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The wonderful Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa

posted by Home In Italy on March 11th, 2015

Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa

The wonderful Piazza dei Miracoli, also known as the Square of Miracles in Pisa is likely one of the most famous landmarks in the world. The square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, is not located in the city center as you might imagine, but it is situated northwest of the fortified wall of the city. The the Square of Miracles has been considered central to religious life since the Etruscan time: the three structures that it comprises, symbolize the main stages of a human’s life: The Baptistery represents birth, the Cathedral life and the Cemetery, of course, alludes to death.
And what about the Tower of Pisa? Well, we have not forgotten it! The so-called Leaning Tower is actually part of the Cathedral, being its Bell Tower.
The square is surrounded by a beautiful green lawn where tourists and students can lie down and relax in this historical setting of rare beauty. The name “Square of Miracles” was given only after the First World War , when the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio in the last novel “Maybe, maybe not” credits it with these words: “The Ardea rotated over the sky of Christ, over the meadow of Miracles”.
Its building began in the XI century and, after various changes, it was completed only in the XIX century, when the architect Alessandro Gherardesca gave the square its final present appearance. The latest changes have been done in the Fascist era: the monument Lupa di Rome was built and 17 cypress were planted, in memory of the militants died during the War.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Emblem of the Pisan Romanesque, designed by the architect Bruscheto in 1604, the Cathedral represents through its splendor the influence of different styles and cultures. Byzantine and Islamic components testify the richness of the Maritime Republic of Pisa in the past; pay attention to the columns in the Cathedral and you will certainly remember those typical of the mosques.
Despite the fire of 1956, in the Cathedral are preserved many important works of art, including a mosaic by Cimabue, a masterpiece of Giovanni Pisano and works of Beccafumi and Andrea del Sarto.

The Baptistery
The works for the construction of the Baptistery, which is the largest in Italy, began in 1152 under the direction of the architect Diotislavi. Positioned in front of the Cathedral, it was entirely revisited by Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni in the mid XIII century. They both modified it following the Gothic style and added a loggia and a hemispherical dome. At the center of the Baptistery there is the baptismal font by Guido Bigarelli from Arogno, originally lit by a light coming from an opening in the ceiling, now covered by the Dome. The Pulpit by Nicola Pisano (1255-1260) recounts scenes from the Life of Christ on five panels, while the columns represent the Virtues. We can clearly perceive a classical style in the work, not surprisingly Nicola Pisano is entitled a precursor of the Renaissance.

Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa
The Leaning Tower
The beginning of the construction of the Tower dates back to 1173 and its slope is due to the land where it was built, which is not perpendicular and subject to constant failures. 55 meters high, it has a slope of 5° south and to reach the top you have to climb 294 steps. The tower was closed to public from 1990 to 2001 due to stability problems.

The Graveyard
The Camposanto is an ancient monumental cemetery located north of the Square of Miracles. It has a rectangular structure with an inner cloister in Gothic arches. Following the tradition, the cemetery was built around a good quantity of Holy Land, coming from the place where Jesus Crist was crucified. In the meadow at the center of the cloister there are numerous tombs and sarcophagi of the Roman age, while in the floor of the corridor there are the tombs of the nobles families of Pisa. Here you can admire many works of art including the Pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, the lamp of Galileo Galilei, frescoes by Benozzo, Gozzoli, Buonamico Buffalmacco with the famous “The Triumph of Death”, the Tabernacle of Della Robbia and many others.

The city offers many beautiful monuments, churches and museums to visit, but the Square of Miracles itself is worth travelling to Pisa. The beauties preserved in the square are numerous, you’ll need a day to discover them all inside. So, what are you waiting for?

Dreaming about sun… Sicily here we come!

posted by Home In Italy on February 16th, 2015

With Christmas as a vague memory, days are now slowly beginning to lengthen and although summer is still far away, our desire to travel is champing at a bit! So let’s start daydreaming and, why not, thinking about your summer holiday… because, you know, to book a holiday is never too early!

Our fist selection is the southern coast of Sicily, from Agrigento to Catania. Here, in spring time, you can already reach the shore (timidly!) and enjoy the first warm rays of the sun. Sicily is the ideal place for outdoor dining with its rich cuisine and its enchanting atmosphere between baroque and exotic.

Lying on the hills of the Etna Vulcan, Mascalucia is an excellent base for exploring the East cost and getting lost in its pistachios plantations. If you like trekking, our suggestion is to organize a daytour in the Natural Reserve “La Timpa” in Acireale: here you will see many natural phenomena summarizing the history of Etna. The natural park is the overlapping of many eruptive eras; from light grey ancient lava to the dark grey one, with special crystals of augite, typical of the more recent eruptions.

Take advantage of the proximity of Catania and spend at least one afternoon in this lovely city. Not to be missed the historic pastry laboratory of Nonna Vincenza in San Placido square, where you can taste and buy delicious pastries with almonds and pistachios, cream horns with ricotta cheese and chocolate and, of course, the famous cannoli.

Just outside Catania, you will get lost among lemon trees and gardens of historic interest. Take note of the Garden Biviere Lenitni (Siracusa), which is a spectacular Mediterranean garden created in the late Sixties. As legend would have it, in this place Hercules, son of Zeus, brought the skin of the defeated lion Nemean as a gift to Ceres, goddess of the harvest. He created a lake that was named after him: Lacus Erculeus (during centuries, the lake changed its name and Arabs called it Beveré, which means waterhole for sheep and fish). Here you can admire lush palm trees, blue Jacaranda, old roses, Yucca specimen and unusual Xanthorrea trees.

The hottest and more exotic sea of Sicily is located just south of Syracuse. Forget beach resorts and imagine yourself lying in the uncontaminated nature: the Cala di Terrauzza, the protected area of Plemmirio and the Marchesa di Cassibile beach.

And now, tell us, don’t you feel a sudden desire of Sicily? We can already perceive the smell of citrus, cannoli and chocolate while the wind is brushing the palm trees.

Triumph of food at Venice Carnival 2015

posted by Home In Italy on February 2nd, 2015

Life is a Carnival!The Carnival of Venice: “the gluttonous festival” to celebrate Expo 2015. The Carnival of Venice pays tribute to Expo 2015 with a program dedicated to food.
From January 31 until February 17 2015, Venice will be animated by festivals, performances, shows and events related to wine and food. Food and Carnival are linked in an obvious way, Carnival being the celebration of the recklessness and the pleasure of food – said the artistic director of the Venetian Carnival, Mr. Rampello – food is joy and abundance”. During this edition, we will emphasize the essence of this festival – he concluded – and of man’s relationship with food.
The San Marco square will be embellished with triumphs of food and garlands of vegetables; theatrical productions and revivals will give attention to the relationship of Venice with food; markets, large banquets. Special openings, exhibitions, iconographic itineraries focused on the food in the holy places; theatrical plays and comedies.
The relationship with food will become a real show: the competition of who wares “the most beautiful mask” has the theme of food, so we will see many masks inspired by a fruit, a plate, a recipe.
Saturday, January 31 is the opening of the festival, with a nouveau cirque company celebrating water and rivers. The following day will be all about the historical parade of boats; the public will have the possibility to taste traditional Venetian food along the River Rio di Cannaregio.
Saturday, February 7th opens the Gran Teatro of San Marco Square, the setting of all the Carnival events: the Festa delle Marie, a historical parade with twelve ladies in beautiful costumes of the Renaissance age.
Sunday, February 8th the famous “Volo dell’Angelo”, with a lady flying in a spectacular way from the San Marco tower to the center of the square. Shows will follow by night, with fireworks and water fountains.
From Thursday 12th to Tuesday 17th February, an explosion of events, parties, fashion shows, making the Carnival of Venice, once again, the event of the month in Italy.

UMBRIA ROCK FESTIVAL

posted by Home In Italy on June 6th, 2014

From August 1-3, the winding valleys of Massa Martana, Umbria will transform into a bohemian playground. The spirit of Italy’s golden era of art cinema and the sounds of London’s swinging 60s rock uprising converge this summer, setting the modern scene for the inaugural Umbria Rock Festival, Italy’s first three-day music and arts festival.

3 days. 2 stages. 1 community. Italy is the motherland of some of the world’s most iconic creations in art, music and cinema. And now it’s home to another cultural phenomenon that’s sweeping the international music community: the magic of setting up camp to completely immerse ourselves in a weekend of music, dance and like-hearted souls.

The Soundtrack. Fusing historical punk rock sounds with modern indie, Umbria Rock Festival 2014 is excited to announce an international lineup, featuring sets by the Kaiser Chiefs, James, Paul Weller, Basement Jaxx, Peter Hook and The Light, The Cribs, The Charlatans, Courteeners and more.