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Secret Bicycle Paths

Immerse yourself in nature, enjoy amazing landscapes and pass through historical places. You would cross small rivers, secret canyons, beautiful lakes, as well as, tiny secret ancient villages.Sights hardly known, yet precious for the eyes, though the access is available only for those willing to pedal.Italy offers you often easy path, accessible for beginners too, but still a great alternative to a common vacation. From North to South, discover here below the most charming paths.

Costiera Amalfitana path

It starts from Sorrento seafront, passes through Naples Gulf till the other side of the peninsula of Sorrento.The intense colors of the bay will catch you, and you can see all the small fishermen houses of Praiano and the beautiful white houses of Amalfi.

Assisi-Spoleto path

This is a calm and easy trail, it starts from the periphery of Spoleto (San Nicolo’), but offers the possibility to visit one of the most important spiritual point of Italy: Assisi. This path is considered easy and often away and protected from the car route. This is ca. 45 km long.

Martesana (Milan) path
It starts right form the heart of Milan downtown and reaches till the ‘Adda’ river. The Naviglio della Martesana was also known as ‘Naviglio Piccolo’. It is part of the system of canals of the Milan area. It is approximately 38 kilometers long.

Garda path

It starts from Peschiera del Garda and it continues along the Po river for a total of 262 km, passing through Veneto and Emilian Romagna region. It allows to stop in beautiful towns like Ferrara and end up in the gorgeous town of Mantua (Mantova).

‘Ciclovia dei fiori’ (Sanremo) path

It follows an old railway path, not used anymore. You enjoy a spectacular view with very few effort: only 25 km long. They are planning to extend it up to 60 km very soon.

Valtellina (Lake Como) path

This cycling route is in the Lombardy area. A beautiful path that runs alongside the ‘Adda’ river, it starts from the small town of Tirano and ends in Como lake. It is currently 80 km long.

Francigena (Rome) path

It is still used today from many pilgrims, who decide to arrive in Rome on two wheels instead of walking.It is quite a challenge if you decide to take it all, almost 1800 km. You could theoretically go through the entire Tuscany till Rome with it.

Merse Valley (Siena) path

A perfect circle around the hills close to Siena, arrives up to the Elsa valley, passing through the beautiful Maremma and Tuscan countryside. It is almost 40 km long.

Sculpture park (Syracuse) path

Short (only 6km) but lovable bike path, it runs close to an old railway road that used to link the city of Syracuse to Catania. The landscape is protected by the UNESCO organization. The Mediterranean waters in the background will make it even more enjoyable.

Pusteria Valley (Dolomites) path

It can be more challenging because of the mountains all around you, but this path, in the Alto Adige region, deserve a try. Since it is more than 105 km long, you might decide to take more than one stop, and sleep in one of the gorgeous small villages you will encounter during your pedal adventure.

How to re-acquire Italian Citizenship

 Even if you don’t own it anymore, Italian law allows you, in specific cases, to gain back your citizenship, read below to find out more about it.

RE-ACQUISITION OF ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP 

According to Italian Law, the acquisition of a foreign citizenship by an Italian citizen after August 15, 1992 does not incur the loss of his/her Italian citizenship.  On the other side, individuals born in Italy who became U.S. (or any other country) citizens by naturalization before August 16th, 1992, automatically lost their Italian Citizenship but they may reacquire it by establishing legal residency in Italy. 

LEARN IF YOU QUALIFY: 

Give us a call to see if you qualify. Take advantage of our 15 minutes free consultation or write us an email citizenship@italianinstitute.com.  We will contact you to tell you if you qualify or if we need more information. Please leave your email address and/or a phone number where we can reach you. (The Questionnaire serves only as a pre-qualifying tool. The results are intended only to reflect potential eligibility for Italian citizenship, but don't guarantee eligibility).  

Find out more about your Italian last name

The diffusion of Italian last name is mostly regional. This means that, if you have got an Italian last name, you could guess from which region your ancestor was from. Italian last names are more than 350.000, some of them are orthographical variants of the same word. If you are curious, you could visit the website http://www.mappadeicognomi.it and find out the regional diffusion of your last name. The use of a last name, after the first name, is relatively new. In 1563, the Catholic Church decided that was mandatory for a newborn to own both a first and a second name, and they all had to be registered in an official document, kept by the local parish. This change happened because the entire European population was growing in numbers. Before 1563, last names were mostly used by noble men and passed through father to son as remark of distinction.

Here below the top 10 of the most common Italian last name inside Italy territory:

1.    Rossi    82 882
2.    Russo    56 105
3.    Ferrari    48 050
4.    Esposito    38 397
5.    Bianchi    34 685
6.    Colombo    30 396
7.    Romano    30 371
8.    Ricci    26 912
9.    Gallo    23 793
10.  Greco    23 723

Most of the Italian last name are toponyms, they come from names of villages, towns, or regions, where the person was originally born. Another origin for last name was the name of the father. Therefore, many Italian last names start with “Di” or “De” and then a first name. For example, “Di Paolo” or “Di Giovanni”. This has the meaning of “the son of Paolo” or “the son of Giovanni”. Sometimes even a nickname could become a last name. For example, in the list above “Russo” or “Rossi” came from the fact that one of the ancestors probably had red hair and this was considered a peculiar feature. Eventually, a nickname became a last name.


The 10 Most Beautiful Lighthouses in Italy
The beauty of lighthouses along the Italian coasts, are incomparable. Due to their undisputed majesty, it is definitely worth giving them a visit.
Imposing and luminous, thanks to their role in history, they are always built in places difficult to reach and, over time, they have had to endure the forces of nature between storms and earthquakes.
For a fascinating trip, we suggest 10 of the most beautiful lighthouses that stand out for their history and their particular position.
 
1. Faro della Vittoria - Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia
This lighthouse is a real work of art. Along the panoramic
Strada del Friuli, you can admire this more than 67-meter-tall lighthouse, built immediately after the first post-war period with the dual purpose of illuminating the Gulf of Trieste and celebrating the passage of the city to Kingdom of Italy.
2. Lighthouse of Genoa - Liguria
Also called "Lanterna di Genova", this lighthouse is the symbol of the city and dates back to the fourteenth century. It is among the oldest lighthouses in Italy. It stands on the small hill, the Promontory of S. Benigno, and had the task of pointing the way to navigators and protecting the city from unwanted arrivals. Legend says that the designer was tossed right from its top to prevent him from recreating a similar work elsewhere, unique for its beauty.

3. Faro di Camogli - Genoa, Liguria
This is a lighthouse of modest size, just 11 meters tall, but no less fascinating. Not much is known of this structure except that it could date back to the twentieth century and was repeatedly destroyed by the force of the sea and then rebuilt.

4.Lighthouse of Capel Rosso - Isola del Giglio (Grosseto), Tuscany
Located south of the Isola del Giglio, it is immersed in the uncontaminated Mediterranean vegetation and stands out towards the sky with its white and red stripes. Its appearance in the Sorrentino film "La Grande Bellezza" made it famous and a destination for tourists.

5.Fanale di Livorno - Livorno, Tuscany
The Republic of Pisa erected this lighthouse in medieval times but it was destroyed during the Second World War and then later rebuilt.  Even Francesco Petrarca, enchanted by his beauty, quoted this lighthouse in his "Syriac Itinerary."  This Livorno lighthouse has a light range of 36 miles and, especially at night, with the light reflected on the sea, creates a very romantic effect.

6.Faro di Ponza or Faro della Guardia - Ponza Island (Latina), Lazio
This lighthouse, built in the second half of the nineteenth century, was activated in 1886 and it is considered the third strongest in Italy for power of light.  It has been leased for 19 years to the company New Fari of Cagliari, which will build a hotel with four suites and a restaurant with a small multi-purpose theater. This structure, located on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the sea, will therefore become a destination for tourists who want to enjoy the tranquility and the picturesque landscape.

7.Faro di di Punta Carena - Capri Island (Naples), Campania
The Lighthouse of Punta Carena was built in 1866. It stands out on the south western end of the island of Capri, on the Limmo peninsula. It is considered among the most important lighthouses of the Tyrrhenian Sea and its luminous exposure places it in second place in Italy, after that of Genoa. Optimal location to enjoy a romantic sunset.

8.Faro di Capo d'Otranto or Punta Palascìa - Otranto, Puglia
The lighthouse of Capo d'Otranto, called "Palascìa" is located just outside Otranto along the coast road that leads from the city to  Santa Cesarea. At this point the peninsula reaches its extreme eastern point. The structure consists of two floors inhabited by the families of the two lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse is today a destination for many tourists who, on the night of San Silvestro, go there to admire what is considered the first dawn of the new year in Italy. Recently refurbished, it is one of the five Mediterranean lighthouses protected by the European Commission.

9.Lanterna del Montorsoli - Messina, Sicily
Its construction was commissioned by the Tuscan sculptor Fra Giovannangelo Montorsoli in 1547 with  two requirements: to provide the port entrance with a guide for seafarers and to create a Strait control post to replace the existing medieval tower by of Hispanic rulers. The Lanterna di Montorsoli is very old, dating back to the XVI century AD It is located on the peninsula of San Ranieri.

10.Lighthouse of San Vito Lo Capo - Trapani, Sicily

This is the most important lighthouse in Sicily. Built between 1800 and 1850 by the Bourbon sovereigns, it has a 43-meter-tall tower and its lights extend over 20 nautical miles. The presence of this lighthouse, over the centuries, has avoided dozens of shipwrecks on the pointed rocks against which Roman, Phoenician, Arab and Norman ships have been shattered.

 
 
How to acquire Dual Citizenship
 
Although getting a second passport is not always easy, there are four main ways to go about obtaining an Italian citizenship:
 
1) Jure sanguinis (blood right). To get started, it's a good idea to explore the ancestry option first, as it is oftentimes the quickest and most cost-effective option.
 
Important note: If you are applying through your maternal lineage, the current law granting Italian citizenship states that women can hold but not pass citizenship to children born before January 1, 1948, the date Italy became a Republic. For the Consulates and the Comuni (City Halls), this is still true, but the Italian Supreme Court stated that this is highly discriminatory, so while the Consulate would not recognize your Italian Citizenship, the Court in Rome would. If you are within these criteria and want to get your Italian Citizenship, we can help you. You won't need to appear in front of the Court or go to Italy because of your case, we would take care of everything.
 
2) By Marriage. If your spouse is Italian, you qualify to apply for Italian Citizenship by Marriage. It is a little more complex procedure, but still affordable and with high success rate.

3) If you are not part  of those two categories, you need to consider the residency (time) option.

4) If you have lost your Italian citizenship as a result of becoming a citizen of another country (before August 16th 1992) you may now regain it in two different modalities:

  1. By signing a declaration of regain and having settled or settling, within a year from the declaration, your residency in Italy;
  2. After one year of residency in Italy, unless they renounced.

Italian words that don't mean what you think

Confetti. This word has nothing to do with the Italian almonds covered with sugar. The confetti for the Anglo-Saxon are the Italian “coriandoli”. They really don’t taste the same!

Gonzo. In English, Gonzo defines a kind of “first person” journalism, where the journalist is part of the story. Gonzo in Italian is synonymous with fool and gullible.

Bimbo. While in English this word doesn’t really have a nice meaning, In Italian the words to translate Bimbo are baby, child and kid.  A big difference.

Pepperoni. If you've been to a restaurant in Italy , you already know: Pepperoni are not the variety of spicy salami, mostly used to season the pizza, but peppers (peperoni).

Al fresco for many English speakers, al fresco is an Italian expression that means outdoors. It’ not exactly like that. Al fresco has various meanings, among which:

  • Fresh air ( Andiamo un po’ al fresco = let’s get some fresh air)
  • Slammer (Starà al fresco per un pezzo = He ‘ll be in the slammer for quite some time)
  • Keep refrigerated  (Conservare il formaggio al fresco = Keep the cheese refrigerated)

Costume is a particular style of clothing: The theatrical costume, the national costume, the cosplay or costume play. The same meaning that in part has in Italian, but in the Bel Paese, it manly indicates bathing suite.

Camera. In Italian camera is what you ask in a hotel, it’s a bedroom. You can still take great pictures with a macchina fotografica though!

Latte. At the bar in Milan or Rome, be careful when you ask for the "latte". You will very likely get a glass of plain milk. Latte means milk in Italian.

 


The 15 most beautiful beaches of Italy

This is a (personal) ranking of the 15 top Italian beaches to see and seas in which to dive at least once in life. The gold and silver medal go to Sicily and Sardinia, thanks to their fine sand, crystal waters and vivid colors.

1. Spiaggia dei Conigli, Lampedusa, Agrigento. This multi award-winning beach on the Pelagie archipelago, in Sicily conquers the first place among the most beautiful beaches in Italy. It is a nature reserve located on a tiny Islet called as the beach. The sand is fine and the waters are crystal clear.

2.Cala Rossa, Favignana, Trapani. This beach owes its name (“red bay: ) to the blood shed by the fighters during the Punic Wars. The Bay of Cala Rossa is a must for the beauty of the tuff caves and its turquoise water.

La Pelosa beach

3.La Pelosa beach, Stintino, Sassari. Thanks to its white sand and crystal clear water, this beach is famous for being the most beautiful beach of Sardinia.

4.Beach of Tropea, Tropea, Vibo Valentia. The turquoise sea, the light sand and the sun make Tropea a destination loved by travelers who all the years flocked the to enjoy a bit of fun in an amazing scenario.

Baia del Silenzio

5. Baia del Silenzio Sestri Levante, Genoa. In English “ Bay of Silence”. This beach is nestled in the Ligurian hamlet with the typical “pastel-colored” houses and fishermen's boats. Lord Byron loved its fine sand and extraordinary clear waters.

6.Cala Goloritze, Sardinia. It is considered by many as a real paradise on earth. Its wild and uncontaminated beauty make this beach one of the pearls of the whole Mediterranean.

7.Costa Paradiso, Sardinia. You have to walk for about 15 minutes, but it is really worth to see the magnificent red cliffs, the crystal clear sea and the Caribbean colors.

8.Riserva dello Zingaro, Sicily. An incredible place to enjoy nature and take a bath in truly wild areas. You reach the coves only with a walk along the reserve that extends over 1700 hectares. Or by sea, of course.

9.Scala dei Turchi, Sicily. This beach is well known for the peculiarity of its very intense white the cliff.

Scala dei Turchi

The limestone mountain is directly overlooking the sea and it seems made of ice.

10.San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily. This is on the largest beach of Sicily. This is the ideal location for families and for those for those , who are not looking for great adventures . The small town that frame the beach is delightful as well.

11.Cala Mariolu, Sardinia. Situated in the middle of the Gulf of Orisi, this wonderful beach is made of white and pink pebbles .The Sardinians call it "Ispùligi de nie" (snowflakes).

12.Monterosso Al Mare, Liguria. Thank to its deep blue waters and the beauty of the colors that surround it, this beach seems to be a painting. This is certainly the busiest beach of the Cinque Terre.

13.La Spiaggia di Sansone, Portoferraio, Elba Island. You need some effort (that’s maybe why it is called “The beach of Samson”?) to go along the winding path that goes down to the sea from the provincial road . However, the white cliffs that plunge into the crystal-clear sea are worth it.

14.Marina Grande Beach, Positano, Amalfi Coast, Campania. This is the main beach of Positano and one of the most coveted beaches by famous people for its society life and, of course for the colorful houses, the beach and the extreme blue sea.

15.Numana, Rivera del Conero, Marche-in. Do not miss a visit to the Spiaggiola: a pristine cove with a cliff overlooking the crystal clear.

Italian  Citizenship

Nowadays, it is possible for (almost) anyone to get dual citizenship and a second passport. This means, to be able to enjoy lifelong benefits of having more options for living, working, investing, traveling, and doing business. These benefits will be available to entire generations to come.

With a dual citizenship, you have more options. You have more freedom.

Having a second passport is something that we can call the ultimate insurance policy. It ensures that, no matter what, you always have a place to go. To live. To work. To do business. To retire. And in some cases, even seek refuge.

Italian dual citizenship means you enjoy citizenship advantages of both countries: Italy and the U.S. You may qualify for pension in both countries, not to mention cheaper healthcare and access to cheaper higher education throughout the entire European Union. As an Italian dual citizen, you would be legally entitled to every single benefit that is made available to the citizens of Italy, including the right to vote in elections as well as to leverage tax shelters and benefits, and seek healthcare not available in the U.S. at affordable costs. Additionally, you have the right you to travel, stay and work unrestricted in the E.U. You will never have to worry about a visa ever again and can live in Italy (and within the EU) for as long as you want.

Italian Language

Italian is the 21st language in the world for number of speaker. The mother tongue people are about 63 million, according to the estimates of the site Ethnologue. However, despite being less widespread than Urdu and Tamil, it is considered one of the most important language. Millions of people speak it as a second language (migrants, children and grandchildren of Italians living abroad, etc.) and it has a big impact on trade and global industry. 
How difficult is it to learn Italian for a foreigner?

In Italian- says the BBC- you read as you write and the written word is similar to how it sounds. The pronunciation is clear, with each vowel spelled out clearly and the intonation “sings”, which makes the sounds easier to identify. Nouns can be masculine or feminine and, as a result, adjectives have to agree with them. There are six endings for each verbal time. Although some aspects of the language may seem difficult at first, you just need to understand some simple and basic rules to be able to communicate in a variety of situations.


WOMAN'S DAY IN ITALY

March 8: A day dedicated to women. Officially created in the United States in 1909, Woman’s Day was adopted in 1922 from Italy and other European countries with the aim of celebrating women and, at the same time, highlighting the conditions in which they are often still forced to live in many countries of world.  In Italy, Woman’s Day associates the feast of the woman with the symbol of a yellow and fragrant flower that blossoms during this time of year signaling the arrival of spring: The Mimosa.  On March 8th the Italian State and civic museums will be free to all women due to the occasion of the Woman's Day.

Each museum will then organize events and exhibitions for the occasion, the list of initiatives can be found on the website of the Ministry of Goods Cultural: Www.beniculturali.it/8marzo.

Here some suggestions:

Women's Day in Rome

Many events are scheduled in the capital. Among the free museums, we recommend: The Library of Modern and Contemporary History, with the exhibition "Feminism in Rome in the 1970s.” Also, The National Museum Prehistoric and Ethnographic ' Luigi Pigorini ', where the exhibition "Preistorie di donne" is set up, with guided tour.

Women’s Day in Milan

In Milan, there are many free museums and events. The celebration of International Women's Day will begin at 10am at Palazzo Marino, seat of the municipality, with the exposition of a totem with a historical image of the photojournalist Federico Patellani in remembrance of the first vote of Italian women in the referendum Monarchy-Republic of June 2, 1946.

At 11am, at the “Giardino dei Giusti,” six trees will be dedicated to six women.  At 14.30, at the Aula Magna of the Palace of Justice in Milan, the Association of Women Jurists, section oMilan, together with the order of lawyers will present the Conference 'Women and Islam: legal, cultural and religious aspects.’

To finish the day with music, don’t miss the concert of the American saxophonist, Beverley Gough, special guest of the jazz festival in Rosa at the Cantina (Winery) Scafone.

These are just a few suggestions. Dinners, parties and special events are organized in cities all over Italy for this special day.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SMALL CITIES IN ITALY

There are places that are absolutely worth visiting once in your lifetime. You don’t need a lot of time: just a weekend to savor the wonders and charm of the Belpaese.

These are more unusual and perhaps less known destinations, but they really deserve to be viewed.

Small towns, medieval or baroque, perched on mountains, hills, or along the magnificent coasts. This is Italy in its real essence and no tourist nor travelers should miss them.

The list (some) of the most beautiful small cities in Italy.

Ravenna - Also called the City of mosaics. It has fascinated people such as Oscar Wilde, Herman Hesse and Eugenio Montale. The Mausoleum of Galla Placida, the Basilica of San Vitale, the Battistero Neoniano, the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, or the crypt of San Francesco are just some of the must- see beauties. Ravenna also has the privilege of guarding the tomb of Dante, the Supreme Poet.

Pienza - The Val d'Orcia is breathtaking and Pienza is one of its most representative villages. The whole town is an intricate mix of artisan boutiques, unique flavors, and secret churches. To relax after a day of Percorino and wine tasting, there is Bagno Vignoni: a real natural thermal pearl.

Mantova - Birthplace of Virgil and Court of the Gonzagas, a city rich of squares, churches, and towers scattered throughout the center.  It is home to two jewels of our architecture, the majestic Palazzo Ducale with its more than 500 rooms and the refined Palazzo Te with the pictorial cycle of the Chamber of the Giants.  Also, do not forget the delicacies to be tastd in the city, like the famous tortelli di zucca!

Cremona - Another Lombard city worth visiting is Cremona. You must visit monuments such as the Baptistery, the Violin Museum, the Loggia dei Milliti and the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Cremona is remembered above all for being the city of torrone, the sweet to which a party is also dedicated between October and November.

Lecce - Lecce is the city of stylistic excess where maestri of the Baroque as Zimbalo, Cino and Manieri, have shaped its center. Start the tour from Piazza Sant'Oronzo with the Colonna, the Roman Amphitheater and il Sedile. Then, pay a visit the three doors, Porta San Biagio, Porta Napoli and Porta Rudiae, as well as the remains of the ancient walls.  Last but not least, see the Teatro Romano and the Basilica of Santa Croce.

San Gimignano – A Unesco World Heritage Site. Its medieval old-town deserves to be known in all its characteristic vicoli (alleys) starting from Piazza della Cisterna to the Duomo and the Via Francigena.

A must- do:  Climb to the top of the Torre Grossa.  From 54 meters up you will dominate the whole Val d'Elsa.

Noto - You cannot miss the Infiorata di Noto. Every third Sunday in May, for over 35 years, Noto is decorated with a thousand petals. The floral artists come here to pay homage to spring and make this pearl of Sicilian Baroque even more precious. Don’t forget to visit the magnificent Palazzo Nicolaci.

 

Verona - "La porta d'Italia" (the door of Italy) has great wonders such as the world-known Arena or the famous house of Juliet. The Church of San Zeno Maggiore, the Arche Scaligere, Castelvecchio, the bridges over the Adige and the lively Piazza delle Erbe are where you can taste boiled meat accompanied by the sauce pearà.

Siracusa - Archimedes was born here, Plato and Cicero landed there. You cannot miss a visit to the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, enjoy the traditional show of the Pupi and take a swim in the marine protected area of Plemmirio.  Do not go home before a trip to the Island of Ortigia, the heart of the old city.

Cividale - The king of Cividale del Friuli at the Natisone river.  The Ponte del Diavolo (bridge of the devil) towers over this noble river. This fifteenth-century bridge is the symbol of the city and with its stone arches creates a real show. In the fascinating and historic center, you can breathe the medieval air and admire the Tempietto Longobardo!

 

LANGUAGE CURIOSITIES

In Italy we speak so many dialects of Italian that according to the Treccani Encyclopedia it is even difficult to count how many there are. For convenience, scholars divide Italy into three large dialect areas: The La Spezia-Rimini line separates the northern one from the central one, which is divided from the southern area by the Roma-Ancona line.

Then there are the territorial languages, from which the various dialects descend. According to the website, Ethnologue, the most widespread dialect is the Neapolitan with 5.7 million speakers. Then we have the Sicilian (4.7 million of speakers), the Veneto (3.8 million), the Lombard (3.6 million), and the Piedmont (1.6 million

Top 10 skiing places in Italy

From the Alps and Dolomites of northern Italy to Mount Etna on Sicily, Italy offers many opportunities for skiing and winter sports vacations.

Skiing in Italy can be really adventurous, and it is an experience that goes easy on the eye. There are not many places as beautiful as the Alps and the Dolomites, but you will be surprised to discover other hidden gems. Another positive point about choosing Italy for your skiing vacations is the variety of resorts the country has to offer: there is something for all pockets, for families, young and experienced skiers.

Here the Top 10 Skiing Destinations in Italy:

1) Alta Badia , Alto Adige For many Italians, this is the most beautiful Italian ski area. It is located in the heart of Alto Adige (South Tyrol) with wide slopes immersed in the woods. These are generally not too technical paths, even if there are exceptions such as the Gran Risa. In addition to the famous Sellaronda (round saddle), that connects it with the other three valleys around the saddle, other interesting ski tours offer the possibility to change routes every day. Pedraces, La Villa, Corvara and Colfosco are all very well cared for,with a great hotel offer.

2) Le Dolomiti e Cortina D’Ampezzo, Trentino and Veneto. Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Italian Dolomites, bordering Austria, offer spectacular mountain scenery and a number of Italian skiing villages. Because of the height of some of the mountains, it's possible to ski nearly year-round in some places. The Dolomites are good for beginning to advanced skiers and offer other winter sports as well. Ortisei is a great place for cross-country skiing. Cortina d' Ampezzo (or just “Cortina for the aficionados) is considered, the “Queen of the Dolomites.” Situated in the Italian Dolomites in the Veneto Region, it is one of Europe's most exclusive resorts. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, the picturesque village makes one of the most popular ski resorts, well known for being a favorite destination for Italy's rich and famous. The town and its slopes have been the stage of many international sporting events, such as the Winter Olympics in 1956, and it is regularly part of the Skiing World Cup every year. It is also often see of cross country marathons and competitions

3) Cervinia, Valle d’Aosta Cervinia, just like Cortina D'Ampezzo, is a darling of Italy's and Europe's VIPs. Located near the Swiss border and the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt, the village of Cervinia, in Valle D'Aosta, is at the base of the Matterhorn or Monte Cervino. Cervinia is one of the highest skiing resorts of Europe and has a run over 20 km long . Because of heavy snowfall and high elevations, there is skiing nearly all year.

4) Courmayeur in Monte Bianco, Valle d’Aosta Courmayeur, also in Valle D'Aosta, is on the opposite side of Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) from Chamonix, France. Courmayeur is a traditional alpine village in a fantastic location with great scenery and is known as one of the best all-around ski resorts in Italy. The village offers great shopping and good Italian restaurants and lively nightlife. Courmayeur is at a height of 1224 meters and is 153 km from Turin Airport and 214 km from Milan-Malpensa.

5) Sestriere in Piemonte. This famous track was born for the fast disciplines, just think that here are the races of the free downhill World Cup. A sinuous path ideal for experienced skiers who want to try out in breathtaking curves. The Kandahar Banchetta Giovanni Nasi track is the famous route of the Milky Way, one of the largest ski carousels in the world that brings together the districts of Sestriere, San Sicao, Sauze D'oulx and Montgenègre in France, offering 211 tracks for an overall development Of more than 400 km. Before heading to the mountains, you can spend some time in Turin, the city hosted to the Winter Olympics in 2006 along with the Val di Susa, which is only a stone's throw from the city.

6). Madonna di Campiglio, Trentino

If Cortina is called the Queen of the Dolomites, Madonna di Campiglio is certainly their Pearl. Madonna di Campiglio is situated in the Gruppo del Brenta section of the Dolomites. It is part of a large skiing conglomerate, the Skirama, which also includes several others ski resorts such as those of the Passo del Tonale and of the Presena Glacier.

7) Val di Fiemme e Fassa For cross-country sky lovers, the track of the Marcialonga is a unique experience to try at least once in your life. Val di Fiemme and Fassa are the set of this historical cross-country skiing competition (from Moena to Predazzo), which is held every year in late January. Champions from all over the world and nonprofessionals, gather together to cross forests of red spruces and white meadows in a spectacular and unique scenery . A must- do even with snowshoes and snowshoes.

8) Bormio and Livigno in the Valtellina Valley, Lombardy

The "Ski area Valtellina" is made of four large areas – Alta Valtellina, Aprica, Valmalenco and Valchiavenna – and boasts localities of international fame. - Bormio is the ideal place to go if you are a beginner and would like to get a taste of old fashioned Europe, as well as learn how to ski. Bormio is a charming village surrounded by some of the most amazing Alpine peaks. It is the perfect location for a family holiday.

- Livigno is the right spot for the skateboard lovers! The “Mottolino di Livigno” is known as the “Mecca of freestyle”. The ski area is famous for its snow park, for both snowboarders and skier. A 2400 meters high, 700 meters long park, chairlift four seats and four lines of jumps for all capacities. From the S line, designed for the lowest levels, to the XL Line, strictly reserved for high-level riders. With events like the River Jump and the World Rookie Tour, the Mottolino is considered the most exciting ski resort in Europe.

9) Mount Etna, Sicily.

Yes, you can ski on a Volcano. Mount Etna, the Sicily's volcano is the highest point in Sicily at 3350 meters. The Vulcan often gets deep winter snows and offers 1400 meters of vertical skiing. There are two ski areas on Etna, the southern slope is Rifugio Sapienza and the northern ending in the resort of Linguaglossa.

10) Gran sasso, Abruzzo

The Gran Sasso, is the highest point in Italy. It has good skiing offers, including cross-country skiing and other winter sports. The Abruzzo region has 21 ski areas with 368 km of slopes in the highest part of the Apennines. The most developed ski resort is in Roccaraso. This area sometimes has more snow than the Alps!

Regata delle Befane in Venice. Regata means “Regatta”, but what is a befana? In Italian folklore, the Befana is an old woman with a big red nose and slight hunch, dressed in a jacket of colorful patches. She flies on a broom from chimney to chimney bringing candies to the children that were good and black coal (“carbone”) to the children that were naughty. The children will leave out their stockings, hoping to awake on the morning of January 6th to some sweet surprises.

Regata delle befane in Venice

The Regata delle Befane in Venice is an extraordinary regatta in costume that is celebrated on the day of the Epiphany, the 6th january. It is a nice regatta among the old members of the oldest rowing company in Venice, La Bucintoro. 50 men, disguised as "Befane " compete in the central part of the Grand Canal from San Tomà to the Rialto Bridge. The arrival is represented by a giant sock hanging for the occasion at the famous Rialto Bridge.

The race lasts about fifteen minutes and is an event followed by numerous racing enthusiasts and more.

On the Rialto Bridge, the volunteers distribute hot chocolate, mulled wine and candies.

Palermo, Italian capital of culture 2018

The capital of Sicily has been chosen as the Italian capital of Culture. The other f inalists were Alghero, Aquileia, Comacchio, Ercolano, Montebelluna, Recanati, Settimo Torinese, Trento and Erice.The city of Palermo, with more than one million inhabitants, considers this title a further opportunity to transform its complexity and contradictions in regenerative and growing elements.

Palermo is indeed an expression of different worlds and cultures. In its history it has always shown a vocation to consider itself as a place of cultural interfaces. It bears witness of its intercultural variety in its landscape, its language, its monuments, its cuisine and its urban fabric.

Symbol of this condition is the “ Lapide Quadrilingue” (four languages tombstone), in the palace of the Zisa. A funerary stele dated 1149, in Judeo, Latin, Greek and Arabic that integrates the different systems of dating of the world and prove the multiethnicity of the Court of Ruggero I, as well the respect for all religions and all the peoples who lived in Sicily.

Must see Christmas street market in Italy

Christmas street markets are the true protagonists of the Christmas shopping frenzy.
Lights, Christmas carols and trees decorate every corner of the country, from the smallest villages to the largest cities. During this time of the year, Italians love going for walks, shopping and breathing in the magic atmosphere of the season, holding in their hands a warm glass of vin brule (mulled wine).

In addition to stands selling traditionally crafted objects and decorations, you will find little wooden houses selling typical Christmas foods and cakes.

Here you will find some of the most beautiful mercatini from the north to the south.

Due to its proximity to Austria and Germany, the Trentino-Alto Adige region in Northern Italy has a long tradition of Christmas markets. The mercatini in South Tyrol, and especially in towns like Bolzano, Merano, Trento and Levico Terme, are considered the best Christmas markets in Italy. Their reputation comes not only from the quality and variety of stalls, but also because they are hosted in such a beautiful setting.



With the Dolomites as a background, you can hear the typical Christmas melodies of street players, storytellers and the smell the scent of vin brule. In the markets you feel completely wrapped in the atmosphere of the ancient trades of medieval times.

Christmas in Milan starts on December 7th. The capital of Lombardy celebrates its patron saint, Sant'Ambrogio, and begins the fair at Castello Sforzesco of the Obej. Here you will find the most beautiful and well-known Christmas markets in Lombardy.
Both tourists and milanesi pour into the streets to take advantage of the three days of celebration while looking for their first opportunity to buy gifts. You absolutely cannot miss the magic of the Swarovski Christmas tree, a 39-foot Christmas tree in the center of the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

This tree is decorated with over 10,000 Christal ornaments and 36.000 lights!

Among the Christmas markets of Rome, the one not to miss is the Christmas market of the Epifania (January 6th) in Piazza Navona. Many of the local vendors have inherited the little wooden stands from their grandparents or even the great-grandparents. Among the usual Christmas products, the mercatino of Piazza Navona has a unique product: the marionetta! These handmade puppets are often made in real-time in front of a very demanding customer who cannot find what he’s looking for among the ones exposed.

Christmas in Naples is something unique both in Italy and in Europe. Unlike the big cities where traditional street markets are held during the month of December, Christmas is present all year round in Naples. In fact, in the heart of the historical center, in the area between Via San Gregorio Armeno and Spaccanapoli, it is a succession of artisan shops open all year specialized in the presepe (nativity scene crib). The close bond between Naples and the cribs is so exclusive that the term “Neapolitan cribs” (presepe napoletano) represents a world of its own. The origin of the Neapolitan nativity can trace its beginnings to 1025. Year by year the local maestri artigiani create a growing cast of hand-carved wooden figurines to select from. Among the classical nativity characters, they depict the famous ancient and contemporary ones taken from politics and gossip.

 

Traditional Italian Christmas treats

Christmas in Italy also means that it’s time for cakes and sweets! It’s an occasion to enjoy those tasty homemade, artisan and industrial treats which accompany the Christmas Holidays, of which in Italy, there is a wide range in each region.

It is; therefore, worth giving you a guide as exhaustive as possible.

We start from Northern Italy, more precisely from Trentino Alto Adige, where you can choose among a wide variety of a lot of sweets enriched with various ingredients.  For example, there are, Zelten, which look like bread filled with raisins, sultanas and flavors and it’s great eaten together with a cup of cinnamon tea or Buchteln, cooked in the oven and stuffed with jam, then covered with sugar and vanilla.

Travelling through the country, we find sweets of greater regional character such as the Pandoro di Verona (Veneto). The  pandoro is made from a rich and eggy dough, not unlike a French brioche, explaining its name of “golden bread.” The cake is baked in an eight-pointed star-shaped pan that gives it it’s signature form, modeled after the mountains near Verona. Who doesn’t know the panettone, literally “big bread?”   Panettone is a sweet, eggy cake dotted with candied and dried fruit that rises into a dome shape as it bakes. Panettone was first created in Milano, Lombardy.  Nobody is sure exactly how it came to be, but you can find many romantic versions of its creation story. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in Italy without Panettone and Pandoro!

There is also the Crescenzin of Piedmont, a black bread enriched with butter, powder sugar, raisins, nuts and apples, and sometimes figs. In Liguria we can taste the Pandolce Genovese, which has different variations such as that made in Campomorone (known as Panmorone) with chestnut flour. In Emilia Romagna, we have the Certosino, or Panspeziale of Bologna, originally produced by local pharmacists, at that time called "speziali,” and then by the Carthusian friars. There is also the Pampepato, typical of Ferrara.  This is traditionally composed of various foods but predominately of dark chocolate, both in the dough and in the outer frosting.  However hazelnuts, almonds, cinnamon and pepper remain the basic flavors. Tuscany is the homeland of Panforte, with is origin in Siena consisting of candied fruit, honey, sugar and spices. We cannot forget to mention a culinary treasure of this region, the mythical Ricciarelli, soft non-fried biscuits, covered with icing sugar and with their distinctive oval shape.  Continuing towards the Center of Italy, we find in Umbria the Assisi Rocciata apple cake. It is similar to the best-known strudel; in Pescara (Abruzzo), the Parrozzo. It’s so good that it received praise by the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio.   In Lazio, we have the Subiachini, cookies used to adorn the tree.

Campania is the birthplace of Christmas cookies. Here in the Days of Advent, you can taste the Susamielli, in the form of 'S.’ Kneaded with liquid honey and the most well-known Struffoli, these are wonderful fried dough with honey and confetti on top.

 Going to Puglia, there is a great tradition of Christmas cakes. The most famous are the Cartellate which, together with the Boconotti, are originally from Foggia. These are strips of a thin sheet of dough made of flour, oil and white wine. The dough is joined and wrapped on itself to form a sort of "rose" which is then fried in oil. The local recipe calls for the Cartellate to be soaked in the warm wine or honey and then sprinkled with cinnamon, velvet sugar or colored confetti. 

Regarding the islands, in Sardinia, it is common to prepare Pani 'e saba, an ancient sweet called "poor" because it was originally a simple bread mixed with saba (an Italian syrup made from cooking down grapes) enriched with many local products, especially dried fruit.

In Sicily, they usually prepare and enjoy the Buccellato, a circular cake stuffed with a filling of dried figs, raisins, almonds, orange peels or other ingredients that vary according to the areas in which it is prepared. Last but not least, one of the most popular Christmas treats is the Torrone. A white nougat dessert typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds. It has many varieties throughout Italy and usually is shaped into either a rectangular bar or a round cake. Mainly there are two types of Torrone: the hard one and the soft one.

 

Castagne e vino novello

When autumn comes, it’s castagne (chestnuts) season in Italy. You can go for a nice stroll in the colorful woods and pick and roast or boil them at home. If you are more of a city person, just follow the unmistakable scent of the caldarroste (roasted chestnuts). You will see people lined up on the side of the streets and in the city’s main squares around a nice fire where chestnuts are cooked in the typical punched skillet and then wrapped in the typical paper cone.

To enjoy the real taste of Italian autumn, pair your roasted chestnuts with a glass of Vino Novello, “young wine”, a light, fruity, red wine with low alcohol content. This wine is made to be drunk young and is produced throughout Italy. The Novello is officially released for sale at the beginning of November and is the perfect companion to the richness of roasted chestnuts.

In some places in Italy, tradition says the last day to consume Novello is “I Giorni della Merla,” the days of the blackbird, and is said to be the coldest day of the year (29th-31st January).
If you are in Italy in November, take the time to drop in at the “Sagra delle castagne e del vino dolce novello’ taking place the day of Ognissanti (1st November) in the little town of Talla, close to Arezzo, Tuscany.
If you want to be lucky and be treated to one of those unseasonably warm days that can pop up in late into autumn, toast to l’Estate di San Marino (Saint Martin’s Summer) at the local Castagnata (chestnut roasting) for the Festa di San Martino In San Martino in Colle, Umbria.

These are just some of the many sagre all around Italy where you can sample the local marroni.

The most beautiful Borghi in Italy to absolutely visit between October and December.

Italy is rich in beautiful places and full of magic. The big cities are open air museums with plenty of stories to tell, but the beauty of Italy can be seen by walking around and discovering unknown small villages, called borghi, full of history and art. In autumn, these places offer beautiful scenery and are great to visit between the months of October and December.

Borghi in Northern Italy

Apricale, in the Province of Imperia, Liguria. A beautiful medieval village in the hinterland of Bordighera, the name derives from apricus, that means “exposed to the Sun.” What to visit: The medieval Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, at the beginning of the village. It still preserves frescoes from the 15th Century. The Castle at the top of the village which is now a venue for events and cultural activities and the medieval square, below the Castle, which becomes an outdoor theater. The true character of Apricale is the writers, poets and artists who have lived here through periods of fruitful creativity.

Bobbio, a small town of Roman origin located in Val Trebbia, Emilia Romagna. What to visit: The Abbey of Saint Columba, founded in 614. It played a very important role in politics, religion and culture; the Ponte Gobbo, or Devil's bridge, crossing the river Trebbia with 11 arches and dominates the sanctuary of the Madonna del Penice; The Cathedral, with modern decoration of the eighteenth-century; in the chapel of San Giovanni you can admire the fresco representing the Annunciation.

Borghi of Central Italy

San Gimignano, is in the province of Siena, Tuscany. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site for the medieval architecture of its old town.   What to see: The Cathedral, completed in 1148, built on three aisles entirely frescoed; the Church of Saint Augustine that contains many frescoes; planks and sheets of different authors.

Civita di Bagnoregio, located in Lazio. It is called the "dying city" due to erosion of the Hill and it is accessible only on foot across a bridge built in 1965. What to see: The door of St. Mary, the Church of San Donato which can be seen from the main square and the old palaces.

Borghi of Southern Italy

Vico del Gargano is in Puglia, nicknamed the "land of love" is part of the Gargano National Park and is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. What to visit: The Church of Carmine; the castle with a square shape that traces of the Normans; the Palazzo della Bella, inspired by the Florentine architecture of Palazzo Vecchio.

Monterosso Almo, in the province of Ragusa in Sicily. In the Norman time, it was called Lupia for the presence of wolves (lupi). What to visit: The church of St John the Baptist; the City Hall, Palazzo Cocuzza; Palazzo Sardo and the St Anne's Church completing the square. Along the main road, you will arrive at the end of the village with a view overlooking the Valley of the river Amerillo.

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