Andalusia

“…No creas lo que tus ojos te dicen.
Todo lo que muestran son limitaciones.
Mira con tu comprensión,
encuentra lo que ya sabes,
y verás el camino para volar…”
(R. Bach)

Andalusia, a Paradise between Europe and Africa

Andalusia is a Vibrant Destination to visit for its Treasures, the Faboulous Nightlife, the regional pride on Flamenco, Bullfighting, Moorish Architecture, and more over. 

Andalusia  consists of 8 provinces: Seville, Cádiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Almeria and Malaga; each one of them has very distinct charateristics and it is worth spending some time in .Being the Southern part of the Iberian Peninsula and the Southernmost point of Europe, Andalusia boasts Several Microclimates and stunning and variegated Landscapes. Its coastline stretches for  over 500 miles peppered with beaches overlooking both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic: from the The Costa del Sol  to the The Costa de La Luz. Andalusia offers also imposing Mountain chains , such as the Sierra Morena, the Sierra Nevada, and the Sierra Madrona. Andalusia is a gem of nature, which provides Endless Nature Wanders , among which  24 Natural Parks, and the Tabernas , one of the most Wide World Known Desert for its International Cinematic Location ! The Tabernas is located in the barren interior of Costa de Almeria. It’s  approximately 280 square kilometers, and since the 1950s  Westerns, War Films and Fantasy Adventures have all been filmed in this Southeastern corner of Spain, such as the famous   Sergio Leone’s “Spaghetti Westerns”, Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones”, David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia”, and so on. 

I’m still looking for the reason why I’m so fascinated by Andalusia , going beyond the fact that it is damned extraordinary! Its similarity to Sicily, where I was born,  could be a possible answer. I can say Andalusia and Sicily, are like twins, because they have much in common: Great Weather all the year long, Spectacular Nature, excellent Wine production and Gastronomy, Art, Passion, Strong Identity ,  a Sincere Sense of Hospitality, and above all a Mix of Cross-Cultural Heritage. 

Being a gateway between  Europe and Africa like Sicily, Andalusia attracted  different Cultures and People  over the past centuries:  Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Christians, Vandals, Visigots,  and Arabs. Since 711 AC  the territory was ruled by Muslim caliphates  and emirates under the name of Al-Andalus, from which Andalusia takes its name today. The Guadalquivir River Valley was the heart of the Kingdom and the city of Cordoba became the capital of the Islamic Empire. Moors  were enlightened rulers, they contributed to the economical and social development of Andalusia and promoted a religious tolerance towards the Christian community  and the  Jewish one, something that was really revolutionary in the Middle Age.  Arabs governed Andalusia till  the 1492 , when the Catholic Kings  Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile established the famous “Reconquesta”. In the same year the Italian Explorer Christopher Columbus sailed away from the harbor of Palos de la Frontera (in the Western coast of Andalusia ), and   discovered the New World, establishing the beginning of the Spanish Colonial Empire in the overseas territory. This florid period was the  “Golden Age” for Andalusia, whose fruits can still be seen  today in its  great buildings of the Gothic, the Renaissance and the early BaroqueSeville and Cádiz were the biggest and richest cities in the Iberian Peninsula. However,  the overwhelming majority of the wealth that reached Andalusia after the Discovery of America did not concur to the enrichment of the whole territory.  Indeed it was in part diverted in war and too much trade and finance came to be controlled by other areas of Spain and by other European States as well.  The economic situation  continued to deteriorate throughout the following period.  The 18th and 19th centuries were turbulent times for Andalusia marked by the Spanish War of Succession, the Napoleonic Invasion,  the Battle of Trafalgar, and social conflicts in the Andalusian countryside . The 20th century was firstly shaped by the conflict between Monarchists and Republicans, then  the ensuing Civil War (1936-39) ended with the national government of General Franco, who maintained his power until his death in 1975. With the return to the Democracy under the popular monarch Juan Carlos I, Andalusia attained a new self-confidence and became an Autonomous Region in 1982.

Seville, My Second Time 

I love exploring New places, Gathering New Experiences and Trying new Wine & Food, so I can write about them in my Travel Blog WeLoveItaly.eu.

Seville was only one of  the several Must-See Places where to be Once in my Life for another Emotional and Useful Post. This was the reason why I made a 24 hours Trip there two months ago, but not yet knowing that  Seville would have bewitched me  Soul & Body! Seville made me feel like I was exactly where I needed to be. As I wanted to understand why I was so inspired by this passionate city, I decided to spend my Easter Holidays in this exotic metropolis , not only because spring was the best period for its mild warm temperature, but also because I had much more time. Therefore, I had the possibility to enjoy the Charm of  Andalusia and its Hypnotic Atmosphere. I discovered other amazing cities too, such as Cádiz and Cordoba, which made me deeply aware of the complexity of this incredible land and off the “alma” (soul) of its inhabitants. 

 

What to do in Seville 

I arrived in Seville at the end of April between two important celebrations the Semana Santa” (Holy week) and the Feria de Abril” (April Fair), avoiding the busiest period of the year, but at the same time missing the most interesting events too. By the way these are  some of the best Seville‘s Marvels which involed me more closely: 

Cadiz & Cordoba 

My Andalusian Itinerary included two great cities , Cádiz and Cordoba, which were connected to Seville by fast Renfe trains in  about two hours. I found  Cádiz  andCordoba historic, quaint  and seductive. Here you are some reasons why to go there: 

  • Exploring the remnants of a great Islamic Empire;
  • Strolling the cobbled laneways and famous floral patios;
  • Witnessing one of the Most Historically Fascinating Buildings in the World:
  • Visiting the home of powerful kings;
  • Tasting superb “tapas ”  in cute squares;

Cadiz

​​Cádiz is the oldest city in Europe.  It was founded in 1100 BC by the Phoenicians, who called it “Gadir” and traded Baltic amber and British tin, as well as Spanish silver.

The city  became a naval base for the Romans  until 1262, when it was taken from the Muslims by Alfonso X. It enjoyed a period of notable splendour  with the Discovery of America, as Columbus sailed from this port on his second and fourth voyages. Much later the city had its “Golden Age” during the 18th century,  when it had the monopoly of American trade  with Spain to a large extent. From this time it grew into one of the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities in Spain and most of the city’s fine buildings date from this time.

 

What to do in Cadiz

Cádiz is filled with things to see and experiences to live. It has a laid-back vibe, excellent seafood and atmospheric streets bathed in intense sunlight.

  • Cádiz Cathedral: When I was  in“Barrio del Pópulo”, I found myself contempling the majestic Cádiz Cathedral . Considered among Cadiz’s Most Famous Monuments, the golden dome of the Cádiz Cathedral represents everyone’s classic image of the city. Cádiz Cathedral, designed by Vicente de Acero, is a spectacular architectural work of art and is very original managing to combine the traditional Spanish Architecture with Baroque forms from Italy. Check out the inside of the cathedral for five euros or with a guided tour. You can also climb up the tower for another great view of the city; 
  • Tavira Tower: It is a Watchtower and  witness to the trade and prosperity which the city experienced in the 18th century. It is situated in the centre of town, and It is also the highest point in the town at 45 meters above the sea level. The most known attraction of this Tower , apart from the beautiful panoramic view I had on the top floor of it, is the famous “Camera Oscura”.  It consists of an optical system that reflects a live image on a white circular screen which functions as telescopes used in submarines, where visitors can enjoy an exhibition of approximately 15 minutes. These exposures are developed by guides that explain accurately and with sympathy all the historical data, interesting facts and curiosities;
  • “La Caleta Beach”: this is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Cádiz , which has been made famous by the James Bond movie “007, Die Another Day. It is located between two old castles, the Castillo de Santa Catalina” and the Castillo de San Sebastián” , where you can enjoy art exhibitions and colourful sunsets; 
  • “Calle Plocia” :  It’s a street behind the “Plaza de Sevilla” full of restaurants and bar where to try the best of the Andalusian “tapas” and  Wines.

Cordoba

Cordoba is a pint-sized historical jewellery that punches well above its weight. Cordoba was even better than I imagined! I was in complete awe.

Whilst Western European peasants worried that their wattle-and-daub might not see out the winter the Cordoba people were carving intricate vegetal friezes into their sandstone. Whilst wild Vikings were burning their boats, Cordoba’s Muslims were creating libraries! During its turbulent history, Cordoba was under Roman rule, then colonized by the Muslims in the 8th century, which led to it becoming a major Islamic center and the capital of the “Caliphate of Córdoba” in the Middle Ages. At that time it was one of the biggest, if not the biggest city in the world. During the Reconquista” in the 13th century, it was recaptured by Christian forces. 

 

What to do in Cordoba

One day was too short to experience all the magic things Cordoba had to offer, but It was enough  to get an appreciable first impression.  I arrived early in the morning so I didn’t have to stand in line to visit its main attractions.

The most important advice I can probly give you to visit Cordoba is: planning and research is everything! A lot of monuments are only open until 3 pm. So make sure to choose what you want to see in advance! Here My Top List of Things to do in Cordoba

  • “The Mosque–Cathedral Mezquita”: One of the World’s Greatest Works of Islamic Architecture, “Mezquita Mosque–Cathedral” is an astounding hybrid structure built as a Mosque in the 8th century by Umayyad Abd-ur-Rahman. At that time Cordoba was the leading city in terms of science and culture in Europe and the most important city in the Islamic Kingdom. At the beginning of the 13th century, Cordoba was retaken by Christians and the Mosque was converted into a church, culminating with the Renaissance Cathedral Nave in the 16th century. Click here for Useful Tips for visiting it
  • “Patio De Los Naranjos”: an enchanting Orange Patio inside the “The Mosque–Cathedral Mezquita” . This former Caliphate Courtyard of Ablutions today houses the ticket office and is a great place to enjoy the shade of the trees and the subtle orange scent. Click here for Useful Tips for visiting it
  • Cordoba Historic Centre :  Just around the corner North from the Mosque, you’ll find “Calleja de las Flores” , a narrow whitewashed alley filled with flowers and a great photo opportunity. The Historic Centre of Cordoba is famed for its hidden patios, large interior courtyards and twisting alleys;
  • “La Judería” : The streets which are referred to as “La Judería” , that means the “Jewish Quarter”, are the ones where Jewish people once dwelled and it is still the most beautiful part of the city. There was a time several centuries ago when Cordoba was known as the city of three cultures, becasue  Christians, Muslims and Jews lived in harmony with each other.  Today, there are very very few Muslims and Jews comunities in Cordoba, but their influence remains in the Architecture and the Mosque and Synagogue (neither functioning religiously now) all around; 
  • “Paseo de la Ribera”: Cordoba‘s Promenade is an area filled with stylish restaurants, and it’s a  perfect place where to stop for a break! I walked along  the Roman Bridge to reach the other side of the city and I had nice views of the nature around the  Guadalquivir River. The Roman Bridge dates from the 1st century BC, but was rebuilt in the 10th century during the Moorish occupation. The Roman Bridge leads to “Torre de la Calahorra” at South end , that is a fortified gate originally built by the Moors (Almohads) and extensively restored by King Enrique II of Castile in 1369 to defend the city from attack by his brother Pedro I the Cruel. The tower houses the  Museo Vivo de Andalus” , a living museum featuring waxworks and a model of the Alhambra
  • Horno San Luis”: it’s a delicious resaturant in the Old Town , where I sheltered after I got caught unexpectedly in a downpour at lunch time.  The staff was super friendly , its cocktails fantastic and the food even better! I had  “salmorejo” , the typical dish from Cordoba – a gazpacho” with eggs and Iberico ham, paired with  my Verdejo ! The restaurant was also an attraction in itself. It consisted of different patios all decorated differently but with a lot of plants and flowers;
  • “Plaza de La Tendillas”: it’s the modern business and financial core of the city, where I stopped before going  back to Seville.  Clouds gave way to splendid sunshine , so  I  sat on the edge of a fountain to take last photos in Cordoba. During my “siesta” my attention was attracted by a smiling lady while sketching a dome  of a white Colonial House . Her drawing was simple and beautiful, absolutely clear, made only with a piece of charcoal. I congratulated her to be able to capture the magnificence of that old builduing in few essential lines.  We started to talk each other,  and we introduced ourselves . We had immediately felt a great liking each other. Her name was Lucila Veloz Gutierrez, a Well-Rounded Artist born in Guanajuato, Mexico, who moved for her job in Cordoba twenty years ago. To my great astonishment she invited me to go to her atelier in the heart of “Plaza de La Tendillas” at the second floor of an old and elegant palace. It was a fascinating  laboratory of Architecture and Painting , where I admired her works dealing with the  costant theme of the integration of Mexican Comunity in Andalusia. I’ll never forget the brightness of her  watercolors depicting the Bicolored Arches of the Cordoba Mezquita. As I was heading to the train station, I knew that it wasn’t  the last time I would see Lucila

There’s no place like Andalusia! This is a mesmerizing  Spanish region, which exudes style and flair whilst also steeped in hundreds of years of glorious history. 

The true essence of Spain is in Andalusia, in  the passionate Flamenco woven into the fabric of everyday life, along the intricate cobbled lanes of a blindingly whitewashed village, in a majestic cathedral that soars into the blue, or inside a crowded “tapas bar” where locals and visitors  come for Top Food & Wine !  Whether it’s a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, a breathtaking nature scene, or a ravishing coastal town overflowing with old-world charm, there’s no better way to grab the soul of Southern Spain than by visiting these beautiful places in Andalusia. Definitely, Andalusia is a perfect idea for your next upcoming trip, because this buzzing land will give you that tingling sensation in your stomach and make your heart beat faster . 

Andalusia is somewhere I’ll return to again and again!

 

Enjoy it! 

Stefania

ITB Berlin 2019

ITB  Berlin 2019

Are you attending the ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) , or considering it next year? Here are a few good reasons why you should do it , as well as some insights on How to Get the Most Out  of it.

ITB Berlin is the The World’s Leading Travel Trade Show. On March 6-10 2019  Travel Professionals dealt with  Industry Experts and had the opportunity to meet over 10,000 exhibitors represented in 26 halls ,  1,000 Qualified Top Buyers, and attendees from 187 Countries.  It simply cannot be missed! The ITB Berlin is the World’s Largest Tourism Trade Fair. The companies represented at the fair include Hotels, Tourist Boards, Tour Operators, System Providers, Airlines and Car Rental Companies. ITB began in 1966 as a small event in the framework of an overseas import trade show that developed into a true global success. The original five participating countries and regions grew to over 180, the first 250 trade visitors increased to over 114,000 and the exhibition space expanded from 580 m² to today’s 160,000 m². Lot of time passed since it all began , and in the meanwhile  the Tourism Industry developed into one of the World’s Most Important Economic factors.

My ITB Berlin 2019

For European Enterprises, Travel Experts/Lovers and Bloggers it is a must to be at ITB Berlin 2019 , because It is very important to learn more about competitors and to be updated about Tourism Industry Developments. ITB Berlin 2019 mirrors the Current Trends of the Global Travel Industry, and reminds those working in the sector of great challenges around the world in this field, such as the Digital Transformation.

I was really honoured to partner with ITB Berlin 2019 as an accreditated Networker. It was my very first time , and also an exceptional showcase for my activity as owner of WeLoveItaly.eu (Travel/ Wine Blogging and Italian Courses and Custom Tours in Pisa, Tuscany). I took the advantage to advertise my Travel and Wine Blog and to sell  WeLoveItaly.eu to a Tourism Board too.  ITB Berlin 2019 was more than what I could ever have imagined! ITB  2019 was held at the Messe Berlin, an enormous  building at Messedamm 22, near Charlottenburg and Savigny Platz in Berlin, where I booked a nice hotel for my stay .

As I arrived at the ITB  2019 I got scared , because It was so big. I thought I wasn’t able  to walk all around for so many hours! I was also concerned about maximizing the time available for that colossal event. 

I wanted to see everything, talk to everyone and to experience everything else. Actually, I didn’t get lost , because thanks to  Victoria Ade-Genschow and her  blog The British Berliner with helpful tips for the ITB  , I knew what to expect and what to do before . I had the joy of meeting  Victoria personally at ITB  2019 ,  my Good Angel found time for me. She spoke about her job as a talented and Famous International Lifestyle & Travel blogger , and shared some secrets for good blogging with me. All that was a strong emotion for me sipping White Brasilian Wine  together with other nice people! I was enchanted by Victoria , we made friendship and she was my reference point for anything concerning Travelling, Tourism and Blogging, and she  is still! Victoria was the best part of that incredible adventure.  During the ITB  2019 I build New Relationships with other Professional Travel /Wine Bloggers and Experts in the industry of Cultural and Educational Tourism ,  which was essential to bring in new customers and grow my business. ITB  2019 was also a chance for me  to:Travel and Wine Blog and to sell   to 

  • Exchange Experiences with other Tourism Players;
  • Extend my  Network for my WeLoveItaly.eu;
  • Find cooperation / business partners for my WeLoveItaly.eu
  • Create New, Innovative Business Models.

What made me excited about ITB  2019 was my  Virtual Journey Around the World! In an instant I visited Europe, Asia, Arabia,  America, Australia simply going from one stand to another one,  and suddenly I got the desire to leave for an exotic destination and to never come back ! 

Why not discovering Malaysia, and then Abu Dabi, Mexico, or Paris ? Hanging on at ITB  2019 I organized my “World Trip” geographically and  thematically according to my interests  ! In several exhibition halls, the latest Travel Trends were also presented across Countries and Regions. These include, for example, Medical  or Responsible Tourism, Youth & Adventure or Wellness Travel. At Pavillon 1.2. National Tourism Board Enit launched Italy promoting  Its Food & Wine Heritage being inseparable from the Identity and Culture of our country, but also at the same time making clear that Italy was more than pizza and pasta!  I liked the ITB Berlin space reserved to Travel Technology a lot, because established companies and ambitious startups boosted  their latest innovations, while several forums highlighted important developments from the World of Apps, Mobile Websites, Social Networks and Blogs. I realized how most Travel Businesses were moving rapidly to adapt, integrate or evolve Digital System that controlled nearly aspects of their business operations, from marketing to customer service to distribution. Last but not least, ITB  2019 confirmed, once again, that any form of Real Business could not work properly without the Virtual one, and vice versa. Even in a Digitalised World, It was not possible at  ITB  2019 to replace the confidence-building measure that Face-to-Face Meetings and a Direct Exchange between Business Partners on issues concerning the Travel Global Industry represented.  I enjoyed all the  trade show’s broad range of products and services. Moreover, attending such a big event is like being aware that despite a slowdown in the world economy, Demand within the Travel Industry remains stable, that is people remain eager to travel and the industry is well-equipped to meet the demand.

 

 

Tips for the ITB Berlin 

I Set Clear Goals for my ITB 2019! I Planned my Time and Schedule  in advance , because ITB 2019  was a massive event.

If you want to make your Experience at the ITB Berlin next year a success, then you need to be organized! Here my Tips: 

  • Visit the ITB Berlin  2019 Website and Its App to have and download all the useful info to get around the venue; 
  • Print your  badge before to avoid boring queues; 
  • Register/Complete your ITB Profile
  • Sign up and confirm all your  appointments at ITB Berlin  2019, and  send a reminder email to people about your  meetings;
  • Check out how to get at the ITB Berlin  2019 and the map of the Messe Berlin to move around easily; 
  • Plan your visit but be flexible; ITB Berlin is broken up into sections such as Europe, Asia, America, Arabia, Australia, and you can change your schedule , as you may find that the exhibitor is a little busy at the time you want to go; 
  • Make sure you plan for some rest during the day, because you can get caught up in visiting every exhibitor;  
  • Dress Smart! The official attire is Business Wear, being slightly formal and wearing a suit or at least smart-casual will be the best choice! 
  • Wear comfortable shoes for  working extended hours on your  feet; 
  • Take with you Packed Lunch and  Water in your  bag ; walking and talking is exhausting and you need to keep your energy levels up; 
  • Have  enough Business Card Media Kit to hand , there are so many opportunities to network with agents, tour operators, tourist boards, hotels, airlines, and other influencers just to name a few; aim to have more than you need! 
  • Don’t forget to bring your Phone , a Portable Charger,  a Note Pad or a Small Agenda to write down all the ideas, names, brands and whatever else came to your  mind during  ITB Berlin 2019.

All this was really important to maximize my productivity  as I attended many Halss, Presentations, and Networking Events run  by Experts and Bloggers. At the ITB Berlin 2019 there were also areas where the focus was Industry Job Opportunities,  as well as Shows, Parties,  Concerts and Culinary treats rounds. ITB Berlin 2019 was not  only for me  an exclusive business event where to be, but It also  provided an energetic and entertaining atmosphere each day, and for  sure I  had lots of fun along the way and met amazing people. 

At the end of this incredible Life Experience I went out with some friends at my favorite restaurant  Schwarzes Café in Savigny Platz to remember my “Berliner Zeit” and how Berlin added value to my life! 

“Mir kann keiner” ! 

Bis Bald Schönes Berlin ! 

Enjoy it ! 

Stefania

Fattoria di Fibbiano

On the 6th December 2018 I attended a Conference Press hold by the Pisa Chamber of Commerce  for the lunch of “Terre di Pisa”, the New Tourist Brand and Project for promoting Pisa’s Cultural Heritage and its Wine Making Tradition.

On that occasion I met Nicola Cantoni, who participated as  moderator and as President of Pisa Consortium Wine . This  was founded in 2018 to protect  the Appellation of  “Terre di Pisa Wines” and to develop an internationally-renowned model for producing High-Quality Wines in Pisa and its Province.  That event was open to the Members of  “Terre di Pisa” , and during our Wine Tasting Break , I had the pleasure to exchange two words with Nicola,who invited me to visit his estate at Fattoria di Fibbiano  in order to comprehend better his Love for his job and his complex and fascinating Tourist & Wine Affair Management in Tuscany. With the sunny season approaching fast, It was time to go to Fattoria di Fibbiano , but It was quite impossible to fix a date ,  as Nicola was always really busy  !  I was afraid of losing this great chance to be there, but few days ago  his brother  Matteo Cantoni welcomed me at their  Fattoria di Fibbiano with open arms. I came in this beautiful place as a guest, and  left as a friend! Matteo did everything possible to be available for My Interview and my  Exclusive Wine Tasting despite his daily commitments. Lucky me! As I arrived at Fattoria di Fibbiano , Matteo  greeted me with a friendly smile and a firm handshake. First Matteo told me all about his Family’s History and activity , then I visited the cellar and the vineyards , and finally I had my Great Wine Tasting. I had lots of fun with him for the whole duration of my tour in a sunny day of  March. Moreover, I learned lot of things about this stunning part of Tuscany where his estate is, that is called the Era Valley, close to Pisa and Volterra, which is not well-known to a general public for its Wine production. This territory is fast becoming an essential reference point for Tuscan Wine, indeed for Italian Wine. Matteo‘s Kindness , and  Passion for What he Does  deserve a honorable mention! Let’s discover together his treasure hidden among  Tuscan sunflowers.

Fattoria di Fibbiano’s History

In 1997 Giuseppe Cantoni, with his wife Tiziana and sons Matteo and Nicola, moved from  Lombardy to Tuscany. They were looking for  a successful  Wine Making business living a life far away from the noise of the city and close to nature. Therefore, they purchased a  Medieval Villa at that time, that belonged to the noble family Gherardi del Testa Barasaglia in the 12th century . They  renovated it all and turned it into what Fattoria di Fibbiano is today, a thriving Agricultural Entrepreneurship.

Their adventure from North Italy in Tuscany  was not only the result of a  desire to search for  their El Dorado, but  also  a sign of Destiny printed in one of their first  label “Fonte delle Donne” (“Women Fountain”) .  This exquisite White Wine is made from Colombana, an old grape that grew spontaneously around a miraculous water source near the estate. According to tradition, the Colombana grape was introduced by San Columbanus ‘ followers in the 17th century , when these famous Irish abbots decided to settle here living behind their Milan area. Upon their arrival in their estate, Cantoni Family realized they were not the only foreigners who fell  in love with Tuscany,  finding  the right place where to be ! Bringing to light  the old farmstead was not easy, but all that work  devoted to transform an old ruin into a jewelry was fully rewarded, as Cantoni Family carries on a prospering farming activity today, respecting land and the local traditions. Giuseppe, the father, deals with the General Management of the Middle Age Estate and takes care of the vineyards and countryside. Matteo, the eldest of the two sons, is in charge of Marketing the Wines and his brother, Nicola, is the Winemaker . 

Fattoria di Fibbiano, a Corner of Tuscan Paradise

Fattoria di Fibbiano is not only home to a prestigious Agritourism with a pool,  but also to an exclusive Modern Winery and an amazing Lounge Bar .  It is  located at n. 2 via Fibbiano , in the municipality of Terricciola.

Terricciola is a delicious hamlet surrounded by high walls and defense towers,  in the heart of Tuscan countryside, where History, Culture and Art, join the magnificent Beauty of the Nature in a unique way. Fattoria di Fibbiano is situated in a territory, that has its roots in the culture of the Etruscan civilization, and where Wine is produced  since more than 3000 years and it is  a part of the Local Identity and Culture.  Fibbiano’s philosophy is to continue on this thread of Culture and Tradition, cultivating indigenous grape varieties, suc as Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, ColorinoS. Colombana, and Vermentino ,  instead of more international grapes. Fattoria di Fibbiano extends over an area of about 20 hectares of vineyards, 5 hectares of olive groves, 12 hectares of woodland and the rest is arable land. Some vineyards (around 2.5 hectares) are over 100 years old and 17.5 hectares are up to 20 years old. This  mixture of Old Vines and New Vines  keeps the vineyard alive, with red grapes planted on the top of the hill, and white grapes on the lower parts.  Due to Fibbiano‘s proximity to the Mediterranean and Ligurian seas, the soil originates from the sea and is rich in fossil shells from the Pliocene epoch, and medium-textured corals .  In terms of climate, this part of Tuscany has warm sea breezes during the day and cooler nights, which helps the grapes to retain acidity and develop flavor. This particular terroir provides to complex Wines with a certain minerality,  and aging capability.  I appreciated a lot of things, above all that Fattoria di Fibbiano is certified organic. Their Practices, Farming and Wine-Growing Methods are truly natural. They even use  their own wood for central heating. Further, this Sustainable Winery uses a solar plant to conserve energy and produce fresh water. They are always ready  to face new challenges, not least of which  exporting 80% of their Wine to the following countries: United States, Canada, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, China, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Lebanon, Mexico. 

 

Fibbiano’s Wines 

The best part of this incredible Life Experience was my Top Wine Tasting. I was led to a lovely Wine Bar with a large wooden table full with  Fibbiano  Best Wines and platters of Tuscan salami, pecorino and bread.  I sampled 6 different Wines, guided by Matteo who talked me through what I was enjoying, from the colour/appearance, the bouquet/smell and then the flavor. Each Wine was different, but wonderful in its own way.  I tried Red and White Wines, but the majority of the ones I  tried were Red. Most of them are  made from the Sangiovese grapes and some are mixed with other grapes to produce  new fantastic blends. 

White and Rosé:

Red Wines:

  • Le Pianette IGT Toscana : This is a 70% Sangiovese and 30% Colorino Wine;  It  is aged for 6 months in barrels of Slavonian oak and 3 months in bottle;
  • Casalini Chianti Superiore DOCG : This is an 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo Wine. It is aged for 8 months in barrels of Slavonian oak and 3 months in bottle. It has the typical notes of cherry . It is  a well-structured Wine with smooth tannins;
  • L’Aspetto IGT Toscana :  This is a 50% Sangiovese and 50% Canaiolo Wine. It is aged for 12 months in tonneaux, 6 months in cement tanks, and 6 months in bottle. This is an intense ruby Red Wwine with notes of mature red fruit and spices; 
  • Ceppatella IGT Toscana : This is a 100% Sangiovese Wine, which is made with grapes selected from the oldest vineyard of the estate – it’s a 120 years old vineyard . It is a wine aged for 6 months in tonneaux , 14 months in barrels of Slavonian oak, and 5 months in bottle. It has notes of marmalade, spices, tobacco, and cacao and a long persistence. 

Matteo entertained me happily and answered all my questions  by sharing  the secrets of their Quality Wines: “Sun, soil and patience”! 

Pisa Hills Wines 

Fattoria di Fibbiano offers up a bunch of very Tasty Wines for Wine Lovers and Experts to experience.

Fattoria di Fibbiano is situated predominantly in the Wine Trail of the Pisa Hills, an itinerary through the Tuscan countryside, which highlights many small towns that boast great traditions. It’s an area between Pisa and Volterra, and it  extends in the vicinity of the Arno, Egola and Elsa rivers. It embraces  stunning landscapes and places, such as  Casciana Terme, Capannoli, Chianni, Crespina, Lari, Palaia, Ponsacco, Terricciola, Cascina, Collesalvetti, Fauglia, Laiatico, Lorenzana, Montopoli Valdarno, Peccioli, Pontedera, Santa Luce, San Miniato and Collesalvetti .

The rolling Hills of Pisa  gives birth to Top Red & White Wines:

Like other talented Wine Producers within  this zone , Fattoria Fibbiano is an example  of Pisa’s Great Winemaking Potential, that is  only to be revealed in all its splendour.  I am feeling optimistic that this area is set to receive long overdue attention. Matteo was an Excellent Guide and Wine Educator. It was so natural for him to explain all that concerned his farm and how Wine is made from Grapes to Wine. His Passionate Wine Tasting remains for a long time among my memory . I am eager  to learn much more about the Super Wines of Pisa, that’s why another visit to Fattoria di Fibbiano will be a must!

I can just  imagine myself relaxing and sipping a Glass of Your fabulous Wines under a grape vine trellis with a  view of green cypresses marking the contours of the  gentle Tuscan hills! 

Grazie mille Matteo! 

 

 

Enjoy it! 

Stefania

Seville

Seville Alma Latina

“…And crazed by the horizon, 
it mixes in its wine
Don Juan’s bitterness
with Dionysius’ perfection.
Seville to wound.
Always Seville to wound!…”

García Lorca

Seville is located on the banks of Guadalquivir River and It is the Capital of Andalusia. It is the Fourth Largest City of Spain and it’s considered the Artistic, Cultural, Financial, Economic and Social Center of the South of Spain. The Metropolitan area of Seville has a population of more than 1 million people.

Seville  has become one of the most popular choices among visitors to  Spain: a Cultural Melting Pot, its towns and villages are like mosaics and columns on which the History of Tartessians, Iberians, Arabs and Christians is written and kept alive. This town was the most important city in the world several centuries ago when the Spanish trading fleet would bring back the riches from the Americas up the Guadalquivir River  where they would be bought by European traders to spread throughout the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe. Reminiscent of those days you can still see the Torre de Oro (Unesco World Heritage Site) and the Old Tobacco Factory (currently used by the University of Seville). Seville  remains the center of the Flamenco World, both for music and dance. Apart from Flamenco, Seville offers an Amazing Culinary Experience with Tapas Bars found on every corner and the Variety of Food that they offer is truly astounding. While mostly famous for its traditional Spanish and Mudéjar Architecture, here also boasts a wide variety of modern buildings and places of interest to see.

Seville  is a city that you could stay in for weeks and still not explore every corner. However, the good news is that 24 hours in Seville is enough to at least give you a good taste of what there is to see and do. Getting to Seville from the Airport is easy thanks to the EA City Buses, which let passengers get to downtown (Plaza de Armas) with about 35 minutes. It is without a doubt the cheapest mean of transportation (€ 4,00) to reach Seville. Taking a Seville Airport Taxi (around 15-20 minutes) costs approximately € 23,00.

Follow my quick guide on How to Spend 24 hours in Seville grab your comfortable shoes, and explore one of Spain‘s most memorable cities !

 

 

City’s Old Town

I stayed in  the City’s Old Town to explore

  • the Cobbled Streets of  barrio Santa Cruz :  It is the most picturesque and delightful part of the city, and it looks like Parisian boulevards, and It’s full of beautiful old palaces and churches. The area is bordered by Calles Mateas GagoSanta Maria La Blanca, San José, the Jardines de Murillo  and the Alcázar . It’s s one of the best ways to pass a long morning or afternoon in the Andalusian capital. And don’t worry if you get lost, because it’s a rite of passage for the first-time visitor to Seville to become happily disoriented in Santa Cruz !
  • the Cathedral: it  was conceived on the site of a former mosque during the city’s reconquest;  builders and city planners wanted to make it so grandiose that they’d be taken for madmen. Mad or not, your visit to Seville will start with the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world;
  • the Giralda Tower: the monument’s confluence of different architectural styles is a reflection of the cultures that have risen and fallen in Seville. The result, eclectic and remarkable, is fascinating. Originally a Minaret for Seville’s Primary Mosque, the first section of the Giralda was built in the Almohad Style by architects Ahmad Ibn Basso and Ali de Gomara. In 1356, the four bronze spheres that had crowned the tower fell to the ground and were destroyed. The bell tower is in Renaissance Style and was designed by in the 16th century. At the peak of the bell tower, at 104 metres high, a special weather vane can be seen: El Giraldillo, another symbol of Seville
  •  the Breathtaking Alcázar Palace: the Spanish word alcázar comes from the Arabic al qasr, meaning “castle.” Throughout its history, the magnificent structure saw use as both a fortress and a palace. The earliest known use of the site was for a Visigoth basilica. The Moors promptly destroyed it after arriving in Seville in 712. In its place, they built a military fortress, the remains of which can still be seen in some parts of the surviving Alcázar today. By the 12th century, the Christian Reconquest was in full swing across the Iberian Peninsula. After King Fernando III recaptured Seville from the Moorish rulers in 1248, he converted the existing  Alcázar structure into a Christian palace. Over the next few centuries, the ruling Christian monarchs were continuously renovating and adding onto the site, transforming it into the Splendid Royal Residence we know today; 
  • Plaza de Spana: this great building is Seville‘s most impressive after the Cathedral, for its sheer scale and grandeur. It is a semi-circular brick building, Renaissance/Neo-Moorish in style, with a tower at either end . In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-meter canal crossed by four bridges, and in the center of it all is the Plaza itself. You can rent small boats to row in the canal – the Plaza is known as “the Venice of Seville”. A major tourist attraction, it is the finishing point of horse-and-carriage rides. The Plaza is situated inside Maria Luisa Park, next to Avenida Isabella La Catolica, a pedestrianized avenue with ice-cream sellers and bike rental stands – this is the best way to reach the park, entering near the Teatro Lope de Vega and Fabrica de Tabaco. You also can reach the park from the Prado de San Sebastián (served by metro, bus and tram) on one side, or the river on the other;
  • the Old   Triana Market : as I walked away from the center of Seville over the Triana Bridge, and across the Guadalquivir River, I decided to get energy in the 150 year Old Triana Market to go on with my adventure!  There are lots of Food & Wine Vendors that sell their product here.  It’s a perfect place to stock up on food for a great tapas lunch, like the one I  had at Loli Cerveria. I can’t forget my Sevillian Menù: mushrooms filled with a homemade mayonnaise, fried octopus with sweet and sour piquant pepper sorbet , fresh tomato salad with tuna and swordfish  and a of course a glass of  the Top Spanish White Wine  “Verdejo” . In the lower part of the market are the remains of the Castle of San Jorge, the seat of the Inquisitional Court. The barrio of Triana is less touristy than the center of Seville. This area was once the home of dockworkers and fishermen.

 

Nightlife in Seville. Tips for living “la marcha

 

Seville is famous for its vibrant Nightlife, which extends until dawn and beyond, and cannot fail to impress in comparison with major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona.

In Seville there’s a wide choice of Nightlife for all ages, including Jazz/Music/Night/Flamenco Clubs, Cabarets, Music Halls, etc. In winter the Bars in the center and other spots offer the best places to keep warm and follow la marcha. It’s common to begin with a beer or two and maybe a tapa, then head to a Bar de Copas as the night goes on. Those still wishing to continue often hit a discoteca to dance  until 6 or 7 am. We’re all different when it comes to what we want for Nightlife, so I’ve tried to offer some spots to enjoy the nightlife or la marcha in Seville.

  • Dinner at Casa Robles : it’s an intimate, cosy and comfortable restaurant in the heart of Seville ; it serves delicious meat or fish menus,  and it also boasts an excellent wine list. I had  Fish crudités, and a Cod à la Brás, made from shreds of salted cod , onions and thinly chopped (matchstick-sized) fried potatoes, all bound with scrambled eggs; 
  • Seville‘s Night View  at EME Hotel’s Roof Garden: it’s the best Rooftop Bars in Seville for the creative cocktails and stunning view. Here  your  Sevillian Night  turns into an Unforgettable Memory with its sophisticated atmosphere and its direct view over the Cathedral and the Giralda
  • A Typical Sevillian Bar at El Mariscal : a Dancing Night at this small Bar hidden away in a narrow romantic street of Calle Mariscal in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood. A very lovely place and perfect to end your stay in Seville .

Seville  is the city that captured my heart quickly. I fell in love with its narrow streets, its tiny bars, and its stunning Beauty– and, of course, with its Amazing Food & Wine. I greatly admire the devotion of the locals to their city; they’re obsessed (and rightfully so) with its Festivals, Climate and Cuisine. 

I have to say that in the midst of My Love Affair with Seville , I left! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Seville soon. 

hasta luego

Enjoy it! 

Stefania

Vinoè 2018: Wine Exibition at Stazione Leopolda, Florence

“One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.” 
― Charles Baudelaire

Florence is not only the “Cradle of the Renaissance”, because its historical center is a triumph of art, but it’s a lively city . There are lots of things to do, such as traditional Festivals, Art and Cultural manifestations that represent the core of the city and its inhabitants. Experiencing Florence in this way means  living the city as a local! 

As the capital of Tuscany, Florence has remarkable Wines, most notably the deep red wine Chianti Classico. Florence offers Wine Festivals lots  all the year long.  In addition, every restaurant, every cafe, sometimes every vendor on the street sells Florence’s best Wines. Above all Tuscany is famous for its Chianti , made with perfect purple Sangiovese grapes grown in the golden sunlight of the Tuscan hills. You’ll also find fine Wines like the”Brunello di Montalcino”, “Pomino Vin Santo” and other “Trebiano White Wines”, and “Moscadello” varieties for sweet wines! It takes a long time to speak about Wine in Tuscany, so it’s better to participate in the Wine Exibition ““Vinoè”, held in Stazione Leopolda, Florence, from from Saturday 27 to Monday 29 October 2018.

“Vinoè”now in its third edition, is  an event dedicated to Italian and International Wine Excellence , and it is organized by FISAR (Italian Federation of Hotel and Catering Sommeliers). There are not only exihibitors with their best bottles of white, sparkling, rosé and red wines, but also cooking shows . 

“Vinoè” is a meeting point for Wine Lovers.  It is possible in 3 days  to discover: 

“Vinoè” is a really beautiful and inspiring experience. There are lots of visitors and I have the fantastic opportunity to taste High Quality Wine such as: 

Three Extraordinary Wineries  give me the idea what Passion for Wine and Life means. 

I want to share with you my favourite Wineries of this unforgettable Wine Kermesse: Claudio Cipressi Winery, Molise”, “Piccini/Tenuta Mora, Tuscany” and “Tenuta del Travale, Calabria”They are 

Claudio Cipressi Winery, is located in San Felice del Molise, Campobasso. Since 2014 it has become officially certified as organic . 

Molise is a beautiful region with a unique landscape. It is largely uncontaminated and the vineyards have great potential, which is why Claudio Cipressi cultivates 16 hectares with enthusiasm. Claudio Cipressi has reintroduced the Tintilia a native white grape variety.

“Tenuta Mora Winery”  is owned by the historic Tuscan Producer Tenute Piccini, one of the most popular brand of Chianti, Chianti Classico, and Brunello Wines in Italy and the world.

“Tenuta Mora  is a boutique Winery located on the Etna volcano, a black mountain looking at a blue shining sea, a unique place able to craft hidden wine gems. The two vineyards of “Tenuta Mora ” are located at about 650-700m in Contrada Rovittello, in the municipality of Castiglione di Sicilia and Contrada Torre, in the municipality of Linguaglossa. The philosophy of “Tenuta Mora Winery” is one grape, one territory. Their main grapes are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. The average age of vines sits at around 15 years old . Vineyards on the Etna feature extremely fertile volcanic soils at an altitude of 650-700 meters above sea level (2100-2300 ft), with important temperature variations between day and night considerably influencing the quality of the grapes. Other properties under the Piccini umbrella are Valiano in Chianti ClassicoVilla al Cortille in Montalcino, Tenuta Moraia in the Maremma Toscana, and Regio Cantinain the Aglianico del Vulture DOC zone of Basilicata.  They are passionate about Winemaking! 

Tenuta del Travale”  is located in Rovito, Cosenza, a thirty minute drive from the spectacular blue sea of the Tyrrhenian coast in Calabria.

Calabria is a wine region waiting to be discovered. Calabrian Wine has not received the recognition it deserves, even though the region of Calabria has a very long history of vine cultivation. The territory is gorgeous, but the economic problems of the region have prevented it from achieving its full potential. A goal that was pursued with determination by the owners of “Tenuta del Travale” , Raffaella Ciardullo and his husband Nicola Piluso. Today they run this stunning  estate revitalising the old territory.  They carry on the intent of defending the ancient Calabrian origin of Nerello Mascalese with one single label “Eleuteria” (there is  some evidence that Nerello Mascalese may be related to Mantonico Bianco, an ancientCalabrian grape). “Tenuta del Travale” covers two hectares of hilly terrain. Founded in 1993, the estate cultivates today only 2 varieties of vines, Nerello Mescalese and Nerello Cappuccio, from which are produced Red Wines with the IGP recognition

 “Vinoè” 20018 is not only a sensorial experience. It’s the perfect place where you can understand why the story behind each Wine in your glass matters. There’s the Value of Work according to human passion and effort. An example of Authentic Life to follow in the caos of these times!

Enjoy it ! 

Stefania