Thursday, March 7, 2013

Country and City Tours

Country and City Itineraries

Just a few kilometers from Rome you can go boating, windsurfing or canoeing on volcanic lakes, walk or bike in the colorful countryside, taste unique typical foods and experience the history, traditions and ancient culture among Etruscan ruins and in medieval castles.

Rome Today

A trip inside the contemporary reality of the eternal city, visiting 20th and 21st century sites and museums  - Maxxi, Gnam, Macro. Your journey begins with the Rationalist style of the EUR and Foro Italico districts, through the working class areas from the Twenties and Thirties - Garbatella, Quarticciolo and Pigneto -, and the newest architectural challenges, such as Renzo Piano’s Auditorium and Richard Meier’s “Dives in Misericordia” Church.

The Lakes Area  

As with most lakes in this region Lake Vico is of volcanic origin; it is surrounded by cane fields and is horseshoe shaped. Mount Venere is 800 meters high, with several walking and biking trails. At the "well of the devil" - a semi-vertical grotto – there is a great view of the entire lake. Be on the lookout for foxes and wild boar!

The coastline is great for bird watching, cycling and water sports - windsurfing,  sailing and canoeing. Overlooking Lake Vico is Caprarola with a XVI Century Farnese Palace; the Sagra della nocciola occurs here at the end of August and an opportunity to taste local chestnut  based specialties, sweets and ice cream.

Bolsena On the border of Lazio and Umbria, and between Viterbo and Orvieto, Bolsena is the largest volcanic lake in Europe. Excellent for water sports,  it has English style gardens  - Bisentina island - and wild nature – Martana Island. You can also spend time on one of the local fishing boats or cruise aboard a traditional Bolsena Lake boat
, day or night.

Among the trails that you can follow, the most intriguing is Sentiero dei briganti used by smugglers and outlaws. Food lovers will enjoy a vast assortment of restaurants along the coast and specializing in local fish specialties rigorously accompanied by Bolsena olive oil and wines.

Bracciano This lake is located further south, between Rome and Viterbo provinces and close to the Lazio beaches. The three major communities around the lake are the city of  Bracciano, Anguillara Sabazia e Trevignano Romano. Overlooking the lake is the Orsini Odescalchi castle, famous for vip weddings; this 15th century structure is also a museum. Nearby is the Air Force Museum with over 60 planes, motors and other equipment.

History Culture and Archeology

Lazio gets its name from the Latini, a people who arrived in the area in the second millennium b.C. This Indo European population established itself on the Palatine hill and eventually expanded itself to the other six hills of Rome. The region was home to the Etruscans, north of the Tiber river, the Latins in the center, the Falisci in an area in between Etruscans and Latins, and the Capenati, an italic people heavily influenced in language and customs by the Sabines, the Latins and Etruscans.

Archeology Lazio is among the richest archeological regions in the world, with major Etruscan cities such as: Cerveteri, Tarquinia, Vulci, Veio and Volsini that peaked between the VII and V Centuries b.C.
Our trip begins in Vulci, an ancient Etruscan city suddenly overwhelmed by the advancing tide of Rome; walking through the princely tombs of its Necropolis you will witness the glorious and lavish past of the Etruscan aristocracy. A majestic silhouette stands out in the background: the medieval castle of the Abbey, which towers over the Fiora river valley. Next, the Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden, a unique theme park.

The first monasteries in Central Italy appeared around 529 and the founding of Monte Cassino Abbey. Lazio region has several medieval borgoes, located on hilltops and often containing museums and private collections.

Appia Antica A unique tour of the Appian Route, the “Regina Viarum”, a route walked by millions of people over the past two millennia. The “Via Appia” linked Rome with the Southern Italy; along the way, you will discover monuments, clues about who built and owned them, and visit the Catacombs. Then, a rustic and appetizing lunch “al fresco” under a pergola.

Roman Castles and Museums The area just south and east of Rome, known as the Castelli Romani e Prenestini, comprises a network of museums and archeological sites in several small historic towns. The twenty cultural venues are representative of the area’s rich historic, artistic and cultural heritage in: history and archeology, anthropology, science and the environment,  culture and religion.

A unique opportunity for vacationing families and culture professionals alike to walk ancient trails, become acquainted with old traditions and visit: historic towns, churches, convents, medieval palaces, aqueducts, imperial navy ships, wine producing towns and even a toy museum.

Folklore and Traditions

On August 5 it snows in the eternal city. Rose petals fall on the congregation in the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. This event is a re-enactment of the snowfall that took place on the Esquilino hill on this day in 352 a.C., when the Virgin Mary indicated to Pope Liberio the location where the church should be built.

Before dawn, every January 13, a large oak log is lit in Capena. As the flames embers all the citizens light up a cigarette; this very ancient tradition ends with a benediction of the animals and a parade of the local area horses dressed in vivacious colors.  

Viterbo celebrates Santa Rosa on September 4 with a procession led by a very large statue of the saint placed on an elaborate cart; the first one dates back to 1663. In Viterbo Province:

Marta On May 1414 a procession of  the Chiesa della Santissima del Monte: a wooden stand (the fountain) is carried by four holding an image of the Madonna adorned with fruits and flowers follone by the clergy and citizenry parading in groups representative of their trades.

A unique celebration takes place on August 15 - Ferragosto –  in Oriolo Romano as a long procession accompanies the statue of the Virgin Mary of the Star along the streets of this XVI Century medieval borgo, built as "ideal town" by the Church – an early example of a planned community! In the main piazza, a "rodeo" by maremmani butteri, the southern Tuscany cowboys.

On Fat Tuesday members of the Purgatory Fraternity, wearing black hoods, parade through Gradoli’s streets led by banner and drums, knocking on doors to collect food for the “Dinner in Purgatory” eaten on Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday is market day in Latina: new and used clothes bancarelle with home furnishing, fruits and vegetables. Best day to visit is the first Tuesday of the month when, it is claimed, all the new and fresh stuff arrives! 

Frosinone A feast know as “Radeca” may have pre-Christian orgins. Frosinone is a very old town and this event may have its roots in pagan fertility and procreation rituals. The long radeca leaf represents the agave, the ancient symbol of fertility. The event takes place on July 26 to celebrate an insurrection against the Roman Republic and the French army that protected it.