Wine Tasting Tour in Chianti

The Chianti region in Tuscany, Italy is world-famous because of the distinct wine it produces, but it is also one of the most beautiful spots in all of Tuscany.

The region offers “postcard-worthy” landscapes with splendid hills covered with colorful vineyards. The villages in the region are still dominated by traditional stone houses and small parishes. The area covered by Chianti is not well-defined because it is not an actual administrative region. However, the consensus is that the region covers the provinces of Florence until Siena. Valdarno and Val d’Elsa are the region’s bordering towns at the east and west respectively.

The wine-producing center of the Chianti region is called Chianti Classico, which is also the name of the famous Italian red wine that was first generated in this part of Tuscany. Chianti Classico covers the towns of Greve, Radda, Panzano, Castellina and Gaiole.

Key Places

Greve is a great place to eat local cuisine that compliments the rich taste of Chianti wine. Aside from wine bars and restaurants, this is also the site for the Wine Museum, which features about 140 wine variations. Castello di Vicchiomaggio is a castle complex just a few kilometers from Greve. The castle’s surrounding vineyard is a well-known producer of Chianti Classico wine. The management provides wine tasting tours upon request. Another equally interesting venue for a wine cellar visit is Castello di Verrazzano.

Panzano is a small but populous town that is not only popular because of its wine bars, but also for butcher shop called Macelleria Ceccihini that serves the Florentine steak. Castellina offers its visitors the exquisite experience of tasting their traditionally prepared salami together with wine. Commenda of S. Eufrosino is one unique wine bar because it is a former church built in the 14th century. The lovely towns of Radda and Gaiole are also filled with farms and wineries that are ready to provide a sample of their best wine, cheese and olive oil.

Planning the Tour

Tour operators based in Florence and Sienna regularly offer escorted wine tasting excursions to the villages and wineries. Tour packages typically include a hotel pick-up and drop as well as lunch. If you plan on going for an independent wine tasting tour, there are important things to consider:

*Chianti covers a big area. The train lines do not go through the key attractions in the region. Although bus operations are regular, you really need to manage your time according to the bus schedule. Thus, it may be difficult to go around and maximize time using public transportation. The best thing is to rent a car or motorcycle and go for a pleasant drive through the countryside.

*The wineries in Chianti Classico are usually tucked into the valleys. Such unique locations do not have extensive roads. Thus, most visitors are required to walk a considerable distance to reach the wineries.

*You do not need to be restricted to hotels in Siena or Florence, there is a good number of hotels and bed-and-breakfast lodges scattered around the municipalities of Chianti.

*Although some of the bigger wineries facilitate spontaneous tours, itís much smarter to contact the wineries of your choice and make an appointment beforehand.

If you are a wine aficionado, or just love to sip Chianti combined with great cuisine and beautiful Italian countryside, a wine tasting tour may be a great vacation experience for you.

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Treasures of Marsala

If you are entering Sicily via Trapani Airport, you might want to check out the nearby town of Marsala before you head out to the island’s more popular destinations.

True, this coastal town cannot compare to the attractions of Palermo, Agrigento and Castellamare del Golfo but history enthusiasts will delight in what it has to offer. It is not only a gateway to the archaeological island of Mozio and home to a valuable archaeological museum, it also boasts of the famous Marsala wine that wine-drinking visitors will surely enjoy.

Begin your tour of Marsala at the tourist information office located right smack at the town center, along Via XI Maggio. It is a must visit place not only for a map of local attractions but also for bus timetables that are valuable for scheduling trips to your next destination. It is also good to know that the town is located along the railway line of Palermo to Trapani, so it makes a practical and convenient take off point to the rest of Sicily.

From the tourist information office, proceed to the nearby Piazza della Republica, also known as Piazza Loggia. The towering Duomo stands proudly at the center, adjacent to the handsome Town Hall and surrounded by charming architecture. It is the ideal place to get a feel of the local atmosphere, take a seat at one of the cafes or restaurants opposite the Duomo, order a refreshing drink and watch people idle by.

By the color of the walls of buildings and balconies with hard iron, the square is very much reminded of the squares of Spanish cities.

You can then proceed to Porta Garibaldi and learn what role it played in Garibaldi’s historic feat. Take lazy strolls along the winding alleyways and discover impressive palazzi with ornate balconies. Be on the look out along the way for bars and wine shops where you can sample the famous local wine and perhaps, buy a bottle or two. Wine lovers can even take a tour of the town’s wine cellars along the wine road or the Strada del Vino Marsala. Of course, don’t miss the Museo Archaeologico where you can take a closer look at the ancient Phoenician Punic warship, antiquated artifacts, exquisite ancient jewelry, and the magnificent headless marble statue of Venus.

Each stay in Marsala, no matter how short it is, can not be imagined without visiting the famous “Florio” winery. Florio is one of the oldest wine companies in Marsala and the history of wine in this city is interwoven with the history of this company. The Winery was established in far-off 1833 by Vincenzo Florio, who was the first Italian entrepreneur to be passionate about the production of Marsala wine.

Nowadays the Marsala Florio production still occurs here, even though a part of the historical cellars have been restored and available to be visited by those who want to discover the world of this famous wine. The cellars are easy to reach and they can be visited all year round.

The tour begins with eight gigantic vats, made at the end of the 19th century and still used for ageing marsala, and continues through different rooms and numerous aspects of historical interest to the actual Cellar, where about 5.500.000 litres of Marsala are kept in silence and peaceful stillness.

Finally, no Marsala visit is complete without a side trip to nearby Mozia. Take a ferry to the island and begin your tour at the museum. The facility provides valuable information that will help you gain a better appreciation of the ruins and the historical significance of the area.

Some of the items on display include a vast exhibit of terracotta masks and funeral stele but the main attraction remains to be the 5th century Greek marble statue known as Giovanetto di Mozia or the Youth of Mozia. From the museum, bring along a copy of the island map and simply wander around. Follow one of the many footpaths, consult your map and you will soon have a pretty good idea of what the sprawling ruins represent.

Also, don’t miss the salt pans and their windmills on the shore of Mozia and do not forget to pass by Museo del Sale if you want to check out how a windmill looks from the inside.

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Ravello will make your vacation a memorable one

Are you planning a holiday vacation? It could be with your family, spouse or maybe alone. You might be wondering where exactly to travel to for this vacation. Ravello will make your vacation a memorable one. Actually, Ravello is Amalfi Coast hidden treasure.

Ravello is a picturesque place that proudly points out the name of the most romantic place in southern Italy. It is located on steep terraced slopes 400 meters above sea level. It is made up of quiet alleys and elaborate gardens. The place has always been appealing to artists from all over the world so in this place the famous composer Richard Wagner composed parts of the opera Parsifal.
Ravello because of its high position has no direct access to any beach, but still carries a title that is being visited by couples in love or various artist because of its perfect and unmistakable views of the sea and the nearby cliffs.

Looking for a holiday to Ravello?

Ravello as a lot to offer that will make you visit the town regularly. You and your loved ones will be able to enjoy the following while on vacation here in Ravello:

Spectacular restaurants/hotel environment as well as yummy meals.
There is a wide variety of foods that you and your loved ones will be able to benefit from while on vacation in Ravello town. These foods include Chicken, seafood, eggs, dessert and many other delicious dishes to select from. If you are going to take a dessert as your dinner meal, try the Lemon cake, which is a local speciality. Then, top it up with limoncello, which is a local liqueur prepared from the lemon. In fact, the liqueur has become very popular internationally.

You will not have fully discovered the beauty of Ravello if you haven’t tasted the Cuisine. In Ravello are located some of the best restaurants in the region. Some of these restaurants are, Rossellini’s, Belmond Hotel Caruso, Il Flauto di Pan Restaurant, Villa Maria’s Restaurant, Hotel Villa Fraulo, Hotel Palumbo, Hotel Rufolo, Hotel Graal, BW Hotel Marmorata and Villa Amore’s Restaurant.

Nonna Orsola Culinary Art School
If you want to learn more about cooking then, visit this art school and advance your cooking experience. You will get the opportunity to learn from some of the experienced chefs as well as gastronomic experts.

Short walks for exercise
You are able to enjoy beneficial walks while on vacation in Ravello. Some of the important walks that you can make are:
• Three hours Walk from Villa Cimbrone to Villa Rufolo and Back
• Two hours walk from Piazza Fontana Moresca to Duomo and Back
• Less than one hour walk through the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium.

See most spectacular viewing points:
• Belvedere Princess of Piedmont.
• Villa Cimbrone’s Terrace of Infinity.
• The terraces of Villa Rufolo.
• The Cathedral.

Belvedere Princess of Piedmont
Belvedere Princess of Piedmont is small grassy garden shaded with beautiful trees and planted with seasonal flowers. This is a very popular spot for weddings in Ravello since the city hall is just a short stroll away. There are some very well placed benches where you can sit and relax while enjoying the view.

Villa Cimbrone’s Terrace of Infinity
One of the main attractions of this place is Villa Cimbrone with an amazingly beautiful garden open to the public.

Before becoming a hotel and a site for weddings, conventions, and other events, the grounds were passed down from one influential family to another since the 11th century. It became apart of a nearby monastery around the 17th century and eventually fell into disrepair. In 1904, a British baron named Ernest William Beckett fell in love with the villa and purchased it with plans to renovate the grounds. With the help from Ravello architect Nicola Mansi and a French botanist, Beckett added the Villa’s garden, small temples, gazebos, and bronze and stone statues.

The Villa has attracted many famous admirers, including E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and Winston Churchill. Hollywood actress Greta Garbo and conductor Leopold Stokowski had a famous romantic getaway on its grounds in 1938. A stroll through the estate will reveal poetic inscriptions found on plaques and numerous replicas of Roman busts. One attraction is a statue of Mercury, the Roman messenger god, who invites visitors to a few moments of introspection. Another sight to see is the Terrace of Infinity, a serene location that sits high above a sheer cliff facing the ocean.

The terraces of Villa Rufolo
The 13th-century, Moorish-style Villa Rufolo offers far-reaching views from its terraced gardens. It is situated in Ravello’s main square and is a ten-minute walk from Villa Combrone. The Villa Rufolo is comprised of a main building that adjoins a chapel with a reception hall and an entrance tower. The tower, known as the Torre Maggiore, is 30 metres high and was once used to spot pirate ships arriving to the Amalfi coast. The estate overlooks the Bay of Salerno and its upper terrace gardens contain cypress trees, cycads, yuccas and palms.

The Cathedral
The Cathedral (Duomo) is Ravello’s cathedral, which is located in the town’s main square. Founded in 1086, the entrance of the Arabic-inspired church features two bronze doors that picture the 54 scenes of Christ’s life. These bronze doors are one pair of only two dozen in Italy.

Inside, the cathedral’s interior is made of sculpted white marble. Visitors can climb behind the altar to get a look of vials that contains St. Pantaleone’s holy blood or see a fragment of St. Thomas’ finger bone. In the crypt, the cathedral’s two-room museum features a third-century sarcophagus, marble slabs decorated with mosaics, and a reliquary bust that holds the skull of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen and miners

Have your dream wedding in Ravello.

Ravello is a great wedding site. Actually, the town has become a wedding destination for Hollywood celebrities as well as rock/pop stars. Ravello guest book will confirm this.

Enjoy in great music
There are talented music artists in Ravello, who will entertain you. So if you love dancing, don’t worry because in Ravello you will get lifetime entertainment.

What are you waiting for; make that booking to Ravello now and have a great vacation.

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Mantova is famous for its captivating Renaissance character

Mantova, also known as Mantua is flourished during the Renaissance and still features to this day most of the architecture and historic landmarks of that period – giving the city a storybook atmosphere that visitors often fall in love with. Aside from its rich history and affluent architecture, the city has plenty of green space and stunning scenery for those who love the outdoors.

Mantova is strategically located by the River Mincio and flanked by the three lakes of Lago Inferiore, Lago di Mezzo and Lago Superiore. So, it is not all about history and beautiful architecture when you get there. Rent a bicycle and pedal your way across a network of bike trails that will take along picturesque lake promenades and scenic woodlands. You can also hop on a boat and cruise down the River Mincio or Lago Superiore. The city is also home to Mincio Natural Park where you can go for wildlife watching.

cWhat to see

Mantova is famous for its captivating Renaissance character. Most of its attractions date back to that period and being there almost transports visitors to the time of affluent royals, inspired artistry and burgeoning intellectual pursuits.

The Ducal Palace

The Ducal Palace of Mantova is the area’s biggest attraction and symbolic of its grandeur. As a collection of buildings built between the 14th and 17th centuries, the Palazzo Ducale was used by the Gonzaga family as their main residence. All the buildings are connected by galleries and corridors and visitors can admire different outdoor and indoor gardens. With more than 500 rooms in the complex, there is plenty to see. One of the most famous aspects of the palate is the impressive frescoes at Sala Degli Sposi.

The Ducal Palace is located at Piazza Sordello, a mere 10-minute walk from the train station.

Basilica of Sant’Andrea

One of the most important religious monuments in the city is the Basilica di Sant’Andrea, which was built on the orders of a member of the Gonzaga family, Ludovik II. The construction of the church began in 1462, based on the draft by Leo Batiste Alberti, at the site of the old Benedictine monastery. The original monastery bell is still the same.

It is located on Piazza Mantegna, and it is very important because it contains a relic of the name “Most precious Christ’s blood”. Jesus’ blood believers and tourists can be seen on the procession that takes place on Great Friday.

Rotonda di San Lorenzo

Another important religious building in the town is the Rotonda di San Lorenzo. It is the most ancient church in the city. It is now sunk below the level of the Piazza della Erbe. It probably stands on the site of a Roman temple that was dedicated to the goddess Venus.

It was built during the reign of the Canossa family in the late 11th century. Inspired by the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem and dedicated to the martyr St. Lawrence, it has a central plan and has maintained ancient features like the matronaeum (loggia for female faithful) and frescoes of the Byzantine school from the 11th-12th century. Another fresco fragment in the apse, portraying the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, dates to the 15th century. The construction, according to the Lombard tradition, is in bricks, but has two columns and other details in marble, coming from ancient edifices.

Palazzo Te

Approximately one kilometre from the historic centre, there is Te Palace, which is a valuable example of Manirist architecture. It was built by Raphael’s student Giulio Romano, and the most beautiful part of its palace is its many frescoes. Today, the palace is home to the City Museum, which has a large collection of archbishops from Arnoldo Mondadori and Ugo Sissa.

To check out other atmospheric architecture in the city, proceed to Piazza delle Erbe where you will discover the medieval structures of Palazzo del Podesta and the Palazzo della Ragione. Here you will also encounter the impressive Renaissance architecture of Casa del Mercante, which was once home to well-heeled merchants back in the day.

A view of San Giorgio’s bridge

There is no better way to admire the Mantova than to look at the city’s reflection on the lakes that surround it. Think about getting rid of boat trips by the lake, which is very romantic.

Piazza Sordello

Piazza Sordello is the main square in the city. For centuries, it was the heart of artistic and cultural life in the Mantova. Around square, you can find the cathedral, Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo Acerbi and Torre della Guardia. Mosaics and remains of Roman domus buildings were discovered here in 2006. Sit at one of the cafes in the area and soak up the lovely view and the old-world charm of the piazza.

Teatar Scientifico del Bibiena

A few hundred meters from Piazza Sordello, this theatre was arranged by Giuseppe Piermarini, a man who is credited with the look of Milan’s Skale. A month after the opening, Mozart also appeared with the new opera, and today this theatre is considered a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, and worth visiting.

Teatro Sociale

The early 19th century Teatro Sociale is also worth visiting. There is a popular cafe in the theatre’s foyer where you can simply hang-out and mingle with the locals.

Festivaletteratura

To get the best of Mantova spirit, visit it in September, when Festivaletteratura – the most important Italian literary festival is held. Festival attracts numerous writers, including Nobel Prize winners, and writers from all over the world.

How to get to Mantova?

Those who are interested in visiting Mantova should know that the city for every aspect of traffic is easily accessible. There are trains from nearby cities like Cremona, Modena, and Verona, as well as Florence and Bologna. There are also well-organized bus lines, both state and private, linking the city with various other locations in the region.

City tour

The fact that Mantova is not a very big city, making it ideal for tourists. The main monuments and sights for sightseeing are located in the centre of the place, so it is very easy to see them all. You can also use local public buses or bicycles.

Accommodation

Mantova attracts many tourists who are looking for architecture, villa and palace. The best accommodation can be found near the railway station. Some of the best hotels in the city are Rechigi Hotel, ABC Comfort Hotel, Hotel Mantegna, Hotel Broletto, Hotel Dante Residence and Albergo Bianchi Stazione.

What to Eat in Mantos?

There are plenty of good restaurants in the Mantova that you can choose from. Those who love traditional dishes and regional specialties, should visit the osteria, which serve simple, healthy dishes at low prices. Be sure to try Rissoto alla pilota, Agnoli in broth, Stracotto d’asino, Sbrisolona, ​​Tagliatelle pie …

Also, many good bars and pubs offering a selection of quality homemade wines. Some of the best restaurants are Ristorante Aquila Nigra, Osteria della Fragoleta, Griffon Bianco Restaurant, Trattoria Alla Nuova Marasca, Trattoria L ‘Ochina Bianca, Trattoria Due Cavallini and Trattoria Leoncino Rosso.

Shopping in Mantova

Mantova has several good shopping streets that are full of clothes, handbags, jewelery and footwear. In the old part of town, many small traditional shops selling locally made handicrafts and souvenirs. The food shops offer a good selection of cheeses and premium olive oils as well as domestic wines.

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Barga is a Hidden Tuscan Gem

Barga is one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Tuscany. The town has remained virtually unchanged throughout time, with narrow winding alleyways, old churches and an imposing castle standing sentry on a hill.

Barga is located about 22 miles north of Lucca, Italy. The back-country road that will take you to this atmospheric town may not look promising, but wait until you get to this medieval enclave and you no doubt will give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back.

Thanks to Barga’s out of the way location, you will not find bus loads of tourists crowding around its cobblestone streets. Wander around and enjoy the picturesque view of the surrounding countryside and the towering Apuan Alps at the distance while keeping an eye for delightful surprises along the way.

A short train ride from Lucca is the best way to reach Barga. If you are coming from another city in Tuscany, you might want to consider taking the bus to avoid changing trains several times to get there. However, considering that Tuscany makes for one memorable road trip, driving a car rental is always a good idea.

Head straight away to Barga’s ancient walls where most of the town’s attractions are located. At the distance, you will experience a charming landscape of russet roofs and rustic structures peppered with green patches of trees. Once you get there, it is all medieval atmosphere, with its narrow winding alleyways, old churches and an imposing castle standing sentry on a hill.

The ancient castle of Barga is difficult to ignore. It looms over the historic centre like a king watching over its subjects. The castle is in good shape despite its age and well worth a visit. It is also a strategic place to take in the spectacular panoramic view of the town and the scenic countryside.

Check out the town’s ancient gates of Porta Reale, Porta Borgo and Porta Machhiaia. These are small openings into the massive ancient walls of Barga. Walk through these gates – that are more like alleyways – and you will realize just how gigantic the town’s walls really are. The fact that they have been standing since the medieval times, make them even more fascinating.

Another popular attraction in the area is the magnificent Duomo. This Romanesque cathedral dates back to the 11th century and features an interesting limestone facade. Explore the cathedral’s interior and marvel at the elaborate wooden statue of St. Christoper and the ornate 12th-century pulpit. The cathedral’s campanile is also of interest, with its three bells – one of which is about 500 years old.

You should not miss a visit to the fare offered in small trattorias and restaurants you will pass by along the way in your exploration of Barga. Fast food is not an option here. Treat yourself to delicious slow home cooked meals that will keep your stomach full and your palate blissful.

Barga is also popular for its local produce and great shopping is waiting for you as you visit. There are several olive groves for the best quality olive oil, dairy farms for delectable cheeses and vineyards for the best bottles of wines.

Finally, the surrounding countryside is a hiker’s haven. Follow the trails and treat yourself to spectacular natural scenery along the way as you discover Barga’s outer areas.

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