domenica 30 dicembre 2012

Tivoli, I love it!
This is a town I end up visiting quite often because it has three important tourist attractions which can be easily visited in a day trip from Palestrina or Rome: Villa d’Este, Villa Gregoriana and Villa Adriana. 
Villa d’Este is the most spectacular of the three, as the building’s frescoed rooms and the magnificent gardens and fountains are truly breathtaking. This is a place for people who don’t have problems with steps. (Entry 9:30am to 7:30pm daily from April to October.)

Villa Gregoriana is the perfect place for a walk through nature to visit caves and a waterfall. (Entry 10:00am to 6:30pm daily from April to October.)
Villa Adriana is a UNESCO world heritage site and is an open-air archeological site full of ruins of baths, theaters, imperial buildings of noteworthy interest. It’s naturalistic setting is perfectly beautiful. If you don’t bring a snack, the hotel in front of the villa’s entrance provides delicious meals. (Entry 9:00am to 5:30pm daily from April to October.)

Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring plenty of bottled drinking water; even though these sites are heavily visited by tourists, they are not always prepared to have bottled water and other food/beverages available in large enough quantities.

lunedì 15 ottobre 2012

A Day in Collepardo
Eastern Lazio is home to the “Ciociaria” area and has several towns worth visiting, in particular one called Collepardo which is an interesting place for a day trip from Palestrina, especially for families. There are three main sites to visit: the cave, the sunken cave and the Monastery of Trisulti. 
Underneath the town of Collepardo you’ll find the main cave which is full of stalagmites and stalactites that make shapes that resemble children or dolls. The small, illuminated cave is easily visited in 30 minutes. A guided tour, included in the ticket price, allows visitors to hear the story of the cave’s formation. It’s best to visit the cave in the morning and allow the other sites for the afternoon.
A winding ten-minute drive from the valley under Collepardo to the mountainous panoramas above Collepardo, leads visitors to the Monastery of Trisulti, hidden among a vast, wooded area. It’s frescoed pharmacy and topiary gardens are delightful. You can sample their home made liqueurs, and even make a purchase and bring the elixirs back home. Attached to the monastery is a small restaurant with good, traditional food at moderate prices. The Monastery is closed from 12:00-3:00pm which allows enough time for a proper Italian lunch and stroll through the pinewood. For the more active visitors, there is a 1km hike down (and back!) to a small hermitage built on the side of the mountain called “Madonna delle Cese”. 
In the afternoon, when driving back down the hilly road which returns to the town of Collepardo, you can take a short detour in the direction of the “Pozzo d’Antullo” which is a cave with a sunken roof. The area is open to the public in the afternoons and has been fenced to prevent people from accidentally falling in. You can observe the old stalactites along the edge of what appears to be a huge hole in the ground. 

Basic Info:
Grotte di Collepardo: Open from 10:30am to 4:30pm
Tourist Information Phone: 0775 47065
Dolina d’Antullo: Open from 3:00pm-5:00pm
Certosa di Trisulti: Open from 9:30am to 12:00pm and 3:30pm to 5:30pm
Monastery Phone: 0775 47024

lunedì 13 agosto 2012

Medieval Dinners for the Palio

In Palestrina each August two weeks of festivities are dedicated to the Palio of Sant’Agapito. Many of the activities revolve around each quarter’s efforts to prepare their horses and riders for the main competition events. To finance the support of each team, the rioni or neighborhoods organize a week to ten days of outdoor dining called taverne in various places throughout town.

There are four taverne in Palestrina: Porta San Biagio, Porta San Cesareo, Porta San Martino, Porta San Giacomo. Depending on the neighborhood, the outdoor dining experience often means that you are likely to walk into a park where there is a reconstructed castle full of Medieval ambiance where everyone is dressed in costume. Stories are told to illustrate how people lived 500 years ago, songs are sung, games are played and even prizes are won (my personal favorite is Porta San Biagio, as it offers the most entertainment and even a children's play corner for the youngest components of your family). 

The dinner itself usually has a fixed price (this year 15 euros for adults) and includes a full meal (appetizers, two plates of pasta, meat, potatoes, salad, dessert, coffee, wine, water) and the menu changes every evening. Guests typically arrive at 8:30pm and stay past midnight enjoying the music, wine, games, fun and good company that the taverna offers. It’s best to make a reservation, as each taverna fills up quickly! 

For information: Comitato Palio di Sant’Agapito, Tel. 3385823551

A Stitch in Time

A very special tradition in Palestrina has to do with embroidery stitches. Sewing has always been one of the most important and useful handicrafts, and embroidered clothing and linens have been a popular cultural tradition in Italy for centuries.

Around the end of the 1800’s in many schools opened to satisfy the market’s request for embellished and prestigious clothing, wall hangings, home furnishings and linens. As women began to study and work they were no longer obliged to stay at home and prepare their own dowry of linens; they therefore looked to the local schools to have such handmade pieces prepared for them.

One very interesting technique used in embroidery is the Palestrina stitch (called the punto Palestrina in Italian), which is similar to an upraised knot. The stitch is often used on borders and for decorating long lines in the fabric and it adds a special touch to any embroidered work. It was created over one hundred years ago by Marquis Ferdiando Ulivieri who was working at the time in Palestrina.

Today the best examples of embroidered pieces and handiwork are done by Stella Chiapparelli, who not only exhibits and sells her work locally (Palestrina’s “Sagra del Giglietto”, Zagarolo’s fair “Tramando Tessendo”, but also at many important international sewing fairs. Stella Chiapparelli has a cultural association through which she promotes local cultural heritage through sewing and embroidery.
VIDEO: www.

lunedì 6 agosto 2012

Sagra del Giglietto, Food Festival in Palestrina

Italian food festivals, in particular in the Monti Prenestini area, are frequent occasions where locals can enjoy an evening on the town and a chance to enjoy typical food from the area. Every year at the beginning of August, Palestrina celebrates their traditional cookie, the giglietto: it is made of sugar, eggs and flour, carefully shaped into a fleur de lys and baked to perfection. Its light and crispy texture is perfect for snacks accompanied with a glass of milk or for dessert accompanied by a sweet wine.
The last remaining traditional bakery/pasta shop is run by the Salomone family and is located on Corso Pierluigi in the center of Palestrina. They make an array of home made pasta and sweets including the famous giglietto.
This year the Sagra del Giglietto was held from August 3-5 and included free live music concerts, food stands, games and an open-air market all throughout the center of town. To finish off the last evening there was a round of tombola with a money prize for the winners and a firework display at midnight. See you there next year!!

lunedì 23 luglio 2012

My first destination: Palestrina

Palestrina, located about 40 kilometers south-east of Rome, is a fascinating hillside town steeped in history.  The ancient temple of the Goddess of Fortune provides the base for the center of the town and the laberynth of cobblestone streets is a fun challenge for even the most experienced travelers. Each corner reveals a glimpse of the past, a hidden treasure providing testimony of the rich cultural and artistic heritage of the area. Every stair leads to an adventure through the discovery of interesting architecture and art history.

The most interesting historical and architectural element is undoubtedly the national archeological museum, located at the upper part of town inside Palazzo Baberini, with an open archeological area below. The semi-circular stairs leading to its entrance are an amphitheatre which opens out onto the valley below; it seems to pre-announce Shakespeare's words: "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players..."

Places to visit include the National Archeological Museum, the Antro delle Sorti, the main cathedral Sant'Agapito, the Diocisis Museum of Religious Art, the Home of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, the walls built of cyclopic masonry.
Best place to watch the sunset is on the steps of the archeological museum.
Cotral Buses leave you at the base of the temple near the entrance to the historic center; free and easy parking is at the ex-train station on via della Martuccia; limited paid parking in the city center; the closest train stationas are in Zagarolo, Labico and Valmontone.
Altavista Casa Vacanza provides short term stays in a two-bedroom, tastefully decorated home for prices ranging from 50-80 euros per night depending on the length of stay:
The best quality-price ratio can be found at La Taberna, situated in the Vicolo del Duomo or at the Antica Trattoria. Pizza by the slice at Amore di Pizza in the center by the main church or at Strapizzami by the hospital. Best beer at La Taberna. Best pastries at Oscar in the center and Pennisi on via Pedemontana.
From Monday to Saturday in front of the post office there is a fruit and vegetable market; Tuesdays and Fridays you'll also find the fish market. On Saturday morning the large open air market is held in Piazza Italia in the area near the hospital.
WHERE TO SHOP: Arte del Rame for hand carfted copper objects, Bottiglieria del Gallo for wine tasting and edible souvenirs, Cultural Association "Ricamo Prenestino" for hand embroidered linens.