Rome Festivities

The festivities of the city of Rome in Italy. Not only Roman Catholic celebrations, but also Jewish and folkloric ones, for a tradition that has been going on for thousands of years.

Miniaturize Yourself in Italy!

Italia in Miniatura, or Miniature Italy, is a fun theme park for all ages that will miniaturize you!

Palio of Siena Tragedy

Should the Palio of Siena be suppressed? And what should happen to hippodromes?

Sicilian Cassata Recipe

A classic from Italian culinary tradition, a Sicilian dessert to prepare at home.

Italian Eco Friendly Aperitif

Sugheritivo is the eco friendly aperitif en-vogue in Italy since 2011. Bring a cork in, get a free glass of wine!

Wonderful Ischia Thermal Spas

Ischia has it all, and its thermal baths are a gift from the gods since ancient times.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ten Most Beautiful Beaches in Sicily

Sicily is one of the most popular destinations of the Italian summer. It is often chosen as a destination by many celebrities, including Kate Moss, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Leonardo DiCaprio, Uma Thurman, Princess Caroline of Monaco's daughter Charlotte, bringing paparazzi on the Sicilians shores. It is the ideal region in which to spend extra holidays, thanks to the high temperatures that bless it during the autumn season.

Second only to the Aeolian Islands, which hold a unique charm, here are the most popular mainland beaches. First of all is Marina di Ragusa. Among the best-equipped and most famous seaside resorts of the south-eastern Sicily, it is appreciated for its beaches of fine golden sand.

Not far away is the beach of Punta Secca, a small fishing village that locals call 'a sicca' due to a small formation of rocks in front of the beach.

Between Noto and Ragusa are also Calamosche, a small sandy cove, wedged between two rocky headlands and surrounded by dunes, with transparent waters. The Oasis of Vendicari is one of the wildest places in Sicily and a wildlife and nature reserve since 1984. The sea here is crystal clear.

To the west of the island, not far from Sciacca, is one of the most famous beaches (and there's a reason): Capo Passero. Here the sea is deep, but absolutely wonderful.

In the northwest of the island are concentrated three world-unique beaches: San Vito lo Capo, Scopello and Terrasini. The first two are located in a nature reserve called Lo Zingaro. Here the sand is white and fine and the sea is dotted with rocks. Terrasini, instead, is characterized by red rocks tinged with white.

To find other beaches worthy of note you need to go to the eastern part of Sicily, just below Taormina. The Isola Bella just below the city is one of the most beautiful places in Sicily. A two-kilometer long oasis with white sand and lush vegetation. It can be reached walking with low tide or by boat with high tides.

Its in front of the Aeolian Islands, in the province of Messina, that you can find one of the most popular holiday destinations: Capo d'Orlando. The beach is 8 kilometers long, and on the west coast one can enjoy a fiery red sunsets, while to the east you can admire the sunrise.

Finally, near Tindari there is Laghetti di Marinello, a fine white sand beach, characterized by the formation of some marine lakes, from which it takes its name. This beautiful coastal lagoon is a regional nature reserve.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why visit Liguria?

Liguria is a small but beautiful coastal region in north-western Italy that really can show off the best that Italy has to offer. It has earned the nickname of ‘the Italian Riviera’ but it has a bit of everything- beaches, mountains, countryside and mouth-watering food. It’s no wonder that the region is popular as a holiday destination for tourists both from Italy and abroad.

Those looking to relax on the beach are spoilt for choice in Liguria, with a mixture of sandy and rocky beaches available. Pebble beaches are great for walking the dog and can be found at San Lorenzo al Mare. Those who want to stay dry on land and play some volleyball should head to the district of Diano Marina, where many beaches feature such facilities.

Liguria is also great for outdoor sports with so many possibilities. The Arroscia valley is a must-do for hikers, climbers and trekkers, and it’s even possible to do some mountain biking here. Back at the coast one can try their hand at sailing, surfing and diving. If you are feeling really adventurous, para-gliding is sure to get the adrenaline pumping whilst boasting striking views. For something even more exhilarating there is the chance to go canyoning and really get wet!

Liguria is not all about the outdoor life, but it is a region which places a lot of importance on food. You will find the usual pizza and pasta which Italy is known for, but Liguria has many more specialties to offer. The region claims to have olive oil even better than that from Tuscany and the legendary pesto also originates from the region. Focaccia is a popular snack for the locals and being on the coast, the seafood is exceptionally fresh and a common part of their diet. Seasonal vegetables that grow in the area include the infamous truffles, artichokes and asparagus. The cuisine is a real highlight of the region that should be sampled!

Like many other Italian regions, Liguria is rich in history, art and culture from medieval and Renaissance times. The capital of Genoa is home to many interesting museums and churches as well as a royal palace. There are many old castles, forts and ruins scattered around the whole region which can take you back in time. Close to San Remo lies the infamous Villa Hanbury, a must-see botanical garden with thousands of tropical species. The beauty and historical importance of the region of Liguria has been recognized by UNESCO, who have declared various UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the area- part of the old town of Genoa and the ‘Cinque Terre’, 5 small neighbouring villages which offer stunning scenery and interesting flora and fauna.

With so much to see and do, it’s worth staying for more than a few days. It would be wise to rent a holiday house in Liguria as a base and explore different areas in the region, with the prospect of something new and exciting awaiting you every day. So what are you waiting for? A holiday in Liguria awaits you!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

FIve Specific Tips on Renting A Holiday Home in Italy

When looking for a place to stay in Italy, many people think about going to a hotel or those people on a smaller budget, a hostel. However, more and more tourists are looking at renting accommodation in Italy. Here are some tips on what to look for in your next holiday home.

There should be reviews of all the holiday homes by past guests. If there are all positive reviews, then it will put your mind at ease and you can book your accommodation. If the reviews are negative, have a read why, maybe the price of the house/apartment is lower which means not everything is 100% perfect.

Additional costs
Make sure there are no hidden fees in the rent. Some places may expect you to pay for cleaning and will charge your credit card after you have left the place. A lot of rental companies will ask for deposit and you should get this back once you have left the accommodation in a good state.

Personal touch
Due to the economic crisis there has been an increase in the number of people renting their holiday homes. Those that have advertised their homes on a holiday rental site will normally be the home owner. Drop them an email and ask them a few more details about the place. Also check to see if they will be there to greet you. Some owners leave a welcome basket for their guests which is a nice touch.

Amenities in the local area
You should look to see how far the apartment is from the city centre. For example when looking for apartments in Rome you do not want to be crammed in a tiny flat, and the only view is of your neighbour's bedroom. Sometimes, it is worth renting a place a few streets away in the quieter part of town, such as the area near the Vatican.

Genuine site
As there has been an increase in the number of holiday homes, there are a lot of different sites advertising the accommodation, some genuine, others not. Holiday, and are some of the more established sites. If you know someone who has tried a new site and they have had a great holiday, it may be worth checking it out as well.

There is a lot of choice out there, so make sure you do your research when looking at Rome accommodation rentals when you next go on holiday.

Robin is a freelance travel blogger, writing about places to visit in Europe and renting apartments in Paris , Rome and London.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Five Reasons to Rent a Holiday Home in Italy

Next time you are heading over to Italy, instead of booking yourself into a hotel, why not think about renting an apartment when visiting Italy's capital. Here are five reasons why you should look at renting a holiday home in Rome.

It is much cheaper to rent accommodation than stay in a hotel especially if there is a large group of you. You can get an apartment/villa with bedrooms plus a kitchen and lounge whereas for the same price in a hotel, you would just have the bedroom. Sometimes it can work out as much as 50% cheaper renting accommodation than going for a hotel, especially if you go off peak. Holiday owners will want to fill up their flat/house as they incur costs as well.

Eat when you want
You are not bound by the meal times at the hotel. You can buy food from the local markets from wherever and whenever you want. If you choose to make an Italian meal for your housemates, you can do so and you have a kitchen and lounge to host them.

Fun for the whole family
If you have children, renting a holiday home means you don't need to worry about the kids causing a scene in the hotel restaurant. Of course if your children are well behaved, this is not an issue, but you do not have to worry about whether the hotel is child friendly or not and the kids will also have more freedom to do what they please. If you have pets, some holiday homes will allow you to bring them with you for the duration of your stay.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do
Renting an apartment in Rome gives you access to the main tourist attractions but also lets you enjoy your stay as if you lived there. You get to live with Italian neighbors, be part of their community, maybe if you are lucky, get invited over for an authentic Italian meal.

Unlike the package holidays, there is no set schedule when renting a holiday home. You choose when you want to get up, go and visit the sites, when to eat your meals. You are in control of your holiday and why shouldn't you be, you have worked hard for it.
There are a number of reasons for renting Rome accommodation apartments instead of the usual trend of staying in a hotel. Make sure you research the holiday you want to ensure you have the vacation of a lifetime.

Robin is a freelance travel blogger, writing about places to visit in Europe and renting apartments in Paris, Rome and London.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Vegetables and Genitalia in The Italian Language

Languages sometimes are very funny. We had Italian friends from Naples staying over during the weekend, and I took advantage to become more acquainted with bad words and politically-incorrect Italian idioms.

You might think why a lady like me should have such necessities, as foul language is certainly misconstrued and would level me with the uneducated ones, also degrading my entire family and friends up to the fourth generation! After all, polite New England ladies know what's best. Ok, enough of the Jane Austin parade.

Even if we were to live the 19 hundreds all over again, I'd be counting among the irreverent ones, because I find bad words to be just hilarious! They are funny, liberating, witty, and Italian has about 7 million of them! Gosh I wish I were born in Italy, commanding the language like those ten-year-olds across my house. When I hear them say some "parolaccia", which means "bad word", I always jot down whatever I can understand, then ask my children or look it up on the Internet, hoping Google will correct my bad spelling.

Idioms are the funniest and I find that the top of the chart is taken by words that describe female and male genitalia. There is a whole wide variety of about 60 words for the male sex organ and around 90 for the female one! At least, this is what Benigni says, and I tend to trust him. It must be said that he astounds the majority of Italians, who can nevertheless manage more than 30 idioms for each sex.

I will not list the strong words here, but just those that refer to vegetables and cute animals. Why vegetables and cute animals? I have my theory. Somehow, associating vegetables and cute fauna with sex organs has made it easier for Catholic Italians to talk about them in colloquial terms, without having to use uncomfortable scientific words. On the other side, strongly sexually charged words may not be proper, especially for children, therefore little animals and veggies came to the rescue.

All in all, a little cute sparrow cannot remind of sex. The female sex is called "Passera", or "Passerina" or "Passerottina" for kids, which means little sparrow. Just as a little pea pod cannot be associated to nothing else than the baby male organ, "Pisellino". However, growing up he will have his pea pod replaced by a cucumber. That is what the adult male sex is called, a "Cetriolo"! But females growing up leave the fauna world for the flora, and their "Passerina" gets replaced by a "Patata", or potato. But female babies can have a "Patatina", or a small potato.

Cucumbers and birds have little in common, but somehow adult male genitalia are also called "Uccelli" or birds. Maybe as a reminder that one day they all came from a "Passera". Which reminds me that Italians also call that a "Gattina" or kitty, something English speaking folks are more familiar with.

Somehow birds and female genitalia are related in Italy, since another word for the adult sex is "Tacchina" or hen. But I might have to take that back, since it is also often referred to as a female mouse, or "Topa".

Male organs are more in tune with fruit and vegetables. The "Banana", same as in English, is another synonym for the "Cetriolo". But again comes an animal to make me take back what I just said, since men also have the "Pesce", or fish. Care to mention some species? You may call it an "Anguilla" or eel. Which reminds me of a snake, indeed "Serpe" is another name. Nevertheless, fava beans are in the game too, albeit with the entire pod, giving males a "Fava".

My Neapolitan friends also told me that it can be called a Babà which is a typical pastry from Naples (see picture). And to end on a sweet note for females too, I'll add the last cute name. "Fragolina" or strawberry, my favorite.

There are many more, of course; hundreds, if you also add regional variations and recent additions, but I guess this will give you a good insight. Beware of these words when you are speaking Italian or are in Italy.

Never complain out loud at the restaurant when your boyfriend eats your strawberry sitting on the piece of cake!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Romantic Places to Spend Valentine's Day in Italy

"Amore" is in the air everywhere in Italy. Its beautiful cities, lovely countryside, gorgeous coastline, and charming Italian villas are just waiting to serve as the perfect backdrop to the most romantic Valentine's Day you may ever spend in your life. Forget France, Italy has as much to offer if not more, for the hopeless romantics of the world looking for Valentine's Day getaways.

In terms of sheer beauty, few places can beat Italy's simply stunning Amalfi coast, with its many charming towns and gorgeous beaches. For a truly romantic and special Valentine's Day, book a room in Il San Pietro Di Positano. Every room in this hotel, which seems to have been carved into the jagged cliffs, boasts breathtaking views from a private terrace. Depending on the room type, prices can range between 420 and 980 Euros per night. You will have to book well in advance if you want to spend Valentine's Day in this hotel, but no worries. There are many lovely Italian villas, just as stunning, available on the Amalfi coast in which to celebrate Valentine's Day.

The radiant beauty of Lake Como managed to charm the charmer himself, actor George Clooney, who settled down near this lovely body of water. For your Valentine's Day stay, you may want to book a room in the lakeside Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which offers stunning views of the Grigne Mountains. Depending on the type of accommodation you desire, rooms run about 250 to 1,500 Euros and should be booked well in advance of a planned stay.

With its beautiful bridges and lovely buildings, Venice is one of the best cities in the world for a Valentine's Day getaway. Although a gondola ride through this city's canals may sound corny, it is still such a wonderful, romantic way to spend time with a lover. In addition, Venice is filled with cute little restaurants and lovely hotels full of character. Unfortunately, Venice does have some drawbacks. Lovers will need to book hotels well in advance of Valentine's Day, since in some years the city's Carnevale celebration may be going on at the same time. If so, rooms will be even more expensive and harder to get than usual. Try looking for Italian villas in the area, as well, which may be cheaper and easier to find than a hotel room.

Tuscany is yet another very romantic place perfect for a Valentine's Day celebration. It boasts beautiful rolling hills, scenic countryside and the area is especially known for having great Italian villas for rent. Lovers can choose to take a cooking class together in this region, which is famous for its delicious cuisine, or spend a day admiring artwork in Florence. More active types may want to climb up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which costs 15 Euros, or soak in one of the area's hot springs. “Vino” lovers will find a large number of wineries to visit. Whatever the fancy, Tuscany offers couples plenty of ways to celebrate their love together.

Though all did not end well with Romeo and Juliet, romantics are still drawn to Verona and the home that supposedly belonged to the doomed Juliet. It is from this home's balcony that Juliet cried out to the night for her love, Romeo. A ticket to visit this house is 6 Euros. Afterwards, you and your loved one can walk through the city's plazas and streets or hire a horse-drawn carriage near the Roman Arena to take you on a romantic ride. At the end of the day, retire to a lovely Italian villa, which is the perfect way to end a lovely day in this very romantic city.


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