26 Nov

“Crystals – world’s most dazzling exhibition” and semi-erotic wax women – Florence at its most flamboyant.

You have until June 30, 2011 to visit possibly one of the most incredible exhibitions taking place in Florence in recent years, aptly titled – “Crystals – world’s most dazzling exhibition.”

Being held at “La Specola” Museum in the city of Florence, this spectacularly impressive exhibition displays more than 500 pieces from arguably the most famous and important crystal collections in the world – the Giazotto collection.

This remarkable display of crystals consist of gems from all over the world, all extraordinary unique in their aesthetics, richness and colour. The display includes crystals of topaz, aquamarine, quartz and tourmaline, all unique yet equally eccentric in the shape, colour and size.

The founder of the “crystals – world’s most dazzling exhibition” is Adalberto Giazotto, who, since he was a young boy, has been fascinated and enthralled by the seduction of crystals.  Since 2003, Giazotto has dedicated most of his time to acquiring crystals from all over the world, adding gems from Brazil, China, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan to his phenomenal collection.

This hobby for finding the rarest and most beautiful crystals to grace the world with their presence is reflected in the La Specola Museum exhibition, as the collection includes the crystal of gypsum of Niccioleta, Tuscany, the elbaite of Coronel Murta, Brazil and the piece of cuprite of Onganja, Namibia, amongst many, many more deeply alluring crystals.

Situated in the heart of Florence next door to the Pitti Palace, “La Specola” museum, in hosting “Crystals – world’s most dazzling exhibition”, does the exhibition the justice it deserves.

“La Specola” was officially inaugurated in 1775 and is the oldest public museum in Europe.

This hugely popular and internationally-acclaimed museum is part of Florence’s Museum of Natural History and houses specimens that are now extinct. Asides its comprehensive display of some incredible wildlife and natural artefacts, the museum is best-known for its wax anatomical collection.

One collection that particularly stands out in “La Specola” are the wax anatomical Venuses, wax models of naked women posed in semi-erotic poses.

With some of the world’s rarest and most breath-taking crystals on display here alongside wax women stood in semi-erotic poses, what more reasons do you need to visit Florence’s “La Specola” museum?


24 Oct

Right now is the best time to start thinking about your New Year escape as leaving it to the last minute may mean you will miss out on all the best tickets in town.

If you are deliberating where to go this New Year, let us draw your attention to Lucca. This unspoilt Tuscan town provides a refreshingly more ‘relaxing’ New Year break and one that you may be particularly interested in if you are a lover of opera music.

In the Theatre del Giglio – the smallest public theatre in the world – a New Year concert is taking place dedicated to great Italian composer, Giacomo Puccini. Puccini was born in 1858 and was a native of Lucca and has been cited as being ‘one of the greatest exponents of operatic realism, who virtually brought the history of Italian opera to an end.’

With this New Years Eve opera in Tuscany, not only will guests attend a private concert dedicated to Giacomo Puccini’s music, but on New Year’s Day, they will visit the places where the great composer grew up and found inspiration for his famous work.

The walled city of Lucca, is situated in a lush and fertile plain near the Tyrrhenian Sea, close to the mighty and beautiful River Serchio has been numerously dubbed as being a ‘jewel of a Tuscan town’. This fascinating town is particularly appealing if you are a fan of opera music, as Lucca is so vividly rich in this musical tradition.

Composers such as Francesco Barsanti, Luigi Boccherini, Cristoforo Malvezzi and Nicolao Dorati, all found musical inspiration here. But is is Giocomo Puccini, who has had more than 1000 events devoted to his musical genius put on in Lucca already, that the Tuscan town really celebrates.

So if you are a lover of Puccini, why not head to his native city and experience New Year with a difference?



20 Sep

Chocoholics unite at the Eurochocolate Festival 2011 in Perugia, the ‘Chocolate City’.

The hillside town of Perugia in Umbria, central Italy, has a lot to offer. With a history dating back to the ninth century BC, this walled town is steeped in history.

Although despite being a fantastic place to learn about Italian history and traditional culture, Perugia has evolved with the times and maintains plenty of modern culture to be enjoyed by those who reach its walled borders. One such ‘modern treat’ is Perugia’s love for chocolate.

Each year the Eurochocolate festival returns to Perugia, and this year is no exception. If you are a lover of chocolate than the city of Perugia is the place you should be this October.

On the 15 – 16 and 22 – 23 October, 2011, this mesmerising city erects stands selling every possible type of chocolate you could imagine. Besides a plethora of stands, there will be chocolate fountains, chocolate sculptures and all the cafes, restaurants and bars will be devoting their culinary talents to creating some delicious chocolate treats – the quirkier the better.

There will be fun activities put on for both young and old, including gastronomic tours, guided tours of the city of Perugia and even chocolate-making workshops.

The Eurochocolate Festival seems to increase in popularity with each passing year, and now attracts more than one million visitors to flock to the city’s streets and enjoy chocolate to suit all tastes.

With such an intense devotion to chocolate, Perugia has become world renowned for its chocolates, and, being home to the famous Baci chocolates and having the world’s first hotel dedicated to chocolate known as the Hotel di Perugia Etruscan chocohotel, it is hardly surprising that this fascinating Italian town is often referred to as ‘Chocolate City’.

The delightful 3 bedroom villa in Deruta, Casale Laura (pictured) could be the perfect base for such a chocolate fest!


23 Jun

Lucca, the Summer Music Festival and Tuscany 5 bedroom Villa Ripiano – Your summer holiday starts here!

You never need an excuse to visit Tuscany. With its stunning and deeply varied countryside, landscapes brimming with Renaissance masterpieces, whilst possessing a style and affluence typical of Italy, Tuscany blends tradition and history with modern European culture, making it one of Italy’s most popular regions.

Having said this, if you are lucky enough to be travelling to Tuscany this July, you may be interested in hearing about the Summer Music Festival, held in the beautiful and medieval town of Lucca, which has regularly been referred to as a “jewel of a Tuscan town”.

This annual musical event covers a wide range of musical genres, catering for diverse musical tastes and never fails to attract only the most talented and globally-recognised of artists, who always manage to pull in a huge crowd of visitors from across Italy, Europe and beyond.

This year’s line-up is exceptional, with the likes of Elton John, Amy Winehouse, Liza Minnelli, Joe Cocker and B.B. King, James Blunt and Jamiroquai, rocking Lucca’s cobbled medieval streets and ancient walls.

Tuscany’s Summer Music Festival is being held between the 1 and 24 July 2011 in the Piazza Napoleone in the heart of this captivating Italian town.

If we’ve managed to convince you of your 2011 summer holiday destination you may now be wanting to find a place to stay. You may therefore be excited to hear about Ripiano, a magnificent Tuscany five bedroom villa (pictured) that is just a 30 minute drive from Lucca.

This beautifully restored property is situated on the edge of a tiny hamlet known as Le Croce. Ripiano and Le Croce are blessed with the most sensational views of the verdurous, rolling hillsides of the Serchio and Val di Lima valleys.

In July we can be safe to assume that Tuscany will be blessed with continual days of azure skies and temperatures soaring into the thirties. Because of Tuscany’s enviable climate, there is an obvious emphasis on ‘outdoor living’ at Ripiano.

In addition to a gorgeous private pool surrounded by a vast stretch of woodland and all the flora and wildlife delights that accompany such a densely wooded area, there is a barbeque area with a built-in wood oven and extensive terrace gardens.

If you manage to pull yourself away from the luxurious comforts of Ripiano and its grounds, the picturesque spa town of Bagni di Lucca is well worth a visit. As is the medieval hilltop town of Barga, and for an invigorating day out, a visit to the Garfagnan Natural Park to witness some of Italy’s most outstanding natural beauty is imperative.


28 May

With the advent of the warmer weather and lighter nights, all of a sudden the summer months do not feel as far away, and knowing how quickly time flies, July and August will some be upon us.

It is therefore important that you start to plan your summer break.

If you love jazz music and love Italy, it is almost imperative that you attend the Umbria Jazz Festival 2011– one of the biggest and leading jazz events in Europe.

Since 1973, this ten-day event has been held at the Renaissance Hill in the Umbrian city of Perugia, and has always attracted a huge crowd of more than 200,000 jazz fans from around the world; eager to see some of the biggest names in jazz perform at the festival.

As well as attracting some of the most exclusive jazz musicians (including Paolo Conte, Milton Nascimento, Sergio Cammeriere, The Coolbone Brass Band of New Orleans and Gilberto Gil), the festival also caters for other musical tastes, with rock n roll, Cuban salsa, African tribal music and world music also featuring at the event.

Throughout the Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia’s quaint and picturesque squares and streets are filled with marching bands, gospel groups, and of course, stunning solo performances by the best jazz musicians the world has ever known.

Many of the performances take place outside under the warm Perugia July sky. The shows are all free, with the majority taking place in the city’s Giardini del Frontene, which has a seating capacity of 4,500.

Last year more than 400 artists made their way from around the globe to Perugia to perform at the jazz festival, including Melody Gardot, Mark Knopfler, Chick Corea and Enrido Rava.

The 2011 Umbria Jazz Festival’s line-up and programme has yet to be announced, but more information on this sensational event, which is a ‘must see’ for any jazz fan, can be found at the festival’s official website.

For one of the best 4 bed villas in Perugia, have a look at Vintage Travel’s stunning Gli Oleandri.


19 Feb

Florence’s Firenze Tango Festival 2011 promises to be one of the most authentic Tango festivals Europe has to offer.

Tango, like its history, is full of unexpected moves and twists. Unlike any other genres of dance it combines the rhythms of Spanish, African and Cuban music.

Since it was developed in the slums of Buenos Aires in the 1800s, tango gradually moved to Europe, where, at the beginning of the 1900s, it became a popular form of dance in France, Spain and Italy.


The Italians have never ceased their passion and commitment towards tango. The beauty of its unique combination of gliding moves, interrupted by almost violent steps, has continued with vigour and passion in many Italian towns, cities and villages.

Being the capital and most populous city of Tuscany, it is only natural that Florence is home to a multitude of colourful, fiery and flamboyant festivals each year. Theatre and dance usually play a prominent part in many of Florence’s more artistic festivals and none more so than the annual Firenze Tango Festival, dedicated entirely to this passionate form of dance.


05 Feb

‘Painting the skies’ on the shores of Lake Trasimeno

In April and May the sky surrounding the mighty Lake Trasimeno, is infused with colour and vibrancy, due to the many balloons and kites seen gently bobbing up and down in crystal-clear Italian air. Each year thousands of balloons, kites and hot-air balloons literally paint the sky above Lake Trasimeno, when the international kite festival takes place, known as ‘Painting the Skies’, or locally, ‘Coloriamo I Cieli.’

Since it began in 1982 in Castiglione del Lago, a small village on Lake Trasimeno’s western shore, the ‘Painting the Skies’ event has attracted thousands of kite and hot-air balloon enthusiasts from around the world, and remains one of Umbria’s best-loved and formidable celebrations.


29 Dec

Looking for somewhere different for New Years Eve? Italy’s iL Capodanno (beginning of the new year) will hit the spot!

The Italians rarely need an excuse to party, so when New Year’s Eve ascends on the world, Italy explodes into a land of excitement, revelry and light-hearted debauchery….Excellent!


Food, naturally, plays a leading role in Italian New Year’s Eve celebrations, with most families gathering for a huge feast. Traditionally, lentils are served first as a symbol of wealth, fortune and prosperity. Dinner usually consists of a ‘cotechino’, a large spiced sausage, or a ‘zampone’, a stuffed pig’s trotter.

Fireworks traditionally follow the grand feast and at midnight elaborate firework displays light up the Italian night sky. Whilst nearly every town in Italy puts on its own impressive firework show, it is the city of Naples which has one of the biggest and grandest New Year firework displays in the whole of Italy. Families and friends flock to Naples to experience such an impressive show.

Music and dancing follow the fireworks and usually go on until well into the early hours of New Year’s Day. Many towns and villages put on live singers and bands who belt out Italian classics to the delight of the jovial crowds. The cities of Milan, Rome, Palermo, Naples and Bologna, hold hugely popular televised outdoor shows with famous pop and rock bands performing.

Drink, naturally also plays a pivotal role in New Year’s Eve celebrations in Italy, with sparkling wines such as ‘Spumante’ or ‘Prosecco’ flowing almost as fast as the mighty River Pro.

New Year revellers in Italy are warned to wear something to protect their heads from falling objects, as another New Year’s Eve tradition, particularly in the south of Italy, is to throw old things out of the window to symbolize an acceptance of the New Year.

But perhaps the quirkiest of Italian New Year traditions, is that merrymakers must wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve. Well we did warn of some light-hearted debauchery!

It all sounds far too tempting, now check out the best city accomodation Italy has to offer.


20 Dec

Without waiting for the onset of spring and summer, a trip to the popular seaside resort of Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast in mid-February may be just the destination to wane those late-Winter blues. Aside from its many impressive Roman ruins, a 15 kilometre long, sandy beach and a seaside promenade lined with bars, restaurants and nightclubs, Rimini is home to one of the most spectacular and renowned festivals dedicated to the food and drink industry in Italy.

Make sure you visit Rimini when next in Italy

From 19 – 22 February 2011 the Italian town of Rimini will blend traditional Italian gastronomic tastes, rites, trends and eating out round the clock. This huge event devoted to representing the entire food, beverage and seafood market requires a whopping 85,000 square metres of exhibition space. Although with more than 1,000 food and drink companies exhibiting their wares, it is no wonder this simply delicious food festival requires such vast expanse of exposition space.