The meeting between the English words stay and vacation gives life to a new word, staycation, which tells the Italians' summer very well this year: yes on holidays, we all need it, but without moving too much, taking advantage of as much as possible our natural, landscape and historical heritage. Because Italy, there is no need to remember it, has a lot to give us.
The solutions are therefore just around the corner: between kilometers of coasts, mountains, countryside, cities of art, today we choose to virtually visit the small villages, perched, sometimes forgotten, little gems out of time, perfect for a trip or a slightly longer vacation.
The villages of Italy
They are more than 300, characterized by a natural and architectural heritage certified by the Fine Arts: less than 6000 people, treasures of art, history and gastronomic traditions. Loved by TV, you all know the Il Borgo dei Borghi program that every note draws up this ranking, promoted by associations (the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy and Authentic Villages of Italy, just to name two of the most famous) that with great passion help in the preservation of these goods, a festival is also dedicated to the villages National festival of the most beautiful villages in Italy, to Fico Eataly World in the period of November. The theme park dedicated to agri-food and gastronomy of Bologna devote three days to discover some of the most beautiful places in Italy, less known but absolutely worth visiting.
Villages to visit by train
Thanks to an agreement between Trenitalia and the most beautiful villages in Italy, you can visit the villages by train: the goal is to enhance this great heritage and make difficult to reach places accessible. For the moment these are 25:
Here is the list of places to reach with regional Trenitalia which has activated more than 580 connections per day:
Umbria: Castiglione Del Lago – Spello – Passignano Sul Trasimeno;
Campania: Vietri Sul Mare;
The most beautiful villages in Italy: the 2020 ranking
So from Valle d'Aosta to Abruzzo, from Sicily to Trentino, here in our gallery the villages that could become the destination of our post Covid-19 staycation: a proximity holiday, to rediscover our wonderful territory, scenographic, folkloric, spectacular and tasty. Because let's not forget that every village hides – not too much – the wonderful Italian gastronomic culture.
From the evocative city cathedral to the prestigious Human Evolution museum. Going through art, design, traditional sausages and starred restaurants
It almost always happens this way: when we leave for the Spain you tend to pack a sweater or sweatshirt in less than you should. It will be because just imagining the yellow and red flag the mind flies unchecked to the Andalusian summers, seasoned with toast made from sangria, on the beach, at all hours. The disconnect between reality and meteorological expectation, however, becomes evident – and a little penalizing – when a detour is organized in that Burgos, principal city of the autonomous community of Castile and León, in the north of the country, counted among the principal ones gastronomic capitals of the Iberian Peninsula. Here the altitude, to be clear, is 856 meters above sea level and winter temperatures can even drop to minus 10.
Moral: not being caught off guard by some insidious breeze cooler than expected can help you enjoy Burgos in all its charm, made of impressive medieval buildings, of interesting museums dedicated to the most disparate subjects and, yes, also of a gastronomic offer really not bad. So we try to find accommodation close to the city center, to be able to fully immerse ourselves in the local atmosphere and reach all the main points of interest in a few minutes on foot:AC Hotel by Marriott Burgos, an elegant structure with a high rate of design and art, can do for us.
Exploring the medieval city
After a hearty breakfast buffet, and after some inevitable ritual photos of the fascinating interior architecture of the hotel (see is believing), we set off towards theArch of Santa María, evocative Renaissance-style door with the appearance of a small castle, adorned with representations of Count Diego Rodríguez Porcelos, Emperor Charles I and the national hero of the Spanish Middle Ages, El Cid: crossing it we will start towards the main historical attraction of the city, the cathedral of Burgos, an imposing building in Gothic style inserted in 1984 among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Resisting the temptation of a souvenir selfie could be difficult. And then let us take it peacefully, before letting ourselves be amazed by the heights, the precious works of art and the rich baggage of stories and legends which is kept inside the cathedral. Choosing a guided tour, even in Italian, can really help you understand the complexity and charm of this sacred building, which for beauty and elegance almost seems to wink at the most famous churches in and around Paris.
Discovering typical cuisine
We count on an abundant hour to visit everything properly, and then let's take a little break in the green city of Paseo del Espolón, charming tree-lined avenue set between the bridges of San Pablo and Santa María, on the banks of the river Arlanzón. After a moment of relaxation, it's time to fully dive into the local gastronomic wonders: we decide to do it at the restaurant tables Casa Ojeda, a real authority in local cuisine.
Let's browse the menu and focus on the great traditional dishes. Starting from Morcilla de Burgos, the typical sausage of the city, prepared with rice and pork blood: a piquant specialty, served for the occasion with a side of baked peppers. We then continue with the main course, the icon of the restaurant, the Cordero Lechal, a tasty roast lamb prepared directly in a wood-fired oven. And we conclude everything with the sweet of the house, the Tarta de Hojaldre, aka a pastry filled with abundant cream.
Between history, science and archeology
After a well-deserved coffee we return to the street, cross the Arlanzón river and head towards the Museum of Human Evolution, absolutely among the most important and internationally recognized museums of the entire autonomous community of Castile and León. Here we can leave for an itinerary to discover the famous ones archaeological finds of the surrounding area, the Sierra de Atapuerca. Original fossils with an inestimable scientific value, such as the remains of Homo antecessor or the skull number 5, for friends more simply Miguelón, belonging to a specimen of Homo heidelbergensis.
Let's go back to the center of Burgos and head to Plaza Mayor. This pretty square with colorful buildings will surely require some souvenir photos and, who knows, maybe even a quick shopping session. But the hands run fast, and so – to break our afternoon sweetly – let's sit down by Juarreño, right on the edge of the square. In this pastry shop we will be able not only to sit and enjoy a good coffee, but also to find a really unique confection of sweets: these are the Bifaces de Altapuerca, a collection of chocolates filled with the characteristic shape of stone that recalls that of the sculpted tools used in the Paleolithic. The best way to gently end our afternoon immersion between history and science.
The time to go back to the hotel and get ready for the evening is almost here, but contemporary art lovers may want to give themselves a quick stop before Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, museum inaugurated in 2003 that collects a collection of over 600 works by contemporary Spanish and international artists. One last pleasant stop to discover another side of the city's varied cultural offer.
A starry dinner
A shower – more or less – fast at our AC Hotel by Marriott Burgos, and then off to a tasteful evening. A reserved table in the restaurant awaits us Cobo Vintage, where it will be possible to live a very pleasant experience among Nordic style furnishings and small pampering for the palate. In the kitchen we find Miguel Cobo, that after having participated in the Bocuse D’Or 2013, and after arriving among the finalists of the first Spanish edition of the culinary talent show Top Chef, has earned its Michelin star with this sign with a modern, friendly and playful spirit.
So let us be won over by the paper proposals, and we opt for a tasting menu which tries to be as respectful as possible for our portfolio (with prices ranging from 55 to 70 euros, wines not included). Let's start with a typical ham croquette, and continue with a Ajo Blanco, a cold Andalusian soup with almonds and garlic, completed by the chef with a shrimp carpaccio and a fresh tomato tartare. And then we range from creamy rice with chicken de corral, a free-range poultry from the area, allo wagyu beef tail stew with bed serum and mashed sweet potatoes, to arrive at a voluptuous spoon dessert made with lemon cream and white chocolate mousse. A toast with the excellent red wines of Ribera del Duero, or alternatively with a good glass of Rioja, will allow us to conclude our 24 hours in Burgos to perfection. At the top the glasses, then, and cheers.
In the year of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, we will take you to discover how to organize a visit to the Cenacolo Vinciano and where to eat in the Milan area
Organize the visit toLast Supper (or Last Supper) in the year of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci it is (almost) mandatory. The multifaceted artist and inventor par excellence has left traces of his irrepressible intelligence and creativity in different cities like Venice or Florence, but it is in Milan that we run to admire the Renaissance work. To pay tribute to the Absolute Genius of the Italian Renaissance, we take you to discover how to buy tickets for the visit and where to have a gastronomic break – because even culture makes you hungry!
First, a bit of history
The first testimony of the workLast Supper of Leonardo da Vinci as completed it dates back to 1498, four years after the commission by Luca Maria Sforza known as il Moro. In fact, the Duke of Milan decides to designate the church Santa Maria delle Grazie of Milan as the main place of celebration of its rich family. Leonardo da Vinci is called to decorate the walls of the refectory, taken from his unstoppable creativity, he launches himself headlong into the production of a true masterpiece unique of its kind, of which many copies are made not only in Italy. Although never reaching the mastery of the original work, these proved to be indispensable for understanding colors and shapes as thought by Leonardo da Vinci after centuries.
Indeed, through his peculiar painting technique on table (base of rough plaster, mixture of calcium carbonate and magnesium joined by a protein binder, fat tempera based on eggs and fluidizing oils), Leonardo da Vinci achieves luminous effects and great richness of details. This dry mixed technique on plaster unfortunately does not protect the magnificent painting from the conservative problems linked to the humidity of the walls and the frequent temperature changes due to the neighboring kitchens. The splendor of his work almost immediately begins to tarnish and the interventions of various "artists" over the centuries will sabotage its great value.
The great restoration
It is impossible to let go of such an important artistic treasure, we run for cover and the longest and most challenging restoration project in history begins: from 1977 to 1999 enormous choral work is set in motion among scientists, art critics and restorers from all over the world. Over twenty years it has served to recover the original beauty of the work, tampered with by the many retouches, bringing to light precious details like the feet of the apostles under the table, the face of Giovanni and the hole of a nail planted in the head of the Christ that came used by the artist to trace the perspective of the scene.
Not only: the entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti of Eataly received last May on CULTURE + COMPANY award 2018-19 in Milan for the project "You can't miss a dinner like this! ",approved by Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism. Thanks to the new air conditioning and air purification system, today they are placed daily inside the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie about 10,000 cubic meters of new clean air, against the previous around 3,500. An intervention that will allowLast Supper by Leonardo da Vincito survive 500 more years and to be seen by a growing number of visitors (+ 30% in the first three years after restoration), without this damaging it due to the fine dust that everyone brings with them.
How to buy tickets for the Last Supper
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980, theLast Supper (or also Cenacle of Leonardo da Vinci) has always been one of the most visited in Italy: in 2017 it was admired by 416.337 visitors, making it the 16th most visited museum site in the country. Everyone at least once in their life should enter the bare refectory room at the church Santa Maria delle Grazie to remain open-mouthed before the masterful painting, impressive even in size: the work measures 880 cm in length and 460 cm in height!
To visit theLast Supper it is mandatory to book the visit in advance. The protection of Leonardo's masterpiece requires optimal environmental conditions, obtained through the treatment of the air, as well as special procedures for the access of visitors, allowed to groups of 25 people for a maximum of 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the opening hours are from Tuesday to Sunday, open all day from 8.15 am until evening at 7.00 pm (last admission at 6.45 pm). The fixed cost of the reservation is euro 2.
If you choose the online mode, we advise you to rely on official site of the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum on the platform of the Lombardy Region Museum Complex, which will take you to the purchase of entrance tickets through the official dealer VivaTicket. Tickets are relatively few available compared to the request, you will hardly find availability immediately. Indeed there is a schedule of purchases very anticipated: keep in mind that for example the entrances for October and November were put on sale at the end of July. But do not be discouraged, there is also the possibility of human contact by phone. From Monday to Saturday from 8.00 to 18.30, you can book or buy tickets for the entrance to the Cenacolo Vinciano by calling the toll-free number 800 990 084 free of charge from the landline or by paying the telephone number +39 02 92800360.
Alternatively, but with higher costs, it is possible to rely on third parties as safe agencies or alternative partners recognized in some way by the Region or nationally. For example, the Touring Club suggests to rely on the Musement partner site, which for about 45 euros (against the original 12 euros) ensures the skip-the-line ticket and the guided tour. Another example is Eataly, which in addition to the restoration support, offers the possibility of booking a special formula: access to the refectory for 30 minutes, instead of the usual 15, in the evening and as a closed museum, with an expert who narrates the birth, life, history and secrets of the work, to follow dinner at Eataly.
Where to eat well around the Cenacolo Vinciano
Leonardo da Vinci's great work is preserved on the walls of the refectory inside the premises of the Dominican church Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan in the Magenta area, very close to the Cadorna railway station or the Conciliazione underground stop. The proposals for a gourmet break are different, we offer some:
Fresh Pasta from Giovanni (Piazza Giovine Italia) is a guarantee for those who want to taste first quality dishes. The only problem is the size of the room, very small and with few tables, therefore not recommended for large groups. With a little patience you will find a place, the waiting will be rewarded at the first forkful.
Boccondivino (via Carducci, 17) offers a good wine shop experience through a very rich wine list and a genuine menu appreciated by the customers for a long time now. The bill is also adequate.
The Bottarga (viale san Michele del Carso, 19) is an excellent fish restaurant near San Vittore with Calabrian dishes on the menu. The quality of the raw material used and the accurate preparations make it a popular destination for both Milanese and non-Milanese.
Osteria La Carbonaia (via Carducci, 38) is the ideal place for those who dream of a Florentine without going to Tuscany. In the characteristic restaurant with its textured effect walls and rustic wooden furnishings, you are catapulted into another world made of grill and wine.
Temakinho Magenta (via Boccaccio, 4) for those who want to make a trip to Brazil via Japan: here the two culinary cultures meet for a tasty and surprising result. To try.