Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Elba off the coast of Tuscany

The island of Elba is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and is Italy's third largest island. It's famous as being the place where Napoleon lived while in exile and you can see his former residence on the island. There are several picturesque villages and many good beaches along the coast. Elba is easily reached by ferry from Piombino (see Tuscany map).

Tuscan Beaches

You've thought a lot about your Tuscan vacation, but maybe you didn't know about Tuscany's fine beaches. In the area of northern Tuscany called Versilia, there is a line of beaches extending from the Bocca di Magra almost to the Arno that Italians flock to in Summer. These Tuscan beaches are characterized by clean water (certified blue flag beaches), interesting villages, and a background of the Apuan Alps, known for its famous marble production

Sunday, July 3, 2011

September Festivals and Holiday Events in Italy

September Festivals and Holiday Events in Italy
Italian Festivals, Holidays, and Special Events in September
By Martha Bakerjian, Guide
.See More About:italian festivals in septemberitaly fall eventsitalian holidaysfestivals in italy

Sagra sign in Italy
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MITO International Music Festival - Milan and Torino host a variety of musical performances during the month of September. MITO SettembreMusica

Palio di San Rocco in Figline Valdarno is said to be one of the first palio competitions (definition of palio) in Tuscany. The palio includes five days of medieval competitions with jousting, archery, and a horse race during the first week of September.

Regatta Storica - Venice's historic boat race takes place the first Sunday in September with four race categories - children, women, men in 6 oar boats, and the champions racing in boats with 2 oars. The races are preceded by a parade. Regatta Storica

Macchina di S. Rosa is a big festival in Viterbo in Northern Lazio map held on September 3. A historic procession takes place the day before with participants wearing costumes from the 13th to 18th century. The Macchina is a lighted tower about 30 meters tall topped by a statue of Santa Maria Rosa, the patron saint. More than 100 porters carry it on their shoulders (it weighs nearly 5 tons) through the streets of the town.

Saint Vito Day is celebrated the first Sunday of September in the Sicilian town of Ciminna in the Palermo province. There's a huge parade recalling the life of Saint Vito with people in period costumes. A livestock fair also coincides with the celebrations.

Festival of the Madonna of the Sick is also celebrated the first weekend of September in Sicily in the town of Misterbianco. The festival commemorates the miracle of the sanctuary being saved from destruction during Mt. Etna's eruption in 1669. Festivities run for 5 days starting Thursday evening. More about the festival from Italy Magazine.

Rievocazione Storica - Cordovado, in the Friuli-Venezia region, recreates a noble wedding from 1571 the first Sunday in September. Festivities include a procession followed by an archery competition and tournaments where the districts of the town compete. Historic Re-enactment of Cordovado The town of Cormons in the same region also has a Renaissance pageant and parade the first Sunday of September.

Corsa degli asini - A historic donkey race in the Fruili-Venezia Guilia town of Fagagna takes place the first Sunday in September. Teams from four regional hamlets compete.

Feast of Rificolona is believed to be one of the oldest festivals in Florence. You'll find outdoor festivities September 6 and 7 including a big fair in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. The celebrations close the evening of September 7 with a procession from Piazza Santa Croce led by the Cardinal. You may also find Feast of Rificolona celebrated in other parts of Tuscany September 7.

La Notte Bianca, White Night, in Rome
is an all night festival the second Saturday of September. Music and entertainment fills Rome's squares, theaters, and public places and shops and museums are open at night and public transport runs all night with bargain fares. La Notte Bianca schedule Note: May be cancelled for 2008

Festival of the Madonna a Mare, Madonna of the sea, is celebrated the second Sunday of September in Sicily in the village of Patti, Mesina province. The golden Madonna statue is carried to the sea in a procession, then put on an illuminated boat to lead a boat procession. Dancing, music, food, and wine follow.

Juliet's Birthday (of Romeo and Juliet) is celebrated September 12 in Verona. The day will be filled with parades, dances, and street entertainment.

Luminara di Santa Croce, illuminations of the holy cross, is a beautiful procession in Lucca, Tuscany, on September 13.
The city is illuminated with thousands of candles at night as the procession goes through Lucca's historic center. (Lucca travel resources)

Feast of Saint Cipriano and Saint Cornelio, the Patron Saints of the Sardinian town of Dorgali, is celebrated for 8 days with traditional dancing and costume parades, starting the middle of September to commemorate the coming of autumn.

The Feast of San Gennaro, patron saint of Naples, celebrates the liquefying of San Gennaro's blood in Naples Cathedral on September 19, followed by eight days of processions and celebrations. (Naples Travel Planning) If you're in the US, you'll find big San Gennaro festivals in New York and LA - read more in Italian American Festivals.

Burano Regatta - Similiar to Venice's historic regata, this one takes place off the island of Burano, near Venice, the third weekend of September. Burano Regatta Commemoration of Padre Pio is celebrated with a torchlight procession and religious ceremonies September 23 in San Giovanni Rotondo in Puglia (see Puglia map). Hundreds of stalls sell religious items and there are celebrations for several days around September 23. Visiting Padre Pio Shrine and San Giovanni Rotondo

Saint Greca Festival, is the last Sunday in September in the Sardinian town of Decimomannu near Cagliari. Festivities, lasting 5 days, include parades in costume and poetry and dialect competitions.

Italy Rail Map

Italy for Free

Free Things to Do in Italy
Italy for Free
By Martha Bakerjian, Guide
.See More About:italy on a budgetitaly travel planningitaly travel tipsfree things to do in italy
You don't need to spend lots of money on a vacation in Italy to have a good time, there are many free things to do and see in Italy. Use these suggestions for free things to do when traveling in Italy.

Put on Your Walking Shoes
© by Martha BakerjianWalking is really the best way to see many of Italy's top sights and is free so it's a great way to spend time on your vacation. You can see a lot by just walking around, not spending a cent. Many cities and towns have pedestrian zones, if you're by the sea you'll usually find a seaside promenade, and in the mountains or countryside Italy has a huge network of hiking trails.

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Head to the Historic Center© James Martin, Europe TravelThe historic center, or centro storico, usually holds the city's top sights and attractions. When you get to a new city or town look for the signs pointing to centro storico. Here you'll see historical buildings, churches, fountains, and squares. The historic center often has a pedestrian zone and non-resident traffic and parking is normally liimited. Look for parking outside the center and plan to spend some time walking.

Visit the Cathedral or a ChurchMichaelangelo's Moses in Rome © 2006 by James Martin, Europe TravelEven if you're not religious Italy's churches hold many treasures worth seeing and you can usually see them for free. Works of many famous artists are found inside churches. Architecture, both inside and out, may be of interest and some churches even have archeological sites under them that you can visit although there may be a small charge. A few churches charge admission but most of the time you'll pay nothing to enter. The cathedral, or duomo, is the major church in any city and a good place to start and here are the Top Churches to Visit in Rome.

Free Museum DaysWhile some museums have free admission one day a month, all National Museums and archeological sites are free during la Settimana della Cultura, Week of Culture, held in April. During the week of culture there are often special events, too, and some sights not normally open to the public can be visited. Check the Ministery of Culture page for listings and dates (in Italian) - click on the map to see events listed by region. In 2010 cultural week is April 16 through 25.

For the Festa della Donna or Women's Day festival, March 6-7, National Museums and sites give free admission to women. During summer, some cities and towns hold notte bianca when museums and sights are open at night and usually free - watch for posters as you travel.

Festivals and Music Performances© by James Martin, Europe TravelThere are many festivals throughout Italy and most of them are free. While some charge admission for the main event, there's lots going on that won't cost anything. Parades through the streets of town with costumed characters are common. Festivals are usuaully held on weekends and although they're held throughout the year, summer has the most festivals. During summer many towns hold free outdoor music performances in a main square or park and churches often have free concerts, too. Here's a look at a few of Italy's more famous festivals and some that aren't so well known.

Free Sights and Attractions in Florence© by James Martin, Europe TravelFlorence, one of Italy's most popular travel cities, holds many free sights and attractions for the tourist. Florence is a good city for walking and one of the best things to do in Florence is just walk around and admire the beautiful squares and buildings. Here are top sights and attractions you can see for free in Florence.

Free Sights and Attractions in Rome© by Martha BakerjianYes, you can enjoy the splendor of Rome, the eternal city, without emptying your wallet. James Martin, on Europe Travel, recommends the top places to see for free in Rome.

Free Sights and Attractions in Venice© by Martha BakerjianVenice, one of Italy's most unique and romantic cities, has many free sights and attractions. Venice is a great place for a stroll along the canals, taking in the scenery. Pick your favorite neighborhood and walk along the canals. Here are top free sights and attractions in Venice.

Italy Train Travel

Train travel in Italy is cheap compared to surrounding countries. But there's a catch: major rail lines in Italy tend to have a vast ridership and seats during "rush hours" can be difficult to find on Italian trains. We can offer tips that'll get you over this hurdle. But first, the basics on train travel in Italy.
Italy Train Routes Map
Traveling by train is usually the best option for visiting large and medium-sized cities. Where can you go on the Italian train? Check this Italy Rail Map on Europe Travel.