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Legend of San Valentino | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Sunday, 06 February 2011 14:18
rosafrescaOne of the many myths of the origins of St. Valentine’s Day can be traced back to a priest that lived in the 3rd century Rome that was beheaded for trying to spread love throughout the land. 

At the time, Rome was ruled by Emperor Claudius II.   The Emperor’s army was losing many unpopular wars and battles.   Many of the soldiers did not want to fight in these wars.   They wanted to stay at home with their wives and families. 

The Emperor then thought that if he outlawed marriages, that the soldiers would then want to fight in his wars.   However, St. Valentine did not agree with the Emperor nor his law, and secretly married many young couples.   But one day, St. Valentine’s luck ran out, and was caught and imprisoned by one of the Emperor’s soldiers. 

And while he was in jail, he would receive notes, flowers and gifts from those that believed in love and believed in his message.   He was also visited regularly by the daughter of one of the prison guards. 

But on February 14, 269 A.D., St. Valentine was beheaded for disobeying the Emperor and died a martyr.   His final message was a note to the prison guard’s daughter saying “from your Valentine”.   Later, in the year 496 Pope Gelasius I declared February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day. 

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Valentine's Day: An Italian Love Affair | Print |  E-mail
Saturday, 22 January 2011 22:44

When in love, one is showered with flowers and candy, and your ears are filled with the sound of music. It's no wonder then that so many newlyweds flock to Italy for their honeymoon. Valentine's Day is just as special, and travelers come to bacio throughout the boot.

Terni is in the center of Italy, and is appropriately home to the tomb of the Saint of Love. Sweets devotees come for Cioccolentino – a celebration of love, passion and mouth-watering chocolate from February 11-14. Stay for the Milky Way, a competition to create a 200-foot-long chocolate block in less than two hours.

From here, take your Eurail Italy Pass and head four hours to Bologna for an evening of opera at the Teatro Comunale. This is one of Italy's greatest venues, and sings out "romance" with its golden, arched balconies.

We think a fitting end to a romantic trip to Italy is a journey to Verona. Just 90 minutes from Bologna, this star-crossed lover locale pulls out all the stops for Valentine's Day. On February 12-14, the Piazza dei Signori sees red, as heart-shaped lanterns illuminate the streets. Stay for the free concerts, or just have your significant other whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Now that's amore.

What's new in Rome for 2012 | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   

Did you know that Rome just celebrated it's 2,765th anniversary?   Despite its age the town is still in pretty good condition.  And there is always something new and exciting going on.

New and noteworthy for Rome 2012

Rock In Rome which hosts a variety of Italian and International artists from June through to August. For the 2012 event artists include Snoop Dogg, Placebo, Radiohead, The Cure, Garbage and Lenny Kravitz to name a few.

Roma Europa Festival (October) offers a variety of music, dance, arts and theatre and is held at several locations throughout the city and The Roma Jazz Festival (November) has performances from both Italian and International musicians.

The White Night Festival 2012 or La Notte Bianca, as it's known in Italian, features entertainment for night-owls.  That's right, the city will practically be open all night with attractions that include art and theater events, musical performances and concerts.  Many of the city's main attractions and amenities will remain open during this nocturnal event. The event lasts for one night, towards the beginning of September and has always been a popular annual event in Rome. Things have changed quite a bit in recent years though and less money is being used to finance the event so the 2012 event isn't likely to be as big as past editions.  The date is still yet to be announced.

Art lovers can admire the "Dali: an Artist, a Genius" Exhibition running from  March 10th to June 30th at the Vittoriano Complex in Piazza Venezia. Tickets cost €10.

Noteworthy for 2012 is the scheduled opening of the Rome Metro Line C (the 3rd line of Rome's subway system) by June. It will be the first fully automated line in the city and uses part of the old Rome-Pantano railway. Although it's opening shouldn't cause many problems for getting about in the city centre if you plan to visit around that time you might want to bear it in mind.



A couple of new things are happening in Rome for 2011 if you plan on visiting:

The Vatican museum has a new online reservation system that is working pretty smoothly. This is a must-see attraction if you are visiting Rome.

The Colosseum is being spruced up and given permanent lighting.  In the future, you may be able to see sections that were previously closed to visitors.

La Tiburtina, Rome's second-largest train station is undergoing a renovation project which will include high-speed rail.  A new company called Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV) is expected to start service from the Tiburtina station sometime in 2011 with service from / to Milan, Florence, Venice and Naples.Pictured below is one of the high-speed rail trains from NTV, with speeds up to 330 kilometers per hour or 205 miles per hour.




Lentil soup recipe for New Year's Eve | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Friday, 31 December 2010 03:02

An Italian tradition for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is to have lentil ("lenticchie") soup.  It is supposed to bring good fortune.

Here is a recipe for lentil soup.

Buon capodanno!  or Happy New Year!

New Year's Traditions in Italy | Print |  E-mail

Angela Mirante getting ready for New Year's eve in ItalyNew Year's Eve in Italy, or La Festa di San Silvestro, or Capodanno, is celebrated like most Italian holidays, that is, with the emphasis being on family and food. Most of the towns in Italy will have a big fireworks display. The main dinner course is usually lentils or "lenticchie", along with a spicy sausage, or "salsiccia".

Pictured on the right is a young woman preparing for New Year's Eve in Italy.



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Agriturismo in Italy

What is Agriturismo? In Italian, it is actually a combination of two words - Agricoltura and Turismo - agriculture and tourism.

It basically means spending your vacation on a farm.  It started becoming popular in the 1980s when many Italian farmers were looking for other ways to supplement their income. At an Italian agriturismo you will usually have the chance to experience the foods prepared from raw materials produced on the farm.  Some will allow their guests participate in the activities surrounding the farm such as wine-making, cheese-making, olive production, milking cows, etc.  It is usually a very rustic experience.  Agriturismo can be another option instead of a typical Italian vacation that involves Italian hotels.  Most of them are located in Tuscany, Umbria and Sicily.


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