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Visit Italia in Miniatura in Emilia-Romagna

The next time that you pay a visit to the Le Marche region in Italy, consider popping to the nearby Rimini to see the delights that Italia in Miniatura has to offer. Less than an hour and a half’s drive from Marche, Rimini is on The Adriatic coast and has many things to offer, including crisp, clean, well-maintained beaches. But just inland from the coast of Rimini is ‘Italia in Miniatura’, which is a theme park not only aimed at children, but suitable for the whole family.

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Many of the activities on offer in this theme park which will interest all of you, but are especially suitable for keeping your children entertained on the few days when the weather is not perfect! Activities run through most months of the year and include ‘Miele Rondinini’, which is based around the production of honey.

You will get the opportunity to witness a bee collecting nectar; you will enter a hive, witnessing how it is organised, and will be able to see bees in action, discovering how they transform the nectar into honey. Following this demonstration, you will be able to taste different varieties of honey.

Visited by more than 500,000 people to date, Italia in Miniatura has been in operation since 1970, and the centre of the park consists of over 270 miniature versions of Italian and European buildings, all carefully reproduced to scale. The park is set in a spectacular huge open-air exhibition, covering a total area of 85,000 square metres.

 

 

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Roberto Cavalli, a genious of Italian fashion

Roberto Cavalli has long been held as Milan’s most reliable source of high fashion escapades. The Florentine designer has recently been seen to be feuding with Flavio Briatore, a former football chairman, who accused Cavalli of “freezing his brain with Botox,” but none of this could take away from his brilliance in the art of fashion design.

*Source: Wikipedia

*Source: Wikipedia

Cavalli’s collection at the Milan fashion show in September was not only entertaining to witness; it was also a triumph of design. His Hollywood-themed show featured stunning gowns and tops made from his trademark python-print chiffon, some complete with silver-tipped tassels and most sporting a delicate flapper feel. There were also panelled jeans and croc-skin biker jackets which literally wowed the audience.

The show quite literally told us all that despite the fact that he is now over 70 years old, he still most definitely has his finger on the pulse of what today’s fashionista wants and yearns for.

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Visit Umbria: Stay in Perugia

If you have never had the chance to visit Umbria, you really don’t know what you are missing! Umbria’s landscapes are among the most beautiful of Italy, and its traditions, history, art and culture really are second to none. This beautiful region of Italy is the only one in the country that is landlocked, although both river Tiber and lake Trasimeno water the area.

But, in Umbria, there is more than green hills; some historical towns have been named World Heritage Sites, such as Assisi, and we could not talk about Umbria without recommending visits to Norcia, Gubbio, Spoleto, Todi, Città di Castello, Orvieto, Cascata delle Marmore, Castiglione del Lag or Passignano sul Trasimeno – and these are only some of the charming towns and small cities that you would find on your travels around Umbria.

Eleonora Special 2

The villa we bring you today, Eleanora Special, really is special in all aspects. This magnificent villa would be perfect for a family or friend reunion, with plenty of space for everybody with its 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms or shower rooms; all rooms are en-suite and one of them even has its own suite! The villa has really been finished to the highest standard and we are sure you will not be disappointed upon arrival to the electric gates that protect the property. Some others of our favourite features include the gym, the billiards room or the dining terrace that overlooks some awe-inspiring views of the Umbrian countryside and woodland.

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But the real gem of the property are the swimming pools. Yes, you read correctly! There is two! In summer, the outdoor swimming pool will make everybody’s days more interesting. But, what if you are visiting in winter? Eleanora Special has its own private indoor swimming pool. If, like yours truly who is writing, your secret dream is having your own indoor swimming pool to be able to swim on everyday, you will agree that this property is just like taken from a dream!

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All in all, Eleanora Special really ticks of the boxes for your next family holiday, and provides you with a fantastic base to explore Umbria and get to know this fantastic region of Italy!

 

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Visit Florence’s ‘mercato centrale’ in Tuscany, Italy

When thinking about Italy, food is probably one of the first things about this great country which comes to mind!  Whilst there can be some great regional variations on what is served, overall the emphasis is on using fresh, quality ingredients to create very tasty, yet often simple dishes.

If you are on a self catering holiday in Italy then we strongly recommend visiting a local market to buy your fresh ingredients.  These are held in most towns on a weekly basis and for the locals they can be an important part of daily life offering a great opportunity to meet friends.

If you happen to visit Florence during your Italian holiday then do not miss the mercato centrale (central market) which is a large indoor food market offering just about everything you can imagine. It is a real spectacle for any visitor to Florence – a huge array of colour and flavour wherever you look.  There’s a great, bustling atmosphere here too as it attracts locals as well as visitors.  The extensive range of delicatessens, fishmongers, butchers and vegetable stalls together make a wonderfully colourful collection of tempting treats.

There are also a few food outlets here which offer an ideal opportunity to grab a bite to eat at low cost including lampredotto (cow’s stomach sandwich), a specialty of Florence. So if you are on a tight budget make sure you visit the market around lunchtime.  You will find local workers doing the same thing!

The market is open Monday to Saturday 7am to 2pm.

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Visit Pitigliano in south-western Tuscany

During the summer months Italy is an extremely popular vacation destination and you may well find that you are jostling shoulders with many other tourists all desperate to see the same sights that you are vainly trying to gain access to. But if you choose a slightly lesser-known area of this stunning country, you may be surprised at how quiet these summer months can be.

If you are the kind of person who does not like to hear English being spoken by the local people, and relish having to test your somewhat rusty Italian, then visit Pitigliano in south-western Tuscany. Pitigliano is situated more than 1000 feet above sea level and therefore enjoys some breath-taking views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside.

*Image: Wikipedia

*Image: Wikipedia

The original old town has been known as little Jerusalem due to a long-standing presence of a Jewish community. They became so well integrated into the area that they had their own synagogue. The synagogue dates back to 1598 with certain furnishings added during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Pitigliano has been inhabited as far back as Etruscan times and the first written mention of the area goes back as far as 1061, so you can be certain of having some wonderful historical sights to see on your visit to the region, including the former Cathedral of SS. Pietro e Paolo, the church of Santa Maria, and the Orsini Fortress, which has been in its present state since 1545, although it is a reworking of a much earlier medieval fortress.

 

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Italian traditions: Cappelletti for Christmas

Christmas traditions vary the world over but one of the Italian traditions which remains as strong as ever is the making of Cappelletti for the Christmas feast. As most of us are aware, food is at the heart of any Italian celebration especially at such a family-oriented time of year as Christmas. Cappelletti are tiny little sheets of pasta twisted into the form of small peaked hats and filled with a savoury mixture of meat or cheese. The name originates from the Italian, ‘cappello’, for ‘hat’ or the Latin ‘cappa,’ (head covering).

CappellettiThis north Italian dish is similar to its cousin tortellini and the only difference really lies in the filling. For hundreds of years Italian mothers have taught their daughters the customary way of making these delicious delicacies in readiness for the Christmas dinner. Traditionally served ‘in brodo,’ (chicken broth,) cappelletti could well be the original form of chicken noodle soup which is loved the world over.

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Visit Tuscany: Stay in Anghiari

By now, we are sure you would have noticed that Tuscany is one of our favourite areas of Italy. It is the combination of beautiful scenery, fascinating towns and cities, wonderful food and interesting history that makes us dream of when we next will be able to visit Tuscany!

But you might be thinking… “hang on; Florence and Siena are amazing, we’ve been for lunch to Panzano and have visited the hot springs, what else can you tell us about this area that is different?”. Things get even more complicated if you have teenage children, especially active boys!

For football fans, maybe a visit to San Marino could provide a fun day out. San Marino’s football team is sadly famous across Europe for being partly formed by amateur players or professional players who hold second jobs outside football, and many lines have been written about their results, with a 13-0 loss against Germany the record, and many 10-0 results. They have only ever won one game (in 2044). It must be said that San Marino has a tiny population, the smallest of any UEFA country, and this might be the only reason why they are so unsuccessful in international football competitions. We would certainly recommend a visit to San Marino’s historic centre and Mount Titano, part of UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008.

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For a visit to this area, we would suggest staying in the Arezzo area. Piombona, a villa in Anghiari, would make a fantastic base to explore the area. Not far from Forli airport, this amazing property is owned by a charming restaurateur who also owns a trattoria just down the road, where the whole family can eat for a reasonable price. You will be able to enjoy the most breathtaking views from the house, and for this reason, a terrace has been built all around the property.

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If you decide to leave this holiday for Spring or Summer, you will also be delighted to know that Piombona‘s private pool is open from 15th of May to 30th September, and that the outside barbeque is available for relaxed meals to delight the whole family.

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Films set in Italy: Death in Venice

Death in Venice is a 1971 movie starring Dirk Bogarde and directed by Luchino Visconti.

Luchino Visconti

Luchino Visconti

Bogarde plays the protagonist, Gustav von Aschenbach who has travelled to Venice for health reasons. During his stay at the Grand Hotel des Bains on the Lido, he becomes obsessed by the haunting beauty of a young boy, Tadzio who is with his family.

The city is in the grip of a cholera epidemic, unknown to the holiday-makers. The city authority is afraid that they will all leave. As the guests enjoy day-trips in the city centre it becomes apparent that something is seriously wrong. Aschenbach makes a decision to leave, but actually decides to stay, although he is dying.

Aschenbach visits the barbers who dyes his grey hair black and reddens his lips to try to make him appear younger. Aschenbach gazes longingly at Tadzio from afar, until the boy becomes aware that he is being stared at. In the crucial end scene, Aschenbach sees Tadzio being attacked by an older boy.

When the older boy releases him, Tadzio walks away towards the horizon. He turns around to look at Aschenbach, then turns away to face the sun, stretching his arms towards it. Aschenbach reaches out also as if to touch Tadzio, and at the same moment dies from the cholera infection. Some strangers notice him collapsed on the chair and alert the hotel staff who carry his body away.

But how will it end? We recommend this as one of the most gripping films set in Italy of the 70’s!

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Volcanoes in Italy

Due to the fact that the Italian peninsula stands on a fault line, Italy has more volcanoes than any other country in Europe. Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius have all erupted during the last hundred years. The actual word ‘volcano’ originates from the Latin Volcanus or Vulcan, who was the Roman god of fire. The term was first used by the Romans to describe Mount Etna, which they believed was the forge of Vulcan.

Mount Etna is on the east coast of Sicily and covers an area of almost 460 square miles, making it the largest volcano in Italy. Etna is still one of the most active volcanoes in the world and it gained status as a UNESCO world heritage site in June of this year.

Southern flank of Mount Etna showing lateral cones and flow from eruption of 2001

Southern flank of Mount Etna showing lateral cones and flow from eruption of 2001

Mount Etna remains one of Sicily’s main tourist attractions still gaining thousands of visitors to the area every year. Why not visit Sicily and some of the volcanoes in Italy on your next holiday?

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Visit Tuscany: Stay in Chianti

Many times in this blog you will have had the chance to read about the charms of Tuscany. We truly believe this is one of the most stunning and varied areas of Italy, with awe-inspiring scenery, wonderful natural beauty, historic remains and some of the most interesting and varied towns and cities in the whole of Italy.

The villa we are bringing you today is very close to Panzano. We told you about Panzano not very long ago, a village definitely worth a visit. And if you like good food and good meat, do not miss a visit to Dario Cecchini!

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For summer, Cottage Pineta offers a furnished terrace and an outside barbecue as well as an outside shower with hot and cold water; this is useful when you have just been having fun in the private outside pool, which is open between the 15th May and the 31st October, weather permitting. Although you may have missed out this year for a summer visit, and the early morning swims in the pool might have to wait until 2014… we can’t wait for you to find out what we think is the most attractive feature of the many details that make this one of our favourite locations.

This villa, sat in a very quiet location and completely fenced, it’s a safe haven for your family. It sleeps 6 in three bedrooms decorated in country style, making it a comfortable location to share with your children or other members of your family. At the same time, being almost halfway between Florence and Siena, it is perfect for exploring when you visit Tuscany.

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Cottage Pineta can certainly make the perfect autumn location. Surrounded by forested areas, olive groves and vineyards, you will be able to enjoy many walks around the property and take the most beautiful pictures. And, when you are tired from your walk, come back in the house and warm up with the fantastic open fireplace in the living room – a true gem!

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