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The Veneto, Dolomites, and Great Italian Music

The folk music featured in this show is composed and performed by the Italian band Gruppo Emiliano. Find out more about the group or contact them at www.gruppoemiliano.it.. The classical music featured in the show was written by Antonio Vivaldi for his choral work Gloria in D Major, RV589.


The Verona Arena and Verdi's "Aida" top

Back on the city streets, the day is fleeing, and Verona truly earns its name as the city of love. What could be more romantic than a night under the stars in the arena? The Verona Opera is an event not to be missed. It’s a chance to experience a roman arena as people did two thousand years ago. The Opera is renowned for its extravagant, spectacular performances and for an equally flamboyant crowd. Half the fun is the performance before the performance. Some of the crowd are dressed to the nines as they head to their reserved seats. My son Alex has joined me for this extravaganza.

The crowd loves to join in on the choruses, so get out your libretto and start practicing.

The opera is Aida, composer Guiseppe Verdi’s tragic love story set in ancient Egypt. The director is Franco Zefferelli, famous film director and ardent opera lover. First performed in 1871 at the Cairo Opera House, Aida is now a Verona favorite.


Book your tickets on-line at www.arena.it.


Giotto's Frescoes & The Scrovegni Chapel top

Once a Roman stronghold and later, a medieval University town, Padua is best known for the Scrovegni Chapel with its frescoes by the artist Giotto.

Commissioned by the Scrovegni family, the frescoes were part of a larger effort to mollify the heavens and pay penance for the family’s history of usury – or lending money for profit. Painted around the year 1305, the frescoes led the way to the Renaissance. Giotto’s paintings are fresh, immediate and colorful.

The frescoes tell the story of the marriage of the Virgin Mary’s parents, then follow the life of Mary... and the life of Jesus. Giotto’s ability to capture the essence of a scene is cinematic. The drama leaps from the walls—Jesus raises his hand and revives the mummified body of Lazarus. Judas and a Priest calculate their pact of betrayal.

Visitors are only allowed fifteen minutes in the chapel and reservations are required.


Book your appointment on-line at cappelladegliscrovegni.it.


Renato Rizzardi and A Tasty Dish of Baccala top

The Veneto is a wealthy region and the people have a fine appreciation for the good life. Around Vicenza alone, there are dozens of small, simple but elegant restaurants where you can interrupt your country tour for a taste of the regional cuisine.

Owner, Renato Rizzardi prepares the Vicenza specialty, baccala – dried cod. This local dish sprang from the catholic tradition of eating fish on Friday nights and the fact that, for inlanders, cod preserved well when salted and partially dried.


Make reserverations on-line at www.lalocandadipiero.it.


Cortina d'Ampezzo top

Center of the eastern Dolomites, Cortina is trendy resort town and in winter, a skiing mecca. Year round, the streets of this picturesque village fill with mountaineers, tourists and the jet set. Cortina has hosted the Olympic Games and continues to host international sporting events.


Info on Cortina events is found at www.cortina.dolomiti.com.


Rifugio Lagazuoi top

There is no finer way to experience the Dolomites that in a mountain inn or “rifugio.” Set high up in the mountains, these rustic hotels offer a place to sleep, and usually an excellent meal. Some are accessed by a lift, others only by hiking. I’m staying at the spectacular rifugio Lagazuoi.

Set smack in the middle of the Dolomite spires, Lagazuoi commands a 360 degree view. During summer days the restaurant and terrace team with day trippers. Built by Alpine trailblazer and guide Ugo Pompanin in the 1960’s, the refugio is located on the summit of Mount Piccolo above the Falzarego Pass. Ugo’s son, Guido, explained the rifugio system to me.


The interior of Lagazuoi is typical of many mountain inns. There are rooms with bunk beds as well as a few private rooms – all with stunning views. But the biggest surprise at Lagazuoi is the cuisine. Heavenly home made pasta and regional specialties are standard fare.

So this is on the menu every night, seven nights a week...unbelievable.

Outside on the terrace, you can watch the sunset flame across the peaks and gently fade to night.

Not even the finest hotel in the world can compare with this simple mountain refuge. Here in the fresh air, enjoying breakfast with the splendid mountains all around, I know I have discovered Shangri La. Next time you see me, I will actually be younger. From the Dolomites, arrivederci and auf wiedersein.


Contact Rifugio Lagazuoi at www.lagazuoius.com.


Special Event: No Barriers/Dolomiti top

eventNo Barriers/Dolomiti is organized by the Italian Dolomiti senza barriere onlus, in collaboration with a group of Americans. Its goal is to promote outdoor sports and other activities for the disabled with a focus on the mountain environment. The event features a climb by three disabled and renowned American climbers.


For event details, click here.


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There are no Monet originals here, but the gift shop sells reproductions. For more information about Monet's home at Giverny, visit www.giverny.org.

Manoir Apreval Calvados is aged in oak from 2 to 30 years. For more information about Manoir d'Apreval, visit www.apreval.com.

An excellent listing of restaurants is available at www.jre.net. For more information about Le Pavé d'Auge restaurant, visit