve heard many friends going on like this for hours and supporting their thesis with pictures slideshows.

Sicily

Have we reached 10 already? Then stay in Sicily, where basically everywhere you’ll go you will have a unique experience. The seaside is beautiful, cities have a special flavor of Africa, mixed with a taste of Viking influence, and the people are warm and kind. I do suggest you go to Noto, also known as the capital of Sicilian baroque, or as the city of bell towers, because it is basically filled with churches. After you’ve enjoyed the monumental silence of its old center, maybe refresh yourself with a Sicilian granita and then hit the road moving toward old Ragusa and the temple valleys of Agrigento or, on the other side, to the more lively Catania and Palermo. West or east, you won’t be disappointed.

GiuliaGrimaldi is based in Cumiana, Piemonte, Italy, and is a Reporter for Allvoices.

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/14516630-allvoices-goes-traveling-so-much-to-see-in-la-bella-italia

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Umbria travel guide via @Telegraph

A few years ago, Umbria was known, if at all, as Tuscany’s less alluring sister. Not any more: these days Italy’s “green heart” is every bit as celebrated as its more famous neighbour. The reasons are simple: the region has all Tuscany’s attributes – and a few more.

True, it doesn’t have the big set pieces of Florence and Siena, but it does has a coronet of far more intimate and easily visited hill-towns – Perugia, Assisi, Orvieto, Gubbio, Todi, Spoleto and Norcia. Each has enough to keep you busy for a day or more, and none is more than a few miles from the next, making Umbria manageable and straightforward to explore.

When you’ve exhausted these towns there’s a second tier of charming and even more intimate smaller centres, such as Montefalco, Bevagna, Spello, Trevi, Narni, Bettona, Città di Castello, Città della Pieve and more.

There’s also the same glorious pastoral scenery as Tuscany – the olive groves, vineyards and cypress-topped hills – as well as high mountain landscapes such as the Monti Sibillini that are the superior of its neighbour’s own Monte Amiata or Alpi Apuane.

Umbria is also a region where the food, wine, art, culture and architecture are the equal of any in Italy. Norcia, with its truffles, hams and cheeses, for example, is a gastronomic centre par excellence; Orvieto’s duomo is one of the country’s finest cathedrals; Spoleto’s summer festival is one of Europe’s major cultural events; and Assisi’s majestic Basilica di San Francesco contains frescoes by Giotto and others that mark a turning point in the history of Western art.

Finally, there are qualities to Umbria beyond towns, truffles or cypresses. Umbria mistica – mystical Umbria – some have called it, or “la terra dei santi”, the land of saints, after the hundreds of saints born here, including St Valentine and the two fathers of Western monasticism, St Francis and St Benedict.

It’s hard to put your finger on what sets Umbria apart – some quality to the light, a haze to the hills, a certain gentleness to landscape – but once you’ve visited you’ll understand, and wonder how this varied and beautiful region ever languished in its neighbour’s shadow.

Umbria travel guide via @Telegraph http://soc.li/mlTYeqH

Umbria has all Tuscany’s attributes – and a few more

Umbria has all Tuscany’s attributes – and a few more

Italy: The stuff of dreams

As a young girl, I had vivid dreams of running through fields of wild flowers in slow-motion, dressed in creamy muslin with a floppy hat. Four decades later, I found those fields near a tiny Italian village in Umbria. Some of the details did not quite match up – I was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and cap – but it was a dreamy place, all the same.

High in the heart of Monti Sibillini National Park, we came upon a vast open plain, the Piano Grande, and the exquisite mountain village of Castelluccio perched atop a hill amid an ocean of wild flowers.

The peaceful scene was a balm to our bruised spirits after hot, hectic days in crowded cities and mayhem on Italian motorways.

We waded, slow-motion – of necessity – through knee-deep scarlet poppies, wild mustard and cornflowers marvelling at the riotous colours of “The Flowering”, an annual spectacle on the plain surrounding the village. An elderly, stooped man with a walking stick was harvesting wild flowers with a hand scythe.

We drove up to the village and apart from a few hardy trekkers, there were no other foreigners there – but as we wandered the steep streets and pathways of the little village, there were signs of ancient stone buildings, dating back hundreds of years, undergoing a stylish spruce-up to attract the tourist euro.

The view over the Piano Grande was breathtaking.

We watched a young shepherd usher a small flock of sheep and lambs, wearing name tags and bells, through the village and up to a green hillside pasture where he spent the afternoon in the shade of an umbrella.

Little shops were selling local delicacies – wine, sheep-cheese, salami, hams made from wild boar and the renowned Castelluccio lentils – to housewives in aprons and head scarves.

Postcards of the scene in winter showed a blanket of snow over the mountains, village and plain, and skiers on the small ski-field nearby. I imagined my dream transforming into a winter version and returning to this most beautiful place.

*Castelluccio is a village in Umbria, in the Monti Sibillini National Park, central Italy. The village, situated at 1452 metres, is the highest settlement in the Apennines and lies above the Great Plain (Piano Grande, 1270 metres).

The village dates from the 13th century or slightly earlier, but was also settled by the Romans.

The Piano Grande is renowned for the cultivation of lentils which are quite different from varieties elsewhere. The climate and soil of the high plain contributes to their thin skin and soft consistency, allowing them to be cooked without having to be soaked first.

The area is a favourite with hang-gliders and para-gliders and there are schools in the village that offer lessons and rentals on a seasonal basis. Skiing in the winter and tramping in the summer are popular activities.

– nzherald.co.nz

Italy: The stuff of dreams – Travel – NZ Herald News http://nzh.tw/10859502 via @nzherald

UN VIAGGIO NEL MONDO DELL’ARTE E DEL VINO

Apre le porte ai visitatori il “Carapace”,

la cantina-scultura della Tenuta Castelbuono realizzata da Arnaldo Pomodoro

UN VIAGGIO NEL MONDO DELL’ARTE E DEL VINO

Nel pieno ritmo della vendemmia si va alla scoperta dell’anima della nuova cantina firmata da uno dei maggiori artisti contemporanei, Arnaldo Pomodoro. La notizia non è rivolta solo agli amanti del buon vino, e in particolare di quel patrimonio enologico tutto umbro che è il Sagrantino, perché il “Carapace” – questo il nome della cantina – è un’opera unica, la prima scultura al mondo nella quale si vive e si lavora.

La barricaia

La barricaia

La Tenuta Castelbuono, 30 ettari nei comuni di Bevagna e Montefalco, rientra nell’ambizioso progetto della famiglia Lunelli, da tre generazioni alla guida delle Cantine Ferrari, di creare in alcune tenute in Italia vini che condividano con Ferrari la tensione all’eccellenza e il legame con il proprio territorio.

“Ho avuto – raccontaArnaldo Pomodoro – l’idea di una forma che ricorda la tartaruga, simbolo di stabilità e longevità che, con il suo carapace rappresenta l’unione tra terra e cielo”. La cantina si offre allo sguardo come una grande cupola ricoperta di rame, incisa esternamente da crepe che ricordano i solchi della terra e internamente dai segni che sono l’inconfondibile cifra artistica di Arnaldo Pomodoro. Un elemento scultoreo a forma di dardo di colore rosso che si conficca nel terreno sottolinea l’opera nel paesaggio.

Da oggi la Tenuta apre le sue porte a tutti i visitatori, con l’opportunità di speciali visite guidate e degustazione di grandi vini, il Sagrantino e il Rosso di Montefalco, anima dell’Umbria più vera.

Carapace esterno

Carapace esterno

Con il “Carapace” si impreziosisce l’inestimabile patrimonio artistico dell’Umbria, e si propone un luogo nuovo in cui l’originale dialogo fra arte, vino e natura contribuisce alla valorizzazione di quello straordinario vitigno che è il Sagrantino, un vino legato, come pochi altri, in maniera indissolubile al suo territorio.

Carapace interno

Carapace interno

VISITE su prenotazione: dal martedì al venerdì 10 – 13 / 15.30 – 18.30

sabato e domenica 10 – 13 / 14.30 – 19.30

Vocabolo Castellaccio, 9 – 06031 Bevagna (PG)

Prenotazione obbligatoria:

Call Center Sistema Museo 199 151 123

(dal lunedì al venerdì 9-17, escluso i festivi)

callcenter@sistemamuseo.it

www.sistemamuseo.it/tenutacastelbuono.php 

Резиденции королевского Савойского дома – Residencias de la Casa Real de Saboya – Résidences des Savoie

Резиденции королевского Савойского дома (Турин и окрестности) 

Когда герцог Савойский Эммануэль-Филибер в 1562 г. переместил столицу в Турин, он заложил целую серию строительных проектов (продолженных его преемниками), чтобы продемонстрировать мощь правящего дома. Этот выдающийся комплекс зданий, созданных и украшенных ведущими архитекторами и художниками того времени, выходит за пределы города и продолжается в окружающей сельской местности. Он включает не только Королевский дворец в «Правительственном районе» Турина, но и множество загородных резиденций и охотничьих домиков.

Série sobre Turim – Series about Turin – Torino – 16-01-2009 - IMG_20090116_9999_244

Residencias de la Casa Real de Saboya

Cuando el duque Emmanuel Filiberto de Saboya trasladó su capital a Turín en 1562, quiso mostrar el poderío de su familia acometiendo la ejecución de una vasta serie de proyectos de construcción, que serían proseguidos por sus sucesores. Este conjunto de edificios de alta calidad, diseñados y decorados por los mejores artistas y arquitectos de la época, tiene su centro en el palacio real situado en la “zona de gobierno” de Turín y se extiende por la campiña circundante, abarcando numerosas casas de campo y cotos de caza.

Résidences des Savoie

Lorsque le duc de Savoie, Emmanuel-Philibert, choisit de déplacer la capitale du duché à Turin en 1562, il entreprit un vaste programme de construction, symbole du pouvoir de la maison royale des Savoie, qui allait être mené à bien par ses successeurs. Cet ensemble de bâtiments de haute qualité, conçu et décoré par les plus grands architectes et artistes du temps, rayonne sur la campagne environnante, à partir du palais royal situé dans la « zone de commandement » de Turin, pour atteindre de nombreuses résidences de campagne et des pavillons de chasse.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation

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