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
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)
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!
If you are a lover of food and/or Italy, this enthusiastic Vimeo video from the Perennial Plate will make you happy.
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!
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.
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.
I cannot wait to see these in the historic center of Florence when I’m there in May. They are so cute!
Lucca is one of my favorite towns in Tuscany. Apparently, I’m in good company as Forbes Magazine has declared Lucca the second most idyllic place to live in Europe.
Lucca is full of old world charm minus the tourist crowds and its prices are lower than Florence or Venice.
Below is a lovely article on why Lucca is a great destination for A Tuscan Holiday:
Are you holding back on your travel and vacation dreams because of the economy? You may want to reconsider your position. The current price offerings of villas in Italy are at an historic low. If you have ever had a dream of taking a vacation with a loved one, your family, business colleagues or a group of friends, now is the time to book your Italian fantasy vacation.
Remember the Seinfeld episode where there were no villas in Tuscany available for renting? That is no longer the case as the world’s purse strings have tightened. This year, we have seen villas from as low as €36 (about $52.00) per person, per night for beautiful properties in idyllic surroundings. Try finding any luxury hotel room in Italy (or anywhere else) at this price! Heck, this may even cost less than the currently popular ‘staycations!’