Category Archives: high life

The Merano Wine Festival is Coming!



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Here is the pitch (from the Guardian)

The South Tyrol, with its mixed Italian and Austrian heritage, is a great place for a foodie visit and the Merano Culinaria is a chance to sample the fabulous food and wine that has been created from such mixed influences. Traditional alpine noodle dishes, such as dumplings and strudel are on offer, alongside hand-made pastas and strong cheeses. Regions such as the Aosta valley and Lombary have their own stalls, selling fontina cheese, motzetta (air-dried meats), braesolas and salamis along with specialist producers of everything from aged balsamic vinegar to hand-made chocolates. Many major wine producers from all over Italy also take their place at the Art Nouveau Kurhaus to sell their prized bottles.

And from the Merano Wine Festival web page

To celebrate 26 years of history, there will be 5 days full of emotions and things to discover with friends: over 450 winemakers among the best of Italy and the rest of the world, almost 200 producers of culinary products and 15 prominent chefs. Expression of the best that our place has to offer, selected by the WineHunter Award Commissions.

The Wine Italia days (November 11 – 12) would be perfect for me!

The Kurhaus of Merano is one of the most famous art nouveau buildings in the entire alpine area and host to the Merano WineFestival. Over the course of multiple days, it will be transformed into a venue of national wine producers. During these days, the wine will be the absolute protagonist.
More than 800 wines from all over Italy will be displayed for tasting. Each and every of those wines has obtained the quality seal of The WineHunter Awards, with the colors red, gold and platinum representing different grades of top quality.
The halls of the Kurhaus create a sensory path through wineries of north and south Italy. The sections Extremis and the WineHunter Area represent special characteristics within the Merano WineFestival.

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Inspiration from the Artisans of Lombardy

Artisans are folks who are skilled in making high value products by hand. In the last century, this was decidedly a niche idea. Hand made products are more expensive than machine made. And machine made things can achieve high quality standards with precision tools.

But that was the last century when the west, especially the US, went mad for efficiency and gave us McDonald’s, etc. Times are changing. McDonald’s will not disappear. But we will also begin to see more stories about artisanship.

We already do. Artisans in the kitchen have become celebrity chefs. And many people aspire to be artisan chefs at home and for their friends. Bartenders? Now they are mixologists.

This is just the beginning. As we go forward, the word luxury will become — once again — more closely attached to the word artisan. And this leads me to a thought. Can one become friends with great artisans? If I have a passion for a given draft or artistic item, can I join in their circle of afficionados?

Hemingway obsessed about that in “The Sun Also Rises”. Artisanship (in bull fighting and more) was Jake Barnes tonic to soothe the ache of his horrendous war wound.  He loved people who did things well – with grace. Sadly, most of his friends were not up to that standard, and the incredible scenes that played out when they mix offers the guts of this wild tale.

Perhaps we will see many more stories about the intersection of the artisan world (a world of grace) and the world where most of us live. Not just that, but tours based on the concept that meeting artisans and learning from them and buying from them is worth the price of travel.

So what about traveling to Lombardy to meet violin makers of Cremona, silk purveyors of Como and more?

Go for it!

Catullus Loved Sirmione

Catullus was an important literary figure form the late  Roman republic period.

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Why?  It is mainly because of his influence in matters of style

(His) poems describe the lifestyle of Catullus and his friends, who, despite Catullus’s temporary political post in Bithynia, appear to have lived withdrawn from politics. They were interested mainly in poetry and love. Above all other qualities, Catullus seems to have sought venustas (attractiveness, beauty) and lepidus (charm). The ancient Roman concept of virtus (i.e. of virtue that had to be proved by a political or military career), which Cicero suggested as the solution to the societal problems of the late Republic, are interrogated in Catullus.

In other words, he attempted to revive a sense of delight in being, and even Julius Caesar valued his wit, despite the fact  that Catullus mocked him.

… Catullus (does not reject traditional notions), merely their monopolized application to the active life of politics and war. Indeed, he tries to reinvent these notions from a personal point of view and to introduce them into human relationships. For example, he applies the word fides, which traditionally meant faithfulness towards one’s political allies, to his relationship with Lesbia and reinterprets it as unconditional faithfulness in love. So, despite the seeming frivolity of his lifestyle, Catullus measured himself and his friends by quite ambitious standards.

But Catullus is mainly focused on himself as meriting love. – physical love.

He loved his home town of Sirmione, on Lake Garda.

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And one can find near there ruins of a most impressive Roman villa called the Grottoes of Catullus. Catullus did have a house there. But  the villa was built long after Catullus had died.

The villa, which covers an area of ​​about two hectares on a rocky spur, featured long porticoes and terraces overlooking the lake. The central part was occupied by an extensive garden, and today houses the Grande Oliveto (Great Olive Grove); throughout the archaeological area, there are currently around 1500 olive groves, some centuries-old, belonging to three different varieties of olives from the Lake Garda area. In recent years, the harvest of olives to produce the historic Grotte di Catullo extra virgin olive oil has been revived.

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Strolling there, you might feel once again the inner delight that Catullus expressed at the privileges of love.


What Turner Saw at Villa d’Este and More!

This sort of accolade gets one’s attention

So renowned were Villa D’Este’s landscape marvels that Europe’s best painters and artists, including Piranesi, Fragonard, Turner and Corot made pilgrammages here, their depictions spreading the fame of this extraordinary setting throughout the world. Mythological statues adorn many of the fountains, pools, and terraces. The Neptume Fountain was created by Bernini, the master architect of Baroque Rome.

Turner produced this

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Related image

Here is a photo that gives a view of the Neptune Fountain by Bernini

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You get the idea. There is much to see here. And this is not the only breathtaking garden that can be found not far from Rom. Here are a few more. This image from — might draw you in

Time to Put Morocco’s Oasis Festival on Your Calendar?

There is no shortage of music festivals around the world. Is there room for one more? Perhaps … if the venue is exotic, the creature comforts are extreme, and the music is inspiring. This is the promise of the Morocco Oasis Festival

(Founder Marjana Jaidi created a one-of-a-kind dance experience in the mountains of Marrakech that gives anyone who attends a chance to immerse themselves in the city’s rich culture, all while enjoying an incredible lineup. It’s the perfect balance between travel and music that will not disappoint.

The promo video at their website is awesome.

We just missed this year’s event. But it is on my calendar for consideration next year,

And you?

Does touring the Colosseum Make You Hungry?

Let’s face it. If you go to Rome, you will visit at least one of its many amazing monuments.. And you will get hungry. At that moment, it would be nice to know of a special place — the right place to pop into for a meal.

Italy Magazine offers its selections. Yet another reason to visit the eternal city! September is a great time for it!

I , for one, would need a pick me up after touring the massive Colosseum. Here are the two recommendations

Caffé Propaganda (Via Claudia, 15): Located a five-minute walk from the Colosseum, Caffe Propaganda is a contemporary café with a modern design. The updated menu blends Italian and international influences to create everything from bite-sized tortellini filled with carbonara sauce to mini sliders. Beyond the fancy cocktails and savory meals, the delicate desserts are a major draw. Rather than serve tiramisu in a cup like other traditional restaurants, Propaganda’s perfectly balanced bittersweet ‘ovo misù’ comes served in an eggshell meringue cup. The added crunch of the edible shell makes this one of Rome’s most unique takes on the timeless dessert.

Li Rioni (Via dei Santi Quattro, 24): Located a short walk from the Colosseum, Li Rioni is a traditional pizzeria with fair prices in an otherwise iffy foodie neighborhood.  Designed inside to look like an Italian residential street hung with laundry, the eatery specializes in thin crust Roman pizza. The kitschy restaurant also offers focaccia and calzone, but few other dishes to satisfy appetites looking for a break from dough. The location is a welcome surprise but, like most Roman pizzerie, Li Rioni is only open for dinner.