6 Most Haunted Castles in Europe

6 Most Haunted Castles in Europe

haunted castles in EuropeEurope is steeped in history, many times violent and bloody.  What with ancient wars and feudes, palace intrigues, and domestic abuses it’s no wonder that many of its ancient castles are said to be haunted.  In fact it would be even more amazing if there were no haunted castles in Europe.

Every Halloween I like to share with you haunted places around the world.  Some of them I’ve been to, others are still on my bucket list.  I’ve shared my experiences in Tombstone’s Bird Cage Theater and have written about haunted hotels and other haunted places around the country.  But haunted places are definitely not exclusive to the United States, every country around the globe has its own spooky places that have stories of hauntings attached to them.  This Halloween I’d like to share 6 of the most haunted castles in Europe.

So buckle your seat belts as we fly across the Atlantic and have a quick peek at 6 of the most haunted castles in Europe.  Believe me there are so many haunted places on that continent it’s hard to pick just 6!

haunted castles in EuropeThe Tower of London

It doesn’t take much imagination to decide that London has many haunted places, specially on chilly nights when the fog swirls thick around  you as you walk down the narrow streets of the city.  After all London was home to Jack the Ripper one of history’s first recorded serial killers.  The streets of Whitechapel were known to be his hunting grounds.

Sure the pubs around Whitechapel are said to be haunted, remember many of them have been there since well before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree.  But since we’re talking castles lets start with the Tower of London.  It’s not exactly a castle, it’s actually a prison.  A 900+ year old prison that  housed some of histories most famous nobility, many of whom are now said to be haunting the place.

With its long history of torture, murder, and executions it’s no wonder this castle like building is haunted by a long litany of specters.  Arguably the most famous haunt is Anne Boleyn the unfortunate second wife of Henry VIII.  Her only crime was her inability to produce a male heir to the throne and her fickle husband grew tired of her and divorced her.  The king then charged the poor woman with treason and had her beheaded 1536.  Her headless ghost is said to roam the tower’s corridors.

Other famous ghosts include the two princes who were deemed illegitimate by Parliament and imprisoned in the tower.  It is believed they were murdered, actually smothered, by their uncle the Duke of Gloucester.  Today it’s said they’ve been spotted in the tower holding hands and looking afraid.

haunted castles in europeBran Castle

Believed to be the castle in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, Bran Castle in the Romanian town of Bran is said to be haunted by a variety of its previous occupants.

It is said the Stoker never actually visited this 13th. century stone castle , but used pictures of  it as his model for the home of  his famous vampire Count Dracula.

But somehow fact and fiction mingled to form the basis of legends about this picturesque castle.  Legend has it that some of Bran’s citizens are actually strigoi, people whose souls leave their bodies at night to terrorize the village.  This definitely encourages the areas vampire lore.  Who knows perhaps rumors of these legends reached Stoker’s ears in Ireland and encouraged him to write his classic novel.

haunted castles in europe

Leap Castle

Leap Castle (pronounced Lep) in Coolderry, County Offaly, Ireland is notoriously the most haunted castle in Ireland if not the world.  This ancient castle has been featured in several TV shows about the paranormal including Ghost Hunters and TV’s Most Haunted.

It’s not surprising that the world’s most haunted castle would be located in Ireland, a land that’s steeped in legends and mystery.  And it’s not at all surprising that Leap Castle is haunted given its bloody history and ambiguous origins.

It’s unclear exactly when the castle was constructed, some say 12th. century and others 15th.  But whatever the year of it’s construction was one thing everyone seems to agree on is the site on which it was built.  Leap Castle is build over a site that was previously occupied by druids who used it for initiation ceremonies.  It was originally named Leim Ui Bhanain meaning Leap of the O’Bannons.

As the legend goes the O’Bannons were an affluent clan from County Tipperary.  Two O’Bannon brothers vying to become chieftain is said to have entered into a contest where they would leap off the rock where the castle was to be built.  The brother who survived would be chief and be responsible for building the castle.  Thus began the castles bloody history and hauntings.

However O’Bannons did not control the castle for long, the castle was seized by the O’Carroll clan, a ruthless and greedy bunch who left a legacy of carnage within the castle walls.  The years of O’Carroll reign over the castle are said to be cruel and bloody.  Many of their victims are said to haunt the castle including the lady in red.

The lady is said to be seen wandering the castle dressed in a fluttering red gown carrying a sharp blade.  The lady is said to have been imprisoned and repeatedly raped by the O’Carrolls.  She became pregnant and her child was murdered by the same men.  Overwhelmed by the murder of her baby it is said that she used the blade that she now carries to end her tormented life.

And then there’s the Bloody Chapel.  At one point the O’Carroll chieftain died without a clear heir.  Of course this resulted in a fight between his sons Thaddeus and Teighe.  Thaddeus was a priest and is said to have been in the middle of a mass when his brother rushed in and slaughtered him.  His ghost is said to wander in and around the chapel.

There are many more bloody tales about this castle as it seems that the O’Carrolls were a bloodthirsty and sadistic clan.  It’s really no wonder that their many victims haunt this castle.

haunted castles in europeEdinburgh Castle

Perched atop a hill overlooking Scotland’s most haunted city of Edinburgh sits Scotland’s most haunted castle.  Edinburgh Castle has seen its share of violent deaths.  With over 900 years of history behind it the castle has been the scene of surprise attacks, executions, and even a brief capture by the English.

It should come as no surprise that Edinburgh Castle is said to be haunted, it would be more surprising if it wasn’t.

The castle is home to a variety of specters including the ghost Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis who was imprisoned for witchcraft and burned at the stake.  Then there’s the unseen drummer who many have claimed to hear but never seen.  The castle dungeons were filled with notorious thugs and cutthroats many are said to be heard moaning and groaning down there.

haunted castles in europeMoosham Castle

Moosham Castle also known as Witches Castle is a 13th. century castle in Unternberg, Austria.  It was the location for the bloodiest and most gruesome witch trials in Europe.

In the 17th. century the archbishop of Unternberg tried, tortured, and executed thousands of women here.  The women were accused of witchcraft.  Here those women were beaten, tortured, hanged, and some even drawn and quartered (their bodies tied to horses and were torn apart when the horses ran in different directions.)  It’s no wonder the place is haunted by those tortured souls who are said to roam the halls in search of justice to this day.

Another ghost said to linger in this castle is Anton the resident caretaker during the witch trials.  He roamed the halls then guarding his prisoners and is said to roam the halls still.

Frankenstein Castle

Yes there really is a Frankenstein Castle, its ruinhaunted castles in europes are located in Darmstadt, Germany.  And yes this is the castle and the legend immortalized by Mary Shelly in her classic novel Frankenstein.

The original castle that sits atop a hill overlooking the town dates back to 948 B. C.  Obviously it underwent many additions and renovations since it was originally constructed.

In the 1600’s the sole remaining member of the original Frankenstein family died instantly in a chariot accident.  He was on his way to see his one true love, Anne Marie.  Clearly he never saw her and as legend has it she stayed in the castle waiting for him until she eventually died of a broken heart.  Today it is said that both Knight Frankenstein and Anne Marie are wandering around the darkened castle searching for each other.  Now this is not the basis for Shelly’s novel, that one’s about monsters and body parts.  So how did that come about?

After the original Frankenstein family died out a man named  Konrad Dipple von Frankenstein moved into the castle.  He was an alchemist and grave robber.  As the story goes he was experimenting with human and animal body parts and the blood of virgins, he was trying to resurrect the dead.  His greatest creation was his monster made of body parts and reanimated in his laboratory in the castle.  The town folk were afraid and stormed the castle whilst the alchemist was locked in his lab.  He supposedly drank one of his potions and thus ended up committing suicide.  However his monstrous creation escaped and roams the forest to this day in search of virgins whose blood he needs to stay alive.

The brothers Grimm actually recounted this tale to Mary Shelly’s stepmother.  Mary Shelly later visited the castle and used the story as her basis for her world famous novel Frankenstein.

Well there you have it, 6 of the most haunted castles in Europe.  Visit them this Halloween or any time of year, if you dare!

Ready to plan your ghost chasing adventure in Europe?  Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan!  We specialize in helping families plan memorable vacations around the globe.  Call me at 808-372-7734 and we’ll start planning your adventure today!


Market  Day In Italian Towns

Market Day In Italian Towns

Europe is famous for Market Day.  It’s one of my favorite things about Europe!  I love wandering thru open markets where ever they may be.

market dayLike all the other European countries Italy has Market Day in just about every little town.  In fact some towns like Vicenza have a schedule of Market Days where different vendors rotate through out the week.  For instance Thursdays are usually a Market Day for food vendors to sell fresh fruits and veggies not to mention cheeses, deli meats, seafood, and more.  These vendors set up in the smaller piazzas around town leaving the main piazza for vendors selling clothes, carpets, and other household goods.  Tuesdays are usually a Market Day for clothing vendors who set up in the main square.  Then every last Sunday of the month  is strictly for antique vendors.

 

 

 

market day

 

Other towns like Camisano and Bolzano have a Market Days where pretty much everything is sold including produce, prepared food, clothing, toys, and house hold goods.  Venice has a fish market at the Rialto from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and Naples has one pretty much daily.

 

 

 

 

market day market day

market day

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love these markets! You’ll find fresh breads and pasties, seasonal fruits and veggies, rotisserie chicken, cheeses, and deli meats. In my opinion it’s a great place to buy a picnic lunch to take to the beach or park.

It’s hard to compile a list of all Market Days through out Italy, there are so many.  Again it seems like every little town has one or two.  Your best bet is to check out the local scene once you get to town.  Or better yet serendipitously wander into one!

Of course if you find yourself in Italy in late October or early November to the first week of January you’ll find plenty of Christmas Markets, now those are super awesome!  Hint hint there’s a big one in Verona!

Let me help you plan your Italian holiday!  Call me at 808-372-7734, Savvy Nana Travel.

Una Hotels and Resorts, accommodation, travel


Infographic

Grape Harvest Festivals in Italy

Grape Harvest Festivals in Italy

grape harvestWhen I hear grape stomping and grape harvest this picture of Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball of the I Love Lucy show) always comes to mind.  Of course I grew up watching re-runs of this famous  1950’s TV sitcom.  I don’t recall the story line but I do remember Lucy stomping grapes in Italy and getting into a food fight with the Italian lady.  Whatever it was probably one of the reasons Italy was on my bucket list.

Of course many of us don’t exactly travel to Italy to stomp grapes, but if you find yourself in Italy during the fall then you’re in for a treat!  Fall is grape harvest time in Italy.  Now I don’t have to tell you that Italy has a ton of vineyards and everyone one of them has a grape harvest or vendemmia every fall.

There are 20 Italian wine regions, basically every region in the country has vineyards and produce wine.  Of course the most popular regions are Tuscany, Veneto, and Piedmont.  Tuscany is where the Chianti Region is located, the Veneto is famous for its Valpolicella wines, and Piedmont known for its Barolo and Moscato d’Asti.  The other regions have their own specialties including Lambruscos, Pinot Grigio, and sparkling wines that rival the best Champagnes of France.  Whatever your wine preference I’m sure you’ll find a grape harvest to suit you.

grape harvestNow when I say grape harvest I don’t just mean picking grapes off the vine and stomping them in a huge vat, you can of course do that if you want to.  But grape harvest means grape festivals and festas!  And that means wine tastings and pairings.  Yup lots and lots of delicious food and wine!

Our family recently went to a grape harvest festival at the Fattoria dell’Eremo not far from Vicenza in north east Italy.  But before I tell you about it let me first give you some general information about Italy’s grape harvest and festivals.

The vendemmia season is generally in the fall, but times vary depending on the region and the summer weather. When the summer is very hot the harvest season starts early, harvest season is later in the north part of the country.  So harvest season is sometime as early as late August and lasts until early to mid November.  But it’s safe to say that you’ll more than likely find a harvest festival somewhere between early September to mid October for sure.

Having said that let me tell you about our grape harvest adventure.  First off be prepared, this is run on Italian time, meaning it turns into a day long affair starting around noon and ending sometime after sunset.

Before you go you must book in advance.  The cost is €25 for adults who will drink wine, €15 for adults who will not drink wine (that’s your designated driver, trust me you will need one!), and €10 for children.  The price includes beverages (4 glasses of wine if you paid for the wine ticket), food (antipasti, pasta, meat dish, dessert), music, and grape picking and stomping.  There are also horses to ride for those who want to ride around the vineyard, there’s no extra charge for the ride.

grape harvestYou’re asked to bring your own scissors, a pair for everyone who wants to pick grapes.  You don’t have to pick grapes if you don’t want to.  You could just admire them or enjoy the views.

grape harvest grape harvestgrape harvest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

grape harvest

You put the grapes you picked into a crate which is the combined with the grapes everyone else picked.

grape harvestgrape harvest

When all the grapes have been piled into the big vats it’s grape stomping time.  To keep it organized the kids are allowed to stomp the grapes first, followed by the ladies, then the men, then ladies and men.

grape harvest

grape harvest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

grape harvestNow mind you while all this is going on they’re bringing out food course by course.  Large plates of antipasti that included a huge wheel of cheese you could help yourself to.  Pizzas, pastas, and roast meats.  Then there’s dessert!  And of course the wine is flowing.  If you need more wine other than the 4 glasses included in your ticket there’s a bar where you can buy wine by the bottle to enjoy during the harvest or to take home.

It’s a long day but definitely lots of fun for the entire family!

This vineyard also has a restaurant so if you can’t make the vendemmia or harvest you can always come for a wine tasting event.  They do pizza and wine pairings all year long.

grape harvestAnother winery in the Vicenza area is Cantine Enomas Muraro in the little town of Longare.  They don’t offer a grape harvest event but you’re always welcome to a DIY wine tasting.

If you bring a picnic lunch or dinner they have tables and benches outside where you can hang out and drink wine purchased from the winery store.

 

 

 

 

grape harvestIf you’re not sure which wine you like you can grab a wine glass and taste different wines for €1.  You can pour your own wine to taste and buy from the taps.  And while you’re there check out the huge wine vats!

grape harvestgrape harvest

grape harvestOnce you decide you can buy one of their pre-bottled wines starting at €3 a bottle.  Or you can purchase a large plastic or glass bottle and fill it up yourself.  By the way don’t toss the bottle you bought, you can bring it in next time for a refill!

One of the great things about Italy is the wine!  Even if you’re not a big wine drinker trust me you’ll find it hard to resist a glass or two.  In fact buying wine at a restaurant is much cheaper than buying a soda!  Really!

Ready to book your autumn in Italy?  Let me help you plan your great adventure!  Contact me 808-372-7734,  Savvy Nana Travel!


BookingBuddy

 

 

 

Children’s Cooking Class In Italy

Children’s Cooking Class In Italy

children's cooking classItaly is a great place for a family vacation.  There is so much to see and do, and Italians love kids!  That’s why the towns are filled with parks, amusement centers, and other venues that are very family friendly.  Of course a trip to Italy would require visits to museums and churches, but when you’ve go kids you’ve got to add in some fun kid friendly activities.

What better way to add a bit of hands on fun than a children’s cooking class!aLast week my grandson Jett and I spent half a day at a children’s cooking class in Vicenza.  The class is offered by these two lovely ladies, Monica and Silvia.  It’s held at Silvia’s house in Rettorgole a small town in the province of Vicenza.  The Province of Vicenza is located in north eastern Italy in the Veneto region,  It’s just a 45 minute train ride from Venice and is home to some of the greatest examples of Palladio’s architecture.

chidren's cooking classMonica and Silvia offer cooking classes for children and adults.  We attended the children’s cooking class along with 5 other children and their moms.

For the children’s cooking class Monica and Silvia planned several easy dishes including gnochetti, little rolled pasta balls similar to gnocchi but made with durham flour instead of potato.  We also made bread balls stuffed with cheese and prosciutto, dough pinwheels stuffed with zucchini and prosciutto, and a delicious tartlet.

The ladies were very helpful and helped the children with the preparation of each dish.  Actually in our case they were extra helpful and very  vigilant.  Jett is allergic to eggs and dairy so they provided him with egg and dairy free alternatives.  Monica and Silvia were also very careful with the cooking utensils.  They made sure that Jett’s utensils did not come in contact with the other children’s things to avoid cross contamination.

The children’s cooking class was about 4 hours long.  After the children made the dishes Monica and Silvia cooked everything and served it all to us for lunch.  It was a wonderful experience.  In fact Jett and I had such a good time I’m looking forward to doing a cooking class with these ladies next time I’m in town.

Here are some of the highlights of our class.

children's cooking class

children's cooking class

Making the prosciutto and cheese stuffed bread balls.  We used  Vegan cheese for our bread balls as well as the pinwheels we also made.

We rolled out the dough for the pinwheels stuffed with zucchini and prosciutto.

Jett really enjoyed using the rolling pin!  [spacer height=”-20px”]

children's cooking class

children's cooking class

Making gnochetti using the wooden mold.  Jett was and expert at making this tiny rolled pasta.  He caught on real quick and made the entire tray by himself!

children's cooking class

children's cooking classMonica helping Jett roll out the cookie crust for the tartlet.

The kids all took turns slicing up fresh fruits to top the tartlets with.  Jett of course managed to snack on a few berries.

Ready to reserve your Children’s Cooking Class with Monica and Silvia?  Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan your family’s Italian vacation!!

cruise

Bolzano -Italian Alps or Dolomites? – Winter or Summer?

Bolzano -Italian Alps or Dolomites? – Winter or Summer?

BolzanoYou might as well admit it.  When you think Italy you probably don’t think of tall snow capped mountains, skiing, or other winter sports, right?  Well you should.  Italy has some fine winter resort towns complete with ski runs, awesome mountain views, clear mountain lakes, and fresh Alpine air.  One of those towns is Bolzano, or Bozen in German.

Where you may ask is Bolzano.  It’s the largest city in northern Italy’s province of Sudtirol or South Tryol.  Now is that part of the Italian Alps or the Dolomites?

BolzanoOk, short geography lesson here.  The Alps is one of the great mountain ranges of Europe.  It stretches from Slovenia and Austria on the East all the way to France and Germany on the West.  It passes thru  Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Monaco along the way.  Quite obviously  the part the passes thru Italy is called the Italian Alps.  Now the Dolomites are technically part of the Alps but this specific mountain range is on Italy’s Northeast corner just a 2 hour drive from Venice while the area commonly referred to as the Italian Alps are in Northwestern Italy closer to Milan, Turin, and Como.

Both areas have fine ski resorts although the Dolomites offer a larger variety of slopes where as the Alps are mostly intermediate slopes.  But it’s said that although both ranges have awesome mountain views those in the Alps are more breathtaking.   If you’re having a hard time deciding which part of the Italian Alps to visit, you should consider visiting both and deciding for yourself.

Summer or Winter?  When should you visit?  Well if you’re a skier and love winter sports then of course winter is the time to head for either mountain range.  Both ranges offer a variety of winter activities.  But if you’re like me and don’t ski nor do very well in cold weather then Spring, Summer, or Fall are the best times; unless you want to go to the winter market!

I’ve been to Bolzano in the Spring and Fall when the weather is perfect.  Not cold and not hot.  There are many things to do in and around Bolzano in the warmer weather.  You can hike, ride horses, explore the mountain, visit the museums and churches, and hang out at the piazzas for some truly wonderful cuisine.

Bolzano is really the best gateway to the Dolomite resorts located in the Ritten Renon area.  That’s the sunny plateau located above the city of Bolzano.  From Soprabolzano or Oberbozen (quite literally upper Bolzano) you can explore  little mountain towns and hike the mountain trails all the way to Rittner Horn or Corno del Renon.

In this article I will mostly talk about the city of Bolzano and a little bit about Soprabolzano.  Those are the areas we hang out in.  We don’t ski and don’t take very long mountain hikes.  We’re more of the dinning and people watching sort.

BolzanoPiazza Walther

Also known as Walther Platz, Piazza Walther is the largest square in Bolzano.  It’s located about a 5 minute walk from the Bolzano train station.  You can’t miss it, there’s this huge statue of poet Walther von der Vogelweide in the center.

The square is bordered by colorful hotels and you’ll find the Assumption of Our Lady Cathedral across the street.

bolzano

bolzanoThere are also many cafes and restaurants in the square, it’s the perfect place to people watch!  In the winter the Piazza is home to the largest Winter Market in the area that is visited by millions of tourists and locals.  It is also home to the large flower market in the spring and summer.

We usually stop there from the train station.  We love to sit at one of the cafes and order a cappucino to wash down some fresh apple strudel.

I love the mix of Italian and German cuisine in the area!  One of their specialties are dumplings!  Yummy!

bolzanoVia Portici/ Via Museo

Behind Piazza Walther is the busy Via Portici.  Stroll down here and you’ll feel like you’re strolling thru a Bavarian town lined with colorful Bavarian style buildings.

The streets are filled with outdoor vendors on warm weekends and lined with all sorts of shops year round.  Whatever you’re looking for you’ll probably find it here.

Further along the street turns into Via Museo, this is where you’ll find one of the gems of Bolzano.  Ötzi the Iceman.

Yes, this street leads to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.  A museum that serves as the final home to the Copper Age Mummy called Ötzi.

Admission – €9 for adults, €6 kids or family pass €18 family pass for 2 adults and children under 16.

The 5,300 year old mummy was found quite by accident in the Schnalstal glacier in 1991.  He was uniquely well-preserved along with his clothing and the implements he had with him.  He turned into a media sensation and today is still revealing some of his ancient secrets as scientists from around the world study his cloths, tools, weapons, and body.

bolzanoYes, you can see him in a freezer built just for him.  It keeps him preserved in the same conditions he was surrounded by when he was entombed in the glacier for 5000 plus years.

You can gaze at him thru a small port hole in the large freezer as much as you want, but pictures are forbidden.

But you are welcome to photograph this artist rendition of him.  The face was fashioned using modern day technology after studying his skull.  It’s a technique used by forensic anthropologists world wide.

bolzano

 

bolzanoYou can see his clothing and tools displayed in sealed cases not far from his body.

bolzano

 

bolzanoThere’s also a small inter active section where you can try on a replica of his clothing and braid twine.

bolzano

 

The four floors of the museum are dedicated to everything Ötzi.  Displays other than his body, clothing, weapons, and tools show the foods he ate and the results of tests and exams they have done to answer some of the questions about who he may have been, what he did, and how he died.  It truly is the place to learn everything you want to learn about one of the world’s most famous mummies, who according to studies was more than likely murdered 5,300 years ago.  There you go an unsolved prehistoric crime!  Definitely worth a visit!

bolzano

Walking Paths, Bridges, and Parks

The Talvera River runs right thru the heart of the city just a short walk from the Archeological Museum.

There are bridges that span the river at various points and walking paths and parks along the river’s edge on both sides.

It’s a great way to spend the day relaxing, walking, or biking.  The parks have several recreation fields and playgrounds.  The kids will love it! And don’t forget the views up the mountains!  Awesome!

bolzano

bolzano

bolzano

bolzano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bolzanoMarkets

If you haven’t gotten enough of the markets head to the other side of the bridge.  Here you’ll find vendors selling everything from carpets to clothing and purses.  Further along it becomes a foodie’s delight!

You’ll find stalls selling ready to eat foods like rotisserie chickens.  And lots of stalls selling veggies and fruits, sausages and speck, flowers, and cheeses, and even sweets.  It’s a great place to pick up a picnic lunch to enjoy at the riverside.

bolzano

bolzanoRenon Cable Car & Soprabolzano (Oberbozen)

Not to be missed is a ride to Soprabolzano on the Renon Cable Car.

The station is located about a 5 minute walk from the main train station in a different direction than Piazza Walther.  (Walk out of the station and head up the street on your right.  You’ll run into a round building with cables behind it heading up the mountain.  Buy your tickets in the building then up the escalator or elevator to the boarding platform.  Tickets are €4 each way.  Remember to validate your ticket before heading into the cable car.)

bolzanoThis cable car ride takes about 20 minutes and offers spectacular views of the city below as well as the mountains you’re heading towards.

bolzano

 

bolzano

bolzano

The cable car takes you to Soprabolzano   Here you will find resorts and restaurants as well  environmentally friendly public transportation to take you to the Alpine villages scattered in the mountain.

bolzanobolzanoThe Railway Renon is a historic narrow gauge rail system that runs west to east from Maria Asunta to Collalbo with stops along the way.  It stops both ways at Soprabolzano.  Tickets cost €3.50 one way or €6 roundtrip.  You can enjoy the mountain views along the route and stop at any of the stops where there are trailheads that lead to mountain hikes.

The railway uses a mix of restored cars and modern ones.  The views along the way are worth the ride even if you never get off the train.

Soprabolzano is also the hub for the buses that will take you to all the villages of Renon.  It’s an excellent way to get around.

Up on this high plateau and beyond you can enjoy winter and summer activities.  Winter activities of course center on snow so sking, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and sledding are all very popular.  In the summer you can swim,  ride horses, hike, bike, and even go llama trekking.  So there’s really something for just about everyone.

bolzanoI prefer to have drinks and snacks at the balcony of one the hotels right by the cable car station.  There you can relax, drink some local wine, enjoy the beautiful views, and watch the cable cars pass by.

bolzano

Other Places of Interest include a beekeeping museum on Renon.  A couple of castles in Bolzano, some churches in Bolzano and on Renon, a historical farm, and an art museum.  If you like malls there’s one not far from Piazza Walther.  If you get a Big Mac attack you can satisfy your craving at the McDonald’s on the side of Piazza Walther just across the street from the Cathedral.

Getting there:

If you have a car you can easily make the drive to Bolzano.  It’s a 2 hour drive from Venice.

If you want to rely on public transportation it’s a bit trickier and longer.  You can catch a train to Verona Porta Nuova from just about any major city, but the further away you start the longer the ride.  At Verona Porta Nuova transfer to a regional train or a Frecciargento (fast train) for a direct ride to Bolzano.  Regional trains cost $16 per person each way and takes 1  hour 40 minutes to get there.  The fast train cost $36 per person each way for 2nd class and takes 1 hour and 27 minutes.  Be sure you get off at Bolzano Bozen that’s the main train station.  The other 2 stops will take you further away from the city center.

Where to Stay:

There are many hotels, B&Bs, and hostels in Bolzano to fit most any budget.  You’ll also find budget to luxury accommodations in the villages of Renon.

Getting around:

The best way to get around Bolzano is by public transportation, specially if you plan on heading up to the villages of Renon.  You can save money with a RittenCard which gives unlimited access to all public transportation in the area as well as free admission to  area attractions including the Ötzi museum.  RittenCard also gives access and discounts to many other activities and festivals on Renon.

The card is virtually free, it’s included in your room fee and is given to you at check-in.  The card is good for 7 days and must be validated each time it’s used.  If you’re staying longer than a week a new card will be issued to you before the first one expires.  What a great deal!

 

Ready to book your Bolzano getaway?  Call us at Savvy Nana Travel we turn plans into memories!

cruise

 

 

 

Noventa Di Piave Designer Outlet

Noventa Di Piave Designer Outlet

noventa di piaveI bet when you think Venice the last thing on your mind is an outlet mall.  And why should it be?  I mean you’re not going to Venice to go shopping at an outlet mall right?  Well if you’re a fashion lover and love discounts the Noventa Di Piave Designer Outlet should be on your Venice to do list!

Most fashionistas and just about anyone else knows that Italy is one of the world’s fashion hubs.  After all it’s home to Versace, Dolce & Gabana, Fendi, La Perla, Cosabella, Cavalli, Prada,  and my favorite Gucci, and more.  Designer boutiques line the sidewalks along Rome’s Via Condotti and Milan’s Via Montenapoleone where shoppers go to gawk at the latest fashions or splurge on luxury items.  So it only follows that a country  home to a host of designers and brands have it’s very own designer outlet.

noventa di piaveSo don’t be surprised to learn that Italy has quite a few designer outlets and factory stores that are scattered in the outskirts of its major cities.

I’ve been shopping at The Mall, the Dolce & Gabana Factory Store, and the Space Outlet aka the Prada Outlet located about an hour away from Florence for years.  In fact The Mall was my favorite designer outlet until my first visit to Noventa di Piave Designer Outlet right outside Venice.

You might be wondering why on earth would anyone want to go to a designer outlet in Europe when we have our own outlets here in the US.  I have to admit many of the shops in Noventa di Piave Designer Outlet are the same ones we have at our local outlets.

Yes you’ll find Michael Kors, Coach, and Ralph Lauren at the Noventa di Piave Designer Outlet, The Mall, and other Mcarthur Glen outlets in Italy; but you’ll find so much more!  I know many of our US outlets also have Armani, Gucci, Prada, and other Italian Brands but trust me they are not the same.   You’ll find that brands like Gucci have products available only in particular regions.  So there are items sold only in the European markets and you won’t be able to find them in the US or any other area.

Also the European outlets have shops we don’t have in the US.  Shops like Desigual and Loro Piana just to name a couple of my favorites.  Noventa di Piave Outlet is home to 150 stores, some familiar others not; but all offer some very good prices!

noventa di piavenoventa di piaveNoventa di Piave Designer Outlet is one of the prettiest outlets I’ve ever been too.  It’s decor is designed like a colorful Italian village with colorful facades and even a gondola on display.

noventa di piave

You’ll even find several fountains tucked in courtyards in front of the shops.

They make great photo backgrounds!

 

 

noventa di piaveThere are a couple of areas that kids will love too.

There’s the covered play park with slides, tunnels, and swings.

noventa di piaveAnd there’s the splash fountain in the middle of t he restaurant area.

My grandsons loved the kid size benches in front of this fountain.

 

 

 

 

noventa dia piave

And don’t worry you won’t starve.  There are 9 restaurants in the outlet along with several food trucks or kiosks scattered around.  Venchi, one  of my favorite gelato and chocolate shops has a location here.  So after lunch you can drop in for a double or triple dip gelato!

Oh and before I forget tourists get a tax refund when you purchase a total of  at least €155 from the outlet stores.  Just be sure you get the refund form from the cashier when you pay.  You can take the forms along with your confirmed flight itinerary to the refund office in the outlet or present it to the airport tax refund office at the airport before you leave.  (To get the refund the items you purchased must be in new and unused condition in the sealed bag they were placed in at the time of purchase.  The airport tax refund office may ask to see the items you are claiming. So do this before you check in bags.)

Anyway if you’re a shopper and love big discounts, a fashionista, or just someone who has an extra day in the area and nothing to do, drop by the Noventa di Piave Designer Outlet.  Getting there is easy if you’re staying in the Venice area.  There are shuttles from Venice,  Mestre and Marghera that run directly to the outlet and back.  Shuttles run about every 30-50 minutes and cost €15 per adult roundtrip.  Kids 4 and under are free.  Or you can rent a car and explore the area, there’s lots of places to see!  Try Verona, Padova, Vicenza, Lake Garda, and even Bolzano!

noventa di piaveTrust me you won’t regret it!

This may have been my first visit to Noventa di Piave Designer Outlet, but I know it won’t be my last!

Ready to book your Venetian holiday?  Call us at Savvy Nana Travel!  We’ll help you plan the

 

 

 


Car Rentals in Italy