Watching the sun set from Monticchiello in Tuscany

On my Tuscan travels, I had a chance to stop for the evening in Monticchiello and contemplate the surrounding landscape like a painting as the sun set. Perched on a hill in the Orcia valley, this fortified medieval village is an unspoilt jewel which offers stunning views of Pienza and the neat rows of cypress … More Watching the sun set from Monticchiello in Tuscany

Exploring the depths of Procida’s Abbey of Saint Michael

I visited Procida in the bay of Naples earlier this year and after a delicious fish meal by the shore, I prepared to explore the most intriguing corner of the island: the Abbey of Saint Michael the Archangel. It’s perched on the highest point of Procida, in the “Terra Murata” surrounded by fortified walls built in the … More Exploring the depths of Procida’s Abbey of Saint Michael

Caltagirone and its yellow and blue ceramic jewels

Caltagirone is one of the towns in Sicily that I remember most vividly: the bright blue and yellow colours of the ceramic tiles that decorate its pavements and walls, the interesting Arab influences, and the stunning views of the surrounding plains. The town’s history predates the Greek settlements in Sicily– necropolises found nearby are from … More Caltagirone and its yellow and blue ceramic jewels

Enjoying the festivals of St Joseph along the southern Sicilian coast

One of the best things I experienced in southeastern Sicily were the festivals of Saint Joseph, held in different towns on various days around March 19, his traditional feast day and Father’s Day in Italy. I took part in the festivities in three places: seaside village Donnalucata and the nearby towns of Scicli and Santa … More Enjoying the festivals of St Joseph along the southern Sicilian coast

Watching the bejeweled bambino bless Rome

I first read about the Holy Bambino statue in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli when I was researching nativity scenes in Rome. Before Christmas I went to the Capitoline hill to see the little jewel-encrusted wooden statue of the baby Jesus in its chapel and discovered the miraculous events associated with it. The original … More Watching the bejeweled bambino bless Rome

Salerno’s Christmas lights, brightening up the dark nights

One of my new English language students is from Salerno. During our first lesson we chatted about where we were from, and I asked him what was interesting about his city. He told me about the stunning light displays held there every year around Christmas time. I was intrigued by his enthusiastic description, and was … More Salerno’s Christmas lights, brightening up the dark nights

Returning to Viterbo for the festival of Saint Rose

By ItalianGems When I visited Viterbo in northern Lazio for the first time in January, several locals told me about the special festival the town holds for its patron Saint Rose on September 3. I heard stories and saw pictures of the “Machine of Saint Rose”– a lantern-like tower that is carried around town on the shoulders … More Returning to Viterbo for the festival of Saint Rose