Italy travel tip #5: Bigger isn’t better for best restaurants in Italy

Beyoncé in Florence Italy

Beyoncé dining in one of Florence’s best (and smallest) pizzerias

Looking for where to eat in Italy? See a menu offering a large variety of different kind of foods such as pizza, pasta, seafood, meat and more?

Most Italians would keep walking.

Our tip for dining in Italy is: look for Italian restaurants with small menus.

Italian food is great for its simplicity, for its use of top-quality fresh ingredients prepared in ways that exalt the natural flavours.

The best places to eat in Italy are often those with simple and relatively small menu options. In this way, the kitchen can be sure to have the freshest of ingredients and be experts at making what is on offer.

Extra points are scored for handwritten menus, as it means the offerings are based on what is best at the market at the time.

Our bonus tip for eating in Italy is: eat dinner later for a true Italian dining experience!

Italians eat dinner late, usually sitting down to dine in Italy at around 8.00-9.00 pm.

Restaurants thus have their first seatings at around 7.30pm.

If you find somewhere that is willing to serve up a ‘traditional’ Italian meal outside of meal times, it is likely tailoring to the tourist market. That’s not to say they won’t have good food, they may very well have. It just means most locals will be dining later, and likely elsewhere.

Planning a visit to Italy? See: 7 Top Travel Tips for Italy Trips – How to eat.

7 tips before your trip to Italy: How to eat

Be part of the Italy travel community for top travel tips.

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Posted in Cookery, Cooking, Cooking in Tuscany, Florence, Food, Italy Tours, Travel Tips | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Italy travel tip #5: Bigger isn’t better for best restaurants in Italy
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

Calcio Storico – Florence’s ancient ball sport

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s Calcio Storico time, the historic football tournament played each year in Florence‘s Piazza Santa Croce.

Arising in Florence during the 1500s, Calcio Storico (a.k.a. Calcio Fiorentino) is believed to have taken inspiration from games played during Roman times.

It was the game of choice for the Renaissance ruling classes. Even Popes (including the two Medici popes – Clement VII, Leo XI – and Urban VIII were said to have played the sport within Vatican City).

The official rules date back to 1580, when they were written down by Florentine Count, Giovanni de’ Bardi. The regulations say that the game is to be played on a field of sand, with a net of about 1 metre in height running across each end of the field to delineate the goal lines.

In recent times, there have been some slight adjustments to the Calcio Storico rules, mostly intended to make the game less violent.

The aim of the game is to get the ball across the lines, pretty much by any means possible. Hands and feet can be used to handle the ball, and pretty much anything goes – including punching, kicking, biting and headbutting.

There are some rules however, such as that all confrontations must be one-on-one only and no chocking or sucker-punching is allowed at threat of expulsion from the field.

During the Florentine historical football match itself, no substitutions are allowed for injured or expulsed players.

One point – or ‘cacce’ – is scored for each goal and half a point for each time the opponents throw the ball above the net.

In Florence, there are four teams representing each of the quartiers of the city, with each team consisting of 27 players. The quartiers are San Giovanni (the ‘Verdi’ – greens), Santa Maria Novella (the ‘Rossi’ – reds), Santo Spirito (the ‘Bianchi’ – whites) and Santa Croce (the ‘Azzurri’ – blues).

The players are clad in uniforms of colourful medieval pantaloons, with most playing bare-chested. Even despite the medieval get up, not many would be likely want to make fun of these men, Florence’s toughest!

The teams face each other off in two 50-minute matches held mid-late June. There is then the Calcio Storical final on 24th June to coincide with the feast day of San Giovanni (St John), the patron saint of Florence.

Before each match, a historic parade accompanies the players to the field in Piazza Santa Croce with much fanfare, including flag throwing in Florence and music.

The prize for this blood sport?

A cow.

Yes, the winning team receives a real Chianina Cow.

And the prestige of winning, of course.

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Posted in Florence, Italian aristocrats, Italy Tours, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Calcio Storico – Florence’s ancient ball sport
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

Festa della Cultura San Giovanni Battista 2015

Festa della Cultura San Giovanni Battista

A great festival event in Florence!

In honour of Florence’s patron saint St John the Baptist – San Giovanni Battista – is the annual Festa della Cultura San Giovanni Battista.

The Florence festival runs from Saturday, 13th until Wednesday, 24th June – culminating on the the feast day of St John the Baptist.

Combining Art, Music, Spirituality, Community and Learning, this year’s festival has the theme of “the future is present!”

Events of the 4th Festa della Cultura San Giovanni Battista, Firenze 2015 – i Buontalenti include:

13th-24th June: “La Partita di San Giovanni” – drawings by Alessandro Vannini, a local artist, on the theme of the patron saint of Florence at il Palagio di Parte
Guelfa, Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa 1, Firenze.

13th June-30 August: “In Omaggio A Nerina Simi di Antonio Ciccone” exhibit of works by local artist Antonio Ciccone hosted by the Comune di Stazzema, with two artworks dedicated to St John the Baptist created for the Festa della Cultura San Giovanni Battista, in the Palazzo della Cultura, Cardoso di Stazzema (LU).

14th June: Catholic mass held in English by Father Scott Murphy, Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli e Biagio, Piazza del Limbo 1, Florence.

16th June: “Preparando la Via per Lizzano”, the first edition of the Lizzano Music Festival with Jonathan Ferrucci and Giulia Grassi (piano), Daria Nechaeva (violin), and the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert at the Auditorium Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, on Via Folco Portinari 5r, with free entry from 9.00pm.

18th June: “Crocevia Culturale – da Vienna a Firenze” piano recital by Natascha Majek with the music of Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Mozart and Schubert at the Auditorium Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, via Folco Portinari 5r, at 9.00pm to raise money for the Angeli per un Giorno (Angel for a Day) charity.

20th June: “Music and Performing Arts: Renaissance in the XXI Century” with students from the University of Colorado Boulder (in collaboration with the Florentia Consort Association’s Study Abroad Program) with the music of Tchaikovsky (Souvenir di Florence), Mozart, De Falla and Pergolesi, at the Auditorium al Duomo, via de‘Cerretani, 54/r from 7.00pm.

22nd June: “Musica sacra per San Giovanni” – Hymns and spirituals sung by the Harding University in Florence Singers at Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli e Biagio, Piazza del Limbo 1, from 9pm, with donations welcome.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Festa della Cultura San Giovanni Battista 2015
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

Top Tips for Italy Travel 2015 #4: Best way to travel around Italy

Transport in Italy

Catching the train is usually the best way to travel in Italy.

Our latest Italy travel tip comes from our guide, Kane, a regular train-traveller in Italy.

Italy travel tip #4: Catch the train!

When travelling between cities in Italy, it is usually quicker, faster and cheaper to catch the train rather than to drive in Italy.

Italy has an excellent public transport system, particularly for trains.

Whilst driving in Italy is not for the faint hearted, on the train you can relax and take in the lovely views. On the fast trains, there are restrooms, Wi-Fi, food carts, power outlets to recharge your devices and relatively comfortable seats.

You might also meet some nice people sitting next to you to chat to, or you can pass the time reading a book, writing postcards, listening to music, napping, taking in the splendid views, relaxing and enjoying other such holiday pleasures.

As to some tips for catching the train in Italy, we have some pointers to share to make catching the train in Italy easier.

Pack light as there are stairs to get on and off most trains.  There are no porters however so be wary of anyone acting as an official offering to help with your luggage.

For regional trains, be sure to validate your train tickets. There are machines on the train platforms to do so before you board the train. Ticket inspectors regularly check the tickets and will hand out fines if the tickets have not been time and date stamped.

Many of the train stations have baggage deposits so you can even leave your luggage there ahead of time so you are free to continue exploring.

Driving in Italy?

Planning a visit to Italy? See: How to Get Around in Italy.

Be part of the Italy travel community for top travel tips.

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Top Tips for Italy Travel 2015 #4: Best way to travel around Italy
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

Top Tips for Italy Travel 2015 #3: Ordering food

Travel Tips Italy

Look ma, no hands!

This tip for travelling in Italy that comes from our much-loved Florence tour guide, Brenda.

Don’t over-order food.

On any holiday in Italy, it’s tempting to want to try as many different foods as possible. Indeed, many people travel to Italy just for the food (and with good reason).

It is however considered bad manners not to eat all that is on your plate. Not finishing your meal in a restaurant may result in concerned questions from the wait staff or even the chef coming out to see what was wrong with the food.

Italians have a lot of respect for food, which forms a large part of their culture. From cultivating the best quality fresh ingredients right through to serving the carefully prepared recipes, much care is spent. To be wasteful is thus almost an affront.

Considering that for most Italians, a meal is comprised of a starter (like pasta or risotto) and a main (occasionally with a vegetable side), you will find that portions are usually generous but not exaggerated.

Wait staff are usually quite good at suggesting how many dishes you should order. Indeed, some will even tell you if you are ordering too much!

If you’re not that hungry, it’s customary to ask for a smaller serving size. Instead of a main meal, it is also possible to order an ‘antipasto’ – an appetiser – in its place.

Some dishes can also be shared amongst the table, like the sides and even the famous Florentine beefsteak, where one is divided amongst two or three people.

Keep in mind that Italy does not have a doggy-bag culture, and indeed most restaurants are not equipped to provide leftovers to take away.

Bonus tips for eating in Italy:

– Cappuccini is a breakfast coffee, not for consuming after a meal due to it being too heavy on the stomach. Order an espresso or a macchiato (an espresso ‘stained’ with a dash of milk) instead.

– Don’t put parmesan cheese on top of seafood pastas and risottos. Most Italian dishes will not mix seafood and dairy.

– You don’t use a spoon to eat spaghetti, use the plate as the base on which to twist the strands around your fork.

7 tips before your trip to Italy: How to eat

Be part of the Italy travel community for top travel tips.

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Posted in Art Tours Italy, Food, Italy Tours, Rome, Siena, Travel in Italy, Travel Tips, Tuscany | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Top Tips for Italy Travel 2015 #3: Ordering food
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

Top Tips for Italy Travel 2015 #2

Do you need ID when travelling in Italy?

Do you need ID when travelling in Italy?

We recently asked out wonderful tour guides for some more top tips for travel in Italy. This gem comes from our expert Florence tour guide, Corinna:

Always have photo ID on you when travelling in Italy!

When on holiday in Italy, it is quite tempting to leave most of your documents in the hotel safe.

It is however the law in Italy that you must carry photo ID on you at all times.

Aside from your passport needed to catch flights, other times when you might need to show ID on your Italy holiday include:

  • Registering at hotels
  • Retrieving museums tickets
  • At the security checks you must pass through to get into many major sites, such as the Vatican for example
  • To purchase reduced-priced tickets for children
  • To utilise the internet at some internet cafés
  • When registering for an Italian cell phone
  • When asked by the local police
  • If you receive a traffic fine
  • To collect pre-reserved train tickets
  • To collect rental cars (when a driver’s licence is required)
  • Sending parcels abroad at the post office or via courier

If you’re not so keen on carrying originals, you can just carry a clear photocopy of your ID most of the time. However, do be sure to check if this is acceptable. If you are crazy enough to drive in Italy, you will need your original driver’s license for example.

Driving in Italy?

Be part of the Italy travel community for top travel tips.

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Posted in Florence, Italy Tours, Italy Tours: Best Tours in Tuscany, Milan, Rome, Travel in Italy, Travel Tips, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Top Tips for Italy Travel 2015 #2
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

Top Tips for Italy Travel 2015 #1

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Planning a trip to Italy?

A little while back, we made a fun series of travel videos offering Top Travel Tips for Italy Trips.

Now, we are here to share some new tips for travelling in Italy, gathered from our expert tour guides and other locals.

And the first tip on the list for having a great time on your next travel to Italy is…

Lose yourself!

By which we mean, allocate a few hours or a full day to just wander around each Italian town and city you visit. Get totally lost and totally enjoy it!

Don’t worry if you have no idea where you are. It is in this way that you can stumble across the most charming streets, discover tiny artisan stores, visit locals markets and other gems off the beaten path.

You can pop into a local coffee shop or stop someone on the street if you need to ask for directions. Do be sure to carry a map with you though. And remember, you can always call a taxi* to take you back to your accommodation at the end of the day.

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

* Bonus tip: Taxis don’t always stop when being flagged down on the street. You may have to go to an allocated taxi stand or call a taxi. Ask at your accommodation for the local number.

Off the tourist track in Italy.

Off the tourist track in Italy.

Posted in Florence, Italy Tours, Italy Tours: Best Tours in Tuscany, Milan, Pisa, Rome, Rome & Venice, Rome Tours, Travel in Italy, Travel Tips, Tuscany | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Top Tips for Italy Travel 2015 #1
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

All eyes on Artemisia: BBC Documentary with Michael Palin + conference in Florence

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi

We at ArtViva have been all about Artemisia Gentileschi of late.

ArtViva has been working with the BBC on their production of a documentary featuring Michael Palin.

We are also proudly sponsoring a conference and its filming on this acclaimed Italian Baroque painter, as a gift from ArtViva to support world-class research on Artemisia Gentileschi.

Whilst you’ll have to stay tuned to the BBC to see the interesting documentary, we can share details of the conference in Florence.

On 6-7 May 2015 in Florence, Italy, the 3rd Annual Jane Fortune Conference will be held, titled “Artemisia Gentileschi: Interpreting New Evidence, Assessing New Attributions”.

Organised by the Medici Archive Project, the event will be hosted by the British Institute in Florence and Galleria Palatina at Palazzo Pitti.

Born in 1593, Artemisia Gentileschi was somewhat of a trailblazer, being the first females to be accepted into the Accademia di Arte del Disegno. It was in the Rome studio of her artist father, Orazio Gentileschi, that she learnt the skills of her artist trade before going on to live in Florence, Venice, Rome and Naples, where she ultimately retired and likely passed away in 1656.

Artemisia Gentileschi often featured women protagonists in her work. Occasionally they were depicted as heroes, occasionally villains or victims. Artemisia herself was said to have variously played some of these roles, having been raped before taking the then-uncommon step of naming her attacker publically and seeing him prosecuted. She then went on to become one of the greatest artists of all time.

Artworks by Artemisia Gentileschi can be found in various locations around Italy. In Florence, her works are in the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, in Rome at the Spada Gallery and in Naples in the Capodimonte Museum, to name but a few.

Her most famous artwork is “Judith Slaying Holofernes”, in which Holoferns meets his gruesome end being decapitated in a rather ghastly manner.

In light of new archival evidence about Artemisia Gentileschi that has recently come to light, there has been a great resurgence of interest in this intriguing Italian female artist.

The Artemisia Gentileschi conference in Florence will also focus on new works that have recently been attributed to her.

Attendance is free of charge, however there are limited places so it is recommended to reserve in advance. To do so, please contact Sofia Novello at the British Institute: snovello[at]britishinstitute[dot]it.

 

The Artemisia Gentileschi conference in Florence programme:

Wednesday, 6 May, 5:00-7:30pm

Location: Sala Bianca, Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti

Inaugural remarks by Matteo Ceriana, Anna Bisceglia, Alessio Assonitis, and Jane Fortune.

Keynote Address by Mary D. Garrard, Professor Emerita, American University, Washington, DC – “Identifying Artemisia: The Archive and the Eye”

 

Thursday, 7 May, 9:00 am – 6:30 pm

Location: Sala Wanda Ferragamo in the Harold Acton Library, the British Institute

Opening remarks by Mark Roberts and Sheila Barker

Patricia Simons – “Artemisia’s Susanna and the Elders in Counter-Reformation Rome”

Julia Vicioso – “Artemisia Gentileschi and Costanza Francini in Rome”

Jesse Locker – “Reinventing Artemisia. The Formation of an Artist”

Laura Agoston – “Allegories of Inclination and Imitation at the Casa Buonarroti”

Sheila Barker – “All Investment at Risk. Artemisia’s Entrepreneurship in Florence”

Francesco Solinas – “Basta! Artemisia, Painter and Courtesan”

Consuelo Lollobrigida – “Women Artists in Casa Barberini: Virginia, Artemisia, Plautilla and Anna Maria”

Gianni Papi – “Artemisia: The Rediscovery of the Magdalene in Prayer, and New Reflections on a Vexed Problem of Attribution”

Christina Currie – “Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy: a Rediscovered Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi”

Riccardo Lattuada – “Unknown Paintings by Artemisia in Naples, and New Points Regarding Her Daily Life and Bottega”

Judith Mann – “Three Additions to Artemisia’s Oeuvre and How They Re-shape Our Understanding of Three Phases of Her Career”

Valerie Drummond – “Artemisia’s Missing British Portraits: A Case Study”

Eve Straussman-Pflanzer – “Artemisia’s Art Market: A Gendered Examination of Early Modern Value”

Roundtable Discussion. Moderator: Sheila ffolliott

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Posted in Art Tours Italy, Florence | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on All eyes on Artemisia: BBC Documentary with Michael Palin + conference in Florence
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

The best gelato in Florence?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where can you find the best gelato in Florence?

Right now, we are enamoured with the gelato of Marco Ottaviano from Il Gelato Gourmet.

In the last few months, we have been very happily working our way through the delicious flavours on offer in this gem of a gelateria in Florence.

Chatting with the owner and his lovely wife Cinzia one day, we were invited to have a private gelato lesson with Marco, an absolute gelato expert.

We were shown how, using only fresh and quality ingredients, Marco prepares the gelato base.

His first secret is to use only a few, top-quality ingredients that are carefully measured out to make the base of what may just be the best gelato in Florence.

Following ancient traditions, the gelato is made fresh each day in small quantities to avoid using artificial preservatives and other non-essential additives.

There are then various ways to add the flavour to the gelato.

To achieve a coffee-flavoured gelato for example, the coffee beans are soaked in the liquid base mixture. Their aroma is infused into the liquid before the beans are strained off and the liquid is churned to produce the best gelato al café we have ever tasted.

The Italian version of chocolate chip ice-cream is known as “stracciatella”, which means something more like “streaky”. Once a creamy basic gelato has been made, quality melted chocolate is stirred in to leave ‘streaks’ of chocolate throughout.

Similarly, for Philadelphia cheese gelato the base gelato is made before the cream cheese is stirred in using an immersion blender.

The end result is our favourite gelato in Florence!

Ask Marco about private gelato lessons. We also have a great range of hands-on cooking classes in Florence and Cooking Classes in a Tuscan Villa.

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Posted in Cookery, Cooking, Cooking in Tuscany, Florence, Food | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on The best gelato in Florence?
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

MILAN EXPO 2015

World's Fair Milan 2015

Milan Expo 2015

The Milan Expo is set to open on 1st May 2015.

But what exactly is the World Expo?

Known also as the World Exposition, World Fair or Universal Exposition, it is a tradition that dates back to 1844 when Paris held a national fair, the French Industrial Exposition. This then grew into first a European and then international trend.

The International Exhibitions Bureau was established as the official Expo sanctioning body as of 1928.

The first World Expo was held in London, England, in 1851 with the name “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations”. This Expo had a great impact on international trade and tourism, a good start for the world’s fair tradition indeed.

The first twenty or so World Expos kept the concept of industrialisation as their theme, until the New York World’s Fair of 1939 changed its focus to culture and cultural exchange.

The Expo ’88 held in Brisbane, Australia, saw a shift in focus of the Expo to national identity, seeing Expo becoming more a means to promote national identity through each country’s pavilion.

Today, the World Expo is still considered as a great platform for national promotion, however of late focus has also shifted back to innovation and culture.

For the 2015 Milan Expo, the theme is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its focus is on how tradition and technology mix with culture and creativity in the production of food for the world.

Subthemes of the Milan Expo 2015 include: Science for Food Safety, Security and Quality; Innovation in the Agro Food Supply Chain; Technology for Agriculture and Biodiversity; Dietary Education; Solidarity and Cooperation on Food; Food for Better Lifestyles; and, Food in the World’s Cultures and Ethnic Groups.

The 2015 Expo will be the second World’s Fair held in Milan, Italy. The first was in 1906 with the Milan International, also known as The Great Expo of Work (L’Esposizione Internazionale del Sempione) that attracted over 4 million visitors.

To visit the Milan Expo 2015, we have the Milan Expo in a Day, including private transfer from Milan’s central train station plus an Expo orientation, plus free time to explore the pavilions of the 144 countries participating, representing approximately 94% of the global population.

Artviva Tours: in Florence, RomeVenice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Posted in Italy Tours, Milan, Travel in Italy | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on MILAN EXPO 2015
Rate this post:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...