Category Archives: UNESCO

Gaudi’s Magnificent La Sagrada Familia is a Vino con Vista UNESCO Site in Barcelona Spain

Maqueta de la Sagrada Familia

Maqueta de la Sagrada Familia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ventilation towers on the roof of Cas...

English: Ventilation towers on the roof of Casa Milà designed by Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona, Spain Français : Cheminées d’aération sur le toit de la Casa Milà réalisée par Antoni Gaudi, Barcelone, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sagrada Família church, by Gaudí.

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English: The Sagrada Familia viewed from Casa ...

English: The Sagrada Familia viewed from Casa Milà, Barcelona, Spain Français : La Sagrada Familia vue de la Casa Milà, Barcelone, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Español: Gaudí y el nuncio Ragonesi visitan la...

Español: Gaudí y el nuncio Ragonesi visitan la Sagrada Familia (1915). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Sculpture of Philip the Apostle on a ...

English: Sculpture of Philip the Apostle on a tower of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain Français : Sculpture de l’Apôtre Philippe sur une des tours de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelone, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Español: Fachada del Nacimiento, Sagrada Famil...

Español: Fachada del Nacimiento, Sagrada Familia (Barcelona). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are seven properties built by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in or near Barcelona that have been classified as UNESCO sites. Barcelona is blessed with the legacy of this incredible man in the same way that the city of Rome is blessed with Bernini‘s legacy.

His exceptional masterpieces yield harmonious colors and fluid lines that are a testiment to his creative genius. He contributed to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Antoni Gaudí, Casa Batlló

Antoni Gaudí, Casa Batlló (Photo credit: profzucker)

The UNESCO monuments include: Casa Vicens; Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia; Casa Batlló; and the Crypt in Colonia Güell. His works demonstrate “el Modernisme of Catalonia.”

Antoni Gaudi was born in Reus in 1852, a small town south of Barcelona. He died in an accident in 1926.

Interior del Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada F...

Interior del Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia en Barcelona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His major feat was his association with the church of Sagrada Familia that was started by the architect Francesc de P. del Villar in 1882 in Gothic revival style. In 1883, Gaudi made fundamental changes to the project and he continued working on the church based on a Latin cross, until his death. Visit the museum under the church that chronicles Gaudi’s contributions including his models and his original drawings.

Détail de la Sagrada Familia de Gaudi à Barcelone

Détail de la Sagrada Familia de Gaudi à Barcelone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gaudi’s vision has been realized The passionate commitment of the heroic efforts of people involved in building this magnificent church will make you weep.

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

The church has three facades: The Nativity to the east, the Passion facade on the west and the Glory facade on the south which has not been completed. The Glory facade will explain the life and the end of man presided over by St. Joseph in his workshop. Watch a brief video to see the magnificent structure

Español: Busto de Gaudí, Joan Matamala, Museo ...

Español: Busto de Gaudí, Joan Matamala, Museo de la Sagrada familia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The influencial architect has the most influence on the Nativity facade. It was built between 1894 and 1930. It is dedicated to the birth of Jesus and is decorated with ornate sculptures and faces the rising sun to the northeast. It is divided into three porticos that represent faith, hope and charity. The Tree of Life rises above the door. The facade includes different episodes of the Childhood of Jesus including the Immaculate Conception.

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

Nativity Facade

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona Spain

The Passion facade has gaunt, skeletal characters which were designed by Josep Maria Subirachs. His hard llines represent the pain and final scrifice of the life of Jesus. A crucified Christ presides over the central door surrounded by the people that were present at his agony. Three Lati nwords appear on this facade: Veritas, Vida and Via because Jesus is the Way. The work was completed in 1978. The Last Supper and the Kiss of Judas are sculpted into the facade that is supported by six columns designed to resemble sequoia trunks.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain

Passion Facade of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Kiss of Judas

Passion Facade of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Barcelona Spain

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

The stratospheric magnificence of the ornamentation of the  interior of the church is breath-taking. The ceiling soars with a central vault of sixty meters crowned by Christ ascending into Heaven over the main altar. The Church was consecrated by the Pope in November of 2010 so you can plan your wedding ASAP.

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Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

The Ascension of Jesus Christ

Barcelona Spain

Barcelona's Sagrada Familia Church

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Barcelona Spain

Stained Glass in Sagrada Familia

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Filed under Antoni Gaudi's Barcelona, Attractions in Barcelona Spain, ebooks, Last Judgment, Park Guell in Barcelona Spain, Peter the Apostle, Safrada Familia Church in Barcelona Spain, Travel and Tourism, UNESCO, UNESCO sites in Barcelona Spain, vino con vista, What is the name of the famous church in Barcelona Spain, What is the name of the famous park in Barcelona, Who designed the famous church in Barcelona Spain, Who designed the famous park in Barcelona Spain?, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage sites in Barcelona Spain

Flamboyant Flamenco: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Spain

Flamenco in Madrid Spain

Flemenco is a Spanish fusion of music, singing and dance. Ethnic gypsies from Andalusia in southern Spain had a significant impact on the singing (cante), dancing (baile) and guitar playing (toque) that are used in flamenco. Consider it the “Dancing with the Stars” of Spain.

In this genre, voices can be filled with anguish and pain in cante jondo or express happiness and joy through movements in sevillanas and rumbas. Castanets, hand-clapping and foot-stomping create a lively and energetic performance.

Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia.

Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is performed during religious festivals, rituals, ceremonies and celebrations. In November of 2010, UNESCO declared Flamenco one of the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity which include “traditions, performing arts and practices that are inherited from ancestors and passed on to descendants.”

History and tradition co-exist in the rhythum of tablaos (flamenco stages) and clubs in Madrid where flamenco is very popular. The city offers a wide range of shows and serves as the hub of the record industry that presents this genre to the world.

Corral de la Moreria is one of the oldest Flamenco tablaos in Madrid and has been around since 1956 Another popular venue is Cafe de Chinitas, located in the basement of an 18th century palace. Enjoy the granduer of a Vino con Vista dinner watching flamenco while visiting various regions of Spain.

“The Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity was made by the Director-General of UNESCO starting in 2001 to raise awareness on intangible cultural heritage and encourage local communities to protect them and the local people who sustain these forms of cultural expressions.

Several manifestations of intangible heritage around the world were awarded the title of Masterpieces to recognize the value of the non-material component of culture, as well as entail the commitment of states to promote and safeguard the Masterpieces.

Until 2005, a total of 90 Masterpieces from 70 countries had been proclaimed. 76 more elements were added on 30 September 2009, during the fourth session of the Committee.”

The "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangi...

The “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” is a list maintained by UNESCO with pieces of intangible culture considered relevant by that organization. The map shows the distribution of Masterpieces by State Parties. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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


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 (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.

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Witness the Story of Easter in Rome: Buona Pasqua

c. 1580

c. 1580 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl Princeton

Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl Princeton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Tiburtine Sybil, woodcut from the Nurember...

The Tiburtine Sybil, woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle Français : La Sibylle Tiburtine, bois gravé tiré de la Chronique de Nuremberg, feuille 93 verso (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 12th Station of the Cross - Jesus dies on ...

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A 14th-century of Jesus Christ bearing the cro...

A 14th-century of Jesus Christ bearing the cross, from the monastery in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italiano: La Sibilla Tiburtina, 1483, affresco...

Italiano: La Sibilla Tiburtina, 1483, affresco nella Chiesa di S. Giovanni Evangelista a Tivoli (Roma). L’immagine è racchiusa in un tondo e deliminata in un anello bianco con il basso l’espressione SIC AIT riferito alla profezia che viene riportata sotto il ritratto. La profezia inizia all’interno del medaglione per proseguire al di sotto di esso. The Tiburtine Sibyl, 1483. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Tiburtine sibyl and the Emperor Augustus i...

The Tiburtine sibyl and the Emperor Augustus is a 16th-century chiaroscuro woodcut by Antonio da Trento. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pope Francis and the Vatican gear up for Holy Week Celebrations and ancient traditions in and around Rome. These events commemorate the last week of the life of Jesus Christ before his painful death on the cross and ultimate Resurrection.

The Tiburtine Sybil named Albunea, told Emperor Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) in a mystic meeting, that the first-born of God would one day rule his empire: “Haec est ara primogeniti Dei”-This is the altar of the first-born of God.

Augustus commemorated the spot by erecting an altar. The church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli (altar of Heaven) now crowns the highest point of the Campidoglio in Rome with 124 steps that lead to the entrance of the church. In the church, the figures of Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl are painted on either side of the arch above the high altar.

English: Santa Maria in Aracoeli (façade), Rome.

English: Santa Maria in Aracoeli (façade), Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Antonio da Trento, Tiburtine Sibyl and the Emp...

Antonio da Trento, Tiburtine Sibyl and the Emperor Augustus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inside this church are the relics of St. Helen in a porphyry urn. Saint Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine who ultimately decreed the Christianization of pagan Rome. Inside the church, there is a chapel of the Santo Bambino. The Bambino is carved from olive wood from Jerusalem using wood from the Garden of Gethsemane. It was created by a Franciscan monk in the 15th century.

Furthermore, the Tiburtine Sibyl prophesied a final Emperor named Constan who would “vanquish the foes of Christianity and end paganism.” Michelangelo portrayed the Sibyls in the frescos of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The Tiburtine Sybil's prophecy to the Emperor ...

The Tiburtine Sybil’s prophecy to the Emperor Augustus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Easter story of the “Passion of Christ” is depicted in the 14 “Stations of the Cross.” The “INRI” on the cross is the abbreviation of “King of the Jews” in Hebrew. During his lifetime, Jesus encountered the same type of pain that normal people excounter. He endured physical pain, mental anguish, rejection, abandonment and betrayal. Holy Week allows us to recall the great sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us and signifies new beginnings.

Holy Week is one of the most religious and exciting times of the year to visit Rome and many other towns in Italy and Spain Holy Week events begin on Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. On this day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on  a donkey and was welcomed as royalty with the path paved with branches and palms. The ceremonies during the week revolve around the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Palm Sunday,  Holy Week begins with the Pope‘s blessing of the palms in St. Peter’s Square.

The three days before Easter are called the Paschal Triduum of Death, Burial and Resurrection of the Lord The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Triduum: “The night Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.”  The church empties the Holy Water from the fonts on the days of the Sacred Paschal Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. The Passion is read three times during Holy Week: Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The words of Jesus are always read by a priest.

On Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), the Pope performs a rare morning mass. “The Mass of the Chrism” is held in St. Peter’s Square when the oils are blessed and the Chrism is consecrated.  Chrism is a combination of balsam and oil and is used for annointing for occasions like confirmation and ordinations.

In the evening after sun-down, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. This event includes a reading of Matthew’s account of the “Passion of Christ”; the narration of Jesus’ capture, suffering and death. It includes the representation of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his Disciples which was carried out by Pope Benedict at the Cathedral of St. John Lateran where he washed the feet of 12 priests

On Good Friday, the day of Christ’s brutal crucufixion in AD33, choirs sing St. John’s version of Christ’s crucifixion. Peter Paul Rubens’ “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man) portrays Christ with his “Crown of Thorns” before his Crucifixion. After his crucifixion, he was covered with a shroud

On this day in Catholic churches around the world, Christians glorify the cross in their individual parishes The cross is venerated as a symbol of our faith by kneeling in front of the cross and kissing it. In this way, we honor the Lord’s Cross as an instrument of our salvation. The cross was the means of Jesus Christ’s execution and as a sign of victory over sin and death. The church does not celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist on Good Friday, rather the Church commemorates the Lord’s Passion.

In Rome on Good Friday, a solemn “Via Crucis Procession” (The Way of the Cross) involves an evening torch-lit procession that follows the Pope as he traces the Stations of the Cross from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill The church in Rome adopted the practice of “Adoration of the Cross” from the Church in Jerusalem where a fragment of wood believed to be the Lord’s cross has been venerated every year on Good Friday since the fouth century

St. Helen, the mother of emperor Constantine, discovered this fragment of wood on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326. Pope Alexander VII had the top of the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square adorned with his insignia. There is a relic of Christ’s “True Cross” encased in this emblem of Pope Alexander that crowns the Obelisk.

Jesus had 12 disciples. They were pupils or followers of Christ. The Passion of Christ was initiated when the Temple Guards, guided by Judas Iscario, captured Jesus. Judas was a Disciple of Jesus who betrayed him by telling the guards that whomever he kisses, they should arrest. Judas was paid in silver for his betrayal which is portrayed  in “The Kiss of Judas.” The trial and painful crucifixion of Jesus ensued. Judas ended up returning the silver and committing suicide.

On the Joseph Maria Subirachs “Magic Square” on the facade of Gaudi’s Sagada Familia in Barcelona (Quadrato magico di Sagrada Familia) next to “The Kiss of Judas” in the picture below, notice that all colums, diagonals and rows add up to 33, the year of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Judas Betrayed Jesus Christ before his Crucifixion

Judas Kiss and the Magic Square of 33

Pictured above is Caravaggio’s famous portrayal of “The Kiss of Judas.”

On Holy Saturday, Jesus’  lifeless body was cradled in the arms of  Mary, as portrayed in Michelangelo’s “Pieta.”  He was then laid to rest in the borrowed grave of a friend. Churches around the world conduct an Easter Vigil where we celebrate Jesus Christ; our light who drives away the darkness of our lives At the beginning of the Easter Vigil, the church is darkened and gradually springs to life with the Ressurection of the Lord as faithful parishoners light candles inside the church. The Easter Vigil service includes the Service of Light, the Blessing of the Fire and the Preparation of the Paschal Candle and Procession.

The gloomy darkness of Good Friday is followed by the joyful celebration of trumpets at Easter which “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride” (Paschal Praeconium, the Exsultet). Easter Sunday celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. His Ascension into Heaven is the 40th day after Easter. On Easter Sunday, Pope Benedict delivers his blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and to the world) in St. Peter’s Square

In the picture below, Jesus Christ is ascending into Heaven above the altar of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain. The term apostle came into use after the Ascension of Jesus Christ when the disciples (followers) who had witnessed his resurrection, became apostles (ambassadors of the Gospel: evangelists and teachers). The true apostolic age ended when the last apostle died in about 100AD.

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain

The Pope delivers several messages to faithful pilgrims between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday

Here was the 2011 Easter Message in Italian

Happy Easter and have a wonderful Vino con Vista celebration with your family and friends!


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Semana Santa in Seductive Segovia Spain: Holy Week and Easter Traditions

Segovia Cathedral • Catedral de Segovia

Segovia Cathedral • Catedral de Segovia (Photo credit: jesuscm)

The present-day Alcázar of Segovia, significan...

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Segovia (Photo credit: ferlomu)

Segovia -Ayllón_2 casa del Cordón

Segovia -Ayllón_2 casa del Cordón (Photo credit: ferlomu)

The Ancient Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, ...

The Ancient Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, by Nicolás Pérez. September 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Segovia is a seductive

English: Aqueduct of Segovia, Spain Français :...

English: Aqueduct of Segovia, Spain Français : L’aqueduc de Ségovie, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UNESCO World Heritage Site in Spain that is imbued with the spirit of an old Castillian town. It was declared a UNESCO site in 1985 and it is protected by the Eresma and Clamores Rivers with and impressive collection of historic monuments.

Aqueduct of Segovia

Aqueduct of Segovia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Segovia is less than 50 miles away from Madrid. It is about 3,000 feet above sea level and has an incredibly well-preserved Roman aqueduct that is over 2000 years old. The mortarless Roman Aqueduct is made from granite blocks and was used to carry water from the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains to the city. It is considered to be one of the best civil engineering works in Spain with 166 arches and 120 columns that transported water fro the La Acebeda to the Alcazar, defying the laws of gravity. In 1072, 36 arches were damaged during the attack of Al-Mamun from Toledo. The town also has a fabulous cathedral and historic castle named Alcazar. UNESCO site in Spain

English: Aqueduct in Segovia, Spain Español: A...

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Segovia is a Castilian town in Spain

During Holy Week (Semana Santa), at the base of the Aquaduct, faithful Christians don tunics, capes and pointed hoods for the annual ceremonies. The procession of religious brotherhoods are accompanied by their treasured sacred sculptures of Jesus and Mary.

Semana Santa reaches a climax on Good Friday when faithful adherents of the city’s brotherhoods work their way through the medieval streets to the Cathedral

Segovia  houses an impressive Alcazar fortress/castle with a moat and draw-bridge loaded with plenty of art, stained glass windows and military memorabilia  It was built over the remains of a Roman fortress and became a Royal residence in the 13th century. Climb to the top of the tower to enjoy the magnificent Vino con Vista views of the historic city. The throne room has a beautiful mudejar ceiling

Segovia Spain

Segovia Spain

Segovia Spain

Segovia Spain

Segovia SpainSegovia Spain

Segovia Spain's Alcazar

Segovia Spain

The 16th century Renaissance-Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria frames Plaza Mayor and marks the border of th Old Jewish Quarter. It was consecrated in 1768. There are 18 chapels with noteworthy art by Spanish artists like Pedro Berruguete and Sanchez Coello. It has a beautiful altarpiece designed by Sabatini.  Segovia is located in the Castilla and Leon region, a short drive from Madrid.

Segovia SpainSegovia Spain

In Segovia, enjoy some suckling or roasted pig with some of the local white wines from Nieva or the red wines from Valtiendas. The town is also famous for marzipan made by cloister nuns and bakeries.

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Segovia Spain

Segovia Spain

Segovia Spain

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Filed under Alcazar in Segovia Spain, ebooks, IPad, Roman Emperors, Rome History, Semana Santa in Segovia, Spanish Art and Architecture, St. Teresa of Avila, Travel and Tourism, UNESCO, vino con vista, Wine, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage sites in Segovia Spain

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 @ 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


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



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Elaborate Holy Week and Easter Rituals in Toledo Spain: Semana Santa

English: A five-segment panorama of the Tagus ...

English: A five-segment panorama of the Tagus River in Toledo, Spain. Taken with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L lens. Français : Vue panoramique du Tage à Tolède, en Espagne. Panorama obtenu en assemblant 5 clichés faits avec un appareil Canon 5D et un objectif 24-105mm f/4L. Română: O panoramă alcătuită din cinci fotografii a râului Tagus din Toledo, Spania. Realizată cu un Canon 5D şi obiectiv de 24-105mm f/4L. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bridge of Alcántara.

Image via Wikipedia

English: Toledo, Puerta de Bisagro

English: Toledo, Puerta de Bisagro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: House of El Greco (partial view) : To...

English: House of El Greco (partial view) : Toledo, Spain. Español: Casa de El Greco (vista parcial) : Toledo, España (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visit the historical city of Toledo Spain during Holy Week or on Easter. The charming UNESCO World Heritage City of Toledo Spain is the Toledo Spainrepository of more than 2000 years of history and architectural styles.  Toletum was the capital of Roman Carpetania.  It is an outstanding Vino con Vista destination, especially during Easter ceremonies. Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986. Corpus Christi Week is the most important holiday in Toledo when the ground is covered with rosemary and thyme.

World Heritage Site Toledo Spain

The Mudejar architectural style of the Middle Ages, arose from the multi-cultural  interplay of forces among the three major religious groups who lived there: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Toledo has a broad spectrum of structures from the medieval period including walls and fortified buildings like San Servando Castle.  The former capital of Spain is about 42 miles southwest of Spain‘s newer capital city of Madrid. Felipe II transferred the Royal Court to Madrid in 1561.

The Assumption of the Virgin

The Assumption of the Virgin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Panorama of the Toledo skyline in Spain, at su...

Panorama of the Toledo skyline in Spain, at sunset. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The River Tagus loops around the historical gems of this fortified city and is crowned with gorgeous historic bridges. The Alcazar fortress occupies the highest point of the city and was used as a military base and fortress by the Romans, Arabs and Christians. Ultimately, it became the residence of King Alfonso VI and then Carlos V converted the building into a Royal Palace. Each facade of the fortress is different and reflects different architectural eras: The east facde is Medieval and the facade on the west is Renaissance. It houses the Army and Military Museum.

Toledo Spain

Coat of Arms

Toledo Spain

Toledo Spain

The Primal See in Toledo was using an old Mosque which was reconsecrated as the main church in 1086 by Alfonso VI. The Primada Cathedral was built between 1226 and 1493 on the site of a VIsigoth church. The Gothic Cathedral‘s first stone was ceremoniously laid in 1221. The Cathedral is brimming with art treasures and has a valuable collection of El Greco and Goya masterpieces.  Visit the beautiful chapels and the Renaissance Choir. The cathedral that was originally started in the sixth century by San Eugenio, the first Bishop of Toledo, was converted into a mosque that became the main church before the Gothic Cathedral was built.

Toledo Spain

Toledo Spain

El Greco is one of Spain’s most revered Renaissance artists. In March of 1586 he obtained the commission for The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. In 2014, the 400th anniversary of his death was celebrated with special exhibitions in Toledo.

Detail of the painting.

Detail of the painting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

El Greco - The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (d...

El Greco – The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail) – WGA10487 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

El Greco - The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (d...

El Greco – The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail) – WGA10490 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)






El Greco self-portrait, 1604

El Greco self-portrait, 1604 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His 1586 masterpiece “El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz” (translates into the Burial of the Count of Orgaz) is located at the foot of the church of Santo Tome. The painting portrays Saint Augustine and Saint Steven in elegant golden vestments. They are preparing to  carry his life-less body to his tomb. The young boy holding the torch on the bottom left of the painting is El Greco’s son. The bearded gentleman directly above Saint Stephen is a self-portrait of El Greco.

The Holy Trinity, 1577–1579, by El Greco

The Holy Trinity, 1577–1579, by El Greco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my favorite El Greco paintings in Toledo is “The Tears of Saint Peter”  which is displayed in the Studio of his Museum in Toledo. Tour the charming House and Museum of El Greco in Toledo Spain during Semana Santa. El Greco never lived in this place, but the house has a collection of his paintings. Another one of my favorite El Greco paintings is “Jesus Carrying the Cross.”

El Greco, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

El Greco, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toledo Spain

Toledo Spain

Toledo, the  former capital of Spain, sits majestically on a hilltop in the Castilla- La Mancha region immortalized by Miguel de Cervante’s famous “Don Quixote.”

Toledo Spain

Puerta del Sol Toledo Spain Toledo is 70 km so...

Puerta del Sol Toledo Spain Toledo is 70 km south of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish , España Empire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toledo was the temporary seat of Emperor Charles V. He endowed the city with the status of an imperial, crowned city. The fervor and devotion of Holy Week traditions of Semana Santa de Toledo are reminicient of 16th century Spanish traditions. Processions with residents dressed in hooded costumes signify the death and mourning of Jesus Christ. These solemn processions throughout the town during Holy Week, tell the story of the Passion and resurrection of Christ

Detalle de Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo en la pintur...

Detalle de Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo en la pintura El entierro del conde de Orgaz de El Greco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cambrón Gate, Toledo, Spain Français : Porte d...

Cambrón Gate, Toledo, Spain Français : Porte de Cambrón, Tolède, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Semana Santa is a very special time in Spain

Happy Easter from your Travel Buddies @

Toledo -Guadamur -castillo_3

Toledo -Guadamur -castillo_3 (Photo credit: ferlomu)


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Easter and Holy Week Rituals in Sicily: Buona Pasqua

English: Cathedral of San Giorgio, Modica, Sic...

English: Cathedral of San Giorgio, Modica, Sicily, Italy. Français : Cathédrale San Giorgio, Modica, Sicile, Italie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Coat of Arms of Caltanissetta, Sicily...

English: Coat of Arms of Caltanissetta, Sicily, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Coat of arm of Sicily

English: Coat of arm of Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A baroque church in Modica

A baroque church in Modica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many towns in Sicily have a


Petralia Sottana, Sicily

Petralia Sottana, Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

strong tradition of religious rites and ceremonies that date from the Spanish Domination of the 15th-17th centuries. These rites are demonstrated during mystic Holy Week celebrations.


On Good Friday at 5:00 p.m., the Society of the Passion of Christ  leaves their parish church and is joined by all the other Confraternities on Via Roma. They make their way to Chiesa dell’Addorlarato. The statue of  “Our Lady  of the Seven Sorrows” is carried to to the Cathedral where the Urn of the Dead Christ awaits her. At 7:00 p.m., thousands march in a solemn and silent torch-lit  procession behind men dressed in white hooded costumes. These costumes represent medieval fraternities of artisans and artists (Confraternities). Today there are 15 of the original 34 Confraternities still in existence. They take turns carrying marble statues of a deceased Christ and “Our Lady of Sorrows.” The group is accompanied by 24 symbols of Christ’s martrydom including the cross containing a reliquary of the “Crown of Thorns” and tools of flagellation.  Watch this video of Easter Rituals in Enna


Holy Week celebrations begin on Palm Sunday with the Procession of the Confraternities, the L’Ura  from their individual churches to the Duomo  in solemn Eucharistic adoration.  The Baroque Duomo was founded by Eleonora, the wife of the 13th century Swabian King Frederick II.  The Cathedral has a spacious 16th century interior. The Confraternities are accompanied by the town band on their way to the Cathedral.


On Easter Sunday the ritual involves “A Paci” when the statues of the Resurrected Christ and Mary are reunited in the Cathedral Square under a joyous celebration of ringing bells.


Some of the other towns in Sicily where you can witness elaborate Holy Week (Settimana Santa) and Easter (Pasqua) rituals include:










and Petralia Sottana U “Ncuontru


Petralia Sottana (PA), Panorama parziale.

Petralia Sottana (PA), Panorama parziale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To learn more about Sicily go to


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



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Filed under Easter in Enna Sicily, Easter in Rome, Holy Week in Rome, Italian Architecture, Italy Travel Guides, Pasqua in Sicily, Sicilian Baroque, Sicily, Sicily Architecture, Sicily Art, Sicily History, Sicily Travel Guides, Travel and Tourism, UNESCO, UNESCO WOrld Heritage Sites in SIcily, vino con vista, Volcano, World Heritage Sites

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:

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 @

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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

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.

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)

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), 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.

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 (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:

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 @ Happy Easter!! Buona Pasqua


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