viareggio FUORIPORTA

Portovenere, Viareggio, Gaeta, Positano and Scilla: the advice of Fuoriporta

It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of the pearls of the Ligurian Riviera: Portovenere, in the province of La Spezia, overlooks the splendid “Gulf of Poets” with its characteristic colorful houses that tell of an ancient and glorious past. Portovenere is part of the “borgate marirare” that take part every year at the Palio of Golfo, which on the first Sunday of August sees the villages facing the Gulf of La Spezia, provincial capital which on 13 September celebrates Saint Venus with a procession at sea that brings the statue of the saint from the city to the island of Tino. But this is also a land in which is produced extra-virgin olive oil of the highest quality, which is the basis of the classic Pesto Genovese: and so on, in April 9th, comes back every year the appointment with the basil feast.

In Viareggio, one of the pearls of Tuscany: the small town in the province of Lucca, notably famous for the ancient carnival organized for the first time in 1873, is actually an old center very active within the shipbuilding industry (the Viareggio craftsmen have invented new types of boats during the centuries), floriculture and of course fishing, and it is also famous for its Liberty and Deco palaces. In winter time, the “Versilia’s capital” organizes the most famous Carnival of Italy, whose official masks are Burlamacco and Ondina, born in 1931 by the pen of Uberto Bonetti; in the week preceding March 25th is the turn of the feast of Maria Annunziata with the traditional Ciottorini Fair, artisan small art objects. And yet between literary prizes, movie shows and musical events, until the summer and beyond in Viareggio it is really impossible to get bored.

From Tuscany to Lower Lazio, and more precisely to Gaeta, the town in the province of Latina. From Diodoro Siculo passing through Virgilio to Aiete, the brother of Maga Circe (Mount Circeo is only a few kilometers) the hypotheses are so many, and all fascinating. Certainly, Gaeta is not only a well-known seaside resort overlooking one of the most beautiful seas of the whole Lazio, but it is also a small jewel of architectural jewelery, the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Place at the Cathedral of Saints Erasmus and Marciano at the picturesque Temple of Saint Francis. A center live all the months of the year, where the procession stands in honor of the Madonna of Porto Salvo, the protector of fishermen and sailors (second Sunday of August), and the particular “Gliu Sciuscio”: the night of December 31 the orchestras of young people sing typical songs to wish a good year.

Positano, a holiday resort since ancient Rome and glamorous resort since the ’60s, is one of the most fascinating places on the Amalfi Coast, a true corner of paradise in the province of Salerno overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. According to the legend, its name comes from a ship carrying a picture depicting the Madonna, who miraculously spoke (“posing, laying” or “hanging out here”) saving the sailors from the sea in storm right in front of what was a small fishing village. And now it has become a tourist destination from all over the world, “alive” 12 months a year and rich in events: from the patron saint of San Vito (June 15) to the feast of St. Joseph (March 19th) from the Festival of Christmas (at Christmas time) to fashion events, there is really planty of choice.

And it’s always a fascinating mix of history and legend that has given its name to Scilla, the last trip stage along the coasts of the Tyrrhenian Sea. In that part of Calabria, that once was Magna Grecia, the town in the province of Reggio was known as Skylla or Skyllaion, or “rock”, just because it is climbing on a cliff of the Pomponus Scillèo; but Scilla is also the name of the daughter of Niso, who helped Minosse before being repudiated and abandoned by the sea, which dragged her body to this wonderful corner of the Mediterranean. The one that for many is the most fascinating seaside village in Italy abound the events, starting with the patron saint San Rocco (August 16), continuing with the “Vicoli Festival” (early August) and with numerous fashion shows and theatrical performances.

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Palmanova, which has had a glorious and fascinating past, today is one of the best preserved jewels in the province of Udine

Palmanova, the “fortress city” of Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Palmanova, which has had a glorious and fascinating past, today is one of the best preserved jewels in the province of Udine. Palmanova is only 50 km from the famous beaches of Lignano Sabbiadoro. Its strategic position has always characterized the story: entirely rebuilt by the Republic of Venice in 1600 against the Turkish invasions, fell under Austrian domination, then under the French with Napoleon.

But every dominion contributed to reinforcing its defenses: for this reason it is today one of the few examples of the world of star-shaped fortress, unique in Italy with its nine tips with three fortified walls. The city is in the big square square, hexagonal and very wide.

The monumental doors of Cividale, Udine and Aquileia, realized by Scamozzi, open on the ramparts of the city. Palmanova is a magical place to visit on foot, leaving its streets and beautiful square overlooking the Duomo, the white white facade of Orsera and Aurisina gray stone. Also worthy of a visit are some typical Venetian palaces that open on the wide streets of the city, the Loggia dedicated to the fallen and the Palazzo dei Provveditori Generali.

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Erected by the Scaligeri, it was wisely exploited by the Gonzaga. It has eight hundred years of history behind it, and yet it is only publicly visible since 2013

From the Scaligeris to Gonzaga, here is the Castle of Villimpenta

Erected by the Scaligeri, it was wisely exploited by the Gonzaga. It has eight hundred years of history behind it, and yet it is only publicly visible since 2013, after long and accurate restoration work. It is the Castello Scaligero di Villimpenta, a comune of the East Mantuan, close to the Veronese: a boundary land, spruced by the river Tione, is famous especially for the rigorously “dwarf dwarf” – which has always been produced.

The fortress plant consists of an irregular pentagram from which two polygonal towers and a massive 25 meter high tower are preserved, characterized by its imposing and solidity; the Castle was equipped with a tower at each corner, plus a long one, for a total of six. All were quadrilateral, though with not exactly right angles, since only the south-west can be pentagonal.

The doorman, located at the northwest corner, is about 42 meters high and is crowned by boulders and piers to form the strongest and most solid part of the castle, with a square base of 9 meters with a thickness of 2.30 masonry. Originally it was surrounded on all sides by the River Tione on the line of which, around the year 1000, in the time preceding the building of the fort, the monks of the Benedictine abbey of San Zeno from Verona were installed.

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A place full of stories like Civitavecchia, Viterbo, Tuscania and Tarquinia, along with natural wonders such as the Tolfa Mountains and Lake Bolsena.

Discovering Upper Lazio from Civitavecchia to Bolsena

A place full of stories like Civitavecchia, Viterbo, Tuscania and Tarquinia, along with natural wonders such as the Tolfa Mountains and Lake Bolsena. The itinerary to discover the beauties of Upper Lazio starts from Civitavecchia, an ancient city of Etruscan origin overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the seaside of the Capital, which preserves the Forte Michelangelo, the Vanvitelli Fountain and the Old Port.

The journey continues in the direction of the Tolfa Mountains, where two famous villages have emerged in the past centuries for the extraction of the Aluma and Tolfa. Third, unmissable stop is Vetralla, right on the slopes of the volcanic crater, which then turned into Lake Vico, where the Monastery Regina Pacis is worth a visit; then just a few kilometers down the road to Montefiascone, and then the view opens onto the charming lake of Bolsena with its glimpses, the town of Bolsena with its historic center, the two characteristic islands and the village of Marta, climbed on the slopes of the basin.

After turning around the lake, you can go back to Civitavecchia, without forgetting to go first to Tuscania, the city of Tusci famous for the Basilica of Saint Peter, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the fountain of the “sette cannelle”, and then for Tarquinia, an ancient Etruscan town where the Necropolis, the Museum, the Palazzo Comunale and the Church of Santa Maria in Castello worth a visit.

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Rocca Estense

The Rocca Estense of San Martino in Rio

Destroyed by Federico Barbarossa in 1167, it was rebuilt with tough towers and passed to Roberti of Reggio Emilia. Towards 1420 it passed under the rule of the Estensi, from 1501 to a branch of the Estensi’s family and from the second half of the eighteenth century to the Rango d’Aragona.

There is a long and fascinating story behind the Rocca Estense of San Martino in Rio (Reggio Emilia), which can be visited every Sunday morning. Its quadrangular structure retains an intact square corner tower with Ghibelline merlature. On the ground floor there is the Museum of Agriculture and Rural World, with a room that keeps traces of ceiling decorations (XV century) depicting Estonian firms; always on the ground floor is worth a visit to the Chapel of St. John, built in 1395, which still retains the brickwork of the portal, the apse and the original marble altar in Verona with a sandstone arms of Roberti from Tripoli and a precious San Martino, always in sandstone. On the grand floor, however, the large lobby has a piece of original ceiling decorated in the 17th century.

From the entrance hall you can access to the large west wing halls, which were rebuilt at the beginning of the 18th century to transform the ancient fortress into a noble residence. From here you go to the Theater Room, which was used for this purpose from the middle of the nineteenth century to the thirties, and then to the Marquis of San Martino’s apartment: here the walls and vaults have been redecorated for the will of the last Marquis, Don Paolo d’Aragona, with backgrounds and lakeside landscapes.

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Pompeii Fuoriporta

Pompeii, a jump back in time

A journey of about six hours between the wonders of ancient Pompeii, during which you can immerse yourself fully in the atmosphere of this timeless place and enjoy the beauties of the surrounding landscape.

Accessing the excavations from the entrance to Porta Marina or Piazza Amfiteatro, the route develops around “via dell’Abbondanza”. Through this long road you will be able to admire the Amphitheater, which which contained nearly 20,000 viewers – a place full of history ideally joining the 80 B.C., the year of its construction, in 1971, when Pink Floyd recorded here a concert that would pass to the history of rock. And, the Garden of the Fugitives, who keeps the casts of some victims who tried in vain to save themselves from the fury of Vesuvius.

At the end of the road that runs along the Amphitheater, the walk meets Abundance Street where the Teatro Grande and the Teatro Piccolo are still connected today: if the first plays were on stage the plays of Terenzio and Plauto, the second was mainly used for musical performances. Continuing on Abundance Street, here we are at the Forum, the heart of the ancient city where political debates were organized and which housed businesses and public buildings; It is no coincidence that some of the most wonderful monuments of Pompeii are concentrated in the vicinity of the Forum: the Basilica, the Temple of Jupiter, the Public Liturgy, the Macellum and the Vespasian Temple.

Here, too, there are still the first meeting houses of history, the so-called “Lupanare” of Roman memory, which can be visited with a small deviation on the right; a detour, however, is worth doing because, going to via degli Agustali you can reach Casa del Fauno and the House of the ancient hunting. The wonders of Pompeii never end: those who want to continue this wonderful tour will be able to discover the Necropolis, the Garden House of Hercules, the Stabai Baths, the Augusta Fort Temple, the Dioscuri House, the House of Sallust and the Villa of Mysteries.

the Mining Museum (meeting with history and work objects) and the Mineralogical Museum, with exposure of the minerals of Valmalenco.

Valmalenco, the ancient mine that became an Ecomuseum

Not a simple exhibition space, but rather a place that preserves the collective memory of an entire territory. It is the Mining Museum of Bagnada in the municipality of Lanzada (Sondro), a place full of history which best reflects the peculiarities of an activity that has permeated the life of the inhabitants of Valmalenco.

In fact, the wealth of mineral resources in the area has played a key role for the local economy and for scientific research, with its variety of minerals and rocks an international attraction pole. The tour is divided into three moments: the visit of the gallery (you can observe talcum and shifts in the mine of men and materials), the Mining Museum (meeting with history and work objects) and the Mineralogical Museum, with exposure of the minerals of Valmalenco.

The Bagnada Mine was discovered in the late 1920s by the Anonymous Company of Asbestos by the ingegner Grazzani of Milan, who obtained the first mining research grant in 1936. In fact, already in 1870, some companies engaged in the extraction of Asbestos intuited the potentialities of talcum; however, the technical difficulties and the low demand on the market of raw materials still unknown knew their interest. The intensive exploitation of the Bagnada field continued for over 50 years until the mid-1980s.

The mining activity was rather rudimentary, based on manual labor and without mechanical aid: it involved the transfer of talcum through cable cars and an organization of the workforce in teams of 25 miners sharing daily tasks. The extraction of talcum is still a key aspect in the economy of Valmalenco, which with one active mine is imposed on the international market. Of course, technological evolution has brought about profound changes in modernity, although it has not been able to erase the historical memory that the Bagnada Mine – nowadays Museum – wants to testify.

Visit to the Museum is only by reservation by calling the Tourist Consortium Sondrio and Valmalenco. Costs are: 8 euro – reduced entrance – children 5-12 years and older than 70 years, 11 euros – full entrance. Group and school visits are made.

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Isola Ariano Polesine

The island of Ariano in the Polesine, where the Po is separated into two branches

A natural wonder to admire by bicycle, along more than 60 kilometers of asphalted road rarely visited by cars. It is the island of Ariano in Polesine, a section of the province of Rovigo, which has always been linked to the largest Italian river.

Here, in fact, the Po separates in two branches at Santa Maria in Punta: in the middle of the island of Ariano which extends into a large reclaimed countryside, then the two main branches approach almost touched at “Ca ‘Vendramin”, near the bridge crossing the Po of Gnocca and leads to Porto Tolle. It is the inner part of the vast Delta wedge, an area that did not exist in antiquity, the result of reclamation, artificial channels and embankments, especially of the Serenissima.

Here you can go all the way to the banks of the Po of Venice and the Po of Goro, around the ring of the river island of Ariano in the Polesine; as well as Ariano, you can admire the areas of Taglio di Po, Corbola, Santa Maria in Punta e Rivà. But, also the old abandoned farmhouses are very interesting. Starting with “Ca ‘Vendramin”: within a short distance you can also visit the Bonifiche Museum, well visible along the main road to Porto Tolle, characteristic for the high chimney.

The alternative routes allow, using old ways on ancient coastal dunes used since Roman times and in the Middle Ages, to return to the Po of Goro at St. Basilio an important archaeological site with a beautiful exhibition of recent finds, or at Rivà immediately in front in the ancient Castello di Mesola on the Ferrara side of Po di Goro.

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Aymerich Park

The Aymerich Park, a naturalistic wonder in the heart of Sarcidano Sardo

With its roverelle oaks and its holm embraces the village of Laconi, conditioned in its urban layout by a complex morphology that over time has determined the typical choices of mountain centers. It is the Aymerich Park, an urban green space around the remains of the Aymerich Castle, whose first plant is probably to be counted on 1053.

The area extends over 22 hectares in the municipality in the province of Oristano, in the region called Sarcidano, in the center of Sardinia. The ruins of the castle have many stratifications, which over the centuries have led to the current aspect: the name reminds the last lords of Laconi, the Aymerich (who took the title in the 700’s), but in fact the building was built in medieval times – probably on the remains of a Byzantine anti-barbaric encampment – to defend the frontier of the Kingdom of Arborea and Cagliari. The main tower, with a rectangular plan, dates back to the 11th-12th century and, in the 18th century, it was converted into a prison.

Next to it stands the actual castle, divided into two floors: the lower one is contemporary to the tower, the upper one is following to the elegant molding windows in Catalan-Aragonese style. This castle was the residence of the lords of Laconi until the middle of the eighteenth century, when the Marquis Ignazio Aymerich Ripoll had already made a garden of exotic plants extending over a large surface. Probably the laconian lords must also have the woodland plant around the castle, which also houses unusual and non-native plants, such as an exceptional Lebanon cedar and the pine of Corsica. But the park is also made up of dense lilies, surrounded by natural hollows, streams, small waterfalls and ponds that create a beautiful atmosphere, accessible to all just a few steps from the city center.

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Chiesa della Collegiata di Revello

The Collegiate and the Marchionale Chapel, Revello reveals his treasures

At the foot of Mount Bracco and Monviso, in the heart of the Po Valley, the town of Revello is guarding beautiful treasures such as the Collegiate, begun in 1402 and finished with Ludovico II around the end of the 15th century, and the Marchionale Chapel, on the first floor of the Castle of the Marquis of Saluzzo which is today the seat of the Town Hall.

Declared with the papal bull of Sisto IV in 1483, the Collegiate stands at the end of the street that crosses the village and where the hill starts. The gothic Lombard interior, is composed of three aisles and here you can admire works of great artistic value such as the Baptismal Font of the Family of Zabreri (1498), the Polyptych of the Epiphany of Hans Clemer (1503) and the Polyptych of Madonna of Cherries, made in the early ‘500.

Also the prestigious nineteenth-century Altar Maggiore (1850), the sixteenth-century fresco depicting the noble Rupert D’Amareuil gathered in prayer to the Madonna and Jesus and the pulpit, a work of craftsmen working around the middle of the 17th century – at the Abbey of Staffarda. Already the favorite home of Margherita di Foix, wife of Ludovico II, the Marchionale Chapel is a little gem to discover, which was decorated in 1519 precisely on marchesa’s request.

On its side walls are painted the lives of the saintly protectors of the Marquis, on one side Santa Margherita and on the other St. Louis of France, above are portrayed the Evangelists and the Doctors of the Church, while the Marchional family appears with several characters in the lunettes apse. The facade, however, is embellished by a painting of the Last Supper, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece.

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