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Mark Positano May 11 2015

Mark Smith, Owner of Private Italy Tours LTD, above Positano on the Amalfi Coast.

We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to all of you who have read, or follow, our travel blog about Italy.

This week, we surpassed the 200,000 views of our blog.

Thank you.

We are dedicated to continuing improvement about the accuracy and reliability of all of the information we provide to those who love bella Italia.

Join us on one of our incredible explorations of Italy!

Private Italy Tours LTD

Come Home Again to Italy

 

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In the past few months, increased visitor security screening was initiated at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo, in Florence. As with most of the other museums in the city (Uffizi, Bargello, Museum of the Works of the Duomo and many others), visitors are security checked before entering sites.

The result of the increased security at the Duomo in Florence is frustratingly long lines. During a recent visit to the city, in mid-March, the line stretched from the facade entrance all the way along the northern side of the structure and around to the entrance of the Museum of the Works of the Duomo. This was easily a wait of well over an hour before entering.

Security is critical to the protection of historic sites; this is an article to assist visitors in avoiding long waits before visiting this incredible cathedral.

Best recommendation we can make is to go EARLY. If you can be in line at least fifteen minutes prior to the Duomo’s opening, see Hours listed below, you will not have to stand for extended periods of time before entering.

While you do not need a ticket to enter the Duomo, the new combined ticket offered by Il Grande Museo del Duomo includes your admission to the Baptistery, Museum of the Works of the Duomo, Giotto’s Campanile (Bell Tower), Brunelleschi’s Dome (NOTE: Visitors to the Dome MUST reserve a specific entrance time, or will not be admitted) and the Crypt of the Duomo.

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HOURS:

Cathedral 10:00-17:00 details
Dome 08:30-19:00 details
Baptistery 08:15-10:15 / 11:15-19:30 details
Bell Tower 08:15-19:00 details
Crypt 10:00-17:00 details
Museum 09:00-16:30 details

 

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On a recent visit with our Annual Art Tour in Tuscany, we stopped in to Bistro Olivieri, a recently opened restaurant in the village of San Gimignano.

The establishment’s tag line, Cucina Toscana Contemporanea, Contemporary Tuscan Kitchen, is reflected in the varied and fairly priced menu.

We all agreed that the exceptional modern Italian interior design was a perfect contrast to the textured ancient stone towers and streets of the village.

Daily specials are written on the glass wall that separates the kitchen area from the dining room; a stylish and easy to reference list.

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There is an exceptional wine list which is updated to keep pace with the ever changing and flavorful menu offerings.

Highly recommended. Web site is on Facebook. Make reservations, though walk-ins are welcomed. During high season, May – September, this place will be busy.

Olivieri Bistrot

Via S. Matteo, 55

53037 San Gimignano (SI) Italy

Tel: +39.0577.94.07.90

Hours: 

Friday 10AM–12AM
Saturday 10AM–12AM
Sunday 10AM–12AM
Monday 10AM–12AM
Tuesday 10AM–12AM
Wednesday 10AM–12AM
Thursday 10AM–12AM

 

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Isola San Giulio View. Church bell tower on the left.

 

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Graffiti at Isola San Giulio, Lago Orta

Admittedly, unashamedly, Lago Orta in the lake region of Italy is one of my  favorite haunts. Isola San Giulio, located in the shadow of Madonna del Sasso high above the lake and just off shore of the village of Orto San Giulio, is a treasure.

It is not only the Way of Silence and the Way of Meditation which wend their way through the narrow lanes of the island that make this such a unique and memorable place; it is also the secrets of monks inside the Basilica di San Giulio which add intrigue and even some humor to the quiet meditative interior of the church.

Study the graffiti etched in to the frescoes on columns in the church and surprises await. Amidst the clutter of too many modern scars are Latin notes made by monks in centuries past.

“The weather is cold today.”
“Brother Paul is asleep.”
“I am bored.”
“The weather is cold today.”

It is as if the monks, bored, cold, jealous or otherwise distracted took advantage of early morning or evening services in the dark, shadowed corners of the basilica to add a note of discontent or criticism; no worries that the surface used were 15th or early 16th Century frescoes by artists of their day.

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Graffiti scarred frescoes – Basilica di San Giulio

When you next visit the lake region, please take some time to visit this intriguing island in one of the least known lakes in Italy.

IF YOU GO:

Isola San Giulio: Information about the lake area, hours for various visits and other helpful details.

Navigazione Lago d’Orta: Timetables and information about ferry schedules on Lake Orta.

 

Easter in Rome is one of the busiest times of the year.

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Interior, St. Peter’s Basilica

Keep in mind that if you are planning to be in Italy, in general, around Easter, that this is a very important holiday. Almost every museum, event venue and archaeological site is closed Good Friday through Easter Monday. The holiday weeks preceding and following the Easter weekend also are a challenge for tourism due to changing hours at those locations as well.

Here, for your use and reference, is a list of events currently planned in the city

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy (Holy) Thursday Mass 09:30AM St. Peter’s Basilica (Smaller crowd with better chance of closer proximity to the Pope) (Tickets Required)

Second Papal Mass of the day:  5:30pm, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Basilica of Saint John Lateran

Friday, April 14, 2017:

Good Friday procession from Colosseum to Palatine Hill

Papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica 5:00PM (Tickets Required)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica (Tickets Required)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square with the Pope – 10:15AM (Tickets Required)

“Urbi et Orbi” Blessing at 12:00PM Noon in St. Peter’s Square (No Tickets Required)

Vatican Web Site Calendar and other information.

Audience or Mass with the Pope: Information

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Crowd in St. Peter’s Square, Easter Celebration

For those of you who will be traveling in Florence in late March, please make note of the following world cultural conference to be held in the city. Hotel rooms are at a premium, if you can find them (!) and the city will be extremely busy.

An unprecedented culture-focused meeting of the seven major economies—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States—will take place in the Tuscan capital on March 30-31. Discussions will center on the protection of cultural heritage, as announced by Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. Mayor Dario Nardella called the cultural summit “a recognition of the role that Florence plays in the world, and an important opportunity to demonstrate the best of Italian and Florentine culture at the international level.

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The program for the exhibit available from Casa Editrice Sillabe

The great treasure of the arts in Florence is shared in yet another unforgettable program at the Medici Riccardi Palace.

Artifacts and memories from the Flood of 1966, La Bellezza Salvata,  are shared in this exceptional show. From now until March 26, 2017, visitors can walk through the exhibition which showcases the commitment to “saving beauty” in the aftermath of that flood.

It was not only Cimabue’s Crucifix, Vasari’s Last Supper or the removal of oil damage to Taddeo Gaddi’s Last Supper that were restored.  As you stroll through the exhibit you are reminded of the tremendous work, which continues even to this day, involved in the restoration of the city’s nearly numberless and invaluable trove of artistic treasure.

This marvelous exhibit was inaugurated by the President of Tuscany (Enrico Rossi) and the Councillor delegate of the Metropolitan City of Florence, Benedetta Albanian. The exhibit is curated by Cristina Acidini e Elena Capretti.

PALAZZO MEDICI RICCARDI

Via Camillo Cavour, 3,

50129 Firenze, Italy

HOURS:

CLOSED Wednesday

Thursday – Tuesday 8:30AM – 7:00PM

Palazzo Medici Riccardi. "Firenze 1966 – 2016. La bellezza salvata"

 

 

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