Tag Archives: Sicily

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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Easter and Holy Week Rituals in Sicily: Buona Pasqua

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

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

 

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

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

English: Coat of arm of Sicily

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

A baroque church in Modica

A baroque church in Modica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many towns in Sicily have a

 

Petralia Sottana, Sicily

Petralia Sottana, Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

 

On Good Friday at 5:00 p.m., the Society of the Passion of Christ  leaves their parish church and is joined by all the other Confraternities on Via Roma. They make their way to Chiesa dell’Addorlarato. The statue of  “Our Lady  of the Seven Sorrows” is carried to to the Cathedral where the Urn of the Dead Christ awaits her. At 7:00 p.m., thousands march in a solemn and silent torch-lit  procession behind men dressed in white hooded costumes. These costumes represent medieval fraternities of artisans and artists (Confraternities). Today there are 15 of the original 34 Confraternities still in existence. They take turns carrying marble statues of a deceased Christ and “Our Lady of Sorrows.” The group is accompanied by 24 symbols of Christ’s martrydom including the cross containing a reliquary of the “Crown of Thorns” and tools of flagellation.  Watch this video of Easter Rituals in Enna http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ3kX-uGRec&feature=related.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Caltanissetta http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYUq5jXAB-8&feature=related

 

Corleone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gMksfWbHhU

 

Vizzini http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SO-KekZSTY

 

and Petralia Sottana U “Ncuontru http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ePVTL00S3U

 

Petralia Sottana (PA), Panorama parziale.

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

To learn more about Sicily go to  www.vino-con-vista.com.

 

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

 

 

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

Taormina’s 60th Annual Film Festival 2014 in Sicily

View of Isola Bella from above the beach.
Image via Wikipedia

Explore the historical allure of Sicily’s Taormina SicilyVista opportunities. It is located in the Messina province.  The east coast of Sicily overlooks the Ionian Sea and is considered part of the Ionian Riviera.

Taormina

Taormina has inspired many famous authors. D.H. Lawrence wrote the erotic and scandalous book, Lady Chatterly’s Lover in 1928. This story involved an aristocratic English woman’s affair in Taormina. She was married to a wheelchair-bound World War I hero. Goethe recorded his love of Sicily in his travel diary in 1787, Journey to Italy. He stated, “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Siciy is the clue to everything.”

This beach town is a haven for sun worshippers. Take the funicular (motorized lift) to the beach or hop on a cable car to Mazzaro and enjoy the Isola Bella Beach and nature reserve. Travel to Giardini Naxos to view the excavations of Sicily’s first Greek colony http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmWVpfz0wgs&feature=related.  This seaside resort has a great beach and is loaded with cafes and bars.

The Alcantara Gorge is outside Taormina.  Go for a boat ride to see waterfalls and remnants of Mt. Etna’s lava flow from about 1000 years ago; fascinating cliffs were formed by incisions cut into the volcanic rock.

As you stroll along Corso Umberto you will find charming cafes and restaurants.  Head over to Piazza IX Aprile, the main square of Taormina. Visit the 13th century fortress-like Cathedral of San Nicolo embellished with an 16th century rose window and massive bronze doors.

Visit the church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria with a Baroque interior built over a Hellenistic temple. Inside the church, the ruins of the ancient temple can be seen under the floor. Try to catch one of the local weddings that seem to take place daily.

Taormina’s lovely municipal gardens were designed by Florence Trevelyan and other women from England in the early 1920s. They are meticulously landscaped with beautiful structures, statues and fountains.

In this province of Messina Sicily, I love the well-preserved Greco-Roman Theater in Taormina. Built by the Greeks in 300 B.C. and remodeled and enlarged by the Romans, it is the second-largest ancient theater on the island. Visit Siracusa to see the largest one. The historic Greco-Roman amphitheater is carved out of the hillside and has a panoramic view of Calabria and Mt. Etna. It has a natural terrace, overlooking the sea. It is amazing to watch some of the summer performances that are still offered in this 3rd century B.C. theater.

Vino Con Vista Sicily

Vino con Vista Sicily

In June, the theater is the venue for the Taormina Film Festival. The 60th annual Taormina Film Fest will take place from June 14th to 21st,  in the with stars like Melanie Griffith, Eva Longoria, Isabella Ferrari, Valeria Solarino, and Vittoria Puccini, the Taormina Film Fest celebrated his sixtieth birthday with a “festival entirely dedicated to women, featuring Claudia Cardinale, the muse of Visconti, Fellini and Sergio Leone, as the godmother of the event.” You can attend screenings and previews. On June 17th there will be a tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Food lin Sicily

 For details visit: www.taorminafilmfest.it
Sicilian Wine

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

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Celebrate St. Martin’s Day in Vino con Vista Sicily: Grape Juice becomes Wine

"Bacchus" by Caravaggio.

“Bacchus” by Caravaggio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Greeks brought grapes to Sicily in about 800 B.C. and the Phoenicians introduced grape crushing technology and new grape varieties. The island has the perfect micro-climate for growing grapes. Lots of sunshine, low rainfall, volcanic soil and wide temperature variations converge to transform grapes into the “nectar of the gods.”

Red wine grape variety in the Italian wine reg...

Red wine grape variety in the Italian wine region of Sicily. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

St Martin of Tours
 

Location of Pantelleria

Location of Pantelleria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image by jimforest via Flickr
Desert wine from the italian island of Pantell...

Desert wine from the italian island of Pantelleria (south of Sicilia). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, loves this Feast Day. In Sicily on November 11th, new wine is ready for consumption. “Il giorno di San Martino diventa vino” means on St. Martin’s Day, the grape juice becomes wine. St. Martin of Tours was buried on November 11th, 397 and is credited with spreading wine-making throughout the Touraine Region of France. He facilitated the planting of many vines and introduced the Chenin Blanc grape varietal to the region.

 

His Feast Day marks the end of field work and the beginning of the harvesting period in Sicily. Sicilians celebrate with vino novella and prepare regional sweets for the event including fritelle or il biscotti di San Martino in Palermo.  

 

Sicily’s diverse wine regions have distinctive appellations that produce delightful wines. Sicily’s wine renaissance is creating exciting wines with depth and elegance including: Alcamo, Etna Rosso and Bianco, Mavasia della Lipari, Marsala, Passito and Moscato di Pantelleria, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Rosato, Moscato di Noto and Nero d’Avola.

Michelangelo's Bacchus. Museo del Bargello, Fl...

Michelangelo’s Bacchus. Museo del Bargello, Florence, Italy (Bacchus with Pan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

 

 

 

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Top Ten Reasons to Travel to Vino con Vista Italy

Pic taken outside Corropoli, Abruzzo, Italy.
Image via Wikipedia
Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vernazza town in Liguria, Italy. Vernazza is i...

Vernazza town in Liguria, Italy. Vernazza is in the cinque terre region. Français : Le village de Vernazza, dans les cinque terre, en Ligurie (Italie). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Ap...

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Apse, Pisa, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Detail of the façade (facade) of the ...

English: Detail of the façade (facade) of the Duomo Santa Maria Cathedral in Pisa (Italy). Nederlands: Detail van de façade (voorkant) van de Duomo Santa Maria Kathedraal in Pisa (Italië). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Baptistery of the Pisa Cathedral,...

English: The Baptistery of the Pisa Cathedral, Italy (at night). Français : Vue nocturne du baptistère de la cathédrale de Pise, en Italie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

View of the Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo) and Bell...

View of the Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo) and Bell Tower (Campanile) from the southwest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy is one of the world’s most alluring travel destinations. It is brimming with outstanding art, historical buildings and spectacular fountains.

Spanische Treppe in Rom

Spanische Treppe in Rom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are magnificent bridges and churches with sculptures by Bernini and Michelangelo. The Food and Wine is outstanding and there are plenty of enchanting villages for touring and tasting. Italy is a premier wine tourism destination.

English: Rome, the Coloseum, originally known ...

English: Rome, the Coloseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre Italiano: Il Colosseo a Roma, originariamente conosciuto come Anfiteatro Flavio Polski: Rzymskie Koloseum, znane też jako Amfiteatr Flawiuszów (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italiano: Collage di vari immagini di Roma.

Italiano: Collage di vari immagini di Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the Top Ten Reasons to Travel to Italy:

1. It is the historic and cultural epicenter of the Etruscans, the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Pi...

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Pisa, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and the Renaissance.

Capo Conca at Conca dei Marini, Almalfi Coast ...

Capo Conca at Conca dei Marini, Almalfi Coast (10/10/2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rome, the Coloseum, originally known as the Fl...

Rome, the Coloseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre Italiano: Il Colosseo a Roma, originariamente conosciuto come Anfiteatro Flavio Polski: Rzymskie Koloseum, znane też jako Amfiteatr Flawiuszów (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy  is imbued with superlatives. Italy has more than 47  World Heritage; more sites than any other country in the world. They have sultry fashion and vehicle design, outstanding culinary and entertainment options, spectacular beaches and magnificent art and architecture.

Spagna, Spanish Steps, Spanische Treppe in Rom

Spagna, Spanish Steps, Spanische Treppe in Rom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari (Photo credit: kenjonbro)

Castel Sant' Angelo, Roma.

Castel Sant’ Angelo, Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the 5 villages known as "Cinque Te...

One of the 5 villages known as “Cinque Terre” in Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2.  Italy is also a manufacturing juggernaut.  It produces sexy, powerful driving machines.  In 1929, Enzo Ferrari founded the racing team that led to the famous sports car.

English: Autodromo Dino and Enzo Ferrari in Im...

English: Autodromo Dino and Enzo Ferrari in Imola in Italy. Start of an inline-skater competition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The legendary Ferrari auto company recently  built a new museum in Ferrari’s hometown of Modena.

Tour the museum here: http://www.businessinsider.com/take-a-look-inside-the-ferrari-museum-2012-8?op=1#ixzz24r0pztPS.

Prestigious nameplates like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati thrill car enthusiasts around the world.

Ferrari 308

Ferrari 308 (Photo credit: dave_7)

orange enzo ferrari

Ilario Bandini and Enzo Ferrari in Forlì in 1964.

Ilario Bandini and Enzo Ferrari in Forlì in 1964. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italian design prowess spills over into the motorcycle industry.  The sleek curves of Ducati, Cagiva, Aprilia and Motoguzzi offer exciting, desirable rides.  Even the country’s Fiats and Vespas are alluring. The cacophony of Italy’s motorcycless can be heard throughout the world.

English: Castel Sant'Angelo/St. Angelo and Pon...

English: Castel Sant’Angelo/St. Angelo and Ponte Sant’Angelo (Rome) Français : Pont Sant’Angelo, Rome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mount Etna seen from the town of Taormina.

Mount Etna seen from the town of Taormina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3.  Captivating panoramic vistas of the peninsula’s majestic mountains, volcanoes and glistening seas enhance Italy’s timeless charm.  The fascinating array of sights and travel experiences includes glorious cityscapes overflowing with art and architectural masterpieces in the Vatican City are captivating! Churches and museums are repositories of magnificent art. Saint Peter’s Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums contain the most spectacular art collection in the world. The Uffizi in Florence has more masterpieces per square foot than any other art museum in the world.

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome seen from the roo...

St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome seen from the roof of Castel Sant’Angelo. Location: Rome Taken: September 2004 Source: Wikipedia Commons Photographer: Wolfgang Stuck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Last Judgement

The Last Judgement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The left half of the entire ceiling, after res...

The left half of the entire ceiling, after restoration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sicily 2009

Sicily 2009 (Photo credit: mad_76)

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)

4.  Italy’s historic cities are surrounded by dreamy landscapes coveted and replicated by Renaissance artists.  Rolling hills are carpeted with vineyards and olive and citrus groves.  The micro climates of wine regions from Piedmont to Sicily provide the Italian wine producers with resources and endless opportunities to produce highly-regarded local wines. Sangiovese, Trebbiano,  Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes become estate wines that ultimately stock wine cellars throughout Italy. Italy supplies the world with the finest Barolo, Brunello, Amarone and Chianti wines. There are more than 300 varietals that are cultivated in many locations: by the sea, on the foothills of the magnificent mountains and in the southern-most volcanic islands.

World-wide Italian wine sales in 2011 were 13 billion euros with 700,000 wine estates and 30,000 bottlers. Outstanding wines earn accolades like “Three Glasses” (Tre Bicchieri) from Gamberro Rosso.  In 2012, from over 20,000 wines tasted by Gambero Rosso panels, only 375 labels attained the “Tre Bicchieri” status. By the way, Italy also has outstanding olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Italian Food & Wine

Italian Olive Oil

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Logo of the United Nations Educational, Scient...

Logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5.  In 1972, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed the World Heritage Convention.  This International Treaty was designed to preserve the world’s greatest cultural and natural sites. Italy has a wide array of the designated World Heritage Sites.  The sites range from archeological ruins to distinctive city centers like Rome, Florence and Venice. Sicily has incredible Greek Theaters and Temples.

Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taormina 05

Taormina 05 (Photo credit: Giovy.it)

6. Italy’s reputation as Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” destination is enhanced by the availability of superb accommodations.  Italians have mastered the art of seaside lounging; many hotels offer rejuvenating spas, rooftop observatories and infinity pools.

English: Plaque to Federico Fellini on the Via...

English: Plaque to Federico Fellini on the Via Veneto, Rome, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Historic monasteries and villas have been converted into luxuriously appointed five-star hotel properties that meet the discriminating needs of sophisticated sojourners.

If you go to Rome, stay at the Hotel Majestic Roma on the Via Venato. This is one of my favorite properties. The historic architect Gaetano Koch catered to the luxury crowd and the hotel served as a backdrop for Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita”. I love the panoramic views from the balconies of the newly renovated restaurant overlooking the Via Venato.

Interior of the Grand Hotel Minerva in Rome Italy

I love the Grand Hotel Mineva in Rome because everytime you walk out of the front door, you get to see Bernini’s famous elephant in Piazza della Minerva.Bernini

Grand Hotel Minerva in Rome Italy

Another one of my favorites is the Hotel de Russie. The 18th century terraced gardens are close to the Popolo churches and they serve a great de Russie Martini with caviar. Near the Spanish Steps, stay at the Hotel Eden near the Via Condotti. They have a fabulous rooftop restaurant called La Teraza. The Hassler is at the top of the Spanish Steps. The 1885 building was reconstructed in 1938. There are fabulous views of the Pantheon, Aventino Hill and the Borghese Gardens through the 6th floor windows. Have lunch at the Palm Court Garden. I must admit that my favorite Vino con Vista hotel in Italy is Villa Cimbrone in Ravello; perched high above the Amalfi Coast.

View from Ravello, Italy, down into the bay.

View from Ravello, Italy, down into the bay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ravello Italy coast

Ravello Italy coast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7.  Government-supported agritourism is growing exponentially across Italy since its inception in 1985.  Agriturismo allows travelers to stay and dine at working farms.  The government offers tax breaks and incentives to farmers who create rooms for tourists.  There were more than 14,000 agriturismi in Italy in 2007; over 3500 in Tuscany and about 600 in Sardinia.

Door of the Cathedral’s Bell Tower in Alghero Sardinia

8.  The nation’s flourishing culinary culture spawns superb cooking schools and gourmet restaurants.  Many detail-obsessed chefs use fresh farm-to-table ingredients. Notable chefs earn sought after Michelin Stars, as well as Italy’s coveted “Tre Forchette” (Three Forks) Awards.

Pasta vongole in Naples, Italy.

Pasta vongole in Naples, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9.  “Buon Ricordo” is an association of gastronomic entrepreneurs founded in 1964 (www.buonricordo.com). The union of member restaurants promotes regional cuisine with specialty entrees, membership cards and charming ceramic collector plates that celebrate local culinary tradition. There are more than 100 Buon Ricordo Restaurants in Italy. Card-carrying Buon Ricordo members are afforded hotel privileges as well. Outstanding Italian restaurateurs are passionately committed to palate-pleasing regional cuisine and wine. They offer extensive wine lists that provide depth and diversity of labels and vintages.  They frequently retain devoted wine directors and sommeliers. By the way, Italy has the best desserts in the world!

Italian Food & Wine

YUMMY!!

Armani is another example of luxury designer c...

Armani is another example of luxury designer clothing label. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10.  Italy is a shopping paradise.  Designer fashion luminaries grace Italy’s catwalks.  Socialites and celebrities embrace the designs of Italian purveyors like Gucci, Pucci, Roberto Cavalli, Versace, Armani, Prada, Valentino and Ferragamo.  Italy’s haute couture and ready-to-wear adorn global fashionistas.

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

Rome

Rome (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

English: Map of Italy and its districts.

English: Map of Italy and its districts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Angelo

Angelo (Photo credit: aldoaldoz)

 

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Cefalu is Sicily’s Best Kept Vino con Vista Secret

The Christ Pantokrator.

The Christ Pantokrator. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cefalù

Cefalù (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cefalù

Cefalù (Photo credit: girolame)

Cefalù

Cefalù (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cefalù, Sicily

Cefalù, Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

is especially noteworthy

is especially noteworthy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The façade of the Duomo.

The façade of the Duomo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On my recent trip to Italy, my bus driver was from Cefalu in Sicily.  I spent alot of time talking to him about how this delightful town located about 55 minutes east of Palermo exceeded my expectations. The Palermo-Messina trains stop in this charming town.

Christ Pantokrator in the apse of the Cathedra...

Christ Pantokrator in the apse of the Cathedral of Cefalù, Sicily, Italy. Mosaic in Byzantine style. Italiano: Cristo Pantocratore nell’abside della Cattedrale della città siciliana Cefalù (Italia). Mosaico in stile bizantino. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cefalu is a charming sea-side resort town nestled between the mountains and the glistening cobalt water of the sea. It is a short train ride from Palermo on the northern Tyrrhenian coast with outstanding beaches and a beautiful Norman cathedral with splendid mosaics.

Walk along the sea wall to La Calura and admire the ancient rocks named Tallarita, Baranello and Passarello. The Italians love to name the rock formations. The Temple of Diana is visible atop the mountains overlooking Cefalu.

Cefalu-bjs2007-03

Cefalu-bjs2007-03 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The magnificent twin-towers and the Norman Cathedral were built in 1131 by Roger II following his shipwreck along the coastline of Cefalu. The structural and architectural trappings of the cathedral are similar to Monreale.  It is adorned with lancet windows.

Cathedral of Cefalù (Italy), front view

Cathedral of Cefalù (Italy), front view (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 20th century stained glass replacement windows are covered with abstract designs created by Michelle Canzoneri. The Duomo has spectacular mosaics and houses a magnificent Christ as Pantocrator. In the square, enjoy some delightful marzapan treats with your coffee.

English: Cefalu, Sicily, apsis & choir of Norm...

English: Cefalu, Sicily, apsis & choir of Norman cathedral (mosaic “Christus Pantocrator”) Italiano: Cristo Pantocratore nel mosaico della cattedrale di Cefalù (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of the fun tourist attractions in and around Cefalu include:

1. The Public Lavatoio that is located in the center of town; precursor to the public Laundromat.

The Wash house in Cefalù (Sicily).

The Wash house in Cefalù (Sicily). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Drive up to the top of the mountain and visit the sanctuary of St. Gibilmanna in Pizzo San Angelo. This was the first church dedicated to the Madonna in Sicily. The monastery belongs to Cappuchin Friars. The sanctuary is located 2600 feet above sea level with a panoramic view of the majestic mountains. 

After visiting the local attractions, dine at LoScoglio Ubriaco overlooking the water. Plan your next day perched on a beach chair that you can rent at Beach Café del Moto. Think about taking a day trip from Cefalu to Sicily’s other exotic locations like Taormina or the Aeolian islands.

For a great Vino con Vista visit Filippino on Piazza Municipio.  E Pulera on via Isabella Conti Vainicher and the Kasbah Café on via Maurolico 25 offer outstanding food with pleasant outdoor seating. Purchase some local wine and cheese at Enoteca Le Petit Tonneau after you stroll along the water front and appreciate the natural beauty that this charming town exudes. In August, the town has an annual festival called Madonna della Luce which includes an evening boat procession along the coastline.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides to Italy.

Cefalù

Cefalù (Photo credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho)

To learn more about Sicily visit www.vino-con-vista.com

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Viva Palermo e Santa Rosalia: Festino in Vino con Vista Sicily

English: St Rosalia Chapel

English: St Rosalia Chapel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Santa Rosalia in Monte Pellegrino San...

English: Santa Rosalia in Monte Pellegrino Sanctuary, Palermo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy-2131 - Chapel of Saint Rosalia

Italy-2131 – Chapel of Saint Rosalia (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis))

Chapel of Saint Rosalia, Cathedral of Palermo,...

Chapel of Saint Rosalia, Cathedral of Palermo, Sicily (Photo credit: travfotos)

Detail from the flank of the Cathedral of Pale...

Detail from the flank of the Cathedral of Palermo (Sicily), showing the statue of Saint Rosalie in the forefront and the church tower behind. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, September 28 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A statue of St. Rosalia being carried through ...

A statue of St. Rosalia being carried through the streets of Bivona, Sicily. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italiano: Bancarella di "calia e simenza&...

Italiano: Bancarella di “calia e simenza” a Palermo (festino di Santa Rosalia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watch this video to see how important Santa Rosalia is to the residents of Palermo Sicily:

English: Santa Rosalia (particolare) in Monte ...

English: Santa Rosalia (particolare) in Monte Pellegrino Sanctuary (Palermo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.festinosantarosalia.it/

If you travel to Palermo Sicily, you will see the Patron Saint of the Palermitani guarding the Cathedral of Palermo.

La statua di Santa Rosalia, la "Santuzza",  e la Cattedrale di Palermo.

Santa Rosalia and the Cathedral of Palermo

Monte Pellegrino

Monte Pellegrino (Photo credit: ingirogiro)

If you travel to Monte Pellegrino, perched at the top of the mountain you can visit the cave-shrine of the holy hermit where the sanctuary of Saint Rosalia is located.  Monte Pellegrino offers spectacular views over Palermo and the Conca d’Oro. The cave is covered with zinc which helps collect the dripping water from the cave walls. This water is considered to have miraculous healing properties.

Detail from the flank of the Cathedral of Pale...

Detail from the flank of the Cathedral of Palermo (Sicily), showing the statue of Saint Rosalie in the forefront and the church tower behind. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, September 28 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saint Rosalia is celebrated in with a massive culinary street party in July in the streets of Palermo: Festino de Santa Rosalia to celebrate the end of the Plague in Palermo. Her emblem is a crown of roses and a skull. In 1630, Pope Urban VII established two holidays for Santa Rosalia: July 15th to commemorate the anniversary of the discovery of her relics and September 4th, the day of the death of  “Santuzza” and her official ecclesiastical feast day.

She died on September 4, 1160 and was canonized on 26 January 1630 and was adopted as the patron saint of Palermo. An annual procession of Palermo’s beloved patron saint starts at the  Palace of the Normans and travels along the ancient road of Cassaro to the sea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jhat6b_fVc&feature=related

The relics of the Santuzza are paraded through the town with the festival culminating in the cheering crowd chanting “Viva Palermo e Santa Rosalia!” Her triumphal chariot passes through Porta Felice and ends with fireworks at the Marina.

Italiano: Festino di Santa Rosalia a Palermo, ...

Italiano: Festino di Santa Rosalia a Palermo, carro delle rose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Feast is a very popular event with many Vino con Vista opportunities. It consists of carretti Siciliani, performances, exhibitions, traditional culinary and Sicilian wine options and concerts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDYMM6ZxY8s.

The Festival begins the first day of July and ends with the religious procession on July 15 to celebrate the miraculous victory over the Plague. This annual event has been celebrated since 1625.

When the city of Palermo was ravaged by the plague, Santa Rosalia appeared to a sick woman and later to a hunter. She revealed the location of her remains in the cave and told him to bring her bones down to Palermo. These relics were found on  July 15th in 1624. When Rosalia appeared in the dream, she described where her remains could be found,  in the cave on Monte Pellegrino. She indicated in the dream, that if her remains were brought to Palermo and carried through the quartined city in a procession, the plague would end. When the relics were found, they were paraded through Palermo on 15 July in a procession. The archbishop was followed by all the clergy, the senate and notable citizens of Palermo. In a few days the city was liberated from the plague.

Santa Rosalia

Santa Rosalia (Photo credit: Palazzo Isnello)

In 1625 the relics were placed inside a silver reliquary and guarded inside the Archbishop’s Palace and every year they are part of the procession that includes many confraternities. The “Confraternita di Santa Rosalia dei Sacchi” (Brotherhood of Santa Rosalia of bags) was founded in 1635 by barbers and cobblers (and varberi Scarpari). The brotherhood, which takes its name from clothing used during the procession, has the task of carrying the effigy of the Saint. During the year it is kept in the Church of Professed House of the Society of Jesus in Palermo.

Let’s all salute Santa Rosalia: “Viva Palermo e Santa Rosalia”

.

Here’s the link to the program: http://www.festinosantarosalia.it/

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides.To learn more about Sicily visit www.vino-con-vista.com

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The Feast Day of Santa Lucia in Syracuse Sicily

Caravaggio, Burial of St. Lucy 1608
Image via Wikipedia
English: Saint Lucy of Syracuse, Italy Italian...

English: Saint Lucy of Syracuse, Italy Italiano: Santa Lucia da Siracusa, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deodato Guinaccia peinture Martyre de sainte L...

Deodato Guinaccia peinture Martyre de sainte Lucie, église de Santa Lucia alla Badia, Syracuse Sicile. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapel of the burial place of Saint Lucy at Sy...

Chapel of the burial place of Saint Lucy at Syracuse, Italy. The former grave of Saint Lucy, now empty, but embellished by reliefs dating from the Norman period and by a rich baroque wood frame. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, May 20, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapel of the burial place of Saint Lucy at Sy...

Chapel of the burial place of Saint Lucy at Syracuse, Italy. The former grave of Saint Lucy, now empty, but embellished by reliefs dating from the Norman period and by a rich baroque wood frame. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, May 20, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Relics of 8th/9th century byzantine frescos in...

Relics of 8th/9th century byzantine frescos in the catacombs of Saint Lucy at Syracuse, Italy. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, May 21, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Santa Lucia (St. Lucy) was born in Siracusa (Syracuse) in 283. Syracuse became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sicily in 2005.

St. Lucy is the virgin martyr of Siracusa. She is also the patron saint of the blind and the patron saint of authors.

Mario Lanza

Cover of Mario Lanza

Listen to Mario Lanza sing her song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpP7heFjr0g. Here’s my favorite version by Elvis Presley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsCBZxpoqIc&feature=related

Altar of Saint Lucy's chapel, in the Cathedral...

Martyrdom of St Lucy (predella 5)

Martyrdom of St Lucy (predella 5) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year on December 13th in Siracusa, the procession starts at the Piazza Duomo in Ortiga. A 16th century solid silver statue of Saint Lucy is brought from the Piazza del Duomo to the Basilica del Sepoloro outside the walls of the old town of Ortigia. This Basilica was built by the Normans in the 11th century. Adjacent to the Basilica, a baroque temple houses the burial place of Saint Lucy. Her holy relics were housed here intil 1039, when the Byzantine General Georgio Maniace took her remains to Constantinople as a tribute to Empress Theodora.

Gregorio Tedeschi, Saint Lucy, a 1634 statue i...

Gregorio Tedeschi, Saint Lucy, a 1634 statue in the Chapel of the burial place of Saint Lucy at Syracuse, Italy. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, May 20, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the 4th Crusade, the Venetians transported her remains to Venice and they are housed in the Church of Saints Geremia and Lucia. After the procession, the statue of Saint Lucy remains at the Basilica del Sepoloro for eight days and then it is returned to the Piazza del Duomo. Many devotees of Santa Lucia participate in the procession in bare feet to honor her.

13th DEC | Saint Lucy's Procession

Image by Toni Kaarttinen via Flickr

According to legend, she was born in the town of Syracuse on the island of Sicily, to a wealthy family. As she grew older she choose to live her life like that of St. Agatha, who was a revered saint in Catania. She vowed to remain a virgin and give her possessions to the poor and needy.

The name Lucia means light and is linked to her virtues; virginal rectitude.  She lived prior to the Edict of Milan in 313 which allowed Christians the freedom to profess their religion. Prior to that time, Christians were persecuted for their belief in Christ.

Lucia was very generous and brought food to the many Christians who hid in underground tunnels. To find her way she would wear a wreath with candles while carrying the trays of food.

Her mother found a suitor for her to wed, but marriage was not in her plans.  When she rejected her future husband, her whistle-blower fiancee reported her to the authorities and according to Diocletian‘s Law she was persecuted and stabbed in the throat with a spear for being a Christian on December 13, 304.

see filename

see filename (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Sicilians pay tribute to a miracle performed by St Lucy during a famine in 1582. At that time, she brought a flotilla of grain-bearing ships to starving Sicily, whose citizens cooked and ate the wheat without taking time to grind it into flour. Thus, on St. Lucy’s Day, Sicilians don’t eat anything made with wheat flour. Instead they eat cooked wheat called cuccia.”

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

To learn more about Sicily visit www.vino-con-vista.com 

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Magical Mondello Sicily and the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalia

Santa Rosalia in Monte Pellegrino Sanctuary, P...
Image via Wikipedia
Italy-2219 - Grotto of Santa Rosalia

Italy-2219 – Grotto of Santa Rosalia (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis))

English: Palermo: Monte Pellegrino (Mondello) ...

English: Palermo: Monte Pellegrino (Mondello) Italiano: Palermo: Monte Pellegrino (Mondello) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monte-Pellegrino-map-bjs

Monte-Pellegrino-map-bjs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy-2187 - View of Mondello

Italy-2187 – View of Mondello (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis))

Italy-2242 - Mount Pellegrino in the distance

Italy-2242 – Mount Pellegrino in the distance (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis))

Take a short bus ride from Palermo to the delightful resort town of Mondello where wealthy Palermitani erected splendid art nouveau villas.  It is surrounded by Monte Gallo and Monte Pellegrino.  The 15th century watchtowers protect the bay. Here’s a link to an interesting video about the area

http://www.5min.com/Video/Visit-Palermo-in-Sicily-256546491

Dine on the terrace of Ristorante Charleston in Mondello on Via Regina Elena overlooking the bay for an incredible “Vino con Vista.”  Order the “Risotto ai Sapori di Sicilia” (Sicilian flavored risotto) and earn your Buon Ricordo plate covered with hand-painted citrus fruits.  Have a glass of Bianco D’Alcamo as you gaze at the incredible Conca d’Oro hills that curve around the bay. Go to the beach and swim in the delightful azure water. There is an annual beach festival in the second week of May.

Riserva naturale Monte Pellegrino Palermo, Sic...

Riserva naturale Monte Pellegrino Palermo, Sicily Scuderie Reali (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DGJ_2131 - Chapel of Saint Rosalia

DGJ_2131 – Chapel of Saint Rosalia (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis) OFF)

Monte Pellegrino

Monte Pellegrino (Photo credit: ingirogiro)

Then travel to Monte Pellegrino. Perched at the top of Monte Pellegrino you can visit the sanctuary of Saint Rosalia.  Her statue welcomes visitors to the sanctuary that was erected over a cave where she lived and prayed.  She dedicated herself to a life of prayer and penance.

golden saint rosalia.

golden saint rosalia. (Photo credit: gr0uch0)

Monte Pellegrino in Palermo (Riserva naturale ...

Monte Pellegrino in Palermo (Riserva naturale Monte Pellegrino) Monte Pellegrino in Palermo (Riserva naturale Monte Pellegrino) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She died in 1166 and was beatified and adopted as the patron saint of the city of Palermo.  One of the miracles attributed to her is the end of the Plague that ravaged Sicily in the 17th century.  It was brought in by a Tunisian ship in 1624.

26.08.2000 - Palermo, Monte Pellegrino, Santa ...

26.08.2000 – Palermo, Monte Pellegrino, Santa Rosalia (Photo credit: cercamon)

Faithful followers climb to the sanctuary every September 4th on a pilgrimage.  The water that drips from the cave is believed to be miraculous.  The marble figure of the Saint is clothed in a golden cape donated by Charles III of Bourbon.  An annual procession in July carries Saint Rosalia through town. Her statue is carried on a float drawn by oxen from Monte Pellegrino into town.

Italiano: Monte Pellegrino

Italiano: Monte Pellegrino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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The Ten Most Seductive Vino con Vista Places to Drink Wine in Italy

Almalfi Coast (10/10/2007)

Image via Wikipedia

English: Part of Positano, Italy.

English: Part of Positano, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy Series - Italian Coastal Town

Italy Series – Italian Coastal Town (Photo credit: John O Dyer)

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy] (LOC)

[Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

English: Map of Italy and its districts.

English: Map of Italy and its districts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: warlikeangel)

Ravello-Villa Cimbrone Pavillon

Ravello-Villa Cimbrone Pavillon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy is one of the world’s most alluring travel destinations. It is brimming with centuries of masterpieces by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tintoretto and Caravaggio. Verdi and Puccini created indredible operas.  Venice, Florence and Rome are cloaked with amazing architecture.

It is the historic and cultural epicenter of the Etruscans, the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church and the Renaissance.  Captivating panoramic vistas of the peninsula’s majestic mountains, volcanoes and glistening seas enhance Italy’s timeless charm.  The fascinating array of sights and travel experiences includes glorious cityscapes overflowing with art and architectural masterpieces.  Historic cities are surrounded by dreamy landscapes of rolling hills that are carpeted with vineyards, olive and citrus groves.

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: jimmyharris)

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC)

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

There are many differesnt types of wine produced in the world; about 80% is still wine, but you can also drink fortified wine and sparkling wine in Italy.

Wine

The grapes thrive on terraced vineyards with intense sunshine; pronounced  fluctuations between day and night temperatures are essential for some grapes. Italy’s landscape is covered with vineyards. Some regions of Italy have more limited wine production than other regions. These smaller production areas do not export much wine because all of the output is consumed locally. These regional wines can only be enjoyed in Italy. Wine, bread and olive oil make up the Holy Trinity of the Italian Mediterranean diet. I like to drink wine and gaze at a panoramic vista of something beautiful. I have selected these locations because they provide what I consider a “Vino con Vista”–Wine with a View.

The micro climates of regions from Piedmont to Sicily provide the nation’s wine producers with resources and endless opportunities to produce highly regarded local wines.  Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes become estate wines that ultimately stock wine cellars throughout Italy and the world. There are over 300 varieties of vines that are cultivated in many locations: by the sea, on the foothills and in the southernmost islands. The Italian wine industry provides a wide assortment of wines with various aromas, flavors and textures.  The diversity of these wines tends to harmonize with various types of food because of their overall natural acidity.  The extensive latitudinal range of the terroir allows the grapevines to be caressed by the convergence of many natural forces including: climate, sunshine, soil, humidity, sea breeze and rainfall.  These forces produce a kaleidoscope of wines in many distinctive wine regions throughout the peninsula. Pour, observe, swirl, smell and enjoy.

Ravello

Ravello (Photo credit: Davide78)

Looking back to Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy.

Image via Wikipedia

The Amalfi Coast is dotted with the picturesque hill towns that line the cliffs of the Sorrentine peninsula from Positano to Vietri sul Mare. The area includes the towns of Positano and Ravello with sun kissed vineyards, lemon and olive groves. This is arguably one of the most enchanting coastlines in Italy. Amalfi was the first Maritime Republic before Venice, Genoa and Pisa. The strategic location enabled Amalfi’s military to keep invaders away. As a trading powerhouse, it dominated trade in spices, papermaking and silk.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

Image via Wikipedia

1. Villa Cimbrone in Ravello is perched high upon the mountain overlooking the villages of Atrani and Minori. It was once part of the Republic of Amalfi. Amalfi is the coast’s largest town, but Ravello is the undisputed aristocrat of the Amalfi Coast. Ravello is an enchanting stretch of paradise, perched 1500 feet above the Gulf of Salerno on a high cliff above the town of Amalfi.  It commands awe-inspiring views of the coastline, citrus groves and vineyards. Visit the cathedral, the beautiful gardens of Villa Ruffalo and Villa Cimbrone.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

Image via Wikipedia

The impressive Duomo ( Chiesa de San Giovanni del Toro) was founded in 1086 and has the relics of St. Barbara (www.chiesaravello.com). The 12th century Santa Maria a Gradillo church is also noteworthy.  When you get to Villa Cimbrone, walk out to the belvedere to gaze at the panoramic vista.  Then walk over to the hotel and order a glass of Costa d’Amalfi Ravello Rosso Riserva wine from the pool bar.

Deutsch: Die Terrazza dell'Infinito der Villa ...

Image via Wikipedia

2. Positano was once part of the powerful Republic of Amalfi. It is an exclusive and romantic destination for jet-setters where former palazzi have been converted into luxurious hotel properties. On the Amalfi Coast, Furore and Tramonte grapes grow on terraced cliffs next to lemon and orange trees.  This gives the wine a distinctively delightful flavor. This Moorish hillside village on the southern tip of the Amalfi Drive opens to the Tyrrhenian Sea and provides gorgeous panoramic vistas of the sea and vineyards.

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: bawoodvine)

The town is spread out over the slopes of Mount Commune. Climb the steep, winding “1000 Stairs” pedestrian promenade to the Scalinatella, the highest part of Positano or stay at the beach, rent a chair (stabilimenti) and order your wine from handsome Stefano, as you submerge your feet in the irresistible azure water. Near the beach, dine at La Pergola or Tre Sorelli and order some impepata di cozze (mussels). Navigate the stairs up to the top of the town for more secluded restaurants. Dine at Bruno or El Capitano for panoramic views. After your relaxing day at the gravel beach, visit the lobsters in the tank at LoScoglio on Piazza della Sirene west of Positano.  Request a table overlooking the Bay of Sorrento. Stay at San Pietro on Via Laurito 2 or Le Sirenuse on Via Columbo, 30 for breathtaking views from the 4500 square foot terrace overlooking the Bay. Dine at Al Palazzo in the Hotel Palazzo Murat on Via Dei Mulini and order Paccheri all Napoletana. Most of the hotels cling to the cliffs and have beautiful views of the water. A boat tour will help you truly appreciate the scenery.

Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi

Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi (Photo credit: jimmyharris)

Vesuvius overlooking Sorrento and the Bay of N...

Image via Wikipedia

3Sorrento is situated on a terraced plain above the sea with spectacular views of Vesuvius, Ischia and the Bay of Naples. This enchanting location makes it the perfect destination for exploring this region. The rugged landscape, lush vegetation and mild climate of the Sorrento peninsula are enchanting. Sorrento’s terraced vineyards produce Peninsola Sorrentino DOC wines like Lettere and Gragnano. Sorrento is the ideal satellite location for side trips to Naples, Capri, Positano, Ischia or Amalfi via watercraft from the Marina Grande or the Marina Picolo. Choosing a base for your travels depends on your priorities, timetable and budget.

Reserve a table on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria at sunset; situated on a cliff overlooking the bay and Mount Vesuvius. This is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine from the Penisola Sorrentina vineyards made from white Falanghina or red Piedirosso grapes. The local Tiberio winery produces a nice red Antico Convento. Da Gemma on Via Madre Serafina has a lovely panoramic vista. Plan your next day trip as you watch the boats disembark from the marina to Capri, Ischia, and the Amalfi Coast—La Dolce Vita!  Some additional places for sipping some vino with dinner include the famous upscale Don Alphonso next to Santa Maria delle Grazie in Sant’Agata. L’Antica Trattoria on Via Padre R Guiliani  and Il Buco on Il Rampa Marina Piccola, 5 offer pleasant dining. The lush garden setting of O’Parrucchiano on the main street of Corso Italia a few blocks from the Piazza Tasso is interesting. La Tonnarella’s rooftop restaurant on Via del Capo offers a breathtaking view and a fabulous antipasto table. Stay at the Grand Hotel Capodimonte at Via Capo, 14 for another splendid view of the Gulf and Vesuvius. Another interesting hotel option with a sweeping view is the Capri Palace on Via Capidimonte, 2 where you can dine at its L’Olivo restaurant.

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. 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 road that twists and turns through the Chianti zones between Florence and Siena.

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia

Image via Wikipedia

4. Montalcino’s 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. You may consider staying in Mantalcino at Il Borgo (www.castellobanfi.com).  They offer weekend culinary classes taught by Chef Heinz Beck from Rome’s famous La Pergola Restaurant.  Near the charming wine town of Montalcino, visit the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, a beautiful Romanesque church. Enjoy the Brunello di Montalcino made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes. Montepulciano is another charming wine town, home of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite wines. Visit the tomb and church of St. Agnes, the town’s patron saint.

Sienna Cathedral

Image via Wikipedia

5. Siena’s yellowish-brown buildings are the embodiment of a gothic medieval city.  Her golden age came to a screeching halt with the plague called the Black Death of 1348.  Enlightened travelers will love this charming city in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone about 21 miles south of Florence. Order a bottle of wine at a cafe in the shell-shaped brick Piazza del Campo is one of Italy’s most triumphant piazzas, large enough to feature a medieval semi-annual 350-year-old summer bareback horse race called the “Palio delle Contrade” (www.paliosiena.com).  The victor of the Palio celebrates with a massive town dinner (cena). Sometimes the horse wins without a jockey. The piazza’s surface is divided into nine segments by colored paving stones, symbolizing Siena’a original Council of Nine. Their members governed the city in her medieval heyday.  The council met at the Palazzo Pubblico on the eastern part of the square. In Siena visit Italy’s most famous Enoteca on Piazza Matteotti housed within the Medici fortress, order from among 1000 wines from more than 50 producers.  Then take the Chianti Road (La Chiantigiana) through the magnificent Tuscan countryside revered and replicated in Renaissance paintings.  Sip some Sant’ Antimo Terre du Siena in the Campo with some pappardelle con leper, pappa al pomodoro or Costata alla Fiorentina. The Tuscan hillsides provide the ideal micro-climates for Sangiovese and Trebbiano grapes. Visit the Italian Library of Wine in Siena owned by the Italian government to showcase their finest wines. The outdoor terrace is a great “vino con vista” venue.

English: Towers of San Gimignano

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6. San Gimignano  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. Pass through the Arco dei Becci (the arch) and enter the Piazza della Cisterna.  You will feel like you have returned to the Middle Ages.  This charming town produces a prestigious white wine called Vernaccia di San Gimignano in the beautiful vineyards that surround the old city.  It is an excellent aperitif.  This was Italy’s first white DOCG wine. Harvest time is generally between September and October 15th.

San gimignano

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Visit a café in the Piazza del Duomo or Piazza della Cisterna and order a local specialty made with saffron to accompany your wine.  The saffron is made from crocus flowers and is produced in this area.  Have a gelato at Gelateria di Piazza. Stay or dine at La Collegiata on Localita Strada, 27 (www.relaischateaux.com) for an extensive wine list and great views.

 

Pisa, Italy

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7. Pisa was a former Roman naval base and commercial port, trade with Muslim Spain, North Africa and Lebanon generated tremendous wealth for this maritime power from the 11th to 13th centuries.  Arabic numerals were introduced to Europe through Pisa.  By 1406 the city was conquered by Florence. A defensive wall surrounds the Field of Miracles.  Pisa was historically an important port since the time of the Romans.  It was a great sea Republic throughout the Middle Ages. The Piazza del Duomo houses a group of splendid monuments known throughout the world. These four masterpieces of medieval architecture were influenced by Islamic architecture.  They include the Cathedral (1064), the Baptistry (1154) and the Campanile (1173), which is the famous gravity-defying “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and the cemetery (1277).  The eight-story bell tower (180 feet tall) was begun under the supervision of Bonanno.  The unstable subsoil caused the Tower to tilt and subside. Galileo conducted some of his experiments on gravity from the top of the tower. There are many cafes near the Leaning Tower.  In Marina di Pisa have some lunch and a glass of Bianco Pisano at Miracles Café on Via P. Agostino da Montrefeltro and sit on the seafront terrace.  Visit the Castellina Maritima Winery on Via Bagnoli (www.terriccio.it).  Visit Foresta on Via Litoraneaz for a great view.  There is a newly renovated Bagni Di Pisa Natural Spa Resort (www.bagnipisa.com).  It was the former summer resort of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.  In Pisa make a reservation at the Relais dell’Orologio on Via della Faggiola 12 (www.relaisdellorologio.com) for outstanding accommodations.

 

Français : La coupole de Brunelleschi vue du c...

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8.  Florence is the world’s celebrated jewel of Renaissance art and architecture is famous for voluptuous domes and intimate restaurants. 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 masterpieces. 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. 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. 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. Florence has the largest concentration of Renaissance art and sculpture in the world. Landmark cloisters, chapels and refectories are all galleries of Renaissance art.

Reserve a table (“vorrei reservare una tavola”) at a café in the bustling Piazza della Signoria.  Gaze at the fashionable residents wearing Florence’s designer icons like Pucci, Gucci, Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli. As you sip your Chianti Classico, Brunello de Montalcino Riserva or Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and admire 600 years of artistic activity.  This strategic location will give you a magnificent view of the Loggia dei Lanzi by Orcagna. The Loggia dei Lanzi was designed by the architect Orcagna.  It is named after Cosimo I’s bodyguards; the Lancers were German mercenaries that were on his payroll. It was built between 1376 and 1383 by Benci di Cione and Simone Talenti. Three classical arches rest on columns of different styles. Above the arches statues of the Virtues occupy the alcoves. Two lions flank the entrance to the center archway.  A copy of Cellini’s bronze statue of the “Perseus beheading Medusa” in 1554 is prominently displayed in the left arch. Cosimo I wanted to warn his enemies of their probable fate. Giambologna’s “Rape of the Sabine Women” (1583) was carved  from a single block of marble.

Consider an afternoon Enoteca (wine bar) crawl.  The local bars offer “Aperito” (Happy Hour); visit Negroni, Zoe and Il Rifrullo.  Interesting wine bars in Florence include Antico Noe on San Pietro, Cantinetta da Verrazzano on Via dei Tavolini, Fuori Porta on Via dei Monte all Croci and Le Vope e l’Uva on Piazza de Rossi. If you prefer, head over to the Frescobaldi Winebar (www.frescobaldiwinebar.it) and try some Toscana Giorgio Primo or Rosso di Montalcino.

English: Italy Duomo di Orvieto Cathedral

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9.  Orvieto in Umbria is perched halfway between heaven and earth on a plateau over 900 feetabove sea level. Take a funicular to the top of the cliff to visit the medieval historic center of this charming town. The town’s crowning jewel is the splendid Romanesque-Gothic Duomo designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. The Cathedral has famous frescoes by Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli. The Cathedral was started in 1290 when Pope Nicholas IV blessed the first stone. The inside and the outside of the Duomo are covered with basalt and travertine stripes. The façade has glistening mosaics including “The Coronation of the Virgin” in the central gable. There are plenty of cafes, wine bars and restaurants. Visit the Enoteca in Piazza del Popolo to sip Orvieto’s famous wine.

English: The Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti in Ven...

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10. Venice  is one of the most magical and romantic destinations in Italy. The majestic “Mistress of the Sea” was founded in the 5th century. This seafaring republic, between the river, lagoon and hypnotic Adriatic Sea is spread over 118 small islands with 150 canals and 400 bridges. Venice embodies the victorious struggle of man against nature. Lavishly adorned palazzi like Ca d’Oro and Ca’ Rezzonicone line the Grand Canal. These palaces are embellished with Baroque magnificence and Rococo elegance. Gondolas and Vaporetti (water buses) transport residents and exuberant tourists through paradise via waterways.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, mainland refugees settled the sparse islands to escape waves of invasions. These residents harvested seafood from the canals of the Adriatic Sea for sustenance. Eventually, they became sailors and then wealthy sea merchants. This gateway to the Asia became a major maritime power in the 10th century. Exotic spices like saffron, cinnamon and curry fueled the Venetian Empire. Salt was a crucially important profit center for the Venetians. The term salary is derived from the Venetian practice of being paid in salt. The extraordinary profits earned through trade, filled the coffers of the patrons of the flourishing artists. Marco Polo (1254-1324) was a prominent Venetian explorer who traveled to Asia. This enchanting city is an architectural masterpiece with domes, spires and campaniles. St. Mark’s basilica and the Doge’s Palace constitute the fulcrum of Venetian religious and civic life. The work of Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese adorn her magnificent buildings. Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is the location of some of the major attractions including St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Sansovino Library. Saint Mark is represented by the winged lion surmounting one of the tall 12th century granite columns. The gorgeous church of Santa Maria della Salute has a prime location on the mouth of the Grand Canal. Purchase a museum card or Museum Pass to avoid long lines in Venice.

View from the Rialto Bridge in Venice

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Meander through the labyrinthine ancient passages of Venice and delight your palate with a “Chicchetti” bar crawl with Venetian bar snacks. Sit at a charming café in the middle of St. Mark’s Square like the Caffe Florian that was built in 1720. Listen to the tuxedo-clad orchestra as you sip some Pinot Grigio delle Venezie. Café Quadri was built in 1628 is also located in the square. Caffe Chioggia has a view of the lagoon. Venetians love to dine at the Osteria al Bacareto located at 3447 San Marco. Have some risotto di mare or sarde with pine nuts (sardines). Another scenic option is the Gran Caffe Lavena where you can enjoy your glass of Rosso Roggio or Laudato Malbech del Venato in the shadow of the Torre dell’Orologia. Effervescent Prosecco is great with a splash of pomegranate juice and a sugar cube. In September, get tickets for the annual International Film Festival. Enroll in cooking school at the 16th Century Hotel Cipriani with Michelin Chefs www.sheraton.com/villacipriani.

To learn more about interesting and seductive places to drink wine read Vino Con Vista Travel Guides available @ www.vino-con-vista.com

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