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Holiday, Vacation & Tour

 

Orvieto, Umbria

Orvieto, Italy is set upon a veranda of a picturesque cliff with walls that drop straight down into the valley below, creating a majestic setting for an ancient and protected Medieval town. The entire town of Orvieto places you back in time to Medieval times through the beautiful and unique artistry of the buildings, the view, and the atmosphere that is still prevalent today.

The birth of Orvieto dates back to the Etruscan civilization going back to around the 9th century....

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Orvieto, Italy is set upon a veranda of a picturesque cliff with walls that drop straight down into the valley below, creating a majestic setting for an ancient and protected Medieval town. The entire town of Orvieto places you back in time to Medieval times through the beautiful and unique artistry of the buildings, the view, and the atmosphere that is still prevalent today.

The birth of Orvieto dates back to the Etruscan civilization going back to around the 9th century. Inside the tufaceous caves, several artifacts were found to prove the fact that the city itself was built during that time.

By the third century B.C., Orvieto was annexed to the territories of Rome in which it remained under the control of Rome until its decline. At that time, Orvieto became a free municipality and saw battles with those wishing to conquer the area such as Guelphs and Ghibellines. Orvieto stayed faithful to the Pope through all the wars. With the support of Papal State, it began to prosper and by the 13th century was a very popular town in the area. During the 13th century, it had received the constitution of the General Council of the 400 and the election of the Captain of the People.

During this time, several buildings were erected including many holy buildings and palaces, many of which are still standing today. The Cathedral is one of the most popular, which was erected in 1263. The Cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic design and artistry.

In Orvieto, you will enjoy many other wonderful and unique buildings from the same period including St. Patrizio well. The St. Patrizio well was created in 1527 erected from the design of Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane. Other buildings around Orvieto that should not be overlooked include Saint Giovenale's Church built during the 11th century, the Palace of People Captain built during the 12th century, Saint Andrew's Church from the 12th century, Saint Domenic's Church from the 12th century, Soliano Palace erected in 1262, the Palace of the Seven from 1300, and the Mancinelli Theatre built in 1866.

 

Perugia’s Unforgettable Umbrian Jazz Festival

Every July, Perugia hosts the Umbria Jazz Festival, one of the most popular jazz events in Europe. And every year since 1973, this beautiful medieval hill city has drawn thousands of music lovers, young and old, from all over the world, to play and hear all styles of jazz. Local performers get a chance to jam with the experts and the streets are filled with people carrying instruments to concerts and music sessions.

Along with the indoor paid-entrance venues, the festival ...

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Every July, Perugia hosts the Umbria Jazz Festival, one of the most popular jazz events in Europe. And every year since 1973, this beautiful medieval hill city has drawn thousands of music lovers, young and old, from all over the world, to play and hear all styles of jazz. Local performers get a chance to jam with the experts and the streets are filled with people carrying instruments to concerts and music sessions.

Along with the indoor paid-entrance venues, the festival offers many outdoor concerts free to the public – a generous offer that makes a visit to this festival much less expensive that it might otherwise be. From the middle of the day until late at night, you’ll be entertained by top quality musical performances. These can be found along the Corso Vannucci and in the Piazza IV Novembre – the city’s historic main square – as well as the public gardens, known as the Giardini Carducci. The streets are still crowded well after midnight, with appreciative music fans enjoying impromptu concerts and singing, dancing, eating and drinking.

The best jazz can be heard in two magnificent opera houses, the 18th-century Teatro Morlacchi, and Teatro Pavone, dating from the 19th-century. These wonderfully elegant spaces with their domed ceilings and several storeys of box seats, make your musical experience all the more memorable. In contrast, you can also hear big name performers play in the sports stadium, the Santa Guiliana Arena, that holds up to 5,000 people, but you will have to book early for good seats. Tickets are required for most performances, but since prices can be as little as 10 euro, concerts are very affordable.

You will also find jazz being played in smaller, more intimate venues, such as the Rocca Paolina (the small Cannon Room of a half-ruined 16th-century fortress), and many restaurants, cafes and hotels. Here you can hear jazz at its intimate best, while you savour delicious regional specialities, made with fresh local produce. Be sure to sample the excellent local wines, including vernino, grechetto, trebbiano, arco del sovrano, and fratte. The many pastry shops offer special goodies in the shape of guitars and saxophones, and the museums feature jazz though paintings, photography and exhibitions – you’ll find jazz everywhere.

But even when there are no jazz concerts scheduled, shops, cafes, bars, museums and public spaces resound with popular music of all kinds – soul R&B, blues, gospel, pop and rock – as well as jazz. Everywhere you go, it’s a veritable feast of music and families, workers, and musicians of all ages stop to watch, listen and join in.

And if you feel the need of a few quiet moments, you could take a trip out into the beautiful countryside, where rolling hills are dotted with castles, fortresses and monasteries, and quality handmade ceramics are produced in enchanting medieval towns. Umbria is every bit as interesting as Tuscany, but lots less touristic.

The excellent festival website (www.umbriajazz.com) publishes details of the current year’s programme as soon as performances are confirmed in May. Some of the jazz greats scheduled for 2007 include: George Benson, Solomon Burke, Dave Douglas, Keb’ Mo’, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Pat Methany, Gary Peacock, Brad Mehldau, Joe Lovano, Al Jarreau, and Jack Dejohnette – all very popular jazz artists, so be sure to book early. Top off your visit with an unforgettable closing night performance at the Santa Guiliana Arena.

You can take the bus or train from all major cities to Perugia. The main train station is about 3 km from the centre of the city, so take a bus from outside the entrance to the train station. You can get cheap flights from Rome and Florence and other domestic connections, plus some international flights, but be sure to book well in advance for this immensely popular festival.

 

Indulge Yourself At Perugia's Famous Eurochocolate Festival

Perugia's Eurochocolate Festival, an annual event that is famous throughout the world, is the most popular chocolate festival in Europe. Chocolate is big business in Umbria and Italy, with annual sales of 350 million euros. Consumption has doubled over the past 10 years, rising from two to four kilos per year, per person – and is still growing!

This year’s festival, ChocolAge, runs from 13–21 October 2007. Each year a new theme is developed, and commerc...

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Perugia's Eurochocolate Festival, an annual event that is famous throughout the world, is the most popular chocolate festival in Europe. Chocolate is big business in Umbria and Italy, with annual sales of 350 million euros. Consumption has doubled over the past 10 years, rising from two to four kilos per year, per person – and is still growing!

This year’s festival, ChocolAge, runs from 13–21 October 2007. Each year a new theme is developed, and commercial, educational and cultural activities are planned around the theme. For nine delightful days, Perugia in Umbria is transformed into a chocolate lovers dream – a fantastic occasion to discover and enjoy the highly celebrated Umbrian hospitality.

More than a million chocoholics visit this beautiful city each year, to sample chocolate delights from all over Europe. You can scramble with the locals for free trimmings as chocolate artists carve huge sculptures out of the massive metre-high blocks of dark chocolate placed around Piazza IV Novembre. Join special guided tours of the city, peruse the many exhibitions and live demonstrations, and enjoy the numerous and generous free tastings, when samples of chocolate from all over the world, including Vietnam, Cuba, Bolivia and Papua New Guinea, are handed out on special trowels.

If you enjoy shopping, the city’s charming promenades are filled with vendors – more than 700 booths offer an incredible array of goodies made with chocolate – pasta, salami, liquors, cheeses, desserts, drinks and a vast array of pastries, cakes and candies, and much more.

During the festival, Perugia also hosts numerous educational and cultural events – cooking classes, banquets, chocolate theatre, a chocolate cooking competition by top chefs, and finally the much-anticipated Eurochocolate Awards. The many seminars and talks will increase your knowledge about this delectable favourite and afterward you will have no doubt about chocolate’s distinct nutritional and dietary benefits.

You can also take part in informative and lively forums that highlight the production of cocoa as a sustainable industry for third world nations. The festival has a special area that features certified Fair Trade cocoa products, made from cocoa that was bought from Third World farmers at a fair price. This cocoa was produced with full respect for workers’ rights and grown in an environmentally friendly way. Most Italian artisan chocolate makers use cocoa with the Fair Trade certification.

If you need some exercise to work off all that overindulgence, there are excellent tennis courts in the city and plenty of places to walk and cycle. Around Perugia, you will see some of the region's most innovative architecture – the Renaissance-era Rocca Paolina Fortress, the Priori Palace and beautiful churches such as the Duomo San Lorenzo and the Basilica of San Domenico. For the more adventurous, there is plenty of climbing, trekking, rafting, canoeing and kayaking in the hills nearby.

If you are more into relaxation, you will enjoy the aromatherapy sessions that utilise cocoa and chocolate facemasks. The Eurochocolate festival also showcases the latest in chocolate beauty treatments – and some are free. What a fantastic way to top off nine days of celebrating the ‘food of the gods’.

Perugia is Umbria's capital city, known as the ‘green heart of Italy’, and the area, with its fascinating array of mediaeval towns and hilltop villages, is a popular tourist destination. The city is 175 km from Rome and 150 km from Florence and is easily accessed by road and train. Inexpensive flights are also available from Rome and Florence. You can hire a car at the airport and train station, but be sure to book well in advance as this is a very popular festival.

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