Tag Archives: Italian wine

UNESCO Wine Regions in Vino con Vista Piedmont Italy

English: Fountain at Agliè castle (The castle ...

English: Fountain at Agliè castle (The castle in one of the residences of the Royal House of Savoy), Agliè, Turin, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Piedmont is one of Italy’s finest wine regions. In northwestern Piedmont, Nebbiolo grapes thrive and ultimately become Barolo and Barbaresco wine. “Rare vintages of Barolos (1985 or 1990) become favorites of serious wine enthusiasts with an extraordinary aging capacity. Click on this link to view Wine Spectator’s Piedmont wine map:

http://assets.winespectator.com/wso/Maps/Piedmontmap.pdf

This region’s terroir is also perfect for Barbera, Dolcetto, Brachetto and Grignolino.

The Castle of Agliè is one of the residences o...

The Castle of Agliè is one of the residences of the Royal House of Savoy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many interesting sites in this region of Italy. In the middle of the 16th century, the Savoy dynasty built a number of castles, villas and hunting lodges in and around Turin creating a UNESCO World Heritage complex.

In the hilly areas of the Langhe, Monferrato and the foothills many monastic complexes were built. The Sanctuary of San Michele is a Benedictine monastery founded in the 10th century on the summit of Mount Pirchiriano.

Piedmont is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/multimedia/photos/photos-for-the-new-inscriptions-2014/italy/

 

Reggia di Venaria Reale, Torino - interni cate...

Reggia di Venaria Reale, Torino – interni category:user:Twice25 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turin is the largest city in the hilly region of Piedmont. It was historically under Austro-Hungarian domination www.turismotorino.org.  The  amazing residences of the Royal House of Savoy include the Palazzo Reale, the Royal Armory, the Library and Stables.

Filippo Lippi

Filippo Lippi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fra Filippo Lippi - IMGP6044

Fra Filippo Lippi – IMGP6044 (Photo credit: indianadinos)

Fra Filippo Lippi - Sts Gregory and Jerome - W...

Fra Filippo Lippi – Sts Gregory and Jerome – WGA13179 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Castello di Rivoli (Torino)

Castello di Rivoli (Torino) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Royal house of Savoy Coat of Arms, flags of th...

Royal house of Savoy Coat of Arms, flags of the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Collar of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation Italiano: Stemma della casa reale di Savoia, bandiere del Regno di Sardegna e collare dell’Ordine supremo della Santissima Annunziata. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fra Filippo Lippi - The Doctors of the Church ...

Fra Filippo Lippi – The Doctors of the Church – WGA13177 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visit the Pinocoteca dell’Accademia Albertina and the Galleria Sabauda for Renaissance art. Bellini, Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi masterpieces can be found in these galleries.

Fra Filippo Lippi - Sts Gregory and Jerome (de...

Fra Filippo Lippi – Sts Gregory and Jerome (detail) – WGA13182 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The original Holy Shroud (Sacra Sindone) of Turin is kept in Turin’s Duomo in a silver casket inside a marble coffer. The replica is available for viewing. Carbon testing in the late 1980’s indicated that the shroud dates back to the 12th century; so it apparently was not wrapped around Christ after his crucifixion. Visit the  museum of the Holy Shroud  on Via San Domenico.

Travel to Castello del Poggio.  Admire the 390 acres of vineyards dominated by the medieval fortification that belonged to the nobele Buneis family that once gaurded the city of Asti. You can see a vast amphitheater called the Val del Temp that was owned by the Templars in the 12th century. I love their fruity Barbera DiAsti DOC. Guided visits and tastings are by appointment only. www.poggio.it

Here are some of the Annual Festivals in Piemonte:

ASTI Douja D’Or; prestigious producers participate in the parade and celebration the second Saturday and Sunday in September.

The Palio of Asti is Italy’s most ancicent horse race with a historic procession and over 1000 people dressed in medieval attire in September.

lesser coat of arms of the Kingdom of Italy (1...

lesser coat of arms of the Kingdom of Italy (1890), instituted by Royal Decree n. 7282, 3rd series, 27 November 1890. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alba Palio degli Asini is the Race of the Donkeys is on the first Sunday of October.

The Alba Truffle Festival is also in October.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Books at www.vino-con-vista.com

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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.

Image via Wikipedia

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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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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Filed under Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico, Florence, Italian Food, Italian Food and Wine, Italian Wine, Italy, Italy Travel Guides, Sangiovese, Sienna, Travel and Tourism, Tuscany, UNESCO, vino con vista, World Heritage Sites

Vino con Vista has a Crush on Passionate Growers and Winemakers in Lodi

Lodi California 714

Tim Holdener from Macchia Winery in Lodi

Lodi California 045

Lodi Arch welcomes visitors to the charming downtown shopping area

Lodi Arch welcomes visitors to the charming downtown shopping area

If you follow my posts, you know that I adore wine tourism. I love to seek out idyllic destinations around the world where you can enjoy a Vino con Vista; a beautiful place to enjoy wine in the place where it is actually grown. I love places like Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy; the Napa Valley, the Santa Ynez Valley and Sonoma County in California and Bordeaux, Burgundy and The Rhone valley in France. These destinations offer perfect Vino con Vista opportunities. Let’s face it, grapes and vineyards seem to thrive in the most glorious destinations in the world! I guess we can thank the Greeks and the Romans for the fascinating aspects of modern day wine tourism in the sun-drenched vineyards of Lodi California.

Wine Map of Italy

Wine Map of Italy

“Celebrate the Harvest” A Tribute to wine growing in downtown Lodi by Rowland Cheney

Wine grapes

Wine grapes

Old Zinfandel Vines in Lodi

Old Zinfandel Vines in Lodi

I recently discovered an enchanting wine destination along the Mokelumne River in Northern California with over 80 wineries and plenty of tasting rooms. I had a opportunity to get up close and personal with the region’s grapes and many of the multi-generational growers in Lodi at the 9th annual Wine Bloggers Conference. Lodi California 604

WIne Bloggers Conference on Hutchinson Street at Robert Mondavi's former high schoool

Wine Bloggers Conference on Hutchinson Street at Robert Mondavi’s former high schoool

Lodi Wine

Lodi Wine

Located in San Joaquin County between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the region is a wine-lovers paradise! The region’s innovative and passionate producers are generating exceptional food and wine experiences that should catapult Lodi into the wine tourism strastophere! I am so confident about Lodi’s future that I may even buy a place in downtown Lodi. I loved the charming, well-maintained historic California Craftsman bungalows.

It’s relatively close to the UCDavis legendary Department of Viticulture and Enology. Now that I have retired from 30 years as a business professor, maybe I’ll pursue a new degree. I would love to better understand the scientific study of grape-growing and winemaking. It’s never too late, right?

 

Cute houses in downtown Lodi

Cute houses in downtown Lodi

Lodi California 077

LODI FACTS:

Lodi AVAs

“The Lodi AVA is located in the northern Central Valley of California, at the northern edge of the San Joaquin Valley east of the San Francisco Bay.

2016-zinfest-poster-650

 

LODI
Type American Viticultural Area
Year established 1986, amended in 2002
Country USA
Sub-regions Alta Mesa AVA, Borden Ranch AVA, Clements Hills AVA, Cosumnes River AVA, Jahant AVA, Mokelumne River AVA, Sloughhouse AVA
Climate region Mediterranean
Total area 551,000 acres
Size of planted vineyards 90,000 acres

Robert Mondavi was one of the most influential wine gurus in the industry and he grew up in Lodi. In 2001 Robert Mondavi donated $25 million to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UCDavis for the establishment of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, which opened October 2008.

His former high school in Lodi has been converted into a spectacular conference venue.  Woodbridge by Michael Mondavi the home of the famous Mondavi winery in Lodi where you can taste some of their higher end wines. The demand for grapes in California’s wine industry has been fueled by the Mondavi and Gallo families. Lodi producers have filled the pipeline for powerhouses like Mondavi, Gallo and Constellation brands for many years. The growth of the tasting rooms in Downtown Lodi are a perfect example of grape-growers pursuing forward integration; the profitability of Mondavi and Gallo has been enhanced by vertical integration strategies.

White Wine Grapes

White Wine Grapes

Lodi California 579

Tasting Wine in Downtown Lodi

Tasting Wine in Downtown Lodi

Many winemakers are following in Mondavi’s footsteps in Lodi. Harney Lane Winery poured their amazing wines at my table at the Wine Blogger Award Event. The estate grown grapes are the product of a 5th generation farming family. The Mettler decendants offer interesting excursions in Lodi,  including a Grape to Glass Tour. Most of their award-winning wine inventory sells out in the Tasting Room or to Wine Club members. Michael Davis Vineyards has a full restaurant; they have been in Lodi since the Civil War.

BBQ at the Blogger Awards Dinner paired perfectly with the Harney Lane Wines

BBQ at the Blogger Awards Dinner paired perfectly with the Harney Lane Wines

Dinner at Estate Crush

Dinner at Estate Crush

At Estate Crush, we made our own Zinfandel blend and then Bob and Ali Colarossi graciously produced enough bottles of the “WIne Blogger Reserve” for all 300 of the wine bloggers to take home. We had a great time experimenting with different blends produced from their old Zinfandel vines at the “Stellina Vineyard”. The wine bloggers did a blind tasting and selected the 97% Zinfandel, 2% Syrah and 1% Petit Verdot as our favorite blend from the Colarossi Estate Crush facility. The Stellina vineyard grapes will soon be part of the Lodi Native Project.

Estate Crush, proprietors: Bob and Ali Colarossi

Estate Crush, proprietors: Bob and Ali Colarossi

Traverse City Michigan 2016 059

Estate Crush is a dedicated custom crush facility that produces premium custom wine for over 80 clients with more than 120 brands. They have earned many prestigious wine competitions.

Dinner at Estate Crush

Dinner at Estate Crush

We had an amazing Paella dinner prepared by their dear friend J.P. Wetmore poolside surrounded by their lovely Stellina vineyard.

 

We had a lovely dinner at Estate Crush surrounded by old ZInfandel heritage vines that are used for the "Native" Project

We had a lovely dinner at Estate Crush surrounded by old ZInfandel heritage vines that are used for the “Native” Project

I love Macchia Wine

I love Macchia Wine

Macchia’s owner Tim Holdener and his bubbly wife Lani poured so many terrific wines that I joined his Wine Club and anxiously await my first shipment. The Barbera was incredible and I loved the dessert wine. The last time I joined a wine club was Moshin in the Russian River Valley and that was many years ago.

At the speed tasting, the wine bloggers had to opportunity to sample some amazing white wines from the Bokisch Winery.

Lodi California 448

Bokisch Winery

Lodi California 466

Bob and Ali Colarossi, Proprietors of Estate Crush

Lodi California 668

Kevin Phillips and his family produce Cinsaut grapes at the Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi. Planted in 1886, it’s the oldest Cinsaut vineyard in the world!

 

Many of the 80 wineries are winning awards and producing award-winning wines. Located just 90 minutes from San Francisco and 60 minutes from Napa; Lodi produces more wine than Napa and Sonoma combined. Sipping and savoring handcrafted wine produced from multi-generational wine growers and passionate Lodi California winemakers is an excellent way to spend a pleasant wine tourism vacation in Northern California. In addition to the wineries mentioned this far in this post, you can also check out: Vino con Brio at Amarosa Vineyards, Jessie’s Grove, Delicato Family Vineyards, Oal Ridge Winery and Klinker Brick.

Lodi California 379 Lodi California 658

Lizzy James Old Vine Zinfandel

Lizzy James Old Vine Zinfandel

Historically, Lodi is best known as the full-bodied “Zinfandel Capital of the World” with many vines that are over 100 years old. It is the home of the famous Seven Deadly Zins. More recently, the “Lodi Native” project is releasing some incredibly luscious old vine Zinfandel wines.

The six premier Lodi Native Wines

The six premier Lodi Native Wines

Schmiedt Ranch 2013 Zinfandel

Schmiedt Ranch 2013 Zinfandel

Many Lodi wines are sold exclusively at the respective winery. From the vineyards to the Tasting Rooms, there are plenty of wine tourism opportunities in Lodi.

There are plenty of Vino con Vista opportunities in Lodi

There are plenty of Vino con Vista opportunities in Lodi

Lodi AVAs Lodi California 512

 

Lodi is predominately a red winegrowing region (“approximately two-thirds of the acreage is dedicated to red varieties”). More recently, Lodi vintners are increasingly winning awards for their Rhone and Mediterranean style varietals. In addition to Zinfandel, Lodi is currently the nation’s leading producer of several popular varieties including: Chardonnay, Sauvingnon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has over 100 varieties in production.

Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse wines. Lodi’s 100,000 acres of deep loam in the AVAs and the desirable Mediterranean climate creates numerous microclimates that allow an incresingly larger variety of grapes and award-winning wines to thrive. The soil is similar to the French Region of Chateauneuf du Pape. Lodi winemakers are winning awards for their Rhone and Mediterranean varietals.

Here’s a list of varietals from the Lodi Wine Commission’s website:

Wine grapes from Lodi

Wine grapes from Lodi

Spanish Varieties:

Albariño, Verdejo, Graciano, Tempranillo, and Garnacha are just a few of the interesting Spanish varieties grown in Lodi soils.

Portuguese Varieties:

Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão, Souzão, Verdelho, and Tricadeira are grownfinding a natural home in the The wines being produced from these vineyards are utterly delicious. Vibrant, intriguing and refreshing flavors make these varietal wines well worth seeking out.

German Varieties:

Kerner, Bacchus, Riesling, Dornfelder, Gewürztraminer, and Zweigelt some of the German varieties grown in Lodi.

Italian Varieties

Barbera, Aglianco, Sangiovese, Teroldego, and Vermentino made me feel like I was field-tasting in Italy.

Southern Rhone

Cinsault, Viognier, Syrah, Picpoul Blanc, Tannat and many others are grown in Lodi.

Made from Cinsaut grapes in Lodi

Made from Cinsaut grapes in Lodi

Lodi Arch welcomes visitors to the charming downtown shopping area

Lodi Arch welcomes visitors to the charming downtown shopping area

Lodi California 666

 

Wine Map of France

Wine Map of France

To learn more about Lodi visit:

http://www.lodiwine.com/About-Lodi

http://www.lodiwine.com/Wineries

Book a room at the luxurious Wine and Rose Hotel and Spa on Turner Road www.winerose.com  and I’ll meet you at next year’s Zinfest.

http://www.zinfest.com/

2016-zinfest-poster-650

Pictures of Diverse Varietals from Around the World (Courtesy of the Lodi Wine Commission)

 

Spanish Varietals in Lodi

Portuguese Varietals Lodi

German Varietals Lodi

Italian Varietals Lodi

Rhone Style Varietals Lodi

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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.

IMG_3361 IMG_3351

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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A Tuscan Winery Tour at Captivating Vino con Vista Castello Banfi in Montalcino Italy

A close-up view of sangiovese grapes to be mad...
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Coat of arms of Montalcino

Coat of arms of Montalcino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bottle & glass of a 1961 Brunello di Montelcin...

Bottle & glass of a 1961 Brunello di Montelcino wine from Tuscany. This Italian wine is made from Sangiovese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Italian wine Brunello from Tuscany made fr...

The Italian wine Brunello from Tuscany made from Sangiovese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brunello vineyard, Montalcino

Brunello vineyard, Montalcino (Photo credit: Conlawprof)

Abbey of Sant'Antimo, Montalcino, Tuscany

Abbey of Sant’Antimo, Montalcino, Tuscany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sangiovese grapes in a vineyard of Montalcino,...

Sangiovese grapes in a vineyard of Montalcino, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuscany is Italy’s quintessential wine region. It is the birthplace of one of Italy’s blockbuster red wines, Brunello di Montalcino. This  is an opulent wine made entirely from sangiovese grapes. It has an intense ruby-red color and displays the complex aromas of black cherry, rasberry and violets.

English: The Municipality of Montalcino within...

English: The Municipality of Montalcino within the Province of Siena, Tuscany, Italy Italiano: Il comune di Montalcino nella Provincia di Siena, Toscana, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Montalcino is surrounded by defensive medieval walls that were built in the 13th century.

 Montalcino has remained practically unchanged over the centuries.

 

The Montalcino fortress was built at the highest point of the town in 1361; designed by the Sienese architects Mino Foresi and Domenico di Feo.

Montalcino is west of Pienza, close to the Crete Senesi in Val d’Orcia.

Montalcino is the perfect  destination for wine lovers with it’s 14th-century castle, encircled by olive groves and majestic vineyards.

Here’s a good link: A day trip to Montalcino

Montalcino

Montalcino (Photo credit: littlestar19)

Castle (Fortezza) at Montalcino, Siena, Italy....

Castle (Fortezza) at Montalcino, Siena, Italy. Photo taken by Type17, 18:50hrs June 24th 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Montalcino is divided into quarters called contrade. They are: Borghetto, Travaglio, Pianello and Ruga. Each contrade has their own colours, songs and distinct drum rhythms. Twice a year they dress in  Medieval attire and compete in an archery contest under the walls of the Castel Fortezza.

English: View of Montalcino from the Castle (F...

English: View of Montalcino from the Castle (Fortezza). Taken Sept 8th 2006 by me. Canon EOS 20D, 10mm focal length (16mm effective length) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Montalcino

Montalcino (Photo credit: fondelli.nadia)

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Montalcino, take a Winery Tour of Castello Banfi. You will learn about the restrictive government regulations that prescribe wine-making practices in Italy. These rules define areas where specific wines can be made using the acronyms DOCG, DOC, and IGT.

Brunello di Montalcino earned a reputation as one of Italy’s rarest wines. At the end of WWII, the only commercial producer recorded in government documents was the Biondi-Santi. The high price and prestige of there Brunello de Montalcino encouraged other producers to emulate Biondi-Santi’s success. By the 1960s, there were 11 producers making Brunello. By 1980 there were 53 producers in Montalcino. In 1980, the Montalcino region was the first Italian wine region to be awarded Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation.

Português: Garrafa de vinho Brunello di Montal...

Português: Garrafa de vinho Brunello di Montalcino de Biondi Santi – 1985 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG designation means  “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita” (the most prestigious/elite Italian wines).  This means that the wine has the following characteristics:

The location is certified and guaranteed

Provides more stringent government regulations

Requires longer aging periods and lower yields per vine

montalcino fortress

montalcino fortress (Photo credit: tonyduckles)

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 to enhance the character of the wines.

Tuscany

The Banfi Winery was the first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical and social responsibility. It won the 2009 VinItaly International Award and has been designated Italy’s Premier Vineyard estate for 11 consecutive years.

Tuscany

The winery is nestled on 7100 acres of land and it is owned by two wine-making brothers from Long Island, New York.

Tuscany

They have a state of the art winery with a glass museum.

Tuscany

Taste their Brunello di Montalcino at the Winery’s Enoteca.

Tuscany

Tuscany

 Dine at their Tuscan Taverna Tuscany

The restaurant is located in the vaulted cellars of the Castello. Enjoy three and five-course tasting menus of traditional Tuscan cooking on rustic wooden tables situated under gorgeous brick arches.

Tuscany

 You can even stay in the restored rooms and suites of the Castello Il Borgo.

Montalcino

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

Sangiovese vines of Brunello di Montalcino in ...

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

To learn more about wine tasting in Tuscany visit www.vino-con-vista.com. Florence and Tuscany now available for iPad. Salute!!

Montalcino

Montalcino (Photo credit: Un ragazzo chiamato Bi)

Montalcino

Montalcino (Photo credit: littlestar19)

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World’s Best Gelato and Vernaccia Wine in Vino Con Vista San Gimignano Italy

San Gimignano, Tempera on panel, Museo Civico,...
Image via Wikipedia

San Gimignano delle belle Torri’ is 32 miles southwest of Florence in the Val d’Elsa. It is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Italy and is considered the Manhattan of Tuscany.

Things to do: Visit the Piazza della Cisterna,  climb the Torre Grossa, visit the Civic Museum. Tour the Romanesque Collegiata and the Church of Sant’Agostino with a 15th-century fresco cycle by Benozzo Gozzoli, head over to the torture museum for some cool selfies.

Here’s a good link: San Gimignano 1 day itinerary

The town experienced a period of economic wealth and flourished artistically in the mid-1300s from merchants and pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena.

The majestic skyline of noble Medieval towers are enclosed in a 13th century wall that was built for defensive purposes. The towers were built as a symbol of status and wealth by s wealthy families. The family with the highest tower, attempted to exhibit the most power.

“According to official decree, no other tower in San Gimignano could surpass that of La Rognosa.” In the year 1300, 70 towers symbolized the 70 wealthy families inhabiting San Gimignano; today, only 13 towers are left from the original 72. The Torre Grossa is still open to the public. Even though only 13 of the original towers have survived, San Gimignano has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance.
It is the Tuscany,  UNESCO 1990, proclaimed: “this masterpiece of creative human genius, it is unique testimony to a past civilization, and as an exceptional exemplar of both architectonic complex and landscape, demonstrates significant passages in human history.”

The town has several masterpieces of 14th and 15th century Italian art. known artists from the Sienese school traveled to San Gimignano to paint: Simone Martini, Lippo Memmi and Puccio Taddeo di Bartolo.

Visit the Romanesque Basilica of the Assumption of Mary. Visit the splendid Chapel of Santa Fina with frescoes by Domenico del Ghirlandaio that depict episodes from her life: “The Annunciation” and “Death of Saint Fina” were painted in 1478 in The Chapel of Santa Fina at the Romanesque Collegiata cathedral.  In the cathedral there are also notable frescos by Bartolo di Fredi and Benozzo Gozzoli. Taddeo di Bartolo’s frescoes including the “Last Judgement” (1393-1396) are amazing.

Saffron and chilled Vernaccia are abundant in San Gimignano. Vernaccia is one of Italy’s finest whites and is often served with fish. It was even the first Italian wine to bear the title Controlled Designation of Origin (D.O.C.) in 1966. The vineyards can be seen along the road from Poggibonsi to San Gimignano. Check out the Museo del Vino della Vernaccia, in the Villa della Rocca di Montestaffoli.
The grape harvest takes place from late September to early October. Vernaccia Normale can be bottled in March, while the Riserva must be aged in the wine cellars for one year.

Climb 175 feet to the top of Museo Civico’s forbidding fortress completed in 1311. Climb to the top of the tower through the museum entrance for a panoramic view. After your climb to the top of the tower,  you have definitely earned the “World’s Best Gelato” at Pluripremiata in the square by the cistern, Piazza della Cisterna. I tried a few of the flavors and loved them all!

To learn more about Tuscany visit 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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Have a Feast in Fiesole Italy near Florence

Sangiovese vines of Brunello di Montalcino in ...

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

Florence as seen from Fiesole.

Florence as seen from Fiesole. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

View to Fiesole in Florence, Italy
Image via Wikipedia
Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Thermae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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)

Bistecca alla fiorentina

Bistecca alla fiorentina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Theater. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Thermae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Thermae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Temples. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Thermae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Temples. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole is in the province of Florence in Tuscany. It was a former Etruscan settlement. It is nestled on a hilly ridge 30 minutes north of Florence. It’s position offers a breath-taking view of Florence.

Head for tranquil Fiesole for lunch or dinner at Trattoria Le Cave de Maiano. Order a veal chop or the famous “Bistecca alla Fiorentina” (Florentine T-Bone) from Tuscany’s famed Chianina beef and a bottle of Bolgheri Rosso, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or Brunello di Montalcino.  Dine at La Reggia degli ‘Etrusci‘s terrace for a fabulous “Vino con Vista”.

Visit the Piazza Mino de Fiesole, the main square, and have an expresso at the Caffe Aurora in the bougainvillea shaded terrace with a fabulous view of Florence.  Take a picture with the bronze statue of Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II.

Roman theater in Fiesole, Italy

Roman theater in Fiesole, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Explore the 14th century Franciscan Friary of San Francesco with a presepi on display all year long. Visit the Archeological area in the first century BC Roman theater,  public baths and a 4th century Etruscan temple.  The temple is dedicated to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and healing.

Stay at Villa San Michele in Fiesole and ask for the Michelangelo Suite. This Orient Express property was a former 15th century monastery that was designed by Michelangelo. Fabulous cooking classes are only available to hotel guests with “Guest Chefs” from many other world-class hotels www.villasanmichele.com. Another option is Italy’s Top Spa (19 miles northwest of Florence) www.termemontecatini.it.  After your spa treatment, take the Funicular to Montecatini Alto for a panoramic vista all the way to Florence.

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see above (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

see above

see above (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Krampus and Other Holiday Events in Trentino-Alto Adige

Larix decidua forest, Dolomites, San Genesio A...
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This mountainous region of northeastern Italy is characterized by the unparalleled beauty of majestic mountains and lovely scenic lakes. It is divided by the Adige River.  Trentino is Italian-speaking and Alto-Adige, the German-speaking area is known as the South Tyrol. Alto-Adige was part of Austria until after World War I. Cortina is home to many fashion juggernauts including Bulgari, Gucci, Benneton and Geox. Trentino is the home of Cavit’s wine empire.

English: Maria Himmelfahrt, Bolzano. Deutsch: ...

English: Maria Himmelfahrt, Bolzano. Deutsch: Dom Maria Himmelfahrt, Bozen. Italiano: Duomo di Bolzano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 1960’s Provincial Road #14 was transformed into the Winestrasse (Wine Trail).  The South Tyrol Wine Road in Alto Adige runs along the right bank of the Adige River between Salorno and Bolzano. It is one of the most scenic roads in Italy. Pristine vineyards carpet lush Alpine valleys. Stop at the wineries for a “Vino con Vista.” This region produces grappa.

Bressanone

Bressanone (Photo credit: davideoneclick)

In 2009, UNESCO added the snow-clad Dolomites on the east side of the Province to Italy’s World Heritage List. This area has frequent landslides, floods and avalanches and UNESCO hoped to secure more rigourous defense and preservation of this area. The Dolomites are Italy’s most distinctive mountains and were formed 200 million years ago from the Primeval ocean. Their majestic mineralized coral forms magical spires, pinnacles and rock walls. The mountains include 18 majestic peaks with interesting rock formations that are perfect for skiing. The “Cinque Torri” rock formations include five towers that soar to heights of 7,762 feet.

 

Comprensorios del Tirol del Sur (Italia).

Comprensorios del Tirol del Sur (Italia). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Holiday Events  with Germanic traditions and Italian flavors 

During the Christmas period the towns of Bolzano, Merano, Bressanone, Vipiteno, and Brunjco offer Holiday markets. The Christmas tree (Christbaum) and the Nativity scenes are common themes in this region. There are ancient nativity rituals in Bressanone and the Gries Abbey during Advent.

In Passo dell Stelvio, the first Saturday in December celebrates “Festa dei Klosen” dedicated to Santa Claus. Locals dressed in costumes wander the streets until the Church bells ring and everyone unites in prayer

In the historic center of Arco attend “Festa d’Immacolota” on December 7th for fireworks from the castle and a Christmas market with local delicacies like apple brule, cheeses and honey until December 23rd in the historic center of town.

In Bolzano attend “Christkindlmarkt” in Piazza Walter until December 23 with delicious Germanic sweets like “zelten,” a sweet from Bolzano, based on dried figs, almonds, and candied fruit. Local tradition  provides crowns made of fir branches interwoven with ribbons and four candles. In Bolzano, they light one candle each Sunday for the four weeks of Advent.

Vintage Christmas Krampus Postcard with St. Ni...

Vintage Christmas Krampus Postcard with St. Nicholas in window (Photo credit: riptheskull)

On December 5th Bolzano celebrates the arrival of Saint Nikolaus, protector of children. During this traditional celebration, Nikolaus  is accompanied by angels and he is bearing gifts for good children. The festivities juxtapose this symbol of Good  flanked by Evil, personified by “Krampus.”  Krampus is a two-horned furry demon.  In Brunico, 150 of these “Krampus” demons parade, armed with chains and whips.

In Bressanone visit the “Il Presepe” exhibit at the Episcopal Palace until January 6th and the “Weihnachtsmarkt” Alpine Christmas Market until January 8th at the Piazza Duomo. Vin brule is distributed after the concerts and mass at the cathedral.

The 18th Annual Merano Christmas Market where most of the historic center is transformed into an outdoor market until January 7th.

Tastes of Valsugana in Levico in Parco della Terme until January 6th with Hapsburg-style horse drawn carriage rides.

In Trento attend the Christmas Market until December 23 in Piazza Fiera

In Cavalese attend the “Trial of the Witches” the first week of January.

In Cortina d’Ampezzo on Christmas Eve there is a torchlight parade of skiiers. There will also be a “EuroChocolate Ski” Event in this upscale Dolomite ski resort between December 16th and 19th.

Order a book and Buon Natale basket for your favorite Italophiles at www.vino-con-vista.info. To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista Travel Guides.

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