Travel Destinations Archive

Read Article ▶ EXPERIENCE THE PALIO OF SIENA

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Il Palio di Siena Piazza del Campo

Experience the Palio of Siena - This historic horse race, known as Il Palio di Siena, is one of the most unique and exciting in the world tracing its origins back almost 800 years. The race is held twice a year in the beautiful medieval town square, Piazza del Campo. On race day, the piazza, is filled with thousands of spectators transforming it into not only a racetrack, but a stadium for the event. The city and its people come alive in a festival like atmosphere born out of centuries of rivalry and passion. Il Palio is more than just a horse race, it is a festival that lives in the hearts and souls of the people of Siena.

The first race takes place on the 2 July (Palio di Provenzano, in honour of the Madonna of Provenzano), the second and the more prestigious one is held on the 16 August (Palio dell'Assunzione, in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary).

The race is contested between the suburbs of Siena of which there are seventeen. The suburbs are called 'Contrade'. The people of Siena are born and raised into a Contrada and participate in the life of the suburb and in the organisation of the Palio. Hence the development over hundreds of years of strong rivalry between each suburb. The Sienese people are very passionate and proud of the Contrada they belong to and fiercely support their suburb with all the preparations and festivities to do with the race.

The main square of Siena, the beautiful Piazza del Campo is the place where the race happens. There is a road situated around the square and this is carefully prepared and laid with tuff clay. The surrounding bars and restaurants close so that a grandstand can be erected to accommodate the special guests of the city. The 'Palio' takes place over four days, with the final race taking place on the last day. The first day is for the "Tratta", the drawing of lots, where each Contrada is assigned a particular horse. Each suburb picks their own jockey but not the horse. Six heats take place before the official race both morning and afternoon. The fifth trial is the 'prova generale' (general trial) and the last is done the morning of the race 'provaccia' or bad trial.

Palio Siena  Palio Siena Celebration

The day of the race is filled with pageantry and celebrations with parades by officials, historical costumes and flag throwers. Of the seventeen suburbs, only ten are selected to race. Those that miss out get to race in the next scheduled race. The prize everyone is racing for is 'Il Palio' effectively known as "Il Drappellone" (large drape) or large painted silk banner of the Madonna which each year is designed and created by a different artist. In the afternoon, the race begins and horses and their riders need to go around the square three times. Sometimes, during the race there are collisions and pushing and shoving, demonstrating their great passion to winning the race. Occasionally, a jockey falls off but it doesn't matter, the first horse across the line wins the race. The winning Contrada receives Il Palio which is then proudly displayed in their historical museum. There are huge celebrations with banquets held around the winning Contrada for several days and colourful flags of the suburb are displayed until the next race is run.

Several small group Vita Italian Tours visit Siena and travellers get to experience being in this unique and beautiful Medieval City with its proud history and traditions and will learn more about this wonderful festival. Our fully accredited travel agency Pronto Travel can book all your travel needs anywhere in the world. If you wish to visit Siena and experience the excitement of Il Palio first hand, we can organise a fully inclusive tailor-made package, including accommodation, transfers, grandstand seating for the race and even dinner with a Contrada the night before the race! Il Palio and the beautiful city of Siena are a must experience when travelling to Italy.

 

Vita Italia Tours - Private itineraries to experience Il Palio di Siena: Contact

For more information on Il Palio di Siena: www.ilpalio.org

 

Photo credit: Phil Melia - Il Palio di Siena

Read Article ▶ Destination Milano – Gateway to Italy

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Destination Milano - Gateway to Italy. Milano is the gateway to Italy and one of the most important business centers of the world. As the second largest city in Italy after Rome, Milan with its population of 5 million is a hub of Italian culture, music, media and sports. It is renowned for its historical attractions, architecture, fashion, food and lifestyle.

Milano Piazza Duomo

Situated in the centre of Milan is one of the most iconic and recognisable buildings of the city and indeed Europe, its gothic Cathedral simply known as, Il Duomo. The Duomo of Milan, is a masterpiece of gothic architecture, a decorative mish mash of styles, partly due to the fact that it was started in the 14th Century and not finished until the facade was completed in the 18th Century. Il Duomo features over 135 stone pinnacles on its rooftop. Visitors who climb to the top are rewarded with spectacular views of the city and beyond to the snow capped Alps. Milano also has a wealth of ancient churches, museums and art exhibitions as well as a world renowned opera house 'La Scala' where great performances take place on a regular basis.

Many famous artists worked in Milano such as Michelangelo, Bramante and especially Leonardo da Vinci who lived in Milano for extensive periods as the guest of Duke Ludovico Sforza. In Milano you can see Leonardo's famous fresco 'The Last Supper' in the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie with its six sided dome designed by Bramante. You can also see Leonardo's famous Codex Atlanticus with sketches of war machines, diving suits, aircraft and agrarian machines housed in the beautiful Biblioteca Ambrosiana an artistic centre since the early 17th century.

Davinci Last Supper Codex Atlanticus Santa Maria della Grazie

Milano is the style capital of Italy and one of the world's great fashion destinations. The city's beautiful tree lined boulevards are home to famous Italian and International fashion designers such as Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Valentino who display their amazing designs and accessories in stunning window displays. Milan Fashion Week is held every year in September and attracts all the important designers and buyers from around the world. Milano is also noted for its design and the 'Salone Internazionale del Mobile' an annual world renowned furniture and furnishings design exhibition is held every year in April.

The idea of the Aperitivo, enjoying a bitter drink with snacks, took off in Milan in the 1920s and became a significant cultural aspect for locals and anyone visiting the city. Aperitivo, which simply translates as 'to open', a drink that opens and stimulates your appetite before going to enjoy your evening meal. In all the city's bars, expert barmen compete in developing unique cocktails for their guests. None more famous than Bar Basso which opened in 1947 and is famous for its signature drink Negroni Sbagliato. The drink was invented by the bars' owner Mirko Stocchetto who accidentally substituted gin for prosecco in a Negroni cocktail. The idea of getting together in the evening for a drink before dinner is a Milanese custom, a ritual and a must do experience at one of the many traditional and funky new bars when visiting the city.

As well as organsing private tours and private itineraries to Milan, Vita Italian Tours visit Milan on their boutique small group tour of 'The Northern Lakes and Dolomites'. The tour begins in Milano for a two night stay every year in June and travellers get to experience some of the most significant sights of the city as well as the ritual of the Aperitivo. The 11 day tour begins in Milan and also includes some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe with stays on Lake Como, Lake Garda and the spectacular Dolomites Mountain range.

 

More information on the Northern Lakes & Dolomites Tour: www.vitaitaliantours.com/our-tours

More information on the City of Milan: www.comune.milano.it

More on the Duomo of Milan: www.duomomilano.it

 

Read Article ▶ PESARO WINTER WONDERLAND

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Pesaro Winter Wonderland. Pesaro, situated in Le Marche Region on the Adriatic Coast of Italy, is getting into the festive spirit transforming the centre of the city into a Christmas winter wonderland. Named Pesaro Nel Cuore, which translates as 'Pesaro in our Hearts', the exhibition features an installation in the main square, Piazza del Popolo', of the most illuminated Christmas tree in the whole of Italy.

Piazza del Popolo Natale Pesaro Winter Wonderland

The tree is a centre piece of the square and shines brightly decorated with 70,000 white LED lights. The ancient buildings surrounding the square such as Palazzo Baviera, the Post Office and Ducal Palace come to life displaying colourful projections of giant snowflakes.

Around the ancient fountain with its tritons, dolphins and seahorses, the Municipality has set up a skating rink where all can enjoy skating, children, teenagers speeding around the rink, parents and grandparents together. The square also has market stalls placed around the rink selling hot sausages, angels and Christmas gifts. The Pesaro Nel Cuore exhibition has attracted visitors from all over Italy and Europe to celebrate the festive season.

Mario, Gianni and Viny of Vita Italian Tours, call Pesaro home when conducting their boutique small group tours in Italy. Wishing all our friends and family a very Merry Christmas and safe and prosperous New Year! Buon Natale!

Pesaro Christmas Tree

See you in 2017!

 

Read Article ▶ DESTINATION ASCOLI PICENO – A HIDDEN TREASURE

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Destination Ascoli Piceno - A Hidden Treasure: The town of Ascoli Piceno, in Le Marche Region Italy, is a hidden treasure in a beautiful position surrounded by The Sibiline Mountains along the border with Umbria. The whole southern province of the Le Marche Region, for which Ascoli is the capital, offers spectacular views and a variety of landscapes of amazing beauty.

The city of Ascoli Piceno is enchanting with its many beautiful 'piazze', famous Cathedral, grand palaces and its stunning Town Hall. The historic city centre was constructed with grey marble extracted from the nearby mountains and originally boasted over two hundred towers. Today, sadly, there are only around fifty. The main square, Piazza del Popolo is considered one of the most beautiful in Italy and the other incredible Piazza Arringo with its twin Renaissance fountains also a gem.

Piazza del Popolo Ascoli Piceno Renaissance Fountains Ascoli Piceno

The first peoples who lived in this part of Italy were the 'Picentes' tribe and artifacts have been found dating back to 268 BC, although, very little is known about their language and their customs. The city was taken over by the Romans until the end of the Empire and many other rulers took over the town until the Middle Ages when the it came under the strong influence of the Popes and the Catholic Church.

Ascoli is safeguarded by their patron Saint Emygdius who was venerated as a martyr and is believed to have saved the town from a destructive earthquake which hit Le Marche around the third century. His remains are housed in the cathedral and a feast day is celebrated on 5 August each year. The patron Saint was of extra significance this year following a series of earthquakes which spared Ascoli although devastated nearby Amatrice destroying many historical buildings and leaving many displaced.

Ascoli Piceno is also famous for its regional foods and wines. One of their most popular dishes is 'Olive Ascolane' (shown below) which are local green olives stuffed with meat, herbs and cheese before being covered with breadcrumbs and deep fried. The region also produces several DOCG certified wines, such as Rosso Piceno Superiore red and Vernacchia, Passerina and Pecorino whites varietals. Each characterised by the unique cool micro-climates of the region.

A good place to sit and try a local wine over a meal is at the famous Cafe Meletti. Located in the main square in the heart of the city, Piazza del Popolo, Cafe Meletti has been an institution for locals and visitors alike for more than 150 years. One of our favourite dishes they prepare is the delicious Tagliolini with Ragu alla Marchiagiana (shown below). If you are feeling adventurous you may want to finsh your meal off with one of their signature liqures and digestive drinks. Anisetta is our pick of the bunch, a recipe that cafe founder Silvio Meletti invented in 1870! Anisetta is a sweet and strong liquorice flavoured liqueur made from aniseed and other aromatic herbs and is great together with a coffee or desert. Salute!

Olive Ascolane rimg9896 Caffe Meletti Ascoli Piceno

Vita Italian Tours make a visit to Ascoli Piceno annually in June with the nine day Discovering Le Marche Region tour giving travellers the experience and taste of this wonderful town. Interested in visiting Ascoli Piceno? We welcome any enquiries about this tour and/or private tour or self drive itineraries to visit this stunning area of Italy.

 

Vita Italian Tours: Discovering Le Marche Region: Tour Itinerary

Cafe Meletti Ascoli Piceno: Cafemeletti.it

For More Information on Ascoli Piceno: Italia.it/ascoli-piceno

 

Read Article ▶ Alabaster of Volterra

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

 

Artisans of Italy Series - Alabaster of Volterra.

All over Italy, there are artisans at work making handicraft in a tradition that has been handed down for centuries. Italian artisans working with Alabaster are highly recognised, and are regarded as some of the most highly skilled artist in the world.

Volterra, Tuscany Italy

In Volterra, a small town in Tuscany, there is a long history of beautiful artistic works being made using Alabaster: a calcareous warm and luminous stone substance mined in the vicinity of the town that dates back to the time of Etruscans. The Etruscans, from the 3rd century BC made urns using Alabaster to hold the ashes of their dead. Many of these urns are now preserved and exhibited in the Guarnacci Museum in Volterra.

The art of working with Alabaster had its own second Renaissance at the end of the eighteenth century, and many workshops once again sprung up in Volterra with highly skilled artisans creating high quality sculptures and products that are admired and sold all over the world.

Alabaster Workshop Volterra  Alabaster Artisan Volterra

On our recent visit to Volterra we met and spoke with a wonderful local artisan Giuliano Ducceschi. At 87 years young, Giuliano a master artisan, has a typical workshop of a craftsman. A small room with his workbench near the doorway to maximise the light, full of white dust and surrounded by his tools and creations.

Giuliano talks about the times when there were over one hundred artisans working in the town with several apprentices. Today, however, according to Giuliano, there are only ten or so true artisans left in the city as few people want to carry on this age old tradition. He would like very much to pass on all his skills and knowledge to an apprentice but he sadly describes his work as a lost art.

Vita Italian Tours visits the fascinating town of Volterra in The Best of Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche tour in September every year. Our travellers are able to experience firsthand these famous alabaster craftsman's at work in this charming and historical Tuscan hill town.

 

For more about this tour offered by Vita Italian Tours: www.vitaitaliantours.com

Information on the Tuscan town of Volterra: www.comune.volterra.pi.it/english

For more info on Alabaster production in Volterra: www.volterratur.it/en

For more about artist Giuliano Ducceschi: www.alabastriducceschi.com

 

 

Read Article ▶ Destination Urbino – The Renaissance Jewel

Friday, June 10th, 2016
RIMG7241

A panoramic view of the beautiful city of Urbino in Le Marche Region


Destination Urbino - The Renaissance Jewel - The city of Urbino is situated between the Adriatic Sea on the eastern coast of Italy and the Apennine Mountains to the west. Its proximity to other central regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Romagna make Urbino a great base to visit and explore the territories of central Italy.

Urbino is a well preserved Italian Renaissance town in the territory of Montefeltro. The city as we see it today was largely built by Duke Federico and his young wife Battista Sforza who transformed this town in the fifteenth century into a splendid example of all things Renaissance equal to Florence. Duke Federico, a condottiere, was a great warrior who commanded a huge army that fought for the popes and was paid handsomely. As well as a warrior, the Duke was a learned man, a humanist, interested in the arts and he used much of his wealth to create a centre to promote new innovations emerging at the time. During their life, Duke Federico and his wife Battista promoted a centre of learning and invited and commissioned some of the greatest architects, engineers, mathematicians, artists, sculptors and scribes of the time. The court of Urbino boasted famous architects such as the fortress builder and designer of the Ducal Palace of Urbino Luciano Luarana, Donato Bramante, appointed by Pope Julius II to build the new St Peter's Basilica in Rome, and Baldassare Castiglione, the diplomat and famous Renaissance author of 'The Book of Coutier', considered one of the most important works of the Italian Renaissance. Urbino was also the birthplace of the celebrated Renaissance painter and artist Raphael.


 

della-francesca-urbino

The famous profile portraits of Duke Federico of Urbino and his wife Battista Sforza realised by early renaissance master Piero della Francesca. Although painted in Urbino in the mid 15th century this work is now housed in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.

 


The town today is recognised by UNESCO for its importance as a genuine example of Renaissance architecture. The town also boasts an International University of twenty four thousand students from around the world. The Ducal Palace was restored in early 1900's and has been returned to its former glory. It now houses the Galleria Nazionale Delle Marche (The National Gallery of Le Marche Region) with masterpieces by Piero della Francesca, Tiziano, Paolo Uccello and Raphael, whose family home has now been transformed into a museum.


 

Urbino Palazzo Ducale

The famous 'Torroncini' or twin towers of the Ducal Palace of Urbino which now houses the National Gallery of Le Marche.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Vita Italian Tours personally guides travellers to this marvellously preserved Renaissance centre on many of their small group tours. It is always a destination that fascinates and excites.

 

Read more about Urbino:

UNESCO: whc.unesco.org/en/list/828

Discover Italy: www.italia.it/en/travel-ideas/unesco-world-heritage-sites/urbinos-historic-center.html

Smart Phone App Urbino: www.urbinoexperience.com

 

 

Read Article ▶ Carnevale in Venice

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Carnevale in Venice, one of the world's most popular festivals is held in Italy from 23 January to 9 February. This is a time when this magical city is filled with masses of people dressed in fabulous costumes and elaborate masks attending mask parades and dancing to celebrate a great tradition of the city of Venice. The masks were used to disguise a person's identity and a way of masquerading lives of pleasure and licence.

 

Carnevale in Venice I

A theory in the meaning of 'Carnevale' is that the name is derived from the Italian "carne levare" or similar, meaning to remove meat, since meat was prohibited during lent which occurs before Easter.

The Carnival began after the success of a major battle of the 'Serenissima Repubblica' in 1162 against the Patriarch Aquileia of northern Italy. After this event people began gathering in St Marks Square for dancing and for reunions and wore masks as a disguise. In 1797 it was outlawed by the King of Austria.

 

Carnevale in Venice III Carnevale in Venice IV

It re-emerged in 1979 by the Italian Government as a tourist attraction and the masks were redeveloped by college students for the tourist trade. Masks were always a feature of the Venetian Carnival and people wore the masks for many other special feast days such as St Stephens and The Assumption in October and December respectfully. The mask makers developed their own guild and laws and held special positions in society.

Some of the popular 'Commedia dell'arte' character masks were the 'bauta' mostly worn by men and designed with an over prominent nose and a beak-like chin so that the wearer could talk, drink and eat. The mask was black and was accompanied by a black or red cape and a tricorn cap (a hat with 3 points). Colombina, a maid servant, wore a half mask only covering the eyes, nose and the upper cheeks. Her mask was brilliantly decorated in gold or silver with crystals and feathers.

 

Carnevale in Venice V

Other masks used were the' Medico della peste' with its long beak, Arlecchino, a servant who wore a colourful Harlequin costume and wore a black half mask with an ape-like nose and Pantalone representing a sad old man with an oversized nose the beak of a crow, slanted eyes and high brows which meant to signify intelligence on stage.

Vita Italian Tours and Pronto Travel organise private itineraries for travellers wishing to experience the magic of the Venetian Carnevale.

 

 

Read Article ▶ Destination Bellagio on Lake Como

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

 

Bellagio Lake Como Italy

Tuesday 8 September, Lombardy - Beautiful Bellagio on Lake Como has long been regarded as the "Pearl of Lake Como".

The town has a long history that stretches back to the time of the Romans and has attracted, over many centuries, travellers who enjoy the beautiful and peaceful surroundings. It has some of the most characteristic buildings, villas, churches and waterfront promenades of all the northern Italian lakes. Bellagio provides excellent hotels and accommodation, small cobbled streets with steep staircases rising up into the hillside offering magnificent views of the picturesque Lake Como.

Bellagio has an abundance of choices of things to see and experience. There are magnificent villas such as Villa Melzi or Villa Carlotta with their beautifully manicured English style gardens where you can spend countless hours leisurely strolling through the garden terraces. There are many restaurants offering sumptuous meals or small cafe's to enjoy an aperitiv or a coffee. The fantastic local homemade gelato stores that line many of the small streets are also very popular.

Lake Como Vita Italian Tours Vita Italian Tours Lake Como

Although a popular tourist destination Bellagio is not saturated with discount souvenir stores. On the contrary it boasts many wonderful boutiques which sell artisan products such as scarves, silks, jewellery, leather goods, shoes, antiques and local produce. Travellers can also participate in active sports such as boating and swimming or simply just enjoy a peaceful and tranquil time sitting and reading by the lake.

Vita Italian Tours takes travellers to Bellagio on Lake Como for several days on the Northern Lakes & Dolomites Tour and enjoy some special surprises in this picturesque town.

For more information on the 11 day Northern Lakes & Dolomites Tour visit the tour page

If you would like more information on the town of Bellagio visit: www.bellagiolakecomo.com

 

Read Article ▶ Destination Republic of San Marino

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Destination San Marino San Marino, 11 August - Destination Republic of San Marino. San Marino is one of the world's smallest and oldest Republics. It was established in 301AD by a stonemason Marinus, a Christian who came to Italy from the Dalmatian coast to escape persecution from Emperor Diocletian.

The country is situated in a unique and beautiful position on Monte Titano 749 meters above sea level and approximately 10 km from Rimini on the east coast of Italy. It is famous for its three medieval towers, Guaita, Cesta and Montale which are the country’s most popular symbols offering breathtaking views of the coast and surrounding countryside.

San Marino is one of the wealthiest countries in Europe flourishing in finance, industries and services and is a popular destination for travellers offering duty free shopping on perfumes, leather goods, watches and many other items.

Vita Italian Tours takes many travellers to this fascinating tiny landlocked Republic on a number of their tours and it is always a favourite destination.

Read Article ▶ Augustus Forum Rome up in lights

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Forum Augustus Rome Rome, 27 April - Forum of Augustus in Rome, will be up in lights with a spectacular night light show to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the death of Emperor Augustus.

The light show, developed using the latest technology, will use special effects, colours and music to illuminate the Forum.  The images will show daily life in ancient Rome as well as recreate the ancient temple. Augustus built the temple in honour of his great-uncle Julius Caesar following his assassination in 42BC. The images will also show the temple as it stood in Roman times, as a tall nine storey building that dominated the Forum, together with a 12m high statue of Augustus which only a few parts remain today.

The narration of the light show will be transmitted via headphones in six languages: Italian, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Japanese.

Travellers on Vita Italian Tours have the unique opportunity to see the Forum of Augustus in our popular Grand Tour of Italy.

For more information on the exhibit visit the official website: www.turismoroma.it

Read Article ▶ Piazza Duomo in Milan goes green

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Milan, 15 January - In the next few weeks the iconic Piazza Duomo in Milan will be re-landscape to coincide with the food themed Expo 2015.

The theme of the Expo 2015: “Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life” will be reflected by plantings of native trees and multi-tiered gardens of wheat, oats, rye, barley and aromatic herbs.

The vast open space of the piazza which is dominated by the city’s majestic gothic cathedral will be a botanical splendour. All the plants are not only ornamental, but are linked with the history of the territory and to the current species present in the Italian countryside.

The project will be funded privately at no cost to the public area and it will be in place for three years.

Travellers booked on the Vita Italian Tours: Northern Lakes & Dolomites Tour in June will have a great opportunity to experience this major event in the city of Milano.

The Northern Lakes & Dolomites Tour Itinerary: www.vitaitaliantours.com/our-tours/tour-4-%E2%80%93-the-northern-lakes-dolomites-tour/

Read Article ▶ Growing number of travellers flock to Cortina and Venice

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Cortina d'Ampezzo, 8 October - The Veneto region in the north east of Italy boasts many inviting travel destinations, none more so than the lagoon city of Venice and Cortina d`Ampezzo in the Dolomites. Both cities have experienced a growing resurgence in tourist numbers despite the current financial crisis engulfing Italy according to ANSA.

Venice, throughout history, has long been a stop for many travellers, from the times of the crusades in the Middle-Ages, the Grand Tourists of the 1700s to the present day modern travellers. Claudio Scarpa who is the head of Venice’s association of hoteliers believes 70% of hotel rooms in the city were fully booked in the month of August. This is an encouraging figure as this period is considered mid-season when compared to the more popular travel periods of May, June and September.

Cortina d’Ampezzo is nestled in the Dolomites Mountain Range about two hour drive north of Venice. Known as the ‘Queen of the Dolomites’, the mountain resort is renowned as one of the most beautiful and most exclusive destinations to visit in Northern Italy. As well as the already prominent european travellers to this area Cortina has also enjoyed an increased number of tourists from the rest of the world.

Both of these amazing destinations feature in a number of Vita Italian Tours, such as The Grand Tour of Italy and The Northern Lakes & Dolomites Tour.

Read Article ▶ Vatican secrets revealed

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Rome, 14 June - For the first and possibly the only time in history the Vatican will be displaying treasures from their famed secret archives in an exhibition in Rome. The exhibition 'Lux in Arcadia'  is currently being held at the Capitoline Museums to mark the Vatican Secret Archive's 400th anniversary of it's creation by Pope Paul V.

The exhibition will display around 100 items including parchments, manuscripts, registers and codices from the eighth to the twentieth century. Highlights of the once in a lifetime exhibition include the procedings of the trial of Galileo Galilei, a letter by Marie Antoinette while she was imprisoned during the French Revolution and a letter from members of the English parliament to Pope Clement VII seeking an annulment for Henry VIII so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

The Vatican Secret Archive contains centuries of precious historical artifacts on 85 kilometers of shelving. The exhibit hopes to bring into the public light some of the riches that the Vatican posses in what may be the only time they leave the walls of the Vatican City. The exibit 'Lux in Arcadia' will run until September at the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

Read Article ▶ Le Marche wines get top prize

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Italy 10 April - Le Marche Wines featured heavily in food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso's famous annual wine guide Vini d'Italia (Italian Wines). Eighteen of the magazines much coverted 'Tre Bichieri' awards for Italy's finest wines went to wine producers from LeMarche. Le Marche wine producer Umani Ronchi also took out the award for Italy's best white wine for their Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore "Casal di Serra Vigne Vecchie" 2009.

 Gambero Rosso is Italy's pre eminent wine annual. 2012 is the 25 eddition of the magazine and it contains reviews of approximately 20,000 wines from 2,300 wineries. The wines are rated based on bicchieri or glasses with three glasses being the highest rating a wine may receive.

 All travellers with Vita Italian Tours visiting Le Marche get the opportunity to taste some of these excellent wines from the region.

Read Article ▶ Cinque Terre – Up and running

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

 Monterosso, 17 March – After reading so much about the devastation of the five towns from the deluge received last November, Gianni and Mario were pleased to find that Cinque Terre is ready for business. We spent several days going to each of the towns to assess the damage. We can report that apart from Vernazza which was particularly affected by the mudslides the other towns will be ready for our first tour to Cinque Terre in May.

There is a hub of activity to get the towns prepared to accept the flood of tourists during the Italian Easter holiday period. Hotel staff, restaurant owners and local residents that we spoke to are confident that Cinque Terre will fully recover from the effects of that freak storm they received last year. On what we have seen we are happy to take our travellers through this amazing part of Italyon our Cinque Terre tours in May and September.

Read Article ▶ Venice’s Bridge of Sighs finally reopens

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Venice, 24 February – Over the last few years travellers on Vita Italian Tours to Venice were confronted with haute couture advertising billboards covering the famous bridge during restoration work. This caused some considerable controversy among the Venetians and the 12 million visitors a year to the site. The three year restoration project cost nearly 3 million Euro. The mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsini when he reopened the bridge said the bridge had been returned to its “extraordinary splendour and was now completely safe after an operation that was privately funded and cost the public nothing.”  The controversy will continue and do not be surprised when you travel on tour around Italy that famous sites will be covered with Armani or Prada advertising.

Read Article ▶ News on Le Marche Region

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Vita Italian Tours love to introduce travellers to the lesser-known areas of Italy, in particular, Le Marche Region which lies on the eastern side of Central Italyon the Adriatic coast. The region borders withTuscany and Umbria. We have an 11 day tour exploring the treasures of this unspoilt region which apart from being Italy’s “best kept secret”, it is rapidly becoming the new holiday destination for travellers looking for a taste of the real Italy.

 Moretta: caffe` corretto
A caffè corretto, a shot of espresso coffee cut with strong liquor, is an invigorating staple in bars across Italy, but at Fano in the northern Marche it reaches an art form with the local moretta. This potent cocktail is a blend of three spirits - aniseed-based anice, rum and brandy - sugar and a twist of lemon peel, topped up with strong, hot coffee. It should be prepared with care to keep three layers - the spirits, the coffee and the fine foam on top - and is always served in a small, clear glass. The drink is said to originate amongst the fishermen and sailors at theport ofFano to keep them warm at work.

 Keep them coming
Le Marche has again been one of the few Italian regions to see an annual increase in the number of tourists. This summer (June to August) saw 1.9 million tourists arriving in the region, almost 2 percent more than the same period last year. The number of foreign visitors rose by a remarkable 6.8 percent. It is still a region unravaged by mass tourism.

 How much is that truffle in the window?
The white truffle season is still in full swing in Le Marche. But if you want to indulge before the season ends on 31 December, bear in mind that prices this year for the sought after Tuber magnatum pico, or white truffle, have reached over Euro 3,000 per kilo. Expect bills in restaurants serving tartufi bianchi to be heavily "seasoned". One of the days in the ‘Tour of Le Marche Region’ is devoted to truffle hunting with a local professional hunter and his dog.

Rental health
Police authorities in the region have recently been carrying out investigations to identify illegal holiday rentals, and owners who rent out their properties without proper authorization from their local comune risk serious fines as well as claims for unpaid tax.
 
They may also faces fines of up to Euro 1,800 for failing to register guests with the local police. Absolutely anyone offering accommodation, including B&Bs, must register all guests within 24 hours of their arrival. This can now be done online so is hardly onerous - unless, of course, your aim is to evade paying tax.
 
If people tell you none of this is necessary, you should be aware that more and more owners of rental properties who do play by the rules are getting tired of the unfair competition from those who don't, and are ever keener to help the authorities stamp out such illegal activity.

 Fact
There are four universities in LeMarche - Urbino,Ancona, Camerino and Macerata. Camerino claims to be the oldest, dating back to 1336, whileAncona was only founded in 1969.

 Contact Mario and Viny at Vita Italian Tours a complete itinerary on the ‘Tour of Le Marche Region’ or download the information from the website: www.vitaitaliantours.com

Read Article ▶ Bologna named ‘most liveable city’ in Italy

Friday, December 23rd, 2011
Bologna 12 December - The northern city of Bologna has been named the most liveable city in the country, according to a new survey. Bologna has long been recognised as a centre of arts and culture and is home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088.A poll conducted by the national business daily, Il Sole-24 Ore, announced the finding after assessing the quality of life in 107 provinces across Italy. The survey looked at a number of issues spanning business, work, health and hospital services and the state of the local environment, public services and availability of free time. Bologna's Mayor Virginio Merola welcomed the news saying the city was well-placed to weather the current economic crisis.One of the major assets of the city is its commitment to childcare and education. In 2010 the city offered places for 3,275 children at nursery schools and kindergartens. (ANSA)

 

 

 

Read Article ▶ The Spectacular Cinque Terre

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The Cinque Terre has always captivated the traveller with its extraordinary rugged coastline and beauty. The five villages which make Cinque Terre: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are steeped with fascinating history and vibrant culture. They have been home to generations of simple fishermen and farmers who carefully built terraces on the steep mountainsides overlooking the sea to produce a stunningly beautiful garden landscape.

Due to popular demand, Vita Italian Tours have included a 5 day tour of Cinque Terre in their 2012 itineraries. The tour explores all the five towns which make up the Cinque Terre including Porto Venere and the picturesquePortofino on the Ligurian coast. A highlight is a guided visit to the famous white marble mountains ofCarrara where Michelangelo and many other famous artists chose their marble blocks to create their masterpieces.

The Cinque Terre tour has 2 departures in May and September and has been carefully placed so that travellers can combine this tour with “The Grand Tour of Italy”, The Best of Tuscany,Umbriaand Le Marche Tour” or “Tour of Le Marche Region”.

There is a 10% discount to travellers who combine The Cinque Terre Tour with another tour offered by Vita Italian Tours. This offer applies only if booking is made directly with Vita Italian Tours.

Contact Mario, Viny & Gianni for details of their itineraries on +61 3 9080 3440.

 

 



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