3 Food Factories That You Can Visit In Italy

Bologna, the food capital of Italy has a very special way of welcoming visitors. The locals allow them to see how they make their most signature, gourmet food items: Parma ham, parmesan cheese and traditional balsamic vinegar.

They do this in the form of tours that you can join any time. The food tours also allow you to pay for a lunch where you get to enjoy these Italian delicacies. These tours, as you can imagine, are organized by tour firms in the region. Let’s look at the gourmet items one by one. Continue reading

Venice flooded – 4th Time in a Decade

There is nothing new or extraordinary about water in the streets of Venice – well just as long as it flows in the channels and doesn’t flood the streets and squares. Venice has been fighting high water for years, because of the rising sea level and the subsidence of the sandy grounds, threatening the city to sink into the sea. A barrier to protect the city from repeated winter flooding, which has been planned for decades, is due to be finished by 2015.

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Fontana di Trevi: the most famous fountain in Rome

No matter how often you visit Rome, the Fontana di Trevi or Trevi Fountain is always on the agenda. Maybe it’s because of the legend and tradition that if you throw a coin in to the fountain, you are guaranteed to return to the eternal city. Regardless if this is true or not, the Trevi Fountain has something magical about it and is one of these places that change depending on mood and day and also the amount of visiters at any one time.

The shape of the Trevi Fountain is not round, as the typical fountains in the different piazzas usually are. Additionally the Trevi Fountain is a true masterpiece and can be included to the most amazing and beautiful ones around the world. This is way millions of tourist visit Rome every year and undoubtedly the Trevi Fountain is one of the most photographed fountain in Rome.

The area surrounding the Trevi Fountain is always filled with people, not only because of the fountain itself, but also because this area is particularly beautiful, filled with caf̩s and shops. There is undescrible feel of energy here Рthe sound of the rippling water and the murmur of all the people. The sculptures on the fountain are really detailed and beautiful, especially because they are in the back of the fountain and built upon the antique Palazzo Poli. This makes this area seem bigger and more magnificent.

The name Fontana di Trevi derives from the latin word “trivium”, which means “the crossing of 3 streets”. In fact the Trevi Fountain can be found on a Piazza, where 3 streets meet: Via De’Crocicci, Via Poli and Via Delle Muratte.

The constuction of the Trevi Fountain took around 30 years and was completed in 1762. It is by far the biggest fountain in Rome with a width of 20 meters and a height of 26 meters. At night this fantastic baroque fountain gets special lighting which emphasizes its beauty even more. The Fontana di Trevi has been featured in the films “Three Coins in the Fountain” from 1954 and the award-winning Federico Fellini Film “La Dolce Vita” from 1960.

It is estimated that the amount of coins thrown into the Trevi Fountain lie in the region of €3.000 to €12.000 per day. I would love to believe the story, in which the coins of the  fountain are collected each night and are donated to charity. But there are stories circulating in the italien press, whereby thieves steal the coins and the police simply look on!

The Fontana di Trevi is located in the middle of the historic old town of Rome, directly next to the Spanish Steps. By foot the Trevi Fountain is easily accessable from most attractions in Rome. This impressive attraction is definitely worth a visit, when in Rome and shouldn’t be missed!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

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The leaning tower of Pisa impresses with its history, the myths that surround it, its architecture and its appeal. The leaning tower of Pisa also plays an important role as an economic factor for not only the city of Pisa but the whole of Tuscany.

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Its History

The leaning tower of Pisa as we see it today on the “Piazza dei Miracoli” was only built this way by coincidence. According to the original plans, the tower of Pisa was meant to be a unique Monument: At a hight of 100m, the tower was supposed to be a freestanding bell tower, called Campanile in italian, and was supposed to tower over all other bell towers in Central Italy.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Leaning Tower of Pisa took place in August 1173.  The construction start date has been carved into the tower near the entrance to the tower of Pisa. However rather than August 1173 you will find the date August 1174 carved, because back then the new year began in March for the Pisans.

After just ten years and the first three floors completed the building works were discontinued. The substrate gave way on one side and the tower began to lean towards the southeast. Today we know that the Campanile was built on the edge of a former island. There probably was a harbour here in ancient times, which had already silted up long before the contruction work on the Tower of Pisa had started in the Middle Ages.

Almost 90 years later contruction on the tower of Pisa resumed. An attempt to compensate for the inclination, four more floors were constructed in 1272 with thin walls and sloping floors on the overhanging side. The construction stopped again until 1372 when the 7th and last floor of the Leaning Tower of Pisa was completed. That same year, the bell was finally installed with its 7 bells. However it was built in the opposing angle to the tower, so that the ascent to the belfry has 6 steps on the south side but only 4 steps on the north side.

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tuscany

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tuscany

From “failed” structure to a World Culture Heritage

This unique architectural history is the reason behind the world fame of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The misalignment also contributed to other legends that surround the tower. It is said that Galileo Galilei was inspired by the inclination to discover the laws of gravity and to verify it from the tower.

Since its completion there had been fears of the tower collapsing. In the Middle Ages, therefore, no one dared to ring the bells but still the leaning tower of Pisa always attracted visitors from all over the world. In 1987, the sloping structure and the and the “Piazza dei Miracoli” were awarded a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Unfortunately the Campanile had to be closed in 1990 for a duration of 11 years for renovations and rescue work. The site has been reopened again in 2001.

Every year thousands of tourists flock to the “Piazza dai Miracoli”. The total height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is 55meters from the ground and it weighs around 14,5 tons. A spiral-shaped staircase about 1 meter wide leads to the belfry at the top of the tower and you will have to climb 296 steps to reach it. Each floor has an exit to the colonnade, each of which consists of 30 columns. Once you reach the top you get a wonderful view of the plain of Arno on the one side and on the other side you can see till the Parco die San Rossore. Entry to the tower will cost you €15.

The “Piazza dei Miracoli” with the cathedral and the leaning tower, however are not the only attractions in Pisa. For just €9 you can rent a bike and explore the whole city of Pisa. As Pisa was one of the 4 great maritime republics in the middle ages and it still retains a good selection of monuments from that era. The Arno River and the museums are well worth a visit. Thanks to all the green surrounding this region it’s a good city for strolling, relaxing and enjoying at a leisurely pace.

The street fountains of Rome

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Nasoni, street fountain, Rome

Nasoni, street fountain, Rome

The history of the street fountains in Rome is as old as that of the world. They are called Nasoni and you will find over 2,500 dotted around the city, with the first one ever being installed in 1874. Nasoni translated means “big nose” and each one is marked with the traditional Roman S.P.Q.R which stands for Senatus Populus Que Romanus (“the Senate and the People of Rome”). S.P.Q.R. is the Nasoni near trevi fountain and appears almost everywhere throughout the city (coat arms, manhole covers, civic buildings, etc.) . The nasoni are round and stout, made of cast iron, and stand about 3 feet tall and produce chilled, fresh water.

Nasoni near trevi fountain

Nasoni near trevi fountain

There are more of these Nasoni near trevi fountain than in any other city worldwide. But for a first time visitor to Rome, you will more than likely just walk past them without realising they exist. Contrary to many, the nasoni do provide you with clean, great tasting ice cold drinking water – in fact it is the same water you get in the roman households. The water for the nasoni comes from a huge reservoir in Peschiera, which runs through channels approximately 70 miles long before emerging from the spout of a street fountain.

Of course you can buy bottled water for €2 if you feel safer, or you could just keep filling one bottle up FOR FREE … it’s your choice!


Initially, only 20 street fountain were installed in the city and you will find some of these originals in the historic Trastevere neighborhood. As Rome expanded throughout the 20th century, more Nasoni’s were placed in the newer districts, especially around outdoor markets, piazzas and squares. You will find around 280 Nasonis within the city walls. Even after 130 years since they first appeared, these fontanelles are still very much a part of the daily life in Rome.

nasoniConcerns over the high consumption of drinking water (as the fountains run continuously) have led to some taps being installed on a trial basis some years ago. Unfortunately they were victims of vandalism, which resulted in them being made redundant. However, the flow of water has another 2 useful purposes, which may not be so obvious at first, rather than uselessly seep into the ground:

  1.  it keeps the water circulated and so prevents the formation of foul odors that occure from stagnant water and
  2. it serves the urban fauna (dogs, cats, birds) as an important source of drinking water. Any additional unused water is then reused for the irrigation of the green areas.

Map of Nasonis around Rome
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