A Second Trip to Italy – Culture, Tradition, Food and Wine

You’ve been to Italy, seen the major cities and sites as a first-timer. Like many of us, you cannot wait to go back and experience more of this amazing country. Here is a recommended trip for your second time including both the Italy of the past and of the present.

Padua (Padova)

Arrive in Venice and take a half hour train to the walled city of Padua to visit Scrovegni Chapel, a church containing one of the most important fresco cycles, by Giotto di Bondone. This mural painting focuses on the life of the Virgin Mary and is a must-see for any art lover. Padua is also home to some of Europe’s oldest Botanical Gardens.

ImageOnce your day in Padua is about to end, take the train to Verona for a 2 night stay.

Verona

Stay at the Palazzo Victoria, a stunning palace built at the beginning of the XIV century, located in the heart of Verona.  The hotel is the perfect venue for guests looking for luxury and the true contemplation of beauty. It is not only a Palazzo but also a Museum where you can still feel the visible traces of the past. The hotel is the result of millenary heritage of arts, cultures, architectural innovations and style that perfectly match and live together.

http://palazzovictoria.com/

ImageVerona is notably known as the city of Romeo and Juliet.  A visit to Juliet’s house in the courtyard of Via Capello is one of the most popular tourist attractions.

Juliet houseYou also don’t want to miss the Roman Theatre and Archaeological Museum.  The theater is built into a hill overlooking the river and outdoor summer performances are held there. Above the theater, the Archeological Museum is housed in the former Convent of Saint Jerome where brothers dedicated their lives to producing medicine and caring for the ill. Inside are Roman mosaics, Etruscan and Roman bronzes, Roman sculptures, and Roman inscriptions.

Roman TheatreIn the heart of Verona’s historic center is the Piazza delle Erbe. Originally the Roman Forum, this rectangular piazza is surrounded by beautiful medieval buildings and towers. In the center is a 14th century fountain with a Roman statue. It is a great place for a morning coffee, and afternoon glass of wine and a little souvenir shopping.

Piazza del ErbeA few other sites to see while in Verona  are Lamberti Tower, Torre dei Lamberti, where you can climb to the top and get an amazing view of Verona, The Roman Arena, which is the third largest in Italy, and finally Castelvecchio, a 14th century medieval complex built as a residence and fortress.

CastelvecchioBologna

From Verona, you can take a train to Bologna, the epicenter of food, for a two-night stay at one of the Bologna Art Hotels, a chain of 4 hotels throughout the city.  Corona d’Oro is their flagship hotel with a four star rating, centrally located near the main city piazza.

http://coronaoro.hotelsbologna.it/

Art-Hotel-Corona-d'OroYou should start your visit to Bologna at Piazza Maggiore, the main square and the heart of town. Piazza Maggiore has been the center of Bologna’s political and social life since the 1200s when the square and the buildings surrounding it began being built.  It is like an open air museum with cafes and shops throughout.  Sip a latte as you start your day.

Piazza BolognaNot far from Piazza Maggiore, you can visit the landmark of the city, The two towers. In the middle ages equivalent of today’s battle to construct the world’s tallest buildings, wealthy families developed a habit of building tall towers in their cities for a combination of pride and defensive reasons. In Bologna, most have disappeared over the centuries but two most famous ones remain in the centre of the city credited to the families who built them. Asinelli Tower stands over 97 metres while the Garisenda Tower stands to around half that height.

Two Towers

n the middle ages equivalent of today’s battle to construct the world’s tallest buildings, wealthy families developed a habit of building tall towers in their cities for a combination of pride and defensive reasons. In Bologna, most have disappeared over the centuries but two most famous ones remain in the centre of the city credited to the families who built them. Asinelli Tower stands over 97 metres while the Garisenda Tower stands to around half that height. – See more at: http://travel-wonders.com/2010/02/17/the-two-leaning-towers-bologna-italy/#sthash.V9QA3Ljz.dpuf

While in Bologna, you must savor the food, as this is an Italian food-lovers utopia.  Take a tour of a vinegar factory in Modena, a Parmigiano- Reggiano factory, and a Parma ham factory.

Modena-Vinegar

1280px-Parmigiano_reggiano_factory

Parma HamOnce you are thoroughly full and looking for a thrill, take a factory tour or a test drive of a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.

Lamborghini MuseumTuscany

Take a train from Bologna to Florence where you should rent a car to get the proper Tuscan experience.  Stay a Villa Bordoni, an Italian villa outside of Greve in Chianti in Tuscany. This 11th century villa has been restored into a county house hotel by David and Cathrine Gardener. Beyond the beauty and location, you will find a fantastic restaurant, wine cellar and cooking school, which will provide you with a one-of-a-kind, hands-on cooking experience.

http://www.villabordoni.com/en/

villa bordonicooking schoolDrive through the Chianti area and admire the vineyards.  Stop at the many wine cellars and vineyards for tastings and tours of the regions best varietal.

chianti2Once you have relished in the sights and wine tasting in the Chianti region, you can drive about an hour and a half to the Montepulciano region of Tuscany.  Montepulciano is a medievel town surrounded by walls and fortifications.  Inside the walls, the streets are crammed with Renaissance-style palazzi and churches, but the town is chiefly known for its “Vino Nobile” wines. Take a walking tour of this ancient town and enjoy amazing architecture and history.

MontepulcianoHead back to Florence and take a train to Naples for a final day of exploring the ruins of Pompeii, which provide an amazing glimpse into the daily life of an average Roman town over two thousand years ago, and a private tour of the Donadios Cameo Factory, where you can watch the skilled artisans carve the cameos in the traditional fashion with great precision.

Ruins of Pompeii

CameosEmbark on your journey home from Naples.  For more information on traveling to Italy, and recommendations for your ideal Italian getaway, contact lynn@bellavacations.com / www.bellavacations.com.

 

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