Art & Culture Archive


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:


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:

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Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Boboli Gardens Florence

Boboli Gardens in Florence get Gucci Makeover. The CEO of Gucci, Marco Bizzarri, announced on 4 April that the company would donate two million euro to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence for the revamp of the Boboli Gardens Park.

The project is known as "Primavera di Boboli" and is part of the arrangement settled between Gucci, The Minister of Culture, The Florence city council and the Uffizi Gallery, responsible for the maintenance of the world famous gardens, a special Gucci show "Gucci Cruise" will take place in May, 2018. The donation from Gucci will be used to restore the gardens to their original splendour and to regain its status as the Italian "Versailles" of Italy.

The 'significant' investment by Gucci has been welcomed by Dario Franceschini, the Culture Minister who hailed Fashion as an important part of Italy's cultural heritage. The project is also important as the creative director of Gucci's inspiration, cultural and aesthetic, has come from the beauty, art and cultural treasures of Florence.

The Boboli Gardens, situated behind the Pitti Palace, were originally designed by Niccolo` Pericoli in the sixteenth century for Eleonora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I and continued by artists Ammanati, Buontalenti and Vassari. The gardens are the green heart of Florence with their historic statues, secret stories, hidden corners, water fountains, temples and ponds. The gardens are frequented by locals and tourists alike who come to admire the wonderful gardens, have picnics and to escape the busy streets especially during the summer tourist season.

Boboli Gardens Florence Pitti Palace Statue Boboli Gardens Florence Boboli Gardens Florence Italy


Pronto Travel/Vita Italian Tours organise private visits with our trusted local guides to the Pitti Palace and the famous Boboli Gardens. It remains a favourite destination for travellers when visiting Florence.




Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Da Vinci Painting Sold for Bargain Price. An agreement has been made between the Polish Government and the  Czartoryski family of Poland for the sale of a private world class collection of artworks, artifacts and historical items for a bargain 100 million Euro ($1.5m AUD). Negotiations took place between Adam Czartoryski, a descendent of Princess Izabela Czartoryski who built up the collection from 1802. The entire collection has an estimated worth of about 2 billion Euro.




When questioned about the low price of the sale Mr Czartoryski's response was that he wished to continue the Legacy of his ancestors who worked in the best interests of the Polish Nation. Mr Czartoryski, head of the Czartoryski family and the Foundation which looks after the collection also stated that he wanted to make a donation to Poland and as Head of the Foundation he was able to make the decision. The collection was stolen by Nazi forces during World War Two but later returned to its owners.

The collection includes a rare painting "Lady with an Ermine", one of only four portraits of women painted by Da Vinci in 1490. The painting depicts a young woman, Cecilia Gallerani from the court of Milan, the mistress of Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.





Apart from the Da Vinci painting, the collection contains a Rembrant "Landscape with the Good Samaritan", drawings by Renoir, Manuscripts by Chopin and Etruscan and Greek vases. The Da Vinci painting and part of the collection is currently on display in Krakow.

See more Leonardo Da Vinci Masterpieces with Vita Italian Tours with guided visits to the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence and also the last supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.


Curious to know more?

Vita Italian Tours - Personally Guided Small Group Itineraries to Italy: Vita Italian Tours / Our Tours

Information on the Czartoryski Collection:

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Read Article ▶ Vespa Celebrates 70 Years!

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Vespa Celebrates 70 Years! The iconic Italian scooter brand Vespa is celebrating seventy years since it was first invented!! The first Vespa or "Paperino" (Italian word for Donald Duck or Duckling), was developed in April, 1946 by Enrico Piaggio and inventor Corradino D'Ascanio in Pontedera, near Pisa, in the Tuscany Region.

Enrico, son of Rinaldo Piaggio, had grown up learning from his successful father who had established a thriving business since 1884 building aircraft, rail carriages, goods vans and truck bodies and many other forms of machinery.

Piaggio PX 125

The 2016 70th Anniversary Vespa PX 125


After the Second World War the family factories were flattened by both the retreating Germans and the advancing Allies. Enrico saw the urgent need for an affordable and modern form of transport which would service the masses. After a number of attempts, a prototype MP6 which had a wide central part where the rider could sit comfortably and well balanced and a narrow waist which appeared like a wasp, hence the name Vespa was designed and made.

This prototype was patented and presented to Ministry of Commerce in Florence and shortly after it was presented to the public and publicised on the cover of La Moto, 1946, production of the first Vespa was born. Production of this prototype and others exploded and by 1948 almost 20,000 were produced. Enrico took charge of testing each prototype and new models and promoted the business in Europe and around the world. He maintained interest in the product and created initiatives such as the Vespa Clubs and created service points for Vespa around the world, including America and Asia.

Roman Holiday Vespa Vintage Italy Family

The riding of a Vespa became synonymous with freedom, an agile and easy to use machine which encouraged social relationships. It became a symbol of a certain type of Italian lifestyle which made its mark on its age. In cinema it became a part of social history as popular stars of film were seen riding a Vespa such as Marcelo Mastroianni in "La Dolce Vita", Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday" and many well known stars have been linked to the scooter in photo shoots like Raquel Welch, Henry Fonda, Matt Damon, Antonio Banderas, Sting and many others.

For both Mario and Gianni of Vita Italian Tours a Vespa is their preferred mode of transport when getting to and from work at our office in Collingwood in inner city Melbourne. To ride to work each day, to beat the traffic and take advantage of its great convenience. Vespa is definitely a way of life. Here is to another 70 years for this iconic symbol, of Italy. Viva la Vespa!

Mario and Gianni Vespa

Mario & Gianni of Vita Italian Tours with their Vespa outside the Collingwood office.


For more information on the 70th Anniversay editions of the Piaggio Vespa

For more on the history of this famous italian icon: Vespa Our History


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:

Information on the Tuscan town of Volterra:

For more info on Alabaster production in Volterra:

For more about artist Giuliano Ducceschi:



Read Article ▶ Destination Urbino – The Renaissance Jewel

Friday, June 10th, 2016

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.



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.


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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 ▶ Rome’s Trevi Fountain Reopens

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


Rome's Trevi Fountain Reopens


Thursday 10 November, Rome - Rome's Trevi Fountain Reopens. After seventeen months of reconstruction at a cost of around 2.2million Euros ($2.4m), the world's most renowned icon of Rome, the Fontana di Trevi (Fountain of Trevi) has reopened to public delight. Once again the people of Rome and from around the world will be able to marvel at the wondrous 300 year old monument and enjoy its clear blue waters.

Rome based fashion giants Fendi paid for the repairs as part of their 'Fendi for Fountains' project which began the task of preserving and maintaining iconic fountains of Rome and plans to restore several other fountains of Rome.


Trevi Fountain Renovation


The Trevi Fountain was created by Italian architect Nicola Salvi after being commissioned by Pope Clement X11 in 1732.

Famous Italian director Fellini contributed to the fountains fame through his movies 'La Dolce Vita' with Anita Ekberg who wades into the fountain with an elegant black gown and 'Roman Holiday' with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Since then, people have flocked to the fountain to throw a coin over their shoulder wishing to return to Rome.

On Tuesday 3 November, the fountain was reopened and huge crowds packed the small square hugging and kissing which tradition says that they will have eternal love if they drink the waters of the fountain.

Vita Italian Tours stops at the Trevi Fountain on several of their tours for travellers to admire the marvel of the fountain and enjoy throwing their coin in the hope of returning to Rome.



Read Article ▶ Renaissance masters in Brooklyn streets

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Wednesday 29 July, Brooklyn New York - Street artist Owen Dippie pays homage to Renaissance masters in Brooklyn Streets


Along a railway road in Brooklyn, New York, is not where you would expect to see a wall mural featuring references to Italian Renaissance art. But that is just what New Zealand born street artist Owen Dippie has done with his recent creation merging popular culture with Italian High Renaissance. The famous faces of 14th and 15th century artists Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello feature with the colourful masks of their namesakes the Ninja Turtles.

Renaissance Mural Brooklyn

Anyone who grew up in the 80's and 90's is no stranger to the four iconic cartoon characters of contemporary pop culture, the Ninja Turtles, who are named after Italian Renaissance masters.

Owen also recently blended Raphael's beautiful 'Madonna dell Granduca' with iconic street artist Keith Haring's 'Radiantbaby' in another beautiful interpretation on a Brooklyn wall which is being dubbed 'Radiant Madonna'.


Whatever your feelings are on these modern street murals, you have to agree that Dippie is successfully bringing Italian Renaissance art to a whole new generation of art lovers.


All photos from this article are © Jamie Rojo. Source article can be viewed at

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Read Article ▶ Leonardo masterpiece in Urbino

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

La Bella Principessa I Urbino, 22 January - Leonardo masterpiece in Urbino. For the first time a portrait, attributed to the great master Leonardo da Vinci from around 1495, was displayed for a short period in the Throne Room of the Ducal Palace of Urbino in December and January.

The famous portrait is of a young woman of Milano 'Bianca Sforza'. The artwork depicts a princess, first daughter of the Duke of Milano, who died tragically at fourteen years of age. This masterpiece is called 'La Bella Principessa' and is only 33 x 29.2cm in size. It was painted with chalk and ink, black pencil, red and white pencil on parchment (or vellum). The work of art comes from a private collection and due to its delicate state has been rarely exhibited. It is currently estimated to be worth around €107 million.

Urbino is a most important city of the Renaissance with many famous artistic pieces in the National Gallery of Le Marche. The Ducal Palace of Urbino is a highlight in a number of tours conducted by Vita Italian Tours.

Vita Italian Tour Itineraries


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:

Read Article ▶ Contemporary art to find a home in Florence

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

contemporary art florence Florence 9 January - Italian contemporary Pop artist Pep Marchegiani calls upon the Mayor of Florence: Matteo Renzi to promote modern art in his city. He maintains that Florence, the ‘cradle of the Renaissance, must also cradle contemporary art.’

Florence has always had a reputation as the centre of the Renaissance and contemporary art has difficulty in finding a niche in the artistic world of the city. Marchegiani, 42, is known for his iconoclastic paintings and his latest work is no less affronting. He has used an interpretation of the famous Michelangelo’s David as a call for the city to join the artistic 21st Century.

Vita Italian Tours has comprehensive visits to Florence on a number of our guided tours.


For more information on the Pep Marchegiani and his work check out the website below:


Read Article ▶ Sofia hosts Raphael masterpiece

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

SCOARfin Sofia, 20 November - A favourite painting of Vita Italian Tours by Raphael of Urbino “Saint Catherine of Alexandria” has been exhibited for the first time at the National Art Gallery in the Bulgarian capital: Sofia. The painting along with several prints was exhibited in September to mark the nomination of both cities as European Capitals of Culture 2019. The European Capital of Culture is a title a city holds for one calendar year in which many cultural events are organised to promote the city internationally.

Travellers on Vita Italian Tours get the experience to see this painting and other Raphael masterpieces when visiting the National Gallery of Le Marche in the Ducal Palace of Urbino. The painting, a wonderful exponent of the Renaissance period, is one of Raphael’s early masterpieces and has been used by ‘Vita Italian Tours’ in a number of our publications.

Raphael is one of the three most important and influential artists of the Italian Renaissance together with Leonardo and, of course, Michelangelo.

Read Article ▶ Assisi fresco restoration

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Giotto frescoes Assisi, 15 March - A three year restoration of frescoes in Assisi has unveiled a faint set of initials which could prove that the paintings were the work of the medieval master: Giotto.

The frescoes, depicting Mary & the baby Jesus, St John the Baptist and St Francis adorn the walls of the chapel of St Nicholas in the Basilica of St Francis, a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

Experts who worked on the frescoes, which were damaged in an earthquake that hit Assisi in 1997, have found initials “GB” which they believe stand for Giotto di Bondone.

Giotto, considered the father of the Renaissance, was born in 1266 also painted the famous frescoes of the life of St Francis in the upper church of the Basilica of St Francis which is a World Heritage listed monument.

Vita Italian Tours have an extended stay in Assisi each year in September during the “Best of Tuscany, Umbria & Le Marche Tour” where we visit Giotto’s frescoes in the Basilica of St Francis.

Read Article ▶ Campaign to return the Mona Lisa to Florence

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Mona-Lisa cropped Florence, 5 March - More than 150,000 signatures have been collected requesting the Lourve Museum in Paris return Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Florence. The painting is generally acknowledged to be the most famous work of art in the world. It is believed that the painting is of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo: a rich Florentine merchant.

The campaign is being backed by Italy’s National Committee for Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage which has requested a meeting with the French Minister of Culture, Aurelia Filippetti.

The committees’ president, Silvano Vincenti said, “I am convinced that, thanks to the ministers origins, she will not only respond positively to our request she will understand its motives”. Mr Vincenti said the return of the painting would be of “High historical value, both symbolic and moral”.

If returned the painting would hang with the other famous paintings of the Renaissance in the Uffizi gallery, which we visit with our groups on several of our Vita Italian Tours.

Read Article ▶ Venice Film Festival

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Venice, 7 September - The 69th edition of the prestigious Venice film festival held on the Lido seafront has drawn to a close. It was first held back in 1932 making it the oldest international festival of its kind and often it draws many stars of the big screen along with some of Europe’s super rich.

As our Grand Tour of Italy has also just visited Venice our group were on the look out for Hollywood stars while taking in the beauty and splendor of this magical city. Highlights included visits to San Mark’s Square, a demonstration by a master glass blower in Murano and of course resting up at the end of everyday in comfort and style in Dolo where we stay in an 18th century villa.

The winner of the coveted ‘Golden Lion’, which is awarded for best film at the festival, was this year won by South Korean film ‘Pieta’ directed by Kim Ki-duk. The film depicts the relationship between a young loan shark and a mysterious woman claiming to be his mother. Venice International Film Festival ran from August 29 to September 8.

Read Article ▶ Hidden Da Vinci masterpiece found

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Florence, 23 May – Florence, the artistic capital of Italy, is the final destination on The Grand Tour of Italy. The group has enjoyed taking in the great Renaissance masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery including incredible works by Boticelli, Michelangelo and of course Leonardo Da Vinci.

Researchers in Firenze believe they may have uncovered evidence that Da Vinci’s unfinished painting of the ‘Battle of Anghari’, thought to have been lost, lies behind a Giorgio Vasari fresco in the Palazzo Ducale. The international team of researchers discovered a black pigment not too dissimilar from the one Da Vinci used in his masterpieces of ‘St John the Baptist’ and the ‘Mona Lisa’ both exhibited in the Louvre in Paris.

The research is still in the preliminary stages, however if it is able to be confirmed could be considered one of the biggest discoveries of this century.

Read Article ▶ Soccer: Naples wakes up smiling after night of celebration

Monday, December 12th, 2011


 Naples, 8 December - Naples inhabitants woke up smiling on Thursday following a night of celebration after Napoli reached the Champions League last 16 with a 2-0 win at Spanish side Villarreal.Progressing from what was called the Group of Death, as it also featured German giants Bayern Munich and star-studded Premier League leaders Manchester City, is being hailed as a historic achievement for a side taking part in the Champions League for the first time.The city went wild when the final whistle was blown late on Wednesday, with people taking to the streets waving flags, jumping into fountains, setting off fireworks and driving around honking horns.Over 2,000 fans went to the city airport early on Thursday to welcome back the team, although the players went out through a back exit without saluting them. The celebrations continued Thursday morning with news stands struggling to meet the demand of customers wanting to read about the massive feat in the sports press. The victory also dominated breakfast conservation at cafe's in the city. (ANSA)