Most Italians have chosen to stay in their home country during the strangest summer holiday season in living memory, due to the Coronavirus emergency, according to data collected by Coldiretti (the national association of farmers).

This has been good news for many seaside and mountain resorts, which had lain empty through much of the spring. However, Italy's celebrated art cities, large and small, have suffered greatly from the drop in foreign tourists.

The Coldiretti poll revealed that 25% Italians stayed in their home region. Many took the opportunity to explore the many little known borghi (historic villages) and sample the local food products and wine. Italy is the uncontested world leader in wine and gastronomic tourism with over 5,000 certified local gastronomic specialities, 415 listed certified wines and 60,000 organic food producers, spread throughout the entire peninsula. The 24,000 farm holiday structures (agriturismo) have had a popularity boom, thanks to the fact that they are small units, surrounded by countryside, where social distancing can be easily maintained.

There has also been a boom of Italians returning to their roots. Small out-of-the-way villages have been unexpectedly revived by an influx of visitors returning to stay with their families of origin and rediscovering the attractions of a traditional “home-to-home holiday” with small speciality shops and traffic-free streets and piazzas, where children can play in safety.

Info: www.coldiretti.it

Posted on 01 Sep 2020 by Editor

BEST WISHES FOR A FRUITFUL SUMMER FROM ITALYUPDATE

 

Posted on 14 Aug 2020 by Editor

 

 

A special trek to discover little known villages and beauty spots around Lake Bolsena (Lazio), Europe's largest volcanic lake, is programmed for the 20th August 2020. The route takes in several charming old villages and Etruscan archaeological sites, with accommodation in local b&bs.

Lake Bolsena itself contains fascinating archaeological remains. The submerged prehistoric village of Gran Carro, dating back to the 9th century BC, has produced a great number of antiquities and revealed what are believed to be the foundations of temples and other buildings. Underwater exploratory tours with guide are available from time to time for divers with certification.

Info: www.overland-viaggi.com www.lagodibolsena.org

Posted on 13 Aug 2020 by Editor

 

Despite the momentary drop in visitor numbers due to the present Coronavirus restrictions, the “Village Hotel” (Albergo Diffuso) complex of Borgotufi in Castel del Giudice, Isernia (Molise) can count itself as one of the most successful recovery programmes of an Italian village on the brink of abandonment.

In 2016, the villagers and the town council got together with a local entrepreneur to transform the many empty stone built houses and barns into modern accommodation for nature-lovers and visitors looking for a peaceful retreat. Preserving the authentic characteristics of the traditional village, some 25 accommodation units with all mod cons and facilities have been created, offering a total 100 beds, as well as a spa and wellness centre.

Activities include rafting on the Sarno River, guided tours of the nearby Samnite Theatre of Pietroabbondanza and the “Apple Museum” - the 35 hectares of abandoned fields surrounding the village which has been replanted as an organic apple orchard with 60 different varieties of apples.

Right now, it is an unparalleled open air astronomical observatory for viewing the night sky, with the help of a specially developed “Sky Map” to help identify the constellations.

Info: Tel. +39.0865. 946820 info@borgotufi.it

Posted on 10 Aug 2020 by Editor

The feast day of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence) on the 10th August is traditionally the night for wishing on a star, as it coincides with the period of the annual meteor showers known as the Perseides, when “falling stars” can frequently be seen.

The ideal place for observing the phenomenon must be the Astrovillaggio (Star Village) in Val d'Ega, near Bolzano, claimed to have the “finest night skies” by Astronomitaly, an organization aimed at promoting tourism linked to astronomical observations.

The Astrovillaggio claims to be the first of its kind in Europe. Situated high in the unpolluted regions of the Dolomites, it offers visitors a unique experience of familiarizing with our neighbours in the solar system and the universe beyond. The “village” includes the Astronomic Observatory Max Valier di San Valentino in Campo di Sopra, the Peter Anich Solar Observatory and the Sentiero dei Pianeti (Trek of the Planets), with guided outdoor excursions for direct viewings of the night sky.

Info: Tel. +39.0471.610020/619560 info@sternendorf.it

Posted on 07 Aug 2020 by Editor

During the Covid19 lockdown work has continued on many of Italy's most famous archaeological sites. When Herculaneum re-opened in June 2020, visitor experience was enhanced by the re-opening of the House of the Deer, with important restoration work completed on the previously crumbling facade and the cryptoporticus decorated with brightly coloured still lifes of fruit and vegetables.s The domus takes its name from two sculptures of deer attacked by dogs which decorated the garden area.

Francesco Sirano, Director of the Park of Herculaneum, can also vaunt the re-opening of the 3-storey House of the Bicentenary, which was opened last year after a 35-year closure. The 600 sqm building, decorated with frescos of mythological scenes, is one of the most important Roman residences in the ancient city.

Info: Tel. +39.081.7777008/7324321 www.ercolano.beniculturali.it

Posted on 03 Aug 2020 by Editor

 

The last word in thrills for “immersion travellers” are helicopter flights over the crater of Vesuvius and the lost cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. So-called “immersion travel” is becoming ever more popular with independent tourists looking for unusual and in-depth experiences.

The growing request for more specialized travel experiences in Italy has been picked up by a number of tour operators, including Italian startup operation - italyxp.com, which offers independent travellers a wide range of exclusive tours to lesser known beauty spots and treasures of the Italian peninsula. They include tours in the iconic vintage Fiat 600, motor yacht tours of the Amalfi Coast, taste trips among Umbria truffles and SuperTuscan wines, exclusive visits of lesser known destinations such as Vinci, Chiavari, the wine hills of the Langhe, the medieval San Fruttuoso Abbey, the Barbagia Mountain park in Sardinia and many others.

Info: Tel. +39.0656567418 italyxp.com

Posted on 30 Jul 2020 by Editor

Verona is not the only Italian city that can boast a couple of tragic lovers. The city of Mantua (Veneto) has its own pair – an unnamed young man and woman lie locked in an eternal embrace in the National Archaeological Museum in Piazza Castello, within the perimeter of the celebrated Ducal Palace.

The lovers, housed in a glass coffin in the museum, date back to the prehistoric era. The young couple, who were no older than twenty, died sometime between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago. They lie face to face, with their arms around each other, in an eternal embrace.

Archaeologists found the grave in 2007 while excavating a Roman villa near San Giorgio di Mantova, but the Amanti di Valdarno” (the Lovers of the Arno Valley), as they are called, only found a final resting place among the museum exhibits in 2017.

Flint arrow heads and knives were also found near the bodies, but archaeologists found no evidence of violent death and their story remains a mystery that will probably never be solved.

Info: Tel. +39.0376 320003 www.museoarcheologicomantova.beniculturali.it

Posted on 27 Jul 2020 by Editor

Leading Veneto organic honey, jams and chocolate spread producer, Rigoni di Asiago, has embarked on its fifth project to sponsor the restoration of works of art. The programme was launched by the company in 2015 and involves initiatives in five key Italian art citiesMilano, Venice, Rome, Matera and Florence.

The latest project is part of the Florence I Care project, promoted by the city of Florence. The Rigoni di Asiago contribution is the restoration of a series of lunette paintings by a group of 17th-18th century painters in the cloister of Santa Maria Novella, now part of the church museum. The frescoes were badly damaged during the Arno flood in 1966 when they were detached from the walls in order to save them.

Rigoni di Asiago entered the field of art preservation five years ago with the recovery of the historic entrance to the Brera Palace in Milan, known as the Atrio dei Gesuiti (Jesuits' Atrium) in 2016-17, followed by the restoration of the statue of San Teodoro in the Ducal Palace of Venice, then the “Venice Marries the Sea” fountain in Palazzo Venezia, Rome (2018) and the recovery of the rock church of San Giovanni in Monterrone in Matera (2019).

Rigoni di Asiago was one of the first food producers in the EU to obtain organic certification in 1992.

Info: www.rigonidiasiago.com

Posted on 24 Jul 2020 by Editor

An application has been filed with UNESCO to have the unique Neapolitan espresso coffee included in the Intangible Heritage of Humanity list. As anyone who visits Naples will know, a coffee in a bar is not simply a pick-you-up drink, but a ritual, deeply embedded in the culture of the city. It's where you meet friends, take business associates, clinch deals and get the latest news.

A morning shot of espresso is considered so important, in fact, that the custom of the caffé sospeso developed here, whereby anyone who wishes can leave a paid coffee at the till for any unfortunate who can't afford to buy his own.

Both the espresso machine used in bars and the ubiquitous moka coffee pot were invented by Italians. The moka (named after the city of Mocha in the Yemen) was developed by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 and commercialized by his son Renato, who introduced the traditional Bialetti coffee pot into almost every Italian home, where it still holds its own today, despite competition from the modern and heavily advertised “cialde” or coffee capsules. The moka has the advantage of lasting almost a lifetime, as it is possible to buy replacement parts, like filters, gaskets and rubber sealing rings at low cost. An antidote to our 21st century culture of “readily disposible”?

Margaret Stenhouse

Info: www.espressoitalianotradizionale.it

Posted on 21 Jul 2020 by Editor

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