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Friday, April 29, 2011

Umbria Festival: Castel di Fiori's Archeoflora in June


The Amici di Castel di Fiori will be holding its third edition of ARCHEOFLORA on June 5, 2011, in the historic village of Castel di Fiori near Montegabbione, in the Umbrian hills between Orvieto and Chiusi. This event is an annual gathering for lovers of nature and art and has become a major spring event in Umbria dedicated to flowers, plants and garden furnishings.

The exhibitors are distributed around the charming village. Throughout the day, from 9:00 a.m. until sunset, drinks, homemade cakes, pizza and pasta will be served as well as local wines. A variety of other activities will be offered, including a visit to the nearby 7th-century necropolis; a flower arrangement demonstration by the Perugia Garden Club; a visit to the nearby Scarzuola Convent and grounds, listed as one of Italy's national gardens; and the presentation of a new book by a local author.

With the goal of raising money to build a community center complete with an industrial and a community hall, the Amici has produced Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, Rossini's Cenerentola and Eduardo de Filippo's Questi Fantasmi. Record crowds from around the world have been in attendance. Given the resounding success of these and other events organized by the Amici over the years, such as numerous candlelight dinners in the square, the forthcoming ARCHEOFLORA III event is expected to live up to Castel di Fiori's reputation as a cultural venue in Umbria. And what better way to spend a day out in a rural setting, off-the-beaten track but nonetheless fascina ting, surrounded by spring flowers?

To find out more about Castel di Fiori, ARCHEOFLORA III and how you might be able to contribute, contact Kip Keenan at 0763 837 063 or at 333 22 145 47 or find Castel di Fiori on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Celebrating Easter in Rome


Holy Week (Settimana Santa) in anticipation of Easter (Pasqua) this Sunday is underway in Rome. It will be a rather intense week leading up to Easter and events will be filled with many tourists and devout locals. If you are not put-off by a little overcrowding, Rome will definitely be a rewarding experience.

On Holy Thursday (Giovedi Santo) the Pope will lead two masses. At the first, called the Chrism Mass held in St. Peter's Basilica a 9:30 a.m., the traditional oils used throughout the year are blessed. The second mass, held at St. John Lateran, is later in the evening and is conducted in remembrance of the Last Supper. The Pope washes the feet of 12 of his priests to symbolize the theme of his office “not to be served, but to serve.” While all events taking place during Holy Week at the Vatican require tickets, you can enjoy the atmosphere as there will be hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world gathered in one location for one unified cause.

Holy Friday will be a sight for those who have never witnessed a Good Friday Roman-style. All statues and crosses within Roman churches are covered in purple or black cloth up through Easter Sunday. Via Crucis (the Way of the Cross) is procession led by the Pope from the Colosseum to the Palatine Hill where pilgrims carry the cross to each of 14 stations symbolizing the passion and death of Christ.

Because on Easter Sunday, many of the city's residents and visitors will be in church, you can take advantage and explore open, public sites such as Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. The Pope will be leads 10:15 a.m. mass in St. Peter's Square. At noon, he delivers the ‘Urbi et Orbi’ message – ‘to the city and the world – from his balcony in which the Pope grants forgiveness to all Catholics. When all the blessings are dealt and the services are complete, people will be flocking to their favorite restaurants for a special feast with their families and loved ones.

The traditional Pasqua feast is the grand end to the end of Lent, including the absence of meat, and an ode to new life. The tables are decorated with fresh green flowers and ingredients. The dishes are complete with artichokes, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and of course a selection of stewed meats but traditionally it is lamb (most Italian dishes are traditionally based around meat so this long, meatless period is usually a struggle for them).

La Pasquetta (Little Easter) the Monday after Easter is a national holiday that is usually celebrated in the countryside or at the beach. In Siena, adults celebrate the day off of work with picnics in Piazza del Campo. In Panicale (Umbria) rolling the cheese (Ruzzolone) is an ancient tradition that is still practiced on this day. A nine-pound round of Pecorino cheese is hurled from atop one of Umbria's steep hills. “Spotters” are stationed at different points down the path and mark where the cheese falls.

In Fontanelice (Emilia-Romagna) the Festa della Pie Fritta celebrates two of the three most popular foods of the Holy Week, bread and eggs. The piadina is light bread that usually decorates the center of the table and is eaten more as a sweet treat than a dinner accoutrement. This is the 50th year of this festival.-- Kendra Howard

Monday, April 18, 2011

Join #italychat to Talk About Archaeology in Italy

Dream of Italy (@dreamofitaly) will be hosting another #italychat on Twitter, this Wednesday, April 20th at 3 p.m. ET. The topic will be archaeological ruins in Italy (especially which ones to visit and new discoveries travelers should know about) and our special guest will be Darius Arya, a.k.a @saverome on Twitter.

Based in Rome, Darius Arya is an archaeologist, professor, documentary host and executive director of the American Institute for Roman Culture. He has appeared in documentaries for the Discovery, History and National Geographic channels, and has been cited in articles in The New York Times and The Guardian (among others). Most recently, he appeared as an expert on National Geographic’s When Rome Ruled. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Darius received his MA and PhD from the University of Texas, Austin. He is a Fulbright Scholar and American Academy of Rome Fellow.


We're so happy to have him with us for this edition of #italychat on Twitter! If you would like to participate by reading the chat and hopefully asking and answering questions, here are some tips:



  • Be sure to use the hashtag #italychat within your Tweet so everyone can see your question, answer, contribution, etc.

  • Whether or not you have a free Twitter account, you can follow #italychat LIVE here OR here or you can come back to these links later to read the chat in full.

  • @dreamofitaly will tweet out all questions using "Q" and a number- Sample tweet for @saverome: "Q1: What is one of your favorite little-known ruins in Rome? #italychat"

  • Our special guest @saverome will tweet her answer using same number - Sample tweet from @saverome: "A1: My favorite Roman ruin is xyz #italychat"

  • Anyone else on Twitter including YOU can answer the question too using A+number as this is all about sharing great experiences and Italy travel information. Sample tweet from YOU: "A1: Actually, I went to abc and that's my favorite archeological site in Rome #italychat"

  • If you want to ask Darius or the crowd an Italy question, start your tweet with @dreamofitaly followed by the question and I will put it in the queue and give it a number (example - "Q6") and tweet it out when ready. Sample tweet from YOU: "@dreamofitaly What is the best way to see Pompeii? #italychat"

Friday, April 08, 2011

Palladio in America: The Architect on Tour

In our March 2011 issue, Julie Maris/Semel wrote about the city of Vicenza and why it is a must-visit if you are interested in architecture and the legacy of the great 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio. UNESCO has even named Palladio's buildings in Vicenza and villas in the surrounding countryside as a World Heritage Site.

If you can't make it to Vicenza right away, you can learn about Palladio right here at home. After all, on December 6, 2010, the Congress of the United States of America adopted a resolution - by unanimous vote ­- recognizing Andrea Palladio as the "father of American architecture."

In New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Public Library on Fifth Avenue, City Hall as well as United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. are studies in Palladio's bilateral symmetry. The Rotunda at Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia is encircled by pairs of columns with capitals that feature the composite order of Palladio. Pattern books that American architects and builders used in the 17th and 18th centuries were highly influenced by Palladio.

The exhibition "Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey" organized by the Royal Institute of British Architects commemorates the 500th anniversary of Palladio's birth and his influence from Italy to America. Already viewed in New York and Washington, D.C., the exhibition moves on to the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana from June 5 to July 31, 2011 and at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh from September 24 to December 31, 2011.

Photo of Palladio's statue in Vicenza by Julie Maris/Semel