Tag Archives: vino con vista

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
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Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

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

Vineyard growing in the Italian wine region of...

Vineyard growing in the Italian wine region of Tuscany, home of the Sangiovese-based Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine. The photo also demonstrates the viticultural technique of clear (or bare) cultivation that leaves bare soil between the vines and rows with no cover crops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bistecca alla fiorentina

Bistecca alla fiorentina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

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

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

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

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

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

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

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

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

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

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

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

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

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

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

Roman theater in Fiesole, Italy

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

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

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

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see above (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

see above

see above (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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Filed under Ancient Rome, Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello Wine, Chianti Classico, Christmas in Italy, ebooks, Fiesole, Fiesole Italy, Florence, Franciscans, IPad, Italian Architecture, Italian art, Italian Food, Italian Food and Wine, Italian Wine, Italy, Italy Travel Guides, oenogastronomic, Roman Amphitheater, Roman Architecture, Travel and Tourism, Tuscany, vino con vista

Happy Birthday Chicago!

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Happy Birthday Chicago! Uncork your favorite bottle of wine or champagne and toast to Chicago’s 178th birthday was held on March 4, 2015. Crank up your iPhone as you listen to Frank Sinatra sing “My Kind of Town“; originally part of the musical score for Robin and the 7 Hoods, a 1964 musical film starring several members of the Rat Pack.

Cover of "Robin and the Seven Hoods"

Cover of Robin and the Seven Hoods

Chicago is famous for many things including gangsters like Al Capone and the city definitely has some offers that you can’t refuse:

Chicago is also famous for sports teams: Bears, Bulls, Hawks, Cubs and Sox. We have had pretty good record for start-ups: Kraft, Motorola, Baxter, Sara Lee and don’t forget Groupon just to name a few.

English: Chicago Cubs logo

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Chicago Bulls logo

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We have plenty of famous politicians including: 2 Mayor Daleys and President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama discusses the bid for C...

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Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley

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Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago, c. 1971

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Chicago is home to a plethora of superlatives: our higher learning institutons are world-class with some of the best business schools in the world like University of Chicago and Northwestern. The city is brimming with world-class chefs and we have some of the best restaurants in the world like Charlie Trotters and Alinea.

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods with distinctive architecture and ethnic roots.

Map of Chicago's community areas, grouped by c...

Map of Chicago’s community areas, grouped by color by “side” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But one or our most endearing and enduring blessings is our world-class architecture! Generally, to celebrate Chicago’s birthday, some of her architectural shining stars will turn blue including:

the Willis Tower, the Trump Tower, the Merchandise Mart and the Prudential Building.

Deutsch: Chicago am Ufer des Lake Michigan Eng...

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Chicago‘s Columbian Exposition in the 1890’s spawned a flourishing legacy of global architectural pre-eminence and outstanding architecture in Chicago. Daniel Burnham’s passion for Beaux Arts priniciples of design generated a flurry of world-class structures. Chicago architects and structural engineers are still staking claims to global architectural marvels.

Much of new classical research was conducted a...

Much of new classical research was conducted at the University of Chicago. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, 1893

Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893 (Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Bill Baker is a structural engineer who works at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill‘s (SMO) Chicago office in the landmark, 17 story Sante Fe Building. He can be credited with more supertall buildings of over 1000 feet than any other structural engineer in the world including the Trump Tower. The “Burl Khalifa” in Dubai is world’s tallest building at 160 stories. It is almost twice as tall as the building formerly known as the Sears Tower in Chicago. Bill was instrumental in designing The Burl with architect Adrian Smith at SMO.

Two of my favorite vintage buildings include the majestic Wrigley Building and the Gothic Revival Tribune building located at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River.

The Gothic Revival Tribune Tower in Chicago

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The distinctive clock tower of the Wrigley Building reminds me of Big Ben in London. There are 250,000 glistening glazed terra cotta tiles covering the classical structure that was completed in 1924 by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White. Quite appropriate for the great “White City.” The beautiful neo-gothic Tribune Tower is across the street from the Wrigley building. The 26 foot Sculpture of Marilyn Monroe is next to the Tribune Tower.

Wrigley Building

chicago wrigley building

I love the juxtaposition of the classic architecture with the modern architecture of buildings like the sleek Trump Tower. There’s a great view of the Wrigley Clock from Trump’s 16th floor restaurant aptly named “Sixteen.” They have an outstanding Sunday Brunch so why not celebrate Chicago’s Birthday party there!

Chicago Architecture

Chicago is a mecca for world-class museums, restaurants and hotels with plenty of “Vino con Vista” opportunities. The Michelin Guide for Chicago was released in November 2011.

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

Happy Birthday Chicago from www.vino-con-vista.com

Chicago River Walk

Chicago Restaurants

Chicago Park Hyatt

Meioi Pinot NoirChicago Water Tower

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bressanone

Bressanone (Photo credit: davideoneclick)

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

 

Comprensorios del Tirol del Sur (Italia).

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

Holiday Events  with Germanic traditions and Italian flavors 

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

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

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

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

Vintage Christmas Krampus Postcard with St. Ni...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Holiday Traditions and Celebrations in Rome

Krippe1
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Italians embrace the holiday season with many seasonal market, events and festivals. There are many religious holidays between December and January.  The festivities generally begin on December 6th with “La Festa di San Nicola” to honor St. Nicholas, the patron Saint of the Sheperds and end on January 6 with “La Festa dell’ Epifania” ( The Epiphany).  After Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity, instead of ending the holiday at the New Year, it was extended to the Epiphany. The Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men gave gifts to Baby Jesus. December 8th is the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, a national holiday. Rome celebrates with floral wreaths and a ceremony at the Spanish Steps by the Pope.

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

English: Nativity scene

English: Nativity scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tropenmuseum Amsterdam Crucifix with a christm...

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

Vatican Christmas Tree

Vatican Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

Christmas in Italy includes Nativity Scenes and other Christmas Celebrations.

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

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

Nativity scene on the 2001 Christkindlmarket i...

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

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Holiday Events in Genoa Italy

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

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

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

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

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Carrega Cataldi ...

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

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

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

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Holiday Events in Genoa:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genova, Via Garibaldi Palazzo Podestà

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose

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

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

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

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

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

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

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco (Photo credit: viiruone)

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

Here’s a recipe for Vino Brule

A bottle of red wine

1/3 cup sugar

3 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 stick of cinnamon

1 lemon peel

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

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night

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

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

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

Milano castello sforzesco natale

Milano castello sforzesco natale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

Milan Duomo

Image by underflowR via Flickr

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

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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

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Buon Natale and Christmas in Perugia Italy: Nativity Scenes

English: The interior of the cathedral of Citt...

English: The interior of the cathedral of Città di Castello, in the province of Perugia, Umbria Italiano: L’interno del duomo di Città di Castello, in provincia di Perugia, Umbria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Città di Castello is in the province of Perugia is in the northern part of Umbria. Visit the lovely cathedral over the holidays for a spectacular presepi display.

Duomo - Città di castello (PG)

Duomo – Città di castello (PG) (Photo credit: zioWoody)

English: The cathedral of Città di Castello, i...

English: The cathedral of Città di Castello, in the province of Perugia, Umbria Italiano: Il duomo di Città di Castello, in provincia di Perugia, Umbria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perugia

Perugia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The bell tower of the cathedral of Ci...

English: The bell tower of the cathedral of Citta di Castello, in the province of Perugia, Umbria Italiano: Il campanile del duomo di Città di Castello, in provincia di Perugia, Umbria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over one hundred nativity scenes from Naples, Umbria and Spain are displayed in the lower basilica of the cathedral in Citta di Castello. info@presepicastello.org

English: The crypt of the cathedral of Citta d...

English: The crypt of the cathedral of Citta di Castello, in the province of Perugia, Umbria Italiano: La cripta del duomo di Città di Castello, in provincia di Perugia, Umbria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHERE: Citta di Castello Cathedral

 

English: The crypt of the cathedral of Citta d...

English: The crypt of the cathedral of Citta di Castello, in the province of Perugia, Umbria Italiano: La cripta del duomo di Città di Castello, in provincia di Perugia, Umbria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The dome of the cathedral of Citta di...

English: The dome of the cathedral of Citta di Castello, in the province of Perugia, Umbria Italiano: La cupola del duomo di Città di Castello, in provincia di Perugia, Umbria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For more information visit http://www.presepicastello.org/

English: Coat of arms of Città di Castello (Pe...

English: Coat of arms of Città di Castello (Perugia), Italy Italiano: Stemma del Comune di Città di Castello (Provincia di Perugia). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A fragment of a fresco in the crypt o...

English: A fragment of a fresco in the crypt of the cathedral of Citta di Castello, in the province of Perugia, Umbria Italiano: Un frammento di affresco nella cripta del duomo di Città di Castello, in provincia di Perugia, Umbria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ginger albero di Natale

Ginger albero di Natale (Photo credit: Mr Focaccina)

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Buon Natale: A White Christmas in Valle d’Aosta

A view of Breuil-Cervinia slopes.
Image via Wikipedia

Valle d”Aosta is located in an extremely mountainous area. It is the smallest Italian region and borders France to the west and Switzerland to the north. It is dominated by some of the highest majestic mountains in Europe called the “Four Queens of the Alps” including Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Cervino and Gran Paradiso.

Valle Geiranger

Valle Geiranger (Photo credit: lecu_lillas)

It’s the perfect place for a “White Christmas”; and nobody does it like Bing Crosby http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA45TnJQxhU. In Italian, listen to “Bianco Natale” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0HT7D7JCTQ

There are four languages spoken in this autonomous province: French, Italian, Valdotain and German. Many feudal castles were constructed in this area to serve military functions.

English: Gran Paradiso summit and Cresta Gasta...

English: Gran Paradiso summit and Cresta Gastaldi; Gran Paradiso massif; Graian Alps; Aosta Valley; Italy Italiano: La vetta del Gran Paradiso e a destra la Cresta Gastaldi; Massiccio del Gran Paradiso; Alpi Graie; Valle d’Aosta; Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Tresenta summit, Gran Paradiso Massif...

English: Tresenta summit, Gran Paradiso Massif, Graian Alps, Aosta valley, Italy Italiano: Vetta della Tresenta, Massiccio del Gran Paradiso, Alpi Graie, Valle d’Aosta, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This region of Italy is a haven for skiiers; with 23 ski resorts and 170 ski lifts. Mountain climbers, rock climbers, snowboarders and winter sports enthusiasts flock to this area. The region is famous for “Torchlight Processions” around New Years’ Eve. In this province, Christmas Markets are called “Marche Noel.”

Holiday Events and Torchlight Processions

“Noel au Bourg” at the Fortress of Bord until January 6th.

“Marche Vert Noel” in Piazza Severin Caveri in Aosta until January 6th.

The 2oth annual “Courmayer Noir in Festival” through December 13th. www.noirfest.com

A ski competition in Pila December 18th-20th.

“Fiera di Sant’Orso” in Aosta January 30-31 that originated in the year 1000.

Italiano: Plan Maison, Valle d'Aosta

Image via Wikipedia

There are many “Torchlight Ski Processions” on December 30th and 31st in this area. Some of the places to see these pocessions include in the towns of: Ayas-Antagnod, Breuil-Cervinia, Chamois, Champorcher, Courmayeur, Etroubles and Gressoney-Saint-Jean.

The Valle d’Aosta Alpine vineyards are Italy’s window to Switzerland.

There are many “Vino con Vista” opportunities on the  “Route des Vins.”  This is a regional circuit of wineries. The vineyards are generally terraced and follow the “adret” that are located on the southern, sunny side of the mountains. The highest vineyards in Europe are located in Morgex-LaSalle.  Stop in the village of Morgex and have a glass of the prestigious Blanc de Morgex. The village houses a chalet with a tasting room and a restaurant. There are 22 DOC wines in the “DOC Valle d’Aosta

The Aosta region of Italy

The Aosta region of Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orchards and vineyards line the valley. Fresian cows graze in the pastures. Fontina cheese is produced in this region. Regional specialties include beefsteak alla valostana that is breaded, fried, topped with fontina cheese and ham an reheated in the oven on a slice of polenta.  Order a cup of Valle d’Aosta coffee with a shot of grappa to accompany your yummy chocolate dessert or regional tegole and torcetti almond cookies.

The Buon Ricordo destination in Valle D’Aosta is Hotel Ristorante Casale in Saint Christophe on Fraz Condemine www.hotelrestaurantecasale.it. The signature dish is Scaloppa alla Valdostana cooked with prosciutto and fontina cheese. The collector plate shows three Fresian cows grazing in the sunny pasture.

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

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