You've probably heard the name Salvatore Ferragamo in relation to designer shoes and clothing, but did you know that Ferragamo also has a museum and even hotels? Salvatore Ferragamo opened the original Ferragamo Store in 1938 in Palazzo Spini Ferroni, a 13th century mansion in the heart of Florence, where it remains today. For those interested in shoes and fashion, there's a museum associated with the store. But for the real Ferragamo experience, why not stay in one of these hotels?
Ferragamo in Florence - Hotels, the Store, and the Museum
Italy's Catholic processions with huge structures carried on the shoulders of a number of participants have been inscribed on UNESCO's List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. These processions take place in a number of cities but the 4 historic cities who applied and are included in the inscription were Sassari on the island of Sardinia, Nola in southern Italy near Naples, Palmi in southern Italy on Calabria's west coast, and Viterbo in northern Lazio, north of Rome. See UNESCO article for details.
Each of these cities holds a yearly religious festival in which a group of participants (usually men) transport very heavy processional structures through the streets. These processions normally include people dressed in traditional costume and music and sometimes children participate by carrying smaller versions. I've seen the procession of the Candelieri, huge decorated candles carried in procession by groups of men who dance with the candles on their shoulders, in mid-August in Sassari several times and it's a very exciting event (video). Here's a look at the Festa di Santa Rosa held in Viterbo on September 3.
The Mediterranean Diet was also inscribed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Festa di Santa Rosa photo by Mary Jane Cryan, used by permission
Do you have someone on your gift list who loves Italian food or who is planning a trip to Italy? One of our recommended Italian Cookbooks and Food Books might make the perfect gift. We've selected a few cookbooks that have more than just recipes. The authors included stories about people and traditions and have made their cookbooks seem more personal. Our food books are useful for figuring out what and where to eat when traveling in Italy.
We also have a few recommended food apps for Italy including menu translators and apps specific to Rome, Florence, Venice, and Tuscany.
Italian Menu Decoder app photo © by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls
December events in Italy are mainly centered around the Christmas holiday season. Starting early in the month (or even at the end of November), Italian Christmas markets spring up in many places, from big city markets open every day to small village markets open on weekends. The Feast Day of San Nicolo on December 6 is celebrated many places, followed by the national holiday for the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and Santa Lucia Day on December 13.
Rome is the most popular Christmas season destination in Italy so be sure to book your Rome hotel in advance if you plan to visit around Christmas - see Christmas Season in Rome and Vatican City. December is also a great time to go to Naples to visit the street of nativity workshops, Via San Gregorio Armeno, where you're bound to see lots of figurines of Pope Francis this year.
Photo of Santa Lucia Day Parade at the Vatican by Martha Bakerjian, licensed to About.com
If you have an Italophile on your gift list or someone who is planning a trip to Italy, consider these Italy related gifts that you can easily buy online. For Italian foodies we suggest one of these food books and apps, and for lovers of Venice, try one of these novels set in Venice. These Italy apps make perfect companions for someone heading to Italy next year and are very easy to give. Or consider an Italian music CD.
If you want to give a gift that will last all year, Kathy McCabe is offering a discount on a gift subscription to her award-winning Dream of Italy newsletter that comes with a bonus of olive oil from Puglia (limited supply so order it soon). She also has a selection of Italian Christmas cards for those who want to send a little bit of Italy this holiday season.
Browse our Italy Gifts Guide for more gifts with an Italian theme.
Related Reading: Christmas Traditions and Events in Italy
With the recent snowfall on Italian mountains, it looks like winter has arrived early. Although traveling to Italy in winter might not be for everyone, there are some advantages such as fewer tourists and off-season prices (except during Christmas week). If you like skiing and winter sports or indoor activities, like visiting museums without the crowds or attending a concert in a historic theater, winter in Italy might be for you.
Read more about Visiting Italy in Winter.
Photo of Sestriere Ski Resort in Piedmont by Marla Gulley, Bella Baita
Venice is known for its intricate masks and quality glass items made on the island of Murano, so it's a great place so shop for something unique. But Venice is full of tourist shops selling mass-produced souvenirs. If you're looking for something special, get away from the tourist crowds and head to one of these Venice shops to find artisan masks, top quality Murano hand-blown glass, shoes, accessories, and the last remaining spice merchant on Calle degli Spezieri, once Venice's High Street of spices.
Venice spice shop photo by Rebecca Winke, used by permission
Mount Etna, the volcano on the island of Sicily, erupted today. According to news reports, there have been no major problems and no villages have been evacuated. Mount Etna is Europe's most active volcano and the highest mountain in the Mediterranean. Take a look at the latest eruption on this You Tube video.
Mount Etna, one of Sicily's top attractions, is in the northeastern part of the island. You can see its location on this map. It has a visitor's center, hiking trails, and even places to ski on the upper slopes in winter. The volcano was recently added to the list of Sicily's UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Find out more about what to see and do on the island of Sicily in our Sicily Travel Guide.
Rome is one of Italy's top destinations during the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Not only are there special holiday events in Rome, but going to the Vatican during the holiday season is very popular. One of the top attractions is going to a mass presided over by the Pope at Saint Peter's Basilica. Tickets are required to attend these popular masses. The tickets are free and should be reserved well in advance by following these instructions. If you'd prefer to let someone else make the reservations for you, Select Italy offers Vatican mass ticket booking.
Christmas season masses at Saint Peter's Basilica (tickets required):
- November 30: First Vespers of Advent
- December 24: Christmas Eve Mass
- December 31: New Year's Eve Vespers
- January 1: New Year's Day Mass
- January 6: Feast of the Epiphany Mass
The Pope holds regular Papal Audiences on Wednesdays and tickets (free) are required for these also. These Papal Audience Tickets can be booked through Select Italy for a fee or reserved yourself following directions on the link above. No tickets are required for regular Sunday masses or the Christmas Day blessing in Saint Peter's Square at noon but expect crowds and arrive early.
Christmas Tree in Rome Photo © by James Martin, Europe Travel
The southern Italy region of Puglia was named as one of three value destinations for 2014 by Lonely Planet on Best of Travel 2014. Puglia, the heel of the boot, is known for its long coast line with beautiful beaches, olive oil and wine, fresh seafood and vegetables, and the unique houses with conical roofs around Alberobello called trulli.
The Puglia region is a fascinating destination where you can still experience traditional life and slow travel. Stretching from the Gargano Promontory (the spur on the boot) all the way south to the Salento Peninsula, Puglia offers a number of diverse sights and experiences so even if you're not a beach person, there's plenty to see and do - from caves and natural parks to Roman sites and medieval villages, castles and cathedrals.
Plan your trip with these Top Places to Go in Puglia.
Alberobello Trulli Photo © by Martha Bakerjian, licensed to About.com