Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Midweek Laugh....

Check out this funny poster I found in a public toilet at Viareggio's carnival last weekend.

Made you giggle didnt it?... I just love the 'No Fishing' image, dont you?

Friday, 27 February 2015

Viareggio Carnevale 2015

Carnevale in Italy is a traditional festival celebrated with lavish parades, masquerade balls, music and entertainment.

We try to visit Italy every February and this year was no different....staying in nearby Lucca we made the cheap and easy train journey to Viareggio last Sunday, for its famous carnival.

The excitement began as soon as we stepped of the train, crowds of people filled the platforms, most unlike us were in fancy dress. To find our way to the carnival, we followed the many colourful characters down towards the towns seafront and what will be the stage for the days main event.

After paying the 18 euro entry fee at a little kiosk and trading our ticket in for a paper wrist band, we made our way past the many food stalls and street sellers sharing confetti (for a small fee of course), By the time we had navigated our way onto the decorated promenade I was deep in awe at the detailing of the first float I had spotted untill three very loud bangs rung out giving me a fright and signaling the start of the parade.

The giant Papier-mâché floats take an entire year to create and are mainly political or religious satire, poking fun at domestic and world politics and each having its own theme. With groups of masked performers, who sing, dance and throw sweets or confetti at the crowd, its a street party of epic proportions!

For me half the fun was try to work out which each float represented, with the carnival floats ranging from Angela Merkel giving birth to goblins, lead by a group of giant sperm dancing to a giant dinosaur and a fantastically detailed elephant which not only blinked and moved but played the Lion King theme tune!

It may not be Venice or Rio but Viareggio holds its own in the carnival stakes and I definitely wont be the only one to tell you its well worth a visit. If I've got you tempted and you fancy heading to it next year the dates are........Sunday 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th of February.

Did you visit Viareggio this years for its carnival, If so I would love to hear which was you favourite float?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Italian Cities Top to Toe

Italy is full of vibrant cities filled with history and culture but if your not sure where in Italy to visit, here's a quick rundown of the most influential cities in the country starting with most northerly working down towards the south

Venice - The sinking city is a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges, Home to the gondolas.

Milan - Second largest city in Italy, Famous for Fashion, Finance and Football. The city is the engine room of the country’s economy and home to its stock exchange.

Turin - Well known for its aerospace industry the city is also a major manufacturer centre producing cars and motorcycles.

Parma - The city is rich in architecture and famous for is foods, parma Ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano aswell as a variety of stuffed pasta dishes.

Genoa - The port city located on Ligurian sea is the center of the Italian Riviera and was the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.

Bologna - With spectacular history, art, cuisine, music, and culture. Due to its strategic location it is an important railway and motorway hub in Italy, connecting all the major cities.

Florence - Its been attracting poets and artists for centuries, with is breathtaking cityscape and large art collections. The city played an important part in Italian history.

Pisa - Laying on the junction of two rivers this city is much more than is leaning tower. The university city also  has over 20 other historic churches and buildings.

Rome - The Eternal city is an open air museum set in a modern city and is home to many on Italy's most visited landmarks, as well as the Vatican City.

Naples - One of the Mediterranean's biggest and most important ports, this city is near the Almafi coast and Mount Vesuvius.

Pompei - Sitting beneath the volcano which famously destroyed this, the site is now a tourist mecca for those wanting to explore the remains city preserved in ash.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Viareggio Carnival

A few years ago we planned a long weekend to Lucca during February. Not only did it give us chance to see one of our favourite Italian towns in Winter, it was the perfect excuse to check out the world famous Carnevale of Viareggio and we loved it so much we are heading back this year! 

Carnival, or Carnevale, is celebrated all over Italy and every Sunday during February, Viareggio's wide promenade becomes a natural stage for the massive 
Papier-mâché floats.

Tickets can be brought from one of the many ticket kiosks along the procession circuit. The 15 euros entry fee was certainly worth it, as the extraordinary parade of floats are truly impressive. Spectators can attend the show with no barriers and many turn up in fancy dress to throw confetti at the passing procession. 

Later in the day there is a spectacular display of fireworks best seen from the beach and plenty of masked balls, comedy shows and themed events going on throughout the town.

I can not wait to experience it again this year (and I bet you cant wait to read all about!), so while I continue to get over excited here are some of my favourite floats from the 2013 parade for you to enjoy.........

If you fancy checking out this years Carnevale, celebrations stretch across the month of Febuary, the 2015 Carnevale date is February 17th, and the elaborate parades will take place on 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 28th of February 2015. 

Have you been to Viareggio's carnivale or are you planning to go for the first time this year?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Why Tuscany?

It could be the rolling hills and romantic vineyards or the tempting food? Somethings attracting flocks of tourist and thousands of expats wishing to live a relaxed way of life.
Located on the west coast of Italy just above the knee, Tuscany (Toscana) has a  history which dates back before the Romans and some of the worlds most iconic buildings. The regions capital, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and full of stunning monuments, detailed churches and glorious museums filled with world famous art.

Northern Tuscany is where Hikers and the mountains climb up into Lunigiana and Garfagnana region. The mountainous area north of Lucca, is famous for its stunning natural beauty and porcini mushrooms. The Apuan Alps, well known for its marble that Michelangelo used it for his masterpieces and the cities of Massa and Carra form a backdrop to a line of blue flag beaches running down the Versilia coast. Further inland the river Arno Runs under the famous bridges of Florence, through Empolli and Pisa before flowing into the Tyrrhenian sea.

Central Tuscany reaches down from Florence to Siena, This area is is covered with gentle hills, fields of vineyards and olive groves, small stone villages and the famous wines of the Chianti regian. Between Chianti and the hills of Umbria are the truly enchanting hilltop towns of Cortona, Montepulciano, Chianciano Terme and Chiusi.

The Golden wheat fields and avenues of cypresses join the isolated towns in Southern Tuscany, The less crowded area of the Val d'Orcia is he most photographed part of Tuscany. Taking its name from the river which runs through the regionthe winding roads run through the landscape to and meet up with the unspoilt coast line of the Maremma Regian. South of the the industrial city of Livorno, Off the coast is the Island of Elba, which form  the Tuscan Archipelago.

Tempting us with the tastes of their simple culinary cuisine, mouth watering wines and Tuscan truffles. Then offering beautiful beaches, lush green countryside, city's filled with art and over 120 protected nature reserves, Its no wonder this region is attracting millions of tourists each year.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

10 useful Phrases

What ever your reason for visiting Italy its a good idea to know at least a few basic phrases in Italian to help you get by. 

Here's a quick collection of useful phrases in Italian with links to sound files!

Thank you/ Your welcome - Grazie/Prego

Excuse me - Mi scusi!

Good Morning - Buongiorno

Good Afternoon-  Buongiorno / Buon pomeriggio

Good evening - Buonasera

Good night - Buonanotte

I don't understand -  Non capisco

How do you say... in Italian? - Come si dice ... in italiano?

Where's the toilet/bathroom? - Dov'è la toilette? /Dov'è il bagno?

How much is this? - Quanto costa?

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