Italy

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Italy.

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Veneto: Several Charming Destinations

AMIDST ROMANTICISM AND BIEN VIVRE

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Roman Arena – Verona

Located just over a hundred kilometers from Venice, Verona captivates visitors with a stunning medieval historical center, encircling the Roman Arena – the ultimate stage for musical events in summer. Although the Arena attracts music lovers/aficionados from all over the world, the haunts of Romeo and Juliet are no less popular. Above all, Verona is known as the city of love. It is the famous setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but it is also a vibrant town, boasting an intense cultural life.

You are likely to stumble upon Juliet’s house (in via Cappello 23) with its beautiful Gothic portal and famous balcony, while strolling through the streets of the ancient city, amidst squares, porticoes, aristocratic palazzi, medieval towers, churches and courts. Romeo’s house, with its imposing crenellated walls, is located just a little further on.

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Verona and Adige river

The Adige river is located just steps away, and a sunset stroll along its shores and over its historical bridges allows visitors to absorb some of Verona’s most romantic, scenic views – the perfect place to fall in love.

DISTANCE FROM VENICE: 115 km

VILLAS OF BRENTA

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Villa Pisani

The magnificent Brenta Riviera, crossed by the Brenta River and its canals, occupies most of the stretch of land that runs from Padua to Venice. Over the centuries, sumptuous villas, set in lush, beautifully tended gardens, were built on the banks of different waterways. There are approximately thirty villas, and the best way to admire them is from the water, embarking either in Padua or Venice for a pleasant day cruise, perhaps on board a ‘burchiello’, a reproduction of the ancient 18th century craft used by Venetian noblemen. Among the gems that embellish the shores, the monumental Villa Pisani in Stra, is a must see. Built in 1721 and set within one of the most beautiful parks in Italy, its interiors are enhanced by numerous works of art, including the magnificent ceiling frescoed by Tiepolo.

Palladio also left his mark on Brenta: near Mira, you will find the 16th century Villa Foscari also known as la Malcontenta. Its linear, classical facade conceals frescoed rooms and luxurious interiors that are further enhanced in the evening by flickering candlelight. In Mira, make sure to visit the 16th century Villa Contarini dei Leoni and in its vicinity Villa Widman, a spectacular 18th century complex. The last noteworthy aristocratic dwelling is Villa Sagredo in Vignovo. It was built on the remains of a medieval castle and is still inhabited, some say, by the ghost of Giovanni Sagredo, a disciple and friend of Galileo Galilei.

TREVISO

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Piazza dei Signori – Treviso

Lying at the heart of the city is piazza dei Signori, home to Palazzo dei Trecento and the elegant Loggia Dei Cavalieri. Its two rivers, the Sile and the Cagnan, meander gently amidst its streets adding a unique touch of charm to its historic centre encircled by the old town walls. Its colonnaded houses with their frescoed facades overlooking the Buranelli canal and the Isola della Pescheria tell of Treviso’s close relationship with its waters.

The artistic treasures housed in the Duomo and in the museum hub of Santa Caterina dei Servi di Mari are particularly noteworthy and include works by Bellini, Lotto, Titian and Bassano. Art lovers should make a point of visiting Casa dei Carraresi which hosts prestigious international exhibitions. A city with a beguiling charm all of its own brimming over with picturesque osterie and small cafes overlooking its squares.

DISTANCE FROM VENICE:30km

PADUA

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Padua, Italy

Padua lays claim to three thousand years of history, all of which are visible in its urban fabric, where spacious squares (the scenic Prato della Valle is the single largest square in Italy) alternate with paved alleyways, medieval houses and small aristocratic palaces. Not only the birthplace of Saint Anthony, to whom a large basilica is dedicated, but also the town housing Giotto’s magnificent frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel. No trip to Padua is complete without taking a break at one of its historic cafés (the Pedrocchi is the most famous), either drinking a cup of coffee, or sipping a ‘Spritz’ cocktail.

DISTANCE FROM VENICE: 40 km

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The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The museum, boasting one of the most important collections of the 20th century art in Europe, hosts the personal collection of American heiress and prestigious temporary exhibitions.

Located on the left-hand side of the Grand Canal, just beyond the Church of the Madonna della Salute, you will come across a building that seems strange and unfinished, but is also elegant and well-tended. The Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, formerly home to the prominent and powerful Venier family, was originally planned to become one of the most sumptuous buildings in Venice. Construction of the palazzo began in or around 1748, but was halted after only one floor was completed. Undeterred by its rather sketchy shape, and upon seeing the palazzo with its beautiful garden, eccentric American heiress Peggy Guggenheim, a lover of modern art, la dolce vita and men, fell in love with it. She purchased Palazzo Venier in 1948, and moved in with her collection of contemporary art, subsequently opening both the palazzo and her extraordinary collection of artworks to the public.

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Marguerite “Peggy” Guggenheim (August 26, 1898 – December 23, 1979)

In 1980, after her death, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection was bequeathed to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which also manages the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

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Interior of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

In 1985, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni was officially converted into a museum. Today, thanks to its 20th century collection of art, it is considered one of the most important museums in Europe. The collection includes masterpieces of Cubism, Futurism, European Abstractism, American Abstract Surrealism and Expressionism, as well as works by illustrious artists like Picasso, Pollock, Kandinsky, Miro, de Chirico and Dali. It also hosts prestigious temporary exhibitions.

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Caffe Florian and Its Three Centuries of History – Venice

With its glittering neo-Baroque decor and attractive 19th-century wall panels, today as yesterday, the Florian is undisputedly the most fashionable and aristocratic rendezvous in St. Mark’s Square, a true symbol of Venetian hospitality.

You’re in St. Mark’s Square, the great heart of Venice! Spread out before your eyes is the splendid facade of the Basilica while, under the arches, you’ll hear the soothing notes of an orchestra playing in the background. More likely than not, they’ll be coming from the nearby Caffe Florian, a real temple of Venetian taste since 1720 and a must-visit stopover for all visitors.

It was opened by Floriano Francesconi under the name of ‘Alla Venezia Trionfante’(‘To the Triumphant Venice’) and later simply rechristened Florian by its roster of customers including such figures as Casanova, Goldoni and Canaletto, to mention a few.

Since that time, celebrities from all over the world have flocked to this venue which, even today, continues to exemplify the utmost of Venetian style and taste. Ask your tour guide to wait, deposit your shopping bags and sink into its plush red velvet banquettes while you wait for one of its impeccably white-jacketed waiters to serve you a typical house specialty on a silver tray… for a real trip back in time!

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Inside of Caffe Florian

Each and every delicacy served at the Florian, from its ‘semifreddo al tiramisu’ to its quiches, are the result of the creativity of its executive chef and pastry workshop, but also its barmen who whip up some of the frothiest cappuccino in town and are renowned for their trademark cocktails.

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Semifreddo Tiramisu at Caffe Florian

An eclectic mixture of the past and the present, although the location is a haven of tradition, it is also intensely engaged in today’s world. Not only a cafe, but also a space that is famous for hosting cultural events, especially in the sphere of contemporary art: for a truly unique ‘Venetian experience’.

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Burano: A Small Italian Island With Huge Traditions

n addition to Murano and Torcello, this island on the Venetian Lagoon should not be missed. Loved (and widely photographed) by tourists, it is famous for its colourful houses, butter biscuits and above all, its handcrafted lace.

A little less famous than its twin, Murano – the island of glass, with which it is often confused, due to the similar names (only the first letter changes), lace, in no way inferior to its sibling’s blown glass, has made tiny Burano famous. With a population of only three thousand inhabitants, its colourful houses make it is one of the most picturesque places on earth.

THE HOUSES

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Colorful Houses in Burano

Thank heavens for smartphones! The idea of arriving on Burano and realizing that you’ve forgotten your camera could be a catastrophe. The island’s row of houses, whose facades boast all the colours of the rainbow, are truly spectacular! However, the origin of this tradition of painting the houses in bright colours was not only for aesthetic reasons. Legend has it that its fishermen, often confused by frequent banks of fog (and, truth be told, by the amount of liqueur consumed to keep them warm…), devised a chromatic code that would help them identify their own landing piers more easily after a long day’s fishing. Each colour corresponded to a family, to their house and to their address.

BURANO LACE

Burano’s brightly-coloured houses are not the only thing worth admiring.

The island is the capital of handmade lace, a craft kept alive for centuries by the wives of fishermen waiting for their husbands to return from sea. The work is extremely exacting, with each woman specializing in a single stitch. Since there are seven stitches in total, each piece is passed from woman to woman to finish. Groups of women work diligently for days to produce items, whether large or small, of matchless beauty: trims for dresses, accessories, tablecloths, gloves, umbrellas and masks, all made from this delicate, white lace, crafted with a painstaking attention to detail that has lasted for centuries.

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Women Making The Traditional Burano Lace

For example, though it can take up to five months to make a rectangular tablecloth for 12 people, the island’s lace makers are now equipped to deliver your item of choice to anywhere in the world. (Please note: since an authentic, handcrafted item takes hours of work, you need to be cautious if the price seems too low. The risk that the lace is not handmade and not even Venetian is now a sad reality). While on the island, make sure to visit the Museum of Lace-Making to understand why something so exquisite should not become extinct (Burano, Piazza Baldassarre Galuppi, 187).

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Sample of Burano Lace

BISCUITS AND OTHER SWEET TREATS

Butter biscuits known as Buronelli (either ring or S-shaped), are famous on the island and you will be offered them wherever you go. However, this is not the only specialty that you’ll find. The island has a long-standing gastronomic tradition linked, above all, to fresh fish. Here is our pick, among the many, of several historic eateries. Da Romono (famed for its ‘risotto di Gp’); Da Ruggero of Gotto Nero (all the pastas and desserts are made in-house, and the fish is so fresh and delicious that even Jamie Oliver has recommended Al Gatto Nero on his television show); and finally Ai Pescatori e Dal Vecio Pipa. Bon Apetit!

HOW TO REACH BURANO

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Aerial View of Burano Island

One Vaporetto line runs from Venice to Burano: the number 12. The journey lasts for approximately one hour after embarking at the Fondamente Nove stop (the Vaporetto runs at 10 minutes past and 20 minutes to the hour). If you’re not in a hurry, the Venetians recommend another alternative: you can take the 14 line from San Zaccaria (the Pieta stop), which stops at the Lido. It’s a good opportunity to take a look at the venue where the Film Festival is held, and admire the works by MOSE, the huge hydraulic engineering project completed to protect the Lagoon.

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Must-See Spots in Venice

BASILICA DI SAN MARCO

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Piazza San Marco with the Basilica and the Tower

This is the most important Catholic church in the city, and one of the most important monuments in Italy. The original church dates back to before the year 1000; inside, a triumphant array of domes and transepts, mosaics and gold, marble and numerous other treasures.

PONTE DEI SOSPIRI

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A Baroque bridge that once connected Palazzo Ducale to the prisons. The Bridge of Sighs is one of Venice’s most romantic sights. It can be accessed when visiting Palazzo Ducale.

CANAL GRANDE

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Although it is known as ‘the most beautiful street in the world’, the Canal Grande is the main waterway of Venice. Lined on both sides by an uninterrupted series of palaces, churches, hotels and other public buildings, it offers a journey back into history, evoking the pomp and splendor of the ancient Serenissima.

SCALA CONTARINI DEL BOVOLO

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The external ‘bovolo’ (snail-shell) stairwell of Palazzo Contarini – an exquisite, late Gothic building – is enclosed in a cylinder perforated like lace. The architectural beauty of the stairwell, combined with the view that can be enjoyed on reaching the top, is well worth a visit.

TEATRO LA FENICE

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Twice destroyed by fire and twice restored to its former splendour (the last time was between 1996 and 2003), for centuries La Fenice theatre has been Venice’s principal stage for world-class opera, music, theater, and ballet.

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Shopping in Luxurious Italian Style – T Fondaco dei Tedeschi

For lovers of style and innovation, just steps from the Rialto Bridge, this is the newest address for luxury shopping in Venice.

Spread out over a surface area of 7,000 square metres, the Fondaco was first constructed in 1228 and has been a part of the city of Venice for as many as eight centuries.

In addition to hosting the collections of the most coveted Italian and international fashion brands, accessories, cosmetics and fragrances, this lavish four-story department store will not only be used as a space for events, exhibitions and cultural initiatives but also as a venue designed to promote authentic Venetian craftsmanship.

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The Rooftop of T Fondaco dei Tedesch

The location will also boast a top-notch restaurant named “AMO’ helmed by a starred chef to offer visitors a one-of-a-kind gourmet gastronomic experience. And, to top it all, this stunning historic building, overlooking the Grand Canal, is also a gem of architecture which, in itself, is worth a visit! The view from the rooftop terrace is breathtaking.

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AMO Restaurant

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The Scent of Venice

Some people might be shocked to hear that Venice is the real birthplace of perfume and perfume, as we know it today, was actually invented here. Currently one of the leading producers of perfume in the world, the art of perfumery originated in the ‘Serenissima’, thanks to the curiosity, skill and pioneering spirit that has distinguished the Venetians for centuries!

For lovers of signature essences, for aficionados of history and local customs, but also for those who are eager to have more thought-provoking information about this time-honoured trade, our tour starts in Santa Croce 1992, home to the ‘Museum of Fabrics and Costumes’. This museum now boasts an entire section dedicated to perfume, a must-visit stopover for a real olfactory experience in Venice! After leaving the museum, our tour will take us to a more modern but equally fascinating location, where you can purchase exquisite aromatic souvenirs. From here we will travel onwards to the foot of the Rialto Bridge to discover the most recent ‘luxury destination’ of Venetian shopping.

A TRIP BACK IN TIME

Venice could be described as a city of achievements! In addition to its better-known accomplishments in the fields of commerce and tourism, it also boasts several records in the perfume sector. It’s interesting to note that the modern versions of perfume and soap (only used at that time for technical purposes), were invented in Venice.

The magnificent Palazzo Mocenigo houses these products and other treasures. This is a beautifully restored private residence which is worth a visit in its own right. While walking through its rooms, make sure to allow your gaze to travel upwards in order to admire its magnificent frescoes and paintings! This one-of-a-kind tour, dedicated to ‘old world Venice’, is suitable for people of all ages, and has been curated to enlighten the public about all aspects of the art of perfume-making; a fascinating mixture of alchemy, science and experimentation.

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Perfume’s Ingredients at Palazzo Mocenigo

The museum was established in 2013 thanks to the perfume company, Mavive, and the Foundation of Civic Museums in Venice. Featuring a combination of two of the greatest manifestations of Venetian creativity, namely the art of making perfume (and soap) and decorated glass, the museum offers a collection of exquisite historical artifacts (including perfume phials and atomizers), as well as rooms just waiting to be discovered. There are also paintings, clothing from past centuries and, above all, a parfumer’s workshop dedicated to the art of perfume-making both past and present.

While wandering through the different rooms, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the history of costumes and perfumes and learn some interesting historical facts. For example? Deer musk, a substance obtained from the gland of the male musk deer, was first brought to Venice by Marco Polo. A key constituent in many perfumes, it acted as a fixative when mixed with alcohol, and though commonly used today, this technique was adopted for the first time ever in Venice.

Other interesting objects that were extremely popular during that era, were perfumed gloves, widely used as a form of protection against harmful bacteria. And what about the ‘mude’? Between the Medieval ages and the early Renaissance, the Republic of Venice was built on commerce, acting as a centre of trade between Asia and Europe. The routes were organized into seven naval caravans, known as ‘mude’: the Muda of Syria, the Muda of Egypt, the Muda of ‘Tana’ and Romania, the Muda of ‘Trafego’, the Muda of ‘Barbaria’, the Muda of ‘Acque Morte’ and the Muda of Flanders. These ancient caravans or convoys allowed for the brokering of merchandise and exotic goods coming from the East, including spices, incense, wood, silk and perfumes. Thanks to the distillation of health remedies at monasteries in Venice and the production of cosmetics at apothecaries and spice shops, the Serenissima became the European centre of the art of perfume-making within a very short time.

THE ART OF PERFUMERY

Palazzo Mocenigo, Portego -

Palazzo Mocenigo, Portego

At the Palazzo Mocenigo Museum, in addition to enjoying an olfactory experience and deepening their knowledge about the history of perfume, visitors will also have a chance to discover several treasures and rare objects.

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‘Chantelaine’, a form of functional jewelry comprising a hook and multiple dangling chains for 5 items.

VENICE TREASURES

Here is presented an overview of the most interesting locations dedicated to the fascinating world of Artistic Perfumery including Palazzo Mocenigo with its sections devoted to perfumes and rare items, the historic boutique and sought-after fragrances of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in Campo San Fantin and, last but not least, T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice’s brand new, scintillating temple of luxury shopping located just steps from the Rialto Bridge.

Today Palazzo Mocenigo offers visitors an insightful journey through six rooms featuring displays of artifacts and ancient documents, multimedia instruments and sensory experiences. A private residence turned museum, the rooms of the Palazzo are now used as spaces for educational purposes, and feature olfactory stations designed to enlighten visitors about the history of perfume and essences.

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Interior of Palazzo Mocenigo

Over time, the museum has been enlarged with the opening of three new spaces: a Perfume Workshop, a Multi-media Workshop and the ‘White Room for temporary exhibitions. One of the main attractions offered by the museum is a 2-hour course (including a visit to the museum). This course is designed to teach visitor show to create and mix perfumes. Although you might not become an expert perfumer, you will be treated to a unique experience, which includes being offered a perfume kit to create your own special signature perfume! Opening hours of the museum: November-March 10am-4pm. April-October 10am-5pm. Closed on Mondays.

BOTTLED ESSENCES

The second stage of our tour to discover the art of perfume-making in Venice takes us to Campo San Fantin, home to the headquarters of the historic The Merchant of Venice boutique, located just steps from Teatro La Fenice. The ancient apothecary of San Fantin, founded around 1600 as a Spice Shop ‘under the insignia’ of San Paolo, was redesigned in Neo-Gothic style in 1864 by Giambattista Meduna, the architect who also transformed the nearby Teatro La Fenice.

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Merchant of Venice Boutique

At this exclusive location, you can find perfumes inspired by the essences that Venetian merchants imported from the Far East, a line of contemporary perfumes associated with the art of Venetian glass-making. The feminine fragrances of the Murano Collection are contained in elegant bottles inspired by exquisite hand-crafted glass, while the essences used reference the famous ‘mude’. On the other hand, the flagship store’s line of men’s perfumes is bottled in phials reminiscent of the different patterns found on olden-day Venetian costumes.

The latest addition to the collection is the new ‘Rosa Moceniga’ fragrance. A floral native of China, its name derives from the Mocenigo family, owners of a rose garden in Alvisopoli for the past 200 years. The rose species in the garden were imported from France by Lucia Mocenigo, a close friend of Josephine Bonaparte, who was passionate about these flowers. Distinguished by silvery pink petals and light veining, this lavishly feminine fragrance is the perfect expression of a rose in its natural habitat.

NEW LUXURY LIFESTYLE VENUE

We end this short tour of artistic perfumery near the Rialto Bridge, now home to T Fondaco dei Tedeschi’, the new temple of shopping in Venice, which also hosts a corner showcasing the fragrances of The Merchant of Venice.

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Inside of The Merchant of Venice boutique

The Fondaco dei Tedeschi has been a part of the history of Venice for eight centuries. It was the home and workplace of a confederation of German merchants. First constructed in 1228 and then rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1508, it was converted into a Post Office in 1808, a purpose that it served for almost a century. The building is one of the most recognizable in Venice overlooking the Grand Canal. Extending over a surface area of 7,000 square metres, T Fondaco dei Tedeschi hosts the collections of the best Italian and international fashion brands and accessories, as well as some of the most sought-after beauty products and fragrances.

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T Fondaco dei Tedeschi

This lifestyle department store will be used as a public space for events, exhibitions and cultural initiatives and as a place to promote and preserve authentic Venetian craftsmanship. The location also boasts a top-notch restaurant named “AMO” helmed by starred chef Massimiliano Alajmo, who offers visitors a one-of-a-kind gourmet gastronomic experience in perfect keeping with all its other upscale amenities.

AN ODE TO PERFUME

In his book entitled ‘A Small Guide to the Secrets of Venice’ (published by Proedi Editore), Luciano Gianfilippi says “The first scientific treaty on the subject of perfume appeared in Venice in the mid 1500s”.

Giovaventura Rosetti, the author of “Notandissimi secreti de l’arte profumatoria”, was a steward of the Arsenal of Venice. The Republic of Venice sent him on a special mission to the Middle East to learn about the secrets of perfume-making and to choose essences and spices for import to Venice. This resulted in the birth of the Venetian perfume industry which made the “Arte dei Saoneri e Profumieri della Serenissima”(The Art of Soap makers and Perfumers of the Serenissima) famous. The book was reprinted by leading Venetian perfumery and cosmetic company Mavive thanks to the interest and passion of its owner Marco Vidal. The book is now available at “The Merchant of Venice” boutique in Campo San Fantin.

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Visiting 4 Italian Beauties For A Day Full of Fun

MONZA

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Villa Reale – Monza

The beauty of its 14th century Torre dell’Arengario, its glam shopping streets and its Gothic-style Duomo, featuring marvellous frescoes depicting the life of Queen Theodelinda, make the centre of Monza well worth a visit. However, Monza’s real jewel in the crown is its famous Villa Reale, a magnificent 18th century dwelling designed by Francesco Piermarini, the architect who also designed the La Scala Opera House in Milan. Strolling through its Italianate gardens or its regal rooms is a feast for the eyes. Its rich calendar of events both inside and outside the villa includes exhibitions. Don’t miss Italy’s annual Formula 1 Grand Prix held in September at the racetrack lying behind its park.

LA VENARIA REALE

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Reggia di Venaria Reale

Lying behind the eponymous historical town, renowned for its delectable Piedmont fare and its picturesque yearly ‘Palio’, the Reggia di Venaria Reale is a true masterpiece of Baroque architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally built as a hunting lodge for the Savoys, it is now a sought-after tourist destination where visitors can admire its rooms, often used to host top-level exhibitions. Other must-visit attractions include its gardens, accessible either on foot or aboard a small convenient train. The House of Diana, the Fountain of the Stag and the Royal Stables are just some of the marvels housed in the villa’s park which is a part of the imposing Parco della Mandria, an oasis of peace for protected animal species. Don’t miss the ‘Brueghel. Masterpieces of Flemish Art’ exhibition until 19 February 2017 at the Sale delle Arti.

MANTUA

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Mantova Mantua by night

‘A city shaped like a Palazzo’: this delightful description given by academic and diplomat Baldassarre Castiglioni perfectly renders the idea of the charms and treasures offered by Mantua. Small and well designed, the city is, first and foremost, an original mixture of history and art. Originally an Etruscan settlement, it achieved its full splendour in Medieval times and, in particular, during the reign of the Gonzaga family, the Dukes of Mantua who conquered the city in 1328 and ruled benevolently until 1707. Important monuments including Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo del Podesta, Palazzo della Ragione and the churches of San Lorenzo (the “Rotonda”) and Santa Maria del Gradaro also date back to this period. The city was named Italian Capital of Culture 2016.

VENICE

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Basilica of St. Mark

The city’s major attractions, such as the awe-inspiring Basilica of St. Mark, in pure Venetian Byzantine style, the Campanile (the bell tower) and Palazzo Ducale, the Palace of the Doges, are all situated just nearby St. Mark’s Square.

Just a few steps from the square, well worth a visit are the historic Teatro della Fenice and, burdened with legend, the Bridge of Sighs, one of Venice’s most characteristic bridges together with the Ponte Rialto and Ponte delle Guglie. In terms of uniqueness, Venice tops all other cities with its canals – which can be navigated aboard one of the city’s famous gondolas – and its two islands which can be easily accessed by means of a vaporetto: Murano, where for centuries glassblowers have performed oral gymnastics turning out fantastic glass pieces, and Burano, with its characteristic coloured houses and lace.

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An Unsuspected Relationship: Japan’s Reflection in Palazzo Reale

The exhibition represents one of the most significant cultural events celebrating the 150th anniversary of relationships between Japan and Italy

The age-old friendship between Italy and the “Land of the Rising Sun” dates back to 25 August 1866 when the first Treaty of Friendship and Commerce, marking the beginning of diplomatic relations between the two countries, was signed.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the treaty, different cities in both countries have organized a series of cultural events including art exhibitions, plays and modern and traditional dance performances, film screenings, events dedicated to design and architecture but also comics, sporting events and cuisine. For example, one of the events staged in Japan includes an important exhibition on Botticelli at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.

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The Cushion Pine at Aoyama

The most significant event on the Milanese events calendar is a major retrospective at Palazzo Reale dedicated to Ukiyoe masters Hokusai Hiroshige and Utamaro, featuring a selection of 200 xylographs and illustrated books including the famous Great Wave and the Thirty Six views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai (a part of the Cushion Pine at Aoyama, dated circa 1830-1832) on loan from the Honolulu Museum of Art. On the other hand, Situations (30 September- 29 January 2017) is the first retrospective dedicated by a European institution to Kishio Suga, a key figure on the contemporary Japanese art scene.

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Great Wave and the Thirty Six views of Mount Fuji

The exhibition showcases over twenty of Suga’s installations (re-adapted by the artist for the occasion) dating from 1969 to the present in the ‘Navate’ space of Pirelli Hangar Bicocca. In parallel with the exhibitions, the public will have an opportunity to further their knowledge about Japan, thanks to the staging of several events of a scientific, artistic and cultural nature. The events program, dedicated to Japan, will culminate on 7 December with the premiere of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the La Scala Opera house.

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Le Marche: A Regional Beauty – Umbria

INTRODUCTION

Le Marche lies on the eastern side of Italy, east of Umbria, between majestic mountains and inviting sea. The region is split into five provinces: Pesaro-Urbino, Ancona, Macerata, Ascoli Piceno and the recently constituted Fermo. Its proximity to both mountains and sea makes it very appealing to prospective homebuyers. The Adriatic coastline stretches some 180km and includes some of the best Italian Blue Flag beaches, while the steep eastern slopes of Italy’s mountainous backbone, the Apennines, includes the stunning Monti Sibillini in the south.

The main autostrada, the A14, and the state highway SS16 run swiftly along the coast, but further inland they are slower as they weave up and down the region’s hills between towns. The regular intercity train connections at Ancona link the region with Bologna and Rome. Ancona is also the site of Le Marche’s international airport at Falconara, which is served by Ryanair from London Stansted.

Le Marche boasts 13 protected areas, forests and nature reserves — including the majestic Monti Sibillini — and the National Park at Monte Conero on the coast near Ancona. Historically, Le Marche has a remarkable historical heritage too, with its medieval hilltop towns and villages and more than 30 significant archaeological sites and 200 Romanesque churches, as well as beautiful Renaissance city of Urbino.

THE COAST

The coast of Le Marche stretches from Pesaro to San Benedetto del Tronto, past stretches of sandy beach and clean blue water and numerous small seaside towns and villages. The region can boast one of the highest number of Blue Flag beaches of any region in Italy. Ancona sits almost half way down the coast and is the administrative capital, and a busy port. With its Greek heritage there are many interesting styles of architecture. A lot of the coastal resorts are relatively small and retain a certain old-fashioned charm.

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Sunflowers outside Jesi, in the province of Ancona

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Piobbico, in the Province of Pesaro e Urbino

The largest seaside resort is Pesaro, in the north, which is bursting with good shops and restaurants. Famous for being the birthplace of Gioachino Rossini, the town has an annual Opera Festival. Senigallia, a little further south, is known as the ‘Velvet Beach’ with its 13km of soft, golden sand. The Conero Riviera offers the jewel of Portonovo with its Napoleonic fort, idyllic Sirolo and its spectacular golf course, and the Liberty-style architecture of Porto San Giorgio.

Continue down the coast for Pedaso, which hosts a famous mussel festival, Cupra Marittima and its imposing castle, and Grottamare with its medieval old town. Finally you come to San Benedetto del Tronto, the second largest resort after Pesaro. The fishing port is very busy in the summer with its pretty promenades and vibrant nightlife. The coast might be expensive for property, but it’s easy to get there from inland towns, so you won’t miss out if you can’t afford a home in a coastal resort.

INLAND

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Town of Urbino

Move inland from the coast and you will find the rolling hills and open fields of farming country, a peaceful landscape punctuated by pretty hilltop towns and gentle valleys. The quieter environment and slower pace of life make this is a popular area for British buyers. One of the region’s most eminent cities is Urbino. It rivals Florence for cultural significance and the more compact, bustling city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Further south, the hill town of Macerata boasts one of Europe’s most outstanding outdoor theatres, the Arena Sferisterio, built in the 19th century to resemble an ancient Roman arena. The Stagione Lirica musical festival is held here every summer.

Close to the border with Abruzzo, the ancient town of Ascoli Piceno takes its name from the Picene tribe, who were conquered by the Romans in 89BC. The city was once a stop on the via solaria (the salt route) from Rome, but now enjoys a quieter existence. With one of the most beautiful marble-paved piazze in Italy, and a wealth of medieval architecture, there’s plenty to enjoy. Many other villages dot the landscape, including Arcevia (to west of Ancona) perched on the foothills and surrounded by historic castles; Offida in the south with its unusual triangular piazza and memorable Vin Santo; and medieval Jesi, near Ancona, with its castle, cobbled streets and famous Verdicchio wines.

THE MOUNTAINS

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Monti Sibillini

The Monti Sibillini National Park was created in 1993 when 700sqm of mountainous wilderness was set aside as a site of outstanding natural beauty. Rising to more than 2,000km high, this is a popular destination for naturalists, skiers in winter and walkers in the summer. The mountains form the border with Umbria to the west and the highest peak is Mount Vettore, at 2,476m.

The area is dotted with medieval towns and criss-crossed with walking trails. There is shelter at the network of rifugi (mountain huts) across the range and all the maps and guides you need to plan your routes can be found at the Casa del Parco visitor centres. Popular nearby towns include Amandola with stunning views of the mountains, and Force, famed for its artisans and wrought iron work.

Pushing aside the considerable charm of Le Marches old buildings for a moment, don’t forget that there are also plenty of nice, modern- built apartments along the region’s gorgeous sun-kissed coastline. Summer holiday rental returns are very good all across Le Marche, but they’re especially strong along the coast. A property here might make a good investment. Coastal areas also have the advantage of having been least affected by the recent earthquakes, of course. It is mountainous areas which bore the brunt of the damage, and which, alas, are said to be more at risk of seismic activity generally than areas nearer the sea.

numana-beach

Numana, just one of Le Marche’s many pretty coastal towns

AND THE FUTURE?

A burning question in many would-be buyers minds is simply “Will there be more of these serious earthquakes?” Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say. Italy’s tectonic set-up is extremely complex (the Italian landmass is technically a bit of Africa that crashed into Europe and is still pushing north into the Alps – which its impact created).

Most of Italy has always been susceptible to earthquakes, although these are usually fairly minor. The recent spate of damaging, medium-sized quakes seem to be connected, according to seismologists, and they are thought to be the result of a stress which has been working its way northward through the Apennines. Whether that stress has now worked itself out or has more shaking to do further north is, unfortunately, anyone’s guess.

Choose a good location in Le Marche and a good property type, make sure your structure is earthquake-proofed to a high standard (this is a legal obligation anyway), and you should have little reason to worry. This is still an utterly enchanting and delightful corner of the world. And who knows? Maybe right now is the perfect time to buy your dream home here.

Villas in Le Marche

VILLA SAN LORENZO

villa-san-lorenzo

Type of property: Villa
Number of bedrooms: 5
Price: €599,000
Location: Treia (MC), Le Marche

Villa San Lorenzo is perched on a knoll in the rolling hills of Le Marche about 35km inland from the Adriatic Sea and at an elevation of 450m. The villa overlooks several medieval hill towns, Treia being one. On clear days, the Adriatic beckons from the east. The villa consists of two attached residences, both for sale and included in the price, surveying 7 hectares of farmed fields surrounding the buildings and complemented by an olive grove across the road. The villa is less than 1 hours drive from Ancona airport, and 1 hour’s drive to the sea.

VILLA AQUASANTA

villa-aquasanta

Type of property: Villa
Number of bedrooms: 5
Price: €975,000
Location Ostra (AN), Le Marche

Spacious and prestigious villa with 5 beds, 4 baths, a spacious living room, separate reading TV room, a large kitchen and a grand open staircase in the centre of the house. Fully equipped for comfort with all modern facilities. In a sheltered spot in the garden with lots of privacy you will find the beautifully landscaped pool. There is a carport for two cars and several terraces, some covered with porticos, and a large covered balcony terrace with views over the surrounding countryside and the hills, with in the background the snow-covered Apennine mountains in the winter.