Being the capital of one of the most famous wine regions in the world, Florence is not just a great starting point for the many wine tours the Tuscany countryside has to offer, but has a great wine culture of its own.
Camera della Rabbia is a facility in the hills of Forlì full of objects to destroy.
Pantalica, Syracuse, Sicily, is located on a limestone promontory and is best known for its rock-cut tombs (13th to 7th centuries BC.).
Surrounded by a deep gorge formed by Calcinara and Anapo rivers, is also an important nature reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Pantalica): bat caves, flora and fauna. The area is crossed by a disused railway track, dismantled in 1956. [Wikipedia]
Check Pantalica local map at the bottom
Who built the tombs?
In the 13th century BC, some coastal settlements were abandoned, possibly due to the arrival of the Sicels in the island and the onset of more unsettled conditions. The Sicels were an Italic tribe who inhabited eastern Sicily during the Iron Age. Their neighbours to the west were the Sicani. [Wikipedia]
The Sicels gave Sicily the name it has held since antiquity, but they rapidly fused into the culture of Magna Graecia.
New large sites, like Pantalica, appeared in the hilly coastal hinterlands, probably chosen for defensive reasons.
Pantalica evidently flourished for about 600 years, from about 1250 to 650 BC. The current name of the site probably dates from the Early Middle Ages or Arab period. The ancient name of the site is uncertain, but is associated by some archaeologists with Hybla, after a Sicel king named Hyblon, who is mentioned by Thucydides in connection with the foundation of the early Greek colony at Megara Hyblaea in the year 728 BC. For several centuries before Greek colonization, Pantalica was undoubtedly one of the main sites of eastern Sicily, dominating the surrounding territory, including subsidiary settlements. By about 650 BC, however, it seems to have been a victim of the expansion of the city of Syracuse, which established an outpost at Akrai (Palazzolo Acreide) at this time. Nevertheless, it was still occupied during classical antiquity, since finds of the 4th-3rd centuries BC (Hellenistic period) are attested, as well as during the late antique or Byzantine periods. After the 12th century it was probably largely deserted, and overshadowed by Sortino.
The remains visible today consist mainly of numerous prehistoric burial chambers cut into the limestone rock, sometimes provided with a porch or short entrance corridor in front of the burial chamber, originally sealed with stones or a slab.
There are also some larger rock-cut houses of uncertain date (often said to be Byzantine, but possibly of earlier origin). The so-called anaktoron, or princely palace, located near the top of the hill, is also controversial. Thought by some archaeologists originally to have been a Late Bronze Age building, inspired by palatial buildings of the Greek (Mycenaean) Bronze Age, it was more certainly occupied in the Byzantine period. The remains of a large defensive ditch, cut into the limestone, are clearly visible at Filiporto (on the western side of the promontory, nearest to Ferla). This probably dates to the 4th century BC and represents a defensive work of Greek military design, possibly in line with a policy of Dionysius of Syracuse, designed to secure allied sites in the hinterland. There are also three small Medieval rock-cut chapels popularly called the Grotta del Crocifisso (near the North cemetery), Grotta di San Nicolicchio (on the southern side) and Grotta di San Micidario (at Filiporto), which preserve very faint traces of frescoes and attest the presence of small monastic communities.
The site was mainly excavated between 1895 and 1910 by the distinguished Italian archaeologist, Paolo Orsi, although most of the tombs had already been rifled or emptied long before his time. The finds excavated by Orsi are on display in the Archaeological Museum in Syracuse. They include characteristic red-burnished pottery vessels and metal objects, including weaponry (small knives and daggers) and items of dress, such as bronze fibulae (brooches) and rings, which were placed with the deceased in the tombs. Most of the tombs contained between 1 and 7 individuals of all ages and both sexes. Many tombs were evidently re-opened periodically in order to admit more burials. The average human life span at this time was probably around 30 years of age. The size of the prehistoric population is hard to estimate from the available data, but might easily have been 1000 people or more. [Wikipedia]
Villa Garzoni or Garzoni Garden was built before 1652 by the Garzoni family, near their old castle, which stands slightly apart and is a beautiful example of Baroque style.
Villa Garzoni at Collodi, Lucca, Tuscany, features a garden with a number of pagan statues, fountains and watern garden (giochi d’acqua) at the foot of a series of terraces and symmetrical staicases connecting the lower water gardens at the base of the hill. The villa, which was thoroughly rebuilt in the eighteenth century, belonged to the Garzoni family until the beginning of the twentieth century. The garden has a bamboo wood, mythological statues, caves, greenhouses, bridges and a maze.
The father of Carlo Lorenzini (Carlo Collodi), the author of Pinocchio worked here as a gardener, while her mother was a waitress. Collodi spent most of his childhood at the Castle.
Spectacular night-time images as Mount Etna erupts sending columns of ash and lava high into the air.
The Venetian Ghetto (ghèto) was an area of Venice where Jews were permitted to live under Venetian Republic.
The Ghetto is located in Cannareggio, not far from the train station.
English (and Italian) word “ghetto” derived from the Venetian language, ghèto. Beginning in 1516, Jews were restricted to living in the Venetian Ghetto.
The English term “ghetto” is an Italian loanword, which actually comes from the Venetian word “ghèto”, slag, and was used in this sense in a reference to a foundry where slag was stored located on the same island as the area of Jewish confinement. An alternative etymology is from Italian borghetto, diminutive of borgo ‘borough’. [Wikipedia]
Though it was home to a large number of Jews, the population living in the Venetian Ghetto never assimilated to form a distinct, “Venetian Jewish” ethnicity. Four of the five synagogues were clearly divided according to ethnic identity: separate synagogues existed for the German (the Scuola Grande Tedesca), Italian (the Scuola Italiana), Spanish and Portuguese (the Scuola Spagnola), and Levantine Sephardi communities (The Scola Levantina). The fifth, the Scuola Canton, was a private synagogue for the 4 families who funded its construction. One was the Fano family. Today, there are also populations of Ashkenazic Jews in Venice, mainly Lubavitchers who operate one of two kosher foodstores, a yeshiva, and the aforementioned Chabad synagogue. [Wikipedia]
Languages historically spoken in the confines of the Ghetto include Venetian, Italian, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, French, and German. In addition, Hebrew was traditionally (and still is) used on signage, inscriptions, and for official purposes such as wedding contracts (as well as, of course, in religious services). [Wikipedia]
Today, the Ghetto is still a center of Jewish life in the city. The Jewish Community of Venice, that counts 500 people, is still culturally very active. [Wikipedia]
Plaque in the Jewish ghetto in Venice bearing a law (September 20, 1704) forbidding severely any Jewish person converted to Christianity to enter the Jewish Ghetto and to meet any Jews, menacing harsh penalties. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, August 1st, 2008. [Wikimedia]
William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice features Shylock, a Venetian Jew, and his family.
The Abbazia di Santa Maria di Pulsano is a Catholic sanctuary on Mount Gargano, Italy, Monte Sant’Angelo, Foggia.
Maiella (or Majella) National Park (Chieti, L’Aquila, Abruzzo) is a mountain nature reserve centered around the Maiella calcareous massif.
Cinque Terre (The Five Lands, La Spezia, Liguria) is the coast called on the Italian Riviera and it’s composed by 5 villages: Manarola, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare , Corniglia, and Riomaggiore.
Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. [Wikipedia]
Manarola is indeed a very popular photographic challenge.
Manarola may be the oldest of the towns in the Cinque Terre
Manarola’s primary industries have traditionally been fishing and wine-making.