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Archive for italy

An Invitation to the Palace

By Linda Tancs

A longtime papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo is a scenic, lofty little town overlooking the Alban Hills, roughly 15 miles southeast of Rome, Italy. Because Pope Francis has declined to stay at the pontifical villas there, they are now open to the public. So, too, is the Apostolic Palace, where an audio tour relates 500 years of papal history amidst paintings, relics, liturgical vestments, uniforms and other artifacts, including the sedan chair of Pope Pius IX and the BMW used by Pope John Paul II during his summer stays at Castel Gandolfo. Arrive in style via a special train running on Saturdays only that links the historic Vatican City railway station with the pontifical villas.


Shopping in Salerno

By Linda Tancs

An important trading locale for centuries, the old merchant street in the historic center of Salerno, Italy, is a shopper’s paradise. Bottega Bossa is the go-to place for leather goods and is located just blocks from the port, much to the delight of cruise travelers. Salerno also boasts lots of specialty stores that sell wine, sweets, cheese, decorated Italian paper and stationery near Salerno Cathedral. Perhaps long forgotten, the city is also the site of the (now defunct) world’s first medical school, Schola Medica Salernitana.

Bows and Arrows in Montalcino

By Linda Tancs

Sagra del Tordo (Festival of the Thrush) is a highly anticipated event in Tuscany for tourists and locals alike. Held every year on the last weekend of October, the celebration takes place in the medieval city of Montalcino, south of Siena. Largely intact since the Middle Ages, its fortress is the backdrop for the annual fiesta, highlighted by a procession of over 100 men and women wearing medieval garb. The march leads to the archery field and is followed by a longbow tournament. Enjoy the weekend spectacle with a feast at the ramparts fit for a king, including some of that world renowned Brunello wine.

Europe’s Oldest Ghetto

By Linda Tancs

Five hundred years ago today the rulers of Italy’s Venetian Republic created a ghetto for Jews in the city. Europe’s oldest ghetto, its occupants were subject to harsh laws governing their freedom to leave the community and to practice a profession. Emancipation followed over two centuries later when Napoleon conquered Venice. Still relatively intact, the area has five synagogues and a museum.

A Thousand Miles

By Linda Tancs

Affectionately referred to as the most beautiful race in the world, Italy’s Mille Miglia (thousand miles) is a race limited to classic and vintage cars.  In fact, participation is limited to those cars produced no later than 1957, which had attended (or were registered) to the original races from 1927 to 1957.  Like the original races, the route is a round-trip jaunt between Brescia and Rome.  This year’s event starts today in Brescia and ends on 17 May.

Trieste’s Point of View

By Linda Tancs

The House of Habsburg (later part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) found a pleasant respite on the peak of the rocky promontory of Grignano in the Gulf of Trieste on Italy’s northeast coast.  On that spot in 1856 Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian commissioned an ornate palace befitting his rank.  The result was Miramare Castle, an exotic blend of Gothic, medieval and Renaissance styles that remains remarkably intact.  Only a half hour by bus from the central train station in Trieste, you can admire the jaw-dropping décor and furnishings of the predominately oceanview rooms at your own pace.

Rare Access in Florence

By Linda Tancs

Florence, Italy is often referred to as the cradle of the Renaissance, a cultural jewel of 15th century art and architecture.  A mecca for museum lovers, that rich history is housed in over 70 museums across this city bisected by the Arno River.   You can beat the madding crowds by heading to a less-visited site like the Vasari Corridor.  Open only via special access through a tour or travel agency, this secret passageway through an unmarked door at the Uffizi Gallery connects the gallery to the Pitti Palace.  It was built in 1564 by Giorgio Vasari at the behest of Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, who desired a safe path between his home at the Pitti Palace and the Palazzo degli Uffizi where he worked.  The scenic covered walkway traces the Arno with panoramic views at Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), then dips into the interior of the church of Santa Felicita, ending at the famous Grotto of Buontalenti inside the Boboli Gardens.



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