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italy

Bulgari to restore the archaelogical site of Largo Argentina

Rome will have a new archaeological site that will be soon open to all citizens and tourists. The new opening will give the chance to all the visitors to access one of the most important archaeological sites in Rome.

https://civitavecchia.portmobility.it/it/larea-sacra-di-largo-di-torre-argentina

In a couple of years the archaeological site of Largo Argentina (Largo di Torre Argentina) will be open to the public thanks to the donation of the fashion maison Bulgari who will donate 1 milion euro for the restoration. After financing the restoration of the Spanish Steps, Bulgari decided to give life to this archaeological site of great importance.

The area has been built in the 3rd century B.C and it’s well known as the place where Julius Caesar has been murdered on 15th March in 44 A.C, on the Ides of March according to the Roman calendar.

The “Sacred Area” of Largo Argentina has been discovered only in 1926 and there were found four temples built from the 4th to the 2nd century B.C. The temples are dedicated to the divinities or events of those times:

Temple of Juturna built after the Roman victory against the Carthaginians in 241 BC;

Temple Fortuna Huiusce Diei dedicated to the “Fortune of This Day”;

Temple of Feronia ancient Italic divinity of fertility;

Temple devoted to Lares Permarini (Lares who protect sailors).

The area will be accessible from the 2021 and there will be built platforms and boardwalks, which will allow visitors to walk over the archaeological site and get closer to the ruins of the Largo Argentina.

Largo Argentina is in the city centre of Rome, walking distance from Piazza Venezia, Pantheon and Campo de’ Fiori and it is very easily reachable with public transport as all the main buses have a stop in Largo Argentina. Don’t miss it even now, when the area can be admired from the walls of the archaological site.

Are you sure you know all these things about Palermo?

You have heard about Palermo many and many times, but you probably don’t know that the city is so peculiar in much more aspects that you can even think of.

Palermo is known for its long history, peculiar variegated culture, diversified architecture, and Mediterranean unique cuisine. Over the centuries it has been playing an important cultural and artistic role.

If you only think that Palermo is more than 2700 years old, only this data is enough to give you an idea of the cultural and artistic richness of this city.

The city has been proclaimed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, while in 2017 it has been chosen, among other Italian cities, as the Capital of the Italian Culture 2018.

If you’re planning to visit the city, you will never be completely prepared as you would be overwhelmed with the past and the present of this unique place. The historical richness and architectural variety will transport you in another world made of ancient Greek, Roman and Norman civilizations.

If we want to “start from the beginning” we need to go far back in time. It was during the 8th century BC when Palermo was founded by Phoenicians. Afterwards, the city was Carthaginian, Roman an also Byzantine settlement until the Arabs conquered Palermo during the 9th century AC. The golden age of Palermo was during the Normans’ presence while a certain decline was contemporary to the arrival of the Spanish Kingdom that lasted for several centuries.

Also, the name of the city has changed throughout the years. The Phoenician name Ziz (flower) later has been transformed into Greek name Panormus (complete port). The Arabs changed the name into Balarme (Bal’harm – بَلَرْم) that actually contains the roots of the present-day name.

Many cultures that have been settled here and have influenced the culture and also the culinary tradition of Palermo and Sicily in general. That’s why both the city and the whole region are world-wide known for their specialties among which you will probably recall cannoli, cassata, arancina, pasta alla Norma and of course, granita.

The architecture has been transformed throughout the centuries and many already existing buildings have been adapted to the conquerors’ art and taste of that moment. For example, the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption is composed of various styles combined together throughout the centuries. During the Arab domination, this church has also served as a mosque. In Palermo you can find many other buildings that are reflecting the architectonic richness of the city and reveal its variegated tradition, history and culture.

If you’re planning a visit to Palermo and you still don’t have an idea from where to start, here you can find some suggestions of what you shouldn’t miss. Be sure that all of them are unique places and don’t forget to put them on your check-list.

Santa Rosalia in Monte Pellegrino The façade of this sanctuary is carved into the rock overlooking the city of Palermo. The Santuario serves as the burial place to Santa Rosalia, which is also the patron saint of the city.

Palazzo dei Normanni + Cappella Palatina. Royal Palace constructed during the Norman domination and finalized during several foreign dominations, has been used as the palace of the rulers. According to some studies, Palazzo dei Normani is the oldest royal existing residence in Europe.

Duomo di Monreale is the typical example of Norman, Arab and Byzantine architectural elements combined together and hence it is one of the most important cultural heritages of the Italian Middle Ages.

La Cuba was completed during the 12th century and it is mostly inspired by Arabic style. In 2015 it has been inserted (among many other Sicilian sites) in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

La Zisa was also inspired by the Moorish art. It is a castle in Palermo that has been built as the summer residence for the Norman kings. The building has been modified and restored throughout the centuries. In the past, like many Arabic-style buildings, the central room had a beautiful water fountain but now is decorated “only” by a magnificent mosaic.

Before visiting Palermo get as many information about the city as you can. Chose if to explore it on your own, or opt to join a tour of the city or book a guide and a tour of the main sites. Also, don’t forget that the food tour, anywhere in Sicily, could be a good idea (also have a look on the article about chocolate from Modica). And still, you will realize that whatever time you have at your disposal, it will be never enough.

The first European PGI chocolate might be Italian!!!

If you say Sicily you can think of beautiful island in Italy, surrounded by clear blue sea, fantastic beaches, great food. You will also remember huge archaeological sites, history and culture of this unique place. And don’t forget the Etna volcano, still active and smoking.

However, these things are not the only uniqueness of Sicily.

Modica Chocolate, produced in Sicily, has been included in the list of EU-certified products while awaiting final acknowledgement and, therefore, official protection. Actually, the PGI stands for Protected Geographical Indication and certifies the authenticity of unique products to a particular area.

This chocolate produced with old manner treatment, avoiding the industrial production is an added value to this unique product. The technique was acquired by Spaniards (who lived in the area centuries ago) and the result is an inimitable granular consistency of the Modica chocolate. The making process consists in low heat (35°-40°) elaboration of the cocoa paste.

This “old school” production procedure maintains the sugar crystals that never melt. The result is a nubby, crunchy, uneven brown colour chocolate blocks. The uniqueness of these chocolate is not only the production process or the shape. The first impression is the taste of roasted cocoa beans that can be also flavoured by nuances of cinnamon, vanilla, red chilli, coffee, Sicilian citrus flavours, pistachio, etc…

What are you waiting for… come to Italy and ask for cioccolato di Modica!!!

Rome by Night!!

If you think Rome by day is amazing, Rome by night transforms info a magical city.   The lights, the energy and the sights of people sitting outside at cafes and restaurants enjoying the Eternal City!  You will often find live music and entertainment in the Piazzas and Squares.

 

 

rome by night

The Pantheon

 

 

rome by night2

Trevi Foutain

 

rome by night3

St. Peter’s Square

 

rome by night4

Colosseum

rome by night5

Piazza Navona

When in Italy… have a cup of coffee

It will probably happen that while on holidays in Italy and in between a stroll in the Roman Forum or a visit to the Sistine Chapel you would like to enjoy a little bit more of Italian culture. You will more likely find a nice Italian bar and order a cappuccino. It that happens in the morning, that will be perfectly normal. However, if you sit down at 5pm and you order a cappuccino, the barman will immediately know that you’re not a local. In Italy to order a cappuccino after 11.30am is quite a heresy.

That’s why is would be useful to read this short and comprehensive guide of how to “have a coffee” in Italy.

First of all, if you order a “coffee” in Italy you will be served a small cup of espresso that you are usually supposed to drink at the counter. This is the “only” coffee you will get.

However, there are many other alternatives that in the land of most famous coffee producers you can find.

So please follow with attention, so you don’t end up ordering a “frappucino with cinnamon and cream”.

Cappuccino is a “morning/breakfast” drink. It’s a coffee in a large cup with hot foamed milk. There are variations of cappuccino that you can ask for and mostly they are: with cocoa on top, not too hot (ital. tiepido) and light cappuccino (which means with just a little bit of coffee).

Caffè-latte is also a breakfast drink and it is usually served in a glass. It is, exactly, a full glass of milk with the foam on top and a cup of espresso in it.

Marocchino is something that you can have any time of the day and it will be served in a cup little bit bigger than an espresso. It is composed of espresso, a sprinkle of cocoa, a spoonful of frothed milk and cocoa on top. The original recipe includes liquid chocolate spread on the inside of the cup.

marocchino

 Latte macchiato is mostly milk with just a “drop” of a coffee and it is lighter in terms of quantity of coffee than caffè- latte. It is usually served in a big glass.

And finally his Majesty, Espresso, that you can order at any time of the day. It can be ristretto – shortor even macchiato, with a drop of cold or hot milk.

You also have the choice of caffè americano, caffè decaf, espresso ristretto (short), espresso corretto (coffee with a drop of liquor in it)

Coffee time in Italian culture can be any time of the day and it is a moment that you share with friends, colleagues or it can be an excuse to invite somebody you like out. Prendere un caffè is, in general, a very easy way to take a break from work or meet someone without too much commitment. There are many ways in which coffee is tangled with Italian culture and traditions, so much that there is a whole “philosophy” of “having a coffee” in Italy. In some parts of Italy you will be served coffee with a glass of water, while in other parts (especially in Naples) they say you shouldn’t have any water after you had the cup of coffee. That’s because you should keep the delicious coffee taste in your mouth.

The “coffee culture” in Italy explains why some Italian brands became so famous all around the world. The first espresso machine was actually invented in Turin in 1884. Shortly after that Lavazza brand was created in Turin in 1895. In 1933, the same year when the first moka pot was invented, Illy caffè brand was born.

Probably the origin of this big cultural imprint that the coffee has on the Italian culture is also the historical fact that the first coffeehouse to open in Europe was in Venice in 1654.

However, in Italy there are many historical places where you still can learn a lot about the local culture and where you can discover some more variations of coffee.

While In Turin and touring the Piazza Castello and Egyptian Museums you should not miss a caffe at Bicerin or while strolling down between Piazza Castello you should stop in Piazza San Carlo and have a delicious marocchino at the bar San Carlo.

Caffè San Carlo, Turin

 In Venice, after your tour at the St Marco’s Basilica or the visit to the Dodge’s Palace you should have a seat in Florian’s Caffe located right on the Piazza San Marco. Here you will have the feeling of being transported in another era. This caffè bar was there side 1720 and you can see the pictures of some famous people who used to hang out here.

A little bit more recent, but shrouded by almost the same historical/misterious veil is caffè Camparino just right next to the Duomo in Milan.   After you finish visiting Leonardo’s Last Supper you should have a seat in Jamaica Bar. This café is a meeting point of all the famous artists, artisans, students of the nearby Academy and famous journalists. You will feel a mix of modern and bohemian atmosphere and this will be a cherry on top after you visit this beautiful part of Milan called Brera. While in Rome you should pay a visit to the Antico Caffè Greco, just few meters from the Spanish Steps. Together with a delicious coffee you will have a chance to visit one of the most beautiful private art collections inside this historical bar. The price you will pay for coffee, by tacit agreement, will include also the visit to the art collection.

Antico Caffè Greco, Rome

A little bit more affordable is Caffè Sant’Eustachio, near the Pathneon, where just after to cross the doorstep you will smell the scent of coffee beans from all over the world. In Naples, coffee is has deeper roots than anywhere else in Italy. It’s not by chance that there is a caffè called caffè napoletano and it’s made in a particular pot that you  can still find in some shops in Naples. Therefore, while visit the Piazza del Plebiscito, you must stop at the Gran Caffè Gambrinus. The bar was founded after the union of all Italian regions, but during the Belle Epoque it gains a wider attention of the people of Naples and European aristocratic and artistic personalities.

Gran Caffè Gambrinus, Naples

Whether you are an art lover or passionate about the local culture and traditions or even a foodie, just choose your coffee bar carefully, because otherwise you will miss much more than a good cup od coffee.

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