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Set off on an unforgettable winter holiday in Italy. Let yourself feel inspired taking in the traditional scents and flavours of the Christmas season

Whether you opt for snow capped mountains or the charm of the cities all dressed up for the season, winter in Italy will keep you tantalised. Plan your snow week, spending time snowboarding or skiing in the Alps. Pass by Bolzano enjoying its winter markets, or go to Rome to see the huge Christmas tree in Piazza San Pietro. Don’t miss out on whitnesing the prowess of the stormy seas which will invigorate your soul and clear your mind. Winter destinations in Italy are incomparable, enjoy every moment.

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Nature

The Vesuvius National Park

The Vesuvius National Park, a land of fire and rebirth Vesuvius National Park protects the territory of the only active volcano in continental Europe, the symbol of the city of Naples. An ascent along its slopes, amidst the scent of broom and the smell of sulphur, offers the thrill of looking out over the crater of the Gran Cono, in a landscape marked by the geological formations shaped by the last eruption in 1944. This is a unique territory, rich in the archaeological treasures of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the fruits of an exceptionally fertile land. A spectacular caldera with an active volcanic cone Visiting the Vesuvius National Park allows you to take a stroll through at least two million years of history. The great caldera of Somma is what remains of an ancient volcano three hundred thousand years ago, and inside it is the Gran Cono del Vesuvio (1281 metres), with its typical truncated cone shape, a diameter of 450 metres and a depth of 300 metres. Inside it there are small fumaroles that reveal its state of 'active rest'. Along path number 5 traced on the ashes and lapilli of the last eruption, that of 1944, one can admire the inside of the crater. Having conquered the summit, visitors are rewarded by a magnificent view of the gulf and the city of Naples. There are 11 paths in all. Number 9 allows you to observe how the vegetation is regaining its hold on the 20th century lava flows of 1906, 1929 and 1944. How pioneer plants get the better of lava Despite the succession of eruptions, the slopes of Vesuvius are covered with dense vegetation that has reformed on the lava flows due to the phenomenon of 'ecological succession': when the lava cools, the first to colonise it are lichens and mosses, the so-called pioneer species. These are very hardy organisms that form an initial organic substrate on which more complex organisms such as ferns or some graminaceous plants can begin to develop, in turn creating a layer for plants with more complex root systems. Today, a grey, filamentous lichen (Stereocaulon vesuvianum) can be observed on the areas affected by the most recent eruptions, which prepares the ground for other plants, while older flows feature shrub species such as helichrysum, cistus, mugwort and red valerian. The next stage is that of broom, large expanses of which can be seen colouring Vesuvius yellow in the springtime. The different stages of the 'ecological succession' can be clearly observed along path number 3, where sections of still exposed lava are flanked by areas colonised by lichen, alternating with broom and holm oak woods. What to visit in the Vesuvius National Park After hiking to the crater, inside the Vesuvius National Park you can visit the Park Museum in the municipality of Boscoreale, where plastic models are on display that illustrate the evolution of the volcano, materials showing the special features of the soil and biodiversity, as well as the story of the complex interaction between human populations and the volcanic environment. In Boscoreale there is an archaeological museum, the Antiquarium, explaining the territory of Vesuvius before the eruption in 79 AD that affected Pompeii and Herculaneum. In the latter location is the world's first volcanological Observatory, created in the 19th century for the first research and measurements of seismic activity, with its original instruments. Among the municipalities on the slopes of Vesuvius, it may be interesting to visit Borgo Casamale in Somma Vesuviana, the only medieval quarter left in the area; Terzigno, an area where lava stone was worked, where a museum has been opened with the archaeological remains of several Roman villas; and in Torre del Greco, visit Villa le Ginestre, where the poet Giacomo Leopardi was hosted. The good products of a fertile land Lacryma Christi is a white and red DOC wine produced from various vines grown on the slopes of Vesuvius, whose palatability has been known since Roman times. There are also apricots, about 40 varieties of which are grown in the area; they are known to be sweet and tasty, and the secret always lies in the volcanic soils which are so rich in minerals, especially potassium. The same can be said of the Monte cherry, with its pinkish-yellow fruit and pale, firm flesh, and the Catalanesca grape, so called because it was imported from Catalonia by Alfonso of Aragon in the 15th century. It has the distinctive quality of remaining intact on the vine until Christmas. You cannot leave the park without having tasted (or bought) the Piennolo del Vesuvio DOP cherry tomatoes, harvested in clusters: hung in well-dried places, they can last for up to 7-8 months, from summer until the following spring, preserving their intense flavour that derives from a high concentration of sugars and a wealth of organic acids. What makes the area of the Vesuvius National Park one of the most fascinating and most visited places in the world is a mix of natural treasures, breath-taking landscapes, centuries-old cultivations, popular traditions and much more.
Relax & Wellness

Terme di Telese

The thermal baths of Telese and the miracle of effervescent water There is no better place to schedule a stop than in Telese Terme to discover first-hand what wellness means. In the centre of the Telesina Valley (BN), on the right bank of the Calore River, the ancient village, once called Telesia, is an important stop on the Southern Via Francigena. Those who stop here will find a bell tower with a history stretching back thousands of years and thermal spas with redeeming powers. At the foot of Mount Pugliano, at whose slops the sulphurous mineral water springs feeding its thermal establishments flow, Telese Terme will amaze you with tailor-made pampering. The bell tower, the only one to have escaped the earthquake The tour of antiquities here in Telese is quickly over: one of the few remaining monuments of medieval Telesia, completely razed to the ground by the earthquake of 1349, is the bell tower, in Vescovado: it rests on a rectangular base, 17-metres high, among the rarest and most valuable Romanesque-Norman buildings in Campania. Built with materials from Roman Telesia, it is decorated with brickwork motifs and the opus reticulatum technique and all that remains of the ancient Cathedral of the Holy Cross, erected in the 10th century, later rebuilt under the name of Holy Mary of the Trinity. Thermal waters, a treasure from the depths The first reports of Telese’s sulphurous waters date back to the time of the violent 1349 earthquake, which devastated the Telese countryside, razing the town to the ground. The frequent and intense tremors, which lasted a long time, not only caused the springs to surface, but also caused episodes of sinking, disrupted the soil, giving rise to ponds, swamps, like the famous Lake Telese, and carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide exhalations that made the air unbreathable for a long time. However, the first studies on their therapeutic virtues date back to 1734, with the publication of De acidulis telesinis dissertatio, essay by Tommaso Bruni. Today's establishment of the Telese Spa Park, which still uses those waters for spa treatments, owes its fortune to the far-sighted intuition of the Minieri family, who, in the late 19th century, succeeded in obtaining a contract and giving life to what was then called the Great Bathing Establishments of Telese, whose departments are still immersed in a large park of centuries-old trees where you can stroll among the spring basins, pools and many recreational facilities. La belle époque of the ancient Jacobelli Spa For a picture of what the facilities must have been like then, visit the ancient Jacobelli Thermal Baths, at the junction of Castelvenere, Solopaca and Telese, which were transformed into a nature park in 2008 after extensive renovation. Founded by knight Achille Jacobelli of San Lupo and inaugurated in 1867, the Jacobelli Baths were, according to records and what remains of the bathing cabins, swimming pools and bouvette, a charming place, surrounded by greenery, with a beautiful portico to rest and two fountains for bathers. Hiking at the water's edge Still on the subject of water, and still between Telese and Solopaca, you will also find the small Telese Lake, not far from the banks of the Calore river. An enchanting body of water, some twenty metres deep, whose origins are to be found in the seismic nature of the soil and rocks on which the town stands. Used for recreational fishing, along its equipped banks, a scenic road more than a kilometre long winds its way through dense vegetation, passing restaurants, hotels and a swimming pool, offering, especially in summer, recreation and coolness. Would you like to continue your immersion in the landscape? Add to your destinations an excursion to the Grassano park, just a few kilometres from Telese, one of the most beautiful natural oases in Campania, equipped for a family outing in the open air and crossed, among linden, willow and poplar trees, by the Grassano torrent, in whose turquoise waters ducks, geese and otters swim. Mount Pugliano, between megalithic walls and dolines Behind the spa complex, Mount Pugliano watches over the city from above. Its name derives from the Latin road that connected Rome to Apulia. Along the itineraries that cross its approximately 54 hectares, you will see the remains of residential structures dating back to the Palaeolithic period and ruins of Samnite megalithic walls, but the most characteristic feature of its landscape is the presence of dolines, hollows or karstic cavities produced by the erosion of the limestone, some of which can be visited, unique in their form along the entire southern Apennine massif. Party time! Epicentre of entertainment, especially on summer evenings, Via Minieri, the heart of the spa town, is where the Telesine “struscio” can be enjoyed at every corner. It is here that most commercial activities are concentrated: boutiques, pubs, restaurants, wine bars. If you are looking for shows, live music and entertainment: this is where the party is!
Nature

Monte Civetta

Monte Civetta: a monument exalting sport and the natural world The geographical position of Monte Civetta and the Val Civetta in general makes this zone in the province of Belluno one of the most beautiful and often heavily snowbound local districts. This wonderful mountain range is in the heart of the Agordino Dolomites, between Alleghe, Selva di Cadore and Val di Zoldo. A track that suits all needs Civetta is a paradise for everyone and especially skiers who are passionate about the World Cup. The memorable pistes in the area in fact include the famous Foppe downhill ski run: a black or, let's say, a “very black” route. You will have no problems finding a place to stay overnight as there are several hotel and (mainly family-run) accommodation facilities in the area which offer solutions suitable for all budgets. If you visit the area during the summer and go on some of the more or less challenging trekking tours, you might also consider the mountain refuges and lodges. The Torriani and Tissi refuges have become veritable local institutions. A few statistics relating to the Monte Civetta area You will certainly enjoying venturing out on the 80 kilometres of ski tracks crossing the heart of the Belluno district of the Dolomites. In this area there are 22 ski lifts, 2 snow parks, 1 entertainment park for children, toboggan runs and cross-country skiing pistes. Those who want to remain out on the snow in the moonlight can also engage in night-skiing excursions. At Valzoldana there are 5 kilometres of illuminated tracks. The Civetta zone also attracts large numbers of cross-country skiers, who can ski along the 40 kilometres of local routes, the most important of which are at Selva di Cadore, Zoldo and Palafavera. Those who practice mountain skiing may choose between various pistes. One of the most important extends along the north face of the Civetta massif. And then, our little ones will have a lot of fun in the snow in the Happy Park at Alleghe, at the Zoldoland play-park and on the pistes of the Santa Fosca ski school. Monte Civetta is a paradise also for various other reasons apart from skiing. Visitors can spend time at the ice stadiums or at the ice-polo centre or go skating and even have a go at ice-climbing. During the summer months other options include various hiking trails, climbing areas and the “vie ferrate” (protected climbing routes). People who love spending their time in the mountains will discover romantic villages that may be visited in all seasons of the year and, of course, the feast of vivid colours engendered by the sun as it sets on the horizon, inflaming the rocks and the snow-covered vegetation. Observing these natural spectacles will leave you with wonderful memories. Our advice Around the Col di Lana mountain there is a special ski route where one can participate in the Great-War Ski Tour. Starting from Alleghe, the itinerary extends through some of the main areas affected by the First World War conflict. You may also be escorted by an expert guide, who will reveal various curiosities of the sites. For holiday-makers who visit this area in the summer the Coldai Lake is certainly worth visiting. This splendid mountain lake is situated between Monte Civetta and Monte Coldai. A famous destination for lovers of the Dolomites who are attracted by the shades of its waters, the ease of access and a majestic natural dimension and landscape surrounding it, the lake is one of the most frequently visited and endearing attractions of the UNESCO Dolomites.
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