Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sightseeing in Lecce

Are you thinking of sightseeing in Lecce, Southern Italy? If so, read on for some sightseeing tips.

Visit Lecce in Italy
By Claudio Giagnoni

One of the best cities to visit in Italy is Lecce, in the Apulia region, in the south of the country. Art, history, culture are visible in every corner of Lecce and the main monuments are in the historical center of the city. Between the main touristic attractions we can reminder:

Castle of Charles V. Built by the architect Gian Giacomo dell'Acaya (1539-1549) by order of Charles V, it has a trapezoidal shape with four bastions. You can reach the defense structure, which was surrounded by a moat, filled in 1872, through two doors: one to the east, named 'False Door', and the other to the west, named ' Royal Door'. The interior has been largely changed over the years; the most ancient part is represented by the quadrangular 'mastio' dating back to the Angevins, whose hypogeum was used as a chapel, with a baroque altar inside. The other chapel in the castle is dedicated to Saint Barbara.

Church of Saint Matteo. It was built between 1667 and 1700 by the architect Carducci by command of the bishop Pappacoda. Its facade, where convex and concave volumes contrapose, recalls the Borrominian baroque. The elliptical shaped interior with a single nave shows a women's gallery along the perimeter. Noteworthy, the statues of the 12 Apostles, made in Lecce stone by the sculptor Placido Buffelli (1692), alternating with the altars.

Church of Saint Nicola. The Church (1635) with the Monastery next to it (1631) was built according to the will of the patrician Belisario Paladini from Lecce Its sober front shows on the portal the statue of the archangel Michael defeating Lucifer; the interior has a stucco-painted vault and the high altar rich with intaglios.

For your visit in the city, book hotels in Lecce.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

5 Novels Set in Italy

Are you planning a vacation to Italy. If so, you may want to whet your appetite for your trip by reading some novels set in Italy.

Books Set in Italy - Five Novels to Read Before You Travel
By Suzi Bianca

Finding yourself preparing for a trip to Italy is an enviable position to be in. It is a country filled with magnificent art and architecture, passionate people and the best ice cream in the world. But to truly get the most out of your visit, you will want to get behind the scenes of the country and delve beneath the surface -- and one of the best ways to do this is to read some books set in Italy. Here are a selection of novels that are guaranteed to make you want to jump on that plane straight away.

'The Agony and the Ecstasy' by Irving Stone

If you are traveling in Italy it is going to be hard to avoid some exposure to the Renaissance painter, sculptor and architect Michelangelo. And by reading this novel you will have a much great understanding of the man behind the art. It allows us to re-live Michelangelo's creative process, as we work with him on his marble sculptures and walk with him through the piazzas of Florence and Rome. If you want to make the most of the first time you see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, then read this novel before you do it.

'When we were Romans' by Mathew Kneale

A completely different look at Rome now, through the eyes of a nine-year old child. Lawrence's mother decides to take her children from England to the Eternal City in a bid to get away from her estranged husband. As the family wear out their welcome with friends, Lawrence learns to deal with his mother's mental illness - and while this is a sad and emotionally testing novel, we do witness something of a child's joy of discovering new places and the family's adventures in the city.

'The Rossetti Letter' by Christi Phillips

Venice is one of those places where you really feel as if little has changed since the Renaissance, and this novel does a wonderful job of taking us to both the modern city and the Venice of the past. Claire is an historian who is searching for the truth about a 17th century Venetian courtesan who managed to foil a group of Spaniards attempting to take over the city. The novel moves between the perspectives of the two women, telling us much about the city and its history. And as Claire is in Venice -- there is, of course, a little bit of romance on the cards.

'A Bell for Adano' by John Hersey

Major Joppolo is an American officer put in charge of the Sicilian city of Adano after the island's US invasion in 1943. There are plenty of great characters to fill this portrait of small town Italy during the war and it is an unashamed "feel good" novel. And while it may have been a bestseller way back in 1944, it is still a great read for us today. There are several novels written on WWII occupation, and it is refreshing to find one in which compassion and humanity play a part. Hersey won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945.

'Ratking' by Michael Dibdin

This crime novel take us to the Umbrian city of Perugia, and introduces us to Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen. When a rich industrialist is kidnapped, it's decided a detective should be sent from Rome. Despite being 'out of favour' Zen is dispatched to solve the crime. The novel gives us plenty of detail about the city as well as the character of Italian society and the police system. And if you continue reading the series of Zen novels you will have the opportunity to travel to several other cities around the country.

So if you still have a few weeks or months to go before you set off on your trip, why not begin your journey straight away with these novels set in Italy? And if you are leaving soon, then throw a couple into your carry-on bag so you have something to read on the plane. Buon Viaggio!

Suzi Bianca is the founder of Packabook Travel Novels which makes it easy to find novels set in particular locations. This is a just a taste of the novels she recommends -- visit books set in Italy for many more. With Packabook's constantly updated selection of travel novels from countries all around the world, you will always be able to choose something exceptional to read.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Sightseeing in Lombardy

If you are thinking of wine tasting and sightseeing in Lombardy, you will enjoy reading this article:

I Love Italian Travel - Wine Touring In Lombardy
by Levi Reiss

So you are planning to visit Lombardy, a region of northern Italy bordering on Switzerland, the Gulf of Taranto, and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its regional capital and largest city is Milan, the center of Italian finance, fashion, and media. Lombardy is home to La Scala, the greatest opera house in Europe, or perhaps the whole world. And the Cathedral of Milan, ooh, la, la. You will find museums galore and the massive, impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an upscale Nineteenth Century shopping mall.

Small towns in Lombardy well worth the visit include Pavia which houses an important university, Cremona the historic center of violin making, and Mantua, where Romeo fled after killing Juliet's cousin. Its Palazzo Ducale contains 500 rooms one of which took a master seven years to paint. Save some time and money to visit the lakes. Lombardy borders no sea but it is home to Lake Maggiore, Lake Iseo, Lake Orta, Lake Como, and Lake Garda which spills over into the neighboring regions of Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto. Each lake has its own special attractions, as do the lakeside towns such as Bellagio, which is considered one of the loveliest towns in Europe, and honored by a hotel of that name in Las Vegas.

Lombardy is home to three DOCG wines. Franciacorta is produced near Lake Iseo between Bergamo and Brescia. This is Italy's answer to Champagne and priced accordingly. The rosé tends to cost more than the white. Sforzato di Valtellina and Valtellina Superiore are vinified from the red Nebbiolo grape locally known as Chiavennasca. You may not be surprised that these wines comes from western Lombardy not far from Piedmont. After all, Nebbiolo is Piedmont's signature grape. Just for the record Sforzato di Valtellina is made from dried grapes and often costs more than Valtellina Superiore. The best Valtellina Superiore wines tend to come from the rocky Sassella subdistrict.

The major white grape varieties include the local Garganega (the major componenent of Soave in next-door Veneto), Trebbiano di Lugana, Riesling Renano, and its cousin, Riesling Italico. International white grape varieties include Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, the major components of Franciacorta. Regional reds include Barbera, Bonarda, Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo), and Lambrusco. Pinot Noir is found in Franciacorta and some other wines such as the high-volume Oltrepò Pavese DOC made in a wide variety of styles.

Companies selling regional wine tours include Prime Italy, Le Baccanti, Romantic Travel Destinations Getaway, and Wine Tour Italia. Regional wineries that accept visits include Berlucchi in Cortefranca, Cavalleri in Erbusco, and Sertoli Salis in Tirano. A few words of warning are in order. Make sure that you check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some places may charge admission; others may expect you to buy some of their products.

About the Author:

Over the years Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet but simply prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right foods. He teaches a variety of computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website which includes information on Italian wine and food.