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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The epicenter of Venice

A few months and it will be May and I will traveling with a group of fans ad friends to my beautiful Venice. It will be so special to take all of them to visit the places I grow up and the places I love. We will have so much fun eating at my favorite places, enjoying wine tasting, cooking classes and I will serenade them with two intimate concerts one in Verona and one in Venice. 
I like to share the beauty of my hometown and today I want to share some info about Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark's Square in Venice, for sure the the epicenter of Venice. 
Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark's Square, is the largest and most important square in Venice. Being the widest swath of flat, open land in the water-bound city, it has long been a popular meeting place for Venetians and visitors. The Piazza's rectangle design was once a showcase for the city's aristocracy and is most impressive from its sea approach – a reminder of Venice's centuries-old legacy as a powerful maritime republic. 

Called "the drawing room of Europe", a quote attributed to Napoleon, Saint Mark's Square was named after the unusual and stunning Basilica of the same name that dominates the east end of the square. The slender Campanile di San Marco, the Basilica's bell tower, is one of the square's most recognizable landmarks.

History of Saint Mark's Square

Constructed in the 9th century in front of Saint Mark's Basilica and the adjacent Doge's Palace, the square was enlarged in the 12th century after a canal and dock were filled in. The campanile (bell tower) was rebuilt three times—the latest version was finished in 1912. In the 16th century, during the sack of Rome, Jacopo Sansovino fled to Venice and constructed the lovely Loggetta del Sansovino, used as a council waiting room for the Doge's Palace. The Piazza was once paved with bricks in a unique herringbone pattern. But in 1735, the terracotta blocks were replaced with natural stone.
On the waterfront, the paved areas, known as La Piazzetta (little square) and Molo (jetty), are overseen by two 12th-century columns. Atop each is a statue of Venice's two patron saints: Saint Mark in the form of a winged lion, and Saint Teodoro (Theodore).

What to See and Do in Piazza San Marco

Being Saint Mark's Square the epicenter of Venice – almost everything in the city revolves around it.
In the summertime, the square is teeming with tourists, but fall and spring see somewhat fewer crowds. Winter, although wet and cold, can be very romantic and ethereal.
No matter what time of year you visit, here are some things to do and see on Venice's Saint Mark's Square.
Visit Basilica San Marco -  Saint Mark's Basilica  is one of the most stunningly beautiful and intricately designed cathedrals in the world; no wonder it is the city's top attraction. Pure Venetian, the church's architectural style encompasses Byzantine, Islamic, and Western European influences, and has more than 500 columns and 85,000 square feet of intricate, golden mosaics adorning the main portal and the interiors of its five domes. Inside, the Basilica's museum contains a fascinating collection of carpets, liturgies, and tapestries, along with the bronze Horses of San Marco, brought back from Constantinople during the 4th Crusade.

Listen to The Bells of San Marco - The Campanile di San Marco is the bell tower of Saint Mark's Basilica. Rising 323 feet above the Square, the freestanding tower has a loggia that surrounds its belfry containing five bells, topped by lion faces and Venice's version of Lady Justice (La Giustizia).
Crowned by a pyramidal spire with a golden weathervane in the likeness of the archangel Gabriel, the tower was last restored in 1912 after it collapsed 10 years earlier. Fun Fact: In 1609, Galileo used the tower for an observatory and to demonstrate his telescope.

Wander the Halls of Doges Palace - Adjacent to Saint Mark's Basilica is the opulent Palazzo Ducale, Doge's Palace , the erstwhile headquarters of the Doges, rulers of Venice. The Doge essentially functioned as the king of Venice, and his massive palace functioned almost like a self-contained city. The former assembly halls, apartments, and harrowing prisons are part of the self-guided or guided tours available here.

Witness Antiquity at the National Archaeological Museum - Founded in 1523 by Cardinal Domenico Grimani, the museum tells the story of Venice: a city of art, glass, ceramics, and jewels. Located across from the Piazzetta, it has an array of Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian artifacts, as well as pre-protohistoric archaeological finds. There's also an impressive collection of 16th-century works acquired over the centuries from Venetian nobility.

Appreciate Venetian Art at the Museo Correr - Behind the rows of shops along the Procuratie Nuove is the Museo Correr , which occupies the building's upper floors. One of 11 civic museums in Venice, it displays a wonderful collection of Venetian art and historical artifacts.
Sip a Bellini at an Outdoor Cafe - Piazza San Marco is lined by Procuraties (three connected buildings) whose arcaded ground floors host elegant cafes with outdoor tables. Order a Bellini – a cocktail of Prosecco and peach nectar invented in 1931 – as you watch the world go by. But be prepared to pay some extra than normal, because a front row seat on this iconic square doesn't come cheap.

How to Visit Piazza San Marco
Location: Piazza San Marco, 30100 Venezia
Save time by buying a San Marco Square Museum Pass . The pass includes admission to the Doge's Palace, Museo Correr, Archaeological Museum, and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. It's ideal for travelers visiting Venice for a day or two.
Traveler Tip: In an effort to curtail the damage by pigeon droppings on Venice's many UNESCO Heritage sites, feeding the pigeons is prohibited; violators could be fined €50 to €200.
Would you like to join us on an unforgettable trip to see Venice with me?
Visit for info, dates and price.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Venice : Cats and Pest

Dear readers,

In Venice we are getting ready to celebrate the Madonna della Salute, which will take place November 21st.  I will share all about this major celebration in Venice in my next BLOG.

But what do cats have to do with this celebration?

The recurrence of the Feast of the Madonna Della Salute originates from the great epidemic of the bubonic plague that struck the whole of northern Italy between 1630 and 1631. It’s the same one described by Alessandro Manzoni in his renowned romance "I Promessi Sposi" – The Betrothed. The transmission of the terrible disease in humans can occur through the sting of the fleas on rats.  

At the time of the Serenissima, cats were also embarked on boats that left for long voyages to the East. Yes, just the cats were part of the crew and represented an excellent defense against rats. Over the centuries the commercial traffic increased and, with them, the risk of embarking the notorious rodents. 

So the Venetians began to select very combative cat breeds, for example by importing "Sorians" from Syria. But the problem remained, so they even organized expeditions in Dalmatia to fill the ships of cats to be then left free between streets and squares of Venice. The grateful Venetians loved their cats, so the city became a paradise for this noble animal.

Despite the efforts the plague spread and decimated the population of Venice, but the cats remained and became a piece of the city's history, a part of the myth. Now we see very few cats , but the ones that remain are very satisfied with their long naps under the sun and their fed stomachs watching the gondolas pass by. The authentic cats of Venice are the biggest cats you will ever see, beautiful and friendly.

Look for them next time you are in my hometown. 
They are part of our Venetian history.

And if you would like to see Venice with me check the link here below to join me next year.

Much love,


To join me on my Fan Trip to Venice and the Veneto region in May 2019 visit 

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Friday, August 3, 2018

How to make an easy and delicious pasta

Dear readers,

I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful summer time. We had peaks of 109F here in LA, 41C for my European friends. But the weather is dry, so it's not so bad.

Today I want to share a very simple and quick pasta dish to prepare with a fresh and particular taste. Something  you need to try: Tagliolini with lemon.

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest, plus more for serving
  • ½ pound fresh or dried tagliolini or linguine
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra cheese to serve on the side
  •     fresh parsley 

How to make Tagliolini with lemon

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  2. Heat the heavy cream in a skillet and add the lemon zest.
  3. Drop the linguine into the boiling water. Cook pasta al dente. Drain.
  4. Add the pasta and lemon juice to your heavy cream and stir until just heated through. Add the Parmesan and the parsley and toss. Serve with additional Parmesan and lemon zest on the side. 

Voila’ your Tagliolini lemon dish is ready to be enjoyed.
WINE TO COMBINE: Beaujolais Village
Buon appetito e buon weekend,

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