Travel Tips

Bologna Festival Gems for Summer and Fall visits

Italy is well-known for its rich culinary and cultural offering, especially during the warm summer and fall months. However, two festivals held in the city of Bologna stand out and are well worth a visit if you find yourself somewhere in Italy or Europe at the time: the Mortadella Festival and the Cinema Ritrovato. The first — officially called MortadellaBo — is a four-day festival celebrating mortadella, a cold-cut, cured pork sausage that is one of Bologna’s specialties. The second is the Cinema Ritrovato, an eight-day vintage film festival that screens gems from cinema’s past and features a beautiful, free outdoor cinema in the evenings.

La Grassa


MortadellaBò Festival

The Mortadella festival is a one of a kind event and a must for fans of what the Italians call “the Queen of Sausages.” The sausage –well-known for its round, pink appearance and white specks — is a sandwich favorite in a lot of homes. It is made of crushed pork mixed with spices and sometimes includes chunks of black pepper or pistachios. Normally, this delicious sausage is cut into thin prosciutto-like slices, but it can also appear in cubes as part of different appetizers or salads.

Mortadella di Bologna (PGI) has a protected geographical status, meaning that it can only be called mortadella if it has been produced in the Emilia Romagna region or other neighbouring Italian provinces. This makes the MortadellaBo Festival a unique opportunity to fully experience mortadella in its region of origin. Apart from tasting the best mortadella in the world, you can also learn more about this specialty’s history in the city and discover new ways to integrate it into your cuisine.

For four days in October, the center of Bologna is transformed into a haven of mortadella-related activities. You can choose to participate in a range of events — from tastings of all of the best mortadella producers in the region to cooking classes held by famous chefs from all over Italy. There is even a range of events for your kids, as well as a fun addition — a mortadella queen wearing a pink dress with white dots. During these four days, you will learn how to pick the best mortadella, what cheeses accompany it best and even get to taste the best wines that go with this specialty. The MortadellaBo is a must-see event that you are sure to enjoy with your entire family.

Cinema Ritrovato

The Cinema Ritrovato is another great local festival that draws thousands of people from all over Italy and Europe. While outdoor cinemas and film festivals are no rarity, this particular one is unique for its focus on films from before 1975. So in addition to drawing thousands of locals and European film buffs, it also attracts numerous film scholars and film archivists from around the world.

For eight days at the end of June and beginning of July, around 350 forgotten gems of cinematography are shown in three different theaters in the city — the Lumiere theater, the Arlecchino and the Jolly. In these venues, you can enjoy themed screenings ranging from homages to beloved actors like Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin to regional themes, such as some lesser-known Argentinian and Japanese films from the 50s and 60s. The Cinema Ritrovato is a truly unique opportunity to enjoy movie classics from around the world in a theater format and surrounded by film buffs from different parts of the world.

Apart from the events requiring a ticket, the Cinema Ritrovato also features free screenings each evening on Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore. These screenings are very well-organized and have excellent sound and a large screen, allowing you to enjoy the film no matter where you are seated. The added bonus? If you are a pass holder, you have access to a special area of reserved seating close to the screen.

Finally, on top of the excellent selection of films, Cinema Ritrovato also features a number of special lectures and panel talks. This gives attendees the opportunity to gain an even better insight into the films being screened. This makes the Cinema Ritrovato a true festival of film, celebrating the legacy of older creations and keeping them alive through renewed attention. Bologna — a city that beautifully combines the past and present — is the perfect setting for this type of event and truly comes alive during these 8 days of film magic.

5 Massimo Bottura Dishes that Blow Me Away

Famous Italian restaurateur Massimo Bottura has been at the top for decades but his style has risen in prominence since 2010, when his Modena-based restaurant Osteria Francescana was rated with three Michelin stars. Since then, he has won numerous awards and established himself as one of the world’s top chefs, known for constantly pushing culinary boundaries. His most recent success — receiving the Best Restaurant in the World award by the prestigious The World’s Best 50 Restaurants list in June 2016 — has catapulted him to the very top and made his restaurant the first Italian restaurant to receive this eminent title. I’ve been following his work for a while and while it’s hard to pick an absolute favorite, here are 5 dishes that completely blow me away:

1. Croccantino di Foie Gras

This preparation is just amazing as it incorporate the novelty of eating croccantino (an industrial icecream from the 80s) and the velvety sensation of fois gras. The beauty of Bottura’s cooking is that it reflects his understanding of how textures and flavors combine to produce a perfect melange of tastes and every grown up dream to eat croccantino again.

The Croccantino is a perfect example of this. By combining the crunchiness and light sweetness of the almond and hazelnut crust with the balsamic heart, Bottura elevates the flavor of the foie gras. To boot, the ice cream stick takes the snazziness off what would normally be a high-class dish and gives it a nostalgic feel.

2. Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart

Massimo Bottura's “Oops! I’ve dropped the lemon tart!”
Oops! I’ve dropped the lemon tart!

I love this dish because it destroys all of our preconceived notions of what a fancy meal is supposed to look like. Turned upside down and purposefully smashed, in this tart Bottura combines the avant-garde taste of haute cuisine with the casual nonchalance of a desert that didn’t turn out as expected.

Bottura’s recipe combines lemongrass ice cream, custardy zabaione filling and a delicious crust spiced with anise, black pepper, cinnamon and juniper. The different components give the dessert layers of flavor, combining the sweetness of the zabaione, the refreshing minty lime taste of lemongrass and the unassuming scent of the crust.

Overall, this lemon tart is an exotic yet familiar addition to any menu. I can’t wait to make it again!

3. Eel Swimming Up the Po River

This appetizer proves that all good food also has a story. The name of this dish references the voyage of the Estensi family in the 16th century from Ferrara to Modena — against the current, the eel gathers a number of ingredients from Veneto, Mantova and the countryside. The dish features a combination of polenta, apple extract, Amarone and saba making for a meal full of history and ripe with regional tastes.

I love this dish because of its feel for the local and its ability to transport you to another place and time. But in addition to appealing to your imagination and drawing upon history, Bottura succeeds in making an excellent dish, full of freshness and novelty.

4. Chicken Chicken… Where Are You?

This is by far one of my favorite recipes, inpired by Bottura’s little daughter, it combines an understated chicken taste with a variety of extravagant vegetables such as Koppert Cress, Daikon and Violet Flower in addition to classics such as Fennel, Scallion and Celery. The elaborateness of this dish is hidden in its style of preparation as well as the effort it takes to integrate a rich chicken taste into this variety of vegetables, but in fact you cannot find solid pieces of chicken in this preparation but just the scent, therefore “chicken where are you?”

5. 5 Different Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano

I love cheese and considering that parmiggiano reggiano is one of my favorite cheeses, I had to try this dish. It’s definitely very Bottura, combining the avant-garde with a firm connection with local history and tradition.

The recipe consists of five different textures of different ages of parmiggiano reggiano — a souffle, a galette, ‘air,’ as well as foam which all combine in spectacular ways considering that we are talking about the same product. Also, the recipe is easier to make than expected! The trick is to find the cheeses.

5 best restaurants in Chianti according to TripAdvisor

If you are heading the Chianti region in Tuscany, you might want to check what the best places to eat are. Here a list of the beat eatires in the area according to Tripadvisor

Vegetarians, please don't look
Have a bistecca alla fiorentina in Chianti

1. Il Ristoro Di Lamole

This is a beautiful little restaurant situated in the Chianti hills with the most gorgeous views. It has earned the highest rating in Trip Advisor for restaurants in this area due to its high quality food and beautiful setting. The food is quite simple as far as Italian cuisine food goes but it’s really delicious and this place is definitely worth a visit during your time in the village of Lamole. It’s a fantastic restaurant and you also have the option to sit out on the terrace which is a great choice during a warm day. Some of the most popular meals at Ristoro Di Lamole include pasta dishes, pork fillet with vegetables and a whole lot more. Don’t fill up too much on mains because the desserts are sure to make your mouth water and are so popular with locals and tourists alike. All the ingredients are locally sourced and of the highest quality to ensure that you have only the best experience at the restaurant. Complete with a wine cellar, you have a lot of equisite bottles to choose from to make your meal extra special. It can be guaranteed that this will be a restaurant you will want to return to, again and again.

2. Ristorante la Castellana

La Castellana is a small restaurant that is found in Chianti, between Florence and Siena. The food is comprised of fresh Tuscan ingredients and the staff at the family run restaurant really care about customer satisfaction before anything else. Some of the delicious meals served include sliced beef, chicken liver pate and of course your typical pasta dishes. The prices are very reasonable especially when the quality is taken into consideration. This is one of the best restaurants in the area, the food will leave you more than satisfied and there are a variety of wines for all different tastebuds. The location is charming and you will be made to feel like family during your time at Ristorante la Castellana. The truffles are very popular with customers at this restaurant and are worth sampling for yourself. Be sure to book a table beforehand as there are very few tables at this quaint establishment, the compact atmosphere is what makes it so great. The decor is beautiful, there is lovely music and the tables are displayed with candles for a little extra ambience. A place that you just MUST visiit if you are iin Chianti and looking for great places to eat.

3. Cantinetta Sassolini

Cantinetta Sassolini is a restaurant in the heart of Chianti that is always jam packed with eager customers wanting to sample the dishes. You can dine in the courtyard or the restaurant itself depending on the weather and what you are in the mood for. There is a varied menu and there will be something for you whether you like authentic tuscan cuisine or your classic t bone steak! The service is quick and the prices pretty cheap in Cantinetta Sassolini, so perfect if you are on a budget but still want a high quality meal. The simple cuisine is truly the best and you will be made to feel welcome at this restaurant which will only heighten your time there. Delicious food, exquisite wine and an amazing atmosphere all amount to a great dining experience and this is why this has its place on the top 5 restaurants in Chianti. This venue has it all and it is not pretentious, what you see is what you get with Cantinetta Sassolini.

4. La Cantinetta di Rignana

If you are looking for a picturesque restaurant on the hills of Chianti, look no further than La Cantinetta di Rignana. It’s scenic setting is probably the most beautiful on this list and the place itself is well known for great food and ambience alike. You will discover a whole variety of Tuscan delicacies that you never ever knew existed. The freshest ingredients of the highest quality are used in all dishes that are prepared and served at this restaurant. You will be high on life after you sample the amazing food and drinks on offer at La Cantinetta di Rignana. This restaurant has been running for many years but it is still really popular with tourists and locals. It can be a bit of a trek to reach this restaurant but once you do, the views alone will be more than worth it. The cheese board is a dish that is particularly popular with customers and once you sample it, you will soon discover why. Whether you want to eat inside or outside, the establishment is decorated beautifully and the staff are very welcoming. The traditional pasta dishes on the menu are delicious but there is a variety of meals to choose from, if something else is tickling your taste buds. For one of the best meals you will ever have in Italy, visit La Cantinetta di Rignana during your time in Chianti.

5. Gallo Nero

Gallo Nero is a restaurant that has been perfected over many years, providing excellent service and high quality food to anyone who decides to visit. If meat is something that is important to you, you are in luck because the finest steaks, sausages, ribs and much more is cooked in an open fire in this establishment. You will be spoilt for choice with the wine menu also, so this will give that extra special touch to your meal. It’s a spacious restaurant with a nice atmosphere, where the staff are friendly and attentive to all customers. The roasted lamb and the steaks are particularly popular with customers which is why this has earned the final coverted place of the best restaurants to visit in Chianti. If you want somewhere that is easy to find in the region but you don’t want to scrimp on quality, Gallo Nero is calling your name. It’s the most modern restaurant out of the others that have been named but the fact that it is family run means that it still has an authentic atmosphere that promises a great outing for the entire family.

Chianti Wineries Map – Best Places To Tour For Wine.

When the word Chianti is mentioned in almost any conversation it is usually associated with the exquisite wines and historic region which both proudly share the name. Chianti, in Tuscany Italy, stretches between Florence and Siena. There are only a few regions of the world, which are not limited to a location on any map and are measured as more of a window through time, Chianti is one of them. These select few “glimpses” of many decades and centuries past, are not recorded by traveling miles or kilometers, but recognized as days and weeks spent in a place which standards of distance do not apply.

If Tuscany is truly the center of culture and refinement, which it is considered to be my many world travelers, then Chianti is the heart and its grapes are the life which flows from it. It would be reasonable and ordinary to notice the breathtaking scenes throughout the region, but traditional words do not apply. When the morning sun begins to smile upon the glorious valley which hosts the best chianti wineries, one feels required to discovery the surroundings.

Wondering where to go in Chianti for a memorable and spectacular experience, is best answered by “everywhere.” When traveling through a land which bears a name synonymous with great wine, it would be nothing short of a sin to not venture out among the vineyards of the world-renowned Sangiovese grapes and experience the wineries which produce the finest Chiantis in the world.

This Google Map is great for navigating the region: click here to see.

Best Wineries to visit in Chianti
Best Wineries to visit in Chianti

It made the most sense geographically to start with the oldest winery and work from the bottom of the map to the top.

The Start and the Beginning:
Chianti Classico is the oldest and most historic section of the area and is world renowned for the Chianti Classico wine. Chianti Classico, as a region is deeply rooted in cultural and history, recorded as far back as the 12th century. The founder of the Chianti blend, noted for its high ratio of Sangiovese grapes, is legendary and his family still operates the winery.

Barone Ricasoli Spa:
Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio is known to be the oldest winery in Italy, dating back to the 12th century, the famed Brolio castle rebuilt many times, still stands to reflect the passing of the centuries with exquisite and historic majesty. It was Baron Bettino Ricalosi who invented the Chianti blend in 1872 and his great grandson who now runs the fourth oldest family business on the planet. For the best place to understand how the tradition began there is no better point than from the birth of the wine and the oldest winery in the country. For those who love the traditional taste of Chianti Classico in all of its glory-the flavor has remained traditional and “earthy” and the excellence is still present.

baronericasoli

Castello Di Ama, Siena
A winery rich in history and culture, was first and the next stop is almost completely the opposite of Ricasoli. Instead of the castle it is a much more peaceful and modest area and the scenery seems more of an “old country” feel with a modern day twist. The families who revitalized the company came together to form a team in the 1960’s. Unlike the first stop, there is more of a modern feel and the art of the local contemporary artists is celebrated and combined for a new approach less dipped in old culture and more trimmed with present day. The modern selection of wines is really quite extraordinary and it is easy to forget they are relatively new kids on the block.

Livernano S.S. – Azienda Agrituristica – Agriturismo
If stop two was a trip forward to the contemporary we really fell back in time, dating back to an area inhabited 2500 years ago this little “charmer” of a winery is the definition of quaint. The surroundings are magical shadows from many centuries ago and it is easy to understand why the feeling of humility blended with pride seems to be the order of the day. Even the labels are understated and almost subtle in their approach to presenting an ancient prize which illustrates the precise feel for the surroundings. Flavors are very unique and the place is adorable.

Recine S.S. – Agricultura Vino
Owned by a Monastery until the 20th century, this ancient wine farm from the 12th century is rustic and almost a back to nature setting. The views across the hills are some of the best scenes in Chianti. Revitalized in the 1970’s and then carefully staffed by a group of wine experts from several countries of the world during the 1990’s this team has put together a great selection in a setting which should be painted with canvas and oils as opposed to digital cameras. The feel is as if the spirits of the monks never left, almost they are walking about, unseen making sure the scientists of wine keep making them proud.

Azienda Agricola Casanova – Sas Di Aldo Furini & C.
Started by an alchemist in the 1800’s the feel of the winery is the feel of a refined country family of the 19th century. The thumbprint was set deep by the Abbott whose religious philosophy of carefully preserving the history is present throughout the grounds. The wines seem to have a more bold flavor than many of the other stops, more of a bite, but not too intense, still flavorful and the staff was very proper but friendly at the same time.

Fattoria Castello Di Volpaia
This is the first instance where the entire village seems to be a part of wine making. Many of the homes and churches in the vicinity are actually housing wine cellars. The ground for the vineyards is admittedly some of the best in all of Chianti, even by competitors which seem to enjoy implying that the reason the wine has such success is its prime location. The selection was very good and each was noticeably more aromatic than others tasted. More info.

volpaia

Azienda Agricola Festeggiata
Of all of the places we stopped this one seemed to be the most reclusive, It was our first in Panzano and they seemed very quiet and more to themselves with their history and tradition. It was almost as if they had some type of “recipe” which made them stand out among the others. The wines seemed more rare in vintage and there was not a lot of information on prices in print. They did not appear to produce a very many bottles, but their wine may have been some of the best flavor in all of Chianti.

Azienda Agricola Monte Bernardi S.S.
Dating back to roots from the 11th century this area seemed noticeably different, the wines were not sold to the public until the 1990’s and were only available to local farms. Panzano provided a different scenery that the other areas. A river is one of the key differences in the flavor which seems to somehow bring another element into the vines. It sounded like a bit of local lore, but the flavor was noticeably different especially in the Chianti Classico. Winery  website.

Fattoria Le Fonti Di Vicky Schmitt Vitali
This was the most unimpressive yet stunningly simple of all of the wineries. Very basic and functional with no frills. It was not by accident or due to lack of success, it was the way they intended to preserve the tradition. The location was very close to the other two in the Panzano vicinity and the wine was just as striking as the somewhat fancier operations. Having the three close together validated the location of the soil theory which we had heard on our other stops. Replanted in 1994 they are simple in appearance and complex in quality. Link here to their site.

Castello di Verrazzano
Our last stop was a thousand year old castle. It is like we started at one end with a bang in Chianti and concluded at the other with fireworks. This was a remarkably self contained almost little village in and of itself. Not nearly as grandiose as the castle overlooking the Ricasoli vineyard but more of a functional castle not so much smoke as fire. Functionality through tradition, mixed with the modern scientists of wine making. The last glass of Chianti from the tour was as unique and splendid as the first.

After the Ball:
After 5 days in the wine country of Chianti, there was certainly nothing which could even come close to the individual universe each of of stops exhibited. Even though they were in the same region, the traditions and history of each ranged from ancient to modern in philosophy and approach. There is much to be said for the wonderful selection of accommodations in the area. Ranging from extravagant to very simple and functional, each had their charms, exactly like the wineries of the highly acclaimed section of the world. Amazing was the word for the adventure, one taste of culture and a single sip of grapes at a time.

How (And Where) To Drive An Exotic Car in Italy

Going to Italy is on the bucket list of almost every person alive. This is because Italy is said to be one of the most romantic places on earth. It’s also home to great fashion trends and has the most exquisite shopping places. On top of the retail therapy and exotic food, Italy offers its tourists the chance to drive super cars on the public roads and also on the racing tracks. Several companies offering this service are available to make your trip to Italy simply unforgettable.

How to Drive an Exotic Car in Italy

You can hire a super car in any agency for a few hours as a driving test or take it on a spin for two days. Every car comes with a driving instructor who is always with you for safety.

Where to Drive an Exotic Car in Italy

Ferrari F12Berlinetta 6.3 '12


1. Maranello and Modena

A test drive in Maranello starts with a private driver picking you up from your hotel and taking you to the heart of Italy of motor sport. This area is also known as the home of Ferrari or Italian Motor Valley. You board your super car of choice right after you pass the Ferrari factory. At this point you get to sit behind the wheel of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari and feel its roar and power. The instructor will sit right by you to give you instructions as you start slow in normal roads. You can increase the speed and use F1 super gear as you get used to the car until you reach the Modena racing track.

At this location you can combine road drive and tracking driving at the Modena autodromo. This is a complete racing track with amazing bends and gradients. The instructor will take the first lap as you watch closely so you can know how to do it. After that you are given back the pilot seat to take four exhilarating laps on the track. You then get to drive the car back to Maranello for thirty minutes before giving it back.

2. Imola Racing Track

The city of Imola is known as the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. It is famous for hosting formula One San Marino Grand Prix .The Imola racing track is one of the biggest tracks in Italy and is also a tourist attraction. Imola has the biggest Lamborghini academy where people are taught to drive this high-end car safely. The instructor stays with you but you stay in control. The instructors are patient, polite and let you make your own decisions. The benefit of the Imola race track over other tracks is that you get unlimited laps and different super cars.

3. Mugello Racing Track

At Autodromo Internazionale Del Mugello, one gets to learn all the tricks of race cars before test driving one. It is a big race circuit in Tuscany that enables one to take long laps and enjoy the super high speed. The facility is upgraded regularly to meet safety standards because it’s used by a lot of companies and individuals. You can test the power of an amazing GT car in this exhilarating descents and long straights with the guidance of an instructor.

At the Mugello’s circuit it also possible to drive a Formula one car.

4. Monza

Monza circuit is the most famous sports complex in the world because it hosts the prestigious grand prix events .It has long straights and fierce bends that will take your breath away. Monza circuit has 3 tracks; Gran Premio, junior tracks and the Speed track. Get a driving course in the junior track and then get behind the wheel on a fast race in the GT program. Monza circuit is also great for watching famous racers do their thing on track days. 

At the Monza’s circuit it also possible to drive a Formula one car.

How to Get An International Driving Permit

If you plan to drive a super car in the public road in Italy you should obtain an international driving permit.

Drivers from outside EU are required to get an international driving license if they are to be allowed to drive in Italy. This license must then be translated into Italian to avoid problems with the traffic police. Anyone who has a USA driving license is eligible for an international one from any AAA club in US or Canada. It does not require a driving test, only an online application with photos and a $15 fee. It must be renewed annually, just like every other driving permit. The process is real fast and comes with minimal hassle.

How To Eat In Italy Without Gaining Weight

Italians are known for their rich culture and amazing food. When travelling to Italy, most people find themselves in the dilemma of skipping all the goodness in Italy or going all out or eating everything they can get their hands on. The problem with these two options is that you either miss out on tasting exotic foods or you gain a lot of weight during your holiday. You can find a balance amidst this dilemma with the following tips in order to fully enjoy your trip in Italy.

Pizza in Trieste


1. Lose weight before your trip

It is a fact people might gain weight during their vacations. This is because they engage in different activities out of their usual schedules hence working out and dieting is not easy. As such, it is advisable to lose some weight before you travel. This will give you some room to gain weight during your vacation without going beyond your ideal weight.

2. When in Italy, do as the Italians do

Italians are known for their good food and healthy appetites, but notably, they are rarely every overweight. Their trick is in their eating habits. Italians follow the system of food which means that breakfast should be the light meal, often just a coffee and a cornetto followed by lunch that should be main meal of the day normally eaten at 12 noon and a light dinner.  The main purpose of this is to ensure that you consume most calories during the day, which is when you need a lot of energy for your activities. Dinner should be small enough to allow your body to process it before you sleep.

3. Be mindful of meal options

Another important food factor apart from how you eat is what you eat. You may have a light dinner whose ingredients will not benefit your body. Thus, ensure that you consume your carbs during the day during breakfast and lunch. This is the best time to satisfy your palate with the famous Italian pasta and pizza meals. The carbs will give you the energy to enjoy other activities during your vacation. For dinner, proteins are preferable since they aid in the growth of muscles and unlike carbs, they will not be converted into sugar and fat during digestion. Proteins will also keep you full throughout the night hence you will be able to avoid unnecessary snacking.

Being in Italy gives you the rare chance of having ice cream for dinner. Italian ice cream, known as gelato, is unlike any other normal ice cream out there. Gelato is made locally and fresh using a lot of milk and less cream and sugar, unlike usual store bought ice creams. It also has less butterfat and sorbets have no egg hence it is quite a healthy version of ice cream. In summer often the Italians replace dinner with a gelato.

4. Walk

Italians often go for a stroll after dinnner, so you do. Walking after dinner increases your metabolism and in turn, your body processes food faster. The energy used when walking after dinner burns up sugar produced by the body and this results in the production of chemicals that induce sleep. Your mindless stroll after dinner fast tracks your digestion and gives you a good night’s sleep.

5. Healthy snacking

Snacking is the one of the culprits of quick weight gain. The sweets and cakes in Italy are very tempting snack options, but their large variety of fruits is healthier. Italy is a major producer of fruits and in summer are plentiful, you can snack on peaches, apricots, melons, plums cherries and the list goes on.

A vacation in Italy is an amazing chance to be part of a rich culture and to enjoy delicious Italian food while keeping healthy and still having fun.

Best Traditional Food Market in Rome. An Exciting Food Tour!

We want to guide you through the best traditional food markets in Rome, to live the real essence of the Eternal City, its roots, savours, inhabitants and fresh food products. Discover with us every secret of Rome’s wine and food tradition to buy and eat as Romans do.

This article is kindly provided by http://www.italyrometour.com/

Testaccio market

An original local market where to savor all the delicacies and traditional dishes of the real roman cuisine. Definitely one of Rome’s most popular food markets, Testaccio is a very genuine and ancient district renewed with restaurants, museums and cool venues, that still preserves the original roman spirit. Once, the biggest slaughterhouse of the capital, Testaccio or Monte dei Cocci, is an artificial mound in Rome composed largely of fragments of broken amphorae dating to the Roman Empire. Here is sold every product or food we find in the traditional dishes of Rome’s cuisine, such as the tasty tripe or “coda alla vaccinara” (Roman Oxtail Stew). You will also find: roman cheeses, artichokes, the “coppiette” (traditional Rome’s meat jerky), the amazing pizza and the finest local wines. Here you will witness together with the locals to cooking steps of how puntarelle (Lazio’s chicory) are dressed, or in addition you will discover what coratella is.

Mercado de Testaccio. Roma

Campo de’ Fiori market

In the heart of Rome is situated the most famous and historical local market of Rome, Campo de’ Fiori. A real jewel among the districts of Rome and among the most fashionable piazzas of the capital. A popular open-air market in the morning that turns into a nightlife centre in the evening. In the middle of a charming setting steeped with history and colors, surrounded by fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables, you will taste the delicious “pizza bianca” right in one of the best “Forni” (bakeries) of the city, in addition the ham and the cured meats of an old “Norcineria” (Roman Butchershop). All that inside the market. Once there you will find out also the difference between Pecorino cheese and Parmesan cheese in some trusted small grocery stalls where italian mothers go, and finally you will discover Carciofi alla Giudia (Jewish-Style Artichokes) right where they were created.

 

campo de fiori


Esquilino market

It used to be one of the most suggestive outdoor food markets of the city, set around Vittorio Emanuele square, with two rows of stalls organized by genres with an attention for the price and a predisposition to theatricality. For over 100 years it has been the official dealer of the Esquilino district, of the whole city actually, offering typical cold cuts, cheeses, meat, fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. From 2001 the market has turned indoor and is located in the Ex Caserma Sani. The peculiar thing is that, in addition to traditional italian and roman food such as chicory and chard from Lazio, you can find products coming from esotic places like China, India, Romania, Senegal, due to the multi-ethnic nature of the place. This characteristic confers a very picturesque trait to this market immersed into its numerous spices, nuances and strange fruits. But doesn’t end here, because you’ll be spoiled for choice as regards as seasonal foods and vegetables like the gorgeous zucchini flowers, picked and served everyday at the stalls.

San Lorenzo Market

San Lorenzo market, is located in one of the trendiest areas of Rome referring to hanging out, clubs, style and nightlife, and has very ancient roots, dating back to pre-war era. Back to that time the stalls used to be more, but also nowadays we can count 25 stands with farmers selling their products, fish stands, Alberto’s butchery, the “pizzicheria” (a regional delicatessen), fresh pasta and even a bio stall. A distinctive and very appreciable feature of this market is the”Nave dei folli”, a mix between a stall selling bio products and a sort of club. Here you can take an espresso while learning new languages, or reading books about San Lorenzo district, with the trademark of slow food coming from Lazio region. Without a doubt a must-go place either for food lovers or for tourists who want to breathe the genuine air of locals’ life and habits.

 

5 Stunning Chianti Wineries you can Visit from Florence

The beautiful and historic city of Florence is a place of many wonders, and it’s no surprise it remains one of the most visited places in Italy. Apart from the fabulous architecture and art galleries, Florence offers you a chance to experience another of Italy’s wonders: the fabulous wines of the Chianti region of Tuscany. Food and wine make up a great part of the culture of this beautiful country, so we have looked at five amazing chianti wineries within easy reach of Florence.

#chianti

Castello di Verrazzano initially an etruscan and then a roman settlement, this castle is one of the most famous of all the Chianti wineries, and a tour of this magnificent and historic place is a must for anyone visiting the region. With a history of winemaking going back almost 1000 years, you will be taken on a wonderful tour through the estate, and encouraged to indulge in tasting some of the very finest wine produced in all the world. This is an experience never to be forgotten, and a very beautiful place to visit.

The Castello di Brolio is another fabulous castle and historic winery, and offers a variety of exciting tours. Easily accessed from Florence, take in the spectacular Tuscan countryside as you tour a place that is as enticing as possible, and enjoy fine wines in exciting tasting sessions in what can only be described as a spectacular setting. This family winery has been in the same family since the 12th century, and the wines produced here are simply superb. The wonderful gardens, stunning castle and quaint museum are a must, so make this one for your shortlist.

Castello del Trebbio is next on our list; this magnificent estate combines an historic winery, dating back many hundreds of years, with wine estate tours options, and allows you to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in Tuscany. Some of the finest wines of Italy have been produced here – and still are to this day – so make sure you enjoy a wine tasting tour. Relaxed and yet invigorating, the slow pace of life of Tuscany is evident all the time here, so take the time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the region.

Fattoria il Lago is situated on the site of an ancient farm, once owned by notable Tuscan nobles, and is now a fabulous winery, olive oil producing estate and also offer tours of the wine production. Just a short distance from Florence, this is a place where you can relax and enjoy the location, take in wine tasting sessions and simply experience rural Italy at its best.

Finally, Torre a Cona is a great choice of place to visit and taste Chianti wines, and offers both a wine estate and activities in a quite wonderful setting. A choice of dinner on demand and cooking classes with excellent facilities – including a pool – and stunning views make this a very good choice if you are looking for a Tuscany holiday with wine as a feature.

The Chianti region is one of the most glorious of all in Italy, and any of the above wine estates make for a great place to visit or to stay when taking a holiday in the Tuscany region.

Interested in wine tours in the Chianti region? We offer chauffeured tours departing from Florence and Siena, for more information please click here.

How To Travel In Italy By Autostrada

If you’ve chosen to rely on a comfortable and familiar mean of transportation by renting a car to move around while you’re in Italy, there are a few tips and guidelines you need to know before you hit the road.

Autostrada

Unless you’re from a country with very different rules, or you’re used to driving on the opposite side of the road, the norms you’ll need to follow won’t be hard to catch up on, but during long distance trips, you’ll have to deal with Italian highways (also known as freeways or motorways), called autostrade (singular: autostrada), which come with their own set of rules, perks and instructions for how to best travel along them.
If you need to stop during your trip, don’t miss the Autogrill rest stations. They are almost full-fledged restaurants and bars, with a souvenir shop and where you can buy snacks, magazines, toys, books and all sorts of useful items. It’s great for a bathroom break, but some toilets might require you pay a small sum to enter, such as 50 cents or 1 euro – this to ensure the standard of cleanliness can be maintained. Self-service petrol stations can also be found here and instructions for how to refill your car are easy to follow.
Autostrade are tool roads. As you enter, you must take a ticket, and you’ll have to pay the toll as you exit the autostrada, based on the distance travelled. You can pay with cash, by using a card or you can enter the Telepass lane and the fee will be sent through a monthly invoice. However, a Telepass is not something rental cars are equipped with, so take care to enter the right lane for your chosen payment method, as entering a Telepass lane without having the device will cause you trouble and will result in a fine. During high season you can expect to find queues, and since most Italians pay by cash, lanes for card payments might be less packed.

How to Calculate Distances and Toll Fees

You can search the web to find a website that will allow you to calculate the toll fee and distances before you actually have to ride along an autostrada, and Autostrade.it is the perfect option to make sure you’re ready to pay the toll.

Speed Limits and Penalties

The leftmost lane of the autostrada is the one with the fastest driving speed. If drivers behind you are urging you to speed up or keep passing you, either accelerate or move to the lane to your right, where the minimum speed is slightly lower. The signs will tell you speed limits (in black over a white circled framed in red) and minimum speeds for the chosen lane (in white over a blue circle). Respecting the minimum speed is very important.
As autostrade are monitored, be careful to respect the speed limits or else you will automatically be fined. If your car is a rental, the fine will be processed by the rental company with an added fee.
The maximum speed allowed on an autostrada is that of 130 km/h (110 km/h in the event of bad weather), otherwise, pay attention to the signs and keep alert.
Safe travels and have a great time riding across Italy!

Most picturesque villages in Italy

Italy is a country with an amazing landscape. From Tuscany to Mont Blanc, you are sure to be treated to a plethora of amazing enthralling sights. This is a country where your camera will have to be at ready because you never know when an exciting moment or photo-worthy scene will present itself. Going around Italy, you should find some areas more picturesque than others. Here are the top five villages that you must visit and with your quality camera at ready;

Alberobello
Alberobello

Alberobello– Famed for its fascinating Trulli houses (cone shaped brick houses), Alberobello village is located on the southern side of Italy. It is part of the metropolitan Bari, in the region of Apulia. This village which literally translates to ‘beautiful tree’ is a place where true beauty of Italy comes forth. Make sure you troop in to a Trulli to discover what makes them so special. Visit the Piazza del Popolo and take in the picturesque central square. Take a bench and click away the amazing sights and moments. Don’t forget to visit the Museo dell’ Olio.

Matera– This is a town where culture stays intact and alive. You will have plentiful of fun things to do in this amazing town located on the southern end of Italy. This town gained international fame because of the Sassi di Matera which is regarded as one of early human settlements in Europe. The town was named as the European city of Culture of 2019. This is because of the marvelous cathedrals, dreamy white Sassi or ‘stones’ of Matera and of course the wine havens. One place where you must visit and take a couple of photos is the Church of Santa Maria de Idris.

Manarola – This is one of the most famous Italian tourist destinations. It is part of the famous Cinque Terre in Liguria, Northern Italy. There are fabled hard trails that lead to enthralling sights. You have the amazing opportunity to explore the harbor which is simply refreshing and breathtaking. The apartment blocks standing at the edge of the cliff makes the blue water look so peaceful and precarious. Take a tour to the vineyard and have a winery experience as you explore the landscape. Take the uphill trudge to the inside of the town and enjoy a refreshing view of the town and the scenic sea below.

Civita di Bagnoregio– Any day, Civita di Bagnoregio stands out as a stunning village with to-kill-for sights. It is about one and half hours from Rome. You will feel small but important especially when you visit the iconic pedestrian walkway towards the town. This is a town which is perched atop a hill and whose beauty is unspoiled by modern cars. Walk around this amazing town and take awe-striking photos of the surrounding landscape.

San Marino– This is one of the oldest and smallest republic on the planet. It is adorned with the best nature could think of. There are amazingly high towers which mark the end and start of the town. You will have the incredible sights away from the high placed town. There is the Basilica di San Marino and the sweeping Monte Titano view to soak in.

San Marino
San Marino