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Wines of Lazio: Regillo Frascati Superiore

I’ve been on a Frascati kick lately.  The spring is here, finally, it is heating up, and I am working hard in my garden, so I like to enjoy a crisp Frascati at dinner most nights. Now is the perfect time to show guests on a wine tour in Rome what our region has to offer!   Tenuta di Pietra Porzia makes one of my favorite go-to table wines.  .   It has an interesting name that evokes the pre-Roman history of the area.  The image on the label depicts the Dioscuri, the twins sons of Zeus.  The name refers not only to the ancient history, but to the terroir of the area.   One of my favorite things to discuss during a wine tour is the culture and history of each wine region, and so, to find a vineyard with such a depth of history is, well, just fabulous!

The Castelli Romani is most well known as an agriculturally rich area due to the now extinct volcanoes that gave the area its mineral rich soils.  The Regillo Frascati certainly does not disappoint those who want to taste the minerality in their wines.

Before the hills of Rome were finally assimilated by the Romans, a group of people known as the Latins held on for as long as possible to their lands and way of life.  But it was not to be.  Anyone familiar with ancient history knows that one can never escapes ones fate.  Rome had the hand of the gods on their side.

 

According to their website:

 

496 a.C, in a large amphitheatre with the lake Regillo in the middle, an hard battle took place between Romans and Latinos; in the crucial moment, descended from the sky the Dioscuri, the two twins born by Jupiter, and led the Romans to triumph!

The battle theater is today the Tenuta di Pietra Porzia, a small river that runs in the centre of the estate reminds of the ancient lake, the cave with her long passages, excavated in Roman Empire Age, testifies an agricultural tradition and on 1714 the estate was divided between the proprieties of Pope Clemente XI and the one belonging to Prince Borghese.
The date 1892, engraved in the bricks, reminds the birth of the modern cellar, that replaces the ancient cellar excavated in the tuff in the Roman Empire time.

Let’s hope this wine lives up to its magnificent past!
Regillo Frascati is made up of two aromatic white grapes, Malvasia di Candia and Malvasia del Lazio and also contains the grapes Trebbiano, Bombino and Greco. The color is a rich hay yellow.   It has lovely fruity and floral aromas at first which then lead us to more complexity with mineral and herbal notes.  The fruits are typical and rich.  I was at once reminded of apricots, citrus, and pears.   Spring orange flowers, nuts, and maple with notes of fresh cut grass.
The wine is perfect for an late afternoon glass of wine, pre-dinner drink, or with a light vegetable rich dinner.  I love this with Pasta Fagioli and grilled veggies.  It is light and refreshingly crisp.  In a nutshell, a crisp, dry, medium bodied, aromatic and fragrant wine.
Enjoy after a long day of gardening or on a wine tour in Rome with Presto Tours!
CIN CIN!
Sarah May Grunwald, Sommelier
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Cultural Week 2011: April 9th-17th

Settimana Della Cultura 2011Coming up pretty quickly is the 13th annual Cultural Week, recognized not just in Italy but around the world.  This year it will be from April 9th until April 17th.

What is Cultural Week?  Simply put it is a celebration of art and culture, with events and free admissions into lots of archaeological sites and museums for these 9 days.  It’s a way to encourage people to explore things maybe they haven’t before, and also a way to give back to travelers and locals alike who are actively participating in the important world of culture, heritage, and tourism.  And each year has been a grand success, so far.

If you will be in Italy during Culture Week you will find that there is free admission into a lot of sites (including the Colosseum/Roman Forum in Rome and the Academia and Uffizi Galleries in Florence).  You will also run into a lot of events and lectures that should all be free throughout Italy for the occasion.  You can take a look here on the “Ministero per I Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali” website for a full listing of all the events and sites/museums that will be participating.  The site is in Italian, so you might also take a look here at the Comune di Roma Museums site which also has a lot of information regarding cultural events/exhbitions and sites which should be part of this special Cultural Week!  All state-run sites and museums should be free for these 9 days (which make a note does NOT include the Vatican Museums, as they are not a participating country in Culture Week and not funded or run by the Italian Cultural Ministry).

Will thing be more crowded in light of the free admissions?  Yes, it’s possible, but also there might not be much of a difference at all from how the crowds would be normally this time of year.  Most people do not plan their travels around this particular week…rather it tends to be a happy coincidence!  You might avoid booking tickets online for sites that will be free during this time period, as booking tickets online almost always means pre-paying, and not all booking sites are taking into consideration that admissions are free these particular days.  Rather call ahead, for example to the Uffizi, and reserve over the phone.  You’ll have to pay the reservation fees when you arrive, but not any admission costs.  I’d recommend this for any site that you know normally can have quite a line-up, such as the Uffizi and Academia in Florence, or the Borghese Gallery in Rome which has limited spots for visitors even normally.

How will this effect your Presto tour? If you’ll be joining us for a tour during this time period, the only effect it will have will be that you might get to enter all sites on the tour for free (assuming they are part of this special occasion of course).  There will be no change in your itineraries and there won’t be any change in line-skipping at sites like the Academia and Uffizi.  Vatican tours are completely normal, as they don’t grant free admissions.

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La Notte Tricolore: Italy Turns 150 Years Old!

La Notte TricoloreMarch 16-17th will be a colorful night throughout Italy, as it’s La Notte Tricolore (the three-colored night) in celebration of Italy’s 150 year birthday as a unified country!  The 3 colors in mind then are of course those of the Italian flag: Green, White, and Red.  Monuments and public buildings all around will be decorated then accordingly, and Italy is inviting everyone else to follow suit as well and decorate their homes, windows, shops, etc.  The streets will be filled with performance artists and parades, and there’s also to be musicals, and special lectures.  All of the events around this Notte Tricolore are completely free.

You might actually be surprised to hear that it is just the 150 year birthday of Italy as a nation.  Maybe due to the rich and ancient history of this boot-shaped peninsula, we might assume it’s much “older” than it actually is!  Before this official “Risorgimento”, unification, Italy had a long history of being divided up into completely separated territories, with the main players just preceding the unification being  Pre and Post-Napoleonic France, the Austrian Empire, the Holy See, and the Kingdoms of  Sardia, Tuscany, Naples, and Sicily among others.  The process was not overnight, but took many years, starting around 1815 and ending in 1871.  Some of the more prominent revolutionary figures were Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibladi.  Some more conservative players were the Count Cavour and Victor Emmanuel II (who actually ended up becoming the first King of Italy once it was united).  Nowadays you will see plenty of monuments and streets around Italy with these famous names, and now you know why!  Anyways, it was a very complicated and difficult process, you can read all about it as well as see some maps of the process throughtout history on the Italian Unification Wikipedia page.

The streets which will be hosting the festivities in Rome will be the Piazza del Cinquecento (the bus area infront of Termini), Via XX Settembre, from Via del Quirinale to Piazza Venezia, Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Campidoglio, Via dei Fori Imperiali, Via del Corso and Piazza Colonna.

Additionally museums, libraries, and other cultural spots will be open special night hours including the Capitoline Museums, the Museums of Rome (Palazzo Braschi and in Trastevere), the Napoleonic Museum, the Ara Pacis, the Museo di Scultura Antica Giovanni Barracco, Trajan’s Markets, the Scuderie del Quirinale, Palazzo Barberini, Palazzo Altemps, Castel Sant’Angelo, and part of the Museo delle Terme di Diocleziano

For a complete listing of all the events and shows, as well as their locations and times, take a look here at the Notte Tricolore Cumne di Roma webpage.

 
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Wines of Lazio: Regillo Frascati Superiore

May 13, 2011 in General

I’ve been on a Frascati kick lately.  The spring is here, finally, it is heating up, and I am working hard in my garden, so I like to enjoy a crisp Frascati at dinner most nights. Now is the perfect time to show guests on a wine tour in Rome what our region has to offer!   Tenuta di Pietra Porzia makes one of my favorite go-to table wines.  .   It has an interesting name that evokes the pre-Roman history of the area.  The image on the label depicts the Dioscuri, the twins sons of Zeus.  The name refers not only to the ancient history, but to the terroir of the area.   One of my favorite things to discuss during a wine tour is the culture and history of each wine region, and so, to find a vineyard with such a depth of history is, well, just fabulous!

The Castelli Romani is most well known as an agriculturally rich area due to the now extinct volcanoes that gave the area its mineral rich soils.  The Regillo Frascati certainly does not disappoint those who want to taste the minerality in their wines.

Before the hills of Rome were finally assimilated by the Romans, a group of people known as the Latins held on for as long as possible to their lands and way of life.  But it was not to be.  Anyone familiar with ancient history knows that one can never escapes ones fate.  Rome had the hand of the gods on their side.

 

According to their website:

 

496 a.C, in a large amphitheatre with the lake Regillo in the middle, an hard battle took place between Romans and Latinos; in the crucial moment, descended from the sky the Dioscuri, the two twins born by Jupiter, and led the Romans to triumph!

The battle theater is today the Tenuta di Pietra Porzia, a small river that runs in the centre of the estate reminds of the ancient lake, the cave with her long passages, excavated in Roman Empire Age, testifies an agricultural tradition and on 1714 the estate was divided between the proprieties of Pope Clemente XI and the one belonging to Prince Borghese.
The date 1892, engraved in the bricks, reminds the birth of the modern cellar, that replaces the ancient cellar excavated in the tuff in the Roman Empire time.

Let’s hope this wine lives up to its magnificent past!
Regillo Frascati is made up of two aromatic white grapes, Malvasia di Candia and Malvasia del Lazio and also contains the grapes Trebbiano, Bombino and Greco. The color is a rich hay yellow.   It has lovely fruity and floral aromas at first which then lead us to more complexity with mineral and herbal notes.  The fruits are typical and rich.  I was at once reminded of apricots, citrus, and pears.   Spring orange flowers, nuts, and maple with notes of fresh cut grass.
The wine is perfect for an late afternoon glass of wine, pre-dinner drink, or with a light vegetable rich dinner.  I love this with Pasta Fagioli and grilled veggies.  It is light and refreshingly crisp.  In a nutshell, a crisp, dry, medium bodied, aromatic and fragrant wine.
Enjoy after a long day of gardening or on a wine tour in Rome with Presto Tours!
CIN CIN!
Sarah May Grunwald, Sommelier
admin

Cultural Week 2011: April 9th-17th

March 28, 2011 in General

Settimana Della Cultura 2011Coming up pretty quickly is the 13th annual Cultural Week, recognized not just in Italy but around the world.  This year it will be from April 9th until April 17th.

What is Cultural Week?  Simply put it is a celebration of art and culture, with events and free admissions into lots of archaeological sites and museums for these 9 days.  It’s a way to encourage people to explore things maybe they haven’t before, and also a way to give back to travelers and locals alike who are actively participating in the important world of culture, heritage, and tourism.  And each year has been a grand success, so far.

If you will be in Italy during Culture Week you will find that there is free admission into a lot of sites (including the Colosseum/Roman Forum in Rome and the Academia and Uffizi Galleries in Florence).  You will also run into a lot of events and lectures that should all be free throughout Italy for the occasion.  You can take a look here on the “Ministero per I Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali” website for a full listing of all the events and sites/museums that will be participating.  The site is in Italian, so you might also take a look here at the Comune di Roma Museums site which also has a lot of information regarding cultural events/exhbitions and sites which should be part of this special Cultural Week!  All state-run sites and museums should be free for these 9 days (which make a note does NOT include the Vatican Museums, as they are not a participating country in Culture Week and not funded or run by the Italian Cultural Ministry).

Will thing be more crowded in light of the free admissions?  Yes, it’s possible, but also there might not be much of a difference at all from how the crowds would be normally this time of year.  Most people do not plan their travels around this particular week…rather it tends to be a happy coincidence!  You might avoid booking tickets online for sites that will be free during this time period, as booking tickets online almost always means pre-paying, and not all booking sites are taking into consideration that admissions are free these particular days.  Rather call ahead, for example to the Uffizi, and reserve over the phone.  You’ll have to pay the reservation fees when you arrive, but not any admission costs.  I’d recommend this for any site that you know normally can have quite a line-up, such as the Uffizi and Academia in Florence, or the Borghese Gallery in Rome which has limited spots for visitors even normally.

How will this effect your Presto tour? If you’ll be joining us for a tour during this time period, the only effect it will have will be that you might get to enter all sites on the tour for free (assuming they are part of this special occasion of course).  There will be no change in your itineraries and there won’t be any change in line-skipping at sites like the Academia and Uffizi.  Vatican tours are completely normal, as they don’t grant free admissions.

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La Notte Tricolore: Italy Turns 150 Years Old!

March 15, 2011 in General

La Notte TricoloreMarch 16-17th will be a colorful night throughout Italy, as it’s La Notte Tricolore (the three-colored night) in celebration of Italy’s 150 year birthday as a unified country!  The 3 colors in mind then are of course those of the Italian flag: Green, White, and Red.  Monuments and public buildings all around will be decorated then accordingly, and Italy is inviting everyone else to follow suit as well and decorate their homes, windows, shops, etc.  The streets will be filled with performance artists and parades, and there’s also to be musicals, and special lectures.  All of the events around this Notte Tricolore are completely free.

You might actually be surprised to hear that it is just the 150 year birthday of Italy as a nation.  Maybe due to the rich and ancient history of this boot-shaped peninsula, we might assume it’s much “older” than it actually is!  Before this official “Risorgimento”, unification, Italy had a long history of being divided up into completely separated territories, with the main players just preceding the unification being  Pre and Post-Napoleonic France, the Austrian Empire, the Holy See, and the Kingdoms of  Sardia, Tuscany, Naples, and Sicily among others.  The process was not overnight, but took many years, starting around 1815 and ending in 1871.  Some of the more prominent revolutionary figures were Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibladi.  Some more conservative players were the Count Cavour and Victor Emmanuel II (who actually ended up becoming the first King of Italy once it was united).  Nowadays you will see plenty of monuments and streets around Italy with these famous names, and now you know why!  Anyways, it was a very complicated and difficult process, you can read all about it as well as see some maps of the process throughtout history on the Italian Unification Wikipedia page.

The streets which will be hosting the festivities in Rome will be the Piazza del Cinquecento (the bus area infront of Termini), Via XX Settembre, from Via del Quirinale to Piazza Venezia, Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Campidoglio, Via dei Fori Imperiali, Via del Corso and Piazza Colonna.

Additionally museums, libraries, and other cultural spots will be open special night hours including the Capitoline Museums, the Museums of Rome (Palazzo Braschi and in Trastevere), the Napoleonic Museum, the Ara Pacis, the Museo di Scultura Antica Giovanni Barracco, Trajan’s Markets, the Scuderie del Quirinale, Palazzo Barberini, Palazzo Altemps, Castel Sant’Angelo, and part of the Museo delle Terme di Diocleziano

For a complete listing of all the events and shows, as well as their locations and times, take a look here at the Notte Tricolore Cumne di Roma webpage.

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Opening of Underground and Third Level in Colosseum!

March 9, 2011 in General

Colosseum UndergroundSoon to be re-opened to the public are the third level of the Colosseum as well as the underground section. Until last Fall of 2010 both of these parts were restricted to the general public, and only Archaeologists and a select few others were allowed to enter. They decided for the first time to allow access to everyone and it turned out to be extremely successful, so they will be re-offering this this year as well, starting from March 15th!

The Colosseum, or actually formally called the Flavian Amphitheater , was built from 72-80 AD. It’s construction started just after the death of the Emperor Nero, by his successor Vespasian (and finished by Vespasian’s successor Titus). At its completion the Colosseum could hold some 50,000 people, which was made up by a mix of the Noble, common romans, and slaves. Due to its incredibly smart design, it could be filled or emptied in a matter of minutes. Much of it’s exterior design was actually taken from another Roman Amphitheater built much earlier, called the Teatro di Marcello.

The 3rd level was once where the poorest citizens, slaves, and women would have sat to watch the events taking place. This area had few seating areas, and was mostly standing room only. The underground part, called the “hypogeum”, was an elaborate series of tunnels under the arena which was used for gladiators and animals to enter both the Colosseum as well as the arena area.

Visiting these areas requires making a reservation to see it with an Archaeologist in a group of max 25 people at a time. Until further notice, reservations can be made by calling the following number: +39 06 39967700. I recommend trying to make this reservation for the same day you will be touring the Colosseum & Ancient Rome sites (Roman Forum/Palatine Hill), so you can avoid having to pay admission more than once!

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English Language Mass in Rome

March 5, 2011 in General

English Language Mass in RomeThere’s no shortage of churches in Rome, certainly, but if you are looking to attend mass rather than just admire the art/architecture, you might (not) be surprised to find that most masses are in Italian language! If you are hoping to find a place with mass in English, you’re in luck because there are actually quite a few places that do. The most obvious choice is Santa Susanna, which is the official American Catholic Church of Rome. It’s located at Via Venti Settembre, 15 (Services: 18:00-Sat, 9:00 and 10:30-Sun. English language mass, like all other masses in Rome, are completely free events.

Here’s a listing of other Churches in Rome that have regular English-Language masses, as well as mass in some other languages:

-All Saints’ Church (Church of England), Via del Babuino, 153B, Tel/Fax: (+39) 06.3600.1881, Services: 08:30 and 10:30 Eucharist (Sun.)

- Footsteps Fresh Expression of Church (interdenominational groups meeting for worship and study in Casal Palocco and La Storta). email= akfsmes.styles@tiscali.it

-St. Paul’s Within-the-Walls (Episcopal), Via Napoli, 58, Tel: (+39) 06.488.3339. Services: Eucharist 08:30 and 10:30 (Sun), 13:00: Eucharist in Spanish

-International Christian Fellowship (Assemblies of God), Via Guido Castelnuovo, 28 00146 Rome. Tel: (+39) 06.552.00861. Services: 11:00 (Sun).

-Rome Baptist Church, Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, 35, Tel: (39) 06.687.6652, email= romebaptist@gmail.com, Worship on Sunday: English 10:30, Tagalog 13:00, Mandarin 15:00, Italian 18:00

-Ponte Sant’Angelo Methodist Church, Piazza di Ponte Sant’ Angelo, Tel: (+39) 06.686.8314. Services: 10:30 (Sun.), email= methodistchurchrome@virgilio.it

-The Salvation Army, Via degli Apuli 42, Tel: (+39) 06 44 74 06.Services: 10:30 (Sun.)

-St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), Via Venti Settembre, 7, Tel: (+39) 06.482.7627, Services: 11.00 (Sun.)

-St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (Irish), Via Boncompagni, 60, Tel: (+39) 06.429.03.787. Services: 10.00 (Sun.)

-Basilica di San Silvestro in Capite (Catholic), Piazza San Silvestro, 17A, Tel:. (+39) 06.697.7121, Services: 10:00 and 17:30 (Sun.) email= sansilvestro17@gmail.com

-Church of Sweden, Via A. Bertoloni 1E, Tel: (+39)06.808.0474. Services: 11:15 (Sun) (in Swedish).

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Semi-Private Rome Day Tour for Cruise Passengers!

March 5, 2011 in General

ColosseumThough we have always been very open to making private Day Tour Itineraries for folks, especially with people coming in on a Cruise and having only 6 hours or so to see Rome, we decided to go ahead and make a semi-private option to cater towards travelers coming into Port for the day. It’s ideal for the curious traveler who wants to explore Rome with a passionate Expert and a small group (and know that you can do so without spending an arm and a leg)!

Most cruise liners offer some services for excursions while in Port, but they can be a hefty price and don’t always offer a high quality experience. A common cruise-traveler complaint is not only the high prices of transfers touring when in Port, but the fact that they feel herded around due to being with large groups coming from their ship. It seems that due to such tight time scheduling, a lot of people feel constrained to stick with their ship’s excursions, despite the fact that they are aware they might be compromising their experience off the ship along with their wallets. The cost of transfers by car or shuttle between Rome and the Ship are already really high, costing no less than 150 Euros for 1 or 2 people people, one direction. For this reason private touring even without going through your ship tends to be at high cost too.

This is why we decided to take this opportunity to make an affordable option for travelers on a budget but looking for a more personal and exceptional experience. For one, we will have your Guide for the day meet your group at the Port and travel with you from Civitavecchia to Rome (and back at the end of the day). The regional train from Civitavecchia is frequent, extremely economical, and takes the same amount of travel time to arrive into Rome (actually sometimes it’s even faster as it avoids traffic). Accordingly, for our semi-private Rome Day Tour for Cruisers, we opted to utilize this extremely advantageous option, rather than wasting money on extremely expensive shuttles or car services.

The size of the group with which you’ll spend the day will still be limited in the same way our usual semi-private tours are- maximum 15 people to a group (and with no minimum number). We believe strongly in the concept of small groups, since it really allows a more personal and interactive touring experience, so we’re sticking with it!

Your Guide will as always, be an expert in their field and be completely fluent in English (in fact a great number of our Guides are American, British, or Canadian). We pride ourselves on a winning team of friendly and passionate Guides, it’s an important aspect of our Presto ideology. And because your Guide will be with you the entire day, you can be sure that they will make sure to use your time in Rome wisely- exploring the Ancient City (Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill) as well as the highlights of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica, before returning with you to the Port on schedule.

For more information, take a look at our Rome Day Tour for Cruise Passengers page.

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Carnevale!

March 1, 2011 in General

CarnevaleYou will know it must be Carnevale in Italy when you suddenly find that everywhere you walk you are ankle-deep in brightly colored pieces of confetti, and are surrounded by kids dressed like princesses and Ninja Turtles…   But that’s not all, it’s also a time filled with parades and people of all ages in masks and costumes (some of the most spectacular examples you might already have seen from Venice).

But what is the story behind Carnevale exactly?

Carnevale has its pagan roots in the fertility celebrations of the Roman cult of Saturnalia. It was adopted by Catholicism in the 15th and 16th centuries, and now marks the period before Lent begins.  Lent is generally characterized as a period of prayer, sacrifice and penitence, and is observed strictly during the weeks leading up to the Biblical event of the death and resurrection of Jesus (Easter Sunday).  It’s during the period of Lent that you will notice the practice of Catholic churches covering their statues or crucifixes with purple cloths.  Purple is recognized as a color of mourning, and this is where the Italian superstition of the color Purple being unlucky originates.

Carnevale therefore is a period to let loose, just before Lent (a period of self-denial, pentinance, and fasting).  There are a few theories to how the name “Carnevale” came about.  One says it comes from Latin “carnem levare”, meaning “to remove meat”, referring to the fasting during the period of Lent. Another theory says it comes from the Latin “Carne Vale”, meaning something like “farewell to meat”.

Some of the biggest and most elaborate Carnevale festivals are in Venice, Viareggio, and Cento.  The festivities go on for a few weeks, with parades, people in costumes, fireworks, etc.  The seaside city of Viareggio is especially known for its papier-mâché floats in its parade.

Rome this year is making some steps back in the Carnevale limelight, with a lot of festivities and parades as well as Carnevale themed masquerade parties at clubs around the city at night.  Take a look here at the official promo video for 2011 Carnevale in Rome.  The official website has an English version too which is worth taking a look at if you will be in Rome during this time!

Other Carnevale festivities around Italy:

Cento, a city near Milan, is linked to the most famous Carnevale celebration in the world, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Floats are exceptionally elaborate, often with items from Brazil. The winning float in the Cento parade is actually taken to Brazil for their Carnivale.  Some 30,000 pounds of candy are thrown to spectators during the parade!
The city of Ivrea has an unusual tradition for Carnevale.  They have a post-parade orange-throwing battle in the city’s central square!
Verona has one of the oldest Carnevale celebrations in Italy. On the day of Carnival (Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, which you might also know as “Mardi Gras” ) Verona has a parade with more than 500
floats (and some 15,000 kg of candy!).
Besides having some of the biggest Carnevale celebrations, Venice is also the home of the fancy Masks you see people wearing.  These masks are traditionally made completely by hand, and can cost a pretty penny.
In Oristano, Sardinia, they h
ave a full re-enactment of a medieval jousting tournament…think Disney World’s “Medieval Times”!
In northern Calabria, the city of Montalto Uffugo holds an interesting wedding parade of men wearing women’s dresses. They hand out sweets and tastes of Pollino wine during the parade.
Some traditional Carnevale foods are lasagna, gnocchi, tortellini, and some fried pastries like “frittelle” and “frappe”.  If you’re feeling the need for some culinary adventure, here’s a recipe and step-by-step guide on making “fritelle”!

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Fashion Week: Milan 2011

February 28, 2011 in General

Fashion Week What is Fashion Week exactly?  Pretty much what the name suggests- it’s a week long sort of expo by major players in the Fashion World to show off their latest designs on the runway.  It serves as a way for buyers and the rest of the fashion industry to get an idea of what is “in” and what is “out” for the upcoming  season.  The more popular Fashion Week events are in New York, Paris, London, and Milan.

What makes these cities Fashion Capitols, worthy to hold Fashion Week?  A Fashion Capitol is defined most simply as a city where the fashion industry is an important part of their economy.  Going along with this Fashion Capitols tend to be cities with a very active art, entertainment, and cultural scene, making it an appealing place for people to visit and a dynamic place to keep the creativity and inspiration blooming.  Milan was actually for many years the top dog of these Fashion Capitol cities (it was just beaten recently by New York who reclaimed this #1 position it once held confidently in the past).  When you understand what it means to be a Fashion Capitol, you can see why Milan would be at such a top position: being not only home to renowned designers like Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani, but also simultaneously an epicenter for art, culture, opera  and a lot more.

The Milano Fashion Week going on as we speak is dedicated to the Autumn/Winter lines, both mens and womens clothing.

Of the people present at this years Milan Fashion Week (February 23-March 1st) it’s estimated some 15,000 buyers will attended, as well as some 2,500 members of the press (Italian and foreign alike).

Some of the designers displaying their latest and greatest are Antonio Marras, Versace, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Albino Deuxieme, Fendi, Vivienne Westwood, Prada, and  hundreds of others.  The shows run each day in different locations in the city from 8:30 AM until 8:00 PM at night.

Take a look online at the Vogue Italy website for videos and photos to get an idea of the newest trends, which seem to be quite a mix varying from boxy-printed Prada,to Big Gucci Furs and Feathers,  Baroque-influenced Versace, high-necked coats, big button details, and colors ranging from blues/teals/lilacs to a more 1960’s range of baby pinks, yellow, and minty green.

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Beatification-Mania

February 25, 2011 in General

Beatification-ManiaWith all the holy hype around about the beatification this spring of John Paul II, you might be wondering: what is beatification exactly??

When someone who has died is “beatified”, it means that the Catholic Church officially recognizes that they are in Heaven and can intercede on behalf of folks that pray specifically to them.  The word “beatification” actually comes from the Latin word Beatus, which means “blessed”.

Beatification is the third of four steps in the Catholic Church of becoming recognized officially as a Saint.  When someone is officially recognized as a Saint, this is called “Canonization”.  There is an important idea behind this, that canonization does not MAKE them a Saint, rather it makes it’s official that they always were and still are officially a Saint.

The process of canonization was actually modified in John Paul II’s time as Pope, but the basic steps are:

They must be deemed a “servant of God”.  This usually happens with a group being formed in support of the person in question (always already deceased, of course) which makes it their focus to collect all proof they can to present to Bishop, who will then decide if they have enough convincing evidence to deem the deceased person a proper “servant of God”.  If he is convinced he presents  this evidence to the Roman Curia (which is a committee that decides all matters involving Saints, more or less)
Declaration “Non Cultus”.  This is when the body is exhumed, to more or less testify that nothing cultish is going on around this particular person (ie: that people are not sort of worshiping them, which is a no-no in Catholicism for folks that are not even officially Saints).
“Venerable” or “Heroic in Virtue”.  Enough evidence has to be gathered to make this person heroic in virtue, in other words that they followed and exhibited faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude to a heroic degree.
Beatification- which can be through martyrdom or else by proof of some miracle they had performed
Miracles after death- the last and perhaps most tricky of the steps to be declared a Saint are at least  2 miracles must have happened after the person in questions’ death.
For those of you that don’t already know then, Pope John Paul II will be beatified this year on May 1st  (Which means he is well on his way to becoming a Saint!) . It will be a public event in St. Peter’s Square, completely free, and an estimated 2 million people are expected to show up.

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Happy Name Saint Day!

February 18, 2011 in General

Happy Name Saint DayA fun little fact about Italy is that for each Catholic Saint there is a feast day each year, and on this particular day Italians of the same name are sometimes given a gift to recognize this.  This is called their “Onomastico”.   Being a very tradition-orientated culture, Italians tend to be named after a Catholic Saint (or at least after a relative who was named after a Saint…or after a relative who was named after a relative who was named after a relative, named after a Catholic Saint if we want to get really into it!).  Sometimes people are named after the Saint who’s feast day is the day they are born, or also after the Patron Saint of the city/town they live in…for example Saint Catherine is the Patron Saint of Rome, and Saint Gennaro is the Patron Saint of Naples (which is part of the reason why “Gennaro” is such a common name in Naples actually!).

So when is your Onomastico??