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    Assoro is a town with a long history. It is located around 900 meters above sea level on Mount “La Stella” in the province of Enna, Sicily. Houses were erected on the hills in the “Seggio” and “San Giuliano” localities, as well as further up in the “Rito” area, where the castle was built, at the start of history. The village’s entry is “Piano di Corte,” which, though it is now the newest, was previously Assoro’s first human settlement. Assoro has a population of around 5,300 people, with less than a thousand living in the hamlet of San Giorgio, about 7 kilometers from Assoro and on the borders of the tiny town of Nissoria, about 2 kilometers distant.

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    What to see in Assoro

    Castello di Valguarnera 🏰

    During the Norman period, the castle was erected in the first half of 1200. The architect was the same as the one who created Catania’s Ursino castle. It was born in Assoro’s highest region, known as the “Rito” area. The drawbridge was in the southwest corner, and the entrance was behind it. The top levels were home to the Lords of Assoro. It was also the home of the Barons of Valguarnera, who moved out when the Palazzo della Signoria adjacent the Chiesa Madre S. Leone was constructed.
    The castle has been abandoned since then and has fallen into ruin. The famous archaeologist Paolo Orsi found a “glittography,” a very uncommon kind of writing consisting of oblique lines, on the inner side of the southwest. The finding shows that the Norman Castle was constructed on top of an ancient stronghold.

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    Basilica di San Leone ⛪

    For its aesthetic splendor, the Church of San Leone, which has become the town’s major town and been promoted to the level of Basilica, has been named a National Monument. It is one of Sicily’s most magnificent structures, according to one tourist, “a journey from overseas is also worthy to visit it.” Constance of Altavilla built it as a “royal” chapel in the twelfth century. It is predominantly Gothic in style, with Arabic and Catalan influences. It is shaped like a Latin cross and comprises of three naves with an elevated transept relative to the church’s floor; there is a central and two lateral apses on an even higher elevation. It features a trussed wooden roof.
    The Basilica has precious works of art, among which are to be mentioned:

    • Acheropito crucifix in wood and impasto (1.70 meters high) attributed to Antonello Gagini
    • Large polyptych icon, holy water font, and baptismal font also sculpted by the same artist
    • Silver cross with blue enamel background by Vincenzo Archifel
    • Gallican missal used in Sicily before the Council of Trent
    • Four artistic sarcophagi of the Valguarnera counts
    • Bronze door artistically depicted
    • Early Christian crypt, formerly a pagan temple.

    Chiesa dello Spirito Santo ⛪

    Dedicated in the thirteenth century to the Holy Spirit, Assoro’s patron saint until 1630. The hospital was built next to the cathedral about 1700, and the Corradine nuns’ convent was consolidated. The nuns founded the first school for females to study literature, music, and needlework. With the arrival of the Capuchin Tertiary nuns in 1937, according to scholar Giovanni Gnolfo, the convent found a more serene atmosphere after a period of gray. The hospital was no longer open. The church has three naves and a magnificent Gallic-Gothic entrance and porch on the outside. Inside the church, there are two paintings: the first depicts Pentecost and Christ on the Cross supported by the Eternal Father, the second shows the devotion to the Guardian Angel.

    Chiesa di Maria SS. degli Angeli ⛪

    The Reformed Franciscan Fathers constructed this splendid church and associated monastery in 1622, incorporating the pre-existing Church of S. Margherita. The Friars owned it until 1896, and the monastery had a large library. It was then utilized as a district jail until the Second World War. In the following decades, it housed an orphanage and was utilized as a boarding school by the Parish of San Leone. The church is reached through a massive stairway with a stone cross in the center. Beautiful Baroque paintings can be found inside.

    Frazione di San Giorgio

    San Giorgio is a tiny village located on the outskirts of Assoro. San Giorgio is approximately 7 kilometers from Assoro and approximately 2 kilometers from Nissoria. The Church of San Giorgio Martire, the Parish Church, and the Church of San Giorgio is the three churches in this charming hamlet.

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    Palazzo della Signoria 🏯

    This Palace was constructed in 1492 at the request of the Lords of Assoro, the noble Valguarnera family, who had previously resided within the castle. The structure is designed in an attractive Catalan style, with a façade that overlooks Piazza Marconi, near the Basilica of S. Leone. Ashlar gateways and well-carved stone balconies may be found on the northern and eastern facades. In 1538, the nobles’ home was made even more opulent by the addition of a second structure, connected to the first but designed in the Baroque style. The entrance to the baronial stables was on the bottom levels, overlooking Piazza Umberto I.

    Municipio – ex Badia di Santa Chiara

    Virginia Valguarnera built the Abbey of Santa Chiara in the 15th century. The old monastery now houses the municipal seat, municipal theater, council chamber, and traffic police headquarters. The council room now hosts a variety of cultural activities.

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    With an easy trek we go to the discovery of the Geographic Center of Italy

    The Italian peninsula, also known as the “boot” due to its geographic conformation, has its center. By calculation, it is located just outside Narni, in the province of Terni, in Umbria, exactly in the locality of Montello, near the Cardona Bridge, and can be reached with easy trekking in nature.

    Although several locations are competing for the exact point where geographically the Center of Italy is, by convention, the following coordinates have been established, after careful studies by the Military Geographical Institute of Florence:

    • Latitude 42° 30’ 11″ N
    • Longitude 12° 34′ 24″ E

    This is the point where equal distance converges between the four cardinal points in Italy (North-South and East-West). Everything is indicated by a spiral stone with a steel element at the top that allows those who arrive this far to be able to touch the “Geographic Center of Italy” and which can be reached after an easy walk. We are a few meters from another Roman monument: the Cardona Bridge.

    Trekking

    Narni, Ponte Cardona, beginning of the route

    Narni, Ponte Cardona, beginning of the route

    Our trek begins at the end of the Strada dei Pini, in Narni. Leave the car in the parking lot, go past the Ponte Cardona sign and proceed along the dirt road that plunges into the vegetation. Our path winds through large oaks and holm oaks and along the path we are accompanied, occasionally by small statues of elves living in the woods. These are statues that appear here and there on the trees. Step by step we also notice the presence, on the ground, of some side wells. These are the water overflow vents of an ancient aqueduct of Roman origin: the Formina aqueduct. It was built over twenty centuries ago. We continue to walk on the path up to a signposted viewpoint. We stop for a few seconds and then, not far away, there is the stone block from which a steel tip protrudes. We have arrived at the geographical center of Italy.

    The Cardona bridge

    After taking the usual photographs to document our landing in the exact point of Italy, we can now admire the Cardona Bridge, an artifact of Roman origin made using travertine blocks. It is a single arched bridge from the Augustan age. The armilla, the vault, the piers, and part of the shoulders remain from the original structure. To admire it in all its grandeur, however, it is necessary to go down to the bed of the ditch.

    Narni, Ponte Cardona

    Narni, Ponte Cardona

    The Formina Aqueduct

    Along the way, we noticed several water overflow vents, those of the Acquedotto della Formina. This too is a work that dates back to the Roman period, partly built in masonry and partly carved into the rock. The route follows a path that begins in Sant’Urbano, where the tunnel called “Capo dell’Acqua” is located and arrives in Narni, covering about thirteen kilometers. The conduit had 149 side vents, 55 wells, and an average slope of five per thousand. Once in Narni, the water was collected in a tank from which the pipes for distribution departed. Along the way, there are seven springs and four bridges, two of which are still well preserved (Cardona bridge and Ponte Vecchio). The others are instead the Pennina bridge and the Nuovo bridge. To reach its destination, the water passed the hills of San Biagio, San Silvestro, and Mount Ippolito through three tunnels.

    Narni, memorial stone at the Geographic Center of Italy

    Narni, memorial stone at the Geographic Center of Italy

    How do I get to Narni?

    Narni can be reached from the A1 motorway, Orte exit, then follow the E45 towards Terni, up to the destination. Narni is located on the Rome-Ancona railway line, the reference station is Narni-Amelia. The nearest airports are those of Perugia and Rome.

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    Trolley-baskets

    If it’s your first time on the island, you can’t miss this experience, although be warned it may be unsuitable for cardiac. The carreiros do monte appeared in the early 19th century, a time when they were used as a means of public transport by local residents who wanted to get to the city of Funchal as quickly as possible. Today it is a tourist attraction that keeps the carts just as they are. They are made of wicker, mounted on two wooden “skids” and then pushed by two drivers, the “carreiros”, who dress in white and wear straw hats. They are experienced gentlemen who wear rubber-soled boots so that they can slow down whenever necessary. The ride starts below the steps of the Church of Monte and ends at Livramento terminal – you will pass steep and winding roads and is capable of going up to 38 kilometres per hour, so it’s best to hold on tight and watch out for selfies along the way.

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    Cable car 

    If you enjoy walking in heights and having different panoramic views, riding a cable car is always a good experience. The Funchal Cable Car may be one of the first on your list. It travels from the old part of Funchal to Monte for about 20 minutes. Once up there, you can get off in the basket cars, whose departure point is near the end of this trip. The Botanical Garden Cable Car is a quicker route, lasting just nine minutes, with a bird’s-eye view over the João Gomes Stream Valley, reaching an altitude of 100 metres.

    Farmers’ Market

    The piles of colourful, tropical fruit impress right at the entrance. They are carefully arranged in the various stalls. The Lavradores Market was inaugurated in 1940 and has architecture typical of the New State. It became the major supply hub of the city and today continues to be much visited by locals, as well as tourists in search of tasting pure passion fruits or crossed with other fruits, mangoes or fruits never seen before.

    Boat trip

    Any time of year is a good time to dive into the island’s sea, where the temperatures are always mild. Take the opportunity to do it in the middle of a boat trip, one of the unmissable experiences in Madeira. There are several companies that organise half or full-day trips and you’re almost guaranteed to see dolphins. With luck, you may also see turtles or whales, always with an explanation from the boat captain.

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    The houses of Santana

    The houses with thatched roofs are one of Madeira’s tourist attractions and you’ll find them on magnets and postcards. They are located in the Santana area, north of the Island. Originally these houses consisted of an attic, where agricultural products were stored, and the ground floor was the living area, divided in two parts. The municipality of Santana, which in 2011 received the distinction of “biosphere reserve” by UNESCO.

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    Monte Palace Tropical Garden

    It is on top of a hill and therefore guarantees incredible views over the bay of Funchal. The property was transformed into a farm in the 18th century by English Consul Charles Murray and after passing through various hands, it was in 1987 that it reached Joe Berardo, who donated it to the Foundation he created and christened Monte Palace Tropical Garden. Since the acquisition, it has been renovated with exotic plants endemic to various countries or with plants indigenous to the Madeiran forests. It also has ponds with Koi fish, a collection of ceramics, a panel of glazed terracotta tiles telling of the adventures of the Portuguese in Japan or other panels with events from the History of Portugal.

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    Don’t miss the next post about Madeira island!

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    Bangalore as the city is popularly called is a combination of heritage and culture with all the trimmings of modern high-tech life. Known as the silicon valley of India, the city has one of the largest numbers of engineering colleges in the country and is the headquarters of many well-known names such as Infosys Ltd, Wipro, Biocon, Brigade Group, etc.

    Exploring the city

    The first day of the week began very easily. A good breakfast followed by a short ride to Commercial Street. The streets are packed with people and shops. Important thing was to keep my packets empty and make sure my bag was not picked but the sheer crowd and shops gave me an adrenaline rush. Following the beeline and out the crowds will bring you Cunningham road and a restaurant/café called Infinitea. They have a wonderful collection of tea and café style foods. Their recipe for Hibiscus tea is a soothing sight for the eyes and Moroccan tea is a delight for the palette. Cunningham road has a good number of restaurants but Sweet Chariot was a great spot for some delectable pastries. A couple of hours of rest and on to the next adventure. Bangalore has a good collection of pubs and microbreweries. This evening was going to be at Wall Street Sky Lounge, a microbrewery with a fantastic collection of cocktails and an amazing selection of food.

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    The second day started with a steaming hot breakfast of Idli and chutney (staple South Indian breakfast) at Brahmin’s café. They also serve some of the best filter coffee (another South Indian signature and a must-try).  With enough energy stored, my next stop was the Government museum and art gallery. Established in 1865, the museum is a stone structure and has about 18 galleries. Divided into three levels, the collections include natural history, geology, art, music, epigraphy, and numismatics. The tickets cost about twenty rupees (less than a dollar!) with extra charges for the camera.

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    Sharing its wall next door is the Industrial and Technological Museum. This museum combines innovation and technology with teaching people about science and possibilities. People have the liberty to enjoy a few shows ranging from observing the sky and stars to understanding the age of the earth. A gallery even has been dedicated to the Triassic age complete with almost life-size dinosaurs. Tickets cost about seventy-five rupees (about a dollar) and the flyer simulators costing an extra of around sixty rupees. For a late lunch, I headed over to a café called Toscano about twenty minutes from the museums. They have a good collection of salads and soups. After a few hours of rest and by 7ppm, I was on the 13th Floor at Barton Centre on MG road for another evening of food and night-view. It has an outdoor seating area that boasts an amazing view of the city and fantastic drinks. The food pans Asian but they do have some of the best kebabs in the city.

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    Bannerghatta National park & Doddaballapur

    Getting a good night’s sleep is a must for it was the next day I headed to my next adventure. Bright and early, I was ready to head to the Bannerghatta National park. The tiger safari starts around 9.30 am to 10 am. The tickets cost between two hundred and sixty to three hundred rupees total (around $4). There are snack shacks and other convenience stores near the park for a quick lunch break or a snack break. The idea of people closed in caged jeeps and animals roaming freely gave me a new viewpoint. I turned in early with a staple filter coffee for the evening and a light dinner for the night.

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    Getting up early was a necessity for a short road trip to a nearby town of Doddaballapur, to Grover Vineyards. The whole tour takes about 3 hours with lunch included and costs around ₹850 to ₹1000 ($12 to $14). The trip back to the city was a long one, thanks to the traffic and all the wine but it gave enough time for a cup of coffee. Another early night with a light dinner was just the medicine for the day.

    Trip to Nandi Hills

    Day 5 began at 4 am with a road trip to the nearby Nandi Hills. It is a popular spot for the day and night hikers as it has some of the best views of sunset and sunrise. I found some friends along the way and it was around 6.40 am we made it to the right spot. The cold crisp air and the golden light from the early morning sun were all the peace one could find. The top of the hills gives you the feeling of being a million miles from the city with only lush vegetation and a chance encounter with snakes or rodents. It was close to noon when I got back to the bustle of the city. Hunger pangs took me to a café called MTR on St Mark’s road. Known for their breakfast foods, they have been one of the staples since 1924. The ambiance is still true to the tradition as is their recipes. Another must-try location for all the first-time travelers to the city. A drive through the city took me to the Bangalore Palace. The location today hosts a number of events including music concerts, weddings, etc. The palace is a mix of Tudor revival style and gothic architecture with well-preserved interiors in wood and ceramics. Completed in the year 1878, the palace boasts a whopping 45,000sqft floor space and over 400 acres of open grounds. Tickets cost between ₹230 to ₹450 (around $6). Spending nearly the whole day there was an absolute treat! I made my way back noticing the beautiful dusk over a very crowded city and lights that never seemed to dim. After a quick coffee, I headed over to Toit, for the last night of adventure and one of the staple beer spots in the city. Always ask for their best on tap. The next day was rather easy with some shopping on MG Road at Cauvery emporium (a must-visit) followed by lunch at 20 Feet High. The trip came to a close but with many more places to explore. The city definitely needs another one maybe even two more visits!

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    Meran 2000 ist ein Wandererlebnis für die ganze Familie. 2 Kabinenbahnen bringen dich zur Bergstation hinauf. Du kannst von der Talstation Naif mit der großen Kabinenbahn starten oder ab Falzeben die etwas kleinere Gondel nutzen. Oben angekommen auf ca. 2000 m erwartet dich ein riesiges Wandergebiet mit vielen Möglichkeiten zur Einkehr.

    Kuhleitenhütte
    Bei unserer 1. Wandertour starten wir von Naif aus. Busse fahren regelmäßig die Talstation an. Mit der Gästecard sind sie in der Vor- und Nachsaison kostenlos.  Wir nehmen allerdings das Auto, da wir die offene Fahrt im Cabrio so oft wie möglich während unseres Urlaubes genießen wollen. Von Schenna aus sind wir in ein paar Minuten dort. Es gibt ausreichend kostenlose Parkplätze.
    Die Fahrt hin und zurück kostet  21,50  €/Person. Mit der Bahn überwinden wir ca. 1400 Höhenmeter und genießen dabei schon eine fantastische Aussicht.

    Meran 2000 – Bergsee und Gipfelglück

    Oben angekommen geht es voller Elan Richtung Kuhleitenhütte. Gemächlich geht es bergauf vorbei an riesigen Almwiesen auf das Hochplateau.

    Meran 2000 – Bergsee und Gipfelglück

    Meran 2000 – Bergsee und Gipfelglück

    Von hier geht es weiter in Richtung Missensteiner Joch. Wir biegen bei der Waidmann Alm nach links ab. Jetzt wird es steiler und Kondition ist gefragt. Obwohl wir schon fast Ende Juni haben, liegt noch immer Schnee an den Berghängen der sich wie ein Fluß ins Tal schlängelt.

    Meran 2000 – Bergsee und Gipfelglück

    Weiter geht es hinauf und an einem kleinen „Kirchli“ vorbei.

    Meran 2000 – Bergsee und Gipfelglück

    Der Weg führt uns weiter hinein in die Bergwelt von Meran 2000 und die Ifinger Bergspitze liegt vor uns. Auf den letzten Metern müssen wir immer mal wieder verschnaufen, denn der Weg schlängelt sich steil bergauf.
    Meran 2000 – Bergsee und Gipfelglück

    Wir haben den Aufstieg geschafft und uns eine Pause verdient.

    Meran 2000 – Bergsee und Gipfelglück

    Die Kuhleitenhütte liegt auf 2361 m und bietet einen wunderschönen Rundumblick. Von hier geht es den Grat entlang zum Kleinen Ifinger und für geübte Wanderer zum Großen Ifinger.

    Etwas erschöpft aber glücklich kehren wir ein und finden einen Platz auf der großen Sonnenterrasse. Wir bestellen uns einen großen Holundersaft mit frischen Quellwasser und
    genießen dazu einen leckeren Kaiserschmarrn.

    Empfehlenswert ist auch die frische Buttermilch, die hier auf fast jeder Hütte angeboten wird.

    Meran 2000 – Bergsee und Gipfelglück

    Die Wanderung ist zwar etwas anstrengend aber der Weg hinauf ist landschaftlich wunderschön und oben angekommen entschädigt die herrliche Aussicht und die Einkehr in die Kuhleitenhütte mit ihren kulinarischen Köstlichkeiten dafür.

    2. Kratzberger See

     

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    A bike ride through the lands of Nebbiolo, in the Langhe, in Piedmont

    The hills of Nebbiolo production become the starting point for a bicycle tour in the Langhe. An excursion is recommended on a racing bike, but if the training is good it can also be tackled with the mountain bike. But not only. This is a very suitable route also for those who love motorized two wheels, indeed it is a good route to do by motorbike. In this way, the times are shortened and you have the opportunity to visit the villages touched along the way.

    Nebbiolo tour, panorama

    Nebbiolo tour, panorama

    We set the departure from Alba, the capital of the Langhe. Town of Roman foundation (Alba Pompeia) rich in medieval towers and churches. A city that deserves a thorough visit. We will do this in a future article.

    The departure

    Alba is the starting point and the path leads us immediately to the Altavilla hill, where the landscape is filled with the rows of Nebbiolo da Barbaresco, a wine that is produced only in a few municipalities in the area, then we descend towards Pertinace, this locality, which it gave birth to the Roman emperor Publio Elvio. His was a short reign, he was assassinated on March 28, 193, having ruled for only 87 days.

    Treiso

    Nebbiolo tour, panorama

    Nebbiolo tour, panorama

    Following in the footsteps of the fleeting Roman emperor, we go up to Treiso, the village where the writer Beppe Fenoglio set the novel “ A private matter “ . From the breathtaking landscape of the vineyards and part of the Langhe, the former hamlet of Barbaresco has a square, a church and many hills, fabulous cuisine and if you go to the Canta hamlet here is a ravine overlooking both sides of the road, or the Rocca of the Seven Brothers. Legend has it that it would open to swallow seven blasphemous brothers. The only survivor of the family, a woman, would have been saved because she remained on the thin strip of land that divides the ravine

    Towards Barbaresco

    From Treiso our journey continues towards Tre Stelle. The valley towards the Tanaro once hosted the imperial Villa Martis, while what can be seen today is one of the most evocative natural amphitheaters of the Langhe. Not far away we arrive in Barbaresco which we admire from afar also for the shape of its famous tower. Here the stop is a must. There is the Barbaresco Regional Enoteca, but also the Castle, the Tower, and the naturalistic oasis of the Tanaro Park.

    Neive

    Tour of Nebbiolo, Neive, municipal tower

    Tour of Nebbiolo, Neive, municipal tower

    We ride to Neive, defined as the town of the “ lords. This is evident from the wealth of a prestigious building in the historic center closed by two doors and where the clock tower dominates. In spring and summer, you can enjoy a pleasant stroll along the cobbled streets of the center. They are well cared for and enriched with flowers that color their appearance. From time to time a glimpse of the countryside appears. These lands were colonized by Benedictine friars in the Middle Ages Right here in Neive the friars founded the Convent of Santa Maria del Piano. Unfortunately, the building no longer exists. As evidence remains the Romanesque bell tower.

    Towards Benevello

    The road continues towards Trezzo then climbs towards Cappelletto, dominated by cultivated hills and vines and hazelnuts, and reaches the hairpin bends of Mompiano, the monument to the Woman of the Langa, or rather to the one who is the founding base of peasant society. Then the Cascina della Langa, the Boscasso where the panorama is 360 degrees, and at the crossroads of San Bovo we arrive in Manera, where the Stone Towers peep out which were part of a defensive and communication system and which were a reference point for the Del Carretto family who dominate from Asti to Finale Ligure, joining the plain to the sea.

    Once in Benevello, they are perhaps on the most panoramic balcony in the area. On clear days the view reaches Cuneo, Turin, Asti, and half of Piedmont.

    Grinzane Cavour

    Nebbiolo tour, Grinzane Cavour, castle

    Nebbiolo tour, Grinzane Cavour, castle

    Before returning to Alba, our starting point, we pass Montelupo and Diano and arrive at the Castle of Grinzane Cavour. Count Camillo Benso was Mayor here for 17 years. But this is also the place where Cavour tried to create red wine, graded and full-bodied as the French already did at the time. He, together with the Marchesa di Barolo (Giulia Falletti Colbert) and Carlo Alberto Savoia-Carignano, gave life to Barolo, also known as the wine of the Kings, or the King of Wines ”. Today the Castle houses the Piedmontese Regional Enoteca, a restaurant, and the Conte Museum.

    The end of the path

    Giro del Nebbiolo, tour map (google maps)

    Giro del Nebbiolo, tour map (google maps)

    Our tour ends at the Alba . The 61.8 kilometers are covered in about 5 hours without stopping. But the advice is to follow this route in stages, even stopping just for the weekend to enjoy all the beauties of the Langhe and calmly taste the wine that is produced in this area of Italy.

    How do I get to Alba

    Alba can be reached from the A21 Torino Piacenza motorway, Asti est exit, then follow the A33 towards Cuneo / Alba. By train, once you reach Turin Porta Nuova station, continue by bus. The departure station is in Corso Vittorio Emanuele II at the corner with Corso Massimo D’Azeglio.

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    An unexpected tour in Milan, among legends of witches burned in the square, the Devil and the Magi, a tour in Milan that you do not expect, between legends, often metropolitan or linked to monuments, between witches burned in the square, the Devil and the Magi.

    Our tour starts from Via Giuseppe Ripamonti and from the church of Santa Maria al Paradiso . Here we find a round stone with 13 rays , a Celtic symbol that would represent the 13 lunations of the year and the number 13 is linked to the history of the city: the “tredesin de mars” is the traditional Milanese festival and is born from the memory of the announcement of Christianity to the city made by San Barnaba on 13 March 51. Some scholars believe that it was the saint who placed this stone in the central nave of the church.

    Milan and its legends

    Milan and its legends

    The first stone

    Speaking of stones, in another corner of the city, Via San Vito, there is particular writing of probable north-Etruscan origin. We read Lepontius (from right to left) with reference to the Celtic people. It also reads: “24 miles from Mesoliano” Here is Mediolanum, the middle earth, the earth at the center of the world. A mystery.

    The dome

    As a mystery remains the legend of the lake under the Cathedral of Milan which would be a meeting place of a sect and would be reached through a tunnel that is not easy to identify. From the underground to the roof of the cathedral to discover the legend of Carlina, the ghost bride who would appear in some wedding photos taken on the door of the Cathedral and who, legend has it, would bring good.

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    Milan and its legends, the Duomo

    But who is Carlina? A girl from the province of Como who got married, made her honeymoon in Milan. The custom of the time required the young brides to dress in black to prevent the local feudal lords from demanding the ius primae Noctis.
    It was not like that for her. Before marriage, she granted herself to a young foreigner and became pregnant. During the honeymoon with her husband (unaware of her situation) the couple visited the cathedral and she went up to the roof of the cathedral, it was October and it was a foggy day, she wanted to ask Madonna’s forgiveness for her betrayal, but the visibility was not of the best and rushed. The body was never found.

    San Bernardino alle Ossa

    The seventeenth-century chapel of San Bernardino alle Ossa is one of the most evocative places in Milan. It is internally decorated with bones and skulls that would belong to the victims of the plague, while others would be those of those sentenced to death. According to a legend, on the left of the altar, instead, an intact skeleton is buried which on the first day of November, All Saints’ Day, would be revived and, together with all the others, giving life to a macabre dance.

    The Devil’s Column

    Milan and its legends, the Devil's column

    Milan and its legends, the Devil’s column

    The second most famous basilica in Milan is that of Sant’Ambrogio or, the patron saint of the city. Not far from the church, here is a column, from the Roman era that was used for the conversions to Christianity of the pagan emperors. In this column, there are two holes at the bottom.
    According to legend, the devil left them after a fight with Sant’Ambrogio. The two met one morning. Satan tried to persuade the patron of the city to give up his duty as bishop. Sant’Ambrogio at one point kicked the devil who banged his horns against the wall, getting stuck. It remained there until the next day when it mysteriously disappeared inside one of the two holes. Legend also has it that in winter, as you approach the column, you can smell sulfur.

    The Brazen Serpent

    Always remaining in Sant’Ambrogio, On another granite column, this time inside the basilica, you can see a bronze snake: the legend says that it was forged by Moses to defend his camp from the serpents of the desert . Arriving in Milan from Constantinople, the legend spread that anyone who touches it can recover from intestinal diseases. This will only happen until the day of judgment. Then the snake will crawl away.

    The square of the witches

    Not only devils but also witches and Piazza Vetra is famous in Milan. This is where the Holy Inquisition burned women accused of witchcraft. We are behind the Columns of San Lorenzo, and to access this square, where the executions of citizens condemned for various crimes were held until the mid-1800s, one had to cross the Ponte della Morte that spanned the Vetra canal (now buried).  The documents of the Holy Inquisition, with the evidence of the burning of witches, plague spreaders, and much more were burned in 1788, in the cloister of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

    The Three Wise Men

    Milan is not just witches and demons, in the church of Sant’Eustorgio there is the tomb of the Magi. At least here some bones would be found, including two fibulae, a tibia, and a vertebra, which would have belonged to the Magi. The stone sarcophagus is located in the chapel dedicated to them and dates back to the late Roman Empire. According to tradition, it was Bishop Eustorgio who had them brought here because he wanted to be buried near them. Legend says that the church was built on the spot where the oxen pulling the cart carrying the sacred relics stopped and refused to go on. The relics of the Magi were stolen by Barbarossa, who took them to Cologne. In 1904 some fragments were brought back to Milan.

    The Veiled Lady of the Sempione Park

    Milan and its legends, Circular tower of the Castello Sforzesco

    Milan and its legends, Circular tower of the Castello Sforzesco

    Even the Castello Sforzesco has its ghosts. Many women have lived here: Isabella d’Aragona, Biancamaria Scapardone, Bona di Savoia, Bianca Sforza, and the witch Isabella da Lampugnano, but the most mysterious is the Veiled Lady, the ghost of a woman dressed in black and with a veiled face that when appears leaves behind a scent of violet. This ghost would make men lose their minds who would fall madly in love with her and spend their lives looking for her.

    The Little Mermaid Bridge at Parco Sempione

    Speaking of loves and falling in love, not far from the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, a stream flows in the Parco Sempione, on which there is a small bridge known as the Ponte delle Sirenette, which is considered a magical place . At the two ends of the bridge there are four statues, the mermaids, in fact, one of these has a prosperous breast. Tradition has it that the boys, before a gallant meeting, touch one of the breasts of the statues as a propitiatory rite. But not only. Kissing under these statues is said to avoid a partner’s betrayal.

    How do I get to Milan?

    Milan can be reached by car from the A1, Naples-Milan, A4 Turin-Trieste motorways, from the A8, Varese-Milan and A9, Como-Milan motorways, and from the A7, Genoa-Milan. For those arriving by train, the reference station is the Central station.

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    Along the southeast coast of the UK, Margate is one of Kent’s most famed seaside towns that showcases the historic charm of the old world alongside modern-day culture.

    Parking

    Even on a hot, busy day, there are many roads with free parking to be found, the majority of which are around a 10-15 minute walk to Margate harbor. As with most coastal regions, the landscape is quite hilly, so be prepared for steep inclines and descends both whilst driving and walking. There are also quite a few one-way streets and narrow roads to navigate through. Alternatively, Margate Station car park is just across the road from the beach and also happens to be one of the cheapest in town.

    Beach

    If like me, you’re more accustomed to the beaches found in countries with tropical climates, you may wonder why even bother going to a beach in the UK?! After all, they are mostly pebbled beaches with not so clear water. Finding a sandy beach is like finding gold in the UK – no joke! Luckily, Margate just happens to be one of those goldmines 😉

    The Bay, also known as Margate Sands is a sandy beach that has been given a Blue Flag Award and is deemed to have acceptable water quality.

    Head towards the ‘kids’ section of the beach near the tidal pool to find that soft and silky sand, if you venture towards the harbor arm, the sand becomes more like mud in texture once mixed with the seawater and at high tide, the water rises up to the main steps.

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    Food & Drinks

    There are a number of eateries located along the seafront promenade. Take away pizza, ice cream, donuts, and the most traditional of all – fish and chips shops are just a handful of the busiest vendors to be found. In and around King Street is the Old Town Quarter of Margate lined with a selection of vintage arts and crafts and clothes shops, as well as atmospheric cafes – it’s practically the coastal version of Shoreditch!

    If you’d rather skip the queues (which literally go round the bend), keep it old school and take a picnic! Sadly, there was a great number of plastics floating along the edge of the water as the tide came in. Don’t add to water pollution, be responsible about whatever food and drink you take onto the beach, remember to bin it or take it back with you.

    Packing Essentials

    Phone 

    Ok, so I’m starting off with a pretty obvious one; I mean, who goes anywhere without their phone these days?! The numerous features of a smartphone make it the handiest tool to have. To ensure that my phone will last as long as possible throughout a single day whilst traveling, I turn it on flight mode when not in use, or when only using certain functions in order to save battery and data. However, in the case of needing my phone fully working, I carry a portable charger with me – especially handy when you need the help of Maps to get around! Cameras on smartphones have become increasingly competitive to the point people are questioning the need for a separate camera altogether! This brings me to my next essential…

    Camera

    As amazing as smartphones are at capturing memories, I prefer to have a separate camera to shoot those moments from. Also, because it means I can save storage space on my phone! Plus, many cameras have incorporated Wi-Fi now, making it a seamless transition moving photos from one device to another. My most favorite camera has to be my DJI Osmo action camera, which can be used underwater, is great for wide angles and when attached to a selfie stick, is the perfect (additional) travel companion.

    Sun Cream

    Simply put, nobody wants damaged skin. SPF should be worn throughout the year; even when we can’t see the sun’s rays, the exposure can be damaging our skin cells without us even knowing. That goes for our lips too! There’s nothing worse than dry, chapped lips, right?! Now imagine that about 10x worse and that’s what sunburnt lips would feel like! (I assume) Avoid it at all costs and opt for a lip balm with built-in SPF – they smell great too! I always opt for a waterproof SPF 30 (occasionally 50 depending on the country) and apply as needed throughout the day. After a day at the beach, applying after sun or aloe vera cream is another essential to keep the skin hydrated and silky!

    Water Bottle

    As the world takes steps to reduce its carbon footprint and global warming, one of the smallest contributions we can make is to invest in reusable drinking vessels – it doesn’t just have to be a typical water bottle, how about a thermal water bottle for when you want a hot drink or your own reusable cup/mug for those coffee runs?! By filling your own bottle wherever you are based, not only are you helping save the planet, but also saving money with the addition of being able to make your drink just as you like it (I’m picky about my coffee!) But the most important thing is that you stay hydrated folks!

    Hand Sanitiser

    In these unprecedented times, hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes have become essential to carry around wherever you go. I highly suggest taking these precautions with you as hygiene and sanitation practices vary by country and area. It can be handy for quick action to sticky hands and if using the public toilets or portaloos around Margate, hand sanitizer is even more essential! Just remember to keep it out of direct sunlight as the substances inside may be flammable! Spread love, not germs!

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    Towel

    I don’t mean a fluffy beach towel, but a multi-purpose towel that can be used as a picnic mat or beach towel. Le Stoff’s Hammam Towels do just that and because they are made from 100% cotton, they are more durable and versatile than your traditional towels – you could even dress it up as a sarong! What I love most about their range other than the fact that they are fast-drying, sand easily slides off, and that they are lightweight, is that they are made with the concern of helping to save the environment in mind – every little investment in more sustainable products will help future generations have a cleaner future!

    Bag

    Finally, you’ve got all your items ready to take, now it’s just about finding the perfect bag to carry it all in! Believe me when I say I’ve been through more bags than necessary; finding a bag that can handle all situations is a journey in itself! For now, I want to focus on the perfect beach bag, another of Le Stoff’s collections that I have fallen in love with because they are easy and comfortable to carry on your shoulder, not bulky, and most importantly – machine washable! There is a generously-sized zip pocket inside too for storing smaller or more valuable items – essential as phones keep growing in size!

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    Additional Fun

    Here are some other places worth checking out if you have a bit longer to spend in Margate*

    • Tudor House Margate (pictured below)
    • Margate Museum
    • Flamingo Arcade
    • Shell Grotto
    • Margate Caves
    • Dreamland – Margate’s iconic theme-park
    • The Turner Contemporary Gallery

    *Due to Covid-19, some places may require booking in advance.

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