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The Fascinating Island of Sicily | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 03:20

A fascinating look at one of the most intriguing places on earth: Sicily. An island that has a history unlike any other. Because of its unique position, it has been invaded by many cultures. All of whom have left their mark upon the island.

Below is a kickstarter project called "Reimagining Sicily" by Mark Spano.  It's an interesting video and well done.

In Italian you would say - In bocca al lupo - in the mouth of the wolf.  This is used to signify good luck.  I wish Mr. Spano the best of luck in this project.


Flash Floods in Italy | Print |  E-mail

Italy hit by flash flooding

It is ironic just a couple of weeks ago the shores of New Jersey took the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.  And now on the other side of the world, the northern regions of Umbria and Tuscany are experiencing some major flash flooding.  Many have had to evacuate their homes and some are without electricity.

Venice, a city that has seen many "acqua alta" or high waters, has experienced the 6th highest flood levels since the late 1800s.  Over 60% of the city is still under water.

The famous Tiber river in Rome was way above normal, although it did not flood the city.  However, it did flood some of the jogging trails in the Eternal City.  The Po River in the Lombardy region near Milan nearly overflowed.  The main highway between Rome and Florence had one stretch that was flooded for the first time since the 1980s.

The region of the Cinque Terre was also hit very hard, similar to what happened last year in Vernazza and Monterosso.

"There are stories about big floods in the past, but nothing like this."

Orbetello Mayor Monica Paffetti

Image of the famous Acqua Alta in Venice, Italy















Photo Credit

TheWiz83 at the Italian language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

How to Help Out After Hurricane Sandy | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Sunday, 04 November 2012 12:22

Devastating Damage from Hurricane Sandy - How to Help

The destruction of last week's hurricane that ravaged through southern New Jersey will take a lot of effort to rebuild.  Houses and businesses were flooded and many are still without power.  The picture of the flooding below is of a local business located in Brooklyn.  I believe they finally did the right thing in cancelling the New York City Marathon that was scheduled for this weekend.  I know the mayor wanted to show his resilience by continuing the marathon, but in this instance he did the right thing to cancel.  The marathon after 9/11 was a different story, in that there was a lot of anger geared towards the terrorists, and the marathon was a way of saying that you are not going to hinder the freedom that we enjoy.  In this case, there are still many people suffering from the effects of the storm, and to hold a marathon that would shift resources towards the race would have been foolish.

How can you help out?

There is an organization called Italian American Relief, and currently they are focusing on helping those whose lives and homes were disrupted by Sandy.  Last year they collected over $200K to help the earthquake victims of Emilia-Romagna, the northern Italian region where Bologna is located.

Below is the link, if you can help out in any way, they would be much appreciated, and the folks of New Jersey and New York would be appreciative as well.


Hurricane Sandy Effects - Emmons Avenue Brooklyn
Ponte Vecchio Florence Interesting Facts | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 15:11

One of the major tourist attractions in the city of Florence, Italy is the Ponte Vecchio.  The name in Italian means old bridge, because it dates all the way back to the Roman Empire.

The bridge was originally made out of wood.  However, since Florence is prone to flooding, a flood destroyed the bridge back in 1333.  A dozen years later it was rebuilt in 1345.  Today's version is a 3 arched bridge that is fabricated of stone.  The main architect of the bridge was Taddeo Gaddi.  In the late 1500's the upper part of the bridge was built by Giorgio Vasari.

Interesting History about the Ponte Vecchio

The Florentine bridge was the only one spared by the Germans during the second World War.  They did not want to destroy such a beautiful piece of architecture.

Back in the old days, the bridge was home to butcher shops.  Today, it is home to exquisite Italian jewelry and leather stores.  These are craftsmen that have been artisans for centuries.

A stroll on the bridge with some Italian gelato is a must, especially after your visit to the Uffizi Galleries or the Pitti Palace.  If you go at sunset, you will see an incredible view of the city of Florence.

Take a look at the picture of the bridge below, and I think you will agree, it has an undeniable charm and ambiance.  Don't you agree?

Related links:

Agritourism in the Tuscany region

Day trip options for Turin

The famous Ponte Vecchio in Florence



Greek-Roman Theater in Taormina Sicily | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Sunday, 28 October 2012 15:04

With views of the Mediterranean, Mount Etna, Calabria and the beautiful Sicilian countryside, a visit to the Greek-Roman theater in Toarmina is a must-see destination if you are planning a vacation in Sicily.

It is the second-largest theater in Sicily, the largest being in the southern port town of Siracusa.

Originally it was built as a teatro Greco, or from the Greek period. The Romans later rebuilt it, which took decades to complete, and thus shows its Roman influence with its brick construction.

It measures 120 meters in diameter (larger than an American football field) and about 20 meters high. The theater has 3 main sections, one for the orchestra, one for the scene and one for the cavea.

Today it is currently used for opera, concerts and theatrical performances.

Photo Credit: Enrico Rubicondo

Related links:

Streets of Palermo, video

Sicilian Legend of the Black Madonna

Greek Roman theater in Taormina, Sicily



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Agriturismo in Italy

What is Agriturismo? In Italian, it is actually a combination of two words - Agricoltura and Turismo - agriculture and tourism.

It basically means spending your vacation on a farm.  It started becoming popular in the 1980s when many Italian farmers were looking for other ways to supplement their income. At an Italian agriturismo you will usually have the chance to experience the foods prepared from raw materials produced on the farm.  Some will allow their guests participate in the activities surrounding the farm such as wine-making, cheese-making, olive production, milking cows, etc.  It is usually a very rustic experience.  Agriturismo can be another option instead of a typical Italian vacation that involves Italian hotels.  Most of them are located in Tuscany, Umbria and Sicily.


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