So as most people know the month of August in Italy is a month when the country comes to a near standstill and people go on their coveted and long-awaited Holidays. When I moved to Italy back in 1992 it was usually a four-week event and as you can all probably imagine I was quite surprised and pleased since I was coming from a culture where to accommodate a week-long yearly break you had to prove that you deserved the break due to your outstanding performance and make sure that someone could cover your back at the moment!
In Italy, it is a diverse approach but in the last years, it has been reduced to a two to three-week time frame which is still not bad! Taking advantage of the so-called calm COVID 19 controlled situation we opted on push starting our Casa Chiesi travel adventures back into action (remember we have gone through a severe indoor lockdown that started in February and dragged on till middle May with a slow return towards a very timid venturing out approach.
Along with Betti, we opted for a visit to her Mom who is up in the Val Seriana region of Italy (where we discovered this beautiful lake) and from there, the idea was to explore two art cities Ferrara and Ravenna (watch this space for upcoming articles!) to then close it out down at our dear friends place down by Recanati in the Marche area.
I have to admit that the approach was to avoid large crowded areas (such as beaches or isolated islands) so as not to risk any issues with the virus. We also rented out full home settings via AirBnB and constantly wore masks everywhere we went.
All I can say is it felt great to get back in the swing of things as travel bloggers even if most sites had access restrictions and the number of tourists we encountered where mostly Italian and in way smaller numbers than expected.
So all I can say is that Casa Chiesi is back with new articles very soon…
As most of you probably can assume we are still in a sort of dream-like state with the COVID 19 pandemonium so before our trip on Friday down to Ferrara, we decided to do a quick pitstop and visit Betti’s Mom who every Summer spends the month of August up in the beautiful mountain setting that is Val Seriana precisely in the town of Bratto.
We have been coming here for about 27 years now but have never ventured out past this valley to visit the wonderful settings that this area has to offer. On a whim and thanks to the previous exploration of Betti’s sister Patty, we decided to visit a location called Lago Moro after hearing the wonderful and enthusiastic descriptions from her sister.
Yesterday we set out along with our niece Camila, her son Olmo and Betti’s sister Patty by car towards the curious lake located in the middle of the mountains. I was already in a relatively sour mood after I saw the prospects of us skipping a nice Trattoria lunch and having to stick to our diet regime of Bresaola and Integral crackers.
So as we arrived and parked we started our descent from the parking lot toward our destination and loa and behold we stumble upon the most breathtaking view of this beautiful lake: Lago Moro which I immediately decided to call “il lago magico” (the magical lake).
The place was relatively full of lake bathers that take advantage of renting out beautiful homes close to the lake but all and all I have to say that quite friendly and predisposed to free up some space so we could put down our stuff and immediately jump into the water. Betti and I were expecting super-cold freezing water but to our amazement, the water was cool and perfect temperature along with a crystal clear water quality which we were not expecting at all!
After a fantastic swim along with the whole family (plus I forgot to mention our niece’s trusty dog Bolla who made sure that the whole “branco” was protected under his trusty watch. A small picnic calmed my trattoria temptation and was why better due to the beautiful setting. The lake roughly covers 8 km so right after lunch, we decided to take the wooden walkway around the lake from which we shot these photos.
If you ever get a chance and our in this part of Italy I urge you to visit “my magical lake” Lago Moro!
Lago Moro in Val Camonica
One of the pleasures that we have here at Casa Chiesi is planning future articles and trips (specially once Covid19 starts giving up it’s grip on this wonderful country that is Italy).
That is why we are supper happy to have been indicated as one of the top 10 Italian Travel Blogs over at Feedspot which covers Bloggers worldwide in a vast amount of categories!
Some awesome news in these times when travel is slowing reopening worldwide. Viva Italia!!
Link to Feedspot is here
We had the inmense pleasure of meeting some wonderful people when we attended last years Traverse 19 event which was held in the beautiful city of Trento – Italy. Being one of our first every Travel Bloggers experience Betti and I were super happy to engage and take advantage of the fantastic tours along with mind opening lectures and presentations from fellow Bloggers.
Of these we had the pleasure of meeting Kashyap Bhattacharya and his partner Sabrina Wulf. Kashyap is the mind behind Budget Traveller, a fantastic blog and the author of a great book that covers Hostels (The Grand Hostels: Luxury Hostels of the World) of which he is definetly an expert in.
Due to the non-existent travel situation we currently find ourselves in they have both embarked on supporting a movement called AdoptaHostel to give a helping hand to a series of Hostels worldwide via a system of coupons that one can purchase for future use once this whole situation hopefully comes back to normal.
We love the initiative and invite you to check it out over at https://www.adoptahostel.com/
As we have reached the 51t day of our lockdown status here in Milan, Italy I have decided to give our friends and followers an idea of how things have evolved in these last 6 weeks at the Chiesi-Beltran household. As most of you know this Italian Lifestyle Blog is our platform on which we express our thoughts and love for this beautiful country that is Italy. You can read a bit more of the people involved since we started back in the Summer of 2014 here at this link
As most of the people we know around the world the arrival of this virus has affected everyone’s life in one way or another: from major health concerns plus the economical impact on our pocketbooks this one comes right up there with something that at least I have personally not come across in my 60 years on planet Earth.
From seeing the images of our empty cities on the news along with information on the web to hearing accounts from friends and family of which direction this might take us it becomes quite hard to dispense optimism and empathy but still….we maintain a positive outlook
and try our best to keep a level of calm which we clearly know is hard to do based on a month (plus or minus) of lockdown.
But now for the positive stuff that has come out of all of this. Human beings need to have a sense of communication that before all of this had somehow gone lost in the crazy and production-based society we live in. Betti and I find ourselves with extra time to explore all those things and ideas that before were not possible to envision or develop. We tend to leave the Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other distratcions as an evening only option and somehow now look at all of it with a different eye. In fact, Betti would rather prefer to watch documentaries on subject matter which is culturally enlighting instead of a bizarre shows such as the likes of Tiger Tail or similar.
From a work standpoint of view, we are fortunate in the sense that my work revolves around the digital transformation of companies and even if Betti is a make-up artist and for now fashion is on hold she is teaching remotely to the diverse schools that she is involved in and working on a new project that revolves around Make-up. I am blessed to be married to such a talented person!
Our daughter Zoe is also in the house and being a 25 year old woman we were concerned that she would go in a downward path being locked up for so long but to our surprise, she is upbeat and working on her career as a photographer and digital entrepreneur. We are quite impressed!
Another beautiful thing that has come out of all of this is that we have established a close relationship with our neighbors which has evolved towards the idea of having a weekly Saturday dinner party which we do on the landing of the fifth floor between both apartments placing a plant in between and keeping a safe distance but setting up candles and cooking phenomenal Italian Food. Tonight is Saturday so we are already preparing for what we end up dreaming about all week long: la cenetta con il vicini!
Another interesting thing that has occurred in this period is that we have decided with the advance of the days and then the weeks to tune out from the news which in the end only brings negative vibes to the whole equation. Better to concentrate on positive stuff and learn or polish new skills related to both our professions.
In regards to our Casa Chiesi project even if the whole travel scene here in Italy has come to a grinding stop we are still writing and posting material about our love per Italia! Once things slowly pick up we will be back on the beaten path traveling and showing great sites, food, art, history, and traditions.
To all our dear friends and followers big hugs and stay as healthy and safe as possible.
Baci e abracci a tutti
As we go into the third week of a new way of living due to this virus which has touched everyone’s life near and far one has to look at the positive things that we can at least derive from this new phase in what we call live on this planet.
Yes we can not deny that this is a game changer for people worldwide in more aspects that one can envision but at the same time we should
embrace the opportunity to mantain an approach that embraces calm and collectivness along with a new sense of empathy that had gone out the window in the current world we were living in.
When we started Casa Chiesi about 5 years ago we embarked on the adventure of showing our friends near and far the beauties that this country has to offer and these last 4 weeks have really shown us how strong this population is and how they are fighting with our their hearts and souls an invisible enemy. We are sure that this will all pass and we will come out of it with a stronger sense of unity and love.
As always we are here to keep promotion the wonders that Italy has to offer and waiting for the moment whe we can embrace each other in our love for all that Italy represents! Hang in there as this will pass….
Some magical and impressive moments from the last weeks in a locked down scenario follow…
Aperitivo with our neighbors from a safe distance!
Nazim on an empty train from Genoa to Milan two weeks ago
Arrival at Stazione Centrale and certificate check
Betti teaches Makeup to her class online
Virtual Dinner with our friends
Traverse Travel Bloggers Pub Crawl Quiz
Baci from Nazim and Betti!
A lot of times we get questions on our blog and other social media platforms regarding what we consider to be top-notch Italian products. And as you can all imagine Betti is very picky regarding any subject matter that relates to her country and origins (you should see how fussy she gets regarding the right type of pasta and how to cook it!)
Well after a lot of deliberation and consideration we decided to start researching products and services that relate and tie into our passion for Italy. So it is currently under construction (these things take time!…none of the presto, presto approach here). So while we are researching, contacting and building we would love for you to sign up to the Newsletter that is specific to the upcoming store)
Right now we have a holding splash page over at https://italianstore.casachiesi.com where you can sign up so that we will let everyone know when it’s ready.
Grazie mille and thanks for the support! Also please feel free to comment below on any suggestions that you would love to see us add into our store!
If you have the chance to pass by Genoa before March 1st don’t miss the exhibition “Anni 20 in Italia”.
Carlo Carrà, Felice Casorati, Galileo Chini, Giorgio de Chirico, Fortunato Depero, Achille Funi, Virgilio Guidi, Alberto Martini, Arturo Martini, Fausto Pirandello, Enrico Prampolini, Alberto Savinio, Scipione, Gino Severini, Mario Sironi, Adolfo Wildt:
these are the artists who interpreted the difficult transition between the end of the first World War and the advent of Fascism, the roaring ‘20, revolutionary and feverish years, set between two enormous, wicked war disasters.
The exhibition takes us through the less glamorous sides of this interesting historical curve, a real cross-section of the society of the time, from which emerges the “modern classicism” that characterized the stylistic experiences of the twentieth century and Magic Realism.
I truly love this period of Italian art perhaps a little deserted by foreigners who often focus on more famous remote eras. This exhibit is a very good opportunity to take a look at our 20th century.
Palazzo Ducal Exhibit Info:
In this not that many times that one gets a chance to explore his own city from the point of view of how a tourist from abroad would see it so obviously when we received a wonderful invitation from the folks at City Wonders Walks to partake of their Milan City Highlights walking tour we were super excited to join.
Ellen Curtin from City Wonders had set us up for a visit on November but Betti’s fashion work got in the way and we had to reschedule for December 8th (Ellen was marvelous in being flexible with our schedule and since this is one of their bestseller tours was able to find a gap in December…grazie mille Ellen!).
City Wonders Tours offers a series of walking tours through the major cities in Europe and when we were contacted we immediately concentrated on Italy (obviously being Italian Lifestyle bloggers) and we were super impressed with the offerings that cover the golden boot! Another amazing fact that we discovered is that they are the only Official Vatican Partner to offer special tours of the Pope’s residence and adjoining museums! Definitely bucket list material for Casa Chiesi!
Living in Milan we told Ellen that we would love to cover one of the Milan based one’s so we opted for the “Best of Milan Duomo Cathedral & Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ Tour!”
The main reason was the fact that the last time we had visited the “Cenacolo” (as they call “The Last Supper“) was prior to the famous restoration of 1995. Plus for those of you who know it is super hard to get tickets on the same day to visit since they are usually sold out months prior to any sort of scheduling idea you might have in mind. In fact, when our friends mention that they would like to see it on the fly we tend to laugh and opt-out for a nice lunch at a restaurant or a visit to the Castle or Duomo. These along with tickets to La Scala are the hardest ones to get!
Our tour was set up for a 2.30 pm appointment at the famous Milan Duomo which we have covered in this prior article. Also, check out our live stream from the top of the church when we started our blog back in 2014.
When we reached the destination we were greeted by the staff of City Wonders who started out by handing over the wireless audio repeaters which hook up to the guides wi-fi mic so you can follow the tour in perfect audio comfort and without the need for someone shouting out or everyone gathered in a close circle which we tend to dislike from previous tour experiences. Brilliant!
Our guide Katerina Panayotova started this tour by preparing us to enter the Duomo which on this particular Sunday was packed due to the fact that it was the famous Saint Ambrose religious Holiday. We took a look at the line and started to get concerned only to have our fears dispelled since the tour permits you to skip the lines both at the Duomo and The Last Supper! Sweet!
Once inside Katarina left us impressed with the way she described the history behind the famous Duomo highlighting the famous story of the nail of the crucifixion stored way about the main plateau and additional historical facts surrounding the artwork inside and the history behind the origin of this impressive church. A precise and fantastic storytelling approach made for a super interesting way of presenting these historical tidbits. And her timing/transitions on all that was described could not have been better!
Once we exited the Duomo we proceeded to make way through the main crowds through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (the World’s first Shopping Mall dating back to 1877) on our way to The Brera district passing by La Scala and Castello Sforzesco (which is the castle close to where we live!)
Our set appointment at Leonardo’s The Last Supper was at 5.15 pm so we had to make headway so as to not miss out on the entrance time which is limited to small groups and in which you are only permitted to be inside for 15 minutes.
Once inside Katerina went into detail regarding the presence of symbolic imagery in the painting that I was not personally aware of and that an expert like her expressed in an entertaining and non-stuffy way! (I was accustomed to tours where you feel you are in a rigid school class non-fun approach but this was far away from that!).
Here is a short video that gives you an idea of how the tour went so you can get the glist of it
In conclusion, a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon with an extremely organized company w that shows you Italian historical gems bypassing extreme lines, potential frustrations and tour guides that offer a wonderful approach towards the sites one encounters! We are looking forward to highlighting some other ones in the coming year!
For more information here is their web site and Social Media links:
City Wonders Web Site links:
This last week brought in the very dismal images from a flooded Venice for which most of my friends got back to me saying: But isn’t it always underwater during the rainy season? Obviously what they are referring to is the famous “aqua alta” phenomenon which due to the high water table and occasional rains makes the city have to bring out the wooden planks and tourists can move around relatively easily by way of these elevated platforms.
But this time it’s a whole different story! I had the chance to speak via video chat with our fellow travel bloggers friends Daryl and Mindi Hirsch of 2FoodTripers who were able to waddle out and make it to Verona yesterday and told me they had never experienced anything like this! And it was their first time in Venice! They were interviewed on the Newsweek Online edition regarding how dangerous it was. Check out the article at this link
A state of emergency has been declared and obviously all the politicians were on-site yesterday expressing solidarity and doing the typical photo ops of which Italians are a bit fed up about and we have seen in previous situations such as the famous Aquila Earthquake back in 2009. The sad part about this is that there is an ongoing project to save the city from the lagoon water invasion called Mose which nobody actually knows how it will work and has been under construction since I arrived here back in 1992! Here is some more info on this controversial project >> link
Venice is one of my favorite cities in Italy (to the point that I told Bett I would love to live there in the future!) so to see this devastation is truly heart-wrenching. Let’s hope that this is not another mute wake-up call that falls on deaf ears!