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Riva del Garda.

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Riva del Garda is a nice town situated at the northern tip of the lake Garda. It is around one hour by car from my village.

In the spring and summer it is a very touristic town.

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There are lots of colorful houses in this town.

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Via Piave is one of the nicest streets in this town.

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Contrada Marocco. This neighbourhood has nothing to do with Morocco. It is an area in Riva del Garda that takes its name from landslides; practically these are big stones where several houses where built here. Marocche is the meaning of big stones in the local dialect.

Here you can see various old houses, a square with a washing trough and an ancient palace; Palazzo del Vescovo (the bishop' s palace).

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I suppose this is one of the oldest areas in Riva del Garda.

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Palazzo del Vescovo; the bishop' s palace.

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Piazza III novembre is the main square in Riva del Garda.

Here you can see the town hall built in the XV century joined to the Palazzo Pretorio (XIV century). Opposite this palace there is a very ancient tower; the Apponale tower. It was built towards 1200 and raised in 1552. At its base there were warehouses for salt and wheat and other stores. It was also used as a prison. During the WWI it was an observation post. You can enjoy a beautiful landscape over the main square of the town and other areas from its top.

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Piazza III Novembre is partly surrounded by XIV century porticoes. There are some shops and a good restaurant - pizzeria (see restaurant hotel Centrale) under these.

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Here you see the small square joined to piazza III Novembre.

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Sometimes when I visit Riva del Garda I have lunch at the restaurant of hotel Centrale. This is a large three star hotel located at the main square of Riva del Garda.

I don' know how many dinner rooms there are at this hotel. One of these is under the old arcades. It is closed by glass, so that people could eat there even in the winter.

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There are various dishes on the menu at this restaurants. There are even several fish dishes and a good choice of pizzas. Pizzas at restaurant Centrale are very large.

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You can do several boat trips to various villages or towns from Riva del Garda. There are ferries, hydrofoils and motorised catamarans that opearate all year.

For instance you can go to Limone and Malcesine.

Limone lies on the north-western shore of the lake. Its name comes from the latin word "limen", which means border. It is a small town with cobbled streets, some churches, various shops, cafes and restaurants.

Malcesine is located almost opposite Limone. Its main sight is the castle which was probably built in the first millenium a. C. by the Longobards. It was destroyed in 590 by the Franks and then rebuilt by them in 806. From 1277 to 1387 it belonged to the Della Scala family. Up to the 1403 it was in the hands of the Visconti family . From the 1405 to 1797 it was part of the Serenissima (see Venice) with the exception of 10 years starting from 1506. The French owned it during Napoleon' s times and The Austrians from 1798 to 1866. The castle houses a couple of museums.

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There is a fortress in Riva del Garda. La Rocca. It was built in 1124 and altered through the centuries. Today it houses a museums with paintings,pictures and archaeological finds.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:30 Archived in Italy Tagged lake del garda riva trentino alto garda. adige. Comments (2)

Bergamo; some sights, typical food and a trip to a castle.

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Bergamo is a city situated around 40 kilometers northeast of Milan. It is divided into two parts; the upper town (Città Alta) and the lower town (Città Bassa).

The upper town is the old core of Bergamo; the lower town is the modern part of this city.

On this post I will tell you something about the upper town.

You can easily go to Bergamo from various countries by air. In fact there is an airport nearby. It is located near a village named Orio al Serio.

This airport has only a terminal. It is used mostly by various low cost air companies as Ryanair, Wind Jet and Wizz Air. Inside there are several shops, a pharmacy, two banks and a tourist office.

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It is possible to go the the upper town from the lower town in Bergamo by bus or by funicular. The funicular has two cars. Each has a capacity of 50 people (seated and standing). Its first run was in 1887. This funicular was restored in 1921, in 1963-64 and in 1988. It runs from 7 a. m. to 12 p. m. every day. It departs from the station in viale Vittorio Emanuele. It takes around half an hour to go to the funicular station from the train station by foot, but you can go there by bus as well.

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The upper town is surrounded by around six kilometers of walls. These already existed at Roman times. They were rebuilt during the Middle Ages. From 1561 to 1588 these were reconstructed by the Venetians. They demolished 250 buildings to build them; including some churches and convents. The walls were built in order to face enemies attacks, but never underwent any siege.

Take a walk around these old walls to enjoy great views over the countryside and the lower city.

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Piazza Vecchia is the main square in the upper town. It is surrounded by various old buildings. One of these is Palazzo della Ragione that was built during the second half of the XII century and rebuilt in the 1500' s. It is connected by a bridge and a staircase to the Palazzo del Podestà . This was the seat of the chief magistrate, or governor who ruled Bergamo from the 16th until the end of the 18th century. It was built between XII and XIII centuries. On the north east side of the square stands the Palazzo Nuovo, or Biblioteca Angelo Mai; the civic library. Its construction began at the beginning XVII century and was finished in 1958.

There are some restaurants and cafes in this square.

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Torre Civica (the civic tower) is also called the "Campanone" because it has a very large bell inside. Large bell could be translated as "campanone". This sounds 180 times at 10 p. m. every evening to signal the old curfew when the gates of Bergamo were about to close. This tower was probably built between the XI and the XII centuries.

I don' t think it is worth to climb around 250 stairs to get to the top of this tower to enjoy the landscape. There are other places in Bergamo from where you can see a nice one.

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Piazza Duomo is a small square at the back of piazza Vecchia. It is surrounded by some religious buildings as the cathedral (duomo), dedicated to saint Alessandro. It was built on a pre existing church probably constructed in the VI century. It was rebuilt in 1449; at the end of 1600 and in the 1800.

Near the cathedral there is the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. It was built in 1137 as a vow to the Virgin after the plague in 1135 on the site of a church dating around VIII century. The interior was modified between the 16th and the 17th centuries in Baroque style. It contains the tomb of the composer Gaetano Donizetti, a Baroque confession chair built at the beginning of 1700 and several Florentine and Flemish tapestries made in the 1500-1600.

Joined to the Basilica is the Cappella Colleoni. Bartolomeo Colleoni was a soldier and leader who fought for Venice to maintain the Venetian stronghold on the city. This mausoleum was ordered to be built for himself and his daughter Medea between 1472 and 1476. The sacristy of the basilica of santa Maria Maggiore was demolished to build this chapel.

Opposite the cathedral you can see the baptistery. It is an octagonal building dating from 1340. Originally it was located inside the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

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The basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. The main entrance.

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Part of a tapestry inside the basilica.

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The Baroque confession chair.

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The bishop hall (Aula della Curia) is a 12th century judgement hall.

Not many people know about this place. I was on a guided tour of the Città Alta and our guide took us there. It is located to the left of the Colleoni chapel. You have to climb a flight of stairs to get there.

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This large hall has five rows of 13th century frescoes depicting biblical scenes and other works. There are scenes as the last supper, Jesus washing the feet of an apostle. Kiss of Judas and so on.

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The Tempietto di Santa Croce. This small church dates to the first half of the XI century. I have read it is decorated with frescoes inside.

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You can spot some beautiful door knockers in the Città Alta.

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If you have some time to spend you could visit the Museo Donizettiano. This nice museum is dedicated to Gaetano Donizetti. He was a very famous music composer. Gaetano was born on november 29th 1797 and died in 1848. He composed about seventy operas in thirty years.

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This museum occupies two rooms in a fourteenth - sixteenth century palace; the Palazzo della Misericordia Maggiore. Here you can see many things belonged to this composer; his piano, several portraits and various documents There are also the bed he died in and a chair he used to sit in when he was severely ill.

I am not a opera lover or an expert on this matter, but I enjoyed this museum.

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La Rocca. This fortress was built between 1331 and 1336. It is located on a hill, which was believed to have been the Roman capitol. Its original building was constructed by the Celts from the IV century A. D. The medieval building was begun in 1331 by John of Louxembourg and completed by Azzone Visconti (lord of Milan from 1329 to 1339) in 1336. Through the centuries this building has undergone various enlargements. Inside the fortress there is the nineteenth-century section of the historical museum of the city.

A memorial park dedicated to the first world war fallen surrounds the fortress. There you can see lots of monuments , a small tank and some cannons.

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La Rocca is a good place to enjoy the views over the upper, the lower city and other areas.

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One of the churches I liked much in Bergamo was the curch of San Michele al pozzo bianco. It was originally built in the VIII century; rebuilt around the XII and the XIII centuries and restored in the 1400' s. It is named al pozzo bianco probably because there was a well made from white marble nearby. Pozzo bianco means "white well" in Italian.

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Inside you can see several frescoes painted in the 1400 and 1500. There is also a cycle of frescoes made by Lorenzo Lotto; in the chapel of the Madonna. This church has a crypt with frescoes as well.

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There are some typical sweets and food in Bergamo which are worth a try.

Polenta e osei is a typical cake of Bergamo. It is the sweet version of polenta (mashed corn) with small birds. This cake is sold in various confectionery shopes and bakeries in Bergamo.

This good dessert is made with sponge cake, chocolate and hazelnuts creams, butter and some rum. It is covered with a layer of yellow marzipan and sprinkled with yellow cristallized sugar. The small birds that you see on top of this cake are made with marzipan covered with chocolate.

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Casoncelli alla bergamasca are a kind of ravioli (stuffed pasta) filled with with a mixture of bread crumbs, egg, cheese, ground beef, salami or sausage, spinach, raisins, amaretto biscuits, pear and garlic. These are served with melted butter flavoured with sage leaves and sprinkled with grated Grana Padano cheese and chopped cooked bacon. This first course is believed to have originated in the countryside outside Bergamo where they were created as a way of using up left overs.

You can find casoncelli, also called "casunsei" in many restaurants in Bergamo.

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The Donizetti cake is a ring shaped cake created by Alessandro Balzer (see Balzer confectionery in upper Bergamo) in 1948 to commemorate hundred years from the death of the musical composer Donizetti. It is a simple cake sprinkled with castor sugar. You can buy it at various bakeries and confectioneries in Bergamo.

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It is difficult for me not to go inside the Tresoldi bakery when I visit Bergamo. This small bakery is a good place to buy good pastries and also pizza by the slice. My favourite treats there are small pastries with fruit.

Tresoldi bakery is located in via Colleoni; the upper town main street.

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Sweet Irene is one of my favourite cafe restaurant in Bergamo. It is located in the lower area of Bergamo. It is made of two rooms. One of these is downstairs. It is a kind of cellar.

Here you can have food as quiches and sandwiches, but you can choose your meal from the menu of the day as well.

At this cafe they have a good selection of pastries and cakes.

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Vox is a good place to visit at the so-called happy hour. This is a period of time, usually from 5.30 p. m. to 9 p. m. when you can have a drink (alcoholic or non alcoholic) accompanied with various nibbles (chips, olives and more). At happy hour time you can help yourself with the food you see on the plates on the counter. Vox is also a restaurant. It is located in the Lower Town.

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Here you see a beautiful statue dedicated to Donizetti. You can find it in the lower area of Bergamo.

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I had a pleasant visit to the castle in Grumello del Monte with a group of VT members (I was a member of Virtual Tourist...www.virtualtourist.com).

Grumello del Monte is some 18 km east of Bergamo. I went there by train.

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Probably this castle was originally built around the X century. It also was owned by Bartolomeo Colleoni in 1400. It was turned into a mansion in the XVIII century.

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There is not much to see inside the castle. Only some rooms, a chapel, the ex stable and part of a tower are opened to visitors. So who likes to visit a castle with lots of beautifully decorated rooms could be disappointed. You have to book if you like to visit the castle.

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A presentation of several kinds of wines was included in the tour. We could sample various kinds of wines accompanied with cold cuts and cheeses. I think this was the best part of the visit. The owners of the castle run a winery. There is a shop at the castle. Here you can buy wines and some souvenirs.

If you will stay more than three or four days in Bergamo you can do several day trips for here. For instance you could go to the Como and Iseo lakes, to Milan and to several other places.

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:47 Archived in Italy Tagged italy del bergamo grumello lombardy. monte. Comments (6)

Marostica.

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Marostica is a town located some kilometers from Bassano del Grappa. It is situated in the Veneto region.

Its old core is quite small, but there is an interesting sight to visit; a castle. Well, there are two castles in reality in Marostica.

This town is well known for a (human) chess game.

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Piazza Castello is the main square in Marostica, It was created in the 14th century. This square is where a chess game is played with human pieces. This is due in the second week end of september; in the even years.

On piazza Castello you see the marble chessboard realized in 1954 for the first human chess game and the Doglione palace. It was originally a medieval fortress which hosted the armoury and the chancellery and the Monte di Pietà during the Venetian rule. It was restored in the 19th century. Today it is the seat of a local bank. Opposite this palace there is the lower castle.

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The Doglione.

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There is a small chessboard on the ground floor of the Doglione.

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Piazza Castello is flanked by two rows of porticoes. You can find various shops, some cafes and restaurants under these.

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There are two castles in Marostica. These were built in 1312.

Castello Inferiore; the lower castle is located in the main square. The upper castle; Castello Superiore, is situated on the top of a hill. It was built on a Roman construction. Inside there is a restaurant. This castle overlooks the town.

The lower castle houses a museum with several costumes used for the chess game re enactment. It is on the first floor. On this floor there are also some rooms to visit; as Sala del Consiglio; built between 1662 and 1663 and Sala del Camino ("camino" means fireplace). Outside the first floor there are two loggias with frescoes painted between XV and XVIII centuries. Inside the castle there is also a prison.

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You can end your visit of the castle walking along the ramparts to enjoy a beautiful landscape over the main square of Marostica and the surrounding hills.

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There are several churches in the old center of Marostica. I suppose these are more than four. In this picture you can spot one of them.

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This is one of the entrances of the town.

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Caffè Centrale is a cafe restaurant where I usually have lunch when I visit Marostica. It is one of the cafes -restaurants under the porticoes at the main square.

The first time I visited Marostica the menu at this cafe caught my attention due to some peculiar dishes there. That time I had gnocchi (dumplings) with gorgonzola cheese and nuts. I like them very much. The second time I went at Caffe Centrale I had rice with asparagus. It was good.

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Marostica is a nice place to spend some hours, or even a couple of days if there is a festival or a concert in the main square.

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:48 Archived in Italy Tagged del grappa bassano marostica chess. Comments (5)

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