Month: May 2015


Unconventional stay: 14 unusual hotels in Italy

Have you ever slept into an igloo or at the top of a lighthouse surrounded by mountains or sea? And what about spending a night inside a mill or on the top of a tree? Such places do actually exist in Italy. Hard to believe? From Trulli in Puglia to a new age monastery in Umbria passing by an ancient and rich in history castles, here are 14 unusual yet unique hotels for a unconventional and unforgettable Italian holiday.


Be in top of the world in a 900 year-old tower

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 1

Located in the heart of Bologna Torre Prendiparte is a 900 year-old tower which during the day it opens as a museum to public offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, while at night it turns into private hotel for two. Just for you to know: unfortunately there is no elevator and you must climb twelve floors before going to sleep!



Find yourself in a lighthouse surrounded by nature

Photo credit: Roberto Patti

Built in 1856 by the Italian Navy, Capo Spartivento Lighthouse rises on the homonymous promontory: a wonderful wild and unpolluted area in Sardinia only surrounded by white sandy beaches. Here you can experience a unique and highly luxurious lighthouse experience amidst nature and amazing sea views.



Be king of the 1000 year old castle 

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 3

Looking for a timeless experience and being immersed into a medieval atmosphere? Petroia Castle in Umbria is where you can enjoy a back-in-time stay, thanks to its rooms entirely decorated with antique furniture and wonderful frescoes ceiling.



A stone retreat

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 4

Located in the heart of Puglia just a few steps from the charming city of Lecce, Corte dei Granai is an hotel made of stone where each rooms has stone-made furniture which naturally harmonize with the surrounding landscape.



Sweet dreams in a fairy tale cave

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 5

Immersed in the unique city of Matera, The Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, is set in ancient caves and its rooms are cut directly into the typical bare tufa rock. They also have a traditional Italian restaurant set on the grounds of an ancient church.



A smoking hot stay in a (former) tobacco factory

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 6

Once a tobacco factory, today La Tabaccaia is a hôtel de charme located in the heart of Tuscany. The former factory which once dried tobacco for Tuscan cigars has been completely restored paying attention to maintain the traditional materials, colors and style typical of the Tuscany.



Childhood’s dream: sleeping on a tree

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 7

Have you ever slept on a tree? If not, why don’t you try to spend a night in one of Irma Hotel’s tree house suites at Merano, in Trentino Alto Adige? The suites are located on 5 to 10 meters height and are surrounded by pine trees, the perfect place to relax and be immersed in nature. This is not the only tree you can sleep on: there is also La Piantata ‘s tree house in Lazio, an absolutely unmissable experience.



Sleeping in an ancient mill

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 8

Locanda Rosa Rosae is an ancient mill dating back to 1570 where you’ll be welcomed in relaxing and familiar atmosphere. The restoration has maintained its original personality and all the materials used are recycled. The interiors are very austere and minimal making guests feel in a peaceful and timeless place.



A night under the stars

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 9

Located in the province of Brescia, Lombardy, L’Albereta boasts a roofless room, called cabriolet suite where you can sleep in your bed with only the blue sky and the stars looking at you.



A night in a typical Apulian trullo

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 10

If you want to taste the experience of sleeping in a real trullo, the typical ancient house of Alberobello in Puglia go to Masseria Fumarola. Here you can sleep into a typical trullo made in tuff, enjoying a timeless and ancient atmosphere.



Sorround yourself with Tiepolo’s frescoes

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 11

At Aman Canal Grande Venice you can sleep in the same room where none other than George Clooney and Amal spent their wedding night: a wonderful suite boasting frescos by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.


Sleeping like a hermit

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 12

Looking for a place to escape the city’s chaos and relax like a hermit? Traveling to Umbria you’ll find Eremito a quiet and timeless former monastery, place where you can sleep in one of its Celluzze, cells used by monks for meditation and prayer. Here you can also enjoy Yoga and meditation courses, icon painting lessons and Gregorian chant work-shops.


Play artist amongst the Tuscan hills

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 13

Villa Lena is a beautiful neo-renaissance style villa in the heart of Tuscany which dates back to the late 1800’s. Conceived as both an artist residency and a hotel it hosts artists in residency as well as the offices of an art foundation. Here you can enjoy their workshops, lectures and cultural events suggested by the artists in residence.



Sleep like inuit does

14 weird and unusual hotels to stay in Italy 14

Have you ever slept into an igloo? If you are not too sensitive to the cold, spend a night at Rifugio bellavista on the top of a glacier just in the heart of Alto Adige region. Here you can sleep in a real igloo, enjoying the unique experience of living like Inuit do.



Source: Swide, by: Claudia Baroncelli


5 beautiful Italian small towns turned into movie sets

<strong>Ischia Campania - </strong><b style="line-height: 1.5;">The Talented Mr. Ripley </b>

Ischia was the set of  Anthony Minghella’s 1999 The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Matt DemonJude LawCate Blanchette and Philip Seymour. 

<strong>Ischia Campania - </strong><b style="line-height: 1.5;">The Talented Mr. Ripley </b>

Ischia Campania – The Talented Mr. Ripley 

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<p class="p1"><b>Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo - </b> <b>Ladyhawke, Der Name der Rose  and The American</b></p>

Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo –  Ladyhawke, Der Name der Rose  and The American

More than one movie has been filmed in wonderful Rocca Calascio such as Richard Donner’s 1985 Ladyhawke starring Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer, but also

Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1986 Der Name der Rose starring Sean Connery and Anton Corbijn’s 2010 The American with George Clooney.

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<p class="p1"><b>Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo - </b> <b>Ladyhawke</b></p>

 Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo –  Ladyhawke

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<p class="p1"><b>Fort Bard, Aosta</b> - <b style="line-height: 1.5;">Avengers: Age of Ultron</b></p>

Ancient fort Bard in Aosta is the location chosen to hide Loki’s scepter in Joss Whedon’s movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson. Some scenes were also shot in Vittorio Veneto’s town at Piazza Cavalieri.

<b>Fort Bard, Aosta</b> - <b style="line-height: 1.5;">Avengers: Age of Ultron</b>

Fort Bard, Aosta – Avengers: Age of Ultron

<b>Lenno, Lombardy - </b><b style="line-height: 1.5;">Casino Royal</b><strong>e<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> and </span>Star</strong><b style="line-height: 1.5;"> Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones</b>

Lenno, Lombardy – Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Lenno’s Villa Balbianello was the location chosen as movie set of some popular films: Martin Campbell’s 2006 Casino Royale and George Lucas’ 2002 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

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<p class="p1"><b>Lenno, Lombardy - </b><strong>Star</strong><b style="line-height: 1.5;"> Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones</b></p>

Lenno, Lombardy – Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

 <b>Lenno, Lombardy - </b><b style="line-height: 1.5;">Casino Royal</b><strong>e</strong>

Lenno, Lombardy – Casino Royale

Source: Swide, by: Claudia Baroncelli


Culture: discover Dante’s wine

Irrefutable proof of the ancient origins of some wines and especially the unequivocal sense of belonging between certain vines and Italian soil is sometimes found in books, but not necessarily in treatises on oenology. This is the case with Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a Tuscan white wine which owes part of its name to the town famous for its towers, located a short distance from Siena.

In a wine region like Tuscany, which is recognised and celebrated for the elegant character and long-lived intensity of its red wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano seems like a happy white island in an ocean of red grapes. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is one of Italy’s oldest indigenous wines, and even in the Middle Ages its production was of great importance, although it had to wait until the second half of the twentieth century to rise again and regain its glory and success. While some sources claim that its name derives from the Latin word“Vernaculum”, which means “home”, as if to indicate the typicality of this vine and its link to the land where it was grown, history suggests that in all probability the name Vernaccia derives from Vernazza, the beautiful village in Cinque Terre where the grape seems to have originated around 1200.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano: Dante’s wine in the Divine Comedy

What is certain is that at the dawn of the fourteenth century Vernaccia began the ascent that would consecrate it to fame far beyond the city walls of San Gimignano. This celebrity is testified by illustrious Italian and foreign poets and storytellers, including Cecco Angiolieri, Dante, Boccaccio, Franco Sacchetti, the Frenchmen Eustache Deschamps and Jean Froissart and the Englishmen John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer. However, the most famous quote involving Vernaccia is that of the “supreme poet” Dante Alighieri, who in his Divine Comedy placed Pope Martin IV, born Simon de Brion, in the sixth terrace of Purgatory among the souls of the gluttonous, along with the poet Bonagiunta Orbicciani in verses 19-23 with these triplets:

Sì disse prima; e poi: “Qui non si vieta
di nominar ciascun, da ch’è sì munta
nostra sembianza via per la dïeta. 18

Questi”, e mostrò col dito, “è Bonagiunta,
Bonagiunta da Lucca; e quella faccia
di là da lui più che l’altre trapunta 21

ebbe la Santa Chiesa in le sue braccia:
dal Torso fu, e purga per digiuno
l’anguille di Bolsena e la vernaccia”.
(Purgatorio, Canto XXIV).


So said he first, and then: “Tis not forbidden
To name each other here, so milked away
Is our resemblance by our dieting. 18

This, pointing with his finger, is Buonagiunta,
Buonagiunta, of Lucca; and that face
Beyond him there, more peaked than the others, 21

Has held the holy Church within his arms;
From Tours was he, and purges by his fasting
Bolsena’s eels and the Vernaccia wine.”
(Purgatory, Canto XXIV).

Vernaccia di San Gimignano: Dante’s wine in the Divine Comedy

What is interesting is Dante’s choice of when to talk about wine: he does not mention it in Hell, the realm of eternal damnation, nor in Heaven, where the inhabitants are immersed in divine grace, but only in Purgatory, where the characters are sketched in their deepest humanity as sinners waiting for salvation. Pope Martin IV was not the only pope to have a weakness for Vernaccia di San Gimignano, however. His successor, Pope Paul III, the famous Alessandro Farnese of the Council of Trent, elected pope in 1534, was a great consumer of this wine. In his treatise “On the Nature of Wines and the Travels of Paul III,” his personal bottler Sante Lanceriomentions a letter ordering 80 bottles from the Municipality of San Gimignano, complaining of excessive rarity of this wine, saying “it is a perfect drink for lords and it is great pity that this place does not make enough.”

Vernaccia di San Gimignano: Dante’s wine in the Divine Comedy

Before him, Lorenzo the Magnificent was also a known admirer of this wine, so much so that he used this wine to pay homage to the popes of the fifteenth century and wrote to the Florentine ambassador in Rome, referring to the Pope “…for the transport of twenty flasks of Vernaccia sent to as a gift to Lorenzo de Medici, Il Magnifico. If the sample of Vernaccia that I sent you pleased our Lord, I will send the rest by post or a carrier.” In fact the following centuries saw the decline of this wine because of the arrival of new varieties such as Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are easier to grow and more productive in terms of yield. It was only following the two world wars of the twentieth century that the old vine was recovered after having been left to grow in random rows, and 2016 will mark 50 years since 1966, when Vernaccia di San Gimignano was the first Italian wine to obtain the Controlled Designation of Origin status, before being listed as DOCG (Controlled Designation of Origin Guaranteed) in 1993.

A key role in the preservation and revival of this precious treasure of Italian wine has been played by theConsortium of the San Gimignano Designation, which has been responsible for encouraging the improvement of the wine’s quality and supporting the producers in promotional activities since 1972. Certainly, Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a wine worth discovering that has found a new way by rewriting its tradition within its more recent history. This is thanks especially to the careful work of the small-medium producers, who have found the consortium to be a way to bring together a critical mass to promote itself abroad. Overseas, the wine is greatly appreciated for its deep profile, which is rich in freshness, with a strong and balanced savoury taste with a fine note of bitter almonds. It also has an impressive longevity, especially in the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva.

For those who have not yet had an opportunity to taste this wine, among the many interesting productions we recommend those of three companies in particular, who in their way represent three styles of interpreting the territory of San Gimignano. One young company that has been able to define its identity by cultivating vineyards with great care and creating wines of absolute excellence is Colombaio di Santa Chiara, whose “Campo della Pieve” label is pinnacle of balance between typicality and elegance. A fresh and delicately pleasant wine with slightly tropical notes of lychee, sage and white peach, with a harmonic power on the palate that surprises with its mineral precision and supple fullness. (€12)

Vernaccia di San Gimignano best labels - Colombaio di Santa Chiara "Campo della Pieve"


Azienda Cesani is a historic family company from these parts, and in the 1950s it decided that its destiny lay in the revival of the terroir of San Gimignano and the promotion of Vernaccia. Today Letizia Cesani leads the family business with a fully female energy, and produces a Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva named after an anagram of the company: “Sanice,” a wine with strong floral notes and a strong and mature profile with the distinctive notes of almond and a pleasant savoury quality. (€10)

Vernaccia di San Gimignano best labels - Azienda Cesani Sanice


A company with a timeless style, the name Montenidol is essentially linked to Elisabetta Fagiuoli and the more traditional interpretation of Vernaccia di San Gimignano. It reveals all its beauty in the label “Fiore”, however, a great classic that pays homage to the past in its slightly rustic notes evocative of a field of flowers. It has suggestive nuances of saffron, which anticipates a rich and intense sip, capable of elegant persistence on balsamic notes. (€14)

Vernaccia di San Gimignano best labels - Montenidol Fiore


Italian Weddings Part 3: Best Places to get married in Italy

Check out some of thefavorite locations for an idea of the best places to get married in Italy. Take pictures in front of the famous arena and have your reception in a traditional trattoria or out in the hills of the city. On the other coast, the seaport town of Portovenere lights up at night, sharing the reflection of the moonlight.

With beautiful flower, honeymoon by hopping among the five cities of Cinque Terre, located just north of Portovenere. In the mea alternative to Tuscany including the prices!

San Gimignano has that small town feel tucked in the Tuscan hills, while Perugia, the capital of Umbria, offers plenty of options and ease for your big day, while still ensuring peace and an escape from the bustle of a big city. Imagine taking your photos on a vespa in front of the Coliseum or beneath the magnificent Duomo of Florence.

For those searching for a truly unique location, head farther south to Apulia (Puglia in Italian) to the town of Alberobello. Famous for its trulli, ancient cone-shaped pheasant houses, Alberobello is now a UNESCO World Heritage site to protect the history of the buildings. Also, you can get married under the mountains among the cobblestone streets and past includes influence from the ancient Greeks, Turks, Romans and Arabs, but the Sicilian culture reigns strong today.

Another foodie paradise is Naples, best-known as the home of the famous pizza, napolitana, Naples has plenty to offer food-lovers.

Source: Walks of Italy


Must see Exhibitions in Italy – May 2015

It’s all go here in Milan with the impending opening of the highly publicized and anticipated Expo 2015, not to mention the amazing looking Prada Foundation that opens up in May. Along with the new foundation, here are the best exhibitions that are happening this May 2015.



Prada Foundation Opening
+ Serial Classic exhibition
Prada Foundation Milan
May 9 – Aug 25

Best art Exhibitions in Italy May 2015 in Milan, Venice and Rome

Over the last 20 years or so, the Prada Foundation has been putting on pop-up exhibitions in all manner of places, including warehouses, disintegrating outdoor spaces and even disused churches. Now, the Foundation intends to become a more permanent art complex, housing the collection that’s slowly accumulated over the years as well as continuing to present innovative artists. Set to open May 9, the old distillery has been transformed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his studio OMA into a huge 120,000 square feet center. Make sure you keep an eye out for its eccentric golden building that peers over the internal courtyard. With such space, there will be film, live performance, lectures, creative spaces as well as must-see exhibitions.

Speaking of which, the Prada Foundation will open with ‘Serial Classic’, focused on classical sculpture and the relationship between originality and imitation, featuring more than 70 works both originals and copies.



Italia Inside Out
Palazzo della Ragione
March 21 – June 21

Best art Exhibitions in Italy May 2015 in Milan, Venice and Rome

Yes, I am very late with this one but it’s too good not to mention. Housed in the Palazzo della Ragione is chance to experience the beauties of Italy as seen through the lens of the top Italian photographers. Comprising of an incredible 250 images, Italy Inside out traces the history of the nation through the eyes of artists from the last century. As well as contemporary photographers work on display, a collection of images taken the nation’s greats will fill gaps in the decades at the turn of the 20th century. With cities and towns as diverse as the landscape, the scope of this exhibition is a feat rarely seen and should not go ignored. It’s also part of the Expo Milan 2015, celebrating the country and all that it has on offer.



David LaChapelle. Dopo il diluvio
Palazzo delle Esposizione Rome
April 30 – Sept 13

Best art Exhibitions in Italy May 2015 in Milan, Venice and Rome

More than 15-years since his last work at the Palazzo delle Esposizione, the great American photographer and artist David LaChapelle is back with a show that is larger than life. With over 150 works on display, the focus is on the work produced from 2006 onwards, after LaChapelle shook things up and moved to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after which he produced the monumental series ‘The Deluge’, highlighting a turning point in his artists approach to his work. In order to assist audience comparison, a body of work ranging from 1995 to 2995 will be on show, including portraits of celebrities, references to famous works of art, religious scenes, movies and much more. This is going to be one hell of a show.



La Biennale Arte
Giardini – Arsenale Venice
May 9 – Nov 22

Best art Exhibitions in Italy May 2015 in Milan, Venice and Rome

The 56th edition of the world famous International Art Exhibition comes with the title ‘All the World’s Futures’, conjuring quite a concoction of fraught imagery of exasperated ideas and dystopian conditions. But alas, that’s just negativity talking. Curated by Okwui Enwezor, the 89 participants include Grenada, Mauritius, Mongolia, Republic of Mozambique and Republic of Seychelles, all of whom will be displaying for the first time. A statement puts this years title into perspective, “The world before us today exhibits deep divisions and wounds, pronounced inequalities and uncertainties as to the future. Despite the great progress made in knowledge and technology, we are currently negotiating an ‘age of anxiety”. And once more, the Biennale observes the relationship between art and the development of the human, social, and political world, as external forces and phenomena loom large over it. Our aim is to investigate how the tensions of the outside world act on the sensitivities and the vital and expressive energies of artists, on their desires and their inner song. One of the reasons the Biennale invited Okwui Enwezor as curator – Baratta states – was for his special sensitivity in this regard.’ It all sounds rather brilliant.



Palazzo Fortuny Venice
May 9 – Nov 22

Best art Exhibitions in Italy May 2015 in Milan, Venice and Rome

Recalling the ‘divine proportion’ as named by Luca Pacioli and illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci, and the irrational number 1.6180, the ‘golden number’, represented by Φ of the Greek Alphabet symbolizes the universe’s harmony. This harmony is something that the exhibition Proportio and thanks to an international academic committee formed of scientists, philosophers, musicians, architects, historians and art historians, coordinated+ by Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti, the number of divine proportion comes alive.

It has offered a fascinating challenge that has drawn in great artists from the international contemporary scene, invited to reflect upon and produce specific works on the theme of proportion. Their works, in dialogue with important masterpieces of other times, will go to form a visual and perceptive symphony capable of involving the visitor in a broad reflection about universal harmony and beauty.

Source: Swide


Contradictions and beauty: Italy as seen by 14 Italian Photographers

Take a journey through the Italian landscape, with its contradictions and picturesque views thanks to how 10 great Italian photographers have shot its eternal beauty. 

Also known as Bel Paese, Italy has never stopped surprising its guests with the beauty of its landscapes, the warmth of its people, its characteristic colors and smells.

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<p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1">Riverboom, Florence vs the world, 2013 - </span></strong><b style="line-height: 1.5;">The beauty of Italy shot by 10 Italian photographers </b></p>

The exhibition Italy inside out held at Palazzo della Ragione in Milan shows 600 photographic works of great Italian and International photographers who have captured Italy’s landscape in different times, each according to their personal point of view and experiences, trying to portray the essence of Bel Paese and its people’s soul. 

Each of these photos gives us an original and sometimes unexpected prospective of Italy’s personality, by interpreting the beauty of its landscapes, the development of cities, the stereotypes and contradictions of recent history but also the way of life of its inhabitants.

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<p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1">Letizia Battaglia, Palermo, quartiere La Cala. La bambina col pallone, 1980 - </span>The beauty of Italy shot by 10 Italian photographers </strong></p>

As one of the largest photo exhibitions ever dedicated to Italy, Italy Inside Out takes place in two different moments: INSIDE will run till the 21st of June 2015 presenting the shots of Italian photographers while OUT will feature international photographers’ works including those by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Herbert List but alsoRobert Capa and David Seymour, and it will run from the 1st of July to the 27th of September 2015. Here are 14 of the most representative and impressive photos by great Italian artists including Gabriele Basilico, Letizia Battaglia, Nino Migliori and Silvia Caporesi, coming directly from the first part of the Milanese Exhibition,Inside. To find out more exhibitions in Italy to see in May, CLICK HERE.

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<p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1">Claudio Sabatino, Pompei, 2010 - </span></strong><b style="line-height: 1.5;">The beauty of Italy shot by 10 Italian photographers </b></p>

Source: Swide


Father’s Day in Italy

Father’s Day in Italy is one of the most important days in the spring in that country. It is a day of religious celebration to commemorate San Guiseppe. Father’s Day in Italy, otherwise known as ‘Festa di San Giuseppe’, the ‘Feast of Saint Joseph’.

Saint Joseph, the third member of the Holy Family, is often over looked, possibly because of absence in the adult life and mission of his wife Mary’s son Jesus Christ. The Bible describes his presence in the life of Jesus as a child but he becomes a peripheral figure in his later life. The last time Saint Joseph appears in the New Testament is at the feast of the Passover in the temple when Jesus is 12 years old, and after that he disappears, he is neither present at the Wedding in Canna or the Passion at the end.

Saint Joseph’s obscure presence in the Bible hasn’t stopped Italian Catholics from offering their devotion to the carpenter, the wife of Mary, the adoptive father of Jesus, who gave his name to the child of the God. Across Italy the traditions associated with this saint vary, most likely to replace devotional practices to some pre-existing pagan god.

Italian traditions for the Feast of Saint Joseph, catholic Father’s Day

In Sicily and Salento the practice is to set the ‘Tavole di San Giuseppe’, or the ‘Table of Saint Joseph’. On the evening of the 18th of March, it is usual to set a table with pasta, vegetables, fresh fish, eggs, pastries, fruit and wine and to invite the poor into your home to eat. Homeless people are made welcome at the table, while three poor children are there to represent the Holy Family.

Italian traditions for the Feast of Saint Joseph, catholic Father’s Day sfinci sicilia

The food is consumed with devotional prayer while thirteen young girls representing the ‘thirteen virgins’, adorned with flowers in their hair recite poems in honour of Saint Joseph. Almost certainly a Catholicisation of a Roman feast, possibly of Jupiter himself. Sometimes whole quarters of villages are set up with wooden tables or alters and laid with food that is collected by donation from every household in the area, culminating in a grand feast for all in the neighbourhood. Traditionally the food associated with the festival are fried pancakes or donuts., known as ‘fritelle’ in Rome and Florence, ‘Zeppole‘, in Naples and Puglia, and ‘sfincie’ in Palermo. The recipe we have come to accept as the original, features in an 1837 Neapolitan cooking book by Ippolito Cavalcanti. They are typically circular in shape and are made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter, olive oil, custard, caster sugar and usually topped with black cherry. They can be fried or baked, and are a delicious, if slightly indulgent way to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph, Father’s Day.

Italian traditions for the Feast of Saint Joseph, catholic Father’s Day zeppole

In the north of Italy fires are often lit in celebration, as a rite of the inauguration of Spring and in the Valley of the Trebbia river, between Emilia-Romagna and Liguria the Bonfires of Saint Joseph still exist extensively. An effigy representing winter is burned at the astronomical equinox at these bonfires, it is a remnant of the ancient pagan Celtic ritual that brought to the area by Irish-Celtic monks in the time of the Longobards, the sixth century BC. Indeed at Bobbio, the seat of the Irish Saint Columbanus and the order of monks that brought a new era of Christianity and learning to northern Italy, as well as Switzerland, France and Germany, in the 7th century, the tradition of burning bonfires, which the monks established as a way of merging Celtic and Christian traditions, so common place that on the evening of the 19th of March it is said that the whole countryside is blushed with a rosy hew in the night air, as each hilltop wears a crown of flame.

The practice can be found too in Itri, in the province of Latina, in Lazio, where up to two months before the feast, young boys are accompanied by adults into the woods to retrieve young oak saplings (a tree sacred to the Celts) that are dried and used as kindling for the bonfire. Until a decade ago the bonfires could be seen strewn around the province of Foggia in Puglia, until they were amalgamated into one large bonfire at the turn of the millennium. In the town of Serracapriola in Foggia, locasl collect branches from olive trees which they then use to in performing a daring competition of ‘jumping the bonfire’. The audience are served fritelle and wine while they watch the spectacle.

Italian traditions for the Feast of Saint Joseph, catholic Father’s Day

The ‘Fuocarone’ or ‘Great Fire of St. Joseph is also very ancient tradition in Villa Basilica (LU) in the tiny village of Guzzano. Weeks before the festival the men of the village venture into the forest in search of a pine tree with the right characteristics. The trunk is denuded of branches and then ‘planted’ in the town square, where it is used as a stake to build a towering bonfire as much as 5 metres high. While no specific food or drink is particular to the festival, it is a great chance for the community to socialise with the evenings that little bit longer coming into spring.

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Italian Wedding part 2: Italian wedding traditions

Having an Italian wedding is a fairy tale come true!

So adding some Italian wedding traditions to complement the destination is the perfect way to bring you and your guests completely into the Italian culture. Try some or all of these great wedding traditions.

For instance, in Venice the bride walks to the church in her second best gown, to prevent her bridal one from any damage, saving it for the ceremony, Tuscany brides traditionally wear a black gown with a white hat or veil. To avoid the marring couple from seeing each other before they married, either to preserve the bride’s purity or to ensure that an arrange marriage was followed through, the bride’s face is covered with a long white veil to represent purity.

Unlike in American weddings, there are only one or two bridesmaids and groomsmen, the witnesses are not anticipated to dress alike. For the grooms it was a tradition, in some parts of Italy, to carry a small piece of iron in his pocket to cast away evil spirits and bad luck, like the bride changing her mind.

It’s tradition for the bridal party to delay the arriving to the reception, using that time to refresh and relax before being presented as newlyweds. The Tarantella is a traditional wedding dance in the south, continues to be an important part of the celebration and all along Italy it’s a very common situation for the guests to sing traditional wedding love songs to the new couple.

Similar to other countries, the new bride might carry a small bag or borsa for le buste or envelopes packed with money from the guests.

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Italian Weddings Part 1: Getting married in Italy

You will need all the requirements mentioned before to get an Apostille Stamp, given by the Secretary of State of the stare you are from. Often, hiring a wedding planner is the best option to handle all the ceremony details overseas, including the paperwork.

Tiding the knot in Italy is the dream scenario for some brides, but planning the ceremony abroad comes with a lot of different problems. One of them is that, you might not be able to have a Catholic wedding, even if is a very Catholic country.

The amount of priests who will officiate the ceremony is small and the couple will have to complete a full course of marriage classes or pre- Cana trailing, before they could move on with the wedding. And it’s probable that the couple will have to have a civil ceremony before a religious one could be held.

The dichiarazione giurata or Nulla Osta, is a certificate which swears that there are no legal impediments to the marriage under the Italian law or any other country around the globe. For US citizens the Nulla Osta fee is 50 USD, but each embassy has a different cost.

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5 ways Pope Francis changed the Vatican and how you can visit

Pope Francis has already shook up the Vatican and brought the sweeping change to the Catholic Church in only two years of office. He is the first Jesuit, non-European, South American Pope in over 1.000 years!

The new pope was chosen in 2013 conclave. Yes to the poor and in honor of St. Francis of Assisi Pope Francis chose his name, as a constant reminder to never forget the poor and a sign of his obligation and concern for the wellbeing of the most needed. On the night of his election he made his way back to the hotel on the bus with the other cardinals, rather than in the papal car and he decided against living in the Apostolic Palace, living instead in a Vatican guest house.

The Pope addressed to “The Big Bang Theory” saying that “does not contradict the creative intervention of God…On the contrary, it requires it.” For him, science answers “how” and religion focuses on the “why.” Said yes to inclusiveness, regardless of a severely divided conference of Catholic Bishops called upon by Pope Francis, the Catholic Church eventually did open its doors a bit more to homosexuals.

Even though gay marriage is still unalterably ruled out, the meeting signified a more open approach to homosexual families, stating that gays be “welcomed with respect and delicacy.” A detached message from the bishops delivered to Christian families that said: “Christ wanted his church to be a house with the door always open to welcome everyone, without excluding anyone.”

To access the Vatican, you’ll have to go through security at the Petriano Entrance, on the other side of St. Peter’s Basilica’s left colonnade to enter – for details check the official Papal Audience website.  You have another opportunity to see the Pope on Sundays at noon when he is in Rome.