Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bellarmine University 2011 Performance Tour - Updated Itinerary

Welcome to the Incantato Tours information blog for the 2011 Bellarmine University Performance Tour to Italy. This is the most recent updated itinerary. Enjoy!

View from the terrace of your first BU Italy Tour Hotel.
DAY 1 Thursday, March 3
Overnight flight to Rome
Please refer to your e-ticket to ensure you have the correct departure schedule as there are three groups leaving Louisville.

DAY 2 Friday, March 4

Benvenuti to Italy
After clearing customs and immigration, meet your Incantato Tour Manager, Ambra Pasqualina, and board the coach to head south to Cetara on the Amalfi Coast for a welcome dinner at the Hotel Cetus, where you will stay from March 4 through 7, situated on a cliff above the ocean and with a wonderful panoramic view.

Gourmet dinner at this 12th century Norman Tower
DAY 3 Saturday, March 5
Maiori tour, pizza workshop and Jazz Concert
Transfer to Maiori this morning for an orientation tour followed by a pizza-making workshop and lunch at Mammoto. The Jazz Ensemble performs a concert at the Town Hall this evening before the group returns to Hotel Cetus for the night.

DAY 4 Sunday, March 6

Amalfi and Maiori performances with a special reception
Spend the day at leisure with the opportunity to transfer to Amalfi. Celebrate High Mass followed by a concert with the Bellarmine University Schola Cantorum and the Louisville Vocal Project, directed by Dr. Timothy Glasscock, at San Francesco in Maiori at 6 PM. Maiori and its citizens have been frequently featured in films by Rosselini, they are warm, welcoming, are known for their hospitality and have a genuine passion for music.

DAY 5 Monday, March 7
Dolce Vita Day and Naples Concerts
Enjoy the Amalfi Coast at your own pace with optional trips to Pompeii and Capri (cost not included). Transfer to Naples this afternoon with an orientation tour upon arrival. The Choirs will present a concert at Chiesa di Santa Teresa Degli Scalzi at 4:45PM. The Jazz Ensemble performs this evening as well. Return to Cetara for the night.

DAY 6 Tuesday, March 8
Via Montecassino to Tuscany
Bid farewell to the Amalfi Coast as you travel north. Stop for a guided tour and recital for the choirs at the Benedictine Monastery of Montecassino perched high upon a hill. Continue to beautiful Tuscany, where you will stay at Siena's Hotel Montaperti from March 8 through 10, for dinner and overnight.

DAY 7 Wednesday, March 9

Florence Visit and Jazz Concert
See the highlights of Tuscany‘s capital city Florence with a specialized local guide (entrance to Accademia Museum is already included along with a pre-reserved entrance time so you do not have to wait in line) followed by an afternoon at leisure. The Jazz Ensemble performs at Sala Bianca - Hotel Cellai - at 7 PM. Overnight in Siena.

DAY 8 Thursday, March 10

Montepulciano and Siena in-depth
Meet your local guide for an orientation tour of Montepulciano in the footsteps of St. Robert Bellarmine before you continue to
Siena. There you will see the cities hightlights. At 9:00 PM the Jazz Ensemble performs at the Tea Room.

DAY 9 Friday, March 11
Via Assisi to Rome
Travel to Rome with a stop in Assisi for a guided tour and High Mass participation for the choirs at the Basilica of St. Francis. Grab lunch on your own before an afternoon guided tour of Assisi. The tour will stay at the Hotel H10 Roma Citta throughout the remainder of the tour.

DAY 10 Saturday, March 12
Vatican Visit and a special High Mass
Explore the Vatican Museums and St. Peter‘s Basilica with your local guide followed by some free time. The singers will be the featured guest choir for a special Saturday High Mass in the early evening at the magnificent cathedral of Saint Peter.

DAY 11 Sunday, March 13

Mass and Eternal Rome Tour
The Choirs sing mass this morning at the Church of Saint Robert Bellarmine, then experience Rome‘s ancient highlights with a local guide with in-depth visits to the Coliseum and Roman Forum. While in Rome, we will make sure you get a chance to visit the Church of the Gesu (Robert Bellarmine preached there) and St. Ignatius (where St. Bellarmine is buried). Get ready for a choir concert at Duomo di San Gegorio Magno in Monte Porzio Catone at 7:00 PM. Enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner and wine tasting this evening at Casal Pilozzo with a special performance by the Jazz Ensemble.

DAY 12 Monday, March 14
Rome Departure
Transfer to the airport for your flight home to the US.
Please refer to your tickets for your return flights home. After check-in, your tour manager waves good-bye and you will bid farewell to beautiful Italy.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bellarmine University flight schedules

Departure for Europe:
Thursday, March 3, 2011
UNITED AIRLINES flight UA7584 leaves LOUISVILLE (SDF) at 3:11PM
Arrives in CHICAGO (ORD) at 3:36PM
LUFTHANSA flight LH437 leaves CHICAGO (ORD) at 4:50PM
Arrives in DUESSELDORF (DUS) at 8:15AM on Friday, March 4, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH3200 leaves DUESSELDORF (DUS) at 11:25AM
Arrives in ROME (FCO) at 1:30PM

Return to USA:
Monday, March 14, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH243 leaves ROME (FCO) at 6:25AM
Arrives in FRANKFURT (FRA) at 8:35AM
LUFTHANSA flight LH430 leaves FRANKFURT (FRA) at 10:25AM
Arrives in CHICAGO (ORD) at 1:40PM
UNITED AIRLINES flight UA5938 leaves CHICAGO (ORD) at 6:00PM
Arrives in LOUISVILLE (SDF) at 8:16PM

Departure for Europe:
Thursday, March 3, 2011
UNITED AIRLINES flight UA7517 leaves LOUISVILLE (SDF) at 9:53AM
Arrives in CHICAGO (ORD) at 10:16AM
LUFTHANSA flight LH437 leaves CHICAGO (ORD) at 4:50PM
Arrives in DUESSELDORF (DUS) at 8:15AM on Friday, March 4, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH3200 leaves DUESSELDORF (DUS) at 11:25AM
Arrives in ROME (FCO) at 1:30PM

Return to USA: Monday, March 14, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH243 leaves ROME (FCO) at 6:25AM
Arrives in FRANKFURT (FRA) at 8:35AM
LUFTHANSA flight LH430 leaves FRANKFURT (FRA) at 10:25AM
Arrives in CHICAGO (ORD) at 1:40PM
UNITED AIRLINES flight UA5938 leaves CHICAGO (ORD) at 6:00PM
Arrives in LOUISVILLE (SDF) at 8:16PM

Departure for Europe:
Thursday, March 3, 2011
UNITED AIRLINES flight UA7517 leaves LOUISVILLE (SDF) at 9:53AM
Arrives in CHICAGO (ORD) at 10:16AM
LUFTHANSA flight LH437 leaves CHICAGO (ORD) at 4:50PM
Arrives in DUESSELDORF (DUS) at 8:15AM on Friday, March 4, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH3200 leaves DUESSELDORF (DUS) at 11:25AM
Arrives in ROME (FCO) at 1:30PM

Return to USA:
Monday, March 14, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH243 leaves ROME (FCO) at 6:25AM
Arrives in FRANKFURT (FRA) at 8:35AM
LUFTHANSA flight LH430 leaves FRANKFURT (FRA) at 10:25AM
Arrives in CHICAGO (ORD) at 1:40PM
UNITED AIRLINES flight UA7627 leaves CHICAGO (ORD) at 4:00PM
Arrives in LOUISVILLE (SDF) at 6:08PM

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Travel Tip: What to pack?

Dear members of the Bellarmine University Music Department,
As your departure for your 2011 performance tour comes closer and closer, Incantato Tours provides you with different travel tips to make it easier for you to get ready for your trip.

For most people, packing for a trip is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it: "You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" Her advice: "Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle."
Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents).
Here are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, we allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on such as a bag pack or small duffel.

A sample packing list (just a suggestion!)
* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* An adapter plug/converter (if bringing electronic devices)
* Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
* At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses too
* a sweater or two
* Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
* Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
* A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables)
* Choir music and attire
* Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
* Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules.
* All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounces. Bring enough contact lense solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip.

If you forget anything there are plenty of shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Travel Tip: Frequently asked questions

What should everyone carry at all times, real passport or a photo copy?
Ideally, your passport should be on your person at all times. Please be “street-smart” and don’t wave it around for all to see. Photocopies of the passport should be packed in your suitcase, available in your e-mail and Incantato should have a copy as well.

Is the tap water safe to drink?
The tap water is potable in many areas, although we would recommend to buy bottled water.

Do you have recommendations or suggestions on the type of power adapter needed and what wattage?
Electricity in Europe comes out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at a 50 cycles per second. In the US, electricity comes out of the wall socket at 110 volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second. Not only the voltages and frequencies, but the sockets themselves are different. Adapters and converters may be found at Target, Walmart and radio shack etc.

What is the average meal cost? How much money should you bring?
As long as you are wise about your choices, meals can easily be 15 Euro or less. You don’t have to go to sit down restaurants to get decent food. But when you do want to sit down, you should check the menu outside to see if they have a "menu special" - you can get an entrée, dessert and a drink for a set price.

What the size limit and number of items is for carry-on?
You may have 1 carry-on bag - it must be able to fit either under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. We recommend a backpack.

What are the airline carry-on container regulations?
No containers holding more that 3ozs of liquid is allowed in the carry-on luggage. They also must be in a plastic zip-lock bag.

What has the best exchange rate, using a debit card to pull money out or exchanging US currency?
By far the best way is to use your debit card. Most banks only charge around $2 per withdraw and they also take care of the exchange rate for you. You do need a 4 digit pin and also let your bank know that you are travelling abroad. DO NOT BRING TRAVELLERS' CHEQUES!

What is the approximate exchange rate right now?
It’s about $1.35 to 1 EUR (February 2011).

What happens if someone gets injured while in tour? Medical care and cost wise? Do they need a medical consent form for treatment?
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance. You find a link to our recommended partner on this blog.

Travel Tip: High voltage

Dear travelers,
To charge your digital cameras, laptops, etc. in Europe during your Incantato performance tour, you will need an adapter. The U.S. plug (2 or 3 prong here in the U.S.) will not fit in a European socket. In most cases the European socket takes a plug with 2 round prongs.
The adapters allow an U.S. plug to plug in to the back of the adapter and the front of the adapter plugs into the European socket. You'll find adapters at stores like Radio Shack, Walmart or online at

Travel Tip: Money matters

Dear travelers, Money is a delicate subject. The best way to use your money during your upcoming trip is to have a debit card; this allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. The debit cards given by the bank has the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, however, Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. Most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water and a little fee for restroom use. Last not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 20 Dollar per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses such as:
· Most restaurants have menus outside so you can check their price range.
· Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and better prices.
· Bring your own water bottle. Most places have safe tap water to fill up with.
· Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
· Shop around for souvenirs; many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.

Last not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices.

Welcome to Italy!

Italy is located partly on the European Continent and partly on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern, Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, and Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers 301,338 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.2 million inhabitants, it is the sixth most populous country in Europe, and the twenty-third most populous in the world.
The land known as Italy today has been the cradle of European cultures and peoples, such as the Etruscans and the Romans. Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilisation, as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy would endure numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Normans and later, the Byzantines, among others. Centuries later, Italy would become the birthplace of the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.
Through much of its post-Roman history, Italy was fragmented into numerous kingdoms and city-states (such as the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Duchy of Milan), but was unified in 1861, a tumultuous period in history known as the "Risorgimento". In the late 19th century, through World War I, and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule to Libya, Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, Ethiopia, Albania, Rhodes, the Dodecanese and a concession in Tianjin, China.
Modern Italy is a democratic republic and the world's eighteenth most developed country, with the eighth or tenth highest quality of life index rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Italy is also a member of the G8 and G20. It is a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, and the Western European Union as well. The country's European political, social and economic influence make it a major regional power, alongside the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia, and Italy has been classified in a study, measuring hard power, as being the eleventh greatest worldwide national power. The country has a high public education level, high labor force, is a globalised nation, and also has 2009's sixth best international reputation. Italy also has the world's nineteenth highest life expectancy, and the world's second best healthcare system. It is the world's fifth most visited country, with over 43.7 million international arrivals, and boasts a long tradition and several achievements in the arts, science and technology, including the world's highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to date.

Travel Tip: Use of cell phones

Incantato Tours discourage their travelers to bring their phones to Europe on a performance tour because of the high costs for calls ($1/minute or more), text messages (50 cents and up) and data charges for online services. Therefore Incantato Tours will supply a free local cell phone for the tour director to use with free incoming calls and allowance for emergency outgoing ones.
If you would like to have more information on this subject, please check the "international section" of the website of your provider:

For T-Mobile:
WorldClass international service

For Verizon:

For Sprint:

For AT&T:

Your performance tour travel route through Italy

What is PayPal and how does it work?

Incantato Tours is transitioning to the use of PayPal to receive tour payments. The following information gives a brief description of PayPal and detailed instructions on how to make your payments. We hope that you will find this method more efficient and significantly safer than sending payments through standard mail, and we thank you for your patience and cooperation during this transition process. For more information about PayPal, please visit
PayPal is the faster, safer way to pay and get paid online. The service allows members to send money without sharing financial information, with the flexibility to pay using their account balances, bank accounts, credit cards or promotional financing. With more than 87 million active accounts in 190 markets and 24 currencies around the world, PayPal enables global ecommerce. PayPal is an eBay company and is made up of three leading online payment services: the PayPal global payment service, the Payflow Gateway and Bill Me Later. The company's open payment platform, PayPal X, allows developers to build innovative payment applications on multiple platforms and devices.
Paypal is surprisingly simple to use. Anyone with an email account can successfully conduct business with PayPal. Once you have accessed the website (, first choose the “Send Money” option located at the top of the screen. You will be prompted to fill in the recipient’s email address (, your own email address, and the dollar amount of your payment. Be sure to also indicate, using the tabbed options on the “Send Money” screen, that this payment is for the purchase of services. Continue then to the following screen where you will choose your preferred method of payment (credit, debit, PayPal account, etc.), and fill in the appropriate information. Within moments of completion, Incantato Tours will receive a confirmation email stating that your payment has been added directly to our business PayPal account. Please note that although the money is transferred instantly, it may take up to three business days to appear on your personal financial statements. There are no additional fees when sending money via PayPal.
In an attempt to make the payment process easier for you, we have added a PayPal link to the right side navigation of your blog site ( where you can easily choose the amount you owe and click "Pay Now" to provide your payment information. We hope that you will find this new payment process much more convenient.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Home away from home: Hotel Cetus, Amalfi Coast

The Bellarmine University Performance Tour will stay at the Hotel Cetus as they visit the stunning Amalfi Coast, March 4 through 7, 2011. The Hotel Cetus commands a striking view, perched atop a hill overlooking the bay on the Amalfi Coast. The hotel is less than one mile from the quaint fishing village of Cetara. The elegant furnishings and refined atmosphere are inspired by the local tradition of ceramic art. The Hotel Cetus houses 37 guest rooms, all with beautiful sea-front views. Each room offers air conditioning, private bathrooms, and direct telephone lines. The hotel property also boasts a private beach with American snack bar. 

The Hotel Cetus received high reviews from recent travelers who commended the incredibly helpful staff and greatly appreciated the safety and security they felt during their stay. Additional reviews praise the gorgeous views from the clean and comfortable guest rooms.

Incantato Impressions: Amalfi Coast

Visit Maiori

Maiori is a town and community on the Amalfi coast in the province of Salerno (Campania, Italy). It has been a popular tourist resort since Roman times, with the longest unbroken stretch of beach on the Amalfi coastline. The origins of the town are unclear but the original name of the town was Reghinna Maior, in contrast to the neighbouring town, Minori, Reghinna Minor. All places along the coast were formed by alternating conquerors - such as the Etruscans or the Romans. Between 830 and 840, the places of the coast united to form a confederation of Amalfi States. In this Amalfi Sea Republic, the places between Lettere and Tramonti and between Cetara and Positano, along with the island of Capri, were united; and their inhabitants were all called Amalfitaner. At that time, each city retained its own name and administrative autonomy, but had a specific role in this federation. Later it became part of the Principality of Salerno, and then of the Kingdom of Naples, of which it followed the history until the 19th century.

Sightseeing-Highlight: Pompeii

Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the commune of Pompeii. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in 79 AD. The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under 20 m (66 ft) of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1592. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately 2,500,000 visitors every year.

About Capri

Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of southern Italy. It has been a resort since the time of the Roman Republic. In the latter half of the 19th century, Capri became a popular resort for European artists, writers and other celebrities. John Singer Sargent and Frank Hyde are among the prominent artists who stayed on the island around the late 1870s. Sargent is best known for his series of portraits featuring the beautiful local model, Rosina Ferrara. Also in the 19th century, the natural scientist Ignazio Cerio catalogued the flora and fauna of the island. This work was continued by his son, the author and engineer Edwin Cerio, who wrote several books on life in Capri in the 20th century.

The picture is from the official homepage of the Capri tourism office.

Incantato Impressions: Capri

Here are just some of the beautiful sights you will see on the island of Capri:

Explore Tuscany with Incantato Tours

Tuscany is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of 22,990 square kilometres (8,880 sq mi) and a population of about 3.6 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence.
Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in history, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci and Puccini. Due to this, the region has several museums, most of which (such as the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace) are found in Florence, but others in towns and smaller villages. Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino). Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historical center of Florence (1982), the historical center of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical center of San Gimignano (1990), the historical center of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Furthermore, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves. This makes Tuscany and its capital city Florence very popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year. Florence itself receives an average of 10 million tourists a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world.

Visit Florence

  • Florence is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants.
  • A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the richest and wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; in fact, it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages.
  • The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
  • It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci.
  • Florence being historically the first home of Italian fashion is also home to the legendary Italian fashion establishment Salvatore Ferragamo, notable as one of the oldest and most famous Italian fashion houses.
  • Florence has been a setting for numerous works of fiction and movies, including the novels and associated films, such as "Hannibal", "A Room with a View", "Tea with Mussolini" and "Virgin Territory".
  • The city is one of the great wine-growing regions in the world. The Chianti region is just south of the city, and its Sangiovese grapes figure prominently not only in its Chianti Classico wines but also in many of the more recently developed Supertuscan blends.

Santa Maria al Mare: Incantato Tour Performance - "Aint Got Time to Die" by the CSULB Chamber Choir

Italian news: Who owns Michelangelo's "David"?

For 500 years, Michelangelo’s “David” has stood as a symbol of Florentine independence and virtue. However, following a recent report commissioned by the federal government shocked native Florentines by suggesting that Italy—not the city of Florence—was the rightful owner.
As local tempers flared, Florence’s Mayor Matteo Renzi defended the city’s ties to the famous statue.
“The ‘David’ is not an umbrella to be haggled over. It’s a monument in which the city of Florence still sees its identity,” says Renzi. “The sculpture has always and will always belong to Florence.”
Civic pride aside, the dispute over “David” also raises the question of who benefits from Italy’s cultural patrimony. More than one million people visited the Accademia Gallery in 2009 to see “David,” making it the fourth most visited cultural site in the country. Ticket sales exceeded $7 million with the benefits going to the federal Culture Ministry coffers.
Although the question of ownership and related issues surrounding “David” date back to previous administrations, the turning point culminated in early 2010 when the Culture Ministry commissioned a pair of lawyers to analyze official documents. A nine-page document written in dense legalese concludes that “David” belongs to the nation of Italy, the true legal successor of the Florentine Republic, who commissioned the statue in 1501.
Following its completion in 1504, the statue was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and placed in front of the Palazzo della Signoria, which still remains the civic heart of the city. 16th century Italian painter and architect Giorgio Vasari praised the sculpture by claiming that “whoever has seen this work need not trouble to see any other work executed in sculpture, either now in our own or in other times.” The sculpture remained there until 1873 when it was transferred to the Accademia in the Kingdom of Italy. Following the construction of a base for the massive work in 1877, the city could have advanced ownership rights but, according to the lawyers’ report, did not. Therefore, they say, the city has no grounds for claiming ownership.
The mayor, however, had documents of his own stating that Florence had been the capital of the former Kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1870, and “David” was part of the package deal that the kingdom offered the city when transferring the capital to Rome. Proof of ownership, he said, is in a document dated June 9, 1871, authorizing the transfer of ownership of several buildings to the city, including the Palazzo Vecchio where the statue stood at that time.
In an additional twist, Italian news outlets also reported that Simone Caffaz, the president of the Fine Arts Academy of Carrara, where the marble used for “David” was quarried, believed that Carrara also had the right to make its own claims on Michelangelo’s work.
“If the state and the city actually ever bring this issue to court, it will be terrible publicity for Florence,” fretted Gabriele Toccafondi, a member of Parliament and the local leader of the center-right People of Freedom Party. “People will see this as a sort of commedia all’Italiana.”
On a recent August weekday, dozens of tourists gaped and gawked at “David,” towering in his tribune at the Accademia.
Seeing “David” had definitely been “the highlight of this trip,” said Sorcha O’Keefe, a primary school teacher from Cork, Ireland. But the squabble over “David” made little sense to her. “I can’t see that it would matter who officially owns it, as long as it is there for everyone to enjoy,” she said.
An August 31, 2010 article in the New York Times further discusses the ongoing dispute.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Visit Montepulciano: birthplace of Saint Bellarmine

Montepulciano is a medieval and Renaissance hill town and commune in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany, Italy, just 77 miles southeast of Florence and 115 miles north of Rome.  
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Montepulciano developed as a religious center under the Lombards. Robert Bellarmine was born here on October 4, 1542 to Vincenzo Bellarmino and his wife Cizia Cervini, the sister of Pope Marcellus II. Robert Bellarmine went on to become a Roman Catholic Cardinal and one of thirty-three Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. He was active in the movements of the Counter-Reformation and was ultimately canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930.
Today, Montepulciano is recognized as a major producer of food and drink. The town is known internationally for its top-quality wine. Wine connoisseurs consider its Vino Nobile among Italy’s best. Montepulciano is also known for its pork products, cheese, pici pasta, lentils, and honey.

City facts about Siena

Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena. The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 169,000 international arrivals in 2008. Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and palio.
Siena, like other Tuscan hill towns, was first settled in the time of the Etruscans (c. 900 BC to 400 BC) when it was inhabited by a tribe called the Saina. The Etruscans were an advanced people who changed the face of central Italy through their use of irrigation to reclaim previously unfarmable land, and their custom of building their settlements in well-defended hill-forts. A Roman town called Saena Julia was founded at the site in the time of the Emperor Augustus. The first document mentioning it dates from AD 70. Some archaeologists assert it was controlled for a period by a Gaulish tribe called the Saenones.
Siena's cathedral, the Duomo, begun in the twelfth century, is one of the great examples of Italian romanesque architecture. Its main façade was completed in 1380. It is unusual for a Christian cathedral in that its axis runs north-south. This is because it was originally intended to be the largest cathedral in existence, with a north-south transept and an east-west aisle, as is usual. After the completion of the transept and the building of the east wall (which still exists and may be climbed by the public via an internal staircase) the money ran out and the rest of the cathedral was abandoned.
Over the centuries, Siena has had a rich tradition of arts and artists. The list of artists from the Sienese School include Duccio, and his student Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and Martino di Bartolomeo. A number of well known works of Renaissance and High Renaissance art still remain in Siena galleries or decorate churches in Siena.

Home away from home: Montaperti Hotel in Siena

During their time in Tuscany, March 8 through 10, 2011, the Bellarmine University travelers will stay at Siena’s Montaperti Hotel.
The Montaperti Hotel rests on a hill overlooking the city of Siena. With the city of Palio to the west and Crete to the east, the view from the Montaperti Hotel is considered one of Italy's most beautiful panoramas.
Guests are invited to relax in the hotel's panoramic fitness room, steam bath, or sauna, or enjoy a dip in the private swimming pool (covered and heated in the winter).
All standard guest rooms come equipped with wireless internet connection, hairdryer, air conditioning, satellite television, telephone, and electric safe. 
In recent reviews, guests praise the hotel's modern and calm atmosphere, the spacious and comfortable guest rooms, and stunning views.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

City Facts about Rome

  • Rome's early history is shrouded in legend. According to Roman tradition, the city was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC.
  • Due to this centrality on many levels, the city has been nicknamed "Caput Mundi" (Latin for "Capital of the World") and "The Eternal City".
  • Its rich artistic heritage and vast amount of ancient, notably architectural and archaeological sites, contribute to the city's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Rome is the third-most-visited tourist destination in the European Union.
  • The city is also an important worldwide hub of the cinematic and filming industry, home to the important and large Cinecittà Studios, which saw the filming of several internationally acclaimed movies as well as television programmes.
  • The Rome metropolitan area has a GDP of €109.4 billion (US$ 149.14), and according to a 2008 study, the city is the world's 35th richest city by purchasing power.
  • The city hosted the 1960 Olympic Games and is also an official candidate for the 2020 Olympic Games.
  • Rome is an important centre for music, and it has an intense musical scene, including several prestigious music conservatories and theatres. It hosts the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (founded in 1585), for which new concert halls have been built in the new Parco della Musica, one of the largest musical venues in the world.
  • A Jewish influence in the Italian dishes can be seen, as Jews have lived in Rome since the 1st century BCE. Examples of these include "Saltimbocca alla Romana" - a veal cutlet, Roman-style; topped with raw ham and sage and simmered with white wine and butter - and "Carciofi alla giudia" - artichokes fried in olive oil, typical of Roman Jewish cooking.

Incantato Impressions: Rome

Facts about Vatican City

Vatican City, officially the State of the Vatican City, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the capital city of Italy. It has an area of approximately 44 hectares, and a population of just over 800.
Vatican City is a city-state that came into existence in 1929. It is distinct from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main Episcopal see of 1.147 billion Latin and Eastern Catholic adherents around the globe. Ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian; official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin. The two entities even have distinct passports: the Holy See, not being a country, only issues diplomatic and service passports; the state of Vatican City issues normal passports. In both cases the passports issued are very few.
Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the bishop of Rome - the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergymen of various nationalities. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope's residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace. The Popes have resided in the area that in 1929 became Vatican City since the return from Avignon in 1377.

Tour the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Museums are indisputably one of the finest collections of art in the world. Over the centuries, Papal patrons have commissioned renowned works such as the magnificent frescoes of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, and those by Raphael in his stanze. The museums also host some of the most important sculptures from the ancient world, such as the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvedere. Incantato Tours is thrilled to offer the Providence College Choir and friends the opportunity to see these works as they were originally viewed and contemplated by the Popes who created the Museums.
Incantato's visit to the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel will be led by a specialized docent/expert
guide and is just open to members of your tour. We also provide headsets to everyone for a truly individual experience. This is an exceptional opportunity for an intimate visit and lecture on the Vatican and its impressive art collection without the press and chaos of the crowds. 
Please note that not all galleries will be accessible to us during this after hours visit. The Pinacoteca and Egyptian collections are not available for viewing after closing hours. The opportunity to view the Belvedere Courtyard is also dependent on the route the Vatican guards allow us to take. We normally spend a significant amount of time (35-40 minutes) inside the Sistine Chapel and divide the rest of our time between the Gallery of Maps, Tapestry Gallery, and Raphael Rooms, including other collections as time and security permits.

Home away from home: H10 Hotel Rome

The Bellarmine University travelers will be staying at the H10 Hotel Rome from March 11 through March 13, 2011. 
Located in the Marconi zone near Trastevere, the H10 Hotel Rome combines the most up-to-date trends with a touch of Italian tradition. The hotel, which recently won an award from Tripadvisor readers for being considered one of the trendiest hotels in Europe, offers 181 rooms, outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, solarium, Despacio Beauty Center, and restaurant “Uno Zero Uno” specializing in signature Italian and international cuisine. 
The hotel's guest rooms feature free wireless internet connection, flat-screen LCD television, smart temperature control, MP3 and PC connection, safe box, work desk, and professional hairdryer.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Incantato Tour Sight: Roman Forum in Rome

The Roman Forum in Rome is a small open rectangle surrounded by the ruins of ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this marketplace as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum. It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections, venue for public speeches and gladiatorial matches, and nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.
Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archeological excavations attracting numerous sightseers. Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Kingdom's earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Regia (8th century BC), and the Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome.