Villa D’Este, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list, Villa D’Este is one of the most notable masterpiece of the Renaissance culture in Italy. It is situated in Tivoli, at about 30 kilometers from Rome, and it is a beautiful path among decorated rooms, impressive gardens and awesome fountains.

The view from the first floor

The Villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, who started the building renovation in 1550. It had been built on an ancient roman villa: in 1983 some ruins came out and today they can be admired by its visitors. The Cardinal’s aim was to recreate the glory of Hadrian’s Villa: the rooms of Villa D’Este were embellished by various painters as Livo Ligresti and Federico Zuccaro; the building and its gardens were entrusted to Pirro Ligorio and Alberto Galvani.

In every room of this palace you can breathe splendor and magnificenceBut their gardens are the most beautiful and captivating part of Villa D’Este. There are stunning views from here: you can admire Rome and the city of Tivoli, while you are surrounding by water games, majestic fountains, small caves, aged-old trees, plants and flowerbeds.

The stunning “Hundred fountains” run along the boulevard which leads to the Oval Fountain, embellished by rocks. At the end of this street, with an incredible view on the Roman valley, the Fountain of Rometta sticks out: it represents a miniature of Ancient Rome.

The Hundred Fountains

The Fountain of the Organ– which has a inner mechanism to play music- is situated in an area which seems to be magic: from this terrace you can admire all the gardens of the Villa. 

The Fountain of the Organ

The Fountain of Neptune is one of the most imposing and recent of the Villa: it was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini using an existing waterfall.

The Fountain of Neptune

You can feel lots of emotions in Villa D’Este. You can almost see the protagonists of those ancient times, while walking or talking about art and politics. You only have to close your eyes, listen to the water and let yourself be caressed by its speechless beauty.     

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5 great vegan restaurants in Rome

The Roman cuisine is not famous for its vegan dishes, but don’t worry. You won’t starve in Rome for sure, because there are good vegan restaurants, bistrots and patisseries in the Eternal City. Some of them are really peculiar. Are you ready to try them all?

So What? (via Ettore Giovanale 56/58, Pigneto)

A “classic Italian restaurant” as the owners chef Paolo and Alessandra underline on their website, but vegan. They have starters, first and second dishes, side dishes and desserts: ingredients are fresh and some of them come directly from their veg garden. The restaurant is really nice and reflects the owners’ interests: cinema, music and food, of course.

La capra campa (via Dignano d’Istria 51/a, Prenestina)

This is a 100% organic and vegan restaurant: ingredients come from Lazio countryside and some dishes are the vegan version of classic recipes. The name of the restaurant means “the goat can live” from an Italian tongue twister and it’s one of Rome’s best known vegan bistros. They also produce vegan cheese, which is used for their special recipes.

Romeow cat bistrot (Via Francesco Negri 15, Ostiense)

If you love cats, this is the right place for you. It’s the first cat cafè in Rome. It takes inspiration from the Japanese ones, but it has something more: a refined, vegan cuisine. You can have breakfast, lunch or dinner here in the company of beautiful felines. They use seasonal menus and also have raw dishes.

Universo Vegano (piazza del Paradiso 18, Campo De’ Fiori)

This is the first cruelty-free and vegan fast food chain in Italy, that uses only natural ingredients, without animal derivatives. Here you can eat vegan burgers, pizza, lasagna, sandwiches and desserts. As the founders explain on their website, they founded this restaurants because they believe in veganism as a philosophy of life.

Arancia Blu (via Cesare Beccaria 3, Flaminio)

A vegan and vegetarian restaurant and wine bar, which hosts art and events. You can try re-interpreted Italian dishes -from starters to desserts- surrounded by paintings and listening to good music. According to the Daily Meal, this is the fifth best vegetarian restaurant in the world.

If you love pastries and ice cream, you can’t miss Grezzo, the raw patisserie and chocolate shop which is close to Colosseum, in the heart of Monti neighborhood. Check our review here.

 

A little gem frozen in time: Calcata

Time seems to stand still in Calcata, a mediaeval village perched on a tufa mountain.  This magical place will awaken your imagination and transport you to a world of fairy tales. And it’s only about 40 kilometers from Rome.

Calcata 1

The historical centre of the village, surrounded by defensive walls – mentioned in some documents of the 8th century, even if human presence in this area can be traced back to prehistoric times- remained abandoned for many years from the beginning of the 20th century, because it was considered unsafe, and its inhabitants went to live outside. From the 70’s the situation changed and the small village returned to life, thanks to Italian and international artists who restored the houses and opened art galleries and cafès.

calcata 2

Once you pass the gate to the heart of Calcata, you find yourself catapulted into a differents world, made by narrow alleys, beautiful views over the Treja Valley, nice restaurants, artisan shops and even a Museum (Museo della Civiltà Contadina). The Palazzo Baronale degli Anguillara, which is situated at the entrance of the village,  used to be the most important building of Calcata and now it is the headquarter of the Parco del Valle Treja.

calcata 3

Calcata is a gem full of mistery, a place frozen in time where you can find a unique atmosphere. In this ancient village is easy to start believing in magic and witches, in romantic stories and legends. You can reach it by walk- it is not possible to go there by car, you have to park in sepcific areas- and you’ll be surprised by its beauty and appeal.

calcata 4

Calcata is a perfect place for a day trip from Rome and it’s stunning during the night: it has that charm of the ancient times and the halo of a candle that continues shining.

“Paint & Wine”, come diventare artisti per una sera

Colori, pennelli, una tela bianca e un pizzico di talento. Il tutto accompagnato da un calice di vino in un ambiente davvero particolare, quello dell’Alembic Ak Bar nel cuore di Trastevere.  Sono questi gli ingredienti di “Paint&Wine”, i corsi di pittura con aperitivo di Lauren Lombardo, a cui è possibile partecipare il lunedì dalle 19 alle 21.

Lauren, newyorkese laureata in arte in Italia da poco più di quattro anni, ha iniziato con gli incontri di “Paint&Wine” quando viveva ancora negli States. Non serve avere alcuna esperienza per lanciarsi in questa avventura: Lauren spiega passo dopo passo (in italiano e inglese) i trucchi per realizzare il dipinto, come ottenere determinate sfumature di colore e anche in che modo correggere eventuali errori. Con della buona musica in sottofondo, un drink e tanti sorrisi, piano piano l’opera prende vita. E il risultato è straordinario: i dipinti sembrano davvero dei piccoli capolavori, da regalare oppure da appendere in casa e mostrare orgogliosi a parenti e amici.  L’Alembic Ak Bar è poi una Galleria d’arte-Cocktail Bar con un’atmosfera quasi magica, dove ci si può lasciar trasportare dall’immaginazione e dalla bellezza. E dove è possibile fermarsi per un aperitivo o per una serata diversa, lontani dalla folla e dal rumore.

L’arte diventa l’occasione per conoscere persone nuove, ma non solo. Lauren infatti sostiene anche “Save the School Exhibition in Rome”, la campagna di fundraising lanciata a favore di Real Pearl, un’organizzazione no-profit ungherese che si occupa dal 1999 dello sviluppo e dell’integrazione di bambini e famiglie in condizioni di estrema povertà residenti nelle zone più remote dell’Ungheria. L’obiettivo è di organizzare a Roma una mostra delle opere realizzate proprio dai bambini e un concerto che possa aiutare l’organizzazione a raccogliere fondi per i vari progetti educativi del prossimo anno.

Foto Pagina Facebook “Art with Lauren”

Arte, solidarietà e un buon aperitivo: per vievere questa straordinaria esperienza basta prenotarsi attraverso il sito di Lauren. Per maggiori informazioni  si possono visitare anche le pagine Facebook  Art with Lauren e Alembic #ak Bar.

A day trip to Bracciano from Rome

A nice historical centre, surrounded by a volcanic lake and dominated by a splendid castle: Bracciano is a perfect day trip from Rome. You can reach it by car or train (the FM3 railway which runs between Rome and Viterbo).

The view from the castle

If you love history and nature, you’ll appreciate this town at about 40 km from the Eternal City. The Orsini-Odescalchi Castle, which you can immediately see from the road while reaching this place, is one of the most beautiful and impressive castles in Europe. Its costruction, commissioned by Napoleon Orsini, was completed in 1485. In 1696 the Castle was sold to the Odescalchi family and was opened to the public in 1952. Its decorated rooms tell the history of the well-known noble families of Italy- Orsini, Medici, Borgia and Odescalchi- and it’s really well preserved. You feel like you are in a movie, its atmosphere is really unique. That’s why many famous people- like Tom Cruise and Eros Ramazzotti, for example- chose this castle for their weddings. It also can be reserved for exclusive events.

After the guided tour to the Castle- which lasts one hour- you can go to the lake for a relaxing walk. It’s one of the cleanest ones in Italy- it’s famous also because it’s the drinking water reservoir of Rome- and in the Summer you can swim and sunbathe on its beach. The lake is inside the Parco Naturale di Bracciano-Martignano, which is an excellent area for sports activities as exursions, cycling and trekking.

When in Bracciano, you must taste its traditional dishes with Bracciano lake freshwater fish– like eel, pike, tench-or, if you prefer meat and depending on the season, pasta with boar meat or porcino mushrooms. You can find many restaurants and pizzerias both in the downtown and in the lakeside.

Your experience in Bracciano can give you anything you are looking for: history and art, nature and relax, good food and outdoor activities.