Hvitserkur - Iceland

Stunning Iceland: travel tips and tales

BIU_TRAVEL_diaryIceland is a land that teaches.
The nature here is strong, omnipresent, mistress, and leads the game. The game of light, for example, that in summer cheats the mind and with the midnight sun invites you to never sleep: it expands the time, multiplies the possibilities. Or that of matter, which transforms the rugged lava fields in soft meadows thanks to the benevolence of the lichens that cover them.
Iceland teaches that nature commands and does what she likes.
This is the place of contact between the outside and the inside of the Earth, Hell and Heaven talk to each other in an obstinate way: the geysers mark, the fumaroles warn, lava bubbles to the surface, volcanoes lay down the law. Sulphur, steam and sand are mixed with sun, rain and wind.
Iceland is the island of the unexpected, where the morphology lies, hiding dangers and wonders: to the inexperienced eyes conceals majestic waterfalls, emerald craters and expanses of icebergs.
Here the journey has to be lived outdoor and, even if the car is the most suitable mean of transport to cope with the local harsh weather, the true penetration into the Icelandic nature is worth wet clothes, feet aching, windblown faces.
It was discovered in the winter, and this is the reason why it was called “The Island of Ice”, but if the first explorers would have arrived here in the summer they would have understood that this is a green island, where the shades of the vegetation shine even without sun. Forests, meadows and sea live on the abundant water falling in every season, and offer a lush sheen in return. Continue reading

Forsthofalm Hotel

In Austria hotels teach the wellness of the forest

200 kilometers of ski slopes during winter, 720 km of trails for mountain biking and 480 of cycle paths during summer, more than 15 golf courses in the district, and then riding, rafting, paragliding and hiking: for the lovers of outdoor activities, the Saalfelden-Leogang Austrian region is a paradise located in the heart of Europe.
Two Salzburg mountain villages, Leogang and Saalfelden, that developed a tourist industry in strong symbiosis with the surrounding nature: in addition to the huge Bike Park, many routes were created between pastures and shelters specifically to connect the travelers with the local culture and with the dazzling environment in which they are.
There are also four theme parks designed for families: Nature & Stone dedicated to nature and animals, The Path of Silence through places of hermits and great views, a Fun Trail with games for children, and an Art Trail with sculptures and art works.
The local culture offers four castles, art galleries, a museum dedicated to the regional mining tradition and the Hutten mining village, with its late Gothic forge still in use.
The hospitality has perfectly evolved in tune with this symbiotic sentiment towards the nature. Hotels like the Forsthofalm, for example, have made the respect for the environment and integration with it a huge selling point. Continue reading

Photo Wikimedia Commons

Happy Birthday, Eiffel Tower!

In 1889, 125 years ago, the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated on the occasion of the Paris Universal Exposition (forerunner of the Expo), and the lady is still in fine shape.
Its creator, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, had certainly not imagined that his most famous creation would become the romantic symbol of the French capital, brightening with glittering golden lights for five minutes every hour every night, as for the excitement of being in the center of such an amazing city.
The ambitious plan to create the highest iron structure in the world (324 meters) to mark the centennial of the French Revolution was for Eiffel purely an engineering matter: it had to dominate the Champ de Mars standing up despite the wind, that was all. Utopia realized.
Reaching the goal, Eiffel shocked many intellectuals of that time, which saw the Parisian skyline spoiled by this iron monster whose shape was chosen exclusively to support the function, as the modernist philosophy required in contrast with the classic idea of beauty.
Commissioned as a temporary structure, it was supposed to last 20 years but was then never demolished: today, it is not only the symbol of the whole France but, with its 7 million visitors per year, is the most visited paid-for monument in the world.
To celebrate its 125 anniversary, the city of Paris has created a series of memorable events: launched the web domain .paris and an Instagram account dedicated to the Tower, created on a Google platform four virtual tours to discover its history, promoted art-shows. Continue reading


MONA: the striking Tasmanian most famous art museum

It can be reached in several ways, but the boat is definitely the most evocative: from the Hobart waterfront in Tasmania, going up the Derwent river accompanied by pods of dolphins, you can reach the MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art of David Walsh.
A private underground art gallery opened to the public in 2011, in a land traditionally frequented by tourists in love with nature and outdoor activities, has been a strong element of breech, curiosity, incentive.
The land of the Tasmanian Devil, the irascible and quarrelsome animal become famous all over the world especially thanks to Taz, the fierce cartoon character created by Looney Tunes, for three years now has a new and important tourist attraction .
The creator of this venture is a bashful and introvert man who has become – he says – rich by chance: actually, David Walsh (third son of a single mother) worked 100 hours a week for more than 10 years to study a mathematical model that would allow him to win bets, especially in the field of horse racing.
He dropped out of University and made the most of his scientific talents, becoming a successful professional gambler.
In 1995 he decided to invest his earnings in buying a picturesque wine farm in the south of Tasmania, the Moorilla Estate: he bought it for $ 2.3 million from the Alcorsos, an Italian family immigrated in the ‘30s and ended in bankruptcy. Continue reading

Rocca di San Silvestro

Museums, mines, ancient tombs and nature: treasures of San Vincenzo, Tuscany

We go slowly into the heart of the mountain, leaving the light behind us.
In silence, sitting on a little yellow train, we enter the cold and damp darkness of the Earth, through tight tunnels. Around us, a shell of chalky stone exudes the stories of the men that, 30 tons of stone per day, dug the metalliferous hills in search of copper, lead, silver and iron.
In our ears only silence and rails, but in the lairs around us we can almost hear the voices of the miners that spent here, in this world without sun, all their lives. Focusing on the darkness, we could hear the rhythmic beat of the picks.
We are in the Temperino Mines within the San Silvestro Archaeological Park, an area that since the Etruscans era has been dug, drilled, explored and, in 1996, transformed into an open-air museum where you can get in touch with a world that no longer exists, made up of shovels, explosives, dust, oil lamps, helmets and hard work.
As we get off from the tunnels, we climb to the San Silvestro citadel, a small medieval village inhabited by miners and casters who worked in the adjacent mines.
While here a restless wind blows, the valley underneath declines silently towards the sea. Around us, many human traces of past centuries interrupt the vegetation: the sixteenth-century Lanzi’s villas, nineteenth-century deep wells with their metal castles, the colonnades built by the British Etruscan Mines at the beginning of last century.
San Silvestro’s is just one of the beautiful parks of Cornia Valley, behind San Vincenzo. Continue reading

San Vincenzo

San Vincenzo: Tuscany between tradition and research

Touristic heart of Cornia Valley, surrounded by metalliferous hills and landmark of the Etruscan Coast, San Vincenzo is at an interesting turning point.
Recovering from decades of large tourist influx, this Maremman town is now driven by an entrepreneurial and cultural change that is reshaping the way the territory could be lived and thought.
Along with the Art Nouveau villas and beach resorts that have made its seafront famous, during last years new ports, agritourisms and beautiful parks were born around it.
Not only beaches, then, but also sea, land and amazing flavors.
“The Sailor”, the bronze statue by Giampaolo Talani that stands like a lighthouse on the quay, welcomes the boats that dock in the new port. With his good luck charm minnow, he also greeted us as we sailed towards Baratti and Populonia thank to San Vincenzo’s Yacht Club, which gave us men and means to approach that green horizon made of medieval castles, Etruscan tombs and rows of pine trees: the wind was good.
The sea was emerald, and had the sound of spring: the roar of a lion who is eating his prey just before taking a nap. We felt it all night long, out the window of our apartment at Villa Scoglietto. We left the shutters wide open so as not to lose the litany of the waves and their incessant rummage in the sand and in the lives of men: an irresistible attraction for the people like us, coming from the Po Valley, where nature is far more quiet.
Behind us, the Mediterranean bush and hills full of ancient stories. Among oaks and arbutus, lentisk shrubs and rosemary bush, Tuscan entrepreneurs full of passion inhabit the hinterland working on local excellences. Continue reading

The Green Rice Fields of Vercelli

Via Francigena’s flavors: the Pilgrim’s Menu in Piemonte

Once upon a time the world was walked.
People undertook pilgrimages for penitence, faith, or to get in deep contact with their self. They used to set a route, calculate the time needed to walk it, and determine a date by which they would return. If after a year from that date they would not have arrived back home, they were declared dead.
Pilgrimages were therefore also a way to vanish without a trace and escape from unwanted marriages and programmed destinies. During pilgrimages people got sick, died, got married.
Via Francigena was, in this sense, one of the arterial roads of European trade and Christian routes, more charming and safe than official paths: from Canterbury to Rome and then to Jerusalem, pilgrims – Sigerico Archbishop in first place – used to cross the continent on Via Francigena from north to south wearing only poor clothes and a cloak, relying on the hospitality of monasteries, taverns, inns.
Last April, the Tourism Office of Turin presented a wonderful overview of what was the Pilgrims Menu during the Middle Ages, now brought back up – thanks to the participation of 23 restaurants – along the four paths of Via Francigena in PIemonte: 650 kms through the morainic amphitheater of Ivrea, the Susa Valley, the rice fields of Vercelli and Monferrato’s vineyards. Continue reading

Berlucchi's cellars

Berlucchi wines: the Franciacorta dream become true

BIU_TRAVEL_diaryHe loved hunting, music and cars. For nothing in the world he would have missed the migration of larks or the Mille Miglia race, he who refused to follow his father’s footsteps on the path of medical science and chose the lure of the land.
Guido Berlucchi, born in 1922, collector of classic cars and landowner, was not satisfied with the lazy farming and the low rank fruits of the family estate. He decided to entrust Franco Ziliani to change the fate of his unstable white wines: Ziliani was a young and brilliant winemaker, full of ambitions and ideas, just come back in Franciacorta from the Wine School of Alba madly in love with Champagne.
The encounter with Guido Berlucchi, in 1954, was the spark that made him change the destiny of a business company but also of an entire territory .
No scientific analysis of the land, no laboratory study, that then would have discouraged any attempt: only intuition, dedication and gamble led to the first production of Pinot di Franciacorta in 1961.
Three thousand bottles that mean revolution: the champenoise vinification method, Palazzo Lana that becomes the heart of the local turmoil, the success of sparkling wine that convinces many entrepreneurs to cover the hills with vineyards instead of concrete. Continue reading


We are digital invaders: we come in peace

The amazing success of last year edition and the great results obtained have encouraged Digital Invasions to raise the bets.
This year, in fact, they do not propose just one sleepless night dedicated to the Italian cultural heritage, but 10 consecutive days in which citizens are invited to “invade” their territory, telling its stories and promoting its treasures.
In the last edition Branditup Travel was able to bring Lodi region among the 10 most tweeted Italian destination, and this year we’ve decided to try to involve also institutions, citizens and companies to create a community able to gain awareness about our territorial potential.
Lodi needs to redraw its vocation, and digital culture is just one of the factors which could enable and accelerate such a complex identity process. As far as we are concerned, we are investing a lot of time in training and information.
We tried to involve as many people as possible, and sought support everywhere: sometimes it went well, sometimes not. Bring people to see their own territory with new eyes is often the most difficult obstacle to overcome.
We had a lot of ideas, here below the ones that we were able to realize. Continue reading

Rocca Albornoziana and the Bridge of Towers

Spoleto: beauty and peacefulness

BIU_TRAVEL_RUBBERSTAMP-ddoppioSpoleto is a perfect destination for a traveler, it offers a multitude of beautiful spots to discover without the tourist crush of more famous cities: no queues or annoying waiting times, no crowd in front of frescoes and statues: just quiet walks, amazing sight and good food.
We discovered it thanks to Fantacity, the Festival of teenagers’ creativity: an event that involves children in workshops and games for more than three days thanks to origami, clay, homemade pasta . They excavated sand, decorated cakes, wove strands of colored wool, learned the names of trees and birds. Workshop after workshop, we slowly discovered the city climbing and walking among bridges, churches and amphitheatres .
It was pouring rain when we arrived and the stormy sky allowed us to enjoy a special light and incredible color contrasts between the angry gray clouds and the shine of mosaics and stones. We contemplated the city from the olive groves around St. Salvatore’s Church, we climbed up to the Rocca Albornoziana to stay speechless in front of the immense Bridge of Towers, we walked through the amazing crypt of St. Pontian. In the museums, we discovered the ancient Roman origins of Spoleto and the avant-garde artists of the last century, medieval crucifixes and renaissance fashion.
Many possible paths, a diversified cultural proposal, where architectural and natural beauty combine to create that unique setting that Umbria reserves to its visitors. You need good legs and big eyes, but the generosity of this land rewards you. Continue reading