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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

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The Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence is the “National Pantheon”

A monument to the florentines fallen during th...

A monument to the florentines fallen during the WW1. God the Father, by Bandinelli. Santa Croce cloister, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crucifixion, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence...

Crucifixion, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pulpit, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy.

Pulpit, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Français : Monument à la mémoire de Donatello,...

Français : Monument à la mémoire de Donatello, Basilique Santa Croce de Florence, Italie. 1895. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Exterior of the Basilica of Santa Cro...

English: Exterior of the Basilica of Santa Croce (Florence). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in th...

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in the Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Santa Croce is the church of the Franciscans and was built in the Italian gothic style.  It was completed in 1442.

Français : La porte principale de la basilique...

Français : La porte principale de la basilique de la Sainte-Croix (Santa Croce) à Florence, Italie. English: The main gate of Basilica Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Santa Croce

Santa Croce (Photo credit: Dorina Bernard)

The Neo-Gothic façade was re-clad in 1863 in pink, green and white Tuscan marble. It is located in the Piazza di Santa Croce.

Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy

Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy (Photo credit: SpirosK)

Florence Italy

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in th...

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in the Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is dubbed the “National Pantheon” because it has tombs or centotaphs of the greatest Italians.  A centotaph is a funerary monument without the remains of the deceased.

The six-pointed star in the central tympanum is Medieval and these rays  symbolize St. Bernadino. In Christian art, there are many saints associated with this star: St. Bruno bears a star on his breast; Saint Dominic, Saint Humbert and Saint Peter of Alcantara have this star on their head or forehead.

Florence Italy

The beautiful bell tower was rebuilt in 1842 by Gaetano Baccani because it was destroyed by a bolt of lightning in 1512.

Michelangelo's tomb

Michelangelo’s tomb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Florence Italy

Tondo of Saint Matthew the Evangelist on the d...

Tondo of Saint Matthew the Evangelist on the dome of Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy (It has been suggested that it was the work of Donatello.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tondo of Saint John the Evangelist on the dome...

Tondo of Saint John the Evangelist on the dome of Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy (It has been suggested that it was the work of Donatello.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

South of the church, visit the secret garden and cloisters. The Pazzi Chapel was designed by Brunelleschi in 1429. It is set in front of the neo-Gothic bell-tower. The chapel  is adorned by  terracotta tondi of the apostles by Luca della Robbia and by roundels of the Evangelists by Donatello.

The loggia was built and decorated in grey sandstone and decorated with terracotta.

inside view of the Dome hidden in the portico ...

inside view of the Dome hidden in the portico of Cappella dei Pazzi, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in th...

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in the Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Main Chapel was commissioned by Jacopo degli Alberti. The polyptych on the altar was redone in the 19th century and portrays the Virgin, Saints and Fathers of the Church crowned by a large crucifix by “Maestro de Figline” who worked in Giotto’s workshop. There is a beautiful Polyptych by Giotto and his pupils in the Baroncelli Chapel.

FLorence Italy

The Florentine Pantheon has tombs and monuments to legendary citizens. Many marble tombstones cover the floor of Santa Croce.

Renaissance tombs exalted the dead person’s achievements on earth. Most of the monuments is Santa Croce have designated allegorical figures to depict the earthly accomplishments of the deceased. The wall of the right nave contains the “Monument to Michelangelo” by Vasari (1570).

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michelangelo returned to Florence between in 1499–1501, after after the fall Girolamo Savonarola who was executed in 1498. Michelangelo was asked to complete a colossal statue portraying David that was started 40 years earlier by Agostino di Duccio.

David

David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Statue of David  would occupy a prominent spot  in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Today the statue outside the Palazzo Vecchio is a replica. The real David is in the Academia in Florence.

Michelangelo-Buonarroti-David-Replica-Florence

Michelangelo-Buonarroti-David-Replica-Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This famous sculpture was made from a marble block from the quarries at Carrara.

In 1505, Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by Pope Julius II to build the Pope’s tomb. He worked on the tomb for 40 years.

The tomb of Pope Julius II by Michelangelo and...

The tomb of Pope Julius II by Michelangelo and its statue of Moise in the basilica San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tomb is located in the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli in Rome and  Michelangelo’s statue of Moses is the central feature.

Statue of Moses by Michelangelo, church San Pi...

Statue of Moses by Michelangelo, church San Pietro in Vincoli; Rome, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Michelangelo died, Vasari erected his tomb in Santa Croce. The sarcophagus is surrounded by allegorical figures of “Painting” by Battista Lorenzi, “Sculpture” by Valerio Cioli and “Architecture” by Giovanni dell’Opera.  The bust of Michelangelo was carved by Lorenzi. The beautiful frescoes that flank the monument were done by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

On November 17, 2015, they launched a  Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the restoration of the Pazzi Chapel Loggia, one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture, in the Santa Croce complex. make your contribution here: http://www.santacroceopera.it/en/Opera_Sponsor.aspx

cappella pazzi, santa croce, florence

The interior of Santa Croce, Florence

The interior of Santa Croce, Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

Florence Italy

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Tour the Uffizi in Vino con Vista Florence Italy

English: Vasari Corridor

English: Vasari Corridor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor...

English: Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor, seen from the Uffizi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Banks of the Arno, seen from the Ponte Vecchio...

Banks of the Arno, seen from the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Birth of Venus.

Image via Wikipedia

The Uffizi contains the highest concentration of Renaissance art in the world. The gallery is located along the Arno River in Florence Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Uffizi owns about 4800 works of art including paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture and pottery. Go to www.googleartproject.com to see some of the magnificent works of art in the gallery. This website allows you to tour other galleries around the world. A true feast for any art-lover.  Admire masterpieces by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca and many others.

The Uffizi building contains the gallery built for Cosimo I. It was created as a U-shaped administrative center of the Grand Duchy and was originally designed by Vasari in 1560. Vasari was the court architect and master of public works for the Medici family. It was linked to the Palazzo Vecchio to allow rulers to safely cross the city via the Vasari Corridor. Later, it was linked to the Loggia dei Lanzi by Buonatalenti. The Uffizi was opened to the public in 1769 by Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine.

“Recently,  wi-fi was introduced so visitors can access information about the museum on their devices including: events and exhibitions, maps, tips and tidbits in Italian and English.

Evening openings have been scheduled from June until the end of the year: every Tuesday and Saturday, from 7 to 11 pm.

Book it: see here!  The first Sunday of every month is “Sunday at the museum” and the state museums are free for everyone!
To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides.

 

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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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Buon Natale and Christmas: The Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception in Rome

Colonna dell'Immacolata
Image by asw909 via Flickr

December 8th is the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception. In Rome, there is an annual papal procession near the Spanish Steps. The Pope pays hommage to the Virgin Mary with a procession led by the Order of the Knights of Malta to Piazza Mignanelli at the Colonna dell’Immacolata in the southeastern section of the square. The 40 foot ancient column was found in 1777 under a monestery and was erected in this location in 1856 and a statue of Mary was placed at the summit of the column.

Marian Column in front of Santa Maria Maggiori in Rome

Listen to Luciano Pavarotti singing  “Ave Maria” by Schubert  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPvAQxZsgpQ.

At the annual ceremony, the reigning Pope honors Mary at this location. Listen to what Pope Benedict XVI said: http://bit.ly/fdDphS.  After the prayers, the choir sings and one lucky Roman fireman gets to place a wreath of  flowers at the top of the column on the Statue of Mary usually on her extended arm. This is a great opportunity to see the Pope in Rome.  The Holy Father blesses a basket of roses that are placed at the base of the column. The Mayor of Romeand other civic department heads follow suit.

The Immaculate Conception

Image via Wikipedia

There is an evening concert at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli on Capitoline Hill. December 8th is a Holy Day of Obligation and a national holiday in Italy. There are celebrations throughout Italy and churches hold special masses to honor Mary. Look for bagpipes throughout Italy today as the Zampognari play “Quando Nascette Ninno” (When the Child was Born).

Visit the renovated frescoes at the “Immaculate Conception Room” at the Vatican Museums painted by Francesco Podesti. The frescoes are an artistic representation of the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception declared by Pope Pius IX.

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

Larix decidua forest, Dolomites, San Genesio A...
Image via Wikipedia

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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Buon Natale and Christmas: Holiday Traditions and Celebrations in Rome

Krippe1
Image via Wikipedia

Italians embrace the holiday season with many seasonal market, events and festivals. There are many religious holidays between December and January.  The festivities generally begin on December 6th with “La Festa di San Nicola” to honor St. Nicholas, the patron Saint of the Sheperds and end on January 6 with “La Festa dell’ Epifania” ( The Epiphany).  After Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity, instead of ending the holiday at the New Year, it was extended to the Epiphany. The Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men gave gifts to Baby Jesus. December 8th is the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, a national holiday. Rome celebrates with floral wreaths and a ceremony at the Spanish Steps by the Pope.

Get a “Vino con Vista” tour of Rome while you listen to Dean Martin singing “Arrevederci Roma” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlqTwYGCW8A

English: Nativity scene

English: Nativity scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The primary symbol of the Christmas season is the “presepio”, the nativity scene.  They depict the birth of Christ. It is believed that in the 13th century, St. Francis, a modest monk, created the first replica of the scene by portraying the child born in Bethlehem. He placed an ox and a donkey next to a manger near the hermitage he built in Greccio, near the town of Assisi.

By the 18th century, the patronage of King Charles elevated the status of  “Il Precepio” to stratosperic levels. During the reign of Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, famous artists like Giuesspe Sanmartino were even commissioned to create the figures. Most of the prized figures made of terra cotta and wood are produced in the workshops of Naples on Via Gregorio Armeno.

Today, elaborate scenes are set up in churches throughout Italy. In some towns, living nativity scenes are usually staged when costumed participants wander through the streets.The first Christmas mass was conducted at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the earliest known permanent Nativity Scene was created for the Rome Jubilee of 1300.

Vatican City erects a huge presepe in St. Peter’s Square for Christmas and is usually unveiled on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Eve mass is held in St. Peter’s square, usually at 10 pm.

In Rome, some of the biggest and most elaborate presepi are erected in Piazza del Poplo with 100 presepi on display from November 26th to January 6th www.presepi.it. Piazza Euclide, Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Maria D’Aracoeli on Capitoline Hill also host elaborate displays. A life-sized nativity scene is set up in Piazza Navona with a large Christmas Market from November 26th to January 6th with a Mercato della Bufana. The Church of Saints Cosma e Damiano has a large nativity scene from Naples on display all year long. It is located by the main entrance of the Roman Forum. Il Museo Tipologico is under the Church of Saints Quirico e Giulitta and has over 3000 figurines from all over the world. It is open each afternoon between December 24th to January 6th.

English: The three wise men, Santa Maria in Tr...

English: The three wise men, Santa Maria in Trastevere, in Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gifts are exchanged on the day of the Epiphany. Children hang up their stockings on the evening of January 5th awaiting a visit from “La Befana” a legendary old woman who flys around on a broom bearing gifts. According to legend, the Three Wise Men asked La Befana for directions to Bethlehem but she declined. It took an unusually bright light and a band of angels to convince La Befana that she must join the Wise Men, but she was too late. She never found the Christ child and has been looking for him ever since. So on the January 5th, she goes out on her broom delivering treats to the sleeping children of Italy. The Santa figure in Italy is called “Babbo Natale”, Father Christmas. Charlemagne’s coronation took place in Rome on Christmas day in 800 AD.

Tropenmuseum Amsterdam Crucifix with a christm...

Tropenmuseum Amsterdam Crucifix with a christmas scene, Peru, c. 1960 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vatican Christmas Tree

Vatican Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A trip to the Vatican City for Christmas is very exciting. The Vatican City erects a huge presepi in St. Peter’s Square and it is usually unveiled on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, the Pope celebrates midnight mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. On Christmas day in St. Peter’s Square at noon the Pope gives his blessing from the window of his apartment overlooking the Square to the crowds gathered at the Vatican. On December 8th, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope leads a procession to honor the Virgin Mary near the Spanish Steps.

Stay in Rome for the New Year Parade on January 1st and the Epiphany tradition when hundreds of people in medieval costumes walk along the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican, carrying symbollic gifts for the Pope. The Pope says a morning mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for Jesus.

In Rome, the traditional dish of Christmas Eve is “Capitone”, a big female eel that is roasted, baked or fried. Common Italian Christmas sweets are Panettone (a cake filled with candied fruit), torrone (nougat), and panforte (gingerbread).

Christmas in Italy includes Nativity Scenes and other Christmas Celebrations.

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

Nativity scene on the 2001 Christkindlmarket i...

Nativity scene on the 2001 Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Holiday Events in Genoa Italy

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Rosso
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In northwestern Italy, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the 16th and 17th century “New Streets” of Genoa can be found in the historic city center. Le Strada Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli became an inscribed UNESCO site in 2006. The elaborate Renaissance and Baroque palaces are located on Via Balbi and Via Garibaldi and present an excellent “Buon Natale” holiday experience.

The area around the Cathedral of San Lorenzo is medieval, but the 12th century Duomo is Romanesque. Genoa is Italy’s most important commercial port.  The “Lanterna” lighthouse is a vestige of Genoa’s medieval glory.  Genoa has the largest aquarium in Europe located in Porto Antico www.portoantico.it. Porto Antico also has a Childrens’ Museum with a lovely waterfront Promenade and shops. The restaurants offer outstanding “Vino con Vista” oppotunities.

According to legend, this may have been the childhood home of Christopher Columbus whose memory permeates the town. Genoa’s historically impressive “urban development projects represent plans by the public authority to parcel out a system of lodging based upon legislation.” UNESCO

On Via Garibaldi, Genoa’s most beautiful street, the 16th century Palazzo Bianco houses an outstanding collection of Ligurian art from 1400 to 1700 including works by Luca Cambiaso, Bernardo Strozzi and Giovanni Benedetto.  At the Palazzo Bianco, one of my favorite Caravaggio’s paintings “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man of Sorrows) can be viewed; as well as frescoes by de Ferrari and Domenico Piola. The Gallery of Palazzo Rosso has a fine collection of furniture, ceramics and Chinese pottery. The Museum of Oriental Art houses treasures brought to Genoa by her famous navigators.

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Carrega Cataldi ...

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Carrega Cataldi – interno (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “Rolli” palaces were patrician residences built by the wealthiest and most powerful aristocratic families of the Republic of Genoa.  These dwellings were built at the height of Genoa’s seafaring prowess.  Palaces are generally three to four stories high and feature spectacular staircases, courtyards, and loggias overlooking gardens.  The owners of these palazzi were obligated to host official visits of State as decreed by the Senate in 1576.  These formal visits contributed to the dissemination of their architectural model, which attracted famous artists like Peter Paul Rubens.

Italiano: Genova, Via Garibaldi; Palazzo Podes...

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Holiday Events in Genoa:

Christmas Market “Mercatino di Natale di Porto Siberia” at Porto Antico until January 9th

18th Century Navity Scene in Palazzo Rosso Museum until February 6th

St. Nicholas Market in Piazza Picca Pietra where vendors will be dressed in Medieval costumes December 5-23

“Natalidea” Festival at the Fiera di Genoa from December 7-19

“Pontedecimo Nativity” wIth outdoor Christmas stalls and Nativity Scenes at the Villa Serra di Comago on VIa Carlo Levi in Genoa Pontedecimo

To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista.comTravel Guides.

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Podestà

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Feast of Saint Ambrose and Holiday Events in Milan Italy

Skull of Saint Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, i...
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Milan was founded by the Gauls in the early 4th century B.C. and grew rapidly following the Roman conquest in 222 B.C.  By 1277, Archbishop Otto Visconti imposed hegemony over the city and 130 years of Visconti rule ensued. Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402) was a generous patron of the arts and initiated the construction of the magnificent Gothic Duomo made of white marble with 135 spires www.duomomilano.it.

December 7th is the Feast Day of Saint Ambrose, the Patron Saint of Milan. He was born in 339 and consecrated as the Bishop of Milan on December 7, 374. He served as the Bishop until his death in 397. This eloquent bishop was instrumental in spreading

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Sain...

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Saints Gervase and Protase. Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan. (bodies aren’t totally sharp because they are behind a bad quality sheet glass) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christianity and you can visit his mortal remains in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant’Ambroglio.

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He is also the Patron Saint of Bologna. St. Ambrose is one of my favorites because he is the Patron Saint of learning and students., The “Honey-Tongued Doctor” is portrayed with a beehive and bees in his iconography which symbolizes wisdom. He is also the patron saint of  candle-makers and bee keepers.

The “Fiera di Sant’Ambroglio” is the city’s antique fair and takes place in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio from December 7-22. This event coincides with “The Fiera degli Oh Bej-Oh Bej.”  This is a traditional annual outdoor street market held in Milan to honor Saint Ambrose from December 5th to the 8th. For 400 years it was held in front of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, built by Ambrose between 379-386 which is one of the oldest churches in Milan.

Benefattori dell'Ospedale: i Duchi della Milan...

Benefattori dell’Ospedale: i Duchi della Milano quattrocentesca (Francesco Sforza e Bianca Maria Visconti) nell’atto di donare al Papa (Pio II Piccolomini) il bozzetto dell’erigenda Ca’ Granda (Photo credit: renagrisa)

This year the Festival will be held in The Square in front of Castello Sforzesco on Via Dante. Francesco Sforza, husband of Bianca Maria Visconti, became lord of the city in 1450. He ruled from the imposing Castello Sforzesco fortress until 1535. Today, the castle serves as a museum. Francesco Sforza built the present castle where the Visconti castle originally stood. The palace contains several art museums. The Torre del Carmine serves to enclose the fortress of the Visconti family. Michelangelo’s famous “Rondanini Pieta” (1564) can be admired in the Castello Sforzesco.

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco (Photo credit: viiruone)

Mangia and have a “Vino con Vista” at the festival where you buy interesting gifts from over 400 stalls and can enjoy a porchetta sandwich, cioccolato con panna montala (hot chocolate) and some “Vino Brule” (mulled wine).

Here’s a recipe for Vino Brule

A bottle of red wine

1/3 cup sugar

3 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 stick of cinnamon

1 lemon peel

Stir wine over medium heat. Add sugar to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Salute!!

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 7th is the official opening of the Opera Season in Milan at Teatro alla Scala which opened in 1778. Visit the Museo Teatrale that features vintage opera posters and a remarkable array of opera costumes. For tickets visit:  www.teatroallascala.org

Attend the Epiphany Parade of the Three Kings from the Duomo to the Church of Sant’Eustorgio on January 6th.

Milano castello sforzesco natale

Milano castello sforzesco natale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Milan has an interesting wine bar called La Cantina di Manuela on via Cadore with outdoor tables for people-watching or a nightcap. Try a Rosso della Costa Collina del Milanese or Bianco dell Costa Collina dell Milanese with some Castel Magno cheese. The Lombardy region’s specialty wine is fizzy Franciacorta. Most of the wineries in Lombardy are outside the heavily industrialized city limits in towns located between the Alps and the Apennines including Bergamo, Sondrio, Brescia, Pavia and Mantua.

Milan Duomo

Image by underflowR via Flickr

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Interesting Holiday Events in Florence Italy

Piazza Santa Croce
Image via Wikipedia

Florence is the world’s celebrated jewel of Renaissance art and architecture. It is famous for perfect voluptuous domes and  intimate restaurants with perfect steaks and wine. The Uffizi is the perfect art museum and and the Palazzo Pitti has the perfect Royal apartments. The Accademia has the perfect sculptures and the Baptistry has the perfect doors. Even the tombs are perfect at Santa Croce. The leather is perfect, the silk is perfect and the perfume made at Santa Maria Novella is perfect.

Accademia - DSC 1177 ep

Accademia – DSC 1177 ep (Photo credit: Eric.Parker)

Via Tornabuoni is a perfect street  for shopping with  designer powerhouses like Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Enrico Coveri, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci willing to sell you holiday goodies. Even the Piazzas are perfect! Florence is the perfect UNESCO site with many perfect “Vino con Vista” opportunities.

English: Loggia dei Lanzi

English: Loggia dei Lanzi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Florence rose to economic and cultural pre-eminence under the mighty Medici dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries. The churches, galleries and palaces contain the world’s largest concentration of Renaissance art and sculpture.

loggia dei lanzi florence

loggia dei lanzi florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Perseus holding the head of Medusa, b...

English: Perseus holding the head of Medusa, by Benvenuto Cellini, Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence; Italie Français : Persée tenant la tête de Méduse, par Benvenuto Cellini, Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Palais Pitti, Florence

Palais Pitti, Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 perfect glimmering moonlit cityscape.  Marvel at Florence’s panoramic glory as the cloak of darkness descends over her dimly lit splendor.

"The Rape of Polyxena", sculpture by...

“The Rape of Polyxena”, sculpture by Pio Fedi (1816-1892), in 1866 : Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italy. Photo by Thermos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Natural and man-made disasters have threatened the city’s wealth of art history and perfection.  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.

Loggia dei Lanzi.

Loggia dei Lanzi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her glorious past is evident in the monumental grandeur and perfection of her structures:  the 13th-century cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi, Santa Maria Novella, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Bargello and the Pitti Palace.  Works of art history grace every public building. Landmark cloisters, chapels and refectories are galleries of perfect Renaissance art.

The façade of Santa Maria Novella, completed b...

The façade of Santa Maria Novella, completed by Leon Battista Alberti in 1470. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Loggia dei Lanzi

The Loggia dei Lanzi (Photo credit: **Mary**)

Stroll the Via dei Calzaiuoli, between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria and imagine the creative genius that flourished in this city; evidenced by the works in the Loggia dei Lanzi. The Loggia was originally designed to shelter dignitaries watching civic ceremonies.

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, i...

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This elegant, compact city, is bounded on the southern side by the glistening Arno River.  Distinctive works of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo adorn every nook and cranny of this perfectly majestic city. Visit Florence during the holidays for the perfect vacation.

Perfect Holiday Events in Florence:

German Christmas Market in Piazza Santa Croce from December 1- 19

“Florence Noel” at the Stazione Leopoldo from December 4-12

“Fierucola di Natale”  in Piazza Santo Spirito on December 19th

Christmas Party in Gambassi Terme on December 4-5

Annual “Sagra Antichi Sapori di Toscana” at Lastra a Signa December 3-8

“Sagra del Tartufo e Antichi Sapori del Mugello” in Borgo San Lorenzo December 8-12

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

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