Sunday, October 20, 2013




Every city displays the effects of its vicissitudes, but in Siena they are more prominent and lasting, and their continuity is more explicit and sought after than elsewhere. Siena's history is quite long. Siena’s hypothesized Etruscan origins are supported by an increasing number of archaeological findings. Nonetheless, over the centuries locals have preferred to believe the lively mediaeval legend according to which the town's founder was Remus’s son Senio, who fled Rome on horseback together with his brother Aschio. With them they carried a carving of a she-wolf which was to become a symbol of Siena. Romulus’s knights followed them through Lazio and southern Tuscany, until they finally reached the fateful hill known as Siena Vecchia. According to legend, Senio and Aschio founded Siena following an almost interminable, mythological race known as “Palio alla Lunga”.

Siena’s civic history was then marked by the growing predominance of a number of upper-class merchant families such as Buonsignori, Salimbeni, Tolomei and Piccolomini that created a new oligarchy. These families were responsible for Siena’s great financial, political and cultural advent during what has nostalgically come to be considered as its Golden Age. In fact, they are still honoured by six knights that trail behind the Palio-bearing cart during the pre-race procession.

The Gothic dream



Siena's intact circuit of city walls is entirely made of bricks. Palazzo Pubblico and its tower are also made of bricks, as are the mediaeval dwellings built by nobles. So is Santa Maria della Scala and the other large churches dedicated to the Franciscans, Domenicans and Servi. The bricks have changed in colour over the centuries: The dark red of the oldest constructions gave way to a reddish-orange in the 1500s. The streets were originally paved with dark brown bricks laid on their edges or in a herring-bone pattern. Bricks make up the Medici Fortress and the neo-Gothic constructions undertaken in the 1600s
and 1700s, such as Palazzo Sansedoni in Piazza del Campo. The same technique was used in later centuries to build Palazzo Buonsignori, Palazzo Marsili and Palazzo del
Capitano right up to the 1900s. The neo-Gothic rebuilding of the Salicotto area was entirely carried out with bricks, as was the newly-built outlying neighbourhood called Ravacciano to which many of Salicotto's original families moved.

Gothic art, thanks to the contact occurred during the fourteenth century, with France and Venice, is one of Siena's most fascinating feature.  One of its most interesting example is the famous cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, as well the Duomo and some elements of the Town Hall located in Piazza del Campo. For nearly a century, between year 200 and 300, Siena played a starring role in Europe thanks to its mercantile aristocracy and intense banking activities. After losing its independence in 1559, Siena experienced a period of decline up to half of year 1800, when he began to grow again with the construction of the railway, which connects Siena to Empoli, and with the first University Hospital of Italy, founded in 1883. The image of Siena in the world was revived early in '900 with the birth of the great exhibition of Senese Ancient Art and the Accademia Musicale Senese Chigiana.
Art is thus what has most influenced Siena, making it one of the most visited tourist city: Piazza del Campo, the Duomo, Palazzo Comunale and the Torre del Mangia attract visitors from around the world. Another attractions of Siena is wine and food, with the Italian Wine Cellar, located in the Medici Fortress, with the sausages and the ancient Sienese sweets, like ricciarelli, gingerbread, the copate and cavalucci.

The palio

Colours, crowd, celebratory shouts, a piazza covered with tufa, ten horses ridden bareback in a race that lasts only a few seconds.  For those who are seeing it for the first time, this is the Palio. For the Sienese it is life, passion, history. It’s the miracle of a game that becomes real life, where there is a place for joy and pain, courage and intrigue, loyalty and betrayal.
A mediaeval inheritance which, on 2nd July and 16th August deeply affects Siena life and is always a catharsis.

The culture of food

Sienese cooking is steeped in history. Its vast array is fascinating to study and even more enjoyable to taste. Local starters include “bruschetta” (toasted crusty bread seasoned with
garlic and extra-virgin olive oil), “crostini” (bread rounds spread with meat or beef spleen paté) and cured meats which have been made with the same techniques for centuries, as is shown by the Cinta breed of swine depicted in Lorenzetti’s Buongoverno freso. The locally-produced sausages and cold meats -“buristo”, “capocollo”, “finocchiona”– boast a long tradition, actually two long traditions: they were produced in Fontebranda and Salicotto, where the filling was in fact salted and cooked.

Typical second courses include world- renowned Chianina beef, Cinta pork, wild boar, range chicken, pheasant, goose and pigeon. Lamb and rabbit are grilled, roated or sautéd.  Artusi, the author of one of Italy's first cookbooks, criticised Tuscans for eating too many vegetables, and Siena certainly has a vast assortment available in its gardens and woodlands. Truffles arrive from San Giovanni d’Asso and wild asparagus come from the Montagnola, while Monte Amiata provides mushrooms and wild greens. As mealtime draws to a close, syrupy “vinsanto” may be accompanied by the sweets enjoyed in Siena since the Middle Ages: “copate”, “cavallucci”, old-fashioned spiced “panforte (panpepato)” or the sweet, fruit-filled type dedicated to queen Margherita di Savoia, and finally “ricciarelli” made of sweet and bitter almonds which are Siena’s most unique and aristocratic cake.

Enoteca Italiana

Siena’s Enoteca Italiana is a public organisation which has promoted the quality of Italian wines since the 1970s. It is located in the Fortezza Medicea which Grand Duke Cosimo
I commissioned from Baldassarre Lanci in 1561. The vast catalogue of available wines is continuously updated by the tasting commission and features wines from all over Italy, with a predominance of Tuscan varieties. Siena’s wines are particularly well-represented, starting with those awarded the DOCG appellation: Vernaccia from San Gimignano, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. No other Italian province boasts so many different, prestigious wines. They accompany Siena’s Tuscan cuisine and express veritable complicity between towns and the surrounding countryside. of choice.

As the poet Mario Luzi wrote “It is simultaneously both reality and a dream”. And so it was for another renowned visitor, Nobel prize winner Albert Camus, who saw Siena in his youth and was later to write in his notes: “…most of all I’d like to go back and hike down the road from Monte San Savino to Siena and pass through that countryside’s vineyards and olive groves which I can still smell. I want to walk over those bluish hills of “tufa” that lead away as far as the eye can see to finally make out Siena on the horizon at sunset with its towers like some perfect Constantinople. I want to arrive at night, penniless and alone, sleep next to some wellspring and be the first to enter Piazza del Campo in the morning. That palm-frond shape seems like a hand offering up the highest achievement of humanity after ancient Greece". After all, that’s why UNESCO declared Siena’s historical centre to be a world heritage site in 1995.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sardinia and its Secrets: beaches, nature and mystery

In Sardinia is possible to enjoy a holiday in lots and different ways. The geological nature of the territory, its climate and geographic position make Sardinia a special and unique place. Everyone arriving in Sardinia for the first time has the feeling of entering another world consisting of endless spaces and majestic landscapes. The sea reigns over this region with its colors that migrate into the coves, along the coasts, towards the beaches and the most popular resorts.


Visiting the Maddalena Archipelago and its “seven sisters,” the main islands of the archipelago, and sailing along the coast of the Maddalena National Park with its lively seabeds, perfect for scuba-diving lovers, is an incredible experience.
Caprera, the second biggest Island after Maddalena, is full of pastures and pinewoods, and shows its visitors the places where Garibaldi lived, with a house museum in the typical Mediterranean vegetation, which guards the memorabilia of the “hero of two worlds,” as well as his and his family’s grave.

Again on Sardinia's northwest coast, in front of the Natural Park of Asinara Island, we can find one of the most famous tourist resorts, Stintino, which combines the charm of a lively fishing village with high-quality accommodation facilities. This small seaside town, appearing as a painting with its white houses and the contrast between the crystal-clear sea and light blue sky, offers endless leisure possibilities, from golf to excursions and scuba diving, from cycling to horseback riding.

On the northwest coast Costa Smeralda is surely the most renowned place in Sardinia not only for its constant society life, but also for its unforgettable beauty. A charming and contradictory environment, characterized by the wild and proud Mediterranean shrub-land (Macchia or Maquis), strange-shaped white granite rocks, beaches, coves and bays that your eyes have never seen yet.
On the southern coast one of the most magical as well as diversified stretches of coastline is to be found in Pula. Balmy beaches and coves, Roman excavations and blindingly white sand dunes endow the area with its richness.

A few kilometers down the road to the west is the expansive sandy cove and aquamarine waters of Baia Chia.  With its silky sand, up to 30 meter-high white dunes and crystalline, turquoise-hued water is the reminiscent of an idyllic Caribbean beach. The bay is bordered by majestic, age-old junipers and a few stone traces of the Phoenician city of Bithia whose site Baia Chia now occupies. And if it’s your lucky day, you might catch a glimpse of dolphins and, on the lake, flamingos. Chia is also a wonderful venue for surfers because the winds blow just the right way. On this lovely bay there is also a lovely restaurant, Dune di Campana, where the aromatic Mediterranean maquis can be enjoyed along with a cool, refreshing drink.,

Facing the bay is Su Giudeu, a teeny island that you can wade across to. And Baia Chia Restaurant on the opposite side of the bay is also a lovely place to while away a hot summer afternoon. Cala Cipolla, the bay next door to Baia Chia, is only accessible on foot, but its picturesque beach and cliffs make it worth the walk. It also features seven reefs at a depth of 25 meters, a veritable paradise for scuba divers. A few kilometers down the road is the expansive sandy cove and aquamarine waters of Tuerredda. Those wishing to explore Sardinia’s numerous bays extending to the island’s southernmost point, Capo Teluada, can rent a boat here for the trip.


How many times did you hear about Stonehenge? Do you know that Sardinia has many mysterious buildings very likely with Stonehenge? This is a land rich of mystery so let's travel from Cagliari to Nuoro to discover the evidence of a millennial civilization and the traditions and customs of this marvellous people.
Away from crowded beaches there is a charming and mysterious place to visit.
Not very much is known of the ancient Nuragic civilization, except that it was a people of shepherds and farmers grouped into small communities who lived in Sardinia for 8 centuries. It built these extraordinary structures (there are about 700 throughout the island) whose use is still not known: Perhaps defensive fortresses or palaces or temples. In any event, a nuraghe represented the centre of the social life of these tribes that left us other megalithic buildings such as necropolises, tombs and places of worship.The starting point is Cagliari, the regional capital and main Sardinian harbour where visitors should visit the National Museum of Archaeology, which is the most important one in the world in terms of the Nuragic civilization. It holds most of the materials discovered in the Nuraghes. They did produce art in the form of beautiful small bronze statues; typically representing Gods, the chief of the village, soldiers, animals and women. There are also stone carvings or statues representing female divinities.

Take the trunk road from Cagliari that crosses the Campidano plain, where the ruins of nuraghi appear, including the quite visible one of Sa Uga. The second leg in this trip is Barumini, the location of the extraordinary complex of Su Nuraxi (declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is dominated by a majestic nuraghe surrounded by a large village that was inhabited from 1600 BC to the 3rd century AD. 4 lateral towers joined by a wall surround the main nuraghe, which is 15 metres high. Both floors are intact inside the nuraghe, where there is also a semi-circular courtyard and a well (20 m deep). The huts are also quite visible and are generally round. Continuing north, a stop should be made on the Giara plateau to admire the horses that live in the wild. The third destination is Isili, a small town overlooking the Sarcidano Valley and destination for free climbers and rowers. There are several nuraghi in the area, including Is Paras, whose beautiful façade is the highest in Sardinia (almost 12 metres). There are also domus de janas here (house of fairies or of witches), which are Neolithic tombs dug out of the rock and simulating the inside of houses. There are also several examples of domus de janas in Goni and Pimentel. After a stop in Nurallao, which is the location of the megalithic tomb of Aiodda, the journey continues towards Laconi, the town of the menhirs, that is monoliths of various sizes, at times finely engraved, and many of which are in the Civic Museum of Archaeology. The ruins of a medieval castle surrounded by a regional park and several nuraghi are also worth visiting here. Aritzo is situated on the lower slopes of the Gennargentu Mountain, which is home to the mouflon and golden eagle. It is characterized by houses with stone façades and large wooden balconies. Heading north, 3 other stops should be made: Fonni, the highest town in Sardinia at 1,000 m asl, Gavoi and beautiful Gusana Lake and Ollolai, in the area of San Basilio, where there are ancient burials that were obtained by using dry stone walls to enclose the clefts created by nature. Make a detour to Sedilo before reaching Nuoro. It is the location of tombe dei giganti (a type of gallery grave) and a Nuragic palace. This is also where there is one of the largest hypogeum necropolises in Sardinia - the domus de janas of Iloi with 34 tombs uncovered to date.


All Sardinian crafts can be purchased in Cagliari. Isili is home to hand-woven carpets, bedspreads and knapsacks. Visitors in Nuoro can buy unique jewellery, including magnificent filigree pieces, wooden masks, carpets, tapestries, and handmade pillows and curtains. Wooden engraved chests can be bought in Aritzo, and braided asphodel baskets can be purchased in Ollolai. Marvellous pottery is available throughout Sardinia.

Gastronomic products to purchase or taste: Bread, extra virgin olive oil, ravioli and dumplings, honey, spit-roasted meat (above all suckling pig, followed by lamb and goat) scented with aromatic herbs, cheese (pecorino, ricotta and caciocavallo), cured meats (sausage, ham and bacon) and sweets, which are often filled with fresh cheese or walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and raisins. Quality Sardinian wines: Cannonau, Nuragus, Monica, Mandrolisai and Girò. Excellent dessert wines: Malvasia, Moscato and Nasco.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Aeolian Islands: unique, beautiful and still undiscovered

Stunning cobalt sea, windswept mountains and a charming film about a postman go some way to explaining why the Aeolians (Isole Eolie) are the European Holy Grail for island-lovers. The seven islands of Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Alicudi and Filicudi are part of a huge 200km volcanic ridge and lie between the smoking stack of Mt Etna and the threatening mass of Vesuvius above Naples. Collectively, the islands exhibit a unique range of volcanic characteristics, which earned them a place on Unesco’s World Heritage list in 2000.

On the routes of the mythical Ausonians and Cnydian sailors north-east of the Sicilian coast, whipped by a salty wind, the Aeolian archipelago spreads out, like a fan, its seven enchanted isles which, because of their explosive volcanic nature, are sisters of the Hawaiian islands, the pearls of the Pacific. The Aeolian islands, starting in remote times, were colonised by Neolithic peoples interested in exploiting obsidian, an insuperable material for making carving tools. Between the sixteenth and fourteenth centuries B.C., the islands became an important commercial stage on the metal way, and in particular on the tin route, which from the British Isles went down to the orient, passing through the Straits of Messina. Later, in the Roman epoch, the archipelago prospered with the sulphur, alum and salt trade, which however gradually declined, until the islands were abandoned. This was due to further eruptions and also to the fact that the Second Nicea Council designated them a dwelling of the devil and a place of physical manifestations of this disturbing presence. Then in the Norman epoch the islands were gradually re-peopled and started a new season of splendours, taking on what is more or less their physiognomy now.

Panarea, situated on the Cala Junca cliff, Capo Milazzese, conserves intact the vestiges of a culture which here went on from 1440 to 1270 B.C., giving rise to a settlement of major archaeological interest. Inhabitants of Panarea are called "panarioti". They live in the main three centers such as: Pietro, Drauto, Ditella. The scenery, characterized by flourishing mediterranean vegetation, is rich in thermal springs and hydrothermal vent, in the sea marvellous and suggestive rocks emerge among them we remember: Basiluzzo, Dattilo, Lisca Nera and Lisca Bianca, Bottaro, Spinazzola and Formiche.

As you approach Lipari, it appears lively and picturesque, dominated by the rock on which the ancient town stands; it has always been the heart of the archipelago. In its museum, which is one of the most interesting in the Mediterranean, there are countless vestiges of the history of the island and the successive stratifications, as in a gigantic palimpsest of a period of 5000 years of  civilisation perfectly legible in the open diggings among the imposing walls with bastions.

On Lipari a volcanological tour is an absolute must, amid flows of obsidian and white expanses of pumice,  materials with the same chemical composition, differing only in their state: the former glassy, spongy the other one, because of the sudden reduction of temperature in the magma in the final phase of eruptions. Between Canneto and Acquacalda, two nice maritime boroughs not yet ruined by mass tourism, along the sea, in the direction of Punta Castagna, lies the spectacular obsidian flow of the Rocce Rosse (Red Rocks). Between the Pomiciazzo gorge and Lami, a lunar  landscape heralds in the now inactive crater of Monte Chirica, beyond which the soft cliffs of Campobianco go down to the sea and into the crystalline waters off the Porticello beach. Likewise unrivalled are the panoramas that one can enjoy from the Quattrocchi heights towards the monumental Perciato cliffs, to the sides of which there are the picturesque "needles", beyond which the gaseous and sulphurous fumes of Vulcano rise. But Lipari is not only this. It is also in the old part of the town, a nice salon from the Umberto period with windows and balconies as delicate as lace, from which multicoloured cascades of geraniums and delicate carnations descend. An island for all tastes, with shady gardens scented with jasmine and basil, sunny terraces facing the sea, where gastronomic hospitality is perpetuated with its own physiognomy and traditions.

On Salina one must not fail to visit Monte Porri and Monte Fossa delle Felci. On the latter, at almost 1000 metres above sea level, the ancient crater has been colonised by gigantic aquiline ferns which are added to the luxuriant vegetation of Salina, conferring on the latter an almost tropical look. Not far away, Filicudi and Alicudi, between which the soaring spire of the Canna rock stand out against the horizon. Both distant from the din of mass tourism, they offer scope for abandon and meditation, which are unthinkable at the noisy latitude of our civilisation. Near Canna, sea beds rich in sponges and coral offer unexpected sights for those who love underwater photography. Another highly fascinating sight in the archipelago is the basalt rocks of Basiluzzo, Dattilo and Lisca Bianca facing Panarea, with which, as Strabo tells us, they once formed a single island, Evonimos, which a cataclysm split into the present ones. Monumental solitudes characterise this group of rocks near which, from imposing mouths of submerged hydrothermal vent, gurgling bubbles of gaseous vapours rise, which, in ancient times, were the scenario of probable worship of Hephaestus.

Every year, during the first weekend of June,Salina plays host to a gastronomic gathering in honour of the humble caper. A whole festival dedicated to a small green bud might sound a little eccentric, but for the Italian “slow food” enthusiasts the wild caper symbolises all they most cherish in quality ingredients: it is organic, it is a local speciality and it is best eaten in season and enjoyed in situ. The hour-and-a-half pilgrimage by boat from Sicily adds to the appeal for the slow foodies and the fact that Salina produces the best capers in the world clinches the excuse for a celebration.
Naturally, the “slow food” festivities cannot be hurried so for three days leading up to the main event – La Festa del Cappero in Fiore (caper flower party) – there are wine tastings, degustation dinners and even a boat tour around the island in pursuit of other locally produced goodies.
Each of these events is open to visitors and together provide the perfect way to get an authentic and concentrated taste of the greenest of the Aeolian Islands.

Stromboli rises out of the water with the dry symmetry of its shapes perennially crowned by eruptive fumes. Its impervious Ginostra harbour is the smallest one in the world, while, beyond the fire zone, where moaning and hissing the lava touches the sea, the villages of Piscità, Ficogrande and Scari, open up, airy and white, gathered around the white mass of the San Vincenzo church. Beyond the very black glassy beach,  where there are reeds rising from the abysses of the Tyrrhenian, raises Strombolicchio, the primeval duct of the volcano, a fanciful natural sculpture in which fire, water and wind have left their eternal impress.

Vulcano still appears like a relict of the world's prehistory, perennially fuming amid lava flows and mud bubbling with gas. The eruptive mouth rises to a height of 386 metres, where the big crater, which you can get to without too much difficulty and peril, raises its crest which dominates the western and eastern harbours, the Valley of Monsters and the profiles, gradually further and further away, of the other islands. Well worth a visit are the alum grottoes and the sulphur mines, where in the Bourbon epoch a population of damned people lived forced to extract the precious mineral. On the coast, in the north-western part of the island, there is the imposing Cavallo (horse) grotto, along the wild and half-deserted shore which slopes gently down to the sea with the black Gelso beaches over which there is an euphorbia scrub and twisted prickly pear plants. Places to visit: an hour excursion to the Gran Cratere through a path that climbs up to 400 m. where a breathtaking landscape can be admired. What is more there are even thermal waters of porto di Levante, the grotta del Cavallo or dellì'Eremita, the scoglio delle Sirene with its fine black sand and the valle dei Mostri of Vulcanello.

Alicudi, the youngest of Aeolian islands, is one of the less explored islands. It has a small number of inhabitants and does not have carriage roads. Its west side is rich in steep slopes which make it difficult to cross, while the east side is charcterized by terraces. The Falco della Regina a small island that represent an oasis of peace, out of crowded tourist circuits, offers different accomodations such as: hotels, room for rent, bed & breakfast.This beautiful small island can be admired from Alicudi.
Filicudi this small and remote island of Aeolian, is an ideal destination for a peaceful holiday, for tourists who want to leave behind the chaos of big city life. The island is charcterized by the presence of the mountain Fossa delle Felci (773 m.). Its inhabitants (almost 200 people) live in Filicudi porto and Vallechiesa, these areas are composed by houses with thick white walls that make an excellent contrast with the blue coloured sea. The island is charcterized by two types of accomodations such as: room for rent and hotels.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer in Rome: what to see and do

Legend holds that Romulus and Remus founded  Rome in 753 B.C. — the mythical image of the two brothers suckled by the she-wolf, other than the Colosseum, has become the iconographic symbol for the Capital. Yet what has truly made Rome the legendary city that it is its history: the epicenter of the Roman Republic, the Roman Empires hub for political and cultural life. The areas making up theWorld Heritage Site contains 25,000 environmental and archaeological points of interest, among which the Imperiai Forum certainlу stands out.  Not far, close to Aventine Hill, we find two master works: the Terme di Caracalla and the Circus Maximus.

Discover the ancient Rome and its legends from the ebook LEGENDARY ROME edited by Lighthouse publisher, here are some gems from the ebook ...

Mythical Roman 'She-Wolf' CaveThe Eternal City's creation myth was sacred to ancient Romans, and the cave where a wolf was said to have nursed the twins was a place of worship.
Archaeologists have uncovered the legendary grotto in which Rome's founders were said to have been nursed by a "she-wolf." It's a cave, 52 feet below the Palatine Hill and decorated with seashells, mosaics, and pumice stones is likely that very memorial to the city's founders.

Roman Forum: The Legend of Castor and Pollux
The Temple is dedicated to the mythic twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, also known as the Dioscuri, who demonstrate the favor the gods had toward the Roman Empire.According to legend while the Romans were fighting the Latins, two men more valiant than mortal men appeared in battle in front of the Roman commander, Postumuis. These gallant warriors lead the Roman cavalry into battle, and with their spears, drove the Latins into retreat. Back in Rome, at the same time, two men appeared at a fountain near the Temple of Vesta looking exhausted yet victorious with their sweating horses. The Roman crowd gathered around to hear news of the army, but the men did not speak a word and left the city never to be seen again. It was later decided the two men appearing at battle and in the forum were the Doiscuri twins Castor and Pollux. To honor the two immortal heroes a Temple was built near the fountain at which they stood in the Forum.

Il Colosseo (Colosseum)
Properly called the Amphitheatrum Flavium (Flavian amphitheatre), the building was later known as the Colosseum not because it was big, but because of a gold-plated colossal statue, now lost, that stood alongside. The arena was about 500 metres (a third of a mile) in circumference, could seat over 50,000 people - some scholars estimate capacity crowds numbered as many as 87,000 - and could be filled or emptied in ten minutes through a network of vomitoria (exits) that remains the basic model for stadium design today.

Circus Maximus
The oldest and largest of Rome's ancient arenas, the Circus Maximus hosted chariot races from at least the fourth century BC. It was rebuilt by Julius Caesar to hold as many as 300,000 people. Races involved up to 12 rigs of four horses each; the first charioteer to complete the seven treacherous, sabotage-ridden laps around the spina (ridge in the centre) won a hefty monetary prize and the adoration of the populace. 

The most stunning landmarks in Rome presented as you have never seen them before!

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Exhibitions and events

Rock in Roma - May 29 - July 29
The 2013 edition of this massive rock festival at Rome’s Capanelle race course brings international artists such as the Arctic Monkeys, Bruce Springsteen, Mark Knopfler, Blur, Deep Purple, The Killers, Neil Young and Green Day.

Helmut Newton/Art of New York - until July 21
The Palazzo delle Esposizioni gallery has two shows running simultanerously until July 21: Empire State, Art in New York Today shows works by 25 artists working in and interacting with the Big Apple; Helmut Newton – White Women/Sleepless Nights/Big News contains 200 of the German photographer’s classic images.

Estate Romana - June-October
The “Roman Summer” is the umbrella term for the citywide programme of open-air concerts, dance and theatre performances, cinema screenings and other events that animate Rome through the hotter months. Highlights include the Isola del Cinema film festival on the Tiber Island.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Turin a city between past and future

Over the past 100 years or so Turin has rather become Italy's forgotten city. For tourists, it comes a long way down the list behind the magnetic must-see destinations of Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. For Italians, Turin is still perceived as a kind of "grim up north" metropolis of heavy industry, with its emblematic Fiat factories.

Today Torino is a city of art, a modern and exciting one that looks ahead towards tomorrow. Torino’s future has already begun: the city is capable not only of guaranteeing infrastructures and services to businesses, but a 360° span of proposals that have granted it access to the prestigious Michelin Guide’s classification as a “three-star city” along with Florence, Venice and Rome. This is because Torino offers a quality of life made up of art, culture, gastronomy and art de vivre that can only be found here.  

When in the city what immediately strikes the eye are its surroundings, with imposing Alpine peaks that encircle its skyline. The Piedmontese Capital presents itself as a city with a singular charm: emperors traversed it, kingdoms arose in it, and it was thus that power left its indelible marks on it. A metropolis that regards its past by looking toward the future, with the ambition of a city that, as a tiny village in the Region of Piedmont, became the capital of both a realm and a nation, only to later become a capital of cars and cinema.

During the day, it is possible to go for a walk through the streets or under the 18 kilometres of arcades to admire the store windows of the fashion world’s finest designers or to visit the artisans’ shops or those of artists. Without omitting  the pleasure of wandering around through the many markets: from Porta Palazzo, Europe’s largest outdoor market, to Balon, the famous flea market that features antique goods. There are many other markets to be visited, from neighbourhood markets to those that present typical gastronomic products.

When the time comes for a break, there are many time-honoured cafés to choose from that are a part of Torino’s customs and culture. The decision is whether to choose a classy caffè or a funky bar. Traditionalists will tell you not to miss the celebrated Belle Epoque Caffè Platti (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 72, ), but a more fun time is to had at the lively student haunt Pasticceria Abrate (Via Po 10), or the terminally hip La Drogheria (Piazza Vittorio Veneto 18), whose DJ has everyone dancing even before the official aperitivo hour is over. If you find the buffet is not enough to fill you up, head for fashionable trattoria Pastis (Piazza Emanuele Filiberto 9b, +39 011 521 1085) or, for a traditional Piemontese meal, try the Tre Galline (Via Bellezia 37, +39 011 436 6553).


New projects will offer the citizens of the “city with the most beautiful natural location” (as Le Corbusier once said) an environment that is even more immaculate. Even distinguished philosophers like Rousseau and Nietzsche agreed with the great architect Le Corbusier that Torino could be defined as one of the most fascinating of cities. These projects plan upon recuperating banks of the rivers and transforming them into a single river park that measures 70 kilometres in length with a 17 million square metre surface.
They were referring to the extraordinary backdrop of the Alps, the rolling hills so close to the centre of the city, the Po  and other rivers – Dora Riparia, Stura and Sangone – that flow through the region’s capital as well as the 18 million square metres of greenery and 300 kilometres of tree-lined streets that make this city one of the world’s wealthiest from an environmental viewpoint.

A heritage that is fully enjoyed by residents – who love to spend their free time outdoors – and embellished by great public projects such as the new river park along the Dora that is redelivering an immense green area dotted with well-equipped areas, bicycle routes, pedestrian and play areas to its citizens.

Walks and hikes in the Parco della Collina Torinese (Park of the Hills of Torino) – made up of Bosco del Vaj (Vaj woods), Collina di Superga (Superga hill) as well as the hills of il Colle della Maddalena and Cavoretto -  offer the capital an opportunity and a heritage of inestimable natural wealth. The Parco del Meisino (Meisino park) is a naturalistic oasis in which one of Europe’s most important colonies of grey herons live in an urban environment. A visit to the historic Giardini Reali (royal gardens), a canoe ride along the waters of the Po river, a jog through the Parco del Valentino (Valentino park) up to the Italia 61 park, a bike ride along the many bicycle routes immersed in green are all a must-see for anyone living in Torino or discovering it.

The best way for discovering the many facets of Turin is..

Is to go on a tour of the city's historical centre taking in the museums and foundations that reconstruct its history and reveal its artistic and cultural treasures. This includes Europe's largest collection of archaeological finds at the Egyptian Museum, or the more recent history of the 'seventh art' brilliantly presented at the National Museum of Cinema, the exceptional treasure of ancient art held in Palazzo Madama, and then of course, Palazzo Reale, the powerhouse behind Italy's very first capital.
Turin is also a vital point of reference for contemporary art: works and installations produced over the last thirty years by internationally famous artists are placed for all to see in the open air or on display at the country's most important Museum of Contemporary Art within the 17th century Castle of Rivoli.

The mainly baroque art of the many places of worship in the town's centre blends with the spirituality to be found therein: the Sanctuary of the Consolata and the Sanctuary of Maria Ausiliatrice are a couple of Turin's best loved churches. Other places that are a must are the Duomo where there will be held the Ostension of the Holy Shroud in the spring, the twin churches in Piazza San Carlo, and the Church of San Lorenzo with its famous dome by Guarini or the Basilica of Superga which, as well as holding the tombs of the Savoy family, also offers a breathtaking view of the city and mountains. Lastly, just a stone's throw from the city centre, palaces, castles and fortresses dominate the hills, plains and mountains of the province of Turin. These are of inestimable value and some of the most outstanding are the Royal Residences, a legacy of exceptional cultural and environmental interest, leading to their denomination as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

The mainly baroque art of the many places of worship in the town's centre blends with the spirituality to be found therein: the Sanctuary of the Consolata and the Sanctuary of Maria Ausiliatrice are a couple of Turin's best loved churches. Other places that are a must are the Duomo where there will be held the Ostension of the Holy Shroud in the spring, the twin churches in Piazza San Carlo, and the Church of San Lorenzo with its famous dome by Guarini or the Basilica of Superga which, as well as holding the tombs of the Savoy family, also offers a breathtaking view of the city and mountains. Lastly, just a stone's throw from the city centre, palaces, castles and fortresses dominate the hills, plains and mountains of the province of Turin. These are of inestimable value and some of the most outstanding are the Royal Residences, a legacy of exceptional cultural and environmental interest, leading to their denomination as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.