Italy: World’s Largest Labyrinth Opens Today

Swide picture of labyrinth

The world’s largest labyrinth opens today in Fontanellato, a small town in the province of  Parma, Italy. This labyrinth is also  one of the widest bamboo plantations in Europe. Guests will walk through a fairy-tale maze and also admire fabulous works of arts.

 

See the complete article:   The biggest labyrinth in the world to open in Italy

Tuscany’s Hidden Treasures: Isola Santa Atop the Appuan Alps

Isola Santa, Garfagnana, Tuscany

Village of Isola Santa

High in the Appuan Alps National Park region in the area called Garfagnana (in the province of Lucca in northern Tuscany) lies the fairy tale village of Isola Santa.  It is a village of stone houses amidst the lush greenery surrounding a small lake.  A lovely church with a bell tower is silhouetted against the mountains and cliffs that form the Turrite Secca river valley.

Historical records from the 1200s show that this village was a small hospice throughout Medieval times where pilgrims and the sick could find shelter on the road between Garfagnana and Versilia coast. In the 1500s, the hospice was torn apart and later rebuilt as the Church of San Iacopo (in 1608).  The bell tower was added in 1899. The church still stands today.

In 1949, the power company constructed a dam for electricity on the Turrite Secco River that forever changed the makeup of the village: The dam submerged a part of the village buildings, damaged others and created the lake that is now a part of the scenery. More buildings were constructed higher up the mountain and there are still a few inhabitants, a B&B, a Bar/Restaurant and some tourist activity as people come to picnic by the lake in the summer. On many days you can still see the part of the village that lies submerged in the lake like a ghost town. There are walking trails in Isola Santa that will allow you to explore the town and the lake area and also hiking trails throughout the national park area..

How to reach Isola Santa:

  • From Lucca: through Castelnuovo di Garfagnana (58 km
  • From Forte Dei Marmi (about 30 km from the ”Versilia” Toll Road excit
  • From Massa through the “Del Versilio” Pass (about 28 km)

The Most Architecturally Beautiful Wineries in Tuscany

The Tuscany Tourism Website has published a collection of the most architecturally compelling wineries in Tuscany.  You will find here a beautiful slideshow along with wine quotes from very famous people.

The Italian idea of “La Bella Figura” (the beautiful figure) is a way of life with Italians; a philosophy that permeates all aspects of “La dolce vita.”  This idea is very well represented in the design of these beautiful wineries in one of the most magical places on earth:

Click Here for the full article: Toscana Wine Architecture

Architecture3

 

Tuscan Food: Simplicity, Freshness, Details and Love

Experts will tell you that Tuscan food is exceptional because it is based on “fresh ingredients.” Fantastic! What does that mean?

Imagine holding a fresh egg that is still warm from the hen. Hear the distinct snap as you crack that egg and place it on a flat surface. Take in the fresh smell. See the shiny orange (yes, orange) perfectly round, thick yolk that stands about ¾ inch high. Notice the compact and lustrous white of the egg, so very distinct from the yolk. Observe that the entire circumference of the egg is around 4-5 inches. Perfect.

You combine this egg with freshly ground (Italian) flour to make pasta dough. The color of the dough is a vivid gold, the smell of the pasta is enticing and the texture is smooth and firm in your hands.

Toss that pasta into briskly boiling salted water. It retains its shape and easily cooks to an “al dente” (firm in the middle) phase.

Finally, combine your perfectly cooked pasta with your favorite sauce or ragú (that you made using all the freshest possible ingredients). Heaven!

Compare the egg used in this case with that of an egg bought from your local grocery store. Crack it and the shell might crumble into many pieces. Place it on a flat surface; you will often see a pale yellow yolk that blends into the white of the egg. The egg white is runny and quickly spreads all over the surface.

You may, of course, not be able or willing to reach under a hen’s rear end to retrieve a warm egg. The point is, always be meticulous about using the freshest possible ingredients. Learn to read the signs of freshness and quality.

This is how the Tuscans approach cooking – with simplicity, attention to freshness and details and love. This is how my 99-year-old mother still cooks today.

Try this approach, no matter what you are making. This can apply to cooking, sewing, writing, painting or whatever you enjoy. Your outcome is only as good as the attention and love you put into each detailed step of the process, each moment along the way.

And, when your end result is something totally wonderful? Like the Tuscans, share it joyfully with people you love!

10 Things To Love About Italy

If you are a lover of food and/or Italy, this enthusiastic Vimeo video from the Perennial Plate will make you happy.

Arezzo Salumeria

Choose Your Prosciutto!

Among the top 10 things to love about Italy are, of course, pizza, pasta, espresso, prosciutto, parmigiano, gelato and more.

I am already drooling and homesick!

Click here for the article and video.

Maremma, Tuscany Beaches Among the Best in Italy

On my very recent trip to Tuscany I was in the Maremma area (Southwest Tuscany) famous for its wines, Italian cowboys, Etruscan ruins and beaches.  As I visited the Necropolis (burial ground) of Etruscans in Populonia.

While there, I was captivated by the beautiful colors of the sea and the seashore. So now I learn that some Maremma beaches are among Italy’s 15 best as chosen by the Italian Touring Club’s top 15 list for 2013.

Click here for the article on the Maremma, Tuscany site

Visit to the Carpigiano Gelato University in Italy

As reported in our post from May 1, 2013, “Gelato University in Italy for International Students,” Carpigiani (the world leader in gelato machines) has opened a gelato university at their headquarters near Bologna, Italy

This is the headquarters of Carpigiani, the world’s biggest gelato machine. Next door are the and Museum of Gelato Culture and Technology.

People from around the world are anxious to attend this new university.

Now NPR reports on an actual visit to this delicious and unique university.

Click here for article

Learn to make gelato

Eat your way through school by starting with dessert!

Pietrasanta, Tuscany: Living With Art

My husband and I have been traveling around Tuscany for the last two weeks.  There are so many beautiful places that one can soon lose count of all there is to see.

One town not well-known by American tourists is the historic town of Pietrasanta in northwestern Tuscany.  Pietrasanta has been a marble and art town since before the time of Michelangelo who came here to find the whitest possible marble.  Henry Moore also spent much time in Pietrasanta and, today, artists such as Fernando  Botero live here part of the year.

On of the most valuable gifts from Pietrasanta to the world are the marble artisans who take the clay or plaster cast sculptures of the artists and transform them in beautiful marble statues.  They still use their old manual instruments to transform the dimensions of the small originals to the large statues.  They do have some modern machinery and computer help now but most of the work is still done by hand by specialized artisans.

The statuary was beautiful and it was also fun to see works by Gina Lollobrigida and the figures of Superman and Batman.

Most any significant marble work of art or architecture has originated in Pietrasanta.  Pietrasanta is also a center for foundry work. Old works of art stand next to the new such as the paradise and inferno frescoes by Botero.

Our dear friend Ambra escorted us to a very large and well-known marble workshop Laboratorio Cervietti where we witnessed some of the marble workmanship first-hand and saw sculptures from past exhibits.  This was indeed a special treat.

The small town is also full of art galleries, shops, excellent  restaurants and wine shops and boutique hotels. There are often exhibits near the central ‘piazza’ near the beautiful duomo and campanile.  One can sit at the Caffe Michelangelo and gaze out at all the goings on.

Pietrasanta is definitely worth a visit.

See photo gallery: Click here

Next Posts Will Be From Italy

I’m off to Italy with my husband and will be posting events and pictures directly from there.  We hope to get to the Internationl Gelato Festival in Florence, among other things.

Provided our baggage weight can pass inspection (too many gifts for relatives), I we will be in touch from Florence, Tuscany.

Ciao for now,

Serenella

Race of the Giant Candles in Gubbio, Italy

Every May 15th in Gubbio (Umbria), Italy, three teams carry a statue of their saint mounted on a wooden octagonal prism, similar to an hour-glass shape 4 metres tall and weighing about 280

For full article in L’Italo-Americano, click here.

Carrying Enormous Candles

Race of the Giant Candles

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