Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tarquinia's Secret Gardens

A visit to Tarquinia begins at the Etruscan Museum 
  I  made  some wonderful discoveries  Yesterday in Tarquinia, the  Etruscan  town famous for its  painted Etruscan tombs is only a short  drive from my home in  Vetralla and even  closer to Civitavecchia’s port, making it  a perfect  trip  for cruise passengers  looking for an alternative  to  Rome  excursions.

 After  a visit to the Etruscan Museum and  a stop for pizza  we  went to visit  friends with beautiful gardens.
view of Tarquinia from the  garden 

 The first garden is that surrounding an elegant villa  estate  which once belonged to a 19th century Cardinal.  

rare breed  at home in Tarquinia
The  new owners Celeste and Franco have  transformed the villa into an  elegant B&B of only   three rooms.  Check out the  video. 
Across the valley, near Santa Maria del Castello,  is the other garden, studded with sculptures  and roaming peacocks.

Etruscan sphinx  by a local sculptor 

Maremma cowboy statue 
Owner Bruno  has dedicated  decades  of hard manual labor  to create this  magical   place  in an area previously  ignored by the people of Tarquinia, for it is adjacent to  the former slaughter house.

If you have  enjoyed   visiting  these unusual sites, why not share with your friends and leave a comment here below. 
For more information about this area  take a  look at my website. The only books in English   can be ordered directly  from  my  website  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Change of Date: Promoting Etruria: what today's tourists want to know

Presentation of  Etruria Storie e Segreti  to be held in Rome
March   25th  

Change of Date !! Due  to President Obama's scheduled  visit to Rome  on March  27th  we have changed the date for the  upcoming presentation to be held in Rome at the prestigious Fondazione Besso in Largo Argentina. 
Mark your calendars  for  Tuesday, March  25th at 5 p.m. and come to hear  three distinguished scholars Francesca Ceci,  Luca Pesante  and Cristina Carosi discuss my latest book, in Italian ETRURIA Storie  e Segreti. 

entrance of  Fondazione Besso 

Since  selling copies of the book at the Fondazione is not allowed, purchase  your copy  beforehand and bring it along to be signed by the author. Or pick up a copy at our exclusive  distributor in Rome- the Anglo American bookshop on Via della Vite, near the Spanish Steps. 
The easiest way to get your copy is to order  the book directly  and have it sent to your Italian address free of charge.   

This week marks the   beginning of the 4th year  of  life for  50yearsinItaly  published weekly  in the  town of Vetralla, an  hour  north of Rome. We are proud to announce that  the town has been chosen  by ThazItalia  to take part in an important tourism project backed  by Terravision. 
announcing  ThazItalia's arrival in Vetralla 

 Now, more than ever,  information and promotion of the  area has become of vital importance, and   Elegant Etruria, Etruria Editions and  50yearsinItaly  are happy to be of service.

audience  at  Vetralla's Library 
   After   4 books in English and  20 years   living   in central Italy, I finally gave in to the insistence of  Italian friends  and published  my first book in Italian about the area known as Etruria or Tuscia.  Thanks to   the help of a  highly qualified  team of collaborators,  illustrators,  photographers and translators,  the book  is enjoying  a huge  success.

presentation in Vetralla
Now the hard part of publicizing and distributing   to the general public,  especially those working in  tourism and cultural fields, who  need  to know about the area’s  unique  past  in order to protect and  promote  the  territory   on an international level.

with Francesco Aliperti of Edizioni Archeoares
Since   the publication of Etruria Storie e Segreti there has been a  whirlwind of activity  and promotion and Edizioni Archeoares  is helping me with the coordination.   
Vetralla  presentation 

Regardless  of the   pouring rain  the book was   presented  at   Vetralla’s library to a  full house. Thanks to   culture  councilman Michele Vittori and  Fulvio Ferri.

With Francesca Ceci at Viterbo's Prefettura 
The next weekend we were  guests of Archeotuscia  in the  prestigious hall  of  Viterbo’s  Prefettura, again  with a full house  and lots of book sales.  As archeologist   Francesca Ceci   of  Rome’s  Capitoline Museums  introduced  the book,   the  audience  viewed  the  book trailer with music by Kay McCarthy  and a panorama of  the book’s  many  illustrations.    
Viterbo Archeotuscia presentation 

Yesterday,  a sunny Saturday, we were   at  Libroteca   bookshop  in the center of Civita Castellana.  Among the guests were  Franco Giorgi, dean of the city’s ceramic artists  and  noted artisan Mastro Cencio, Vincenzo Dobbloni.
with Mastro Cencio  at Libroteca 

Libroteca, Via Garibaldi, Civita Castellana

   For more information  about  the book,  where to find it , how to order  signed copies, check this page.  Multiple  copies at discounted price are available   for schools, hotels and  groups .  

The number of readers  and followers  has increased  enormously since  February  2011. How long have you been reading  50yearsinItaly ?   You can suggest  it to friends  by using the Facebook and  other share buttons at the bottom of the page. Your suggestions and comments  are important  so please take time  to write a   line or two.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sochi's spas and Stalin's Villa

arriving in Sochi,  passport control 

For the next   17 days  the media will be bombarding us with  news and  information on  the   Winter Olympics   being held  in  Sochi, the  popular Russian resort on the Black Sea which for more than a century has been known as the Russian Riviera thanks to its  almost Mediterranean  climate, landscapes, beaches, parks and mineral springs.

Russian schoolchildren   on the sea promenade


teenagers practice  military  routines at war monument 

The Botanic gardens   stretch along the seaside promenade  with  mimosas, oleander, magnolia and palms line the streets. Expensive  new  high rise residential buildings   give  the seaside city  the air of  a Caucasian Monte Carlo.

Botanic Gardens, Sochi 

When I visited  Sochi a few years ago  the city was buzzing with activity  in view of the upcoming Olympics: new buildings , horrendous  traffic  and  a sense of expectancy. Already  then  Sochi annually  attracted nearly two million visitors who came to   enjoy the beaches and curative powers of the mineral springs, especially those of Matsesta,  or “fiery water”. 

hot springs near Sochi 
Matsesta  sanatorium 
 During the Soviet period there were  223 health resorts, sanatoria, sort of all inclusive resorts,   along the  140 kms of Sochi coast making it  the "longest " city after Los Angeles .   

Joseph Stalin , who suffered from arthritis,  found  relief  at these  hot baths and built his summer residence  at Zelenaya Roscha,  a highly guarded compound camoflagued within a  pine forest .  

Stalin's  green  dacha    

It was a no-flight zone overlooked by guard towers on the nearby hilltop  since  the psychopathic leader   lived in dread of  assassination. 
inside  Stalin's villa 
 Even the fountain in the central courtyard was turned off at night so any intruder  could be heard.  Stalin slept  only during the day on a  cot  in his office and  his  leather divan is provided with  bullet proof sides .

Fulvio  tries  out Stalin's  bullet proof  divan ,  billiards room in the background

Stalin's   wax figure    
The wax figure seated in the  study  reminds  us  that the  Georgian leader was only  5ft. 2 inches tall .  This was   another reason why   photos with Churchill   and Roosevelt  at the conference held in nearby Yalta  in 1945  show them all seated.

Sochi was one of the many ports  visited  over the years  as a cruise enrichment lecturer  aboard  luxury liners plying the Mediterranean, Black, Adriatic, Baltic and Atlantic.  For a  list  see my  website   and let me know if you have questions about  any of these  ports.  
Don't forget to leave a comment and share with your  friends. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stolen Treasures Return to Italy

Ever since  the 1770s when  William Hamilton   collected and exported  Greek vases  found  in the  excavations of  Pompeii ,  ancient artifacts  and tomb robbers  ( tombaroli ) have been part of  the Italian scene.
William Hamilton 

According to the Carabinieri,  the theft of Italy’s   art  and  archeological patrimony is  fourth on  the list of  crime in Italy, after arms, drugs and  financial crime.

 silver  helmet 

funerary urn  with myth of Enomao 

Apulian  red figure plate 

 Many of these  objects  have been looted  from tombs and  necropoli  in  Etruria, in central Italy or from the Puglia region.  
gilded copper, coral  encrusted  pyx
On show   until mid-March I Tesori : La Memoria Ritrovata at Palazzo Qurinale in Rome, an exhibit of  over  100  objects   found and returned to Italy by the Carabinieri. 

Among  the  precious objects  are  23 funerary urns stolen from  the Perugia area,  Greek vases, silver and coral  objects.

funerary urn 

Here are a  few books on the subject that I recommend for those wanting more background on the criminal looting of Italy's ancient treasures. 

The names recurring in all these books are those of dishonest  curators  at prestigious American museums, dodgy auction houses,   and intermediaries who smuggled looted treasures dug up by tombaroli. 

magnificent horses on an Apulian oinochoe   
Another  excellent exhibit  featuring   fine arts, antiquities  and treasures  is  now  on in Rome until February 16th:  The Treasure of San Gennaro at Palazzo Sciarra on Via del Corso in  Rome.  

Between  March 1 and  June 30, Trajan's Market (Mercati di Traiano) will play host to an exhibit on the excavations  of  Cencelle .

Cencelle near Tolfa

  Cencelle,  considered the  Pompeii of the  Middle Ages, is located  on the hills near Civitavecchia and Tolfa.   
I wrote about Cencelle as a perfect day trip for cruise passengers docking  in Civitavecchia    in   "Etruria, travel, history and itineraries in central Italy " 

photo by Agostino Cecchini 

Cencelle excavations 

Check  my website , (Google rated as  the top site for  buying antiques in Italy)  for more itineraries and information about antiques  in Italy.  
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