Thirty years ago, three members of the Bari (Puglie) branch of the Club Alpino Italiano, stumbled on a unique treasure concealed in the depths of the Grotto of Lamalunga, a cave near the small town of Altamura (Bari). It was the perfectly preserved skull of a Neanderthal Man, thickly encrusted in deposits of pearly calcite crystals, eerily resembling the celebrated Damien Hirst diamond-studded sculpture.

Recently, the remains have been the object of an in-depth research programme by a scientific team, who have established that the man, a Neanderthal who lived sometime between 170,000 and 130,000 years ago, must have fallen down one of the karst sinkholes common in the area and, unable to extricate himself, had starved to death. His body had been untouched by hyenas or other animals and was intact. He had practically all his teeth and investigators were able to extract his DNA from his shoulder bone, confirming the theory that present-day Europeans conserve a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA in their bodies. The skull was so thickly covered in mineral encrustations and it was decided to leave it where it was to avoid damaging it

The Homo Neanderthals of Altamura, named by the locals “Cicillo”, is considered to be one of the oldest and best preserved Palaeolithic skeletons discovered so far in Europe.

The Altamura plain, which lies among the karst formations of the Murgia, Puglia's vast rocky highlands, has revealed other important finds in the past, such as a cache of hundreds of animal bones some 50,000 years old, as well as a number of 70 million years-old dinosaur footprints.

The site is pending approval from UNESCO listing as a World Heritage Site.



Posted on 11 Oct 2023 by Editor


The unique Hortus Conclusus garden of Benevento (Campania), created in the late 20th century by leader of the Italian Transavanguardia movement Mimmo Palladino, together with architects Roberto Serino and Pasquale Palmieri, has reopened to the public after a lengthy regeneration and restoration process.

The artist took his inspiration for an “enclosed garden” open to the sky, from the walled cities of the Middle Ages and the monasteries with their cloisters dedicated to contemplation, and has created an open air museum filled with his symbolic works, such as the landmark bronze horse with the golden mask, inspired by the celebrated mask of the Ancient Greek hero Agamemnon, the fountain of the shield emerging from the earth and the upside-down umbrella. The trees and flowers also all have symbolic meanings, such as the roses (divine blood), lilies (purity) and palm trees for joy.

The garden is open every day except Monday and is also used for concerts, talks and cultural events.

Benevento stands on the Old Appian way, south of Rome, and contains many spectacular monuments, such as the Triumphal Arch of the Roman Emperor Trajan and the early medieval Church of Santa Sofia, with its elaborately carved pillared cloister, a listed UNESCO World Heritage site.

Info: Tel +39.329.3173126




Posted on 07 Oct 2023 by Editor


Still a niche product, the so-called “Orange Wines” of Italy are, however, beginning to make their mark in the international market place.

A product of the vineyards of the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia in north east Italy, already celebrated for the internationally successful Prosecco, both in its classic and in its rosé version (“pink prosecco”), “Orange wine”, also known as “amber” or “ramato” (copper coloured) wine is a skin contact wine made from white grapes. It takes on its distinctive taste and colour by being left to ferment along with the juice of the grapes. Among its many advantages, it is made from autochthonous ribolle grapes and contains all the beneficial qualities of red wine.

Orange type wines are traditionally made in Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia but the method was developed and refined in Italy by renowned wine producer Josko Gravner, and launched in1997. They have been slow to make an impact but are now becoming increasingly appreciated for their natural and organic qualities.


Posted on 03 Oct 2023 by Editor


The Arco di Diana Cultural Association was presented with the gift of an artistic Tondo featuring their logo made of dried flowers, seeds and grains, the creation of Nando Gabbarini, the oldest master floral artist of the School of Genzano, (Rome, Lazio), famous for its annual Infiorata Festival.

This was a fitting conclusion to an evening centred around the former presence of the Homo Neanderthalensis in the Lazio Region, illustrated by Mario F. Rolfo, Professor of Prehistory at Tor Vergata University, Rome, who has been involved in the recent sensational finds of Neanderthal human remains in caves on the Circeo Promontory some 100 kms south of Rome.

The Arco di Diana (Diana's Bow) Association is active in investigating the ancient history of the region around Rome. Among its many successes is the exploration and documentation of a series of prehistoric tombs in the archaeological site known as Grotticelle, in the former Lazio volcanic ridge, the remains of an ancient stilt village on the shore of Lake Albano and a series of underwater explorations in Lake Nemi with interesting results.


Posted on 29 Sep 2023 by Editor




The stony lava fields of Mt. Etna at 1.980m asl are the chosen venue for the art and photography exhibition “Etna Eternal Flame” organized by the Monira Foundation of New York.

German artist Johannes Pfeiffer, with his interpretation of the bonds of “Prometheus” stretching over the jagged peaks of the crater, and Montenegro-born Aleksandar Duravcenic (black lava “Benches for Etna”) have displayed their works on the lava field created by the eruption of 2001 that almost destroyed the historic Sapienza Refuge, while the accompanying painting and photographic exhibition is set up in the Service Centre at the town hall of Nicolosi (Catania).

For volcano fans a programme of multi-disciplinary lectures on Etna, conducted by Stefano Branca, director of the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, is also currently running at the Etna Observatory.

The exhibition ends on the 19th October 2023, after which it will be transferred to the Monira Foundation international study centre of contemporary art in New York.


Posted on 26 Sep 2023 by Editor


The town of Pietrasanta in Versilia (Lucca, Tuscany) is in mourning for the death of its honorary citizen, Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

Botero, celebrated for his exuberant outsize figures of people and animals, bought a house in Pietrasanta in 1983 and set up his studio near the Piazza del Duomo.

The town, which is near the marble quarries of Carrara (where Michelangelo obtained much of his material), as well as the fashionable beach resort of Versilia, is an open air museum of the maestro's works, including the frescoes “the Gates of Paradise” and “The Gates of Hell” at the Church of Our Lady of Misericordia, his celebrated “Warrior” in Piazza Matteotti and many other works that he donated to the town.

The Botero family is believed to have emigrated from Italy and established itself in South America in the 18th century. The artist was born in Medellin, Colombia, in 1932. The town of Pietrasanta made him an honorary citizen in 2001 and held a major exhibition of his work in 2022.

According to the artist's last wishes, his ashes will be buried in the cemetery of Pietrasanta, next to the grave of his last wife, Greek artist Sophia Vari, who died in May 2023.


Posted on 22 Sep 2023 by Editor


The Municipal Council of Venice has announced that from next year (2024) a €5 tax will be levied on day trippers visiting the lagoon city. The objective is to discourage the mass invasion of crowds who pass only a few hours in the city, spend next to nothing, leave piles of rubbish to be disposed of and bring no benefit to the city itself. At present, the number of Venice-in-a-Day tourists who arrive every day in the city is almost double that of the residential population.

The tax will be introduced on an experimental basis during traditional holiday periods in spring 2024. Residents, local workers and employees as well as students enrolled in the city university, will be exempt. Visitors with hotel bookings will also not be charged as they already pay tourism tax as part of their accommodation package.

Payment must be made in advance online but full details have not yet been released.

Venice and its lagoon have just recently narrowly escaped being added to the UNESCO list of endangered sites, due to the problems of mass tourism, climate change and threats to the eco system. With the introduction of the entry tax, the city hopes to limit the damages caused by the first of these problems. The activation of the massive “Mose” dam across the lagoon is also proving positive in restricting the periodic flooding that plagued the city centre.

Info: visit-venice.italy

Posted on 17 Sep 2023 by Editor


The Festival of Ancient Umbria widens its scope this year to encompass seven major centres within the territory of Italy's most mysterious central region. This year's edition, spread over six months of events and conferences involving eminent historians and anthropologists, is entitled. “Uomini e Dei” (Men and Gods) and sets out to explore the spiritual world of the Italic peoples, the Etruscans and the early Romans, the three different populations that once inhabited the region.

After last year's highly successful launch, the 2023 version was inaugurated on the 8th July 2023 at the National Archaeological Museum of Perugia, set in the historic central area, known as the “Isola di San Lorenzo” (Island of St. Lawrence) even though no island exists. The word is simply a corruption of the Latin “ Insula” (meaning a block of houses).

The second stage of the Festival took place at a real lake, at the town of Tuoro sul Trasimeno on Lake Trasimeno (25th August 2023), scene of an epic defeat of the Romans by Hannibal's invading troops. The programme continued the following day at San Giustino in the National Archaeological Museum of the Villa di Pliny. The third event, on the 2nd September 2023, was held at the town of Spoleto, seat of the celebrated annual International Arts Festival. October 21-22 will involve the Museum of the Citta di Bettona, listed as “one of the most beautiful borghi in Italy”, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Colfiorito. Back to Perugia on November 11th at the Chapter Museum of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, built over the remains of an Etruscan temple.

The itinerary concludes on the 2nd December 2023 at the Archaeological Museum of the town of Terni

Every phase of the Festival is accompanied by a series of lectures by leading experts in the field, who will reveal the secrets of the spiritual life of the three ancient races and their relationship with the supernatural world and the afterlife.

The lectures areavailable on internet and in podcast versions


Info: Tel. 0039.334.2573601

Posted on 13 Sep 2023 by Editor


Take your pick...for autumn reading

Posted on 02 Sep 2023 by Editor


Italian author Stefania Auci's best seller “The Lions of Sicily” recounting the saga of the Sicilian Florio family, has rekindled interest in Marsala, the fortified wine that the Florio company has produced for the past two centuries.

The Lions of Sicily” will debut in streaming on the Disney + Channel on October 25th with further episodes programmed to run till the end of the year.

Marsala wine was first launched in 1773, when English merchant John Woodhouse had the bright idea of adding spirits to the wine barrels he was exporting to London to stop his cargo from deteriorating during the voyage.

After a long period of boom, during which Marsala was nominated the first Sicilian DOC wine in 1969, public tastes began to change and Marsala lost its initial popularity. It sank so low, in fact, that latterly it was used principally as an ingredient in cooking.

This is now changing, thanks to the commitment of the Florio company, which merged in 2004 with Duca di Salaparuta, an equally prestigious and historic Sicilian wine – to divide marketing and production strategies. Florio has recently developed a new range of high quality fortified wines, cosseted in enormous oak barrels in the cavernous cellars at the historic town of Marsala (Trapani, east Sicily), which are open to visitors for tours and wine tastings.

A curiosity: in 2015, Marsala wine attracted the attention of the Panton Color Institute, which elected its deep purple-red tone as “Color of the Year”and created the new tint “Pantone Marsala” available on decorators' palettes.

Info: Tel. +39.0923.781111

Posted on 29 Aug 2023 by Editor

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