Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Spiritual Guards by Jan Fabre

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The works of Jan Fabre will be on display in Florence until October 2, 2016. The exhibition is promoted by the Comune di Firenze and is taking place in three impressive locations throughout the city.

Jan Fabre is described as one of the most innovative and important figures on the international contemporary art scene, who uses his art to depict and embody the power of imagination.

This is the first time that a living artist will have his art exhibited in three venues of outstanding and historical importance at the same time.

Around 100 of his works will be on display including bronze and wax sculptures, works made of the iridescent cases of the scarab beetle and performance films ripe with humanity and universalism.

Two new works specifically created for the occasion will join the open-air museum of Piazza della Signoria that will temporarily host the monumental work ‘Searching for Utopia’ and the smaller ‘The man who measures the clouds’ that proudly stands between copies of Michelangelo’s David and Donatello’s Judith outside the Palazzo Vecchio.

The second location is the Palazzo Vecchio featuring a series of sculptures that will interact with the frescoes and artifacts tat are housed in the Quartiere di Eleonora, Sala dell’Udienza and Sala dei Gigli, rooms that are open to the public.

The third location is the Forte Belvedere which is the thematic heart of the Spiritual Guards exhibition, showcasing roughly 60 works of art.

The Fortress was built to defend Florence from external attack, but also to protect the Medici family in troubling times and was, therefore, a stronghold for both external and internal defense, highlighting the need for protection and vulnerability. Seven bronze scarabs are placed on the fort’s outlook posts, which represent angels of metamorphosis and guardians who symbolize the transition between earthly dimension and the afterlife with their ceaseless movement.

Continuing on the first floor of the villa, open to the public for the first time in many years are a series of was sculpture and films of the artist’s performances.  These works of art all being in the magnificent setting that is Florence.

“The exhibition’s motto and device, Spiritual Guards, should be interpreted as an encouragement to live a heroic life, be it in war or unarmed in defense of the imagination and of beauty.”

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4 things to do in Piedmont

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Piedmont is an very important Italian region for the food and wine world yet that has been undervalued by the travel world! In a way, this is a blessing for those wanting to escape the droves of tour buses and groups jam packed into Italy’s major destinations like Rome, Venice and Florence. Not only that, Piedmont is an ideal region to visit if you are a food and wine lover. The best cities to visit in Piedmont are Alba, Turin, Barolo and Bra. If you are planning a trip to Italy, consider Piedmont! Here is what we recommend for things to do in Piedmont:

1. Alba- tap into your inner hunter with a truffle hunt!

Sure, to the uninitiated truffle may just be a foul tuber, but to the gourmand, it represents the ultimate in gastronomic delights. Some would say it has the fragrance of the gods. Although found in France, northern Spain and other parts of Italy, the region around Alba is considered the quintessential truffle capital. It’s also the economic bellwether that determines the official price of truffles worldwide. Its method of discovery adds to the mystique.  A truffle hunt takes you through the the woods exploring with a truffle expert and their truffle hunting dog. Sniffing through the misty woods of Piedmont, the truffle-hunting dog will suddenly dig her paws into the crunchy soil to find a true gastronomic treasure: a large walnut-sized white truffle. At the end of a truffle hunt you’ll learn how to analyze truffles from a technical point of view, as true gourmand tasters do. You’ll learn more about the white truffle, how to use it, how to taste it, and how to preserve it. Totally a must do experience for active, nature loving Italian food lovers!

2. Love chocolate? Visit Turin’s historic chocolate producers!

If you are a chocolate lover, discover “chocolatropolis” Turin: a city of authentic Italian food culture. Visit some of the major points of interest during your trip to Turin and don’t miss captivating Baroque masterpieces like Piazza San Carlo, the Cupola del Guarini, the Royal Palace and Piazza Castello. Remember to stop and smell the flowers by taking a break in an historical caffè and experience Turin’s most traditional coffee: made just for chocolate lovers called “bicerin”, as well as some excellent confections, gelato and pastries. Turin will delight you with Baroque palaces, workshops, bakeries and confectioners.

3. Had enough food? Go on a Barolo wine tour and taste Italy’s finest wines!

Barolo wine is the undisputed king of Italian red wines. Both of the most celebrated Piedmont reds, Barolo and Barbaresco, are made from the Nebbiolo grape that yields deeply perfumed, mid-weight, wines with good aging potential. Among the other noteworthy Piedmont wines are the incisive, vibrant Barbera and the softer, lusher Dolcetto. The best wines of this area were made famous by Marc de Grazia’s “Selection of Fine Wines from The Great Crus Of Italy”, among many others Scavino, Cavallotto, Clerico, Altare and Molino. Whether you are a wine lover, collector or simply a wine drinker, a Barolo wine tour is a great activity to do when visiting Piedmont.

4. Cheese and Beer lover? Visit Bra!

Discover the best cheese in Italy when you visit Bra! The city is very small and very easy to reach by train from Turin. In the historical center part of town, there are plenty of gastronomic deli shops open to the public where you can explore all the different cheeses of the region and taste the ones that look curious to you! In addition to being a great destination for tasting artisan cheese in Piedmont, there is a huge craft beer movement happening in Piedmont and what better way to compliment your cheese tasting in Bra than with a visit to a very tasty brew pub!  (called “birreria” in Italian.) During September, there is the annual slow cheese festival organized by the Slow Food Movement which is a candyland of cheese, beer and wine tastings! In any case, Fall is the quite possibly the best time to visit Piedmont so why not plan it around a cheese festival!

Are these options not enough? Contact the expert travel staff at Le Baccanti to learn more about how you can have the Italian gourmet vacation of your dreams!

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The Pope opens the gardens of Castel Gandolfo

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Visiting Rome? Planning on experiencing the Vatican? We have good news! The general public including tourists will be able to access the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo (considered the “second Vatican” ) in order to visit the Barberini Gardens. Castel Gandolfo is a town located 15 miles (24 kilometres) southeast of Rome in the Lazio region of Italy situated on the Alban Hills overlooking Lake Albano. This is considered the second Vatican because it is also the summer and vacation residence of the Pope. What makes the gardens of Castel Gandolfo so special is that they are the private gardens of the pope that span 30 hectares, which means 300,000 square meters! The Vatican Gardens have been a place of quiet and meditation for the popes for centuries. The gardens at Castel Gandolfo even host agricultural activity with orchards, farms, flowers, animal stables and more. Over the past millennium, the Catholic church and its Popes have been amassing amazing works of art within the gardens. In fact, the pontifical gardens contain endless structures of incredible importance. A visit to the pontifical gardens is an experience not to be missed for those interested in visiting Rome and are looking to experience the Vatican history and sites. If you are interested in visiting the Papal garden grounds, guided tours will be available and general entrance will be permitted to visitors to explore the botanical and architectural wonders of the pontifical residence, known by now as the “second Vatican.”

Interested in learning all about Rome? The best way to experience Rome is with a private guided tour with a local expert. Check out our website or contact us for private tours of Rome and the surrounding areas such as the castles, villas, ancient ruins beyond just the Colosseum and more.

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6 things to do near or on the Amalfi Coast

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Have you been to the Amalfi Coast? Looking to plan a visit? Congratulations! You about to embark on one of the things one must see and experience while being on this planet. There is no other place like it, it is one of the world’s few treasured paradises. Visually you will be mesmerized forever by its beauty. Culturally you will be utterly charmed by the local people and food-speaking- you will be spoiled and brought to the verge of tears by how mind blowing the traditional cuisine is. If you have made one of the best decisions of your life to plan a trip to the Amalfi coast or to nearby zones like Sorrento, Naples or Pompeii we have 6 suggestions for things to do near or on the Amalfi coast that Le Baccanti Tours organizes:

1. Amalfi Coast Wine Tour

The Amalfi Coast vineyards spread out on daring terraces carved over the course of centuries out of the steep slopes that run down to the sea. Their cellars have been excavated since before Caesars times out of the solid hillside rock. White wines with strong personality are made here, whites with their own intense and unmistakable aromas, whites from vines teased and frenzied by the moist salty sea winds that never quite cease to ripple leaves. The reds, too, deserve attention: warm, intense . . . unmistakably Mediterranean. Spend a special day of leisurely wandering among vineyards and wine cellars, sampling white wines rich in sweet bouquets while feeling the cool breeze off the blue Mediterranean Sea sparkling below.

2. Irpinia Wine Tour from Naples

The Region of Campania is well established on tourist maps but, curiously, not on those of wine lovers. Yet these noble and mellow hills have long presented the world with superb products, many of them derived from Ancient Greek grape varietals: little-known “blockbuster” reds and fragrant, delicate whites. The names Greco, a white varietal, and Aglianico, both mean “Greek” the latter deriving from hellenic. The Roman naturalist and historian Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) described both of these grapes in his Encyclopedia. Staying in Naples? You’re in luck because just a few kilometers inland from Naples, a true wine paradise awaits for those seeking a different off-the-beaten-track Italy: Irpinia. Cult wines such as Mastroberadino, Feudi di San Gregorio and Galardi among others are a feature of this terrific wine region.

3. Sorrento Cooking Class on Farm

Just a few miles from the heart of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, are small, charming farms that descend toward to sea. Italian farm agritourisms have lots to offer including amazing cooking classes. A culinary class may begin with a walk through the farms extensive vegetable gardens to collect together the seasonal vegetables to use in your cooking class. You’ll be delighted by delicious smells and tastes of the local produce before heading into the kitchen. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves, don your apron, and kneading the dough for homemade pasta and watch in amazement as this dough takes form and becomes pasta. After all cooking classes in Italy, you’ll sit down and enjoy the meal you have created during your cooking class accompanied by wonderful local wine, water and followed by a sample of one of the farm’s famous liquors. Cooking classes are the perfect activity for food lovers and cooks of all levels visiting Italy.

4. Amalfi Coast Private Boat Tour from Positano

It’s not just the landscape, the villages, the clear waters, the food, the sun and the sea air…it’s also the people that make the Amalfi coast unique. Take a private boat tour of the Amalfi Coast in Positano or Praiano and enjoy a lovely morning or afternoon with a bright and sunny young local who has was born and raised in Positano, on the Amalfi coast. See the lovely and historic Amalfi Coast from your boat, on route to the fabled islands on which, ancient tradition would have it, the Sirens dwelt and sang their songs to lure sailors to their doom. More recently, the unforgettable ballet dancers Leonide Massine and Rudolph Nurejev lived there. Today these islands are part of a natural reserve.
After a swim in waters rich with marine life, and a Sorrentino gozzo boat tour around the Li Galli islands, have a dip in one of the pleasant fresh-water creeks. Whether you visit the Emeral Grotto, other less famous yet equally beautiful grottoes, water falls and fishing villages around the Amalfi Coast, a boat tour is the best way to explore the region.

5. Pompeii Private Walking Tour

When the nearby volcano Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, Pompeii was buried under up to 20 feet of ash and pumice. It was not discovered again until 1700 years later in 1749. Pompeii has been carefully and thoroughly excavated in the over 60 years since its discovery by archeologists thrilled at the chance to see how people lived during Roman times in Southern Italy, nearly 2 millenium ago. The forum, the baths, many houses, and some villas remain well preserved and give a snap shot into daily life. Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist spots in all of Italy with over 2 million visitors a year. Get away from the crowds as your own personal guide takes you back in time for this two hour tour through the maze of streets in Pompeii and you learn about and explore this Roman city frozen forever in time.

6. Amalfi Coast Gourmet Tour

Taste all the best foods the Amalfi Coast has to offer Mozzarella, limoncello, gelato, pizza, olive oil! A gourmet tour includes several tastings, lessons in cheese making, olive oil farm visits (if booked in the fall a live olive pressing!), learning how to make pizza and gelato! If you are a serious foodie visiting the Amalfi coast and love from scratch food production, this tour was made for you!

Are these options not enough? Contact the expert travel staff at Le Baccanti to learn more about how you can have the Amalfi Coast vacation of your dreams!

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