Follow by Email

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The eternal love story that never grows old

Today I want to take to one of my favorite cities near Venice :  the very romantic Verona.
Verona is one of the most beautiful cities of the north of Italy in my opinion. A walk around the city is like stepping back in time. 
The historic city of Verona today contains elements representing its 2,000 year history: the Roman period, Romanesque, Middle Ages and Renaissance which have survived intact until the 19th century.  Although Verona’s buildings suffered significant damage during World War II, the post-war reconstruction plan (1946) maintained its original structure and the reconstruction process was carried out with utmost care.
There are many things to see in Verona, like the Arena, the Roman amphitheater, the Castle Scaligeri, the Castelvecchio, the Piazza delle Erbe, the Lamberti's Tower, the Verona Cathedral. 
And of my favourite attraction, is for sure  the ‘Casa di Giulietta’ or ‘Juliet’s House’ the home of one of Shakespeare’s favourite, though decidedly unlucky, heroines. 
La Casa di Giulietta), Via Cappello (just off the Piazza delle Erbe) is supposedly the location of the famous balcony love scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The house is a major destination for tourists, as the tiny courtyard is normally packed with lovestruck teenagers photographing each other on the famous balcony. Being there done that and I hope you will do it too.
However, did you know?
1. Juliet never lived here, she is a fictional character and never ‘lived’ anywhere.

2. The house was bought from the Cappello family by the city of Verona in 1905, and the similarity of their name to Capulet (Juliet’s surname in the famous play) resulted in the city burgher’s declaring that it was ‘Juliet’s House’ and so the famous tourist attraction was created.
3. Tiny love notes cover the courtyard walls. It is said that if you leave a declaration of your love at Juliet’s House you will be together forever.
4. However, thanks to people sticking their notes up with chewing gum and damaging the structure of the building, if you stick a note there now you can be fined 500 euros!
5. If you touch the right breast of the statue of Juliet, it will bring you luck in finding your own true love. Perhaps a safer option than love notes today.
6. People still write letters to Juliet, asking for her advice in love. A team of volunteer ‘Juliet’s secretaries’ answer them. They work out of an upstairs room in the house.
7. The house, and letters became the subject of a film ‘Letters to Juliet’ starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave.
8. The house does in fact date from the 14th century, and is a wonderful example of Gothic architecture.
9. You can see the famous balcony where Juliet stood as Romeo serenaded her.
10. The balcony is not however an original feature of the house, a former inn, but was cobbled together from pieces of a 17th century sarcophagus, and attached to the wall specifically to provide Juliet’s House with a balcony
11. The rooms are filled with authentic pieces from the time of Romeo and Juliet, allowing you to really get an idea of life in a well to do house in Verona in their lifetime.
So, if Juliet lived here, what about Romeo? A couple of streets away the house at 4, Via Arche Scaligere has been designated as his home. It is private, so other than a sign on the wall there is nothing much to see unfortunately.
Each year, thousands of people visit Juliet’s House, and real or not, it’s a beautiful place to visit on a romantic break. 
I guess we all want to believe in fairy tales of an eternal love story......I surely do!!
From Venice With Love,

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Is this place in Venice affected by a terrible curse?

We Italians we have maybe the tendency to believe more that other people in superstitions. One of the most popular superstitions is for sure the “malocchio” (mal=bad occhio=eye) or the evil eye.
It’s the look that one person gives to another if they are jealous or envious. According to Italian folklore, those giving the malocchio can cause harm to someone else. Legend says it’s just another way of putting a curse on others that can cause physical pain such as head or stomach aches or even cause misfortune.

Are they real things or legends? Who knows right?  But then you hear stories about certain places and you start to wonder.

Like this one from my own Venice.

Ca’ Dario, is a house built between 1479 and 1487 for Giovanni Dario (a secretary of the Venetian Republic senate), and it is located in Dorsoduro on the beautiful Canal Canal Grande.

It is often called “Bellezza Maledetta” “Cursed beauty”. In Venice they say that if you are inside you can feel some “inquietudine” anxiaty. It is one of the most beautiful and caratteristic buildings of the Grand Canal.

I’ve always heard bad things about this building. In fact, the building is famous for a curse: according to the legend, its owners are destined to bankruptcy or to die.

Let me tell you a little more about it.

Marietta, Dario’s daughter, inherited the house together with Vincenzo Barbaro, her husband. Later, he lost all of his possessions and died under mysterious circumstances (probably stabbed). Marietta, couldn’t afford such a loss and killed herself. Their son Giacomo also died during an ambush on the Island of Creta.

Barbaro’s family then sold the building to a diamond merchant, who lost his wealth because he couldn’t afford to keep the palace and died later on.
What’s next? An American millionaire, relocated in Venice after the war because he was accused of being gay, killed himself. His lover had the same faith in Mexico.

We’re not done yet:

  In the 1960s, an Italian tenor, Mario del Monaco, had a car accident (luckily, he survived) on his way to Venice to buy Ca’ Dario. After the accident, he refused to buy it.

  Filippo Giordano delle Lanze bought the house in the 1970s and was killed there by his boyfriend, who also died in London.

  Christopher Kit Lambert, manager of the band The Who, fell in love with the building but ended up using drugs and was arrested in 1974. He also revealed that he was persecuted by ghosts inside the house.

 In the 1980s, Fabrizio Ferrari bought Ca’ Dario from Kit Lambert, but his sister Nicoletta died in a car accident.

  In the 1900s, Raul Gardini, a businessman, bought the palace: he was involved in a financial scandal and suicided in Milan.

 Also actor Woody Allen was considering buying the Palace in the 1990’s. But he decided not to do it after hearing the history of the Palace.
  Last episode, in 2002. A bass player, John Entwistle, suffered a heart attack a week after he rented the building.

What now? The property is owned by an American company since 2006. The buyer is unknown.

Some venitians pointed out that on the fa├žade of the palace overlooking the Grand Canal, may be read “Urbis Genio Joannes Darius”, which means “Giovanni Dario to the genius of the city” but the anagram of the Latin phrase becomes: “Sub ruina insidiosa genero”, which means “I bring treacherous ruins to those who live under this roof”. Other says that the building was build on the ruins of a cemetery.

So next time you are cruising on the Grand Canal look for Ca’Dario and see if you can feel something spookie…….I always watch it from a distance and I wonder.

Ca Dario’s is one of the few buildings that is often for sale on the Grand Canal……just in case you want to take the chance.

From Venice With Love,


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cupido is coming to town

Cupido is coming to town once again!

And for his arrival all around the world, every February 14, restaurants make special menus, red candies and heart shaped chocolates pop up in grocery stores and hotels in the most romantic destinations, included my lovely Venice, fill up. 
Music has always been a way for me to express my feelings and how I felt in some situations. And love is often the focus of my songwriting. Love is also the key work for me to choose songs form my concerts. Love is also the way I live my life.
Is there any better festivity for a hopeless romantic like me? Answer: for sure no.
Even thought I think we should celebrate love everyday, to have a day dedicated to LOVE gives us “romantics: the chance to make it as lovely and unforgettable as we can.
Nowadays lovers exchange chocolates, candies and expensive jewelries. But how did Valentine’s Day become what is today?

They say that Its roots go all the way back to an ancient Roman ritual called Lupercalia, a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and to Romulus and Remus (founders of Rome). Lupercalia was later outlawed because of its un-Christian nature and Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day in honor of a martyr who lived in the 3rd century.
But it was during the 14th century that St. Valentine’s Day became connected with love.  Scholars say Chaucer was one of the first who linked the festivity with romance. Also, in medieval France and England it was believed that birds mated on February 14, that is why Chaucer used birds as symbol of lovers. By the 18th century, people started exchanging hand-made Valentine cards: it officially became the day of love.

Personally, I love intimate dinners or long walks, but usually the most appreciated gifts are said to be romantic escapes (what about a getaway on a beach in the Caribbean or a gondola ride in Venice at night?).
Concerts (people often propose during romantic songs!) and dinners in beautiful restaurants are also very popular. Another perfect date to me, would be to watch a romantic movie. 50 First Dates, Sleepless in Seattle and Roman Holiday are some of my favorites.

I did some researches because I love quick facts and Buzzfeed-like lists. So here are some numbers:

Valentine’s Day facts:

  1. According to a Hallmark research, more than half of the U.S.population celebrate Valentine’s Day by purchasing greeting cards.
  2. 150 million cards are exchanged each Valentine’s Day.
  3. More than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold.
  4. More than 220 million roses are produced for the holiday in a year.
  5. All together American spend more than 20 billion dollars for Valentine’s Day.
  6. 6 million couples are likely to get engaged on February 14.

There are also many Valentine's Day Superstitions. Here some of my favorites:

1. On Valentine's Day, the first guy's name you read in the paper or hear on the TV or radio will be the name of the man you will marry.
2. If you see a goldfinch on Valentine's Day, you will marry a millionaire.
3. If you see a robin on Valentine's Day, you will marry a crime fighter - maybe they mean Batman!
4. If you see a flock of doves on Valentine's Day, you will have a happy, peaceful marriage.

In Italy for the love’s day we usually go on a date or book a weekend somewhere. My top choices would be Florence, Rome, Positano and - guess what - Venice. 

And if you are in Venice on Valentine’s day here are three wonderful things to do you will never forget:

 1. Grab your loved one for an impromptu dance under the moon in St. Mark Square.
 2. Walk over the Bridge of Sighs hand-in-hand with your loved one while you visit the Doge’s palace.
  3. Leave the crowds and take a wander down less well-known alleys where lay the places to stumble across the real deal in some delicious Venetian cooking.
 4. Get lost in the rainbow color island of Burano. A dream in a dream!
You can’t go wrong with them.

And if Cupid has not sent his arrow to your heart yet and you are single? No reasons not to celebrate and here’s what you can do:

 1. Pamper yourself and buy yourself cute Valentine's Day gifts which could be flowers, a cute teddy or a dress you have been planning to buy since long or shoes. You may also indulge yourself by going in for spa or head to toe beauty treatment. Indulging in books, CDs, and gourmet meals can be a good way of enjoying the day for some.

 2. Have a fun extravaganza night  with friends: plan out a dinner, a movie or a Concert with best friends. You may also throw a “singles party” or “Un-Valentine's Day Party” at your home and have a blast. You will know that life is fun in the company of loving friends.
3.  Express Gratitude for friends and dear ones: instead of feeling depressed and ashamed for not having a significant other to spend the day you can spend Valentine's Day in a constructive manner by expressing love and affection for people around you. One can thank and greet Valentine's Day to one's parents, friends, colleagues, neighbors or anyone dear. Visiting hospitals and giving roses to sick can also be a touching way of experiencing bliss on Valentine's Day, or  visiting an orphanage or old age home who are always in need of love and affection.

And as for me this year on Valentine’s Day?
I will be in Roanoke Virginia sharing love and music live in the studio of Blue Ridge PBS where my television show “From Venice With Love” will air at 7PM.
So what can you do also on Valentine’s Day if you live in Roanoke, Virginia ? Have a nice dinner for two ready, with a nice glass of prosecco,, candlelight  the TV tuned in on Blue Ridge PBS ad enjoy my super romantic television special From Venice With Love with your loved one.
You don’t live there? You can play my DVD of “From Venice With Love” or my CD……and love will be in the air .

Let the countdown starts……

From Venice With Love,