Visiting Vicenza

Visiting Vicenza

Vicenza

City of Vicenza as seen from the Monte Berico viewpoint

Vicenza is a city in Northern Italy’s Veneto region.  It is located 43 miles from Venice (a 45 minute train ride away), 38 miles from Verona, and 22 miles from Padua; making it an easy day trip from any of these other famous Veneto cities.

Vicenza is one of the oldest cities in the Veneto.  It is known for its natural beauty and the beautiful villas in and around the city.  The villas were designed by Andrea Palladio a humble stonecutter born in nearby Padua.  Palladio fled an oppressive employer in Padua and ended up in Vicenza where he went on to become a noted 16th. Century architect. Palladio left a legacy of villas, churches, and other building in and around the city.  Because of his contributions the city has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.  It is listed as “The City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto” thus emcompassing all the building within the city center and those around the province of Vicenza.

VicenzaNot only did Palladio design beautiful villas in and around his adoptive city, he transformed European architecture.  Among his admires was Thomas Jefferson who considered Palladio the greatest architect of all time.  Jefferson studied the works of Palladio and considered the architectural book written by him to be the Architectural Bible.  Montecello, Jefferson’s home in Virginia was modeled after Palladio’s “La Rotonda” villa located outside Vicenza’s historic city center.  Many British country homes are also designed in the Palladian style of architecture.

So a visit to Vicenza is really a walk thru Palladio’s City.  Many of his works are in the city’s centro storico.

If you’re not a big fan of Palladian Architecture or architecture in general you don’t have to enter any of the villas or the Palladio Museum, but you can certainly stroll thru town and admire the classical styled building built by the great man.

Here are a few things to see and do in Vicenza:

vicenzaTeatro Olimpico

Inspired by Roman amphitheaters Palladio started this Renaissance marvel in 1580, after his death it was completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi.  Beyond the walled garden lies an elliptical theater with a stage set modeled after the ancient Greek city of Thebes.

vicenza

vicenzaYou can buy an entrance ticket at the box office located on the right side of the arched stone entrance to have a tour of the building and the stage.  Tickets are €11.

Or you can admire the statues of actors scattered around the garden.  The garden is free to enter.

vicenzavicenzaOn hot summer days the garden is a nice place to cool off and rest after walking around Vicenza.  I like to grab a cold drink, like a granita, from one of the bars just outside the gate and sit quietly on a stone bench in the garden.

The theater is still used for operas and classical and jazz  performances.  Italian performers vie for a chance to perform on the amazing stage.

 

vicenzaPalazzo Thiene 

Today the headquarters of Banca Popolare di Vicenza Palazzo Thiene was purchased by the bank from the Thiene family in 1872.

This palazzo is now home to fine paintings and statues.  It also houses the world’s largest collections of oselle.  Oselle are silver and gold coins once minted by the Venetian Doges to gift to all the noble families of Venice at Christmas.

A visit to this palazzo is by appointment only.

Click here for their website!

 

VicenzaBasilica Palladiano

This Basilica located in Piazza dei Signori the town’s main square is now a venue for world class temporary exhibits and is the home to the Museo del Gioiello which houses a dazzling collection of historic and contemporary jewelry.

The building is modeled after a Roman basilica.  It once housed the courts and Council of Four Hundred. Palladio was commissioned to restyle the old palazzo in 1549.  It is capped by a huge copper dome that looks like an upturned ship hull.

During spring and summer you can climb up to the roof  and walk around.  The roof has a commanding view of Vicenza’s centro storico.

vicenzaPalazzo Chiericati

Designed in 1550 this palazzo is one of Palladio’s finest buildings.  Located diagonally across from the Teatro Olimpico the palazzo is home to Vicenza’s Civic Art Museum.

On the ground floor which is used for temporary exhibits you’ll find the amazing ceiling fresco of Diana and Helios by Domenico Brusasorci.

The upstairs galleries include works by Anthony Van Dyke and Alessandro Maganza as well as the private collection of Guiseppe Roi with drawings by Tiepolo and Picasso.

Admission to the museum is €7.

vicenzaDuomo

Dominating the Piazza del Duomo is Vicenza’s Cathedral.  Designed by Lorenzo di Bologna construction began in the late 15th. century.  Palladio added his own touches to the unfinished building in the 16th. century, notably the dome that was inspired by the

Pantheon in Rome.

The building was heavily damaged during the bombing in WWII so the building seen today is a 20th. century reconstruction.

The square also hosts vendors on Market Days usually Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Actually you’ll find that the town pretty much turns into a huge open market on those days with vendors and food trucks setting up along the streets and the piazzas.

vicenza

Chiesa di San Lorenzo

This 13th. century Gothic church was built by the Franciscans.  It’s best feature is the marble entrance.  It’s pretty spartan inside.

vicenza

vicenza

But it has a splash fountain nearby for kids to play in during hot summer months and on Tuesdays and Thursdays the square hosts an open market where you can buy fruits and veggies as well as dairy products and fried seafood.

vicenzaMarket Days

Market days in Vicenza are normally Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Food vendors set up stalls in front of the Chiesa di San Lorenzo and in the Piazza del Duomo.

Clothing and household goods are sold in stalls in and around Piazza dei Signoria and Piazza dei Erbe.  Just walk around the town and you can’t miss one of the markets.

vicenzaIf you’re there during the summer months try some Pesche Saturnine.  These saucer shaped peaches are delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

vicenzaGelato & Prosecco

When you’ve had your fill of the Markets or have seen your share of Palladian buildings treat yourself to a cup or cone of Gelato.  You’ll find a gelateria on just about every street, but my favorite is Venchi just down the street from the Coin Department Store.

vicenzaGelato not your thing?  Then head over to a Wine Bar or Porseccheria, they’re on every street too!  Try a refreshing Hugo Cocktail, one of my favorites!

Better yet have both!  Well maybe not at the same time, but believe me both are well worth it!

 

 

 

vicenzaMonte Berico

Check out Monte Berico and the Basilica di Santa Maria di Monte Berico.  The Marian church is a minor Basilica in Vicenza and sits atop the hill of Monte Berico.

It’s about a 10 minute ride up the hill from the city or you can walk up from Vicenza in about half and hour.  The walk takes you thru a tall staircase and thru a beautiful arcaded walkway.  Free parking can be found in Piazzelle della Vittoria across from the church’s main entrance.

That’s where you’ll find the viewpoint for some awesome views of Vicenza and the surrounding countryside.

vicenza

Try going up during the day and again at night, it’s two totally different experiences!

 

 

These are just a few things to see and do in and around Vicenza.  Believe me if you’re a real Palladio buff there are more villas to see and a Palladio Museum to visit.  But to do all that would require much more than a day.  I’ve been to Vicenza at least 3 times and have stayed for a month at a time and I still haven’t seen everything!

Of course we’ve wandered the other nearby towns like Quinto Vincention, Torre de Quatresolo, Camisanno, and more.  Believe me there is so much to do in and around the area.  So if you have friends and family stationed at the Casserma Ederly Army Base in Vicenza be sure to visit them and plan to stay for a while!

Ready to plan your trip to Northern Italy?  Call Savvy Nana Travel 808-372-7734, we’ll help you plan your dream vacay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half Day in Padua

Half Day in Padua

PaduaPadua, or Padova in Italian, is a quiet little city in the Veneto area of northern Italy.  Unlike its illustrious neighbors Venice and Verona, Padua sees much less tourist traffic making it an ideal place to spend a few hours wandering its dense network of arcaded  streets where you’ll find lazy piazzas, artwork by famous Renaissance artists including Donatello and Giotto, a university, bridges, and several churches including a Duomo and a Basilica.

Padua is the setting for Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.  Although it’s not really certain whether the Bard actually spent time in the area it was clearly a region he liked.  He set several plays in the Veneto including The Merchant of Venice, Two Gentlemen From Verona, and of course the tragic romance Romeo and Juliet which was set in Verona.

Padua is situated on the Bacchiglione River 25 miles west of Venice.  The Brenta River once ran thru the city and still touches its northern part.  In fact the Brenta Riviera Cruise from Padua to Venice departs daily from the historic Burchiello’s Stairway at Portello the city’s ancient river port.  This slow boat takes tourists down the Brenta River, thru its canals, and stops at historic villas once home to the Venetian elite.  That’s a day long excursion from Padua and ends in Venice in the late afternoon.

Other than the river the city is home to the University of Padua one of Europe’s oldest universities founded in 1222.  Galileo Galilei lectured at this same university between 1592 and 1610.  It is still a bustling university today!

PaduaIn Padua one can visit “Il Santo” as the locals call the Basilica di Sant’ Antonio da Padova  the most celebrated Paduan church.  It houses the bones of the saint in the chapel richly decorated with carved marble and the works of great artists including Sansovino and Falconetto.  The church is dedicated to St. Antonio of Padua aka St. Antonio of Libon, the Portuguese Franciscan who spent part of his life and died in the city.

This Basilica is one of the eight international shrines recognized by the Holy See in Rome.

 

PaduaAlthough Il Santo is the city’s beloved church it is not the titular cathedral of the city.  That honor belongs to the Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta a church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  It is the seat of Padua’s Bishop.  The current structure dates from the 16th. century and its construction involved Michelangelo.

 

PaduaA must see for art lovers is the Cappella degli Scrovegni.  The chapel situated in a small church next to the Augustinian monastery contains a fresco by Giotto that is considered to be a masterpiece of western art.

 

 

 

PaduaAnother Basilica with beautiful chapels and artwork is the one adjoining the Benedictine Abbey of Santa Giustina.

The abbey and its adjoining Basilica faces the Prato della Valle.  The church was built in the 520s to house the remains of St. Justina of Padua and other Christian martyrs of the city.  The interior is home to chapels dedicated to various saints and is decorated with ornate multi colored marble from quarries in France, Genoa, Padua, and Carrara.

Statues and paintings throughout the church were done by various artists.

 

 

paduaMy favorite place in the city is the Prato della Valle.  It’s 90,000 sq. meter elliptical “square” in the city.

It’s border is defined by a moat that is ringed by 2 rows of statues depicting Padua’s elite citizens of old.  There are 4 bridges that span the moat and allows you to enter the huge green space where you’ll find the fountain in the center.

padua

paduaThe Prato della Valle is a great place to let the kiddies burn off all that pent up energy while the adults relax on one of the low walls or on the grass.

At certain times of the year the square hosts concerts, markets, fairs, and other events.

The square is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cafes.  It really is a great space to relax after wandering this charming city!

padua

Ready for your Italian getaway?  Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Reasons to Sail Around Europe

3 Reasons to Sail Around Europe

Europe

It is without a doubt that Europe is one of the most beautiful continents in the world. The continent is a haven for sailing, from the beautiful scenery to its historical richness, Europe is a continent oozing of natural beauty. There are also many glamorous sailing destinations to choose from.

If sailing around your Europe is part of your bucket list, then check out SailingEurope.com for amazing deals and packages. We help to make the decision to cross it out from the list sooner rather than later. Here are some of the top three reasons why you should definitely look forward to sailing around Europe.

Europe

1. Beautiful Sailing Destinations

When deciding to sail around Europe, you will be spoilt for choice with the many beautiful destinations to choose from. Depending on your preference and budget, to mention but a few, here are a couple of destinations you can choose from.

I.            French Riviera, France – This is one of the most beautiful sailing destinations in the world. You will be treated to the Celebrity Haunt Saint-Tropez, Coastline stopping off the Cannes and the Millionaire Playground.

II.            Ionian Island, Greece – This would be a great place to begin with sceneries such as whitewashed beautiful villages, traditional taverns, and rugged mountains

III.            The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia – Offers beautiful sun-soaked beaches, rich cultures from the beautiful traditional way of life of the people and hidden coves

IV.            Sporades Islands, Greece – Located in the East Coast, you get to sail through the beautiful Islands with rich vegetation, maintained green-blue waters and experience the people’s traditional rich cultures.

V.            Bay of Naples, Capri and Amalfi Coast, Italy – If you are a lover of wine and great traditional food, this is the place to start. You will also experience beautiful sunny shores, towns, and Isles.

Europe2.   Multiple Destinations Immersion

Imagine hanging out in the Volcanic Island of Ischia in the morning, wine tasting in Montalcino, Mecca in the afternoon and an intimate setting to recharge from a long day of discovery in the evening as you sail through to the next destination. This is most definitely possible when sailing through Europe. You are exposed to multiple destinations and cultures to choose from and experience at your leisure.

Europe3. Exposure to Many Different Cultures

 

Europe is a fairly large continent with 50 countries and numerous ports. It is, however, small enough to sail around. Every destination you chose offers a different experience from the people and their way of life to the food and drinks. You get to learn and appreciate the different traditions set by the locals and passed from generation to generation. You will get to learn new expressions, experience foreign languages and visit some of the famous cultural places like Ireland. All these aspects will bring you one step closer to all the great and beautiful things in the world and also influence you positively to appreciate the different ways of life.

Well, there you have it. All that is left now is for you to get your traveling gear ready, choose your first sailing destination in Europe and you are good to go.

 

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.

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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!


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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!!

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