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Share a moment of relaxation with your family. Let yourself be pampered on holiday in Italy

When it comes to family holidays, be it by sea or mountain, the important thing is to choose a destination that pleases everyone. In Italy with its abundance of attractions and entertainment, it is easy to satisfy everyone, gifting your family immeasurable happiness.

Family holidays 250 Search results

Pula adventure park

Sardinia: Pula adventure park, swinging through the trees a stone's throw from the sea Overlooking one of Sardinia's most enchanting coastlines, the Costa del Sud, amidst white sand dunes and turquoise sea, a few steps from the Pixinamanna state forest, is the Pula adventure park. Have fun testing yourself on adrenaline-fuelled courses suspended between flying platforms and zip lines, and when you've had your fill of adventure, treat yourself to a dip in the crystal-clear water: just a hundred metres away. Between crystal clear sea and wild hinterland The result of an environmental redevelopment project and immersed in a pine forest of maritime and domestic pines, Pula's adventure park covers an area of around 13,000 square metres, right up to a sand dune beach. After a day spent bounding in the trees like squirrels, hanging from ropes, zip lines, balancing between nets and catwalks, you can cool off in the crystal-clear Sardinian sea or continue your adventure exploring the wilder hinterland. Aerial challenges for young and old Thanks to its special anti-fall devices and safety equipment, which will allow you to move from tree to tree in extreme safety, the 7 aerial courses on offer – three dedicated to children and as many for adults, plus a zip-line course – are designed to correspond to different ages, levels of preparation and challenge. Starting with the baby course, suspended at a height of about 50 centimetres and dedicated to children under 110 centimetres, the height from the ground, the degree of difficulty and the number of obstacles gradually increase, accompanied by an adult. One after the other, the different courses add difficult passages, ladders that engage the hands and legs, thrilling zip lines that almost seem to dive into the sea, pulleys and a unique snowboarding experience. An open-air gym to develop team spirit Pula adventure park also organises immersive experiences in nature specialised in team building and designed especially for companies, with trails at a height of around 15 metres that stimulate psycho-motor activities and coordination and are intended to enhance team spirit and teamwork. By fostering healthy competition and mutual encouragement in the face of fears and unforeseen events, the adventure park trials are designed to increase trust in colleagues, foster communication, stimulate creativity, collaboration and strive for common goals. A unique professional and human experience, a new way of getting to know each other and finding oneself, with emotions guaranteed. Party time! Do you dream of making a proposal to leave everyone speechless? Would you like to organise a surprise party with a high level of excitement? Do you try to distract the bride and groom-to-be from their pre-wedding commitments? In the spectacular location of the Pula adventure park, all customised events are also under the banner of adventure and challenge: by reservation, the park's trails, benches and kiosk service are available for birthday parties, hen and stag parties, class outings or special days, always and everywhere unforgettable. Trip to Nora, the oldest town in Sardinia At sunset, after recovering from your excitement and exertion in the cool waters of the sea, stop off at Nora, overlooking Capo di Pula, one of the most important archaeological sites in Sardinia: an ancient city of Phoenician origin, one of the most important trading centres in the Mediterranean, conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC. The site contains ruins dating from different eras: Nuragic, Phoenician, Punic and finally Roman. In the reddish light of the sun setting over the sea, you can wander around the remains of the amphitheatre and the baths from the imperial era, then try to catch a glimpse of the outline of the submerged part of the city, now swallowed up by the depths of the sea, a true paradise for lovers of underwater archaeology.t
Relax & Wellness

Arta Terme

Arta Terme, the pearl of Carnia, combining wellness, alpine itineraries and archaic cults A small Friulian town in the province of Udine, 442 metres above sea level, 10 kilometres from the Austrian border and 20 from the Slovenian border: there are many reasons to visit Arta Terme. The town, nestled in the Valle del But that connects Tolmezzo to Austria via the Passo di Monte Croce Carnico pass, has been renowned for its waters since Roman times. The sulphurous water gushes from the Fonte Pudia spring, which has been providing cures and wellbeing for centuries, and has also made Arta a popular spa resort, the perfect place to rejuvenate the body and spirit, and the ideal starting point for walks and hikes among the malghe (shepherd's huts) and mountain huts. The Arta Thermal Baths and its portentous waters, loved by Carducci Enclosed in a green basin, the Arta Thermal Baths are located within a complex, the Water Palace, formed by two connected buildings. The first, dating back to the 1960s and designed by architect Gino Valle, features an oriental-style roof; the second is more recently built. Its rooms invite you to relax among the saunas and Turkish baths or to recharge your batteries under the sensory showers and along the Kneipp path. Surrounding it is a beautiful park where you can enjoy mini-golf, tennis, or freshen up in the swimming pool with hydromassage. A word of advice: don't be put off by the intense sulphurous odour of the waters flowing from Fonte Pudia, whose name originates from the Latin participle putens and alludes to its not particularly pleasant odour, because it is precisely because of the wealth of minerals in its waters that the Arta Thermal Baths are able to offer highly specialised treatment and rehabilitation courses for various ailments, especially those of the airways. In fact, for centuries their medicinal properties have attracted tourists and patients to the Carnic locality: among the most famous personalities is Giosuè Carducci, who dedicated one of his poems, Il comune rustico (The Rustic Municipality), to Arta. Excursions amid history and spectacular views Piano d'Arta, a few kilometres from Arta Terme, is an excellent starting point for a series of walks that will allow you to better discover the area. If you enjoy trekking, the first destination you should tackle is without a doubt Mount Zoncolan, one of Friuli Venezia Giulia's best-known mountain settings, home to a well-known ski resort in winter and criss-crossed in summer by panoramic itineraries, amidst flower-filled pastures, woods and malghe (shepherd's huts). You should not miss, in the vicinity of Arta Terme, the town of Zuglio, the ancient Iulium Carnicum, a flourishing economic and trade centre in Roman times, founded between 58 and 40 B.C., which became a colony in the 1st century A.D.. Close to its Archaeological Museum, you will be able to admire the remains of the Roman forum and artefacts found during archaeological excavations. On the road back to Arta, also worth a visit for its architectural merit is the parish church of San Pietro near Zuglio, a Gothic church built on the site of an earlier Romanesque parish church, the windows of which still survive. Inside, the church preserves a wooden altar by Domenico da Tolmezzo, a masterpiece of Renaissance art, as well as a Baroque organ, and two canvases painted between the 16th and 18th centuries, portraying the conversion of St. Peter and the handing over of the keys to the Saint. Discovering ancient Carnic traditions It is precisely in this parish church that every year, to mark the feast of the Ascension, the so-called Kissing of the Crosses takes place. This is one of the most cherished sacred festivities, dating back to a very ancient cult, probably of mediaeval origin: following a series of paths through the woods, the faithful carry in procession to the parish church of San Pietro the precious astylar crosses, crucifixes for procession placed on a pole, which are stored throughout the year in the churches of the nearby valleys. And if you pass through Arta Terme during the Christmas festivities, as well as visiting the Christmas market, you will be able to experience an ancient Carnic tradition that is celebrated every year, from 26 December until the Epiphany: that of the Stele di Nadal, a procession of believers led by the Three Wise Men who, singing songs and holding a wooden star decorated with coloured paper bows and a lamp in the centre, go from house to house to herald the birth of the Saviour. And at the table, cjarsòns, a dish that is a symbol of Carnic tradition You cannot leave without being enticed by the delights of Friuli's gastronomic tradition. In the local shops you can buy honey, plum and pear distillates, cheeses and, above all, the typical cjarsòns, one of Carnia's signature dishes: handmade agnolotti stuffed with officinal herbs and spices, usually topped with melted butter and smoked ricotta. There is a festival is dedicated to cjarsòns, which is held every year on the first Sunday in August in Arta Terme, in the locality of Val Rivalpo.
Art & Culture

Miramare Castle

Nature and history in the Miramare Castle Park Right outside Trieste you can enter the oasis of the Miramare Castle park, and spend pleasant hours surrounded by vegetation. It is an unmissable stop, just six kilometres from the capital of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. It is no coincidence that it is the most visited castle in the entire North East. What is particularly attractive is the park, which overlooks the sea from above, creating a meeting of green and deep blue. An out-of-town excursion where nature plunges into history. Love at first sight It was Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg, who fell madly in love with the spectacular location, commissioning the entire Miramare Castle complex in the mid-1800s. The park and historic residence stand on the promontory of Grignano, a rocky spur overlooking the bay, like a lookout. In Maximilian's time, it was a karstic territory, completely parched, but the Archduke was not daunted by the difficult task of transforming a barren heath into a lush garden. From 1856 onwards, he started the building work on the mansion and the complex task of reclaiming the land to make it suitable for planting. Maximilian moved into the newly completed residence in 1860. He lived here for a long time with his wife Carlotta, Princess of Belgium, choosing the name Miramare, from Spanish mira el mar, “look at the sea”. Another noblewoman was strongly fascinated by this place: his sister-in-law Elisabeth of Bavaria, the famous Princess Sissi, who was a frequent guest. English gardens and exotic species: the green area Twenty-two hectares of parkland surround Miramare Castle. Maximilian of Austria expressed his preference for non-European plants, supplied by nurserymen in Lombardy-Venetia, while soil was brought from the regions of Styria and Carinthia. When the nobleman found himself in Mexico, where he died in 1867, he personally sent some species to enrich the parterre. Besides the engineer Carl Junker, two personalities later took care of the botanical aspect: court gardeners Josef Laube and later Artur Jelinek, who also managed to plant exotic species, despite the adverse climate of Trieste, where night frosts and bora wind are not uncommon. Today, the park has two distinct zones. The first, to the east, is a grove of trees and delightful ponds, paths and gazebos, in the romantic style of English gardens. The second faces south-west, better protected from the wind; it houses an Italian-style garden and several flower beds, including the daffodil garden, which blooms exuberantly in spring. The Residence Open to the public like the entire park, Miramare Castle can be visited inside. On the ground floor are the private flats of the princes, on the upper floor the state rooms. The sumptuous Throne Room is currently used as a hall for concerts and exhibitions. The residence is furnished with furniture, precious objects, paintings and canvases. Set apart from the main building, the Stables, once used to house horses and carriages, were restored in 2018 and one wing now houses BIOdiversitario Marino (BioMa), the Immersive Museum of the Protected Marine Area of Miramare. A café is available to visitors, as well as a bookshop. Atmosphere Already on arrival, passing through Porta Bora and along Viale Miramare leading to the Castle, you breathe in a nostalgic atmosphere of times gone by. It is worth taking a slow walk along the winding paths and under the pergolas to the greenhouses with their original iron structures. Moving around the park, there are many encounters: Orante, a bronze male statue, then a copy of Venus of Capua and Apollino, an adolescent version of the god. The fountains provide coolness on hot days, as do the ponds and the larger Swan Lake. In the square with the cannons donated by Leopold I, King of the Belgians, you can breathe in all the power of the Austro-Hapsburg Empire, while in the halls of the castle, you can almost see the young Princess Sissi twirling at a ballroom party. The library has a thick scent of history. And under the oleanders, near the Serre Antiche, one's thoughts turn to the court gardener Anton Jelinek, because they were just recently planted following a precise wish of his that emerged in old correspondence. He did not succeed because the temperatures were too cold, but here they are today, in his honour.
Art & Culture


The Aosta Valley: admiring the stars at the Astronomical Observatory If you are a keen stargazer and are planning a holiday in Aosta Valley, be sure to visit Lignan, a mountain hamlet at an altitude of 1,600 metres in the municipality of Nus, in the valley of Saint-Barthélemy, where you will find the Planetarium of Lignan and the Astronomical Observatory of Saint Barthelemy (OAVdA). At the Planetarium, exploring the mysteries of the cosmos You have to pre-book to visit the Planetarium of Lignan but it is well worth it. You can virtually travel among the stars and planets, discovering galaxies, nebulae and fascinating facts about the sky and the mysteries it holds. The images you will see have been reconstructed down to the smallest detail, thanks to a state-of-the-art 4K digital projection system, based on the latest scientific data, which makes the experience not only immersive, but also wonderfully realistic. The ideal place to look at the sky The Astronomical Observatory of Saint Barthelemy offers a spectacular and practically unparalleled view of stars, even with the naked eye. In fact, the entire Saint-Barthélemy area is the ideal location for anyone who loves to watch and study the sky at night. Liguria has earned itself recognition from the scientific community, obtaining Starlight Stellar Park certification, issued by the Starlight Foundation of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands. The first area in Italy to receive this certification, it is also recognised by UNESCO as part of the international Starlight Initiative, for its protection of the night sky. Discovering the OAVdA Easy to reach by car, this is the only Observatory in Italy to have a research, teaching and awareness-raising activities agreement with the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF). The OAVdA is therefore equipped with many state-of-the-art facilities, including the Heliophysics Laboratory, which lets you look at the Sun without the risk of damaging your eyes. Under the guidance of experts, you can observe all the phenomena visible on the star closest to Earth, such as sunspots. The adventure continues with the Educational Terrace, equipped with seven telescopes, and the Star Theatre, where you can explore the sky with the naked eye using laser pointers. Avid astrophiles can make good use of the twelve nine-metre observation platforms, equipped with power supply towers and red LED lighting, the most discrete way to observe the sky. The Observatory is open for educational activities as well as individual visits, both day and night, exclusively in Italian, when you book in advance. A research laboratory The Observatory is not just a place to visit to look at the stars, but also a true scientific centre of excellence, which collaborates with other national and international scientific institutes. The most significant research projects include the Asteroids Project and the Solar Corona Project, concerning the investigation of celestial bodies near Earth, the Active Galactic Nuclei Project, which monitors galaxies far away from Earth, the Extrasolar Planets Project, which searches for planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way, and the Antarctica Project, which deals with the installation and operation of a robotic telescope for infrared observation. Open since 2003, the Observatory has achieved hugely important successes, such as the discovery of an asteroid, named Vallée d'Aoste, the participation in the discovery of the two exoplanets of the star XO-2S, and the detection of more than one hundred variable stars. All that remains is to plan a visit to this stellar place! Find out more:
Art & Culture

Forte di Bard - Parcheggio

The Fort of Bard, protecting the culture of the mountains This is a grandiose cultural hub dedicated to the Western Alps: the Fortress of Bard, in Valle d'Aosta, is an ancient fortress that defends the entire valley below. Today it is a museum, where tradition and technology go hand in hand, with very special effects. History, nature, architecture and geology combine in a multi-sensory journey through videos, 3D displays, sounds and projections. It's exciting for everyone: adults, students and children. All the way to the top on futuristic lifts The first emotion you will experience at the Fort of Bard is that of the futuristic, fully glazed lifts that will take you from the village to the top of the fortress. It feels like climbing a skyscraper, except that the view takes you back here, into the heart of exuberant nature. The panoramic cabin skirts the rock face, then touches the imposing structure of the fortress, arranged on several levels in a masterpiece of defensive architecture. And there is a clear view of the valley and the river that created it, the Dora Baltea, the villages around it and the peaks on the horizon. If the lift gives you vertigo, the walking route is just as spectacular. The slow pace will reveal the scenery in all its details. Climbing Mont Blanc, but virtually Have you ever climbed the extraordinary mountain that is Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps? If the answer is no, then this is your chance. Thanks to the interactive route offered by the Fort of Bard, you can experience the thrill of an exhilarating simulation: under the supervision of a guide, you find yourself in a roped climbing group, with harnesses, ropes and carabiners, just like a mountaineer. Before setting off, the weather is checked, backpacks are carefully prepared and the best route is studied. The climb begins, and the guide explains all about the natural environment, which differs from one altitude to the next. You will encounter obstacles, risks and surprises before finally reaching the summit. A yeti awaits you at the end of the experience, to congratulate you and accompany you to the exit. When Napoleon arrived here Through projections and authentic scenography, learn about the long history of the Fort of Bard, from the year 1000 to its complete reconstruction in 1830. Among the many characters you come across along the way is Napoleon Bonaparte, whose army took two weeks to defeat the Austrian enemy forces barricaded inside the fortress in 1800. There was such great displeasure over the long siege that it was decided that the building should be dismantled, only to be brought back to life by Charles Felix of Savoy in 1830. At the Fort of Bard, you will find yourself in a cell, since over the centuries it has also been a fearsome prison. Inside the 24 cells, a set design recreates the cramped atmosphere, while films and 3D reconstructions lead you into the Great History. In the 29 rooms of the Museum of the Alps, you will find yourself face to face with naturalists, geographers and anthropologists, who speak to you from video clips about the many aspects of Alpine civilisation, flora and fauna, revealing a world of absolute fascination. 5 things to do before leaving the fortress ● At the end of your visit to the Fort of Bard, take a break at the Caffetteria di Gola or at the La Polveriera Restaurant, inside the museum complex, where you can order charcuterie and cheese platters, crespelle alla valdostana (stuffed pancakes) and a walnut and honey dessert. ● If you're a Marvel fan, look inside the fort for replicas of Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk, evidence of the set built right here for several scenes from the film Avengers: Age of Ultron. ● Explore the village below, perhaps with the same technological approach as during your visit to the museum spaces. Millibard is a project consisting of ten stations equipped with QR-codes on special panels. Using your smartphone, you can access all the information about the village, which is definitely worth a wander through the ancient streets full of craft workshops. ● The best place from which to admire the Fort of Bard from afar and take in all its grandeur, coupled with its strategic position perched on the cliff, is from the bridge over the Dorea Baltea. Take a short rest at this natural vantage point. ● Not far away, in the valley, the village of Arnad is famous for its gastronomic excellence: Arnad lard PDO. It’s wonderful enjoyed on traditional black bread, freshly warmed and drizzled with a little local honey. For more information

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.


Edenlandia: the oldest theme park in Europe Edenlandia a veritable temple of fun. The first theme park in Europe, located in the heart of Naples, and still offering attractions for young and older generations. The Naples amusement park was an absolute novelty in Italy at the time of construction in 1937. Almost twenty years before Disneyland, which opened in 1955 in Anaheim on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Although Disneyland is typically considered as the forerunner of amusement parks. The same international brand sent an inaugural gift to Italy in the 70’s: the Dumbo carousel, although famous in Italy under the name of Jumb. In reality though, the precedence of Edenlandia isn’t entirely accurate seeing as the structure was inaugurated in 1965, and after opening, the amusement park, located in the Fuorigrotta district, suffered many setbacks. Getting back to what the park offers as it stands today: rides, shows, attractions, theme parties and music concerts. The possibilities for spending hours in pure escapism are endless. Among other things most of the attractions have been renovated and upgraded, enhancing their adrenaline- pumping characteristics, and immersive virtual experiences. It’s a safe bet you won’t be disappointed. Welcome to the first and only Italian Food and Leisure Park Large areas are dedicated to various food options. You’ll find typical local flavours, making the Campania experience as complete as possible. You just have to decide if you want to start with pizzas, sfogliatelle or babà pastries, or to go for a tasty street food selection. Perhaps stop at a juice corner or for a granite. If in the mood for meat then to a rotisserie, or a steakhouse. While visiting the only Food and Leisure Park in Italy is certainly not the time to worry about your calorie intake. You can think about your diet tomorrow! Where the original idea was born Edenlandia, as you can guess from when construction began, dates back to the Fascist era. It is linked to the Mostra d’Oltremare which is still one of the main Italian exhibition venues to this day, and the largest in the South. Naples was chosen firstly for it’s central position in the Mediterranean, and also because it was part of a plan Benito Mussolini had to relaunch the territory. Before the launch of the park, there was a little Luna Park for children, in the same area within the municipal villa of the city. Children could have fun on train rides, bumper cars, roller coasters, flying saucers and a big wheel. Edenlandia, a paradise for all The name was chosen to suggest a place suitable for everyone, to be precise, a small paradise: Edenlandia. If you decide to spend a few days in these parts, take advantage of the proximity to the Mostra D’Oltremare and the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium: they both deserve a visit.
Art & Culture


The Riardo castle and bubbling springs As one of the most enchanting villages in Alto Casertano and an important stop along the Southern Via Francigena, Riardo is a small mountain town on the northern slope of Monti Trebulani, dominated by an imposing Longobard castle. Inextricably connected to the town’s destiny since ancient times, the water alone would justify a visit here: in fact, Riardo was already known in Roman times for its naturally effervescent waters, mentioned and appreciated by Vitruvius and Pliny the Elder. From the manor window Standing on the hill overlooking the Savone plain and the stream springing from the extinct volcano of Roccamonfina, the Riardo Castle is the town’s main attraction and its extraordinary vantage point. A stone dated 1122 was found near the entrance during past renovations, but the castle's origins stretch even farther into the past, more likely the 9th century when the Castaldei dynasty of Lombard origin decided to build one of the many defensive fortresses of the County of Capua in these areas. The building was enlarged two centuries later, in the Norman era. The most striking architectural aspect and the castle's highlight is the huge arched window that allows to admire the breathtaking view of the plain below that stretches as far as the sea: don’t miss it. Another interesting detail is the main tower with its hollow walls and the stairs to the keep inside. A footbridge crosses the gardens on the northern side offering a view, even beyond the town walls, of an equally spectacular panorama. Once upon a time there were three people from Rieti A fun historical anecdote the locals have proudly passed on from generation to generation is set precisely in the Riardo castle. It is said to have happened in 1463, in the days when King Ferrante of Aragon besieged Riardo and its castle because its young feudal lord, the Baron Antonio Cristoforo Gaetani, had sided with the Angevins against his accession to the throne of the Kingdom of Naples. The Riardo men fiercely defended themselves, but surrendered after a few days. That is, all except three of them who barricaded themselves in the castle and continued to hurl boulders, decimating the royal troops. The story has it that in order to save time and human losses, the King sought an agreement with the indomitable resistance by promising them salvation and a large sum of money in exchange for surrender. Not trusting him, the three rebels who had single-handedly held an entire army in check also mocked the king, deftly taking the money and disappearing through a secret passage. Between monuments and sacred places The historical buildings in Riardo worth visiting include Santa Maria a Salice, the town's mother church that houses the Neapolitan-school statue of Madonna della Stella and the wooden statue of Sant'Antonio Abate donated by Duchess Elena Aldobrandini to the people of Riardo during the plague of 1656. The remains of a valuable series of 14th-century frescoes can be admired under the Gothic-Romanesque arches of the church now dedicated to San Leonardo, with its Catalan Gothic portal. Another important religious site to visit in Riardo is the Madonna della Stella Sanctuary, which was built in 1952-1962 to extend the ancient chapel dating back to the second half of the first millennium A.D., which still houses medieval frescoes of the Campania school. The springs of liquid treasure “Sunt nonnullae acidae venae fontium”: this is what Vitruvius wrote here over 2,000 years ago, meaning some slightly acidic water springs can be found here. He was alluding to the fact that Riardo's greatest wealth lies in its aquifers, in which the naturally effervescent waters flow that are still bottled in the Ferrarelle factory today. The naturally sparkling quality that has made it so popular is due to the fact that it springs from the volcanic rocks of Roccamonfina, from its now dormant crater. This natural and scenic combination is so special that the Parco delle sorgenti Ferrarelle from which these waters flow has been a FAI Heritage Site since 2011: 135 hectares of unspoilt greenery still hardly touched by mass tourism, which can be visited thanks to an area enhancement project that has planted historical crops, thousands of trees and has restored an ancient farmhouse. Pick the first apple And if you still need a reason to visit Riardo, its countryside is part of the production area of the Annurca Campana IGP apple, also known as the “queen of apples”, one of the best-known and most appreciated varieties, a gem among the local food and wine delicacies. Their production is particular in that they are ripened on the ground in so-called “melai”: highly nutritious and rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, they are ideal for children and the elderly. To find out more
Art & Culture

Sessa Aurunca

Sessa Aurunca, a journey through time along the Southern Via Francigena The town Sessa Aurunca in the Campania region is in the province of Caserta near the Lazio border; it is a veritable treasure trove of monuments and naturalistic views to discover. As an obligatory stop for pilgrims travelling along Via Francigena in Campania, it is still a mystical and fascinating place. The cathedral of Sessa Aurunca, a jewel of Romanesque architecture in Campania Start right here from the heart of the town in Campania, namely its cathedral standing in the historic centre, along the Southern Via Francigena. Dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the cathedral is one of the most important works of Campania's Romanesque architecture and has been a pilgrimage site for centuries. Built in 1103 on a sacred, likely pagan building, it has remained intact despite 18th-century renovations and numerous interventions to safeguard it from wear and tear and damage caused by a series of earthquakes. The building has recently been restored to its original layout. Beautiful mosaics from floor to pulpit The imposing façade is partially covered by a portico richly decorated with arcades supported by columns and pillars, where statues and bas-reliefs alternate mysterious and mythological figures, scenes recalling the life of St Peter and the Old and New Testaments. Divided into three naves, the interior deserves special attention for its striking mosaic floor covering the entire central nave with Moorish patterns. The pulpit is also decorated with a fine mosaic that alternates vivid depictions of animals with geometric motifs. The Roman theatre and the mysterious cryptoporticus Visiting Sessa Aurunca is like travelling back in time: hardly anything separates the Romanesque architecture of its cathedral from the spectacular coloured marble of the great Roman theatre that was only brought to light in 2003 and is extraordinarily well preserved. Erected in the 1st century A.D. and exploiting the natural slope of a hill, with a capacity of 7,000 spectators it is the second largest Roman theatre in Campania after that of Naples, which, however, lies almost completely hidden below the city's houses. There is a cryptoporticus next to the theatre, i.e., a covered corridor dating from a slightly later age. It is still unclear what its purpose was: perhaps actors used it to get from one place to another, although the numerous inscriptions in Greek and Latin on its walls, which also include some Virgilian verses, suggest that it was used as a school or gymnasium. The Ducal Castle: a “cheat sheet” of the city's history In its extraordinary stratification of eras and structures, the Ducal Castle of Sessa Aurunca narrates and synthesises the city’s history and dominations. To give you an idea, you can visit the library inside, but above all the rooms of the Civic Archaeological Museum that preserves many testimonies of the passage of dynasties that have succeeded one another over the centuries, from the Lombards to the Normans, from the Angevins to the Aragonese, together with some archaeological finds discovered on the seabed of the Gulf of Gaeta, including the famous statue of Matidia minor, a local ruler of prominence and power in Roman times. Borgo Valogno, from ghost town to open-air gallery Don't miss the small village of Valogno, 390 metres above sea level and just a few kilometres from Sessa Aurunca: this hamlet with just over 90 inhabitants was gradually losing its people until it averted its fate threatening to make it a ghost town by transforming into an open-air art gallery: for some years now, its streets, walls and courtyards have been hosting street art works and installations by artists, attracted here by the call to action of the Il Risveglio cultural association, which has promoted a veritable rebirth of the village and made it a continuous destination for tourists and enthusiasts. From the (dormant) volcano to the beaches of Baia Domizia Note that Valogno is located inside the Regional Park Volcanic Area of Roccamonfina and Foce Garigliano, 11,000 hectares of nature that reach as far as the border with lower Lazio. The park is looked down on by the massive dormant volcano of Roccamonfina, the oldest in the region, directly opposite Vesuvius. Amidst chestnut groves, vineyards, olive groves and streams flowing down to the sea, this area of mountains, hills and coastline hosts festivals and events throughout the year to promote local traditions and products, first and foremost the famous chestnut, while its roads are popular among trekking and cycling enthusiasts. Leaving the slopes of Roccamonfina behind, we suggest heading back to Baia Domizia: the coast of Sessa Aurunca is the best part of Campania in the Gulf of Gaeta for swimming, where you can recharge your batteries with a barefoot stroll along its kilometres of fine, golden beach, or perhaps indulge in a little relaxation while soaking in its ultra-blue waters.
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