It was like a weight holding us down, preventing us from moving. They called it the hottest place in Europe, I later learned after reading the papers. Ferrara, serving as the host city for an annual tradition dating back to 1279, brings a number of towns together for the Palio di Ferrara. In colored vestments and heavy armor, participants paraded down the main street. How could they survive in this heat when I can barely lift an arm for my Caffè Shakerato, I wondered, already perspiring. Thankfully, they managed, and we were presented with an amazing series of colorful visuals, flag dances and marching bands. Continue reading “Palio di Ferrara – The medieval festival in photos and video”
“Put your robe on the hanger,” the massaggiatrice said to me in Italian.
I was wearing board shorts and Calvin Klein briefs (in case you needed the image).
“Now take those off but sdfjl;aghnasmdfnsdfj.” I didn’t understand the last part, so I responded with my stock phrase of not being able to understand Italian sometimes.
“Okay. Your swimming clothes…” “Yes.”
“Are you wearing anything underneath?” “Underpants.”
“Okay. Take the shorts; leave the underwear.” “Understood.”
The important matter of how much clothes to take off demands further confirmation.
So began my first spa experience, a full-body oil massage in the Hotel delle Terme Santa Agnese in Bagno di Romagna, a popular spa town in Emilia-Romagna. The scent of steam and sulfur is apparent upon entering the city as thermal water flows naturally here. Bagno di Romagna consists of one main street and a large central piazza. Each of its many shops are charming and friendly, and the town features high-end, even Michelin-starred restaurants. The BlogVille team was lucky enough to dine at such a restaurant with the distinguished leaders of the Emilia-Romagna tourism board. Continue reading “La Notte Celeste in Bagno di Romagna – Oiled up and rubbed down in an Italian spa town”
While I wait for the restoration of Internet connectivity at my place after returning from Italy, I’m forced to leave all my awesome videos (like this one of the view from the clock tower in Brisighella or this other one of a horse-drawn carriage ride in a nature reserve in Savio) of Emilia-Romagna on my computer, lest I jam up the connection for everyone else in this cafe with large uploads.
I don’t want to be that guy.
Anyway, I’ve been reminiscing about all the great moments I had in Emilia-Romagna as a part of BlogVille. There are so many reasons to visit this beautiful region in Italy; here are my top five.
A huge majority of Italy’s most delicious exports originate from Emilia-Romagna. There’s Modena’s balsamic vinegar, the great cheeses of Parma, prosciutto, lasagne, ravioli, tagliatelle al ragù (oddio!), Sangiovese wine and the amazing piadina. Along the coast, fresh seafood is in abundance, often served as a mixed platter of fried goodness. In short, it’s impossible not to get a little grasso here.
That’s Italian for “fat.”
Everyone loves a nice horse-drawn carriage ride, so it should be of no surprise that the BlogVille crew had such a great time at Foce Bevano, a natural reserve in the Parco Regionale del Delta del Po in Savio, Emilia-Romagna. The Centro Visite Cubo Magico Bevanella sits at the heart of the reserve, providing a multimedia, educational introduction to the wildlife residing here. From colorful birds to foxes, the protected area hides a variety of interesting creatures. The plant life and ecological offerings are equally as expansive. Services include bike and boat rentals, as well as the aforementioned horse-drawn carriage tour, providing a multitude of fun and affordable methods for exploring the grounds.
It’s a great attraction for those looking for nature and tranquility. My only advice is to cover up if you’re sensitive to mosquitoes (even still, they bit me through my shirt!) and to be sure to catch the beautiful sunset. The strong wind that Dante described in his literature still exists today, creating a sweeping effect of grass against the light.
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Continue reading “A carriage ride through the Parco Delta del Po in Savio”
It’s not often that I can say I sat in a conference room with the mayor of a medieval Italian town to talk about my blog. (Yes, this blog.) A few days ago, the BlogVille crew met the fine folks running Pennabilli, a hilltop town in Emilia-Romagna. They welcomed us to their wonderful home prior to the start of perhaps their largest celebration.
The name of the city derives from two formal rivals, those living in the castles at Penna and those at Billi. In the 16th century, they joined together to form the city now known as Pennabilli. Today, the city houses notable art installations by poet and intellectual Tonino Guerra, as well as attractions like meditation gardens and Tibetan bells donated from the Dalai Lama. More relevant to this post, Pennabilli hosts an annual three-day festival known as Artisti in Piazza – Festival Internazionale dell’Arte in Strada (“Artists in the Piazza – The International Festival of Street Art”), drawing innovative entertainers from around the world to their cobblestone streets.
If you should ever find yourself in Emilia-Romagna during the time of this festival, do yourself a favor and join in on the fun. It’s full of good people, great shows and really delicious food. Even without Artisti in Piazza, Pennabilli is a beautiful place to visit, as evidenced by the videos and photos below.
While Rimini is a popular destination for beach activities (particularly with the Russians), few people seem to mention the town’s beautiful historic district. Stepping away from the flash and glam of the waterfront, several of us in the BlogVille crew wandered the streets of Rimini’s Centro Storico at night, taking in oldness mixed with new, reminding us of the ancient Roman ties this city still holds.
Photos of Rimini’s Centro Storico from sunset to night.
Taking a break from coastal Rimini, the BlogVille crew headed out to three small towns nearby in Emilia-Romagna: Savignano sul Rubicone, San Mauro Pascoli and Santarcangelo di Romagna.
Unlike eternal dictator Julius Caesar, I crossed the Rubicon in Savignano sul Rubicone after I had already invaded Rome. Today, a small bridge and accompanying statue marks the point where Caesar “tossed the dice” and ventured into Rome with his army. What once was a river is now a small stream surrounded by pretty houses and cobblestone streets.
Today I arrived in Rimini, a coastal town on the eastern coast of Italy, for BlogVille Rimini, a travel writers’ project hosted by the region of Emilia-Romagna. My first impression of the city brought back memories of my hometown of Hawaii mixed with the charm of the better half of Virginia Beach. It’s a peaceful place, especially given that I had just left both Rome and Naples. I met my fellow BlogVille writers, all of them lovely, and we enjoyed the afternoon sitting along the beachfront with conversation and drinks. At night, we hit up a great restaurant for piadine and wandered the city bathed in streetlight. The evening was concluded with a tasting of the largest gelato (yes, more gelato) serving I’ve ever had for just two euros. For a city with heavy Fellini presence, I can say this is definitely living la dolce vita.
But it’s just the beginning… Continue reading “Intro to BlogVille Rimini – The Sunset in Emilia-Romagna”