Posts tagged ‘Traditions’

January 31, 2013

Dining with the Mayor of Rome

Dinner with the Mayor of RomeI just returned from a tourism symposium in Rome. The first evening, after a day packed with informative meetings, Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Rome hosted a gala dinner for about 60 of us. The event took place in the Palazzo Esposizioni Museum after hours, which meant we were treated to a private viewing of the ‘On the Silk Road’ exhibition.

Rome never fails to lift my spirits and make me feel priviledged to be there. To walk past ancient structures mingled with the new, the many beautiful piazza’s, fountains, and historic buildings and monuments in this very ‘lived in city’ is a joy.

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April 13, 2011

Invitation to Tuscany: Campalfi, Stigliano, Siena

Campalfi, Stigliano, Siena

Three apartments in farm buildings.

Campalfi, set back from the river Merse by about 200 metres, is a group of ancient farm buildings that once had all the necessities for the self-contained life of a small community. It has been converted to provide seven spacious dwellings. There is a central open-sided courtyard entered through an archway, around which are arranged the apartments, and to one side of this is a large dining-room where the English-speaking owner, a renowned chef, serves wonderful meals every Saturday night and on alternate evenings. The old granary has made a delightful cottage with a patio and an outdoor oven; a large ground floor apartment for five people is at right angles to the granary; and on the ground floor below the old tower is a light and airy apartment for two people.

The conversions are a harmonious blend of ancient tradition and modern comforts. All the apartments have a quiet, cool and restrained atmosphere and make excellent use of attractive fabrics and materials including old terra cotta floors, and simple, traditional Tuscan furniture. The hand of the artist owner is seen in the soft colors that grace the apartment walls and in the blossoms that drape arch and pergola alike.

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February 16, 2011

Carnevale, the Festival of Masks

Carnevale, also known as carnival or mardi gras, is celebrated in Italy and many places around the world 40 days before Easter, a final party before Ash Wednesday and the restrictions of Lent.

Carnevale in Italy is a huge winter festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. Children throw confetti at each other and play tricks one each other in fun.

Although carnival is actually one day, in Venice and many other places in Italy the carnival celebrations and parties may begin  2 weeks earlier.  This year February 19th,  the “Grand toast in Venice” will be the opening event, an elegant and joyful “cheers” for tourists and locals alike  to officially welcome the Carnival. The main attraction will be a big wine fountain spouting vino for all.   The dancing commences and a full agenda of activities continues  throughout the 2 week long festival.

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February 12, 2011

Spending Easter in Italy will more than fill your basket

Italian Easter…

April 24th 2011 – Chieti in the Abruzzo region is believed to have the oldest Good Friday (pre-Easter) Procession in Italy. A highlight being ‘Selecchi’s Miserer’ played by 100 violins!

The Easter Sunday tradition in Florence dates back to 1679. It is a pageant lead by an elaborate multi-storied wooden wagon drawn by a team of white oxen adorned by floral garlands. The procession ends in front of Bascilica di S. Maria del Fiore and after the mid-day mass, the Archbishop ritualistically lights a dove shaped rocket that ignites decorated wagon now in the center of the piazza, setting off spectacular fireworks and loud explosions, which ensure a good harvest!

Let me know what you’re looking for and I can make all your arrangements.  Let me set up a daily chef service in your villa and activities around the region like winery tours, concerts and much more.  Just contact me at 503.546.1058 – direct, 866.297.1058 – toll free or Email: CLamont@peaktravel.com to discuss your travel needs.

In my last post I offered a special deal for the Easter holiday, but there are many places in Italy to experience this spiritual holiday.  Here are a few of my top rated rental villas near Florence.  There are many other options too.

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January 19, 2011

It’s hard not to enjoy eating wherever you travel, but in Italy it’s an art.

Eating in Italy:
Eating a leisurely Italian meal is one of the pleasures of traveling in Italy. Italians take food very seriously in each region and sometimes even a city will have regional specialities.

If you have never traveled to Italy before there are a few things you should know. A traditional Italian meal will consist of an appetizer (antipasti), first course (primo) and a second course (secondo) with a side dish (contorni). All to be topped off with dessert (dolce), which could be fruit or cheese followed by café and/or an after-dinner drink (digestivo).

When dining out, most Italian families will spend an average of 3 hours eating and socializing. So if you plan on getting in and out quickly you must ask for your bill (il conto) when you are ready.  Generally there will be a small cover charge for bread and linen. Tax and service are usually included in your total.

Tipping is much different too. If you are pleased with your service it is customary to leave a small tip, but nothing like the traditional American tip of 15% to 20%.

Another essential tip to keep in mind, a bar in Italy is not just a place for alcoholic drinks, but rather more of a place to grab a quick morning coffee and pastry, a sandwich for a quick lunch, or a gelato (Italian Ice Cream) treat. If you stand at the bar, your price will be less than half of what you would pay if you choose instead to sit at a table.

These are just a few helpful hints for your next italian adventure.  Hope they help you to be prepared for the italian feasts you will never forget.

Ciao.

January 5, 2011

Wishing you a wonderful La Befana!

La Befana Witch

La Befana Witch

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated January 6 with a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. The traditional Christmas holiday… season in Italy lasts through Epiphany

La Befana
Italy’s traditional celebration includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.

According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. She got lost and never found the manger.

Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana.

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