Postcards from Italy


Most stop-overs are more a question of logistics than context: there happens to be a delightful town or quirky museum along your route between one destination and the next, so you break up the long ride, stretch your legs, and explore awhile.

mosaics-ravenna-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Ravenna is a bit different, in that a pause here is not just a question of travel itineraries. Whether you are coming from or headed to Venice, a stop in Ravenna, famous for its stunning 5th and 6th century Byzantine mosaics, will help you put the sumptuous mosaics in San Marco (created some five to seven centuries later) into the larger context of the evolution of early Christian art. Read More…

Italy's Street Food: Porchetta

Italy is not a street food sort of culture. Here, meals are strictly sit-down affairs, with families gathering around the table twice a day to enjoy long, multiple-course lunches and dinners steeped in local culinary history and culture.

porchetta-umbria-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

In central Italy, however (especially Tuscany and Umbria), the king of all street food is porchetta. Read More…

On the Plate and In the Glass in Piedmont's Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato

Though arguably all destinations in Italy could be considered a Shangri-La for lovers of excellent food and wine, nowhere is this more true than the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato wine country of southern Piedmont, just an hour by car from the bustling metropolis of Turin but worlds away in both pace and scenery.

castello-grinzane-cavour-langhe-italy-cr-brian-dorePhoto by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr

Le Langhe-Roero and Monferrato have recently gotten a bit of press, as they were added to the UNESCO’s register of World Heritage Sites in the first half of 2014. Citing the area’s uniquely beautiful landscapes—including five rolling wine growing districts, the Castle of Cavour, and pretty stone hilltowns of Serralunga, Nieve, Barolo, and Bra—and the long history of local winemaking—which has probably flourished since the time of the Etruscans five centuries before the birth of Christ—the UNESCO nomination only highlighted what lovers of Piedmont have known for years: this corner of Italy offers some of the most memorable meals (and photo-ops) in the entire country. Read More…

So you want to visit a museum in Italy...

Italy is home to an extraordinary amount of art. Roman mosaics and Classical statuary, Romanesque frescoes and Renaissance paintings, Futurist sketches and post-war design: this country is saturated from its public piazzas to its private salons.

Spiral Stairs at the Vatican Museum(Photo by Rene Cunningham via Flickr)

According to most commonly cited estimate, 60% of all the world’s artistic treasures are in Italy (not counting the 50-odd UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which recognize the cultural, archaeological, or scenic value of a certain geographical area). And of those masterpieces, the vast majority are to be found in one of Italy’s many museums. Read More…

Siena Palio

Italy is a land of festivals. Religious festivals, historic festivals, festivals that celebrate food or wine, festivals that last for weeks or are here and gone in a day. Italians love to throw a party, and from the tiniest of village piazzas to the overflowing streets of the most cosmopolitan cities, there is no better place to get a taste of Italian culture than at a festa.

Very few of these local festivals are known beyond the borders of Italy (indeed, many are so local that even folks a few towns over don’t know about them), but there is one exception: the raucous, overwhelming, marginally anarchical but thoroughly heart pumping rave that is Siena’s Palio.

107_0774(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)
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