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Day Trips from Turin

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Do you love day trips where you can see major sights of a town/city and cross things off your bucket list??? I love them!

From Turin I made three such day trips that I recommend for a great respite from city life.

DAY TRIPS FROM TURIN

  • LAGO DI ORTA (Lake Orta): This was my favorite and most comfortable day trip from Turin. I drove with a friend to Orta- a lesser known lake of Italy. With exceptional restaurants and views, Orta is simply magical! Imagine yourself in idyllic medieval lane ways among baroque churches and ancient shops that make you stop for a picture every 5 seconds. If you are looking for a unique day trip in and around Turin, Orta should be on the top.
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#Vespalover

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Bronze statue of an artist in love with Orta

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The island of Orta San Giulio

Orta can be reached by car or public transport. Although the train station is a little far from the lake, one can hire a taxi or take a bus to get to the lake. There is another option of walking for about 25 minutes to reach to the lake too. Orta is also very close to Lake Maggiore- another great lake of Piemonte which also forms part of the region of Lombardy and parts of Switzerland.

  • ALBA: Another great day trip from Turin is to visit the town of Alba. Globally known for truffles, Alba is also famous for wine, cheese and it’s medieval historic centre. Every year the town hosts the White Truffle Fair in October- November which is the biggest global fair of it’s kind. There are markets of local products such as cheese, wine, chocolate, porcini, hazelnuts etc which makes it high on my list of events to visit.
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Energy fix!

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No tourists at 1 p.m.

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Everyone’s gone for lunch

Reach Alba in the morning when the Bars were filled with locals and take a short walk in the centre. You will basically have it covered it in about 30 minutes flat. Finish off your day with a hearty lunch of local tajarin and be back in Turin for dinner. Trains run every hour.

  • BARBARESCO: Do you know the King of Wines comes from the region of Piemonte?? (Turin is the capital of Piemonte) Wouldn’t you love to see it?? Piemonte’s area of langhe is a great wine making commune. I was in Barbaresco for a short day trip, another great choice of day trip from Turin.
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Not a soul in sight

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A drive through Piemonte

🍷🍷I was shown around Piemonte by the lovely @valeriekq who, along with her husband, takes wine and food tours in the region. We went to the winery of @cadelbaio -a family run business that is situated on a beautiful slope overlooking small hilltop towns. After trying 5 different types of wines this is the best picture I could manage 🤣🤣 @foodieandwinelover @constantwining @yogawinetravel @casamiaitalyfoodandwine @winefolly @vinotravels21 @italian_wines @italianwinelover . . – . . #italophilia #winestagram #wineoclock #winerytour #vineyardlife #whatiate #whatidrink #whatitalyis #ilovewine #italianwine #vinorosso #redredwine #amarone #barolo #langhe #suitcasetravels #ig_piemonte #ig_turin #turinheart #volgopiemonte #prettylittletrips #prettylittleitaly #italygram #framesofitaly #girlsgottadrink #girlsborntotravel #travellingthroughtheworld #trottermag

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Valerie Quintanilla, along with her husband, takes wine and food tours in the region and kindly showed me around the winery of Ca’ del BaioThe winery is a family run business situated on a beautiful slope overlooking the hills of Piemonte. After tasting 5 different types of wines I can safely say I am glad Valerie dropped me back to Alba!

For further reading on day trips, check out these Piemonte based blogs:

Villa della Regina by TexasMominTorino

5 Day trips from Turin by Turinepi

How to do a Barolo day trip from Turin by Valerie Quintanilla

Hope you enjoyed this post.

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If you plan to visit Turin and the region, I suggest you to read these great books:

Disclosure: There are “ affiliate links” on my blog. If you click on a picture, it will take you to Amazon.in. and if you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting my blog as always. Keep Reading!

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Caffè al Bicerin dal 1763

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Want a little slice of heaven in Turin?? Consider having “Bicerin” from Caffè al Bicerin.

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Caffè al Bicerin

What is Bicerin??

Bicerin is quite simply a drink of espresso, chocolate and cream. This sinful drink topped with a secret ingredient from Caffè al Bicerin is what makes it so special! This drink was invented by Caffè al Bicerin centuries ago and has since then retained it’s recipe, style and production. The legacy is astounding!

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Caffè al Bicerin

On my visit, I was transported to the old times inside an old cafe filled with wood panels, dimly lit candles and white marble table tops. I found myself on the same seat that years ago Italy’s first Prime Minister sat in. It was such a treat! This place is run ONLY by WOMEN since centuries.. I feel that that is probably the secret of it being the best place for Bicerin in the world. What do you think?? 😉

Don’t miss visiting Caffè al Bicerin when you are in Turin and also check their specialty store next door where everything is filled with chocolate!

Bicerin comes at the price of a whooping €6 but it is really is worth every penny at least once in your life (okay more than once!).

Piazza della Consolata, 5

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Related Reading:

Five Things to do in Turin for Free

Day trips from Turin

10 Reasons to Add Turin to Your Italy List

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There’s more to Italy than just the big cities. Don’t me wrong, I love the modern side of Milan and the bohemian quarters of Rome but a traveler visiting just these cities in Italy is missing a lot. One needs to re-consider and explore the unconventional choices as well and maybe add a few days to make it to Turin (an hour from Milan)

While searching for new places to visit in Italy I found Turin (Torino in Italian) many years ago. However, I couldn’t visit it until this year when I found really cheap deals from Delhi to Rome and Milan via Kuwait Airways. I think that was what pushed me to book my tickets and start my love affair with Italy’s first capital Turin.

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Here are my top 10 reasons to add Turin to your Italian Bucket List:

NOT AS CROWDED AS THE BIG 3: Would you like a holiday away from the crowds and for a change not be pushed and shoved at?? Turin is your choice then! It is less crowded and quieter compared to the big 3 (Rome, Venice and Florence) and also more pleasant. I was in Turin in the peak season and could eat, drink and walk around without being shoved at. Exactly how a vacation should be! So visit Turin before the city gets run down by mass tourism and consider this post as one of the many posts on what to do in Turin.

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10 Reasons to Add Turin to Your Italy List

BICERIN BICERIN BICERIN: I cannot stress this fact enough….Turin=Bicerin and Bicerin=Turin. I refuse to have it anywhere else even if I am offered money! Until you haven’t had this heavenly drink, you won’t know what I’m saying… So go to Turin! And FYI Bicerin is a sinful combination of chocolate, espresso and milk with a touch of Turin magic! This should be added to your things to do in Turin.

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10 Reasons to Add Turin to Your Italy List

CINEMA MUSEUM, EYGPTIAN MUSEUM AND …A FIAT MUSEUM: Museum and history lovers rejoice! Turin is a haven for all of you. There is so much to see and do in Turin, that you might find time to be short. Apart from the amazing Cinema and Fiat museums, there are also stunning palaces of the Savoy Kings and Queens to be visited.

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10 Reasons to Add Turin to Your Italy List

EATALY: If you ever curious about an Italian food museum, don’t be now. There is one! And in my humble opinion, it’s called Eataly! You will find everything “Italian” under one roof. So imagine those tasty holiday treats that your Italian friends share or those vintage looking candy bars that you always wanted… Hunt no more… Consider going here with an empty stomach and a full credit limit! Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

Excuse me while I sit errr…. have a hot cup of Illy 😉☕

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RIVER PO: Before visiting Turin, I thought the only thing missing in the city was the water…. I was wrong. The river Po flows through the city and makes everything look scenic and romantic as it divides Turin in two. In the evening when the city lights are up, the river gives a misty element and almost make a lovely painting. Wouldn’t you add Turin to your Italy list??

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10 Reasons to Add Turin to Your Italy List

“Senza l’Italia, Torino sarebbe più o meno la stessa. Ma senza Torino, l’Italia sarebbe molto diversa”- Umberto Eco

“Without Italy, Torino would be more or less the same, but without Torino, Italy would be very different”- Umberto Eco

HISTORIC SHOPS AND APERITIVO: Vienna and Rome have been my top choices for cities with historic coffee shops. But now there’s one more to the list! Turin not only has excellent historic shops but also has the old fashioned vibe. Imagine furniture from the retro era and waiters serving in old bow ties….. In Turin time really stands still. The city is also the birthplace of Aperitivo. I’m not complaining. Are you??! Travel to Turin!

GETAWAY TO THE COUNTRYSIDE: In about 30 minutes you can cross Turin’s elegant city life and head to the nearest vineyard or the prettiest side of the country! In about an hour’s drive you can reach the lakes of Maggiore and Orta that make for two stunning day trips. There’s a long list of historic towns such as Alba and Bra famous for truffles, wine and cheese. Mamma mia! Traveling to Turin is such an advantage.

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10 Reasons to Add Turin to Your Italy List

PIAZZE AND PORTICOES: The piazze (public squares) in Turin don’t call for attention…They are elegant, chic and effortless. Add a little drama of art nouveau and baroque and that’s Turin for you. Since the city happens to be very spacious, you can possibly be the only one at a piazza even at 8-9 in the morning.

Oh Turin, you are so royal!😍

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LITERARY LOVE: There is literature surrounding the whole city as writers such as Umberto Eco, Mark Twain, Primo Levi, Italo Calvino, Friedrich Nietzsche have visited and admired the city. It is a celebration of Italian literature to walk the same streets as the writers of the bygone eras. Additionally, Turin has some amazing bookshops. Being an avid reader and bookish traveler, I could not “not” visit Turin’s bookshops. There are plenty on Via Po. And oh did I mention the book fair Salone del Libro?? It happens in May every year! Definitely visit Turin.

OLD WORLD TRAMS: If historic stores and old world cafés aren’t enough for you, the city is also filled with vintage trams. There is a healthy mix of old and modern as a metro line connects the newer parts of the city. I, born an old soul, avoided the metro and loved hopping in different trams….Sometimes even without a reason.

Related Reading:

Day trips from Turin

Five Things to do in Turin (for free)

So are you sold to visit Turin??

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If you plan to visit Turin and the region, I suggest you to read these great books:

Disclosure: There are “ affiliate links” on my blog. If you click on a picture and make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting Italophilia!

From Murano to India with Ikroop

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Do you believe we are meant to meet people for a reason?? So far, many people have come and gone in my life, but there have been some that I can vouch came for a very solid reason. Today I share about how I met one. Ikroop Dhillon, owner and curator of the Glass Art Jewellery brand Ikroop, was on my Instagram feed one day.

The article read – how travels to Murano in Italy was a “life changing” event. This captured my attention and I opened it to find an interview where Ikroop was talking about her glassware business for the Verve magazine. I was immediately enticed and soon contacted her!

Ikroop warmly asked to meet up for a cup of coffee and we chatted about her glass art jewellery and my love for all things Italian. Her story was dreamy as most of her business inspiration comes from the island of Murano-renowed globally for its glassware.

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Ikroop: I picked this for myself.

The best part is that her inspiration got the better of her when she decided to turn her love for glassware to a business! Most of her collection is inspired from her Murano travel where she saw beautiful art created from blown glass. She started the brand “Ikroop” after working with the famous glass artist Atul Bakshi. Once she gained knowledge of the process, she realized her forte and started making minimalist glass art jewellery. Her collection is versatile and classy, making it every woman’s dream!

There are various colours fused together to create every type of pendants, rings, earrings and neck pieces. I felt that there is something for everyone on her website and I myself picked up a beautiful pendant that can be worn for both any kind of event whether a party or a business meeting.

red pendent

Image Credits: Ikroop Dhillon

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Image Credits: Ikroop Dhillon

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The lovely Ikroop

Owning a glass jewellery isn’t common in India (as opposed to Italy).However, I hope that with brands such as Ikroop it becomes part of every woman’s wardrobe. I would have never have imagined I’d meet a fellow Italophilie living only 7 kms from my house and inspired from travels to Italy as much I am!

Thank You Italy for another fabulous connection!

Follow Ikroop’s stunning collection on her Instagram or Facebook page. Also check these great books on Italy and Venice.

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Wine Tasting Inside Piscine Romane

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The Piscine Romane or the Roman cisterns are located in the city of Fermo in Le Marche and form a huge underground archaeological complex. They are close to the main piazza and are built with mind blowing engineering details that makes it possible to use them even today. Thanks to the Mayor of Fermo, DiscoverMarche and the lovely hosts from Vigneti Santa Liberata, I was able not only to see the historic site but also have a specially curated wine tasting inside it.

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Piscine Romane, Fermo

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Piscine Romane, Fermo

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Piscine Romane, Fermo

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Piscine Romane, Fermo

With our wines in hind inside the cisterns, we walked inside the dimly lit area which is believed to be built around 1 century A.D. It is a commendable feat that these cisterns made thousands of years ago work even today! Can you imagine that even now they are in working condition and almost perfectly preserved??! I am unable to fathom the time, resources and brains gone into making them and having an underground method to provide water to the city till today.

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Piscine Romane, Fermo

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Piscine Romane, Fermo

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Piscine Romane, Fermo

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Piscine Romane, Fermo

What an experience!

Important Info:

-The entry to the Piscine Romane costs a mere € 6,50 which includes a guided tour along with entries to parts of Palazzo dei Priori, Teatro dell’Aquila and Scientific Museums of Villa Vitali.

-A jacket is highly recommended when visiting the complex as the underground is extremely cold.

-The Piscine Romane are one of the most intriguing places in Le Marche and one that should not be missed if you are crossing by or in Marche.

-For more information visit the town’s official page.

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Related Reading:

The Holy Town of Loreto

Medieval Fermo and it’s historic Sites

Numana: A Jewel of the Adriatic

The Literary Town of Recanati

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Recanati in Le Marche is a literary town of/for/by the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi. I say that not only because Leopardi was born here but also because he spent a majority part of his life writing poems inspired by the town. Even though Leopardi had a conflicting relationship with Recanati, one of his most famous poems L’Infinito” (The Infinite) was written from a solitary hill of this town. Now, a famous vantage point, the hill is called “Hill of the Infinite” and has views that go as far as the Sibillini Mountains.

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Recanati, Le Marche: Hill of the Infinte

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Recanati, Le Marche: Piazza Leopardi

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Recanati, Le Marche: Palazzo Communale

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Recanati, Le Marche: Leopardi’s statue in the piazza

Giacomo Leopardi wrote many poems in his short lifetime of 38 years but there are a few that stand out. “A Silvia”, published in 1828, shows his sad and tumultuous life state as he describes a girl he is in love with. The girl lives opposite the piazza where Leopardi’s house is but he cannot win her as she is below his stature. Another popular poem “Il Sabato del Villaggio” (Saturday in the Village) describes the same piazza opposite his house and tells the tales of people who come and go.

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Recanati, Le Marche: Silvia’s house (Was her name really Silvia?)

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Recanati, Le Marche: Leopardi’s House a.k.a Palazzo Leopardi

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Recanati, Le Marche: The piazza dividing the two places

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Recanati, Le Marche: Streets of Recanati

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Recanati, Le Marche: The town evokes sadness on a grey day

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Recanati, Le Marche: If this corner could talk….

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Recanati, Le Marche: and this one too..

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Recanati, Le Marche: Chiesa di San Vito

Recanati is a fascinating town that evoked a sense of sadness in me. Even as I write I remember the feeling of walking through the streets and thinking of the story of Leopardi.

In 2014, the popular film “Il Giovane Favoloso” (Leopardi) captured the essence of the poet. Ever since then, the town has been revamped and the streets are decorated with the poems of Leopardi at every bend. It gives Recanati a real picture of being called a Literary city.

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Recanati, Le Marche: I found the Italian of that era extremely difficult.

Giacomo Leopardi: 1798-1837

Related Reading:

Medieval Fermo and it’s historic Sites

Numana: A Jewel of the Adriatic

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The Sleepy Little Town of Castelfidardo

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You know the Italian town that makes the best hand made Accordions?? It is Castelfidardo in Le Marche. I never knew about it until I went there this summer! However, Castelfidardo wasn’t really for me. It does not come in my “must see” sights of Le Marche and can easily be skipped. I found the town to be boring and this might be the first time I am saying this for any Italian town.

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Probably the rare time when I saw someone in the centre

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There is an International Accordion Museum in Castelfidardo

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The view from the main piazza

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From my apartment

Accordions available for young and old on Amazon

If you are visiting Ancona and the surrounding areas, stop anywhere else but here! But the only reason you might want to visit Castelfidardo is because of it’s proximity to the sea and historic towns of Marche. Otherwise everything in this town is slow and practically closed. Until May 2016, there was one good Bar (usually not crowded), a few odd shops selling the Accordion and a bookstore and few quick service food joints.

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I don’t remember reading the name of this Torre (Tower)

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Vicolo

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The quaintest corner

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They were equally happy to get a picture clicked!

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Nothing is open and it was 7 p.m.

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There was a bookstore at the corner

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On a clear day, you can see the sea

There is one place not to be missed in case you end up visiting Castelfidardo and that is one of the oldest bread shops in Le Marche! Just at the entrance of the town, this Panetteria Pizzeria is owned by an old lady (picture below) who has been making fresh bread for the town since decades. Even after her husband passing away recently, she made sure to continue the business. She starts work at 4 a.m in the morning and there is fresh bread and pizza rossa for everyone everyday!

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The owner of one of the oldest bread shops

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Be sure to visit and say hello to the lady!

Related Reading:

The Holy Town of Loreto

Medieval Fermo and it’s historic Sites

Numana: A Jewel of the Adriatic

Cooking at Fabrica del Gusto in Fabriano

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It was a usual day in medieval Fabriano for everyone but me because I was going for my first ever Italian cooking class! I wanted to learn something local and found the cooking school – Fabrica del Gusto to be perfect for my needs. 

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Fabrica del Gusto, Fabriano

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Fabrica del Gusto, Fabriano

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Fabrica del Gusto, Fabriano

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Fabrica del Gusto, Fabriano

Fabrica del Gusto was a 5 minute drive from the city centre and I was welcomed by Silvia (one of the owners) at the door. To tell you all a little about the cooking school, it was started by Silvia and her business partner Donatella out of their passion for local products and their land.

The two ladies provide several creative workshops and cooking events for both individuals and groups alike. They even have workshops for kids! Fabrica del Gusto is an adorable corner in the heart of Fabriano and is filled with passion for all things local. It really is a very well thought space where I learnt to make “Ciambelline al Vino e Anice” which in simple words means cookies with wine and fennel.

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Fabrica del Gusto, Fabriano

We made the Ciambelline quite slowly as we spoke about Le Marche and Silvia’s love for traveling and her curiosity about India. It was an afternoon of eating and relaxation with some cookies packed for my trip back home!

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Fabrica del Gusto, Fabriano

Cookies dipped in red wine!! Isn’t that the ultimate foodgasm ever?? Do give it a try and if you are ever in Le Marche, take a cooking class with Fabrica del Gusto and say hello to Silvia for me! Donatella- I hope to meet you next time.

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Fabrica del Gusto, Fabriano

I am linking my friend Rosemarie’s recipe for your benefit!!

To book a class with Fabrica del Gusto email them at info@fabricadelgusto.it or call at +39 3282234499.

Disclaimer: Silvia and Donatella were kind to offer me the cooking class for free but as always the opinions here are my own. Thank you for this connection, DiscoverMarche.

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Medieval Fermo and it’s Historic Sites

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Fermo is a medieval town in the southern part of Le Marche. Situated on top of a hill with a view of the surrounding villages, Fermo is possibly the richest of all Le Marche towns I have seen. Culturally speaking.

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Medieval Fermo and Piazza del Popolo

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Medieval Fermo and Regional flags

Medieval Fermo in Le Marche

Practically devoid of tourists, Fermo has the most beautiful and linear piazza in all of Marche. The town is dotted with lovely boutiques and cafes, a gigantic town hall and a rich historic library. Unfortunately I was able to see only one of the things above because Fermo was hit by an earthquake in August 2016 that left most of its treasures in ruins. The thought of it is heartbreaking and it was even sadder to see the state of things myself.

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A line of shops and coffee shops

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Medieval Fermo and its men

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Medieval Fermo and cappuccino with Ginseng

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Medieval Fermo from a part of Biblioteca Civica

Fermo has a very rich line of cultural sites.

The Biblioteca Civica Romolo Spezioli (closed due to the earthquake) is a popular public library with a Globe Room and manuscripts, documents and designs from the 17th century. There is also a modern library just next to it with computerized catalogues. The Biblioteca is known to be a treasure of the town that many mentioned to me. I have it on my list for next time.

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Biblioteca Civica Romolo Spezioli (Image Credits: ledonneincorriera.it)

Another important cultural site is the Palazzo dei Priori from the 13th century. The Palazzo was also closed to the earthquake as was the Civic Art gallery. Kept for next time!

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Medieval Fermo: Palazzo dei Priori

The other cultural site is the historic Teatro dell’Aquila. Thankfully a local helped us to get inside even though there was an International Violin Competition going on. The theatre, which was made in the 18th century, is known to be most important for many cultural activities of Le Marche.

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Medieval Fermo: Inside Teatro dell’Aquila

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Medieval Fermo: Ongoing Violin competition

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Medieval Fermo: Chandelier from 1830

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Medieval Fermo: I want to listen to the Opera

Hope you enjoyed a walk in the town with me. I once again thank DiscoverMarche and the Mayor of Fermo for making my short stay in the town so rich and inspiring. The Mayor was kind enough to gift me a frame of the Biblioteca Comunale that I will soon get framed! Grazie mille!

How to Reach Fermo:

Fermo can be reached from the Ancona airport with a car or from the Porto San Giorgio railway station. There are buses from the train station every 30 minutes to the centre of Fermo.

Vineyard Walk at Vigneti Santa Liberata

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If you ask me what is the most important part of travel in Italy for me, I would first and foremost mention its the people. I have been fortunate to have met and befriended such lovely souls people over the past few years that my belief while saying this grows each time. There have been so many people who have supported me for my love for all things Italian.

Check these 5 ROMANTIC TOWNS IN ITALY (Beyond the obvious)

Vigneti Santa Liberata

In Le Marche too, I met Giorgio Savini with his niece Martina Savini- two lovely souls who went an extra mile to show the best of their region. The Savinis run the Vigneti Santa Liberata near Fermo and their wines are made with great passion and care.

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

Filled with great vigor and passion, it was a treat to listen to their story and walk in their vineyard. Wine making has been (not surprisingly) in their family since 1934 and they aim to make wine using high quality organic farming. Their passion and love for Le Marche was heartwarming and you could really understand they had poured their heart into the business! Martina with whom I could instantly connect to was a joy to speak to!

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

We had a long walk in their vineyards followed by a wine tasting where I tried their Rosso Piceno DOC Le ReneRosso Piceno DOC Vigna Cacià and Marche Rosso IGT Dàidalos. My favorite was the DOC Vigna Cacia, it absolutely was to my taste!

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Image credits: Santa Liberata

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

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Vigneti Santa Liberata

If you are looking to taste some wines of Le Marche, plan a visit to their vineyard near Fermo. They organize wine tastings and tours and are the best way to see something offbeat in and around the area. Even from Ancona it is well worth a day’s trip. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

info@vinisantaliberata.it

Check these 5 ROMANTIC TOWNS IN ITALY (Beyond the obvious)

Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum

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A windy morning in Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark museum with DiscoverMarche had me smitten. Not many know that the town of Fabriano in the region of Le Marche, Italy has been making paper since the 12th century. Can you imagine how it felt to walk through the doors where this UNESCO creative city has been inspiring companies and individuals alike since centuries?!

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: From the middle ages

Fabriano’s old techniques to refine and process paper is famous across the world. The paper made in the town goes everywhere you can possibly imagine and my own country gets paper for its currency from here- a fact that I got to know only then.

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Benvenuti! Welcome!

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Since 1264 stayed with me

That is why Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum is a hidden gem. There are guided tours available in Italian and English, a little souvenir shop with inexpensive handmade paper and a demonstration of the finest watermarks in relation to the modern currencies.

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Have a seat!

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Ancient and modern

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and told us about the story of Fabriano as an ancient city. She was working in the museum since over 2 decades and was very fierce about her work. A fun conversationalist, she was also interested in the Indian culture and hoped to visit Delhi soon.

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: First floor display

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Does this mean a binder??

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: The second floor

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: An art and paper exhibit

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Old equipment from the 18th century

We were shown a live demonstration of the process of paper making with working machinery from the 18th century. She also told us about the hydraulic hammer which was invented in Europe. It fascinated me immensely and I wished I had more time to spend in the museum.

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Showing the process of paper making

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Paper is left to dry

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: More equipment

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: Watermarks are fascinating!

During my visit there was also an ongoing International Festival of Watercolor Paintings with hundreds of paintings to see. There was a children’s group from one of the neighbouring schools that came to see the legacy left behind. All in all, it was a captivating visit that left me intrigued. If given a chance, would you visit this museum??

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Fabriano’s Paper and Watermark Museum: A school tour

Important Info:

-Booking your tickets in advance is recommended since English guides are not available every day.

-Fabriano’s train station is a short walk from the centre. If you are traveling from Rome, it takes about 3 hours to reach. From Ancona it is only an hour’s journey.

-A little research online made me realize how easily the paper from Fabriano is available. Check this link below to buy Fabriano paper.

Disclaimer: There are “ affiliate links” on my blog. This means that if you happen to purchase something through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting Italophilia! 🙂

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Ispirazione: Of Dreams, Miracles and Sketching Tours

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Today I want to introduce you all Kelly Medfort of Sketching Rome Tours! Kelly is an artist who takes Sketching Tours in Rome. The concept of these tours is exactly how it sounds. It is a unique way of slowing down and enjoying travels in the eternal city using watercolors. No prior experience is required!

SKETCHING ROME TOURS

Kelly’s story of living in Italy as an artist is very inspiring and am so glad to have met her this summer in Rome. Let’s know more about her….

How did Italy happen?? What made you think of choosing it??

Even though I am an artist I never thought or dreamt of moving to Italy to paint. I was studying in the U.S. and apprenticing to a painter and his wife who ever summer traveled to Italy to paint landscapes and stay with their friends in a castle on a hill in Tuscany, just outside the town of Anghiari. Since I was the apprentice they offered for me to join in for a month of landscape painting, of which I had little to no experience, I always painted still lives and such in the studio. Of course I said yes, what a magical opportunity it was and what I did not know is that it would change the entire course of my life!

Now, I did not speak one single word of Italian and that did not deter me, so off I went.

I stayed in a cheap hostel in Piazza Vittorio. At the end of our course and time painting together my painting teacher suggested that I apply to a small private atelier in Florence called the Florence Academy of Art. He personally knew the director and said he would give me a recommendation. When I got back to the US, I applied to the school only to hear back that there was a 1 ½ year waiting list. Time passed and one day just a week or so before Christmas I got a phone call, it was The Florence Academy. Apparently they had an opening, but I had to be there for class to start on January 2nd.

I said I would be there, having in reality no idea how I would get there. As a student I had no money to speak of, much less to fly, live and study in Florence, Italy. The next day I went to the study abroad office at my university and asked about any possible grants or scholarships. They told me that almost no one had applied to study abroad, so if I filled out the paperwork I could have a full year’s grant to study anywhere in the world. This included my airfare, tuition, living expenses, everything.

Nothing short of a miracle.

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Did you know any Italian beforehand?? How was your experience learning in the first few months??

January 1st 2005 I moved to Italy and never looked back. I had started to take some Italian lessons, but still could by no means communicate with anyone about anything really, it was slightly disheartening, but I was not worried. After a year I still spoke very little Italian. I had to decide what to do, so I decided to stay in Italy and to paint. I wanted to see Italy, to meet real Italians, to learn more about the people, language, food, culture, everything I had missed out on during my intense year of study with people from everywhere but Italy. So I invented a (sort of) plan. My plan was to work as an artist’s model and to spend every other free moment painting. But this time I was going to take my easel outside and paint so that I could see Italy, interact with Italians. I realized that in Italy all of life and everything that happens is outdoors in the streets, the shops, markets and piazzas.

I moved to the countryside where absolutely no one spoke English and studied my conjugation book of Italian verbs like it was my new bible. I made a complete fool of myself more times than I could possibly count. Luckily Italians are kind and compassionate, each individual that I interacted with helped me to learn a little bit more each day by gently correcting and encouraging me to keep speaking with them in Italian.

When I moved back to the city of Florence I decided to take an actual Italian class and private lessons weekly. My Italian began to improve and I could have actual conversations about menial but important things like how I would like my coffee (a highly individualized affair in Italy). 

What tips would you give to readers who are learning Italian??

Over the years I have had many Italian roommates, a couple of Italian boyfriends, worked with and made mostly Italian friends. The best way I found to learn Italian is:

->By doing activities which give you a whole new set of vocabulary. For instance I took swimming lessons, joined the Rome urban sketchers group and went on guided tours in Italian or took any kind of classes if at all possible in Italian.

->I helped Italian friends translate documents into English so that I can learn more Italian.

->I went to networking mixers with Italians. Not only is it a great way to make new Italian friends, but also the way to keep expanding your vocabulary.

->Another amazing way to learn Italian is if you have a dog! Everyone else with a dog will talk to you and ask you first about your dog and then about you, that’s how I made a few friends who even invited me out for pizza.

What people don’t tell you, or what I never understood until I was here in Italy learning Italian, is that learning a language is not just learning how to string words together in the right order along with the correct verb conjugation, but in learning a language you have to learn so much more in order to know what people are talking about.

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What an inspiring story, Kelly! After hearing it, all I can say is that miracles do happen, never give up and keep following your dreams.

Follow Kelly on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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When Italo Calvino Taught Me About Fairy Tales

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I’m currently reading Italo Calvino’s “Fiabe per le bambine” and when I say I’m reading, I’m probably flipping through. Why?? Because it is a very tough read. At least for me, at least for now.

I have been ignoring my Italian practice since weeks and definitely feel the need to push myself. (Tips??) My main aim is to jot down new words and update my slow paced Italian dictionary every day.

Here are a few new words I loved from this well illustrated book:

Maga: sorceress

Finché: as long as

Barbarie: brutality or lack of civilization

Scaltro: shrewd

Ribaltare: tip or topple

Fermo: firm or steady

Saltare: Jump or leap

Scodella: bowl

Invidia: envy/jealousy

Provvista: supply

Rosicchiare: nibble

Also, what are you reading??

#BooksOnItaly: Contemporary and Travel

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Have you read these books based in Italy??

Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson:

Believe it or not, even after many trips to Italy, I haven’t been to Naples. After reading this book (and the Elena Ferrante series) I realize how much the city has to offer. Only in Naples is an honest account of the author’s journey and how she embraces life in a new place. Having a strong connection to Italy like many Italophiles, Ms. Wilson describes her love life and Neopolitan mother in law in a cheeky and fun way that makes it a light beach read. She explains small acts of kindness that people do for her to make her settle in the new city and the glorious food she eats which genuinely made me fall in love with the story. The characters, mainly the mother-in-law, are also obvious choices. As in most memoirs, there are some things I didn’t relate to at all, so I’d just suggest to keep an open mind. Just let the city of Naples charm you with its people and forgot the author’s constant mention of her upper class status for a while.

Region: Campania

Venetian Blood by Christine Evelyn Volker: This was a recent find thanks to ItalyBookTours. It is very evident from the beginning that the author is fond of Venice and Italian culture as she has used the Italian language more than moderately in titles and sentences of the book. She explains Venice as a historic city close to her heart with a ton of cultural and architectural references. It is important to read the book at a leisurely pace because the book is unrushed. You have to wait almost at the end to know even a hint of the killer. Apart from that, the reader is really shown Venice through the author’s descriptions. Reading Venetian Blood was akin to experiencing the murder story in Venice myself as the author talks about how everyone knows everyone else in the city, how food is given paramount importance whether it is a bite of spezzatino or cicchetti or a glass of caffè or prosecco and how the church bells make you fall in love with the the dreamy city. Overall, a welcome change from the many romantic titles based in Venice. Personally, it should be read more for the cultural and historic aspects than the story. I really applaud the author for the effort and research gone into this book as she has made Venice seem more alive than ever.

Region: Veneto

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt: If you are looking to delve into history and read about Italy 100 years back, this is the book to pick. I took ages to finish it (seriously!!) and almost gave up in the middle but kept going for some reason. The writing isn’t easy, well.. because this book was written aeons ago. The author takes the reader back in time and tells everything possible on the Italian Renaissance in relation to Italian history, culture, art and science. He describes it by understanding the people and political hierarchy during those days. Although it might sound very historic and boring but once you pick the book, it is interesting especially if you are into art and culture. The only downside is that it is written for his fellows so Burckhardt makes a lot of generalizations in the copy that are not understandable.

Region: Italy

I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti: I am amazed by the different themes in Italian literature and this book speaks immensely of a coming of age theme. Not to give any spoilers, this novel is about the loss of childhood innocence. With beautiful descriptions of Southern Italy and it’s countryside, the narration of the story is done by a 9 year old child. This immediately encapsulated me even though the book is set in the year 1978. There are parts that are slow but the book is short and can be finished in two sittings. I love the simple style of writing and applaud the translator for doing such a great job. I hear this book was made into a popular movie too. Now excited to watch!

Region: Southern Italy

Related Reading:

Five Favorite Books on Italy

Ten Favorite Books on Italy

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Disclosure: There are “ affiliate links” on my blog. If you click on a picture and make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting Italophilia!

More Charming Towns in Italy

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As if we needed more towns to fill our lengthy Italian list (we actually did, right??) here are some more Charming Small Towns in Italy:

Alba:

Alba is nestled in the region of Piemonte and is a perfect getaway from Turin/Milan. It is another charming town full of small shops selling a wide variety of truffles and wine. Surrounded by vineyards, Alba is super picturesque. It has a small historic centre walk able enough in 15 minutes and has no dearth of places to eat. Alba is quite touristy in the summer but you will still find a spot for yourself to sit in and enjoy.

How to reach: Take a direct train from Turin’s Porta Susa station and spend the day in Alba. If you are traveling from Milan, spend the night in Alba as it is hectic for a day trip.

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy: The colorful town of Alba

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy: Piazza Risorgimento

Fermo:

The whole of Le Marche is a dream and if you check the map of Italy, you will realize it boasts a strong coastline. However, that does not mean Marche is devoid of hilltop towns. We have Fermo- another small charming town in Italy with a gorgeous piazza and a charm from the old times. Unfortunately, Fermo was recently hit by an earthquake so most of the cultural spaces were in restoration (as of May 2017). But you can still take a walk or relax by an old Bar.

How to reach: A hired car is the best way to navigate in the region of Le Marche.

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy: Fermo, Piazza del Popolo

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy: A Bar in Fermo

Orta San Giulio:

When I talk of Orta San Giulio, I am talking of narrow cobbled streets filled with small stores and splendid lakeside views. Orta San Giulio is a characteristic small town in Italy that I would happily settle in! It’s surroundings beseech me to write a poem. This lakeside town has an indescribable atmosphere!

How to reach: Hiring a car is the best way to reach till the town of Orta. But there is a train station at Orta Miasino that requires a train change at Novara. From Orta Miasino take a cab or walk if you are brave enough.

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy: Piazza Motta

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy: Island of San Giulio

Numana:

Another charming small town in Marche is the beach town of Numana. It’s old historic side is colorful and has many vantage points for spectacular views of the Adriatic! Numana has a laid back vibe where you might want to book a few nights. There are boutiques for your shopping needs and pretty alleyways to fill your growing wanderlust.

How to reach: A hired car is the best way to navigate in the region of Le Marche.

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy: Views of Adriatic

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy: Numana alta

Tell me if you liked this list of 5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy. I’d love more suggestions as always!

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Ispirazione: Smitten with A Merry Feast

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There are some people whom you’ve never met in real life, yet you think you have. Does that happen with you?? Heather of a Merry Feast is one such example for me. Heather and I connected over our mutual Italy love many years ago and have been in touch through emails and Facebook messages ever since. Heather has a very interesting story as she and her family lived in Italy for about 3 years until 2015 before returning to their home in Idaho.

One of the best things about her moving back to the States is that she has kept Italy alive in Idaho in the best way. Heather has an online Italy themed goodie shop by the name of Smitten Italy. To have to have some fun splashes of Italy in her life, she designed “Italian” themed bold + cheeky designs and products! Whether you are a fellow Italophile or not, I guarantee you, you will simply love them! I think they make perfect gifts and am already waiting to place a huge order myself! Let’s welcome Heather on Italophilia and hear her story!

How did Italy happen?? What made you think of choosing it??

My husband Chris and I have been traveling to Italy for years and like many other travelers, secretly dreamed of living there someday when the kids were grown and on their own. We never imagined that we’d get the opportunity to move our entire family there when a job opportunity arose for Chris in Milan in late 2012. We didn’t hesitate, and soon we were eyeball deep in the details of relocating our family of 4 (plus 2 pups) to Italy.

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Heather and her beautiful family

Did you know any Italian beforehand?? How was your experience learning in the first few months??
When we arrived in Milan, our Italian was limited to what I’d call “travelers Italian”. We knew enough to get around well by car or public transportation, ask questions and of course, order at restaurants! None of us had time to formally take lessons before the move, so we all dove into lessons headfirst soon after we arrived. I have to admit that I had no idea how unprepared I was until we moved into our house and started getting settled.

“Vacation Italy” is very different than everyday living in Italy, and I quickly realized I was in over my head when I had to shop for cleaning supplies and laundry detergent at first. So many unfamiliar words!
Those first few weeks I about lost my mind in the minute details of homemaking (like trying to understand the super lengthy instruction manual on trash and recycling in Italian, or learning how many appliances could run at the same time without blowing a fuse!) Piano, Piano… as they say. Little by little things became more familiar and easier to navigate.

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Pic Credits: Smitten Italy

What tips would you give to readers who are learning Italian??
I am so thankful for the entire experience of living in Italy, and of course looking back I would do many things differently. Mainly I’d tell myself not to worry so much about messing up when trying to speak and appreciate each day as a learning opportunity.

Some of the tips I’d recommend are:

● Scheduling time to study in whatever way you learn best (I do better with audio, for
instance)
● Watching movies in Italian or try a dual language book you are familiar with.
● Giving yourself a lot of grace, and remembering that each word and phrase you learn will deepen your travel experience even more.

Do check Smitten Italy- Heather’s online shop and if you want to order be sure to use the discount code “ITALOPHILIA20” to get a 20% off. (until 10th October!)

I also have an Instagram contest running until the 23rd September to win some amazing Smitten Italy merchandise! Grazie mille carissima per la tua ispirazione!

~INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY!!~👇👇🇮🇹🇮🇹 . . I am so excited to be partnering with @smittenitaly to bring you guys an amazing array of merchandise!! 😍😍 Whether you are an Italophilie or not, these beautiful "Smitten Italy" goodies will win you over!!🙋 Girls, are you ready for some tote bag love??👜 For all you stationery lovers we have a gorgeous set of pencils that you will swoon on!!✏️✏️ And who doesn't love their drink in a pretty mug??☕💫 One winner will win it all! . . Details are very simple: 1. Like this picture✔️ . . 2. Follow @Italophilia and @smittenitaly on Instagram✔️ . . 3. Tag 3 friends that would love this giveaway and basically spread the word✔️ . . That's it!! Thank you so much 🤗😘 **Bonus points if you do a repost or Instagram stories (make sure to tag us!!) . . The giveaway ends on 23rd September 19:00 IST, 15:30 CET and 9:30 EST 💖📩 . . **This Giveaway is in no way affiliated to Instagram

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Disclosure: There are “ affiliate links” on my blog. If you click on a picture, it will take you to Amazon.in. and if you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting my blog as always. Keep Reading!

The Holy Town of Loreto

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On the occasion of my birthday today, I bring you all the holy town of Loreto -one of the most important pilgrimage town in Italy. The town attracts over 4 million visitors each year and holds the Holy House of Mary of Nazareth believed to have flown from Palestine by four angels. Although I am neither a Catholic nor religious enough to know more than this, Loreto is the mecca for Catholics in simple terms. The Holy town of Italy!

THE HOLY TOWN OF LORETO

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This town had more tourists than anywhere else in Marche

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Loreto: Pretty details

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Loreto: I’d like to go here next time

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Loreto: The imposing basilica

The main site to see in Loreto is its basilica made in Gothic and Renaissance style. It will stop you dead in your tracks because it is simply breath-taking! The basilica has been designed by many notable architects such as Baccio Pontelli, Giuliano da Sangallo and Giovanni Ghioldi.

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Loreto: Piazza della Madonna

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Loreto: An evening stroll or Passeggiata

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Loreto: piazza is HUGE!

The piazza with the basilica is enormous and equally beautiful! There are handicraft shops selling intricate woodwork and kitchen products and a few bars worth peeking into. A very old shop selling delicious pizza is right opposite the basilica and makes a great option for a quick lunch or dinner.

 

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Loreto

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Loreto: Cappuccino with a view

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Loreto: Tourist free after 6

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Loreto

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Loreto: Fontana Maggiore

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Empty Loreto

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Loreto’s Dome is inspired by Filippo Brunelleschi

Loreto is a historic city of Le Marche that should not be missed.

How to Reach:

The erratic nature of public transport and sometimes the lack of it altogether, makes it impossible to see this region unless you must have a car. I say that in every post not to deter you but to make you aware of this shortcoming. Had it not been for DiscoverMarche I don’t know how I would have traveled across this region!

Related Reading:

Medieval Fermo and it’s historic Sites

Numana: A Jewel of the Adriatic

Of Jams, Jellies and Nature at SIGI Azienda Agricola

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SIGI Azienda Agricola is tucked away in a beautiful corner of Macerata province in Le Marche. SI.GI. is a producer of natural jam and jellies and the brainchild of Silvano Buccolini. He and his family bring together a variety of seasonal products to the market and have a no chemical approach. Their focus is to keep the aromas, taste and richness of the fruit and make outstanding products. And oh how well they do!

 

 

 

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SIGI Azienda Agricola

My visit to the SI.GI. farm was nothing short of amazing. DiscoverMarche recommended me their jams and we happened to book a meeting with Silvano and his daughter in a few days time. The weather supported me fully, probably the first time since I had been in Marche. The whole area in and around the farm was in full bloom.

Permit me to get a little poetic, the colors of the spring and the wind added an inexplicable freshness to the day.

Silvano showed us his burgeoning orchards where there were all kinds of trees and plants imaginable. Cherries, mint, plum, blackberries and jujube and a fair many others whose names I can’t recall but have them vividly etched in memory.

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SIGI Azienda Agricola

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SIGI Azienda Agricola

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SIGI Azienda Agricola

The succulent cherries on the tree were enough to give me a craving. And nothing really beats the experience of having a freshly plucked fruit. Does it?? They were so ripe and that I could probably make a meal of them. But on Silvano’s instructions I didn’t eat too many as they are too warm for the stomach. (Point noted for future)

We also got a sneak peek into the jam making process at SI.GI where everything is done manually. Silvano’s happy team were quietly working as he told me the different varieties of jam they made and sold in Italy and rest of Europe. Apart from the strange flavors of onion, zucchini,, pepper and wine; strawberry, sapa, raspberry, black cherries, quinces and jujubes were also prevalent. I sampled many bottles back home.

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SIGI Azienda Agricola

It was a day well spent at SI.GI, amidst nature and getting to taste it too. Their products are very unique and fresh and it makes you think long and hard about the “jams” we end up buying from the market.

If you would like to visit the farm please contact them on their Facebook page SI.GI. can be best reached by car.

Related Reading:

The Holy Town of Loreto

Medieval Fermo and it’s historic Sites

Numana: A Jewel of the Adriatic

PS: I really think you should try the onion jam!