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Europe Italy Kids Lombardy

Leolandia is the children’s amusement park even grown ups will enjoy.

By
on
02/12/2017
After Jacopo’s 100th request to go to Leolandia, we organized a day at the Lombard fun park during Halloween weekend, renamed (for obvious reasons) HalLEOween !! On the 30th of October, therefore, armed with witch hats, pumpkin shaped bags and a headband with ghosts (obviously for me) we reach Leolandia, which during  the “night of witches” has been set in full Halloween mood with lots of pumpkins, ghosts, warlock  and steaming pots

WHERE - HOW - WHEN

Leolandia Amusement Park is located in Capriate San Gervasio, 17 km from Bergamo and just over 15km from Orio al SerioAirport

The park is equipped with a car park (car and caravan) for a cost of € 5,00 a day(for cars).

Alternatively, you can leave your car at the mall’s free parking or at the freeway parking lot (N.B. Mc Donald’s parking has 1 / 1.5 hour rest limit, surely not enough to enjoy the park).

The entrance fee  depends  on the day you decide to visit the park and, for children, according to the height (up to 90 cm high the ticket is free)

There are, however, some tips  to spend less, like, for example, buying a fixed-term ticket (online directly from the site), possibly some days in advance.

For those who travel many miles to please their children, packages (including on the park website) are also available (including hotel stay).

On these packages and on the hotels we can not say anything, as considered the proximity to the park, we went back to our cottage the same day (ps Jacopo slept twelve hours straight, which was so extraordinary that I got up 4/5 times to check that he wasn’t sick).

“And if it rains?” For those who bought the ticket and visited the park on a rainy day it’s possible to return for free to give families the opportunity to live out  their extraordinary day.

OPENING TIME - LUNCH BREAK

Opening hours of Leolandia amusement park is from 10am to 6pm (Mon-Sat-Sun), with special opening times for special events or holidays.

As far as the lunch break is concerned, the park has many refreshment points (sooner or later the most irriducible children stop, instantly developing a wolf-like appetite!).

There are numerous bars and restaurants with a selection of seasonal dishes and gluten free menus for special needs.

In addition, for packed lunch lovers, there are two picnic areas where you can eat your meal, as well as spread over several areas in the park, baby bottle warmers and microwave ovens for the tiniest of kids.

New mothers can also benefit from 7 nurseries for nursing, changing nappies, or just resting!

However, on the park web site you can check timetables and individual events of the day.

THE PARK

Peppa Pig's World

Leolandia Amusement Park is basically divided into two large areas, the first on the right of the main entrance, dedicated to the youngest.

In this area we find, in fact, the world of Peppa Pig, an area entirely devoted to the piggy so loved by children, as much as hated by parents.

Here we find the perfect reconstruction of the house of the Pig family, Mr Bull‘s yard, the legendary Father Pig’s red car and the famous mud puddles (fake in the winter months).

Needless to say, fun is assured; Jacopo looked like a mad ball, jumping left and right.

At the end of the tour (both at home and at the yard) you can take a picture with Peppa and her brother George.

Masha and the Bear

Beyond Peppa Pig’s area, you reach the section dedicated to Masha and Bear. Here we find the ambulance and the eternally hungry wolves. At the Fattoria Theater you can watch the show “Sing and dance with Masha and Bear” (in different time throughout the day), during which adults and children are allowed to carry the rhythm of the most beautiful cartoon songs. Even in this case at the end of the show, whoever wants, can take a picture with the cute characters of the Soviet cartoon. Close to the area dedicated to Masha and Bear is a real farm with goats, cows, hens.

PJ Masks

What can we say … anyone who has to do with a child aged between two and six knows very well that the kids in their PJs are pretty much everywhere, becoming children’s favorite cartoon (in fact, the good old Mickey Mouse is hacked like a bee). On Palco Italia, the most famous troupe of heroes makes its entrance making  children hysterical (it is said that pacifiers or dummies and plush animals have been thrown on the stage .. The envy of Woodstock groupies). At the end of the show, during which the super PJs Mask show off their super powers, we all head for the queue to take a picture!  And we did it twice, as the first time around, Jacopo could not make the picture with his favorite pajamas, Gekko, so we waited for the next show and related queue to take a photo with the green PJ Mask … and I must say that it was worth it !!

The rides

The second large area of ​​Leolandia is dedicated to the rides, in all 40 between rides and attractions. Access is regulated by the baby height, but if you want to accompany your little ones there are no restrictions on the rides (except for the most reckless ones). Jacopo has tried them all with me or Pierluigi. Nice experience is the ride on the Thomas & Friends train, the nice blue locomotive accompanies you in a playful park tour.

Shows and Animations

Leolandia  also means shows and animations for the whole family. I would highly recommend that you attend one of the shows that take place in the Leo Arena. We attended the “Secret Castle” Halloween theme (of course). A turbine of emotions, lights, and costumes that has enchanted us the entire time. Noteworthy are also the various shows that take place in various areas of the park at different times of the day.
Leolandia is undoubtedly a park designed and built for the fun of children, they are the target of the park (rightfully so) but with an attentive eye toward the needs of parents who for a few hours can put aside thoughts and responsibilities, going back to being kids while having fun with their children.


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Europe Italy Veneto

Verona hit and run – half a day in the city of Romeo and Juliet

By
on
27/10/2017
Verona

When one hears the name Verona the first thing that comes to mind are Romeo and Juliet, the most unfortunate lovers in human history.

Taking advantage of a warm October day and a work commitment in the town of Christmascakes, Pandoro, Pierluigi and I arranged a hit and run visit of this beautiful city.

After leaving Jacopo at his Kindergarten we left for Verona driving a little over an hour on the Toll-way.

In order to save time, we left our car in the most central of the toll parkings, the multi floor “Cittadella” about 50 mt (56 yds) from Piazza Bra.

The city does offer low cost parking across the Adige River, or even free parking like the one close to the Bentegodi Stadium in Olimpia Square.

Via Roma - Verona
Piazza Bra e l'Arena
Our visit starts with Bra Square, no, it’s not a square dedicated to female lingerie, but the city’s largest square.
 
To reach the square we walk through the Bra doors, built within the medieval walls which connected Bra Square with the suburban countryside.
 
To the right of the door one can see the Pentagon Tower, a defensive construction built during the communal era.
 
Bra Square is the foyer to the great Arena.
 
The perfect place to meet up with friends have a chat while drinking a cocktail or have some coffee in one of the many cafes open year round.

 

I portoni della Bra

Across the Square you finally reach the beautiful and world famous Arena, the Roman amphitheater built between 10 and 20 AD, inside which, to date, many famous operas and events take place, giving the viewer a unique and evocative atmosphere.

Piazza Bra - Verona
La casa di Giulietta

From the Arena following along Via Mazzini, I.e. the  shopping route, you reach Via Cappello and after a few meters to your right Juliette’s house, not to mention her bronze statue and famous balcony, symbol of lovers the world over.

Via Mazzini - Verona
Statue of Juliet
Piazza delle Erbe

Not far from Juliette’s house is Piazza delle Erbe (Square of the Herbs), the city’s ancient historical center. At the center of the square there are little stands that sell fruit salads and other articles of craftsmanship.

Piazza delle Erbe
My new hat
Torre dei Lamberti

In this Square you will see Lamberti Tower an 84mt tall medieval tower, from the top of which one can admire an unforgettable view of the city. The ticket to the Tower (€8) also gives the right to visit the exhibition of modern art right next to the tower.

Torre dei Lamberti
Verona's view from Torre dei Lamberti
Scalinata - Torre dei Lamberti
Ponte di Castelvecchio

Our next stop was Ponte di Castelvecchio (the Castelvecchio Bridge) better known as Ponte Scaligero.

The bridge starts from the fortress of Castelvecchio and is made of bricks and stones, distinguished by its three slender arches and sits on the banks of the Adige River.

The bridge is always accessible without a fee.

Castelvecchio bridge
Giardino Giusti

Our last stop in our half a day visit to Verona was Giardino Giusti (the Giusti Gardens), slightly away from the city center, in my opinion is a must see.

Giardino Giusti - Viale dei Cipressi

The garden is located in the Palace’s “backyard”. The palace is shaped like a horseshoe, typical of the 500s.

Once you pass through the gates the feeling you get is that if being immersed in a green labyrinth: flowerbeds, stairways, statues and artificial caves line the cypress lined avenue leading to the progressive terraces.

Giardino Giusti - Labyrinth
Giardino Giusti

Don’t miss out on the rise to the Belvedere which boasts an exceptional view of the city, not to mention an extraordinary view of the magnificent gardens in their entirety.

The Gardens are open all year round and can be visited for a mere €8, with the ticket to the Giusti Palace.

Giardino Giusti - Belvedere
TIPS

To optimize  your visit to the city we suggest to purchase the Verona card which allows you to access the main museums, monuments and churches at discount price or for free.

Furthermore, it gives the holder the right to a 10% discount in partecipating restaurants and also free pubblic transportation.

Via Roma's porticos - Verona


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Europe Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy

Tarvisio in summer: things to do and place to visit

By
on
01/09/2017

Tarvisio

Summer for me has always meant:  sea, white beaches and scent  of salty air. This year, in spite of the hot July and the (blatant) pressure from my husband, we decided to spend 10 days in Tarvisio, the northeastern part of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy.

Well, it took two days to break every wall of mistrust on the mountain as a summer tourist destination! It was a holiday full of emotions and family adventures.

The Tarvisiano Valley is beautiful, particularly rich in recreational activities, places to visit; last but not least, the proximity to the Slovenia (Ljubljana and Bled Lake) and Austria, which allows for short “foreign get-aways”.

 

Tarvisio

Zacchi Alpine Hut

In the first place we decided to face the mountain adventure and test our exploration soul reaching  the Zacchi Alpine hut.

Starting from Tarvisio, we headed by car toward the Fusine Lakes, specifically, to the large Lake Superior car park.

From there a small road unwinds, a very gentle, unassuming trail that ends with a crossroads: on the one hand, a walk on a large gravel road, also used by cars to reach the refuge, on the other, a path through the woods, shorter, but also more challenging.

Needless to say which of the two routes my sweet hubby suggested to take!!

 

The CAI route

 The Ascent

In short, with my great joy (fake!) we went into the forest path confiding in the fact that it would be simple and not excessive, considering the presence of Jacopo, our 2.5 years old and, like his mom, at his first hiking experience.

I must admit that the little man has impressed not only the two of us, but also the other cross-country travelers. He joyfully and without hesitation walked the entire time,  reproaching mom (more than once) for stopping to rest.

The tireless Jacopo

After all, contrary to my being a poor mountain person, the CAI route, completely  shaded, because protected by a lush forest of very tall, green trees, in sharp contrast to the patchy blue sky  offers evocative landscapes

 

Mt. Mangart

In brief once there, the need to stop for a few minutes (not only to catch my breath) to contemplate the beauty of nature around it is inevitable. The magnificence of Mt. Mangart is eye catchy , standing at 2,677 m, makes it the fourth highest peak in the Julian Alps bordering with Slovenia.

 

Mt Mangart
Jacopo after the ascent

The Descent

After restoring our minds and soul, we also offered  rest to the body, occupying one of the outside tables of the shelter, to have an ice-cold drink, and a plate of pasta with ragù for Jacopo.

So, quenched and refreshed by the park, we decided to return to the lower lake, this time by way of the gravel road; Halfway down the road our baby boy felt asleep, but fortunately we had Ferrino’s baby-carrier backpack with us and Pierluigi was able to put Jacopo back on his shoulder!

The alpine hut

The Fusine Lakes

The Fusine Lakes are one of the most fascinating places in Friuli Venezia Giulia; These  two alpine lakes are surrounded by coniferous woods, with red and white firs.

Lake Superior, located at 929 meters above sea level, has a maximum depth of 10 meters and an area of ​​9 ha, while Lake Inferiore, located at 924 meters above sea level, has a maximum depth of 25 meters and an area of ​​13.5 ha .

Here nature is the protagonist and it is imperative to relax on the lawns surrounding them, watching the bucolic landscapes and the placid ducks swimming undisturbed  in their emerald green waters.

 

Relaxing
The bucolic landscape
The Fusine Lake's waterfall

Monte Lussari

Another stop not to be missed in the Tarvisiano is Monte Lussari, fortunately for me, reachable through the cable car that takes you through 800mt of altitude  in 10/15 minutes, effortlessly and comfortably seated.

Monte Lussari is a jewel of incomparable natural beauty on which stands a small hamlet that develops around the shrine, common to the Slavic, Italian and German ethnic strains.

The little church built on the site in 1360 is today a place of pilgrimage; But the area is also ideal for sports lovers. 

 

Monte Lussari
An amazing view

Orrido della Slizza

Three days after the excursion to the Rifugio Zacchi, and after every single muscle on my B side has stopped hurting, we decided to go along the sloping Orrido Slizza path, a footpath that is protected by hand-rails  going down into the beech and Red spruce forest  and follows the sinuous path etched by the  Slizza  river.

Already in this first section you can admire the natural beauty of the limestone rocks eroded by the action of the water, the varied vegetation enriched with thousands of coloured nuances and by the enchanting green hue of the water.

 

The footpath
The Slizza River

Once passed the gangways the road goes down slightly to the water’s edge and then goes up to meet a man made cave.

From here you can admire the iron rail bridge over the old Tarvisio – Ljubljana railway  which has been abandoned for many years. The bridge, 63 meters high up to the water’s edge, is accessible via a pedestrian walkway.

Continuing the trek within the spruce and beech forest you are shortly back to the starting point.

The enchanting green hue of the water.

Goriuda Fountain

The most interesting site of the entire Valley, in my opinion, is the Goriuda Fountain, in Chiusaforte (UD).

The Fountain is in the Natural Park  of the Julian PreAlps and is reachable through a short and easy walk (15 minutes at most) at the end of which you reach a grotto and the breathtaking waterfall.

Following the path from the wooden fence you can enter the cave and find yourself on the other side of the falling cascade, for sure  treat.  

The Goriuda Fountain
The waterfall

The Predil Lake

About 10 Km from Tarvisio lies the Predil Lake, an idyllic basin  once iced, offering the numerous visitors an opportunity to  spend a pleasant and  relaxing day thanks to the bathing establishment with a beach area,  boats,  canoes and a windsurfing school.

In addition, if you are planning to spend a day at Lago del Predil, I recommend you cut out time for the Cave del Predil Mines for a unique and fascinating experience.

The Predil Lake
one, two, three...splash!

The Raibl Mine

The Raibl mine has  been one of the most important European lead and zinc mines for centuries. Closed in 1990, today it has become the Raibl Geominerary International Park, memorial in memory of miners and now tourist destination.


The old mine was made up of 120 km of tunnels arranged on 19 levels, down to 520 m in depth. Now you can visit some of the spaces inside, walking along some of the tunnels on foot or on an electric train.


Wearing winter clothing is recommended at all times, since the temperature in the mine is around 6-9 ° C yearround and  humidity is 98%, an ideal microclimate for asthma sufferers or lung diseases. Recently, in fact, a doctor from Udine  is trying to get the nihil obstat for exploiting the mine for the benefit of patients with respiratory problems due to allergies and/or asthma!


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Europe Italy Tuscany

Sights and Smells of Medieval Tuscany villages: Volterra and Bolgheri

By
on
07/08/2017

Medieval Tuscany

Pierluigi, Jacopo and I spent two days discovering two Tuscany gems: Volterra and Bolgheri.

Sited on the confluence of the Cecina and Era Valle, Volterra is a very ancient city of Etruscan origin.

 

 

Volterra
Volterra city centre

Volterra

Volterra still has a typical medieval appearance which has been preserved almost intact over the centuries.


 

Volterra
A medieval village
The city centre

At the centre of the town is  Piazza dei Priori surrounded by wonderful medieval buidings built in a mellow sienna coloured stone.

Palazzo dei Priori : The oldest Government Palace in Tuscany
Streets in Volterra

In addition, the town is well-know for its residents’ alabaster artistry. Alabaster is a form of crystallized chalk that has a delicate, milky but translucent texture.

 

A typical restaurant in Bolgheri

Bolgheri

Our discovery of Tuscany continues with the amazing Bolgheri.

The name Bolgheri comes from a Bulgarian  military camp, allied with the Longobards 

As can be seen, Bolgheri is a charming village on top of  a round hill, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.

Walking around Bolgheri

It’s perfect for a dinner out and for a nice and relaxing walk trough the Tuscan countryside. I definitely suggest a drive along the famous Viale dei Cipressi that leads to Bolgheri;  this is a scenic, straight avenue, borded by majestic and ancient cypresses leading you in front of the Bolgheri’s Castle.

 

The famous Viale dei Cipressi
The Bolgheri Castle

But Bolgheri is olso world famous  for its wines : Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Tua Rita, Tenuta Argentiera, Guado al Tasso…hats off !!

Cheers  guys !!!!

 

 


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Europe Italy Puglia

A sunny and warm sunday discovering the heart of Puglia

By
on
14/05/2017

Taking advantage of a warm mid summer weekend, we took off for the heart of Puglia, particularly Alberobello, Monopoli and Polignano a Mare. 

The Trullo

Alberobello

Located about 60 km south of Bari, Alberobello is the home of the famous ‘Trullo’. Splendid cone-shaped constructions that have been used as homes since ancient times.
My personal advice is to lose oneself along the tiny alleys of the city’s downtown and be captivated and charmed by the Sovereign Trullo, the small church of Sant’Antonio from Padua, the House of Love.
Most of the Trulli have currently become lodgings, Relais, museums, wineries and restaurants, souvenir shops and local craftsmanship.

In addition, the colorful terra-cotta whistles are quite noteworthy, as cute as they are bothersome to the eardrums if used with out letup, especially by kids (I admit to having gleefully rejoiced at Jacopo’s inability to blow the whistles!)

 

Monopoli

Old town and harbor

20 km north of Alberobello, right on the coast, springs the town of Monopoli.
This town was a very pleasant surprise for me.
The downtown is full of articulate little alleys, arches and alleyways. A jewel of popular architecture mixed with stately buildings and gorgeous religious sites where the Cathedral dedicated to the Mary from Madia stands out among the white houses.

Monopoli - old town

In my opinion the best to start your tour of Monopoli is from the harbor,  suggestive at all hours of the day. You can admire the ‘gozzo’ boats which are typical local red and blue colored wooden boats. You will also find one of Italy’s largest squares, Vittorio Emanuele Square, dating back to the Eighth Century.
In conclusion the city center also offers many eating options, from the most rustic (sandwiches, bruschetta bread and frisa bread), to the most refined dishes of the excellent tradition of Puglia.

Polignano a mare

Polignano a Mare

Final stage of our weekend was Polignano a Mare. City perched on the brink of a cliff over 20 high which seems suspended in that  “blu dipinto di blu” sang by its most famous citizen Domenico Modugno.
Another characteristic is the Byzantine and Arabic traces a succession of alleys, typical white houses and balconies hanging over the sea. Each and every balcony treats you to breathtaking sights which are entwined with the atmosphere and scents of the Mediterranean. 

the gold of Puglia

The walk through the streets of the historical center was pleasantly interrupted by a pit stop at “la casa del mojito” (the house of the mojito), small but typical and characteristic Italian place that offers its clientele a stunning mojito in one of many devious varieties.
At dusk we head back home on the SS16, the scenery enchanting, the perfect closing for our weekend with the colors, history and natural beauty of my beloved region.

colour of sunset