Category Archives: Italian Food

Incredible Vino con Vista UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Southeastern Baroque Sicily

Modica

Modica (Photo credit: Francesco Di Martino)

Modica By Night

Modica By Night (Photo credit: Landersz)

Modica, Sizilien, Chiesa S.

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Church of San Giorgio, Ragusa. Designed in 173...

Church of San Giorgio, Ragusa. Designed in 1738 by Rosario Gagliardi, it is approached by huge staircase of some 250 steps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Illustration 3: A Sicilian belfry crowns Rosar...

Illustration 3: A Sicilian belfry crowns Rosario Gagliardi’s Church of San Giuseppe in Ragusa Ibla (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modica

Modica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chiesa di San Domenico - Noto

Chiesa di San Domenico – Noto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coat of arms of Modica

Coat of arms of Modica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Castle of the Counts of Modica.

The Castle of the Counts of Modica. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Cathedral of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla.

English: Cathedral of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. John Church in (Sicily), built already in ...

St. John Church in (Sicily), built already in the 12th century, but rebuilt in the Baroque style in the 18th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Illustration 10: The Cathedral of San Giorgio,...

Illustration 10: The Cathedral of San Giorgio, Modica. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Witness  the dramatic landscape, the enchanting wine regions and the historical UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto in Southeastern Sicily.  Southeastern Sicily is a “buon appetito” and Vino con Vista paradise. Culinary arts are truly appreciated in this region. They have mastered the art of merging a cultural kaleidoscope into delightful multi-cultural gourmet cuisine.

A baroque church in Modica

A baroque church in Modica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are eight towns in southeastern Sicily that were all rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693: Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli.  They are considered the “Pearls of Sicily” and are characterized by buildings with splendid facades and interiors. The devastating earthquake gave the architects a blank slate, so they selected the opulent Baroque style and built the structures using a local white limestone.  These UNESCO jewels are filled with gorgeous Baroque architecture. The buildings and churches are covered with ornate limestone that has a soft honey-colored patina from the sun.

1. Noto is the administrative center of the Noto Valley.  On the eastern side of Noto the Porta Reale (Royal Gate) was erected in 1838 for King Ferdinand II.  It offers a grand entrance to Piazza Municipio and Corso Vittorio Emanuel, Noto’s main streets. Visit the Church and Convent of San Francesco and the Church of San Carlo al Corso. The Church of San Domenico and the Palazzo Villadorta are also worthwhile.  Noto Antica was particularly significant during Arab domination.  Under Arab rule, Sicily was divided into three districts and Noto was a key player. The Sicilian Baroque Cathedral of San Nicolo is in the Piazza XVI Maggio. The cathedral recently received a new cupola.

2. Ragusa was built on two levels and is divided into two parts:  Modern and Ibla. Ragusa Ibla is cloaked with interesting medieval history.   In Ibla visit the Palazzo Bertini on Corso Italia 35.  It was built by the Floridia family in the 1700s.  The building is characterized by three interesting carved masks located in the keystones of the windows that represent three powers. These faces convey an interesting story about Sicily.  Visit the Palazzo Donnafugata.  The Palazzo houses an art gallery with canvases by Hans Memling, Ribera and Antonello Messina. In Ragusa the elaborate churches include Chiesa Giovanni Batista and the Cheisa de San Domenico with the majolica bell tower.  The Cathedral was named after St. John the Baptist and was built on top of the church of Saint Nicholas after the earthquake of 1693.

3. Modica is divided into two areas:  Modica Alta (upper Modica) and Modica Bassa (lower Modica).  Two noteworthy monuments are Saint George’s Cathedral in Modica Alta and Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Modica Bassa. Saint George’s Cathedral was built around 1350. It was partially destroyed by the earthquake of 1613 and completely demolished by the devastating earthquake of 1693.  It was reconstructed at the start of the 18th century by Mario Spada from Ragusa and Rosario Boscarino from Modica in the Late Baroque style. The statues of the Apostles line the entrance to the church on Corso Umberto, the town’s main artery.

To enter Upper Modica (Alta) take Via Garibaldi from Saint Peter’s Church. Walk about 250 steps to the Church of Saint George with a panoramic view of Lower Modica. The rose-colored limestone church has twelve columns and five naves with a central dome and two lateral domes. In the church, admire the inlaid silver holy chest in front of the altar. It was made in Venice in the 14th century and donated to the church by the Chiaramonte earls.

To learn more about Sicily read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides and

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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Loire Valley Wine Tasting in Chicago at the W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive

French red wine from the Loire Valley region o...

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What a great day for the Loire Valley French Wine Tasting on the 33rd floor of W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. It was definitely a Vino con Vista opportunity with plenty of French wine and wine-makers. The central part of the  Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire in France was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List  in  2000.

 

The Loire is the longest river in France and it is characterized by elegant historic chateaux and 300 miles of distinctive terroir that supports numerous vineyards along the river banks. This region is the leading producer of white French wines. The region is cloaked  with lovely vineyards and microclimates that produce distinctive varietals and wine styles. It is one of the most diverse wine regions in France with 69 appelations that include red, white, elegant sparkling wines and refreshing rose wines. There are distinct climates and a variety of soil types that divide the Loire Valley into 5 distinct regions.

The first vines were probably planted during Roman occupation 2000 years ago. Afterwards, the Augustinian and Benedictine Brothers enhanced the wine-making practices in this region.

I tasted some interesting Rose wines and plenty of earthy 100% Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is one of the world’s major red grape varieties and was introduced to the region in the 11th century. It  is frequently blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to produce a Bordeaux style wine. In the Loire region, it is  not blended with other grapes so it is lighter in color than Bordeaux blends. It is used in the development of Chinon and certain roses in the Touraine appelation.

Today I spoke to Philippe Porche, a charming wine-maker from the Saumur-Champigny region in Parnay located on the south bank of the Loire River decreed an AOC in 1957.  Cabernet Franc is the predominant grape in the area.  He and his viticulturist wife founded the estate in 2005 and produce some interesting Cabernet Franc wines. I favored the garnet-colored full-bodied and velvety  “Le Fou du Roi” that was aged in oak.  This lovely couple is looking for an importer @ www.domainederocheville.fr. Feel free to contact them if you are interested in importing  luscious wines from this region. Tell them that Vino con Vista sent you.

There is a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier and Chicago’s Landmark high rises from the former “Pinnacle Room” of the hotel where I spent my Senior Prom.Chicago Illinois It’s always exciting to re-live your youth.

Chicago Architecture

Domaine de Roche Ville Winery

Lake Michigan

It was such a beautiful spring day that I decided to stroll down Ontario Street heading westbound after the wine-tasting. I longingly gazed at the wide array of restaurants on Ontario Street that I patronize. They run the gamut from divine to sublime. Here’s a sampling of my “Chicago Foodie Nation” favorites:

Les Nomades is an outstanding French Restaurant that offers a Prix Fixe menu of four courses for $115 in a swanky turn-of-the-century brownstones mansion on Ontario Street. It is the perfect place to enjoy French cuisine after a Loire Valley wine-tasting event at the W Hotel down the street.

Chicago Restaurants

Chicago French Restaurants

Another one of my favorites is the Capital Grille Steakhouse where I can’t stop eating the crunchy potato chips at the bar. I love the grilled salmon served over a bed of  veggies with a side of creamed spinach. They have an extensive wine list and have won numerous awards for their outstanding burgers!

Chicago RestaurantsOntario and St. Clair in Chicago

Capital Grille ChicagoChicago Restaurants

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Italian Restaurants in Chicago

Chicago Italian Restaurants

Across the street from the Capital Grille, I enjoy dining on the outdoor patio of the Coco Pazzo Cafe when the weather is nice. They have an outstanding lunch menu and recently won an award from the Italian government for their “Authentic” Italian cuisine. Quartino was another “Authentic” Italian-award winning restaurant. I took cooking lessons with the chef and he taught me to add some water from the pasta to my sauce–what a novel idea!! The Red Head Piano Bar is another one of my favorites night spots. They have great wine-tasintg events.

Authentic Italian Restaurants in ChicagoRestaurants in Chicago

There are plenty of famous classic Chicago  “Steak-Houses” on Ontario. Lawry’s serves an incredible Prime Rib and I love the “Aged Filet Mignon” and mushrooms at David Burke’s Primehouse in the James Hotel. The Chicago Chop House has a wide array of delicious “sizzlin steaks.”

You will never be hungry or thirsty on Ontairo Street in Chicago. This city is a haven for Foodies!

Chicago is a Haven for Foodies

Chicago Steak HouseDavid Burke's Primehouse

Stop in at the the Hard Rock Cafe if you’re up for some live music. There are also some landmark fast food joints on Ontario including “Rock and Roll” McDonalds with a Rock and Roll Museum filled with memorabilia that my guitar-playing son adores.

Portillo’s has a great Italian Beef sandwich and classic Chicago hot dog and the drive-thru is always packed. Make sure you try the decadent chocolate cake . Chicago DestinationsM Burger is another fast food option that people are raving about.

Chicago Hot Dogs and Beef Sandwiches

Burgers in Chicago

Plan a trip to the Loire Valley and explore some of the majestic castles with spectacular medieval architecture: Chambord, Cheverny, Villandry and Chenonceau.

 

1. Villandry was built by the same man that designed much of Chambord (François I Finance Minister Jean Le Breton). Villandry is actually most renowned for what is outside of the castle. However, while Chambord remains Le Breton’s main achievement in construction, it is Villandry where he used all of the Renaissance gardening tricks he had picked up while working as an ambassador in Italy. The castle remained in the Le Breton family until the early 20th century, when it was purchased by Joachim Carvallo, who spent a whole of time, money and devotion to rebuilding, expanding and repairing the beautiful gardens. Today the gardens at Villandry are considered one of the best examples of Renaissance style gardens in the world and boasts a water garden, flower gardens and vegetable gardens laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges—making it a must-see on any castle tour of the Loire.

2. Chambord is one of France’s most recognizable castles known for its distinct French Renaissance architecture, which blends late French Gothic and newer Italian Renaissance motifs. Chambord is also the largest castle in the Loire. Chambord was first built by King Francois I as a hunting lodge (I know you picture a hunting lodge as being more of a log cabin than a magnificent model of French Renaissance architecture, but it was a KING’S hunting lodge, after all).  Chambord has 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases. It is most known for its façade, which through more than 800 sculpted columns was designed to look like the skyline of Constantinople, with 11 kinds of different towers and different types of chimneys. Chambord also has a double-helix staircase that serves as the centerpiece to the castle and was rumored to have been designed (or inspired) by Leonardo da Vinci during his time at nearby Clos de Luce.

4. Chenonceau is one of my favorite castles in the Loire Valley. Chennonceau was built in 1513 by Catherine Briçonnet and later embellished by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici, the Chateau de Chenonceau contains exquisite interiors and has idyllic gardens that look over River Cher.

Originally a small castle along the banks of the River Cher, the castle got its current design in the 16th century when it was seized by the crown for unpaid debts. In 1547, King Henri II offered the castle to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. and she had Chenonceau’s  arched bridge built. It spans the river. She is also responsible for the gorgeous flower and vegetable gardens set in buttressed stone terraces.

Upon King Henri II’s death in 1559, his clearly bitter widow and regent Catherine de Medici had Poitiers expelled from the castle and she moved into the scenic spot herself, adding even more extensive gardens. Since then the castle was privately owned for years and even used as a make-shift hospital for soldiers during WWII; its gallery bridge’s southern door provided access to the unoccupied Free Zone while the castle’s main entrance was in the Nazi occupied zone. Chenonceau today is one of the most visited and popular of the Loire castles and its Renaissance architecture and well-lit gallery and beautiful gardens.

5. Amboise is perched up on a strategic point along the Loire River and was originally built as a fort. In 1434, the castle was seized by King Charles VII after its owner (from which the castle got its name), Louis Amboise, was convicted and killed for supposedly plotting against the King. In the 15th century that the castle was lavishly rebuilt and added onto, starting with its late French Gothic architecture, until Italian builders were brought in and the castle’s style changed to Renaissance.While the castle became a favorite retreat for many French Kings (King François I was raised primarily at the castle), Amboise’s most famous guest was Leonardo da Vinci, who came to the castle in 1515 as a guest of the King and stayed in nearby Clos de Luce. What is most notable about Amboise, however, is known for its unique blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture and large formal garden.

6. Blois was always a favorite getaway town for French kings; the castle in this quaint little Loire town is best known as the birthplace of King Louis XII as well as the primary residence for Henri IV’s exiled wife Marie de Medici, and later for the Duke of Orléans (brother of Louis XIII and uncle of Louis XIV). However, the castle has a long and prominent history and its Renaissance architecture and picturesque spot along the banks of the Loire make it a definite worthwhile stop on your Loire castle tour. In fact, the castle was the main resort for the French court during the 16th century and was also the location for the famed States General meetings held by Henri III in 1576 and 1588, where several prominent nobles were sentenced to death. The castle also plays a role in the famous Three Musketeers series by Alexandre Dumas as an important retreat for some of France’s most famous and powerful kings.

7. Cheverny was also given to Diane de Poitiers by her lover, King Henri II. Chenonceau was her favorite and primary residence. Poitiers sold Château de Cheverny to the former owner’s son who had originally built the castle between 1624 and 1630. The castle passed between owners until 1914, when the owner made it the first castle to be opened to the public; the family still owns and operates the castle to this day. The castle is renowned for its beautiful interiors and collection of furniture, tapestries and rare objects d’art. There is also a pack of about 70 dogs that are kept on the grounds and taken out for hunts twice weekly.

 

8. Clos Lucé is not really a  “Château de la Loire”; it is a large mansion located just 500 meters from  the Château d’Amboise by way of an underground passageway and is notable mostly for its most famous resident, Leonardo da Vinci. In 1515, King François I invited the Italian painter and inventor to Amboise and offered him the manor to use as a home and studio. When Da Vinci arrived in 1516 he came with three paintings, including the famed Mona Lisa, and lived in the mansion for the last three years of his life. Visitors to Amboise should not hesitate to hop on over to Clos Lucé, where you can peruse a museum that includes forty models of various machines designed by Leonardo.

9. Langeais is a perfect example of Medieval French architecture. It is located near the Brittany frontier and had a significant role in the battle between the French and English. The structure dates back to the 10th century and was built on a cliff which offered a strategic location overlooking the Loire River. The castle was actually fortified and expanded under the rule of Richard I of England (when English kings ruled this region of France) until King Philippe II of France recaptured the castle in 1206. The castle was also where Anne of Brittany and King Charles VIII wed, thus uniting France and Brittany. Today, the dark and ominous looking castle is replete with a great collection of Medieval tapestries.

Château de Langeais

 

 

Destinations in Chicago

@ www.vino-con-vista.com.

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites
 

Happy Spring!!

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Travel to Tuscany’s Vino con Vista Wine Regions in Italy

The gallo nero seal of the Consorzio Chianti C...

Image via Wikipedia

Sangiovese vines of Brunello di Montalcino in ...

Sangiovese vines of Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chianti sub-zone

Chianti sub-zone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bottle of the Italian wine Chianti Classico ...

A bottle of the Italian wine Chianti Classico made from Sangiovese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A close-up view of sangiovese grapes ...

English: A close-up view of sangiovese grapes to be made into Chianti at the Colle Lungo vineyard in Castellina in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuscany is Italy’s quintessential wine region and the birthplace of three important red wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. These wines are made from Sangiovese grapes but have distinctively different flavors in Tuscany’s diverse microclimates.

Vineyard growing in the Italian wine region of...

Vineyard growing in the Italian wine region of Tuscany, home of the Sangiovese-based Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine. The photo also demonstrates the viticultural technique of clear (or bare) cultivation that leaves bare soil between the vines and rows with no cover crops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chianti is produced in seven subzones in Tuscany. The Chianti Classico zone has DOCG status. The other six Chianti subzones are: Chianti Rufina, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Aretini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane and Chianti Montalbano. The “Chiantigiana” is the scenic road that twists and turns through the Chianti zones between Florence and Siena.

Brunello is Tuscany’s rarest and most expensive wine. It is produced in the walled medieval village of Montalcino, south of the Chianti Classico zone. The climate is warmer and the hills are steeper. The wine is aged longer and it must be aged in oak barrels.

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2003 I...

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2003 Italian wine from Tuscany made from Sangiovese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has been made in the town of Montepulciano since Etruscan times. This wine is made from prugnolo grapes a sangiovese clone and was granted DOCG status in 1980.

Here’s Wine Spectator’s detailed overview map of Tuscany . The map includes: Chianti, Bolgheri, Brunello di Montalcino, Maremma and the Montepulciano appellations.

Click here to view the map: http://assets.winespectator.com/wso/Maps/Tuscanymap.pdf

On February 27th, 2014 there was an annual award ceremony for the Best of Wine Tourism 2014 winners at Palazzo Capponi in Florence.

The winners were:

Castello di Gabbiano, San Felice winery, Enotria, Castello di Poppiano, Castello La Leccia, Tenuta di Poggio Casciano from Ruffino, Panzanello winery and Col d’Orcia.

“The stretch of coastline from Livorno to Piombino is known as the Etruscan Coast, the area chosen by the ancient Etruscan people to exploit the huge mining and agricultural resources.  Medieval jewels like the towns of Casale Marittimo and Bolgheri, famous for its Viale dei Cipressi (Cypresses), which gained everlasting fame thanks to the poem “Davanti a San Guido” by Giosuè Carducci, as well as Castagneto Carducci, dominated by the castle of the Gherardesca counts, and Suvereto, a medieval town with charming architectural harmony.

Visit the Etruscan Coast wine trail where you can meet most local wine producers and visit their cellars and vineyards. Here are some helpful links for this area:

To learn more about Italian food and wine read Vino con Vista Travel guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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Incredible Easter with Fireworks in Florence Italy: Lo Scoppio del Carro

English: Capture of Jerusalem during the First...

English: Capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, 1099, from a medieval manuscript Deutsch: Mittelalterliches Gemälde der Belagerung Jerusalems durch die Kreuzfahrer 1099 Suomi: Jerusalemin valtaus 1099. Keskiaikaisen käsikirjoituksen kuvitusta. Polski: Zdobycie Jerozolimy podczas I krucjaty (1099 r.) – rysunek ze średniowiecznego rękopisu Italiano: Conquista di Gerusalemme durante la Prima Crociata, nel 1099, da un manoscritto medievale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo by User:Gilabrand. Dome of the Rock view...

Photo by User:Gilabrand. Dome of the Rock viewed through Bab al-Qattanin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scoppio del Carro (Florence)

Image via Wikipedia

English: Jerusalem, Dome of the rock, in the b...

English: Jerusalem, Dome of the rock, in the background the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Deutsch: Jerusalem, Felsendom, im Hintergrund die Grabeskirche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Easter morning, an ornate 500-year- old,  30-foot cart is paraded through the streets of Florence Italy by a team of  white oxen covered with flowers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FmiZNeYbto&feature=fvwrel.

English: Scoppio del Carro2 (Florence) Italian...

English: Scoppio del Carro2 (Florence) Italiano: Scoppio del Carro2 (Firenze) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The oxen cart is escorted by men dressed as Roman soldiers, city officials,  musicians and flag-throwers dressed in medieval costumes from the Porta al Prato to  the magnificent Piazza del Duomo . This annual event is called Lo Scoppio del Carro. This “Explosion of the Cart” celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and a new beginning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIlWMQoTnhs&NR=1

After the 11:00 Easter Mass in the Duomo, the “Explosion of the Cart” will occur in front of the Baptistery at noon. The cart is pre-loaded with fireworks. A wire that stretches from the altar inside the Duomo is rigged with a mechanical dove with an olive branch in her beak called the “Columbina” (little dove) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT5qr1xqbKo&feature=related.

The olive branch and the dove symbolize the Holy Spirit as well as Easter peace. After the parishoners sing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” (Glory to God in the Highest) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MuHQ2cxPr8&feature=fvst, the Cardinal of Florence will light a fuse that travels from the Church to ignite the cart in the Piazza. The fire is ignited by historic flints from Jerusalem. During this event, the Bells from Giotto’s Bell Tower will be  joyously ringing.

The traditional annual event lasts for about twenty minutes. A successful explosion signifies a good harvest and good business in the coming year which translates into good news for the wine-makers of Tuscany.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui8SLFG6h84&feature=related

Lo Scoppio del Carro festivities originated in the First Crusade when Europeans seiged the city of Jerusalem in an attempt to claim Palestine for Christianity. Bishop Ranieri took over Jerusalem during the First Crusade and on July 15, 1099, Pazzino di Ranieri de Pazzi‘s army defeated Jerusalem and hung a Christian banner on the walls of the Holy City.  Pazzino de Pazzi, a wealthy Florentine, was the first man to scale the walls of Jerusalem. As a reward, his commander-in-chief, Godfrey IV de Buillon gave him three chips of stone from the Holy Sepulcher of Christ which he brought back to Florence in 1101.

Scoppio del carro

Scoppio del carro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These flints were held by the Pazzi family for many years and were used to spark the “New Fire” which symbolized new life. The fire was shared with other families to help ignite things around the house like candles and fireplaces. These lights were put out on Good Friday and then lit again on Easter Sunday.

scoppio-del-carro1_17

scoppio-del-carro1_17 (Photo credit: bwohack)

The city of Florence assumed the responsibility and the tradition of passing the fire from Jerusalem. For many years, the stone chips were kept in the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Porta, but in 1785, the Holy Sepulcher stones were moved to the Chiesa degli Santi Apostoli. Watch this slide presentation to see the event:

http://firenze.repubblica.it/cronaca/2012/04/08/foto/lo_scoppio_del_carro-32965499/1/

The capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders on 1...

The capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders on 15 July 1099 1. The Holy Sepulchre 2. The Dome of the Rock 3. Ramparts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Holy Fire has traditionally been struck from these ancient flints at Eastertide to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. In 1494, the Cart Explosion was lit in front of the Baptistery for the first time. They were also lit on the street corner of the Pazzi family. The lighting in front of the Pazzi family was discontinued in 1900. Over 500 years ago, the exciting tradition of lighting fireworks on Easter Sunday assumed its present form in Florence.

 

Interior of the Pazzi Chapel.

Interior of the Pazzi Chapel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scoppio del carro 2013 31-03-2013 11-00-32

Scoppio del carro 2013 31-03-2013 11-00-32 (Photo credit: Hari Seldon)

To learn more about Italy read my Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com. Happy Easter!! Buona Pasqua

 

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Insights into the Vatican in Italy: UNESCO’s Holy City near Rome

St. Peter's Square in the early morning.

Image via Wikipedia

English: Wide angle View of the altar inside S...

English: Wide angle View of the altar inside St. Peter’s Basilica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Façade of St. Peter's Basilica as see...

English: Façade of St. Peter’s Basilica as seen from Saint Peter’s Square. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Crepuscular rays in Saint Peter's Bas...

English: Crepuscular rays in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A 5x6 segment panoramic image taken b...

English: A 5×6 segment panoramic image taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 70-200mm f/2.8L lens from the dome of St Peter’s in Vatican City in Rome. Français: Image panoramique composée de 5×6 photos prises par David Iliff à l’aide d’un appareil Canon 5D et une lentille 70-200mm f/2.8L à partir du dôme de la Basilique Saint-Pierre au Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Vatican City is the world’s smallest independent state and occupies 109 acres. It has been a sovereign state since 1929 and is ruled by the Pope.

The Vatican is the  residence of the spiritual leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.

Its territory is surrounded by the Italian capital city Rome. Priests and nuns make up most of the population.

The Vatican City is a small remnant of the former Papal States of central Italy. These Papal States were conquered by the forces of Italian unification in the mid-19th century.  At that time, the popes became “prisoners in the Vatican”.

They were unwilling to leave the confines of the Apostolic Palace until 1929. Finally, the Italian Fascist government negotiated the Lateran Treaty that created the current mini-state.

Francis, the current pope is the first Latin American to be elected to the position. Formerly archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who reigned from 2005 until 2013.

 

Swiss Guards, dressed in traditional ceremonial dress, are responsible for the security of the Pope

 

Pilgrimage

The Vatican City itself packs many imposing buildings into its small area: St Peter’s Basilica (completed in the early 17th century) and the Vatican Museums and Art Galleries that are repositories of the priceless art collections of the popes.

Pilgrims travel from all over the world to gather in St Peter’s Square for various ceremonies, such as this beatification of Pope John Paul II in May 2011.

Magnificent works of art are housed in the Holy City. Rome’s grand churches were built in the following order: Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neo-Classical.  Most of the exquisite Baroque monuments and buildings were erected during the 16th and 17th centuries. Many ancient churches have received newer facades.

Sack_of_Rome_by_the_Visigoths_on_24_August_410...

Sack_of_Rome_by_the_Visigoths_on_24_August_410_by_JN_Sylvestre_1890. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On May 6, 1527, the Sack of Rome was perpetrated by German Lutheran and Spanish Catholic troops who resented the wealth of the papacy. The soliers entered the Vatican as Pope Clement VII was saying a mass in the Sistine Chapel. Swiss Guards were being slaughtered in St. Peter’s Square and the pope was brought to safety in Castel Sant’Angelo.

Sack of Rome of 1527

Sack of Rome of 1527 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Peter's Basilica, believed to be the buria...

St. Peter’s Basilica, believed to be the burial site of St. Peter, seen from the River Tiber. The iconic dome dominates the skyline of Rome. St. Peter’s Basilica from the River Tiber. The iconic dome dominates the skyline of Rome. Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Christianity became the dominant religion of Western Civilization when the Roman Empire converted to Christianity. St. Peter’s Basilica, believed to be the burial site of St. Peter, seen from the River Tiber. Saint Peter’s Basilica. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Roman Emperor Constantine (306-337 AD) joined the Christians and before he moved to Constantinople he built several churches in Rome. San Giovanni in Laterano, St. Peter’s Basilica and San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura were all built during Constantine’s reign. Talent and leadership abandoned the newly divided empire and successive waves of Barbarians invaded Rome including the Visigoths, Vandals and the Ostrogoths. By 800 AD, Emperor Charlemagne asserted papal authority and launched another power struggle between the Church and imperial authority. By 1309, the pope moved to the safety of Avignon.

Tomb of pope Julius II by Michelangelo, church...

Tomb of pope Julius II by Michelangelo, church San Pietro in Vincoli; Rome, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rome’s imperial legacy lived on in the Catholic Church where Roman senators became bishops, scholars became monks, and philosophers became theologians. The pope or high priest adopted the title originally held by the emperor; “Pontifex Maximus.” Look for this word in the Latin inscriptions in Rome. The grandeur of church rituals is reminiscent of the glory days of Julius Caesar.

The papacy’s supremacy returned to Rome in 1377. In the 1500’s, a glorious rebirth of Rome flourished when the popes invited the most talented architects, painters and sculptors to rebuild Rome’s grandeur during the Renaissance. On April 18, 1506 Pope Julius II (Giuliano Della Rovere) laid the cornerstone for the new Basilica of Saint Peter. Saint Peter’s magnificent basilica was built above the site where Peter the Apostlewas crucified, martyred and buried in the year 64.

Ancient statue of St. Peter in St. Peter's Bas...

Ancient statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Possibly the work of Atnolfo di Cambio. Thought by some historians to be much older. Crop of original pic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro...

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (1481-82) Fresco, 335 x 550 cm Cappella Sistina, Vatican. Ελληνικά: Λεπτομέρεια από την νωπογραφία του Πιέτρο Περουτζίνο, Ο Χριστός Παραδίδει τα Κλειδιά στον Πέτρο, 335 x 600 cm, Καπέλα Σιξτίνα, Πόλη του Βατικανού. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1506, Bramante was commissioned by Pope Julius II to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica, originally built by Constantine from 324-329. Emperor Constantine built a glorious crown for St. Peter’s tomb over the site where his bones were preserved. St. Peter was the first apostle and the first pope. Since Rome is a place of pilgrimage, a “Scave Tour” is available with advanced reservations and allows you to visit the tomb of St. Peter and the archeological excavations beneath the basilica. Travel from the Baroque church to the Romanesque sanctuary to the Roman cemetery and tomb of Peter the Apostle. The crypt is located under the Papal Altar.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides At www.vino-con-vista.com

English: Bernini's "Gloria" surmount...

English: Bernini’s “Gloria” surmounting the “Cathedra Petri”, also by him. Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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My Glorious Vino Con Vista Weekend in San Diego

National Register of Historic Places listings ...

Image via Wikipedia

English: Imperial Beach, California The symbol...

English: Imperial Beach, California The symbol of this surfers’ community south of San Diego. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you follow my posts, you already know that I wax poetic about my on-going love affair with Italy. Basically every nook and cranny of the magnificent peninsula and surrounding islands take my breath away. But you probably didn’t know that my second love is San Diego. There are 33 beaches, and 70 miles of coastline stretching from Imperial Beach to Oceanside. There are about 267 glorious days of sunshine per year. No wonder San Diego is “America’s Finest City.”

English: San Diego's original Victorian-style ...

English: San Diego’s original Victorian-style railway depot, built in 1887 for the California Southern Railroad Company, is razed to make way for the opening of the new Santa Fe Depot in 1915. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: San Diego Cityscape looking down Harb...

English: San Diego Cityscape looking down Harbor Drive. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IMG_3330 I love the Santa Fe Depot train station with its glorious mosaic domes. There are plenty interesting places to visit on the way to Los Angeles.

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In Little Italy, go to  Extraordinary Desserts for the most beautiful sweet treats you will ever witness.

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The city has a vibrant Little Italy neighborhood with outstanding restaurants and bars and plenty of gelato and Italian delis. Filippi’s Pizza Grotto on India Street is a Little Italy institution.

Here’s a Video of Little Italy http://youtu.be/beH01nziAIsSkyline in San Diego California

Sometimes, when  I yearn to be sun-kissed by the hilly landscape of Tuscany or transported to the  glistening  azure sea that surrounds the majestic cliffs of the Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast; I just plan a trip to San Diego.

Amalfi coast Italy 1

Amalfi coast Italy 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amalfi Coast Italy 6

Amalfi Coast Italy 6 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cinque Terre in Italy

A Town in the Cinque Terre

If all I have is a long weekend, I escape to the www.vino-con-vista.com of San Diego. Did I mention that the weather is always perfect in San Diego? As a college professor, I have the luxury of a Fall Break and believe me, I thank God each and every day for all my blessings.

Chef prepaing glazed shrimp in San Diego

Chef prepaing glazed shrimp in San Diego

I always celebrate Columbus Day in what I consider to be America’s Amalfi Coast. I prefer to stay at the Marriott in the Marina District for a number of reasons. I love sun-bathing at the luxurious pool while listening to the soothing sound of the magical fountains as I sip a refreshing Miami Vice from the Tiki Bar. The Marriott is within walking distance of many of my favorite San Diego attractions and it is close to the trolley.

The city is great for biking and the hotel has a bike rental service. I like the food and the view from Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant. The rooms have outstanding views and balconies. I enjoy watching the jet skiiers and boating enthusiasts. It’s fun to watch people flying their kites in the park. Gazing at the Coranado Bridge and the sailboats is basically one of life’s simple pleasures.San Diego California Marina District Sea Port Village’s 14 acre outdoor plaza has a beautiful 19th century carousel. Grab a coffee at the Upstart Crow Bookstore and Cofeehouse at 835-C W. Harbor Drive. If you go in the summer, get tickets for the San Diego Symphony Summer Pops concerts in the Embarcadero Marina Park South (behind the Conference Center). The tickets start at $20. For more informationn visit: www.sandiegosymphony.com. I’m saw Michael Bolton and Burt Baccarack in the summer of 2013!

English: San Diego Symphony Summer Pops 2008 -...

English: San Diego Symphony Summer Pops 2008 – “Motown Magic with Mary Wilson” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sea Port Village in the Marina District in San Diego California

Rocks in Sea Port Village in San Diego

Sea Port Village in the Marina District in San Diego California

The Marina District of San Diego California

The tenth annual San Diego Wine Festival will be held in the park behind the Marriott Hotel  on November 20-24, 2013 at the Embarcadero Marina Park North. What a great “Vino con Vista” venue!! Some of the other festivals held in 2013 include: Taste of Gaslamp (June 8-9), Taste of Little Italy (June 19) Taste of Adams Avenue (June 30), Encinitas Wine Festival (June 1), the San Diego Spirits Festival (August 24-25) and the San Diego Festival of Beer (September 20), and Hillcrest City Fest on August 11th with 250 vendors. On June 15th there was a Carlsbad Beach Fest with water sport challenges. The Festival of Sail is when Tall Ships from around the world dock at downtown’s Embarcadero between August 30-September 2.

San Diego Wine Festival 2012

San Diego Wine Festival 2012

San Diego Restaurant Week Kick-Off Event Tasting Event

San Diego Restaurant Week Kick-Off Event Tasting Event

San Diego Wine Festival 2012 Chefs

San Diego Wine Festival 2012 Chefs

There are many other reasons why I like the Marina District. I like to watch the sea gulls strategically capture and devour left-overs from sleeping sun-bunnies. They really seem to love french fries.  I wonder if they have cholesterol issues? Sea Port Village in the Marina District in San Diego CaliforniaI adore watching the captivating sunsets from Seaport Village.

San Diego California Marina District

I can’t understand why San Diegans don’t celebrate the vistas with the same pomp and circumstance as the daily sunset festivals in Key West.

It’s an easy stroll over to the Port of San Diego. I like the USS Midway Museum with the longest-serving US Navy aircraft carrierod the 20th century. At the museum, you can “relive 50 years of world history by walking in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors” on Harbor Drive. There are 27 restored aircraft. For more information visit http://www.midway.org

Visit the “Greatest Generation Walk” that commemorates military heritage through art. My favorite WWII commemorative statue “is “Unconditional Surrender.”  This romantic 25 foot statue of a sailor kissing a nurse by J. Seward Johnson always makes my heart skip a beat.

Nurse and Sailor in San Diego California

Nurse and sailor in San Diego California

The  Marina District is also appealing because it is within walking distance to Horton Plaza, the Gaslamp District and Little Italy. These are some of my favorite San Diego destinations. Take some time to explore the bay on a Hornblower Cruise. I like the “Sights and Sips” Sunset Cruise. Pay for a reserved window seat when you purchase your ticket.

San Francisco 2012 616

My “Vino con Vista” San Diego adventure began in the Gaslamp District with a local wine event at the House of Blues.  Exhuberant dancers enjoyed the DJ’s classic Prince tunes. I was glad they were pouring Pinot Noir because I can be such a wine snob. We meandered over to the historic Grant Hotel at Broadway and 4th where a female San Diego attorney named Lynn Schenk broke the gender barrier at the Grant Grill restaurant in 1971. The sign at the entrance said “Men only until 3:00 pm.” The Hotel is celebrating their 100th anniversary. Long story short, the place was recently refurbished as an elegant Starwood Property and serves as a testiment to the Glory Days of San Diego. The live music was enchanting.

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IMG_3446 IMG_3447

The Gaslamp District has 94 historic buildings that have been  lovingly restored. Businessman Alonzo Erastus Horton spent $264 for 800 acres in 1867. These 16 blocks eventually became the Gaslamp Quarter. You can schedule a two-hour walking tour of the Gaslamp at the Historical Foundation at 619-233-4692. There are over 200 restaurants, bars and night clubs with a vast array of Happy Hour options including: Altitude Sky Lounge, Chianti, Currant, House of Blues, Hard Rock Hotel and McCormick & Schmicks.

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The next day, I had the good fortune of having lunch on the sun-drenched patio of the Hotel Del Coronado which is one of my favorite hotels in the world! I am also a big fan of Wentworth by the see near Portmouth New Hampshire.

View of Coronado and San Diego from the air.

View of Coronado and San Diego from the air. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I usually take the Coranado Ferry from the Broadway Pier behind the Convention Center when I want to visit Coranado. I put my bike on the ferry and ride down Orange Street to my final destination. I love the view of the skyline from the Coranado Ferry Landing.  Technically, the Silver Strand connects Coronado to the mainland so it really isn’t an island. It is technically an isthmus because it is attached to the mainland at the southern end of Silver Strand State Beach and is connected to Imperial Beach

English: The pier in Imperial Beach, Southern ...

English: The pier in Imperial Beach, Southern California. South of San Diego, very close to the Mexican border. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The beach at Coronado in front of the hotel is definitely the best beach in San Diego! Have brunch at the Hotel del Coronado’s Crown Room on Sunday at 1500 Orange Avenue. . You won’t be disappointed in this Victorian gem brimming with history.

Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego California

 I love the California Historic Landmark’s  photo montage of  the 1959 film “Some Like It Hot.”  The hotel was featured in the classic film with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. It reminds me of the pictures of “La Dolce Vita” that adorn the walls of the Hotel Majestic in Rome. I like all the cute retail-therapy shops on the lower level. One of the jewelry stores had an adorable ruby slipper necklace that I had to work really hard at resisting. I grabbed a business card just in case I changed my mind when I got home about the necklace. Although our plan involved feasting on one of the restaurant’s famous Ruben sandwiches, we realized that they had changed the menu. I ordered some delicious seared scallops instead. The breath-taking views of the beach, the Pacific Ocean and hilly peninsula of Point Loma reminded me of Mondello Sicily. If I win the lottery, I’m moving to Ocean Drive in Coronado or maybe I’ll move to La Jolla so I can be Mitt Romney’s neighbor.

After lunch, we went to the Cabrillo National Monument on the southern tip of Point Loma and paid hommage to the Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo who landed here on September 28,1542 when he anchored his “San Salvador” ship. This is agreat place to watch the sunset! Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego CaliforniaI never knew about the sandstone cliffs that surround the tide pools and precious pre-historic fossils in Point Loma, but they definitely peaked my interest. Tide pools are generally found on rocky shores that are covered and uncovered daily by ocean tides. They are best viewed at low tide when you may see an array of sea like including sea stars and urchins.

Point Loma San Diego California

Point Loma San Diego California

As I gazed at the fourteen foot structure of Cabrillo, I was magically transported to the “Monument to the Discoveries” in Lisbon that honors the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator with Magellan, Vasco da Gama and other notable Portuguese explorers lining the concrete prow of a caravel. I heard the sweet serenade of Fado music and envisioned the Manueline Belem Tower that protects Lisbon’s harbor. I remembered that I was in San Diego when I saw the lighthouse, North Island, military ships and the skyline. Senior Cabrillo looks like he was kidnapped from the monument in Lisbon. In Point Loma have a burger at Slater’s 50/50 at 2750 Dewey Road. One of my favorite lunch is Point Loma Seafoods at 2805 Emerson Street.

Point Loma San Diego California

We drove past the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery that was named after a Union General in the American Civil War. The tombstones made me think about my travels to Normandy.

Point Loma San Diego California

Then I thought about how much I missed my Dad. I remembered that someone from the army called me the day before his funeral to tell me that they were sorry to hear that they had lost another one of their WWII brothers. They came to his funeral and presented me with a folded flag and gave him a proper 21 gun salute. It brought  tears to my eyes. Weeks after his funeral, I received a certificate from the White House. President Bush signed a document that stated The United States of America honored my father’s memory. It says: “This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.”  I presume that the daughters of many beloved fathers buried at Rosecrans and other military cemeteries received the same document.

It was time for us to check out the newly-renovated Bali Hai Tiki Temple at 2230 Shelter Island Drive. Bali Hai was a famous show tune from Roger and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical “South Pacific.” Shelter Island in San Diego CaliforniaThe venue was lavishly adorned with maps and Polynesian artifacts. We sat at the bar for another incredible “Vino con Vista.” Instead of wine, I opted for a Polynesean cocktail that was so strong that  I had to dilute it with orange juice. I felt it was too early in the day to get hammered. I’m starting to sound like Ernest Hemmingway; most of his tales revolve around cocktail hour.

That evening, we went back to Banker’s Hill overlooking  Balboa Park  where the San Diego Zoo is located. We watched the 1937 film “Captains Courageous” based on a 1897 story by Rudyard Kipling. In the film, a young Spencer Tracy serves as a heroic role model for the arrogant son of a wealthy tycoon played by Freddie Bartholomew.  Rudyard Kipling‘s heart-warming tale is about vices and virtues. Spencer Tracy is a Portuguese fisherman who teaches the child about respect, valor and love. This tear-jerker is a must see for the over-indulged pre-teen in your family.

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The weekend was  filled with festivals. We walked over to the Saturday morning Mercado in Little Italy. I love the fresh flowers, farm-fresh produce and wide array of merchandise offered at this weekly event. Smilin’ Jack was playing Italian songs on his accordion. When you go to Little Italy, make sure you try some of the Happy Hour Venues. I like the Glass Door Restaurant and Lounge for a Vino con Vista overlooking the Bay. San Diego’s vibrant dining scene has more than 7000 options. There are also plenty of food trucks including Mangia Mangia Mobile and Miho’s Gastrotruck. In Little Italy dine at Bencotto Italian Kitchen at 750 Fir Street or Prep Kitchen for Happy Hour.

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Little Italy in San Diego California

san diego california

We hopped on the Trolley in Little Italy that transported us to the Art Festival in Old Town where I found the perfect blush-colored  pearl bracelet to wear to my son’s spring wedding. Then for about  $20, we took a cab to Prospect Street in downtown La Jolla. I had to re-visit the historic  La Valencia Hotel and climb the stairs at George’s at the Cove for a panoramic shot of the Pacific Ocean. George’s Chef Trey Foshee serves contemporary California cuisine with breath-taking views. There’s even a rooftop terrace. Another interesting dining option in La Jolla is Nine-Ten at 910 Prospect Street inside the Grande Colonial Hotel. Chef Jason Knibb’s seasonal cuisine is served in an elegant dining room. I love the pink La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla on Prospect with the hand-painted murals

San Diego California

We walked over to the Art and Wine Festival on Girard St. The festival was a school fundraiser. Wineries from Temecula were pouring $3 tastings. I found it interesting that the public school on Girard Street was located at the intersection of the Maserati Dealership and the Ferrari Dealership. That spoke volumes about the demographics in La Jolla.

San Diego California

San Diego California

Plan to attend the La Jolla Music Society Summerfest between July 31 and August 23, 2013. La Jolla has an annual festival of the Arts between June 22-23. I wanted to attend the Gourmet Festival in Del Mar but we didn’t have enough time. If you have time, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla Village where Nancy Rubins’ large-scale, nautical inspired  artwork adorns the museum’s west side.

One of my favorite Fall Festivals is in Little Italy. I love this annual Columbus Day celebration called  “Festa” in Little Italy.

San Diego California

Live music permeates the neighborhood as the chalk artists work their magic on five- foot square sections of Date Street. Some of the chalk art is incredible!

Little Italy in San Diego California

Litte Italy reminds me of Cefalu Sicily with the historic tales of tuna fisherman, cute shops with imported Italian ceramics and charming outdoor Italian restaurants. I had some flavorful gnocchi from Buon Appetito’s food booth.

I made my mandatory trek to Fillippi’s for pine nut cookies. They offer the perfect blend  of almond paste and pine-nuts. I was too full to order a Caprese Sandwich at Mona Lisa, one of my favorite Italian stores on India. Have a perfect expresso at Caffe Italia at 1704 India Street. There’s a summer Film Festival in Amici Park Amphitheater on Saturday nights in the summer at West Date and State Streets.

Little Italy in San Diego California

In the evening, we went to Island Prime on Shelter Island and I ordered a yummy Ahi Tuna/crab meat appetizer that was drizzled with a balsamic infused apricot flavored glaze. It was just the right mate for my Cadillac Margarita with Gran Marnier. I savored the combinaton as I admired the billion-dollar views of downtown San Diego at night. The cruise ship was parked in the Port and the configuration of the ship’s red lights resembled the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Diego California

Then it was time for some  “Smooth Jazz” at Humphrey’s at 2241 Shelter Island Drive. .  I loved watching the people on the dance floor move to the rhythm of Marcus Anderson’s sexy saxophone. The passionate tatooed drummer was getting a cardiac workout.

Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay is a great venue for dinner and a show during the summer months.

No weekend in San Diego would be complete without visiting the Gaslamp Quarter. Go to Bice at 425 Island for an outstanding Happy Hour. Everyone loves Searsucker with Top Chef Brian Malarkey’s grand slam at 611 5th Avenue. I absolutely love the Grant Grill at 326 Broadway inside the elegant US Grant Hotel.

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If you have extra time, there’s plenty of biking, hiking and walking trails. Go to Balboa Park, Lake Miramar, or the Grasslands loop if  you want short and flat terrain. Balboa  Park is the site of the 1915 and 1935 international exposition.

 I think my next book will be “Vino Con Vista San Diego.” Fortunately, my research will involve many return trips to my favorite American city. How appropriate that the local flowers are “Birds of Paradise.” If you wand to browse an event calendar visit http://www.sandiego.org/events

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ http://www.vino-con-vista.com

 

San Diego California

Mark your calendars for the San Diego Wine Festival in November. Here’s a YouTube Video overview that you might enjoy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmEnsU3LsY

English: The city flag of San Diego, CA. Flag ...

Image via Wikipedia

Buon Viaggio–

 

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It’s Always Halloween in San Gimignano Italy

San Gimignano, perhaps the most popular of Ita...
Image via Wikipedia
Coat of arms of San Gimignano

Coat of arms of San Gimignano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

San Gimignano delle belle Torri is 32 miles southwest of Florence. It is considered the Manhattan of Tuscany. The majestic skyline of noble towers was built for defensive purposes and as a symbol of status and wealth.

Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclos...

Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclosed with walls, causing crowding and the building of tower houses. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This destination served as an important relay point for pilgrims traveling to or from Rome on the Via Francigena.

San Gimignano view from torre grossa 5

San Gimignano view from torre grossa 5 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The patrician families who controlled the town built 72 tower houses (some as high as 50 meters) as symbols of their wealth and power. The Torre Grossa is still open to the public. Although only 13 of the original towers have survived, San Gimignano has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance.

san gimignano

san gimignano (Photo credit: michael pollak)

San Gimignano view from torre grossa 3

San Gimignano view from torre grossa 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You probably didn’t know about the Spooky Musuem in San Gimignano where you can celebrate Halloween all year long! Visit the Museo Pena di Morte.

Museo della Tortura in San GImignano Italy

San Gimignano Torture Museum

Skull in San Gimignano Torture Museum

Torture Museum in San Gimignano

Panforte at a shop in San Gimignano, Tuscany, ...

Panforte at a shop in San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides to Italy and  Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

Happy Halloween from www.vino-con-vista.com

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I Love the Oenology Wine Room in the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago

From the California wine producer in the Centr...

From the California wine producer in the Central Coast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Display your wine on a Barrel if you can find one

Display your wine on a Barrel if you can find one

Flavor Napa Valley Winemaker Dinner

Flavor Napa Valley Winemaker Dinner

Cathedral Ridge Winery

Cathedral Ridge Winery

If you feel like a wine-tasting event but you can’t find one, here’s a solution. I suggest that you check out the Oenology Wine Bar at the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. This incredible Hotel was the former home of the Medinah Athletic Club in Chicago. Like the Medinah Temple in Chicago, it was commissioned by the Shrine Organization. The building was designed by the architect Walter W. Ahlschlager. The cornerstone of the Medinah Athletic Club was laid on November 5, 1928. After your wine flight, take a tour of this gorgeous building.

Eno Wine Room in Chicago

One of the professionally-trained sommeliers at the Wine Spectator, award-winning Eno Wine Room at 505 N. Michigan Avenue will pamper you. They will offer a wine flight paired with the appropriate cheese and chocolate combination.

Eno Wine Room in Chicago

Since I like Pinot Noir, I opted for the “Pinot Envy” flight with a nice Oregon Pinot Noir. My flight included a 2008 Brandborg Bench Lands Pinot Noir from the Umpqua Valley in Oregon. I also had an opportunity to taste the 2009 Yamhill Valley Vineyard Pinot Blanc from Oregon and the 2008 Kenneth Volk Pinot St. George from the Calleri Vineyard in San Benito California.

Eno Wine Room in Chicago Wine Flight

Once you have selected a wine flight, you can select your cheese selection to accompany your wine. My sommelier suggested the Challerhocker from Switzerland with an edible rind, a dense Ocooch Mountain sheep cheese from Wisconsin and the Barely Buzzed Cheddar from Utah rubbed with coffee grounds and lavender.

Eno Wine Room in Chicago Cheese Flight

Now, it’s time to select your decadent chocolate desserts. Once again, just go with the recommendation of your professionally trained server and you won’t be disappointed. Have a Black Truffle Sea Salt, Macadamia Praline and Salted Chocolate Caramel. Now this is living!

Eno Wine Room in Chicago Chocolates

Of course, you can just select wine or cheese from the menu without opting for a personal “Pinot Envy” tasting party. Have a selection of cheese for $12 or just order a glass of wine.

Try a glass of red Amarone or Barbera D’Alba  from Italy. Those are 2 of my personal favorites from Italy.

If you want to learn more about wine pairing, here’s an informative video: http://www.restonsunocosubway.com/Reston-Sunoco-Wine-and-Beer-cellar.htm.

Wine tasting and wine pairing are interesting topics. Some of my favorite events in Chicago are wine dinners held at my favorite restaurants. I loved the Gibson’s on Rush Street Duckhorn Vineyards Wine Dinner!

Gibson’s on Rush Street Duckhorn Wine Dinner

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

Eno Wine Room

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Filed under Attractions in Chicago, Chicago, Chicago Hotels, Chicago Neighborhoods, Eno Wine Room in Chicago at the Intercontinental Hotel, Italian Cheese, Italian Food, Italian Food and Wine, Italian Wine, Wine Tasting in Chicago

Summer Carnevale in Viareggio Italy

Carnevale Via Reggio Italy

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see filename (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Viareggio

Viareggio (Photo credit: m.aquila)

Statue of Burlamacco on Belvedere delle Maschere

Statue of Burlamacco on Belvedere delle Maschere (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Promotional cinderella stamp from Ita...

English: Promotional cinderella stamp from Italy, 1931: Carnival of Viareggio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Viareggio is a swanky Tuscan beach town on the west coast of the Tyrrenhian sea in Italy.  The beautiful beaches and a Passeggiata or promenade is brimming with charming cafés and shops. These attributes have earned Viareggio the well-deserved title: “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea” with Burlamacco as her master of ceremonies!

Summer Carnival 2015
Viareggio: August  14, 15 and 16 at Square Maria Luisa
www.ilcarnevale.com

During the Summer Carnvale in mid-August, you can see some of the Viareggio’s carnival papier-mâché floats built for the February parade on the promenade.  The parade will begin on the promenade at 8.30 pm leaving from the Carnival citadel. “La Cittadella del Carnevale is the place where the “papier – mâché Masters” set up the  huge Carnival floats. The complex has a specific architectural structure,  it is a real yard composed by 16 warehouses, a Carnival- museum,  Carnevalotto Museum for contemporary art, an hystorical archive, a restaurant and a big central elliptical square, a magic scenario to host shows. This is the area where some of the most important events of Viareggio take place, like summer concerts, parties and dance shows.” Then they will pass from Viale Einaudi, Viale Belluomini and Viale Carducci. The last stop is in Piazza Mazzini. The entrance to the Belvedere delle Maschere is expected around 10.30 pm.

Check it out: https://www.fest300.com/festivals/viareggio-carnevale

Official website: http://viareggio.ilcarnevale.com/

Viareggio nel cuore

Viareggio nel cuore (Photo credit: vinric)

Viareggio

Viareggio (Photo credit: see.lauren)

Stay at the elegant and luxurious Grand Hotel Principe Piemonte. The historic Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte, is a prestigious 4-star hotel on Viareggio’s seafront. It is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and the Great Hotels of the World. The Grand Dame of Viareggio was built in the early 1920s. The hotel underwent  a two-year restoration which brought it back to its former splendour. It re-opened in 2004. Dine at the Michelin rated Il Piccolo Principe. www.principedipiemonte.com. I loved the stained-glass doorway and Art Nouveau facade!

Grand Hotel Principe Piemonte in Viareggio Italy

English: Principe di Piemonte, Viareggio

English: Principe di Piemonte, Viareggio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beach Guido in Viareggio Italy

This town is located in the province of Lucca. It is the home well-maintained beaches and the famous carnival of Viareggio.

The event dates back to 1873. Elaborate papier-mâché floats parade along the promenade known as “Passeggiata a mare”, in the weeks preceding Easter.

Fountain in Viareggio Italy

The symbol of the carnival of Viareggio and its official mask is Burlamacco, designed and invented by Uberto Bonetti in 1930.

One of the most exciting times to visit is during Carnevale di Viareggio. Watch this video to see what this event:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siak0NgyApE&feature=related

Viareggio Carnival 2007

Image via Wikipedia

If you go to Viareggio, you will have an opportunity to meet the town’s most famous character, Burlamacco. He is the official Carnival representative and was concieved by Uberto Bonetti in 1930. Check out his statue on the boardwalk made by Renato Galli.

Burlamacco in Viareggio Italy

Burlamacco in ViaReggio Italy

The town is well-know for incredible Art Nouveau architecture and outstanding seafood restaurants.

Relas at the seashore at one of the beautiful beaches or stroll along the promenade, the “Passeggiata a mare.”

Beach at Viareggio Italy

I love Viareggio Italy

There are plenty of interesting shops and restaurants. They even have an outdoor market on the promenade. I bought one of my favorite scarves there!

Summer carnival manifesto

 

 

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ http://www.vino-con-vista.com

Here’s a video link: http://viareggio.ilcarnevale.com/en/

Read more about Viareggio Carnival in these posts:

The Hotels Excelsior (right) and Principe di P...

The Hotels Excelsior (right) and Principe di Piemonte (left). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carnevale di viareggio 2008, uer iz de party

Image via Wikipedia

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

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Magical Florence Italy

English: Il Duomo, in Florenece, Italy seen at...

English: Il Duomo, in Florenece, Italy seen at night from Michelangelo’s Piazza. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Photograph of Ponte Vecchio at night....

English: Photograph of Ponte Vecchio at night. Florence, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Brunelleschi cuppola, as seen from the rig...

The Brunelleschi cuppola, as seen from the right side of the cathedral. Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inside Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence)

Inside Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arno river in Florence, Italy

Arno river in Florence, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Giotto's belltower (campanile) in Florence, It...

Giotto’s belltower (campanile) in Florence, Italy. Français : Campanile de la Cathédrale Santa maria del Fiore, Florence (Italie). Українська: Дзвіниця Катедрального Собору Санта-Марія-дель-Фьоре у Флоренції, Італія (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The façade of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Flore...

The façade of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Florence Cathedral. Annotations for the three mosaics tympanums (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

View of Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore with...
Image via Wikipedia
English: Taken from the Ponte Vecchio in Flore...

English: Taken from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, of the River Arno… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A prophet, detail of the bronze main portal of...

A prophet, detail of the bronze main portal of the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore of Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inside Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence)

Inside Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Procession at the Cathedral and the Baptistry ...

Procession at the Cathedral and the Baptistry (right) during the 18th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Statue of Saint Reparata, martyr, Patron of Fl...

Statue of Saint Reparata, martyr, Patron of Florence, Italy. Main portal of the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did he feed that Tuscan boar an acorn?

Florence is the world’s celebrated jewel of the Italian Renaissance. Packed with art and architecture, Florence is famous for voluptuous domes and incredible food and wine adventures. There are plenty of intimate restaurants and Vino con Vistas opportunities at every corner. She rose to economic and cultural pre-eminence under the mighty Medici dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries. The churches, galleries and palaces are brimming with Renaissance masterpieces.

The façade of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Flore...

The façade of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Florence Cathedral. Annotations for the three mosaics tympanums (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vino con VIsta in Florence  Italy

Vino con VIsta in Florence Italy

The city was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement and has 600 years of extraordinary artistic activity. It is an incredibly compact city for walking.  Walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset for a glimmering moonlit cityscape.  Marvel at her panoramic glory as the cloak of darkness descends over her dimly lit splendor.

Here are some UNESCO photos of Florence, Italy: http://www.ourplaceworldheritage.com/custom.cfm?&action=site&regionid=9&site_country=ITALY&site_name=Historic Centre of Florence&siteid=292

English: flor

English: flor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Natural and man-made disasters have threatened the city’s wealth of art history.  In 1966, the Arno River’s devastating flood destroyed or severely damaged Florentine treasures.  In 1993, a mafia bomb exploded near the Uffizi and severely damaged the gallery. The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge to escape Nazi bombs during World War II.

Last Judgment (detail ). Dome of Florence Cath...

Last Judgment (detail ). Dome of Florence Cathedral. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her glorious past is evident in the monumental grandeur of her structures. The 13th century cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi, Santa Maria Novella, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Bargello and the Pitti Palace are incredible repositories of Renaissance art.

Front view of the Florence Cathedral

Front view of the Florence Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrea di bonaiuto, dettaglio dal cappoellone ...

Andrea di bonaiuto, dettaglio dal cappoellone degli spagnoli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Florence has the largest concentration of Renaissance art and sculpture in the world. Landmark cloisters, chapels and refectories are all galleries of Renaissance art.

Book a room at Hotel Lungarno
on the banks of the Arno with stunning views of the Ponte Vecchio and over 400 original works of art  including Picasso and Ferragamo’s fashion sketches.

art of italy

art of italy (Photo credit: waldopics)

To learn more about Florence read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides and

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

Statue of Saint Zenobius, Presumed first bisho...

Statue of Saint Zenobius, Presumed first bishop of Florence, Italy. Main portal of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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