Great things to do in Milan

In Italy, is said that the Milanesi are snobby and unfriendly, we don’t think so…but what is sure is that in Milan you’ll realize that the people seem to be always in a hurry and that they…run! Here below great things to do in Milan

Probably also because it’s a bustling, exciting city with a lot to see and to do and, since the only way to understand a city is to live it as a local…dress well (Milan is still the capital of fashion!), follow our tips and be a Milanese for one day!

Italian breakfast (from google)

Cappuccino and brioche (from google)

1 – Begin the day with an Italian breakfast

rigorously with a cappuccino and a brioche and remember that a real Milanese never sits but has his breakfast at the counter! There are a plenty of good places to go..the Milanesi are demanding! Here you find some tips:

  • Panificio Pattini: considered one of the best bakeries in town, in the heart of the charming Brera district. Psst…guess which one is the first stop of our Milan Food Walking Tour? 

    The Duomo reflected in the windows of Camparino

    The Duomo reflected in the windows of Camparino

  • Camparino: smell the history in this old café with art nouveau decorations located at the entrance of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

  • Pasticceria Marchesi: this pastry shop has been open since 1824 and still preserves the original furniture, a jump in the past and a festival for eyes and palate!

    Tram #1

    Tram #1

2 – Go by tram

Milan is easy to visit with public transportation, and our tip is to choose the tram if you can, specially the old number 1 which, with its wooden benches offers a real Milanese experience.

3 – Go see an art exhibition

Palazzo Reale

Palazzo Reale

After breakfast, go to see an art exhibition in one of the many museums, a good choice can be Palazzo Reale, where you can choose between 4 exhibitions, always of high cultural standard.

4 – Have lunch at a local favorite

Milan is a food mecca, where you can find a wide choice including street food, typical Italian trattoria and awarded, fancy restaurants…

Yummy panzerotto by Luini

Yummy panzerotto by Luini

  • Luini: buy one of their famous, heavenly panzerotti (panzerotto is like a small, fluffy and fried calzone) and eat it on a bench in the near Piazza San Fedele. 

  • Da Claudio: between Brera and the Sforza Castle, this fish shop, now also a restaurant serves plates of raw fish accompanied by a glass of sparkling white wine, a favorite lunch spot for the financial district suit and tie workers. 

  • Trattoria la Colonna (Via Santa Maria alla Porta 10 – website unavailable): a typical Italian trattoria in an historical building in the old city center. Traditional dishes in an homely atmosphere, that’s how Italy is expected to be :-)

5 – Go shopping…or at least window shopping

Probably you’ve heard about Via Montenapoleone and the so called “Golden Quad”, and yes, Milan is definitely a good destination for shopping! Whether in the city center or in other districts – Brera or Ticinese for instance – you’ll find sparkling shops for every taste. There are also interesting department stores and concept stores you can’t miss like:

La Rinascente rooftop bar

La Rinascente rooftop bar

  • La Rinascente: the first modern clothes store in Italy and a stop for everyone both Milanesi or visitors. The café at the 7th floor overlooks the Duomo’s spires…breathtaking! 

  • 10 Corso Como: one of the world’s most important concept stores, a visionary place where you can find a clothes store, a bookstore, an art gallery, a restaurant, a bar and even an exclusive B&B.

    Excelsior Milano (from google)

    Excelsior Milano (from google)

  • Excelsior: realized by Jean Nouvel in a former movie theater, displays a selection of fashion, perfumes, design, fresh flowers, wines and more in a frame of colorful video screens. Like doing shopping in the future! 

6 – End your day with an aperitivo!

You can’t end a real Milanese day without drinking an aperitivo! The Milanesi are so proud of this tradition and say that in other cities the people have no idea about what a real aperitivo is…yes, that’s probably a little bit snobby…The fact is that the Milanesi love to go out after work, drink something together, socialize and discover new places!

Take Away Bistrot Milan

Take Away Bistrot Milan

  • Take Away Bistrot: The address for the journalists who work in the near offices and definitely the perfect place for an aperitivo. Interested in knowing more about the Italian wines? Our Milan Wine Tasting takes place here, don’t miss it!

    Armani Bamboo Bar (from Google)

    Armani Bamboo Bar (from Google)

  • Armani Bamboo Bar: a luxury place at the 7th floor of the Armani hotel. We like it for the floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a stunning view over the red roofs and the Duomo, specially at the sunset.

  • Ostello Bello: this awarded hostel has two souls: easy chic hostel with cosmopolitan atmosphere and trendy place for locals.

Have you booked a Segway Tour with us? Remember that our guides are pure Milanesi and they’ll be glad to give you advices about what’s local, from hidden places to trendy bars, take advantage of it :-) !

5 things to do in Florence with teenagers

Florence is a very vibrant Italian city filled with students, young travelers, artists, professionals with a thriving international community. The quaintness, remarkable unique beauty and manageable size makes Florence an enjoyable city for teenagers to explore on their own.  Other than the usual touristic stops like museums and monuments, Florence has much to offer for families looking for things to with in Florence with teenagers. Family vacations can be challenging in terms of finding mutually agreeable activities that consider budget, fun, experience and adventure all in one. I know it’s a shock but your teen may not be as stoked as you’d imagine by the prospect of standing in line for an hour to enter the Uffizi museum which could take hours to fully explore. Coming to Florence with teenagers? We have some suggestions for fun activities which are teen-appropriate on their own to do either together as a group.

Shoe collection display at the Ferragamo Museum

Shoe collection display at the Ferragamo Museum

1. Ferragamo Florence.

Especially if you are traveling with a fashion-obsessed teenager, take them (or direct them) to visit the Ferragamo flagship store and museum in Florence in the high street fashion district of Via Tornabuoni. The museum at Ferragamo is probably one of the most exciting museums you could suggest to your teen. The shop has all of the latest designs on display, too! Perhaps you could treat them to an original Ferragamo €300 scarf? ;)

Florence-Bike-Tour-012.  Florence Bike Tour

Either as a group or for teens to do on their own, a bike tour in Florence is the perfect activity to get moving, discover sights and to enjoy the picturesque gem town of Florence on bicycle. Did you know that in addition to Segway tours in Italy, we also organize daily Florence bike tours? Our bike tour in Florence is a great activity for teens since it’s an ideal length of time (3 hours), a safe bike ride tour for teens on a cruiser bicycle, includes an entertaining English-speaking guide and finishes with a stop for an Italian gelato!

A deli stand in San Lorenzo Market (from google)

A deli stand in San Lorenzo Market (from google)

3. Take them to the San Lorenzo Market (Mercato Centrale)!

Italy is famous for their outdoor daily food markets and San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale is an iconic Florentine market establishment. Your teens will undoubtedly relish in the colors, smells, interesting local foods, market personalities and the novelty of visiting Italian butcher shops and fish mongers. Have them explore the market, tasting samples of Florentine and Italian delicacies along the way and discover exotic produce. Finish with lunch at Florence’s very famous Nerbone (inside the San Lorenzo Market) for delicious sandwiches, soups or pasta for an authentic Italian food treat worth every penny.

Making Gelato (from google)

Making Gelato (from google)

4. Learn how Italian gelato is made by visiting Rivareno Gelateria!

If you contact the management at Rivarano Gelateria in Florence, it is possible to arrange a gelato making demo where the staff (who some speak English upon request) shows you how they make gelato and a tasting is followed after of their seasonal specialties. It is also possible to request gelato making CLASSES where your teens can make their own gelato and eat their own creations. If you need help arranging this, let the staff at Segway Italy Tours know and we will do our best to mediate!

The Duomo from afar

The Duomo from afar

5. Climb the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore aka the Duomo in Florence!

This is a classic activity and a must do for anyone and everyone visiting Florence! Okay, maybe not everyone. With all do respect, one should be in fair health conditions as the climb is nearly 500 stairs. However, this should not be a problem for any young, healthy and able teen. Why will your teen love climbing the Duomo? Well, for one it has a bit of a scare-factor and a challenge that will incite the interest of teens as the stairwell is very quirky and winding- it will seem like they are climbing through a sort of dungeon castle with over 600 years of history. Throughout the climb, there are little windows perfect for peeking out and having your breath knocked out of you (not just from the stairs) but from the incredible scenery one can only see from the heights throughout the Duomo. The top of the climb has incredible art and a stunning fresco depicting scenes from the world famous bible. Visit the official website to learn more about opening times and tickets.

Visiting Florence with Teenagers? Contact the local experts at Segway Italy Tours for more ideas or resources on your upcoming family trip to the Renaissance gem of Florence!

5 Things to do with teenagers in Milan

Experience the wide array of culture that Milan has to offer during your trip to Italy! Milan has so much to offer to everyone, not just to fashionistas or high culture junkies. We get requests quite often from our guests about what things to do in Milan traveling with teens so we decided to do the homework for you to gather what we deem to be the top 5 things to do with teenagers in Milan:

From Google

From Google

1. Get amused at the Euro Luna Park! Euro Park is opened every Saturday from 2:30 to Midnight and Sundays from 2:30pm to 7:30pm and is full of activities perfect for teens in Milan. If your teens are getting a little sick of traditional Milanese cuisine (we hope they don’t) they can take a break for American style grub like burgers, ribs, BBQ, nachos, onions rings and more at some of the steakhouses located at the Luna Park. Of course there is more to enjoy besides the food like ferris wheel rides, mile-high slides, go kart, rollercoasters, bumper cars, arcade games and more. Visit their facebook page or website for images and more information. Note: Pages are in Italian. Address: Via Rivoltana 64, 20090 Segrate Phone: +390270201039

From Google

From Google

2. Check out flying machines designed by Leonardo Da Vinci at the Science and Technology museum! The Museum of Science and Technology of Leonardo Da Vinci is the one of the most important museums in the world and it houses many of Leonardo’s inventions like models of bridges, fighting machines, defense tools and more. In addition to Da Vinci’s inventions, the museum also has simulations of the world’s historic computing and communication devices, air and sea transport models that would be stimulating and intriguing for teenagers visiting Milan. Official website includes information regarding pricing, admission, exhibits and hours of operation.

logo-Italy-by-segway3. Milan Segway Tour- A segway tour is the perfect way to ride through the city for teens! Our guides are friendly and are always entertaining for groups on vacation. Segway tours in Milan visits stops of interest such as the Sforzesco Castle, Parco Sempione (Milan’s most famous public park, perfect for active teens to explore), major outdoor squares (piazzas) with gothic architecture- sights that are definitely interesting and engaging to teens and to the whole family. A Segway tour is a great activity for the whole family or for teens to do on their own when parents might need a break to explore Milan on their own.  Contact us to book your Milan Segway Tour. P.S. Discounts available for family segway tour bookings!

From Google

From Google

4. Taste Panzerotti! Panzerotti are a local favorite fast food perfect for teens who love food and especially anything resembling pizza. Panzerotti are round dough pockets filled with mozzarella and tomato, folded like a calzone and then FRIED. Yum. Think of it as Italian fast food (I mean, it is afterall fried dough and cheese with a bit of tomato) but probably way better for you than fast food back home. Behind the Rinascimento department store nearby the famous gothic Duomo site there is a shop that is said to have some of the best panzerotti in Milan. Make it a half day activity for your teens by planning to have them visit the gothic glory of the Duomo of Milan, which you can also climb to the top of, and finish the day with lunch at Panzerotti Luini.

Address and contact info: Via Santa Radegonda,16 20121 (Milan) Tel. +390286461917 E-mail: info@luini.it

From Google

From Google

5. Tour the San Siro Stadium and Museum of Soccer! If your teenagers are interested in sports and especially Italian soccer, they are going to love San Siro- it is the greatest temple to International soccer. The museum is full of collection memorabilia, trophies, autographed soccer gear and offers tourists the opportunity to tour the stadium! Teenagers will appreciate walking on the same turf as some of the world’s most famous footballers (soccer players) have made historical scores and also to walk through the stage for International competitions. San Siro has even been the home to the World Cup Games! Visit the official website for the San Siro Stadium Museum for more information on tours, admission, the museum and much more.

There you have it! Looking for more activities and things to do with teenagers in Milan? Contact us- we are your resource for ensuring the best travel experiences in Italy and are happy to assist!

5 things to do with teenagers in Rome

italian pizza in florence

Italian pizza!

Traveling to Rome? With a teen? Travelling abroad is an eye-opening experience and some think it should be a requirement for anyone coming of age- or for anyone at any age! Rome is an open city for everyone of any age and from various walks of life. Rome can be an awesome destination for your teen as it is chock full of hollywood-worthy sights like the colosseum, ancient ruins like the Roman Forum, funky statues like an egyptian style PYRAMID, cat sanctuaries, pizzerias, live music in squares, arcades and much more. Teens might be weary of International family vacations unless there are entertaining things to do apart from the academic sightseeing tours. Plus, they might get overwhelmed with all the cultural activities, museums and tours. Perhaps some light hearted activities might be good to scope out for your teen’s visit to Rome. I am sure it can be hard to suggest things to do for teenagers when the adults want to do adult things like wine tasting and fancy dinners, but let us do the homework for you! We get asked pretty often by our family groups: what can our teenager do in Rome? Well there is loads but here are a quick 5 tips:

Bocca_della_verita

from google

Visit to La Bocca della Verità!- Bocca della Verità translates from Italian into “the mouth of truth.” It is a very famous statue resembling a man’s face from Ancient Roman times where legend has it if you put your hand in the mouth of the statue’s mouth and you are a fibber (a nice way of saying liar), then your hand will be devoured! The history of this sculpture dates back to ancient Roman times and is considered to have been apart of a fountain but the figure has been considered to also represent a pagan god Oceanus, who was thought to personify the world’s flowing waters. Nevertheless, La Bocca della Verità legendarily became a sort of mythical lie detector. The statue attracts many daily to test their truthful nature and is affixed to the portico of Church Santa Maria in Cosmedin, located near the north end of Circus Maximus. Great sight visit for a teen in Rome!

Take your teen on a PIZZA tasting tour! First of all, who doesn’t love pizza and most of all- it’s loved so much by teens that it’s practically considered a food group! Italy Segway Tours organizes Rome Pizza Food Tours and this would be a fantastic activity for teens on their own for a few hours or with the whole family group. Some great highlights of a pizza tour is that you’ll be able to see Rome from a different perspective than the usual tours and discover new neighborhoods, famous bakeries and learn about what REAL Italian pizza is supposed to be like- none of the crud from Domino’s or Pizza Hut you may find back at home. Not only will a pizza food tour enlighten you to what authentic Italian pizza is, but you’ll also even regional differences like pizza in Rome versus the traditional Neapolitan pizza. We highly recommend our Rome Pizza Food Tour for a (delectable) thing to do with teenagers in Rome!

from google

from google

Explore Villa Borghese GardensThe Villa Borghese gardens is one of the largest parks in Rome and is full of activities for teens to do in Rome. Within the gardens is a zoological museum, gothic statues and even a zoo (Rome’s Bioparco) complete with endangered species and hippos. The Villa Borghese Gardens is also an ideal location to take rented bicycles or segway rentals and for teens to take a ride through. The place is a giant palace of stunning Roman gardens that you can’t help but enjoy discovering.

from google

from google

Tour the famous Cinecittà studios! Did you know that Rome has been the set of thousands of international films? So many have in fact earned Academy Awards and have even been set to television programs, music videos and commercial productions. Movies to note are classics like Roman Holiday, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Pink Panther 2 and more.  As a result of Rome’s deep culture with filmmaking, there are tourist activities at the Cinecittà Studios that would be a great experience for teens and adults. The studios have areas where visitors can check out costumes, set props and even has a “Backstage” section where visitors can have an interactive experience while learning about the basics of film making!

Spook your teen with a visit to the Catacombs and the Capuchin Crypt! There are several mazes of underground tunnels of catacomb burial sites in Rome with thousands of bodies buried from centuries past. As creepy as that may be, they attract numerous tourists and are the scene for many tours in Rome, believe it or not! Nevertheless, this is unquestionably a more edgy, entertaining shock-worthy activity for teens in Rome. There a few Catacomb locations to consider when deciding which ones to visit:

Capuchin_CryptThen apart from the catacombs in Rome, there is also the Capuchin crypt which is a very sort of intriguing display of bones which belonged to almost 4,000 capuchin friars and monks. Albeit a bit grotesque considering the history and nature of the crypt, it is nonetheless a hidden Rome tourist attraction that represents important history of Rome and the church. The Capuchin crypt can be found at the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini on Via Veneto in Rome. 

Enjoy our 5 things to do in Rome with teenagers

We wish you a Segway New Year!

We at Italy Segway Tours would like to to wish you a great New Year’s Eve with people you love for a happy new year!

Fuochi d'artificio2 (2)And in case you’ve decided to spend your holidays and this special night in Italy, we’re going to tell you something about what we do on these joyful days. there will be fireworks and concerts In every city’s main square, on New Year’s Eve, and people celebrate in the streets and since we’re in Italy and as in most of the Italian festivals, food plays a major role, therefore most of the people will choose to do the traditional “Cenone” (the New Year’s Eve dinner, literally “big dinner”) doesn’t matter if at home, in a restaurant, as long as it is spent with family or friends.

Cotechino_Lentils2 (2)What can’t be missed is the cotechino – a lentil and meat (pork) combination, symbol of prosperity, money and good luck for the coming year….be sure to eat some! But holidays are not over! On January 6th, we celebrate the Epiphany, also called la Befana (who’s a good witch) and as an Italian proverb says: L’Epifania tutte le feste porta via (The Epiphany…and takes away the holidays). This day is commemorated by the visit of the Three Wise Men (Re Magi) to the Baby Jesus, but the night between January 5th and 6th is also related to a good witch, the Befana, who’s origin dates back to the roman ages. roma-piazzanavona-befane (2)Usually the Befana is represented as an old, badly dressed woman, who rides a broom, and carries a sack full of presents for the good kids and….coal for the bad ones! What do you think you’ll deserve this year? ;-)  Every city has different traditions in celebrating this day, then take a look at how January 6th is celebrated across Italy, between the Three Wise Men and the Befana.

MILAN

Befana motociclistica (2)

You won’t believe it, but the Three Wise Men are buried in Milan! Actually their relics are divided between Milan and Cologne but this is another story… Since Milan loves its Three Wise Men, this day is celebrated since 1300 with a procession (Corteo dei Re Magi) of people dressed in costume followed by the Civic band usually departing at 11 from the Duomo and leading to the church of Sant’Eustorgio, where the relics of the Three Wise Men are kept. For motorcycle lovers, we suggest you to go near the Sforza Castle on January 6th at 8a.m. and wait for the Befana Motociclistica, a special motorcyclist meeting, where a Befana escorted by hundred bikers, will ride across the city center and give presents to poor children.

FLORENCE

Corteo dei Magi Milano (2)In Florence a gorgeous Cavalcade of over 500 costumed participants led by the Magi and inspired by a fresco kept in the Magi chapel of Palazzo Medici Riccardi, takes place since 1417 every January 6th. If you want to see the Cavalcade and travel back through the centuries, be there at 2 p.m. near Palazzo Pitti and follow the procession across the medieval city center up to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, where the Three Wise Men will give their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Baby Jesus.

ROME

Mercatino Piazza Navona (2)In the heart of the city, in Piazza Navona, among the Bernini fountain and a big Carousel usually placed in the center of the square, you’ll find a huge open air market, opened every day until 1 a.m. where games, decorations, giant donuts, cotton candy and every other sweetness you can imagine is sold…a real heaven not just for kids. The market has been operating for almost 100 years and every year on the 6th, the Befana herself flies over the square riding her broomstick, leaves sweets and coal to every child and flies away in the night.

LUCKY LENTIL SOUP

Cotechino_Lentils (2)Since we are generous and want to share our luck with you, here’s the original Italian recipe for a dish of lentils! Take advantage of it! To make this soup (for a lot of friends), you’ll need:

  • 1 kg (2lb) green lentils
  • Olive oil
  • Half minced onion
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • A bay leaf

Soak the lentils overnight. The next day wash them and put them into a casserole, add olive oil, pepper, salt, minced onion and hot water. Cover the casserole and simmer gently for about 2 hours.  Serve them as a side dish for instance with a cotechino…lucky and yummy!

It doesn’t matter if you’ll spend this evening at home, at a party, with the crowds… we wish you a Segway New Year!

Christmas in Rome 2013

Planning on a white (or rather Italian) Christmas in Rome? Lucky you! With Italy being an epicenter for the Catholic church, you couldn’t be in a more festive location for the holiday. Rome especially is brimming with lighting decorations, decked out Christmas trees, holiday bazaar markets, street food vendors roasting chestnuts and other holiday goodies, choir orchestras, open churches and cathedrals- the eternal city is your oyster for the Christmas season! Not only have these accoutrements made Christmas in Rome an ideal destination for a holiday getaway, but December is a magical period to be in Rome! Why? A few reasons: Christmas in Rome can be enjoyed with less tourists, a chance of snow to make a stunning city even more gorgeous with beautiful sunsets with vivid, colorful skylines.

If you are lucky enough to spend Christmas in Rome, there are a good handful of things to do on such the occasion that we feel are too good to miss.

1. Go to the holiday market in Piazza Navona!

This market runs daily and is complete with gift stalls, arcade games similar to American country fairs, food vendors roasting fresh chestnuts and making hot sandwiches, Christmas lights, live music and more!

2. Visit the pope on Christmas Day!

You can find the pope at midnight mass termed “Urbi et Orbi” (the Papal Blessing) and this event is free to the public if you can get your hands on a ticket. Info here: http://saintpetersbasilica.org/touristinfo.htm#tickets

3. Go Ice Skating!

There a few locations open to the public for ice skating like Castel Sant’Angelo, Tor di Quinto, Piazza San Giovanni Battista de la Salle (in the Aurelio district) and Euroma 2 (a major shopping center). Visit the Rome Tourism website for more information for ice skating in Rome.

4. Confess!

Or just visit any church if you have nothing to confess. Churches will be open for midnight mass and for various other activities throughout the Christmas period. At midnight mass, if it is your first time, don’t be surprised to see a queue lining up to kiss a baby doll- this doll represents Baby Jesus and it’s tradition to kiss the birthday boy!

5. Check out some nativity scenes around Rome.

Nativity scenes in Italy date back to the early 1200’s when St. Francis ofAssisi depicted his own crib for the world to see! Several centuries later in Rome, you can find museums which host over 200 artists and some several thousand nativity scenes! These installments are temporary for the Christmas period, to find out where you can view them visit the official Presepi website.

Panettone6. Tempt your sweet tooth with Italian Christmas sweets!

While Rome may not have Christmas treats of fame like Milan with Panettone, Rome is home to some of the best bakers on earth and whip up the best holiday goodies like Panettone, cream puffs, torrone, pandoro, biscotti and more! Visit Biscottificio Innocenti or Regoli for some comforting holiday sweets with a Roman soul.

7.  Visit the Trevi fountain!

Okay, you can do this all year long, but how cool would it be to visit one of the most iconic fountains in Rome when I bet there will be very few people in sight PLUS all the amazing lighting decorations which makes the monument an even holier sight to behold!

Interested in a guided tour of Rome while in town this Christmas season and any season? Don’t hesitate to contact the staff at Italy Segway Tours! We are here for all of your travel needs and guidance. In addition to guided tours on Segway, we offer walking food tours, wine tours and tours on BICYCLE in Rome, Milan and Florence. We look forward to your visit to the best place on Earth- Italy! :)

Enjoy Christmas in Rome 2013 :-)

Christmas Season in Florence

Christmas season in Florence

Florence and Tuscany in December is a beautiful month to be in Italy. The city of Florence is by far one of the most picturesque cities in the world with the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio tower, the charming little streets and of course stunning bridges like the Ponte Vecchio and renaissance architecture. Now imagine an already gorgeous city made into a sort of “supermodel” with holiday decorations, lighting which puts some bling into the city,  larger than life Christmas trees and buzzing holiday markets? That’s Italy during Christmas time. Florence in December is where you want to be if you are visiting Italy. Okay, you should make a pit-stop break to Rome or Milan, too.

If you find yourself planning a trip to Florence in December, here are a few cultural tips to keep in mind:

What to do in Florence in December

firenze-winter-parkFlorence Winter Park. Located at the OBIHALL, you can slip, slide and skate on the frozen arno river as well as participate in various family friendly winter sport activities like snowtubing or snowboarding. You’ll feel like you’ve arrived in a Florentine Winter Wonderland! Staying in Florence beyond December? You’re in luck- the Winter Park is open until March.

Christmas Market at Palazzo Corsini December 6-8th The by now 11th annual Christmas market in Florence in its 11th year. This is the perfect opportunity to observe Florence Christmas Culture and pick up some traditional holiday treats that Italians enjoy during Christmas like PanForte, Panetone, wines and enjoy some beautiful Christmas lighting as well! This market is particularly notable because it is organized by a local non-profit and a portion of all proceeds go to various charities. This is a perfect activity to partake in if you are visiting Florence with family or with small children. Location: lungarno corsini 8/r Hours: 10am to 7pm

 The British Institute Christmas Market December 13th check out this market for art, crafts, books and food at the Harold Acton Library in Central Florence! It will be an English speaking/friendly event so you can give your Rick Steve’s phrasebook a rest for a day:) Location: Lungarno Guicciardini 15

Interested in Music? Visit Santa Croce for a Christmas concert by a children’s choir Piccolo Coro Melograno. December 23, 6.30pm, www.piccolocoromelograno.it.

santacrocechristmasmarketIn case you miss a few events and are just interested in enjoying the local scene on a stroll, the main squares you won’t want to miss in Florence in December are Santa Croce (double win- there is also a German Christmas market every day in the main square), Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio. You’re in luck, too! Italy Segway offers guided TOURS to all of these locations- day and night! Glide through Holiday speckled Florence by day with some market pit-stops or glide by night to be dazzled by the lighting decorations and ornamented Christmas trees!

Foods to taste during Christmas time in Florence 

chestnutsItaly

Roasted Chestnuts- Google Images

Italy has seasonal delicacies that bring even more holiday cheer to your trip. The foods you may see and must try are (delicious) fruit and nut cakes like Pan Forte, roasted chestnuts from street vendors, cenci (fried ribbons of dough and topped in powdered sugar), mulled wine, special holiday cookies, breads, soups, game meats, fish dishes and more. Italy Segway also offers food tours in Florence where you can taste some holiday treats, visit local shops that are brimming with holiday goods as well as discover traditional Italian food and wine enjoyed by Florentines year-round!

duomo treeLast note but not the least- if you will be in Florence from December 8th and on, don’t miss Florence’s largest Christmas tree in Piazza Duomo! Various festivities will take place until Christmas so don’t forget to make a stop to admire the Duomo’s Christmas tree in all its glory (and glam).

Happy Holidays from the team of Italy Segway Tours! We wish you the (merry) best :)

Christmas in Milano

CHRISTMAS IN MILANO: NOT JUST PANETTONE!

Duomo NataleDecember is definitely a good moment to come to visit Milano since the city, dressed with lights and sequins, looks even more fascinating. In these days the Milanesi are waiting for the lighting of the big Christmas tree in front of the Duomo, a fir 30 meters high just arrived from Trentino Alto Adige. Let’s do like them and stroll around the center of the city!

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele IIAfter being in Piazza Duomo, continue in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to take a look to the magical illuminations, then reach Piazza della Scala and queue up in front of the City Hall where every year a painting of a famous painter is on display for free. This year’s masterpiece will be the “Madonna di Foligno” by Raffaello on display until January 12th.

Oh Bej! Oh Bej!For the Milanesi the festive season begins on December 7th, when the city celebrates the fest of Saint Ambrose, the city’s patron saint, and for this occasion between December 5th and 8th a street market is organized the origin of which dates back to the Middle Ages, called “Oh Bej! Oh bej!” on the grounds of the Sforza Castle. If you’re in Milan, don’t miss it, you’ll have the chance to taste some typical treats and buy local handcrafted pieces.

 

La ScalaBut December 7th is also the day of the official opening of the annual season at La Scala, probably  the best known opera house in the world, with the three-act opera La Traviata written by the maestro Giuseppe Verdi. If you don’t have time to attend an opera you can take a look into the auditorium and enter inside the boxes 13, 15 and 18 by visiting the museum.

But in Milano Christmas is not Christmas without a panettone, a traditional  bread enriched with valuable ingredients. The story tells that this special cake was invented by a young trainee of the ducal chef whose name was Toni. PanettoneIt was Christmas and Toni had baked a buttery fluffy cake enriched with raisin and candied fruit for himself, but since the dessert for the ducal banquet burnt, he suggested to serve his cake. As you can imagine the reaction of the guests was enthusiastic and we can say that the panettone was born! The name comes from this guy, in fact “Pan de Toni” then turned into panettone meaning Toni’s Bread. In December you can find this specialty in every pastry shop and bakery. Which is the best one in town? Hard to say, what is sure is that looking in the pastry shop windows is a festival for the eyes, here you’ll find fine decorated and colorful panettoni which are real pieces of art. Is told that a last small piece of panettone must be kept and eaten on February 3rd, the day of San Blaise…will you be able to save that piece?

If you’re in love with the Italian cuisine and want to learn and taste more, join our Food Walking Tours in Florence and in Rome and stay tuned for the forthcoming brand new Milan Food Tour! For more information about this great food experience contact us at italyfoodtours@gmail.com

Marathons in Italy

Read to run? Italy has 3 very important marathons planned over the next 6 months and they will take place in Italy’s most visited cities: Florence, Rome and Milan. With the exception of the upcoming Florence marathon this November 24th, you may want to plan to participate or be a spectator of the upcoming marathons in Italy (Rome and Milan). Despite the slow life in stroll that Italians tend to be known for, these cities have been the running track for various marathon and sporting events for something like 30 years! You wouldn’t expect the quaint, cobble streets and UNESCO heritage sites of Italy to be the stomping grounds for serious athletes! But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense! It provides the best sort of inspiration and visual candy for runners to be surrounded by such beauty for intense sporting events like a marathon. Marathons in Italy also support local businesses, tourism and promote a positive social atmosphere as people get together to watch the races or even join in with a group of friends. It may be a bit of a challenge for local commuters, but most of the time the benefits that marathon events in Italy bring out weigh any sort of snag on the local hustle and bustle.

Here is a list of the upcoming marathons in Italy:

fimarathonFlorence Marathon November 24th 2013:

The 30th edition of the Florence marathon will take place November 24th and the route of this annual full-length marathon is quite scenic to include major site pit-stops such as Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, Porta Romana with a whiz through Campo di Marte and will finish at the stunning, world-famous Santa Croce church where the statue of Dante Alighieri stands to congratulate all the successful runners:) This particular race has had record registration numbers- some 10,000 people have submitted registration and a large percentage (+25%) are international runners from all over the world! Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world to participate in if you are a European Marathon chaser! If you will be in Florence with children at this time, there is a race designed just for the family called The Ginky Family Run which is only 2km, no registration fee and will be followed up with a musical performance at Teatro Verdi.

Contact details:
 Florence Marathon
 Address : Viale M. Fanti 2, 50137 Firenze 
Tel. : +39 (0) 55 5522957
 
E-mail : iscrizioni@firenzemarathon.it 
Website: http://www.firenzemarathon.it

romemarathonRome Marathon March 23rd 2014:

Feel like an ancient gladiator (okay, gladiators weren’t marathon runners) and zip past the country’s most treasured and colossal monuments at the Rome Marathon in March 2014! The marathon officially took root in 1995 but the city has been no stranger to running events! Since the beginning of the 1900’s there have been various legends like Dorando Pietri, Douglas Wakiihuri, Abebe Bikila (who raced barefoot to break some serious records) who have paved the Roman roads to be recognized as ideal battle ground for sporting events such as marathons. The upcoming marathon will include 26 miles of the historic center, starting at the Via dei Fori Imperiali near the colosseum and will take runners on an unbelievable track through Piazza Spagna, Piazza Venezia, areas near the Vatican, St. Peter’s, The gorgeous Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and ending the epic tour at the colosseum. Too bad you can’t do this marathon on segway- our offices are pretty close to the starting point! :) Registration for the Rome Marathon in 2014 is still open.

Contact Details: Enrico Castrucci Address: Viale B.Bardanzellu 65, 00155 Roma, Italy Tel.: +39 06 40 65064 E-mail: info@maratonadiroma.it Website: http://www.maratonadiroma.it

milanmarathonMilan City Marathon April 6th, 2014:

Milan is referred to as the grey city of Italy and while it may not serve to be a scenic paradise for runners in say cities such as Rome or Florence, it is still a fantastic setting. Milan has some stunning architecture and there are very redeeming qualities about holding marathon events in Milan. Probably the biggest benefits from a logistical point of view is that unlike the romantic, cobbled streets of Rome or the narrow labyrinth paths in Florence, Milan has flat “track” course which is desirable for those who would like to gain an impressive personal time. The Milan Marathon will take off at Rhon and finish at the scenic Castello (Castle) Sforzesco. You may have already read about this castle in a previous post in our blog, and if not you can read up on our suggestions for things to do in Milan if you will be in town for the marathon. For the Milan City Marathon, participants can run for charity! The previous Milan City Marathon in 2013 raised over 500,000 euros- let’s hope runners break that record in 2014- among other records:). If you are planning to register for the Milan City Marathon, you can select to support a charity of your choice and create a sign of the charity’s logo to attach to your running suit to sport during the race. For more information for registering with a charity for the 2014 edition of the Milan City Marathon, visit their official page.

Contact Details
: TDS srl
 Address: Via delle Macchine 14 – 30038 Spinea 
Tel.: +39 041.990320 E-mail: mcm@tds-live.com
 Website: http://milanocitymarathon.gazzetta.it

5 Beautiful Bridges in Rome

Take a stroll in bella roma at any time of the day or night, be charmed by ancient ruins, colorful palazzi, gardens and discover the magnificent bridges in Rome along the tiber river.  Rome is divided by wide avenues of river banks connected by several bridges in the most iconic destinations of Rome. The river itself is not a romantic sight to see in Rome, but the views will capture and awe especially during sunset and sunrise. Did you know the Romans made history for their bridge constructions? The ancient Romans were the first in the whole world to build large and (almost) forever lasting bridges which were built with just stone and concrete. They have set the path for the iconic “arch” style bridges which have been constructed over the centuries, connecting cities divided by rivers all over Italy. Now that most of Italy’s most known rivers (The Tiber or Tevere and the Arno in Florence) are no longer clean or useful aside from aesthetic or the occasional rowing club, bridges serve a huge purpose for admiring the city sights over a glimmering (if not murky) river. Out of over 400 traffic, timber and aqueduct bridges in Rome combined, here is our top 5 tips for beautiful bridges in Rome you must see:

 

Bridge of "Angels"

Bridge of “Angels”

Ponte Sant’Angelo

Ponte Sant’Angelo was built by Emperor Hadrian almost 2000 years ago in 134AD (okay, not quite 2000 years but close!) and it was built in order to span the Tiber and to connect it to the emperor’s mausoleum which today is known as the very famous castle Castel Sant’Angelo. The castle is famous for the ancient myth that an angel once came and hovered above it to announce to Roman citizens that the plague was over, hence Castel Sant’Angelo. Today this site of Rome is very popular for those wanting to take advantage of sunset photo opportunities but in the past (centuries ago) the bridge of Ponte Sant’Angelo was used as a sort of display case for the poor souls  executed during more dark times in Roman history. This bridge still stands as sturdy since 134 with stone, marble and stretches the river with three Roman arches. From Ponte Umberto I you can enjoy a complete view of Ponte Sant’Angelo and his castle.

Ponte Sisto in Roma

Ponte Sisto in Roma

 Ponte Sisto

Ponte Sisto is a centrally located footbridge which connects the buzzing Roman nightlife hotspot of Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere with Via del Pettinari in the Rione district of Rome. The bridge is actually a replacement of the ancient Ponte Aurelius and the Sisto bridge was built by the order of Pope Sixtus VI from which the name derives. This bridge is iconic in terms of architectural artistry for the eye-like hole in the center of the arches. You can say the Ponte Sisto has an all-seeing eye of Roman nightlife. Ponte Sisto is culturally notable for its central location and has even starred in films, music videos and commercials.

Ponte MIlvio from below

Ponte MIlvio from below

 Ponte Milvio 

Ponte Milvio is one of the most ancient and historically significant bridges in Rome due its strategic location which served the Roman Empire and was the original site for the battle of Milvian Bridge. Built in 206 BC and renovated in the middle ages, this bridge has suffered heavily blows several centuries later in 1849 by the Garibaldi troups during the attempted French invasion. Visit Ponte Milvio, for a glimpse of the surrounding countryside and witness a real piece of ancient Roman history. Today, Ponte Milvio is contemporarily popular among young couples who tack on padlocks to “lock in” their love.

View from the Lungotevere Pierleoni.

View from the Lungotevere Pierleoni.

Pons Fabricus

Just as the latin name “Pons Fabricus” remains (or in Italian Ponte Fabricio) so does the bridge- it’s the oldest bridge in all of Rome STILL in it’s original state! No recontructions, destructions or heavy re-modeling. This is quite a sight to be seen as this Roman bridge was constructed in 62 BC. Now, THAT’S over 2000 years old! At the location is even more historical as the bridge was built to replace a previously existing wooden bridge that was destroyed by a fire. Pons Fabricus connects Campus Martius and the Tiber Island with 2 modest arches made of tuff, bricks and travertine. You must walk across the bridge that has survived the test of time to be the only original Roman bridge from ancient times. One can only imagine all the life this bridge has seen come and go.

Just another sunny day on Pons Cestius!

Just another sunny day on Pons Cestius!

Pons Cestius

Pons Cestius (Ponte Cestio in Italian) sits west of the Tiber Island connecting to Trastevere . It was build even before Pons Fabricus but it was dismantled in the 19th century with only a few remains of it’s ancient stone structure. This bridge is notable for having been built so many centuries ago but also for being the 1st bridge to connect a once isolated right bank of the Tiber with the left bank and the heart of Ancient Rome. The name of the bridge comes from the Cestii clan but the exact history as to who commissioned or ordered the work is still unclear. However, in the 4th century it was rebuilt by Roman emperors which some of the material used came from the demolished porticus of the neighboring Theatre of Marcellus. During an additional restructuring 15 centuries later, a 3rd arch was added because the original 2 were simply no longer sufficient. In general Pons Cestius is popular for its historical evolutions and for being one of the most ancient bridges in all of Rome that is still intact.

Would you like to learn more and see more? Italy Segway Tours organizes private and join-in group tours on Segway to these bridges and more with licensed art and culture tour guides in Rome.