Hibiscus Blooms – Isola Madre

May 31, 2016

A unique opportunity to visit the Borromean Islands, and in particular the Isola Madre, is represented this year by the opening, in September, of the Avenue of the citrus fruit to admire the extraordinary collection of hibiscus of the Princes Borromeo. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lakes Maggiore & Orta-A season of Music

March 26, 2012

by courtesy of Silvia Lorenzini for The Lake District Blog

Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta, between the Provinces of Novara and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, are connected by green hills and by… great music.
There is a rich calendar of music events and festivals, awaiting you during the Spring-Summer Season 2012. Read the rest of this entry »


Skiing in Piemonte

January 16, 2012

Although most of the Olympic Piemonte ski stations are suffering from lack of snow, the area around Lake Maggiore has been gifted with abundant snow up in the mountains.

Web Cam Macugnaga 16 January 2012

Stay at Castello Dal Pozzo and spend a day skiing in the area. You can shoose to ski a different area each day, rather like changing your golf course.

Macugnaga, Devero and San Domenico all have from 50 to 240cm of powder snow to offer and excellent promotions to get you onto the pistes.!

– Macugnaga: during this week a day’s skipass  € 19 on Monte Moro.

– Devero: saturday 4 february day’s skipass free for children under 14.

– San Domenico: Happy Monday skipass €14

Web Cam San Domenico 16 January 2012

San Domenico 50-280cm

San Domenico is the starting point in the winter for the ski slopes of the Alpe Ciamporino (1975 m).

The village of San Domenico is situated at an altitude of 1,420 meters. It offers 30 km of ski slopes and facilities for snowboarding and freestyle, open spaces and walking paths, alpine skiing and snowshoeing
The snow park ha been  totally renovated with new equipment for all enthusiasts of acrobatic spins and jumps.
The opening of the lifts is guaranteed from December to early May due to a high quality natural snow
For alpine skiing, 30 km of professional ski runs served by 6 lifts. The easy and wide slopes of the Alpe Ciamporino are ideal for beginners and the excellent skischool allows everyone to improve their technique.
Cross country, hiking and snowshoeing trails. In Trasquera there is a nice cross country trail of medium difficulty, 5 km ski run that runs through an enchanting forest of conifers.

Family ski pass 56€:

Web Cam Alpe Devero 16 January 2012

L’Alpe Devero 60 – 190cm

L’Alpe Devero is the ideal place for skiing in all its forms: from alpine skiing to cross-country, from children to adults, from beginners to experts, the area offers everyone the chance to have fun thanks slopes of easy and medium difficulties.

L’Alpe Devero is also the kingdom of snowboarders, freeriding and backcountry.
You can reach the summit of Monte Cazzola with three lifts: you can ski up to an altitude of 2212 meters in 4 beaten pistes for a  total length of 8 km and many off-piste routes, in the woods. For cross-country skiers, short and easy paths for a total of 7 km.
For snowboarders, Alpe Devero offers “Jambopark”, an area equipped for stunts, jumps and dedicated to freestyle.

Web Cam Macugnaga 16 January 2012

Macugnaga Moro 30-270cm

You can reach Monte Moro (2868 meters) by two cableways. The station offers blue runs, red runs and black runs and over 18km of ski pistes. Macugnaga also has two ski schools for those wanting to improve their technique.

For snowboarders, Monte Moro offers an equipped Pink Snow Park served by two lifts

For Nordic skiers, there is a beautiful trail with sections of varying difficulty.

In town it is possible to rent ski equipment in several sporting goods stores.

Ski pass €23-28 per day.


Unusual Hotels – Hotels of Ice

January 16, 2012

Hotel de Glace - Quebec Canada

Ice hotels provide a unique experience for its guests. They tend to be located in slightly or very remote regions surrounded by fantastic landscapes and wildlife. Not for the faint hearted but without doubt a very special experience. Available from January to end of March normally.

Read the rest of this entry »


Winter Pictures

January 14, 2012

In the Alps, more than a metre of fresh snow in 5 days. Absolutely fantastic.

On the Lake back in Italy, no snow, no rain, autumn colours but cold at night.

Read the rest of this entry »


Ushering in the Year of the Dragon

January 7, 2012

January 23 The Year of the Dragon

Chinese New Year Celebrations

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. Read the rest of this entry »


Epiphany in Italy – January 6th

January 1, 2012

La Befana arrives on 6th January bringing sweets or sugar coal for naughty children

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated January 6 with a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. The traditional Christmas holiday season in Italy lasts through Epiphany.

La Befana

Italy’s traditional celebration includes the tale of a witch known asLa Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.

According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. She got lost and never found the manger.

Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana.

We Three Kings of orient are

See My Befana for La Befana song and more about the legend.

The origins of La Befana may actually go back farther, to the Roman’s pagan festival ofSaturnalia, a one or two week festival starting just before the winter solstice. At the end of Saturnalia, Romans would go to the Temple of Juno on the Capitoline Hill to have their augers read by an old crone. Many pagan traditions were incorporated into Christmas celebrations when Christianity became main stream. La Befana was a good substitute for the old woman who read the augers. The saying augur originated with this practice, too, as it was common to wish someone good augers.

La Befana Festivals

The town of Urbania, in Le Marche region, holds a 4-day festival for La Befana from January 2-6. Children can meet La Befana in La Casa della Befana. This is one of the biggest celebrations for La Befana in Italy.

The Befane races, Regatta delle Bafane, are held in Venice on January 6. Men dressed as La Befana race in boats on the Grand Canal.

Epiphany Processions and Living Nativities

In Vatican City, following another Epiphany tradition, a procession of hundreds of people in medieval costumes walk along the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican, carrying symbolic gifts for the Pope. The Pope says a morning mass in St Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for Jesus.

Rivisondoli, in the Abruzzo region, has a reenactment of the arrival of the 3 kings on January 5 with hundreds of costumed participants.

Epiphany in Milan

Milan has an Epiphany Parade of the Three Kings from the Duomo to the church of Sant’Eustorgio on January 6.

Befana sul Lago

Many towns and villages in Italy have similiar processions, although not as elaborate, ending with a living nativity scene, presepe vivente, where costumed people act out the parts of the nativity. Living nativities, presepi viventi, are often presented December 24-26 and repeated for Epiphany.

Stay at the Castello and enjoy Christmas italian style. Its a chance to earn an extra Christmas Stocking – unless of course you find “coal” in yours (obviously made of sugar!).