Friday, July 20, 2012

The Fountains of Rome

Rome ranks among the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and not just in Italy. There’s the Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican City, St. Peter's Square, and so many other fantastic things to see here. But there’s one thing in the city that does not get the attention it deserves. These are the fountains in Rome. Yes, the Trevi Fountain is certainly very popular. But we would like to stress here that there are many other fantastic fountains in Rome too apart from the Trevi that ought to get the attention they deserve.

You might be surprised to know that there is one fountain in almost every square in the city. Some of these fountains are stunning, exquisite. Perfect examples of what Roman art and craftsmanship stands for.

Trevi Fountain

This is the most famous fountain, a picture postcard. This Baroque masterpiece was completed in 1762. You will find tourists thronging the fountain and the lanes around it all through the day. Most of them would throw coins into the pool and make a wish. Traditionally, the wish was a return trip to Rome. However these days, people would wish for everything. There’s no cost for seeing this Roman attraction, except your coin.

Bernini Fountains

Gianlorenzo Bernini (1622-1680) was among the most famous artists in Rome. You will find some of his beautiful marble works at the Museo Borghese. Apart from this, Bernini also sculpted many fountains that are today laid out all across the city. However the most famous of them is the one you will find at Piazza Navona. It is the Four Rivers Fountain. There is also the Fontana della Barcaccia, which is located below the Spanish Steps, and Piazza Barberini’s Fontana del Tritone.

Fontana delle Naiadi

Many people believe that Fountain of the Nymphs or the Fontana delle Naiadi is the finest fountain in the city. There’s a central pool on this large fountain. The Water God, Glaucus, is perched on top of this. There are four nymphs or naiads surrounding Glaucus. This signifies the four water types – lakes, oceans, rivers and underground water.

Fontana delle Tartarughe

You should certainly visit the Fontana delle Tartarughe or the Turtle Fontain, though it is slightly out of the way. It has been designed by Giacomo della Porta. Here you will find four male figures located on dolphins. They are helping small turtles to get into a small pool. This is a nice fountain at Piazza Mattei.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eating Pizza in Naples

Foodies of the world love their pizza. Almost all of them. If you are touring Italy, then you must eat the pizza here. After all, Italy is the birth place of pizza or pizzeria. Sure enough, you can have your pizza almost anywhere in the country. But there’s one place in Italy where it comes special. Go south of Rome, to Naples, because, they say that the pizzeria was first thought of, cooked, gulped down, and raved here, before word began to spread.

But here’s a word of caution for you. If you are thinking of trying pizza in Naples, then you should know that it is way different than what they serve you at the American eateries that you find in your city. Italian pizzeria is essentially simple and basic – the way it was meant to be. The menu choices are limited. You are going to love it though, if you are looking for an authentic experience. Go for it. Try authentic pizza in Naples, Italy, the city where it was discovered. You will carry the memory.

What You Should Order

The purest pizzeria in Naples is the Marinara. It is simple and straight. The only toppings are olive oil, oregano, garlic and tomatoes. You could also try Margherita, which is a classic. It comes with fresh green basil, white mozzarella cheese and red tomatoes. Siciliana contains eggplant and mozzarella. Diavola comes with spicy salami. Or you can go for Salsiccia e Friarielli. There is broccolilike vegetable and sausage here.

Pizzeria Standardizations in Naples

The Neapolitan Pizza Chefs Association has standardized the methods and ingredients that can be used. It is known as DOC or “Denominazione D’origine Controllata”. Some also refer to it as STG or “SpecialitĂ  Tradizionale Garantita”. According to this, only San Marzano tomatoes that are grown locally can be used. There should be a cheese bubbling around the edges. Only Fior Di Latte cheese or Buffalo-milk Mozzarella can be used. The right durum wheat must be used for making the dough.

Where Can You Find the Best Pizzeria in Naples?

Here are some of the best places where you can have your pizzeria.

  • Da Michele on Via Sersale
  • Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente on Via Tribunali
  • Brandi on Salita S.Anna di Palazzo
  • Di Matteo on Via dei Tribunali
  • Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro on Via P. Colletta
  • Sorbillo on via Tribunali
  • Da Ettore on Via S. Lucia
  • Lombardi on via Foria
  • Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba
  • La Notizia on Via Caravaggio

Just remember one thing. If you are a big time pizza lover, then you should always try Naples in September. Because that’s when, every year, there is the annual Pizza festival. It is really a wonderful time of the year to visit this part of the world. The summer crowd is almost gone. The weather is still great. And do try the south coast from Naples. Visit Ravello, Positano, Capri and Pompeii. See stunning ceramic at Vietri. Head out to Paestum – you can see Greek temples that are 3000 years old here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa in Italian) or just the Tower of Pisa is a free-standing bell tower or Campanile of the cathedral in the Italian city of Pisa. Located behind the cathedral, it is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square or Piazza del Doumo.

Intended to stand vertically, like any other structure, the tower unfortunately started leaning to the southeast immediately after the construction was completed. Investigations revealed that poor foundation work and loose soil were chiefly responsible for this architectural fault. However this fault is precisely what has made this structure so famous and a tourist attraction.

Since the tower leans at an angle of 3.97Âș, its height varies in terms of the lean. In other words, the height of the tower is 183.27 ft from the ground on the lowest side, while it measures 186.02 ft on the highest side. The tower weighs approximately 14,500 metric tons or 16,000 short tons. And there are 294 steps to the top.

Even though Pisa is synonymous with its Leaning Tower, but to be honest about it, it is just one of the many beautiful monuments in Campa dei Miracoli, which is the city main square. As a matter of fact, Pisa has many historical sites - there are many other wonderful examples of architectural splendor, known as “Pisan Romanesque” and marked by their black and white marble fascia.

Since most of Pisa has managed to retain its medieval past, evidencing history that is as colorful as it is interesting, it has transformed Pisa into a city of marvels. It is worthwhile taking a tour of the famous and interesting sites of Pisa. And if you are visiting Florence to see this amazing city, you must always come to Pisa, which is just a short while away from Florence.

The regular Pisa Tour starts from the Cathedral square or Piazza dei Miracoli which is dominated by the world famous Leaning Bell Tower and ending at Piazza dei Cavalieri, the ancient market place and the San Matteo National Museum that has preserved many medieval and renaissance work of art.

The tour covers many buildings that were built between 11th and 14th century AD following an eclectic architectural style known as ‘Pisano’ having strong influences from Arabian, Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic form of art. The tour also includes the religious centre in the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Monumental cemetery and the Leaning Tower.

Grand Canal, Venice

The Grand Canal (Canal Grande In Italian) is the principal canal in Venice, forming one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city. While public transport includes water buses and private water-taxis, tourists usually ply the canal in richly decorated gondolas. The Grand Canal at one end leads into the lagoon close to the Santa Lucia Railway Station, and the other end leads into the Saint Mark Basin. In between the two ends, the canal makes a lengthy S-shape through the central districts of Venice. The canal is approximately 3,800 m long, varying between 30 and 90 m in width and has an average depth of 5m.

The banks of the Grand Canal are lined with numerous buildings, palaces, strongholds and turrets, showcasing the wealth and affluence of the owners that were responsible for creating the Republic of Venice. Among some of the notables are Palazzi Barbaro, Palazzo Dario, Palazzo Barbarigo, Ca’ Rezzonico, Ca’ d’Oro and Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, that houses Peggy Guggenheim Collections. The churches along the Grand Canal consist of the Basilica of Santa Maria Della Salute and a few more. Regattas are performed along the canal every year to perpetuate historical events of significance and tradition.

Since most of the city’s water-traffic floats through the canal instead of across it, there were no bridges across the canal until the 19th century except the Rialto Bridge. However, two more bridges namely, the Ponte degli Scalzi and the Ponte dell’ Accademia has been built now. A fourth bridge, Ponte della Costituzione, designed by Santiago Calatrava has recently been commissioned to connect the train station to the vehicle-open area of Piazzale Roma. Nevertheless, local people still prefer taking the ferry ride across the Grand Canal by standing up on the deck of a gondola called the Traghetto.

Visitors to Venice enjoy gondola rides on the Grand Canal as this seems to be the best way of discovering the natural, architectural and scenic beauty of this romantic city. A trip to Venice is a must in a lifetime, and a gondola ride is a must when you are in Venice.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Capri Island

‘Capri is a sun kissed island’, remarked the American actress and pop singer Lindsay Lohan on her first visit to the Italian island of Capri. And she is no exception – any other 18 year old sweet something or even her mother would have said the same thing. However, the charms of Capri may prove different when compared to the usual ‘sun and sea’ vacation spots offered by Honeymoon tour operators. Peace and tranquility rules supreme in Capri where all modes of vehicular traffic remain fully suspended.

Even though this serene island resort has been receiving visitors for little more than two thousand years (Caesar Augustus was the first royalty to discover the charms of Capri when he visited the island in 29 BC), Capri remains youthful even today. And because of the restriction imposed on mechanized traffic on the island, it has become a hiker’s paradise. Tourists accustomed to automobiles find exhilaration running through their veins, ambling through Capri’s undisturbed pathways.

What To See In Capri

Stride uphill to reach the Villa Jovis at the top of Mount Tiberius, the headquarters of the Roman Emperor by the same name who seemingly enjoyed punishing criminals in the most bizarre ways. The ill-fated victim was flung to the sea from an overhanging cliff and thus ending his life in the cruelest fashion. Today of course, this is mere tittle-tattle and all that remains of the villa of death are stony ruins silently lamenting the spiteful past.

To experience the most exhilarating entertainment that Capri is famous for, involves entering into a cavern half submerged within the sea and is known as the Blue Grotto. This entails lying flat on your back to clear the low entrance to the cave. But once inside, an ethereal blue light engulfs the whole of the cave which is caused by a thin sliver of sunlight filtering through the narrow entrance, first reflected and then refracted through the limestone cliffs hanging outside. It is indeed a lifetime experience not to be missed under any circumstances.

However, Capri also offers elegant dining and shopping for the visitor. The Piazza Umberto I, locally known as the Piazetta is where most of the sidewalk cafes are located. And like 24-hour coffee shops, these are open all through the day and night. Make yourself comfortable at any of these snack bars and order local dishes that are quite tasteful and health.

Wine Tasting in Italy

Italy’s Tuscany and Veneto regions, famed for their ruby red wines that are endowed with immaculate color and superb aroma. Apart from its widespread reputation in the fashion world, Italy is also famed for its exotic vineyards and world-class wines that are born out of a classical combination of Sangiovese vine and customary cannaiolo, malvasia, trebbiano vines. So it is no wonder that thousands of wine lovers from all over the world flock to these regions for wine testing every year.

Now, there are two ways of doing it – either you plan it on your own or come through specially organized wine Tasting Package Tours offered by many Italian tour operators. Some of these are quite flexible, providing you the opportunity of customizing the tour to your pocket and taste. Nevertheless, whatever way you may choose, you are going to explore the enchanting vineyards and wineries of Tuscany including Chianti, Classico, Montalbano, Colli Fiorentini and Rufina. And don’t forget to visit some of the well-liked Chianti vineyards to taste their delectable product that is well appreciated all over the world as one of the finest Red Wines.

But your wine tasting in Italy is not over yet. Tell your tour operator to take you to the famed vineyards and wineries of Euganean Hills, Valpolicella and especially to Conegliano which is well-known for its Prosecco di Coneglino wines. And of course you must also visit the wine producing regions in Italy that include the Collio region known for its dazzling Whit Wine, Suavignon; Friuli Region, Valpolicella, Montalcino and Montepulciano – inimitable wines ever produced in Italy or elsewhere.

While we are on the subject, it may be relevant to tell you not to concentrate only on the wines; spread you eyes and look at the compelling sceneries all around you. Some of the Italian vineyards are as picturesque as postcard graphics that fills the heart with sublime views of the nature, so rare to come across in our day to day city life. Cheerio, and best of luck for a happy wine tasting holiday in fairyland Italy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Luxury Villas in Italy

Italy is known for many exotic items that include cars like Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari, Maserati, Ghia, Lombardi and many more. Yet at the same time, Italy is also known for its world-class luxury villas ensconced among breathtaking settings. You will find them in scenic Tuscany, Venice, Sicily and Sardinia in this spectacular country. Most of these luxury villas are built amidst picturesque surroundings far from the madding crowd. Indeed they offer you the most perfect retreat to savor a relaxing holiday.

These luxury villas provide elite-class customized service along with traditional Italian hospitality not to be found even in 5-star hotels all over the world. In some cases where an Italian nobleman’s personal villa is rented out to special guest, the arrangements are nothing less than royal regal.

Most luxury Italian villas are equipped with central air conditioning, Satellite TV, IDD telephones, high speed internet connectivity while their bathrooms are fitted with princely amenities that include Jacuzzi, sauna and automatic massagers. Some villas have in-house chauffer-driven automobiles for exclusive use of the guests.

There are some who believe that Italy has the largest number of such luxury villas in Europe. In fact, almost every region of the country boasts of elite-class villas. While the luxury villas in Tuscany are well-known for their picturesque landscape and world-class hospitality, those in Florence, Cortona, Siena, Venice and a lot more other places provide unmatched personalized comfort to guests throughout the year.

You can stay in stunning lake-side villas, sea-facing villas or countryside villas, all equally comfortable and guest-friendly. Explore your villa holiday tour to select the right one that suits you best. If you like walking or cycling, go for a serene countryside solitary villa that has its own sidewalk. If on the contrary, you prefer excitement and stimulation; your choice should be aimed at townhouse villas. In fact, there is a villa in Italy for persons of all qualities and taste – it is the selection issue that makes all the difference.

So, next time you are visiting Italy, get in touch with Luxury Villa Booking agents and book your luxury villa wherever you want in picture postcard Italy.