Bard (Valle d’Aosta)
The medieval village of Bard is one of the most picturesque and well-preserved in the entire Aosta Valley, in less than an hour’s drive from Turin. Due to its strategic location, it has always been a bastion against invasions and still maintains its style with arches rich in mullioned windows. Bard has always been a magical place, steeped in history, art, and culture. It all starts with Casa Challant, featuring a facade that opens onto the square with stone mullioned windows and traces of painting. Then there’s Casa Urbano, the former mill headquarters, and Casa Ciuca, where you can admire a daring spiral staircase with steps that fan out around the central axis. Furthermore, there’s the elegant eighteenth-century Palazzo Nicole, the residence of the last counts of Bard, where you can still see the bullet holes from the siege of 1800, and the parish church dating back to the 12th century. Great personalities have crossed the walls of this village, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Stendhal, to Cavour. In the memories of the young Stendhal, who was part of Napoleon’s Armée, Bard is considered the place where he experienced his baptism of fire.
Every first Sunday of the month and the preceding Saturday, the historic center of Arezzo hosts hundreds of exhibitors for the largest and oldest Antiques Fair in Italy. Founded in 1968 by the antique dealer and collector Ivan Bruschi, it was the first event of its kind to take place regularly, every month, with enduring and consolidated success over time.
On display are furniture, paintings, antique books and prints, modern art, toys, porcelain, and a wide variety of curiosities, in the scenic Piazza Grande and the streets of the city center. It’s an unmissable opportunity to take a journey back in time and discover the city of Petrarch, with its bustling streets, picturesque medieval views, palaces, and squares with an unmistakable Tuscan flavor.
The character known worldwide from Pinocchio was born in Collodi, where Carlo Lorenzini, the author of the book, spent his childhood. Collodi itself is home to the monumental park dedicated to Pinocchio’s adventures, featuring some of the locations that inspired the story. The visit includes the historic garden of Villa Garzoni, a Baroque park that not only houses fountains, statues, monumental stairs, and a labyrinth but also hosts a modern butterfly house.
Valeggio Borghetto (Veneto)
Valeggio and Borghetto, in terms of language, traditions, and historical memories, belong to the Lombard-Venetian culture.
It is two hours by car from Milan and 30 minutes from Verona.The fact that they emerged near an ancient ford, at the intersection of a waterway and a land route, has defined their nature as a border and transit zone over the centuries.
Here, travelers, pilgrims, and merchants could always find, as long as wars and famines allowed, a good meal, a glass of wine, and a safe place to rest.
In Borghetto, there are records of a “thaberna,” a kind of inn or tavern, dating back to around 1300. Indeed, Valeggio sul Mincio, as a bridge town between two regions, has, since the 18th century, developed a network of “inns with accommodations” to accommodate the increasing commercial traffic.
The Magic Museum of Cherasco was born from the renovation of an old nursery school and is one of the most important museums in Italy dedicated to the art of magic. It features 18 themed rooms, a large library with 19,000 volumes on magic, all of which are accessible for consultation, and a theater for performances and stage setups.
The rooms are decorated with enchanting scenography that both children and adults can explore to discover the origins of illusionism, the tools, styles, and great magicians of history. In each room, visitors can engage with micro-magic tricks, mentalism, optical illusions, and learn the secrets of the trade, such as the techniques of illusionists and the tricks of mediums. The path also extends outdoors with the Garden of Fairies. Since 2014, the city of Cherasco has been named the world capital of magic.
Murano Burano (Veneto)
The most charming islands in the Venice Lagoon are Murano and Burano: famous worldwide for glassmaking and lacework, respectively, these two small communities captivate with their colorful town centers and vibrant boats. Murano, like Venice, has the shape of a small archipelago since it is composed of seven smaller islands connected by bridges and canals.
The art of Murano glassmaking began in 1291 when all the glass factories, previously located in Venice, were moved to the smaller island. This move was made to prevent the numerous fires that had already engulfed many wooden houses in Venice due to glassblowing accidents. As a result, master glassblowers and their workers found themselves confined to the island of Murano and were forbidden from leaving Venice without special permission to ensure that their craft remained local and could not be copied. When a crisis hit glass production due to competition from Bohemian crystal (possibly inspired by the work of glassblowers who had managed to escape from Venice), glassmakers overcame it by creating unique chandeliers, which are now symbolic products of Murano glass artistry.
Burano, on the other hand, is a small island known for its vibrant colors. Its beautiful houses, which are no more than three stories high, are painted in vivid hues, a technique that was traditionally used to define property boundaries. According to some, the bright colors of the houses allowed sailors to recognize their homes from a distance and navigate their boats correctly upon returning.
The Burano area is famous for its lacework, which derives from an ancient tradition that began in the 1500s and is still passed down today. Thanks to the preservation of the finest lacework in the Lace Museum, which includes works that were once crafted within the Lace School, you can admire the oldest specimens of local craftsmanship.
Just a few kilometers away from Milan, the picturesque Lake Como offers an escape from the city. Enjoy a cruise on the lake, visit historic villas, and admire breathtaking landscapes. Then, Bergamo, a charming medieval city, is easily accessible from Milan and offers a rich history within the ancient walls, historic palaces, and cobbled streets of the Upper Town. Furthermore, the Ticino Valley Regional Park: If you are a nature lover, a trip to the Ticino Valley Regional Park could be the perfect choice. Explore scenic trails and relax amidst nature.
The Museum is located in the historic center of Senigallia, in what were once the stables of the ancient and imposing 18th-century Monti Malvezzi palace. The museum boasts a precious collection of antique toys from the 19th century to the immediate post-war period. It’s not a game. Nor is it that tender pastime that makes everyone feel like children again. It’s an almost exclusively male passion, particularly fascinating for those over 40, almost all of whom were struck by it in adulthood: no childhood relics, therefore, and it’s not a hobby.
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