Ancient Ruins, Virtual Reality: Archaeological Sites Embrace VR For Enhanced Experiences

Last weekend the Domus Aurea, also known as Nero’s Golden Palace, became the latest attraction to offer visitors the chance to wear virtual reality headsets while touring the site. Continue reading Ancient Ruins, Virtual Reality: Archaeological Sites Embrace VR For Enhanced Experiences

Italian Capital of Culture 2018 Will Be Palermo

Congratulations to the city of Palermo, which has been awarded the distinction of Italian Capital of Culture for 2018.

The Italian Culture Ministry (Ministero di Beni Culturali) awards the prize each year in an effort to promote tourism. Along with the distinction, the winning city receives 1 million euro which is to be used to promote cultural activities and artistic heritage.

“We saw that this virtuous competition creates a system of communal participation,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, “Being on the shortlist is a bit like receiving an Oscar nomination: it allows them to do a lot of work, in terms of planning and promotions.”

Source: Palermo wins title of Italian Capital of Culture 2018

New App Wants to Protect ‘Made in Italy’ Brand By Helping Consumers Spot Fakes

The “Made in Italy” brand is one of the world’s most recognized and coveted labels. Given this cachet, many manufacturers have tried over the years to pass off everything from olive oil to handbags as authentic Italian products.

Continue reading New App Wants to Protect ‘Made in Italy’ Brand By Helping Consumers Spot Fakes

Before Considering a Move to Italy, Check Out This Quality of Life Index

Friends and family often ask me two questions about Italy:

  1. How do I move to Italy?
  2. If I move to Italy, where should I live?

Continue reading Before Considering a Move to Italy, Check Out This Quality of Life Index

For the First Time in More Than 20 Years, the Facade of St. Mark’s Basilica is Scaffold-Free

With so many ancient structures in need of constant upkeep, Italy is no stranger to scaffolding. Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica, in particular, is known for constantly being under repair. Continue reading For the First Time in More Than 20 Years, the Facade of St. Mark’s Basilica is Scaffold-Free

Rome’s Ancient Pantheon to Begin Charging Admission

The Pantheon, one of the last major landmarks in Rome with free entry, will soon begin to charge admission.

Continue reading Rome’s Ancient Pantheon to Begin Charging Admission

How Dario Fo Learned That He Won the Nobel Prize

Dario Fo, the Italian playwright/actor/painter/political rabble-rouser who won the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature, passed away today at the age of 90. Continue reading How Dario Fo Learned That He Won the Nobel Prize

Hello Kitty Wine Is the Latest Vintage from Italian Winery

Hello Kitty wine is a real thing. I know some of you will hate this and others will want to snatch some up just for the novelty of it all.

Apparently, Torti Winery, located in the Oltrepò Pavese hills of Italy’s Lombardy region has been working on a Hello Kitty wine since 2007, putting aside special Chardonnay and Pinot Nero grapes to create several different variety of wines (including a perfectly pink one). Continue reading Hello Kitty Wine Is the Latest Vintage from Italian Winery

You Now Have to Pay to See Rome’s “Mouth of Truth”

Truth is, it was bound to happen.

Church officials at Santa Maria in Cosmedin, site of Rome’s “Mouth of Truth” (Bocca della Verita), have decided to charge visitors €2 for the pleasure of taking one (just one!) photo with the ancient sewer cover. Continue reading You Now Have to Pay to See Rome’s “Mouth of Truth”

Rome’s Spanish Steps Have Re-Opened Following €1.5m Refurbishment

The Spanish Steps have finally re-opened after a lengthy refurbishment project funded by Bulgari. But will the steps be fenced off at night to keep “barbarian tourists” from trashing them? Continue reading Rome’s Spanish Steps Have Re-Opened Following €1.5m Refurbishment

#amatricianaXamatrice to Raise Money for Earthquake Relief

Yesterday in my post about the earthquake in Central Italy, I mentioned that Italian blogger Paolo Campana had started an initiative for diners and restaurants to raise money for earthquake relief (for Amatrice and the entire affected region) by ordering dishes of amatriciana. Continue reading #amatricianaXamatrice to Raise Money for Earthquake Relief

Amatrice and the Earthquake in Central Italy

During the wee hours of the morning, an earthquake with a 6.2 magnitude struck central Italy. Italian news reports say the epicenter was near Rieti, about 1.5 hours north of Rome. Continue reading Amatrice and the Earthquake in Central Italy

CAMERA: Torino’s New Photography Museum

On October 1, the city of Torino (Turin) inaugurated Italy’s newest museum. CAMERA, the Centro Italiano per la Fotografia, will showcase Italian and international photography in a 2,000 square meter space just down the road from the Museo Nazionale del Cinema and other sights in Torino’s historic center. Continue reading CAMERA: Torino’s New Photography Museum

Italy News Round-Up XIII: #Dante750, Uffizi Exhibition in a Mobster’s Home

My Pocket list of saved articles has been going through a workout lately. So here is one big Italy News Round-Up. I’ve done about 12 of these things over the life of this blog (and now 13 – XIII). But I will probably end up doing more.

For more links to Italy travel, art, culture, and history in the news, see my Italofile Facebook page or Twitter.

#dante750

Dante Turns 750 [The New Yorker]

This year marks the 750th birthday of Dante Alighieri. For the New Yorker, Professor John Kleiner talks about what Dante means to Italians and about the more than 100 events that are planned for this occasion, including the “selfie con Dante” campaign with cardboard cutouts in Florence.

Uffizi Gallery Exhibition in Former Mobster’s Mansion [Hyperallergic]

In a moving, nonviolent act of revenge, a mayor in Campania and the Uffizi Gallery have teamed up to turn a mafia don’s confiscated home into a temporary art gallery. “The Light Wins Over the Shadow” will honor the memory of Peppe Diana, a priest who was shot by the Camorra in 1994, by displaying a number of chiaroscuro works from the Uffizi at the Casal di Principe.

Construction Workers in Bologna Uncover Ancient Roman Road [Repubblica]

It makes sense that the 1st Century AD Roman road Via Emilia was lying a few meters under the current roads in Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna. But workers plan to cover it back up “for another 2,000 years” after they finish work on the Via Rizzoli and Via Ugo Bassi. Take a look at the road in the video from ETV (h/t Italy Explained). (Click here if you can’t see the embedded video.)

Continue reading Italy News Round-Up XIII: #Dante750, Uffizi Exhibition in a Mobster’s Home

Italy’s A3 Autostrada Near Completion 50 Years After Project Began

It’s been called the “shame of Italy” and for good reason. The A3 autostrada, a 443km highway that is to connect Salerno to Reggio Calabria, has been under construction since 1966.

Faulty construction and mafia meddling by both the Camorra and ‘Ndragheta factions have caused numerous delays during the nearly 50 years since the project began, reports The Independent. It has become the “symbol of how public works are in Italy,” according to Stefano Zerbi, spokesman for Codacons, Italy’s national consumer organization.

When mobsters aren’t creaming off millions from the road building thanks to dodgy contract work, it seems they’re ensuring that the route doesn’t impinge on their other activities. About halfway, the route curves back on itself awkwardly. This detour is said to have been done at the request of a local Mob boss who didn’t want the motorway coming too close to his villa.

This week, Prime Minister Renzi declared that construction of the A3 will be stepped up in the hopes that the project will be finalized by the end of 2015. However, no completion date has been set.

Read more: Fifty years on, work on Italy’s ‘eternally unfinished’ highway enters final stretch

Three Italian Villages Where You Can Buy a House for Less Than A Cup of Coffee

Gangi, Sicily

The Daily Mail reports on three depopulated Italian towns — Gangi (Sicily), Carrega Ligure (Piedmont), and Lecce nei Marsi (Abruzzo) — that are offering real estate for about €1 down…plus a commitment of €25,000 in renovations and upkeep.

They are set in villages which are just a hairs-breadth away from becoming one of Italy’s fabled ‘ghost towns’ – places where natural disaster, lack of jobs and even pirates have driven locals from their homes in search of a better life.

Source: Buy a house in the gorgeous Italian countryside for just £1: Village homes being ‘given away’ to stop blight of ghost towns (but you’ll need to promise £18,000 to do them up) | Daily Mail Online

No Bull: Italy Has A New Museum Devoted to Sh*t

A newly opened museum in Italy wants to explore man’s relationship to manure. The Museo Della Merda (i.e., The Museum of Sh*t) is located at a dairy farm, on the ground floor of a medieval castle, in the village of Castelbosco (Piacenza) in Emilia Romagna. Continue reading No Bull: Italy Has A New Museum Devoted to Sh*t

Will the Vatican Museums finally limit the number of visitors?

Last week, I finally had a chance to revisit the Vatican Museums. It had been more than a decade since I had gone. And I had been reluctant to visit because of the crowds, which wrapped around the block. But my mother was in town, so I had a good excuse to go.

Getting in was easy enough, as we had reserved tickets through the Vatican Museums online ticketing system. Rain poured down on us as we got off the tram and walked uphill to the entrance. Most everyone there at 9:30 a.m. were part of a group or had reserved online so we were all kind of in the same line (scrum) to get in. Getting through the main doors, queueing up at the ticket window to get our “real” tickets (our printed reservations were just that), and walking through security took about 10-15 minutes.  No big deal.

But honestly, the Vatican Museums left me wanting this time. Or rather they left me with the feeling that I never want to visit again. Continue reading Will the Vatican Museums finally limit the number of visitors?

Upcoming Fundraiser at the Sistine Chapel Turns Heads

Sistine Chapel

Each day, as many as 20,000 visitors pay up to €16 per person to enter the Vatican Museums, the highlight of which is the Sistine Chapel. This coming weekend, reports Crux, approximately 40 fans of German automaker Porsche will get to pay up to €5,000 each to take a private tour of the Vatican, which includes dinner in the museums and a concert in the famous chapel.

Porsche has advertised the event on its website as the Exclusive Porsche Tour of Rome, which includes these tour highlights:

  • Access to the Vatican Museums outside the official opening hours
  • Magnificent concert in the stylish setting of the Sistine Chapel arranged exclusively for the participants
  • Unforgettable dinner in the midst of the exhibition at the Vatican Museums
  • Visit to the papal gardens at the Vatican and the Necropolis on the Via Triumphalis
  • Porsche Travel Club driving tour (two days) in the southern Lazio region

Meanwhile, Monsignor Paolo Nicolini, the managing director of the Vatican Museums, maintains that the event is the “debut of ‘Art for Charity,’ an initiative to exclusively support the charitable projects of the pope. This initiative is organized directly by the Vatican Museums and is directed at big companies. With the payment of a ticket, they can contribute to financing charity projects.” Nicolini told reporters on October 16 that, “The Sistine Chapel can never be rented because it is not a commercial place.”

The one-off event stands to raise about €200,000—almost half of what the Vatican Museums could raise in a full day off of tourist admissions, with only a fraction of the wear and tear. Artnet added:

“Since his inauguration, Pope Francis has put significant emphasis on the plight of the poor and has gained a reputation for his pragmatic and forward-thinking interpretation of scripture. This latest move may indicate that he is prepared to capitalize on the Vatican’s rich cultural heritage for the benefit of those in need.”

Roma So Far

View of Piazza del Popolo from the Pincio

I stayed in Italy for a week and thought I’d write a book.

I stayed in Italy for a month and thought I’d write an article.

I stayed in Italy for a year and realized that I didn’t have to write anything at all.

A friend recently told me this quote. I don’t know if it’s a famous one–I’m paraphrasing so I haven’t been able to locate it online. But it hits home for me.

I moved with my family to Rome about a month ago and I’ve had a lot of writing inspiration. Of course, I’ve made it to a few tourist sites, the piazzas and parks and cobbled historic center. But I’ve also just hung out–walking the streets with my kids, enjoying gelato, straightening up the house, waiting for utility men to hook up wifi, fix cracked windows, etc. My brain is so full of sights, sounds, smells, and local quirks that I don’t even know which Italy story should begin this new phase of my blog. And so, I’ve been taking everything in instead of writing.

But many new posts are coming, so do stay tuned.

I’ll be blogging about Rome, day trips, nearby beaches, hill towns, and more in the coming months as I get intimately re-acquainted with Italy and its capital. I’ll also be sending out the occasional newsletter with my latest posts and links to other Italy travel news. Subscribe here to keep in touch.