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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.

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

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

Illustration 3: A Sicilian belfry crowns Rosar...

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

Modica

Modica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chiesa di San Domenico - Noto

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

Coat of arms of Modica

Coat of arms of Modica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Castle of the Counts of Modica.

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

English: Cathedral of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A baroque church in Modica

A baroque church in Modica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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It’s Always Halloween in San Gimignano Italy

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Gimignano view from torre grossa 5

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

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

san gimignano

san gimignano (Photo credit: michael pollak)

San Gimignano view from torre grossa 3

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

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

Museo della Tortura in San GImignano Italy

San Gimignano Torture Museum

Skull in San Gimignano Torture Museum

Torture Museum in San Gimignano

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

see above

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: 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.

Buon Natale from www.vino-con-vista.com
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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
Image via Wikipedia

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...

Image via Wikipedia

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

Image via Wikipedia

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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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