We’re talking “market day” in Italy! Nearly every town in Tuscany and Umbria have a weekly market day and there is nothing more special than being a part of one.
Usually held in the mornings, the town square is filled with dozens of trucks with literally everything from fruit to nuts. There will be stalls selling shoes, clothing, olives, bread, meats, cheeses and everything in between. Now don’t get us wrong, this is not a tourist attraction, this is how the locals shop and it’s amazing to be able to participate. We love to sample our way through the market, always buying things to eat throughout the rest of our trip or to pack for our family back home When we aren’t sampling we are photographing the array of items for sale. On our Wine Centric Italy trip in October 2014 we’ll be experiencing market day in Greve in the Chianti region. I know we’ve said it before, this is another one of those experiences you must have when visiting Italy.
Ever since our very first trip to Europe, we’ve been obsessed with churches. Wait…Stop, If you have not traveled abroad yet you don’t have the right picture in your mind because these are probably nothing, and I mean nothing like the place you go to worship on Saturday nights or Sunday mornings. Nope, these places are amazing!
Take for example the Duomo of Orvieto, Italy. Duomo is the term for a church that is either a present or former cathedral. If there is no bishop currently at the location it is not called a Cathedral, but still can be a Duomo. Get It? The Duomo of Orvieto is a 14th century cathedral in Umbria, central Italy which actually sits on a volcanic plug (a volcanic landform created when magma hardens within the vent of an active volcano)! But that is not what makes it special; the façade of the Duomo is one of the greatest masterpieces of the Late Middle Ages. Most impressive is the beautiful mosaic of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary on the top gable of the cathedral. If you can get past the absolutely phenomenal front and walk inside you’ll find 2 frescoed chapels depicting the Judgment Day.
No trip to Tuscany is complete without a stop to see this beautiful Duomo.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Rome? For most it is likely the Vatican, the Pope, Trevi Fountain or maybe the Colosseum. Well those are all great things about the city for sure, but what about the food!
In our humble opinion one of the best things about Rome and Italy in general is the absolutely most fantastic food in the world. Oh sure, you can go to a restaurant and order but do you really get to understand the heart and passion that goes into Italian food? We don’t think so, that is unless you get your hands in and actually feel the love, guided of course by someone who an expert.
Our choice is Chef Luisa who owns a private cooking school in Rome. Luisa, knowing every secret nook and cranny of the Roman food market scene, will show you the ropes of Roman cuisine and teach your palate flavors it has never seen before. Luisa’s cooking style is inspired by Artusi Pellegrino, the most renowned iconic Italian gastronome, food critic and author of “The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well”. Like Artusi, Luisa is a modern-day icon herself among the chef and culinary world in Italy and Europe. Imagine getting your hands in and creating a fantastic Italian pasta dish with Luisa’s help, then sitting down and sharing that masterpiece with her and some tasty Italian wine. Buon Appetito!
Well the famous quote is actually “You may have the universe if I may have Italy”, by italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.
But we thought we’d narrow it down just a bit and go with only Venice. One Frommer’s guide describes Venice as “…a preposterous monument to both the folly and the obstinacy of humankind. It shouldn’t exist, but it does much to the delight of thousands of tourists, gondoliers, lace makers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and glass blowers.” What’s not to love about where Folly Streets and Obstinacy Streets intersect?
Centuries ago, barbarians roamed around Europe, looting, pillaging and making life miserable for the common man. To escape, Venetians moved off the mainland and out to a flotilla of fairly uninhabitable islands in the middle of a lagoon. There they simply proceeded to create the world’s most beautiful and unusual city.
This custom tour starting in Rome, and then focusing on Tuscany is not available anywhere else. With just the right balance of history, renaissance art, amazing scenery, savory gastronomy and Italian wine – this is one tour you may not want to miss.
Our next information night is Wednesday, Jan 22 at Vino Etcetera in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Perhaps you have never heard of Oconomowoc – no worries, you can still get details on the trip at our web page, where you can also find the tour fact sheet and registration forms.
Please enjoy some of our photos from Tuscany and inspiring quotes on Italy in this Video.
In October 2014 we are hosting a very special small group wine experience to Italy with Vino Etcetera sommelier Corienne Winkels.
Our very first information night will be Tuesday January 7, 2014 at Vino Etcetera, 120 E Wisconsin Ave, Oconomowoc, WI. Please RSVP (262-538-2140 or email@example.com) if you plan on attending. We promise lots of fun and perhaps even some Italian Wine!
So what’s so great about this trip? Only 24 people are going, so it promises to be an intimate and relaxed tour. And if you’re wondering how much fun we have – just ask anyone that went with us to Burgundy & Provence in 2013. Our France wine trip was a most memorable and fantastic time, with Italy shaping up every bit as amazing.
During our tour you will discover: The Eternal City – Rome, the worlds smallest state – Vatican City, the classic Tuscan hill town of Cortona, Umbria’s grand hill town of Orvieto, the picturesque renaissance town of Montepulciano, the small town with the powerful wine – Brunello, the medieval city of Siena and the unofficial capital of Chianti – Greve.
We have lots of wine tastings and winery visits planned – note these are not ones found on “normal” tourist routes, but quite boutique and hand selected just for this trip. Preliminary details are available on our web page, with more information coming soon.
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If you listen to the news at all, or certainly if you are Catholic, you now know that a new pope has been elected. Immediately after accepting his election, the new pope is asked, “By what name should you be called?”. He then announces the regnal name he has chosen. On March 13 of this year a Jesuit priest named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, became Pope Francis. The name was chosen in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. This is the first time that a pope has chosen this name.
Francis, whose full name was Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone was born around 1181 in Assisi, Umbria, Papal States (now Italy). Francis was born into a privileged and wealthy family. At the age of 19 he outfitted himself as a knight to join in the war against Assisi’s rival, Perugia. After a rather quick defeat, Francis spent nearly a year in prison while his father raised money to pay his ransom. Afterwards, Francis lost his taste for worldly life. On a pilgrimage to Rome he joined the poor in begging at St Peter’s Basilica. This and other experiences moved him to live a life of poverty, preaching the gospel on the streets of Assisi. He soon amassed a significant following and the Franciscan religious order was authorized by Pope Innocent III in 1210.
2 years after Francis’s death he was canonized as Catholic saint in 1228. Immediately afterwards work was begun on the Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone, which is now a World Heritage Site. The church is enormous with both an upper basilica, a lower basilica and a crypt with the remains of St. Francis.
The town of Assisi is dominated by 2 medieval castles. The larger, called Rocca Maggiore was built in 1367 and meant to intimidate the people of the town, the smaller was built earlier and not all of it still stands.
We last visited Assisi in 2008. It is certainly well worth the effort to get there. While in Umbria you can also go to the equally interesting city of Perugia and make a detour to stop in and see the beautiful 14th century Cathedral in Orvieto. And of course, once you are in Umbria, Tuscany with it’s amazing hill towns and world class vineyards is only a short journey away. Italy never ceases to amaze the traveler.