Go to 2Pedal Mountain Biking Italy for information on mountain biking in Italy's majestic mountains.
I lived in southern Italy for a half year and both loved it and hated it. I find it very different from the states, both the good parts and the bad. I am just starting to explore northern Italy a little more. I didn't expect much from Vicenza, but was very pleasantly surprised. Brindisi was my home for a half year, and was much nicer than most people ever see. I will soon add more to this section and add sections for Milan and Riva del Garda. Just don't hold your breath.
If you want to learn some Italian, check out my Italian phrase guides.
I was just told of Vinitaly, the largest wine festival/trade show in the world in Verona in the first week in April.
National Geographic Traveler recommended the following in Venice:
La Zucca is an excellent vegetarian restaurant at Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio, Santa Croce, 041-524-1570
Santa Maria della Statua is a church worth checking out at the southern end of the Grand Camal, Dorsoduro.
Squero di San Trovaso, where Rio di Ognissanti and Rio di San Trovaso meet in Dorsoduro, is where gondolas are built and repaired using the same methods now as centuries ago.
Camp San Polo is the second largest square in Venice. It's off the Grand Canal behind Palazzo Querini.
Calle dello Spezier off Campo Sant-Angelo, San Marco. Home to herb gardens and the "Traica" (a ceremony in which men in period garb grind herbs with mortars, while chanting.)
Trattoria da Romano on Via Baldassare galuppi 221, Burano. 041-730-030. 40 minutes by ferry from Venice. Here you'll lose the tourists and see real Venitians enjoying lunch.
This is one of those odd things that you come across in the internet. An organic restaurant founded by Eva Orlowsky, former porn star. It sounds like it may just be a lot of hype, but may also be worth checking out.
Eva's all-organic 'Cascina Orlowsky'
Here's someone else's text:
Six years ago former porn star, erotic dancer and Italian institution Eva Orlowsky decided to change tack and start turning on peoples' tastebuds as well as other areas of their anatomies. Eva's organic cookery is famed throughout Italy for its aphrodisiac qualities, helped along, no doubt, by her "discreet porn chic" waitressing attire and strip shows. Although the majority of her ingredients come directly from her own small farm, Eva suggests that a daily mouthful of her tasty juices is capable of stimulating the blood flow to your vital organs.
Eva's all-organic 'Cascina Orlowsky' restaurant is located in her home town of Castelnuovo Bormida, near Alessandria in Piedmonte. People have travelled the length of Italy just for a taste of her aphrodisiac omlette, "frittata afrodisica", so advance booking is strongly recommended. If the worst comes to the worst and you can't get your feet under Eva's table at the Cascina you can always catch her TV cookery show.
Cost moderately priced menu. For bookings and enquiries call (+39) 0 144 714 301. Tables can be booked directly via Eva's website, however it's written entirely in Italian.
The subterranean catacombs that contain the mummified remains of about 8,000 ancient inhabitants of Palermo may be macabre, but are fascinating to visit. The Capuchin friars began mummifying and embalming the bodies of the city's nobles back in 1533, and the tradition continued for centuries with the last body (a seven-year-old girl named Rosalia) being embalmed in 1920. After embalming, the corpses were hung along the walls of the catacombs, dressed in their best, which they still wear proudly, like the military officer in an 18th-century uniform complete with tricorn.
Address: Piazza Cappuccini 1; Telephone: 091 212 117; Opening time: Monday to Friday 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm; for more info, check out this site
The Economist magazines guide to Milan
The Economist magazines guide to Milan restaurants
Things to see in Italy
The world's largest bridge will connect Italy and Sicily at the Stretto di Messina.
The church Santa Maria della Concezione, built 1626-163, has an ossuary of the Capuchin friars bones. When one of the friars dies, he is buried in a vault, and after some time the bones are retrieved and placed in this ossuary, where they are arranged in a macabre style. There are now bones from more than 4.000 brothers who died between 1528 and 1870 in the ossuary.
Santa Maria della Concezione
Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins
This church is noted for its crypt which contains the bones of some fourthousand Capuchin friars. There is a series of chambers housing the skeletal remains of the monks. Each chamber has been decorated with the bones of the monks. Various bones are arranged on the ceilings and walls forming intracate patterns or have been sorted in piles against walls. Each of the chambers are different, some even contain the haunting full skeletons of monks clothed in the traditional brown habit.
The Barberini family were rather ostentatious in the way they put their mark on this church, which they wished to have under their protection. When Antonio Barberini, a Capuchin friar and Urban VIII's younger brother, became cardinal, he decided to rebuild the church of his Order; the Pope granted him a subsidy. From then on, many of the great figures of the time, including the Emperor Ferdinand II, sought to sponsor the decoration of the side chapels - so much so that the Capuchins had to make repeated appeals for their church not to be too richly decorated. While the Pope seized this opportunity to refuse all help, it did not prevent his brother from calling upon some of the greatest painters of the time for the altar paintings. The crypt is definitely worth a visit; it is decorated with bones in extremely Baroque taste.
The church is also known as Santa Maria Immacolata (Our Lady the Immaculate) and Chiesa dei Cappuccini (Church of the Capuchins). It was designed by Antonio Casoni and built 1626-1631 for Antonio Cardinal Barberini, a Capuchin and twin brother of Pope Urban VIII. The Capuchins still serve the church. The faŤade and the steps leading to the church were altered in the 20th century.
About halfway up the stairs to the church, on the right side, you will find the entrance to the ossuary of the Capuchin friars . When one of the friars dies, he is buried in a vault, and after some time the bones are retrieved and placed in this ossuary, where they are arranged in a macabre style. There are now bones from more than 4.000 brothers who died between 1528 and 1870 in the ossuary.
The church has a single nave, and ten side chapels. In the second chapel on the left side, beneath the altar, lies the body of St Felix of Cantalice. His portrait is by Turchi. On the right side, the first chapel has two famous paintings: St Michael the Archangel by Guido Reni, painted in 1630, and Christ Mocked by Gherardo delle Notti. The tomb of Blessed Crispin of Viterbo is in the third chapel on the the same side. The painting of St. Francis with the Stigmata is by Domenichino. Cardinal Antonio Barberini, who provided funds for the church, was buried here in 1646. The inscription on his tomb says "Here lies dust and ashes, nothing else".