Thursday, November 24, 2016

Randi Glazer’s 8 Favorite Italian Tourist Attractions

Today is Thanksgiving in the States and since I don't have much time to do just about anything these days, I am publishing a guest post by fellow San Franciscan Randi Glazer about places to be thankful for in Italy. There are so many but glad to see one is in Piemonte! Are there any you would have added to the list?

Randi Glazer’s 8 Favorite Italian Tourist Attractions

Known for its globally recognized cities, such as Florence, Venice, and Rome, Italy is the home to the largest amount of UNESCO World Heritage Tourists Sites in the world. Throughout all of Italy, however, you will find monuments and breathtaking art virtually anywhere in the country. Also highly recognized for its alpine lakes and mountains along with its beautiful coasts, Italy has been attracting tourist for many centuries.

Randi Glazer loves to travel and shares her 8 favorite Italian destinations. Italy has so many treasures and tourist sites, that it’s often difficult for its 40 million-plus annual tourist to decide what to visit. If you have plans to visit Italy, consider using Glazer’s list of seven most visited tourist attractions as your handy guide.

1. The Canals of Venice

Venice has been well sought after and well known for its world-famous canals. Also known as the city water, Venice has more than 150 canals that also make up this town's character as it still attracts more tourists than it has residents. Venice is a great place for couples to visit, as it is known for its romantic charm. It features romantic gondolas and colorful Italian architecture that is structured right along the Grand Canal. Also known for its great food, this city of water still remains one of the most visited tourist attractions in all of Italy.

2. Santa Maria del Fiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is a very large and beautiful cathedral (and also the symbol of Florence). The development of the Gothic style cathedral initially started in 1296 and was completed in 1436. The exterior is covered with polychrome marble panels in different shades of pink and green. It also has white borders and is among one of Italy’s largest churches in the country. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the largest church worldwide prior to the modern era, is still the world’s largest brick dome ever constructed.

People who visit the dome enjoy taking the journey through the dome and up the Duomo to be amazed by the great city views.

3. The Coliseum
The Coliseum, also an amphitheater, is located in Rome, Italy. It is as famous as it is large. It’s actually the largest Coliseum in Rome and had the capacity to hold approximately 50,000 visitors who entered and exited through any one of its 80 arch-shaped entrances. This tourist’s attraction is a Roman Empire monument and landmark. There was a lot of bloodshed, as it was initially built to be used for brutal purposes.

4. The Piazza del Campo

The Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares is located right in the heart of town. It is the main public space right in the center of Siena, Tuscany. Known for being ruled by nine merchants and bankers, some believe that it was one of the best governmental systems that they've ever had. Also referred to as the Council of Nine, they sent such an alarming, new form of democratic message, which worked so well that eventually, Siena became one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. The Piazza del Campo is known worldwide for its beautiful architectural structures, shops, and restaurants. There are 10 different entrances into the Piazza, which can be entered using ramps, alleys, staircases or little lanes that lead in and out of the square. Tourists enjoy outdoor dining at one of the many sidewalk restaurants, shopping, evening walks around the Compos, experiencing the relaxing nightlife and the ambiance around the Compos.

5. The Positano (Amalfi Coast)

Just south of Naples are some of Italy’s quaint attractions; including Positano, a small town positioned on the Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast is comprised of a coastal area stretched across a rugged terrain with small picturesque towns. This beautiful scenic coastline sits at the foothills of a uniquely structured hillside where the city is scatted from top to bottom along this trendy town. Although the Amalfi Coast is breathtakingly scenic, it is often chaotic and congested. It only has certain roads that accommodate vehicles, but a high volume of foot traffic from pedestrians.

Frequented by celebrities and tourists alike, this scattered cliff-side town hangs over the most wonderful stretch of the coast. It welcomes tourist as they enjoy sunbathing, dining and shopping at tourist shops.

6. The Manarola (Cinque Terre)

Nestled within the highly sought after Italian Riviera, Manarola is one of the oldest of the five little port towns located in Cinque Terre. Each of the “Five Lands” consists of five different villages that were once protected by each of their own castles strategically positioned to stand watch for potential attacks by the Turkish. A perfect blend of the Italian culture and nature, this town is Isolated and known for its beauty, character, and charm. It is free of traffic, as entrances into the area are by paths, trains, and boats (which are used to connect to the different villages) and cannot be reached from the outside. The colorful architectural structure is position in such a way that all of the emerge from the side of the mountains; resulting in the most breathtaking view of both the terrain and the Mediterranean Sea.

7. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The world recognized and highly famous Pisa Tower, also referred to as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, was built over a sustained period of time. For roughly 177 years, beginning in 1173 and ending in the 2nd part of the 14th century, the construction of this tower was taking place. But, with the poorly laid foundation, the tower began to sink, and as a result was untouched for nearly a full century. Construction later resumed, whereby the engineers added higher floors making one side of the floor taller than the other in an effort to make adjustments to offset the tilt. The Leaning Tower of Pisa opened up again in 2001, where tourist and locals enjoy climbing the 296 steps and taking photographs of this famous tower. This landmark draws hundreds of thousands of tourist each year.

8. Basilica di Superga

This beautiful basilica is located in the breathtaking region of Piedmont, which touches both France and Switzerland. The views from the dome of this ancient church are truly spectacular. The 246 feet high basilica was opened in 1731 and still holds its amazing renaissance charm. Along with its beauty, Basilica di Superga carries a lot of history with it as well. It is the final resting place for the Savoy family and visitors are free to visit their tombs when they come to see the beautiful vistas from this hilltop wonder.

For more information about Randi Glazer, see this recent interview.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

BRUSCHETTA! The Perfect Summer Snack

By now with all the foodies out there, I expected everyone to know that bruschetta is pronounced BRU-SKETTA and not BRU-SHETTA but that doesn't seem to be the case. So if you want to seem more like a local when in Italy, remember to pronounce the CHs as a K sound and you are good to go!

With summer in full swing and the tomatoes getting so ripe and juicy, this is just about the tastiest summer snack around.

One of the best bruschettas in Langhe is at Andrea's restaurant DeGusto in Neive. I basically go here about once a week and get this antipasto for my main dish. His doesn't have much garlic so it keeps you feeling confident all day long. There are plenty of Taggiasca olives (special small tasty olives coming from Liguria) and the portions are huge!!! 

I am always embarrassed to eat the whole thing but nothing tastes better during these 90 degree days. 

You can make bruschetta in any way you want. In Piedmont the traditionalists would just rub lots of garlic on toasted bread and maybe add a slice of tomato, the purists would just use high quality olive oil with garlic and salt and the more gluttonous ones like me, like the tomatoes piled up on top with olives and basil. Traditionally this recipe was another way to use up day old bread.

Wine Pairing: Because of the tomatoes which are quite acidic, I would go with a lightly oaked Barbera d'Alba which has a high enough acidity to match this dish and is nice on a hot day. Try a local Barbera from the village of Neive, Cantina del Glicine's La Sconsolata and get a true taste of Piemonte!

Monday, May 30, 2016

What To Do In Fossano

Most of my blog is dedicated to the beautiful and world-famous area where I work, the nearby Langhe. But I feel like my own town deserves some props and attention because I love living here! I have lived in a few surrounding towns which were much more lively, especially when it comes to nightlife. In fact, let's just say I was not so thrilled about moving back to my husband's birthplace but I am now proud to call this my home. Our move here luckily coincided with the election of the new young mayor, Sordella who has positively shaken things up a bit. I have heard that in towns like Alba, all you hear are foreign languages now on weekends, even in the grocery stores. Nothing wrong with that, but I kind of like being in a REAL residential feeling Italian town, like I am really living the authentic lifestyle. Hardly anyone even speaks English here in the shops so you have to be adventurous! So if you are lucky to be staying in Fossano here are some of my suggestions.



Simply called the "Viale" by the locals, Viale Mellano is the perfect path for a relaxing walk. You can start at the end of Via Roma where the ugly rusty modern sculpture and wannabe Louvre glass cube is. Not everything can be pretty! The pedestrian road takes you by some of the most beautiful villas and gardens in town. On the other side you can see a view of the river, Alps and Langhe wine country in the distance. If you are a sun worshiper like me, I suggest going in the mornings when it gets very warm because it is mostly covered by shade in the late afternoons. You will find elderly people sitting on the benches (so Italian!), groups of friends catching up on life, and lots of mothers walking their babies and stopping at the fun play equipment for the kids. If you are skilled enough, you can leave your cell phone and watch behind, and track the time with the old sundials placed on the path. After a nice walk on the Viale, what better relief than finding a gelato shop at the end! You can stop there for a coffee or a sweet treat and continue on the tree lined sidewalk until you get to a fantastic park full of playgrounds, bocce ball courts, public bathrooms (eww gross but sometimes necessary), and small ponds where you can find ducks and turtles soaking up the sun. If the park doesn't interest you, you can keep going until you get to the other end of Via Roma for some shopping! The whole loop is about 2 km.

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