Archive for Italy

Rome Random Facts

Rome, the Eternal City, is a city unlike any other in the world. Here are a few random facts about this amazing city!  Enjoy and Share!

Trevi Fountain Rome Italy

  • Decorated by 4,000 deceased monks The Capuchin Crypt in Rome consists of five chapels and a corridor 60 meters long. c
  • The abbreviation SPQR can be found on many Roman statues, buildings, and military standards. It stands for “senatus populusque romanus.” meaning “The senate and people of Rome.”
  • Togas were unique to Rome and were worn by free-born Roman men as a mark of distinction. Ironically, the only women who wore togas were prostitutes because they were not allowed to wear stolas, the traditional garment of Roman women. d
  • On the day the Colosseum officially opened, it remained open for 3 full days and 5,000 animals were killed. During its history, it has been estimated that over 500,000 people (men and women) and over a million animals from all over the world were killed. e
  • Because Romans were highly superstitious and feared anything to do with the left, they based their words for “left” and “left-handed” on the modern meaning of sinister. They words are  sinistra and sinister, respectively. a
  • The Pantheon, “Temple of the Gods,” was built by the emperor Hadrian (118-125). It is remarkable for a couple of reasons: 1) its massive dome has withstood the test of time and elements for almost 2000 years and I made solely of concret with no reinforcing steel and 2) The oculus in the center of the dome is open air. Until the nineteenth century The Pantheon was the largest concrete curved dome that existed. a
  • If you have ever seen the film Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, then you are familiar with the Mouth of Truth or “La bocca della Verita.” Legend says that if you tell a lie andyou’re your hand in the mouth it will cut off your hand. At one point priest in the Middle ages actually put scorpions in the mouth to perpetuate the myth. The Mouth of Truth is now thought to be an ancient Roman manhole cover or part of a first-century statuec
  • Blessing of the Throats – Every year in the middle of winter, February 3rd, after the mass at the church of the Madonna del Divino Amore in Campo Marzio, the priest gives a blessing to people’s throats to help get them through the winter. To bless the throats the priest holds two lit candles in the form of a cross and touches the people on the throat repeating the phrase: “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” b
  • Mass in Aramaic – Every Sunday at 10:30am in the church of Santa Maria in Campo Marzio you can be a part of a mass in Jesus’ language, Aramaic, as well as Arabic and Italian. b
  • The Most Holy Crucifix – One night in 1519 the church of San Marcello al Corso burnt to the ground in a fire. Everything was destroyed except a wooden crucifix from the main alter. This crucifix later put an end to a plague and became known as the Most Holy Crucifix. There is a legend that the sculptor of this particular crucifix actually killed a man in his sleep so that he could create a more realistic representation of Christ on the Cross.b
  • The Trevi Fountain took 30 years to build. It was originally started because of a competition that Pope Clement XII organized. In 1732 the work began and was designed of Niccolo Salvi, which was influenced by Bernini. It remained unfinished until after Niccolo died in 1751, and was finally finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Panini.b
  • Invito a Palazzo – “Invitation to the Palace.” One day each year there are several banks open to the public for tours. The reason is because many of the palaces in Rome are now occupied by banks. These palaces have amazing frescoes and sculptures you can see on the first Saturday in October for free.b
  • The giant and famous obelisk in St. Peter’s Square is also a meridian (one of the largest in the world).b
  • Of all the many many basilicas in the world, there are only 4 in all of Christendom that possess a holy door and they are located in Rome. The four churches are: Saint Peter in the Vatican, Saint Mary Major, Saint John Lateran, and Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Why is a holy door a holy door? Because they are only opened every 25 years during Jubilees. b
  • Blessings in Rome – There are many different things in Rome you can get blessed on specific dates. Some include, blessing of the throats, blessings of expectant mothers, blessing of the animals, blessing of motorists and many more.b



a Burgan, Michael. 2005. Empire of Ancient Rome. New York, NY: Facts on File Books.

bLovatelli, Ginevra. 2012. Secret Rome. France: Jonglez

c The Sydney Morning Herald. “Rome—Places to See.” November 28, 2008.

d Wolf, Greg, ed. 2003. Cambridge Illustrated History: Roman World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

e Kerrigan, Michael. 2001. Ancient Rome and the Roman Empire. London, UK: BBC WorldWide Ltd.

Venice Random Facts

This Venice Entry Courtesy of

Venice is such a mysterious and unique city in Italy.  It’s built completely on water and there isn’t any car traffic, so all you hear is the pitter-patter of footsteps.

Ultimate Venice tour

Here are some other things that make Venice so special and worthy of a visit:

  • Acqua alta, or high water, happens when the tide is 3.54 inches above normal height
  • Venice has over 450 palaces (palazzi) and important buildings built in a mixture of styles, Gothic, Byzantine, Baroque etc.
  • 3 major bridges cross the Grand Canal – Accademia, Rialto and Scalzi
  • By the 18th century, there were over 200 churches in Venice
  • Venice has about 150 canals
  • There are 400+ pedestrian footbridges spanning the canals
  • Venice is divided into six sestieri, or districts
  • Over 15 million visitors flock to Venice every year
  • Venice is made up of a collection of approx 115 tiny islands
  • There are a little over 400 gondoliers in Venice
  • Venice is sinking at the rate of 1-2 millimeters a year
  • There are over 170 buildings that line the Grand Canal
  • Venice got its first female gondolier in 2010
  • The number of times you’ll get lost in the maze of callethousands
  • You could visit ten thousand times and never run out of new things to discover

Ristorante Pizzaria Zi’Ntonio, Sorrento, Italy

 The Amazing Zi’Ntonio Restaurant Pizzeria
Located in the heart of Sorrento, close to Piazza Tasso, the Restaurant Pizzeria Zi’Ntonio is the ideal destination for those in search of good food.
Marian and Michael will be happy to welcome you into their room where you can dine by candlelight and enjoy a warm family atmosphere, enhanced by a collection of hand-painted ceramics.
The restaurant offers a ‘wide range of dishes of traditional cuisine with particular attention paid to the selection of the raw materials used.
Inside the restaurant there is also a wide selection of regional and national wines in order to enhance the blend of traditional Mediterranean cuisine and wines of the region.


Ristorante Pizzeria Zi’Ntonio
Via Luigi De Maio, 11 – 80067 – Sorrento (NA) – Italy
Tel. +39 0818781623 – P.IVA 01407021219

Photo of the Week: Ristorante Zi’Ntonio, Sorrento, Italy

Ristorante Zi'Ntonio Sorrento Italy

Ristorante Zi’Ntonio is such an amazing Restaurant. I found this one almost on accident. It was right across the street from where we stayed in Sorrento. We decided to give it a try, and it was incredible. As you can see, the inside is very unique especially with all the prosciutto hanging from the rafters. They were for sale too… in case you want one. The owners took great care of us and the food could not have been better. This place is now a permanent fixture in all the tours in Sorrento.

Check the place out!

Brown Bears Protected in Italy

Brown bears being protected in Italy may sound strange, but it is true. Here’s what happened… Several years ago brown bears were attacking animals on farms and being killed. Because of the human presence, there are now no more than 70 individuals. These few brown bears are protected by strong laws.

Photo of the Week: Church of San Lorenzo

Church in Portovenere Italy

Church of San Lorenzo

This beautiful church is in the quint and picturesque town of Portovenere just south of the Cinque Terre. In my opinion the best way to see this city is by arriving on the boat from one of the towns of the Cinque Terre. The church is up above the town, but well worth the short walk. The views from the area around the Church of San Lorenzo are nothing short of breath-taking.

Naumachia Roma – Amazing Restaurant

This wonderful place was recommended to me by some friends that live in Rome. After going there for my first time, I went back 3 more times in the same week. Not only was the food absolutely amazing the dessert was to die for. There are days when all I want in the world is to go back to Rome just to go to Naumachia and have spriciolata, which is code for “the most amazing dessert in the world…EVER!”


The restaurant Naumachia Rome is a place where you can enjoy excellent local cuisine in a restaurant full of history and tradition. A few minutes’ walk from the Colosseum, a place to fully experience the culinary traditions of Roman and Tuscan.

NAUMACHIA | V. Celimontana 7 – ROME (RM) –
Tel 06 7002764 Fax 06 7002764 |

Picture of the Week: Santa Croce Church at night

Santa Croce church at night

Santa Croce Church in Florence, Italy is a 14th Century Franciscan Church. It was built by Arnolfo di Cambio and frescoed by Giotto. It is decorated with amazing and precious arts as well as holding the tombs of great Florentines like Michelangelo and Galileo.

This amazing Church is mere steps from the Bed and Breakfast we stay in on our Tours.

Florence Hotels: De Benci B and B

De Benci B&B Rocks!

In my travels of Italy, one of my favorite places to stay in Florence is De Benci Bed and Breakfast! The owners are kind and thoughtful, always going the extra mile… Carlo was exceptional leading up to the trip and while we were all there! The accommodations are gorgeous, comfortable and cozy. The location is superb within easy walking distance of all major sites in Florence. It is located a stones throw away from Santa Croce Church!
Photos of De' Benci Bed and Breakfast in Firenze, Florence
This photo of De’ Benci Bed and Breakfast in Firenze is courtesy of TripAdvisor


In the heart of the old city of Florence, just between Piazza Santa Croce and Piazza della Signoria, there is De Benci b&b, bed and breakfast in Florence, ideal base for visiting one of the most beautiful cities on earth and its art.

The bed and breakfast is located in a very strategic position right in the old town of the city. Whether for businessor vacation, our rooms can be the right place.

The visit, the discovery of the capital of the Renaissance already begins within the walls of De Benci b&b.

The atmosphere is very charming, stylish and romantic: you will be welcomed into elegantly furnished rooms with every modern comfort (air conditioning/heating, private bathroom in room, digital lcd

The bed and breakfast is on the fourth floor of an ancient building (dating back to 1300) with the recent installation of modern lift.

The thick and textured interior walls are painted rose. The doors are as light as ivory. Very wide windows let the light go in. The typical Tuscan floor and the ancient wooden-beam ceiling enrich the entire structure. In all over the place you can find small details in characteristic stone (i.e. pietra serena), in ancient brick or in dark wrought iron and brass that decorate the environment, but soft colour and scent of wood reign over all. Every detail has been chosen with great care, taste and passion.


De Benci b&b, bed and breakfast in Florence
di Carlo De Toffol, via de’ Benci 19 – 50122 Florence – Italy

Mobile:   (0039) 3393466022   (business hours only)
Reception:   (0039) 0552345227   (business hours only)
Email:   (usually we reply within 24 hours)

Photo of the Week: Capri

A blustery day to go to the Island of Capri, but beautiful nonetheless! This is the only place I found American coffee during my entire month there. It was Folgers, (nothing fancy) but I just didn’t care.

Island of Capri, Italy