Santa Fiora, a splendidly preserved medieval town that nestles on the slopes of Monte Amiata, Tuscany, is launching itself as “Italy's first smart working village”. The idea behind the project, according to Mayor Federico Balocchi, is to encourage harassed city dwellers to set up residence in a stress-free village by the River Fiora, immersed in chestnut woods and tranquil mountain scenery. Santa Fiora is already listed as one of the “Borghi Piu Belli d'Italia” (Italy's Most Beautiful Historic Villages).

During the recent lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, an estimated 80,000 city workers were involved in home working, according to Assotelecomunicazioni, the Association of telecommunication systems under the Confindustria business association umbrella. The Association believes that this fact may convince many employees that it is no longer essential to live near the office or their work headquarters.

Santa Fiora has been quick to understand that digital access is a vital requirement for distant working and has taken steps to guarantee quick and efficient cutting-edge online services In addition, the village offers other incentives, such as benefit packages to encourage new residents that include up to 50% reduction in rents to those who transfer there for at least six months.

Over the past half century, Santa Fiora, like most of Italy's small historic towns (borghi) has seen its population shrink as so many of its young people move to the cities for work. If this scheme is successful, it could mean a reversal of the trend.

There is plenty of scope: it is calculated that Italy has 7000 small municipalities and at least 13,000 historic villages. 72% of these municipalities have less than 5000 inhabitants, while some of the smaller communities are run down and virtually deserted.


Posted on 13 Nov 2020 by Editor


Italy's galleries and museums are so crammed with antiquities and works of art that many languish in storage for years and never see the light of day.

The Uffizi Museums of Florence have announced that they have come upon some long lost treasures stacked away in the proverbial attic of Palazzo Pitti. The three newly identified portraits are part of a series of over 300 paintings of historic personages depicted by 16th century artist Cristofano dell'Altissimo, a follower of Bronzino and Pontormo, and commissioned by Cosimo 1 de'Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Two of the portraits, depicting “Sulla” and “a youthful Henry VIII”, originally attributed to “unknown artists” have been identified as the work of dell'Altissimo (known as the “little painter” because of his extreme youth).

The third is believed to be the missing number 1 of the series. It depicts the fabled first king of Rome, Romulus, in profile, complete with “roman” nose and thick black beard. The complete series is considered unique. Known as the “Gioviane Portraits”, they feature over 300 real and fictitious personages from different countries and backgrounds including kings, Popes, sultans, saints, scientists, writers, artists and others who have made their mark on history.

Uffizi curator Eike Schmidt, says he plans to exhibit the series in the new Rooms of the Cinquecento section of the Gallery.

See the Uffizi website for full information about safety procedures for visitors in act regarding the present pandemic.


Posted on 10 Nov 2020 by Editor

This year's edition of the highly successful Naples PizzaVillage competition takes on the new format of home delivery, in order to conform with the regulations introduced to combat the spread of Coronavirus. Pizza Village @ Home takes place in Milan between the 5th - 8th November and involves over thirty master pizza makers from all over Italy.

Seven special pizzas are competing for the top position, including the universal favourite, Pizza Margherita. The pizzas will all be delivered to home destinations and include a surprise box of goodies offered by sponsors.


Posted on 06 Nov 2020 by Editor

The city of Turin has launched its traditional Christmas light Show “Luci d'Artista” (Artists' Lights) despite the problems of the current pandemic.

The event, which involves creative illuminated installations all over the city centre and the suburban areas, has been running uninterruptedly since 1998 and in normal years draws tourists from all over Italy and Europe.

In addition, Turin is keeping its most important museums open, although the usual evening visits to the Musei Reali (the Royal Collection) are temporarily suspended. From Thursday to Sunday between 9-19 hours, it is possible to visit the Royal Palace with its celebrated arms collection, the Sabauda Gallery and the Museum of Antiquities, as well as the Chapel of the Sindrone (the Holy Shroud), where it is possible to watch restorers at work.

The exhibition “Sulle Tracce di Raffaello” (On the Traces of Raphael) in the Sabauda collection, set up in the internal courtyard of the Sabauda Gallery, will run until the 14th March 2021. The ticket is included in the entrance to the Musei Reali.

Info: museirealitorino@spin-to-it


Posted on 03 Nov 2020 by Editor

Katzenzungen (Cat's Tongue) Castle at Tisens, Bolzano, in Alto Adige (South Tyrol) claims to have the oldest vine in Italy and one of the oldest vines in the world. The Versoaln grapevine is believed to be at least 350 years old (and much older than that according to legend). The spread of Its branches, supported by a pergola of chestnut wood, covers over 300 sq m.

The grapevine risked extinction until recently when the Laimburg Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry and Free University of Bolzano took it in hand and began to propagate cuttings. The venerable Versoaln now has over 100 “children” spread over the territory.

The parent vine still produces grapes that are harvested each year and mixed with the fruit of the new plantings, yielding a total of approximately 500 bottles of Versoaln white wine each year, which are marketed in specially numbered bottles.

Info: Tel +39.0473.927018

Posted on 30 Oct 2020 by Editor

An exhibition in the Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini in Rome, shines the spotlight on 16th century artist Orazio Borgianni, hitherto overshadowed by his drinking partner and quarrel-picking contemporary Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio.Orazio Borgianni. Un Genio Inquieto della Roma di Caravaggio” (“A Turbulent Genius in the Rome of Caravaggio”), curated by Gianni Papi, one of the maximum experts of the art of the period, is the first monographic exhibition dedicated to this artist, who was a leading and innovative figure, and who influenced many contemporary artists in the Rome of his time.

The exhibition contains 18 signed works as well as a couple of revealing self portraits that illustrate his physical decline. He died young, in fact, at the age of 42, after a series of scandals and squabbles with rival artist Giovanni Baglione.

His “Holy Family with St. Elisabeth, Young St. John and an Angel” contains what leading art critic Roberto Longhi called “the finest still life of the Italian '600” - the famous basket piled with linens that the artist placed prominently in the bottom corner of the picture.

Borgianni's works have been spread far and wide, so this exhibition is a unique opportunity to view his output, with works on loan from national galleries in Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Dresden, Florence, Toledo, Vienna, Paris, Naples and several Italian cities and private collections.

M. Stenhouse

Info: Tel. +39.06.481.4591



Posted on 27 Oct 2020 by Editor

The Umbria region stages it popular “Frantoi Aperti (“Open Olive Oil Mills”) event between the 24th October-29th November 2020, when visitors can celebrate the new olive oil coming flowing off the presses in the many local farms scattered round the area.

The event has been running for the past 23 years and is a great tourist attraction that also encourages tourists to visit many of the attractive small borghi (historic villages) along the Strada dell'Olio (Olive Oil Route). Many old castles, abbeys in olive groves and small abandoned churches, which are generally closed, will be open during the period.


Posted on 25 Oct 2020 by Editor

Christmas is just round the corner and no Italian Christmas is complete without the traditional panettone cake.

The Italian International Federation of Confectioners has launched a competition to elect “the Best Panettone in the World”. The World Championship Panettone is scheduled for the 24th-25th October 2020 at the CineCittà World entertainment park in Rome.

The three categories involved are: Classic, Innovative and Decorated and will involve participants from all over the world. The organizers assure that the current pandemic safety measure will be strictly observed.

The FIPGC (Federazione internazionale pasticceria gelateria cioccolateria – International Federation of cake and pastry-makers, ice-cream makers and chocolatiers) also organizes other important international events, aimed at promoting excellence in the field of confectionary, ice cream and sweets, such as:

The World Trophy of Pastry Ice-cream & Chocolate,

Cake Designers World Championship

The World Trophy of Professional Tiramisu

Info: Tel. +39.080.9306460

Posted on 21 Oct 2020 by Editor

Despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, Palazzo Chigi of Ariccia is staging two landmark exhibitions: “The Light of the Baroque” and “Angels and Demons” by Armenian artist Arshak Sarkissian.

Although so different in style and theme, the two exhibitions are actually closely connected. The Sarkissian event is part of a bilateral cultural exchange between Italy and the east European Armenian republic, initiated last year when Palazzo Chigi curator Francesco Petrucci exhibited part of the Ariccia collection in the National Gallery of Armenia at the capital city of Yerevan, where it was enthusiastically received. This is the first exhibition of Sarkassian's work to be staged in Italy.

The Light of the Baroque” is a major exhibition featuring works from the palace's own collection (considered to be Italy's most important collection of Roman Baroque art) as well as masterpieces from private collections, some of which have never been available to the public before. “Stars” of the show are two works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini: the “San Sebastiano” painted in 1648-49 for the Barberini family and the “Angel” from the collection owned by the artist's descendants. Other leading artists of the Roman Baroque whose works can be admired in the exhibition, include Dughet, Carlo Maratta, Voet, Luti, Borgianni and others.

Both exhibition run until 10 January 2021.

Palazzo Chigi of Ariccia, the former summer residence of Pope Alexander VII and his family, is one of the major tourist attractions in the Castelli Romani hills near Rome, renowned also as the setting for some scenes in Visconti's epic film “Il Gattopardo”.

Info: Tel. +39.9330053


Posted on 18 Oct 2020 by Editor

With foreign travel limited this summer, Italians have been holidaying in the home country, generally not far afield.

The Lazio region around Rome offers endless possibilities to discover little known beauty spots, like the little Lake of St. Benedict, in the narrow valley underneath the famous monasteries of St. Benedict and his sister, Santa Scolastica at Subiaco (Lazio). Virtually unknown except to the locals until recently, the pool and waterfall have now become so popular that there is now a (modest) fee to access the steep and pebbly path that leads down to the banks of the Aniene River, which rushes crystal clear through the gorge to join the Tiber near Rome some kilometres distant.

Subiaco is one of the stops on the 300 km St. Benedict Trail that starts from Norcia in Umbria (the saint's birthplace) and ends at Montecassino.

Autumn is the perfect season to join this hike, with all the trees dressed in glowing autumn colours.


Posted on 14 Oct 2020 by Editor

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