Visiting Barcelona: beaches, arts and gastronomy

photo by Flickr user angelocesare

photo by Flickr user angelocesare

“The worst thing for anyone wanted by the police in a city like Barcelona is that all the shops are closed until late.” That’s what George Orwell thought of the Catalan city. Today – apart from the fact that being sought by police is something to be avoided – the situation is completely reversed, so that those who live there have the opposite problem of reconciling sleep with the nightlife.

But Barcelona is not only nightlife: those who decide to visit Barcelona can also count on beaches, art and gastronomy, a golden triangle running from Barceloneta, through to the Sagrada Familia, the cathedral designed by Gaudi, and ending up in one of the great restaurants where Pepe Carvalho, the private detective created by the writer Manuel Vazquez Montalban, found refuge. Most frequent quotes are for Casa Leopoldo, but there are other places that are growing in popularity and whetting the taste buds of tourists, such as the Petit Pau Restaurant, or perhaps the Tablao Cordobes, both of which also offer a flamenco show included in the price.

Barcelona is a top tourist destination for football fans: the Camp Nou is a temple that welcomes thousands of pilgrims every year, not only fans of the Spanish team Barca, but also fans from all over Europe for the Champions League. Attending a match with Messi playing can be a unique experience, but the Nou Camp is open to visitors even when games are not scheduled.

Around Barcelona, amid arts and entertainment

If there is a destination that can be defined as dynamic, it’s the city of Barcelona. Here, all year round, there are all kinds of celebrations and festivals to be enjoyed and the Catalan city stands out as an ideal tourist destination. With so much to be enjoyed, from architecture to food, music and fashion, to the hospitality of its people.

Sagrada Familia - photo by flickr user Chris Yunker

Sagrada Familia – photo by flickr user Chris Yunker

If you have a few days to spend in Barcelona, ​​keep in mind that the city is equally lively day and night, and it would be impossible to list all the possible attractions. As for night-life, the city offers everything and anything: bars, restaurants and nightclubs. During the day, you can tour the city starting with the discovery of Barcelona’s architectural wonders, the Catalan Modernism of which Antoni Gaudí is one of the prominent exponents. Take in the Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, just to mention some of the works of Gaudi. Barcelona remains testimony to the genius of other well-known modernist architects, such as Josep Puig i Cadafalch – he designed the ancient Fàbrica Casaramona, today the cultural center CaixaForum, at the foot of Montjuïc – or Gaudi’s own rival, Lluis Domenech i Montaner, who designed the Palau de la Música Catalana.

Palau de la Música Catalana - photo by flickr user MARIA ROSA FERRE

Palau de la Música Catalana – photo by flickr user MARIA ROSA FERRE

Of course a trip to Barcelona can’t be limited only to its architecture. So a ride to Montserrat, to visit the Royal Basilica to admire the works of Picasso and Dali, is a must as is a visit to the Montjuïc hill, where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city. Views can also be enjoyed from the Ferris wheel of the Tibidabo, the oldest amusement park in Spain and in Europe second only to the Prater of Vienna. But the character of the town is really appreciated by visiting Barcelona’s Parallel Avenue, where already one hundred years ago people lined up in front of the many recreation and leisure facilities, or the historic site of the Coctelería Boadas, near the Rambla, founded in 1933 and recognized as the oldest in the city.

Tibidabo - photo by flickr user Adriano Amalfi

Tibidabo – photo by flickr user Adriano Amalfi

And if you want to relax a while on the beach, Barceloneta is waiting for you, as well as the coastal town of Sitges, 35 Km from Barcelona, ​​and one of the most popular destinations for gay travelers, with a full calendar of events.

Barceloneta - photo by flickr user Ronny Siegel

Barceloneta – photo by flickr user Ronny Siegel

In short, the tourist is spoiled for choice when exploring the Catalan city. Here are our choice picks for you to explore the city: you can opt for public transport, for a segway tour or a bike excursion complete with a visit of the best tapas bars. Whatever way, the result is still assured, and that is a great day around Barcelona.

Thalassa Festival 2015: Italian Occult Psychedelia in Rome

A dark sea of ​​sounds to dive into: this is Thalassa, a festival dedicated to the Italian Occult Psychedelia, happening in Rome from April 2 to April 4. A festival now at its third edition (HERE you can find all the information on the line-up and how to attend the concerts), which is housed in the basement of the Dal Verme music club.

The place has its own soundproof bunker dedicated to live music which can fit 80 people. Each of the three nights, these lucky 80 will attend performances which have in common their distance from mainstream music .

Occult Italian Psychedelia is not a scene, not a movement, it’s rather a common destination shared by the bands that will participate in “Thalassa”, the festival defined as “an entrance gate to get into those suprasensorial states that a certain type of music can evoke“.

No labels or tags to go by, but rather the variety of sounds and styles ranging from psychedelic stoner rock, to the inspiration provided by Italian-style movie soundtracks, to the chthonic mysteries of the sounds of Mediterranean cultures. Thalassa may rhyme with molasses and it can also have the same effect: a festival which will get stuck in your head more than on your skin.

A visit to the Lagoon for Venice Carnival 2015

Rosalba is from Pescara, and when, by chance, she finds herself catapulted to splendid Venice she cannot but be impressed, partly because this city where she’s spending a period away from the maddening normality of everyday married life, is far removed from the tourist stereotypes that surround the masterly Lagoon City. In a very tangible way, she experiences the “real” Venice that throbs in its “calli” (the typical Venetian streets) and its districts (the six divisions of the historic part of the city).

Pane e tulipani

“Pane e tulipani” – Licia Maglietta as Rosalba

In fact, the eyes of the director of “Bread and Tulips”, the film to which our introduction is dedicated, discover something of the purest essence of the City that was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1979. The director’s eyes dig into the soul of a place that intoxicates and stuns us from our first sight of it. “Venice is like eating an entire box of liqueur chocolates all at once”, is how Truman Capote described the impact the Lagoon had on him.

Photo by flickr user Igor

Photo by flickr user Igor

The 118 islands that make up Venice are connected by more than 400 bridges, many of which are real masterpieces, to be admired during a tour of the city. To take in the wonderful Cà Venetian houses of the noble families, the best way is probably to walk the streets or take the public transport boat. One should always keep in mind, however, that in winter the weather may be particularly cold.

But it’s only at this time of the year that the lagoon rhymes with Carnival of Venice, whose inauguration is scheduled for January 31 along the Cannaregio Canal. A magnificent show starts from 6 pm entitled: “The magical banquet – A tale of food in Venice.” And after the opening show, on Sunday 1 February the Coordination of Venetian Rowing Clubs Associations water parade will set out from Punta della Dogana along the Canal Grande, to the popular Rio di Cannaregio, where it will row past a blaze of public thronged on the banks.

Here are our proposals to stay in Venice:

Photo by flickr user Frank Kovalchek

Photo by flickr user Frank Kovalchek

That’s just the beginning of a hectic program of events, including the not-to-be-missed Competition for the Most Beautiful Mask, or the Flight of the Eagle, before the “Svolo del Leon” concludes the Venice Carnival.

Visiting Rome, the open set of Italian cinema

There are thousands of ways of visiting Rome, and each of them is able to give a very special magic to the tourist who ventures. There are itineraries of historical and archaeological interest, or you can go and explore the many places of worship symbol of Christianity. You can also tackle the city from a slightly different point of view, going in search of the places that have celebrated the city on the big screen, even more so after the film “The great beauty” by Paolo Sorrentino has been awarded the title of Best Foreign Language Film at the latest edition of the Academy Awards ceremony.

A journey through famous monuments and hidden places of the city, which made the fortune of great actors and directors, and that turned Rome into a kind of huge open-air set, with a scope that extends well beyond the boundaries of the ancient city. And if it is true that Sorrentino’s recalls “The sweet life” by Federico Fellini, then the the visual of Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni inside Trevi Fountain immediately comes to mind, as does the famous Via Veneto.

come Marcello come!

Come Marcello… come!

But there are also areas of the capital city that are less known to traditional tourism, starting from the EUR neighborhood to the Park of the Aqueducts, or the Tuscolano area, with Piazza Don Bosco which had been used as a location by Fellini because of its “architectural relationship” with the EUR. A place that reminds us of the ”bold stroke of the usual suspects “, another film shot in Piazza Don Bosco which is the sequel to the 1958 movie by Mario Monicelli. And by the way, the staircase next to the building that houses the Mount of pawns targeted by “Big Deal”, is located in Via IV Novembre, the downhill road that connects via Nazionale and Piazza Venezia.

And if we see someone put their hand in the Mouth of Truth, don’t we all immediately trigger the memory of the scene in “Roman Holiday” when Gregory Peck pretends to have lost his hand in front of a stunned Audrey Hepburn? An interesting fact about this scene is the fact that it had not been agreed, but it was the result of an impromptu by Gregory Peck, with the surprise of Hepburn resulting even more real.

Roman Holidays

“Roman Holiday” – The scene at the Mouth of Truth

Going back to the beginning, the official website of Rome’s tourist board offers a number of interesting tips to go hunting for the various locations of “The great beauty”, especially with a guide edited by Costantino D’Orazio, art historian and author of the book “The Secret Rome in the film The Great Beauty”. It all starts at the Colosseum, where the house of Jep Gambardella is, and then you get lost among the more or less known buildings and monuments of the eternal city, in three different suggested itineraries.

The great beauty

“The great beauty” – Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) in front of the Colosseum

As a closure, our film-themed itinerary for visiting Rome must include the absolute masterpiece that is “Rome, Open City” by Roberto Rossellini, a chronicle of the days when the city was still in the hands of the German Nazis. In the occasion of the latest anniversary of the April the 25th Liberation Day, a restored version of the film was shown in more than 70 theaters. The film’s locations are set in the Pigneto neighborhood, in particular in Via Montecuccoli where it is easy to recognize the location of the tragic run of Anna Magnani after the Nazi truck where her partisan husband has been loaded. “Francis, Francis!” Screamed Anna Magnani (Pina in the film) desperate, before falling to the ground, shot to death.

Rome, Open City

“Rome, Open City” – The famous desperate race of Pina (Anna Magnani)

Ideas for a journey to discover the places that have contributed to these great films, inspired by the history and beauty of one of the most amazing cities in the world.

A different perspective of the streets of New York with Ryan Sheckler

We like to look at things from a different point of view. Here are the streets of New York as seen from the digital eye recording the crazy skateboarding tricks of Ryan Sheckler.

Wandering around Milan the photogenic

When Italians think about how Milan appeared in movies over the years, they definitely think about the irresistible Toto and Peppino out of “Toto, Peppino, and the Hussy” – the 1956 film directed by Camillo Mastrocinque. The main characters are two Neapolitan landowners visiting Milan, at the north of the country. Despite the spring season, our heroes arrive at the station wearing an unlikely Cossack-like outfit, making the Milanese smirk at them.


Toto, Peppino, and the Hussy

Many films inspired by Milan propose similar scenes, in which an immigrant from the South of the country finds himself pulled into the large and active northern city. These films tell stories of difficult integration, alternating comic or grotesque situations. But Milan is also an expression of a labor culture that has led it to be the symbol of the economic boom at the turn of the last century. Many Italian filmmakers have actually used the city as a film set to tell stories of desire for personal achievement and social redemption, or to shed light on some aspects of mass industrialization.

Let us try to discover the second Italian city by number of inhabitants, keeping in mind the films that have celebrated its various corners and the personality of its inhabitants. From Mario Camerini, that here in 1932 shot his “Men, you rascals …”, the film that brought Milan and the Cathedral for the first time on the big screen and now provides us with the memory of a city that already showed all its activity and vitality. The critic Filippo Sacchi, from the columns of the Corriere della Sera, reviewed it this way: “It’s the first time we see Milan on the screen. Well, who could have imagined that it was so photogenic? “.


Men, you rascals …

If you are planning on visiting Milan, you must obviously start from the Piazza del Duomo, the city’s symbol. The most important monuments are in fact in the historical center, in the streets around the large square that is dominated by the cathedral, one of the largest churches in Europe. From there you can take a journey to discover true symbols of the city, such as the Castello Sforzesco, or the artistic heritage preserved at the Pinacoteca di Brera. But to think of Milan also means the Fashion Week or the Salone del Mobile, or to be more actual, EXPO 2015. Milano the gray, is in fact a vital, lively, and economically dynamic city.


Miracle in Milan

And Piazza Duomo is the backdrop to the famous scene of flying brooms of “Miracle in Milan”, Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece of 1951. In the dreamy film the protagonist is an orphaned boy who dreams of a world where “Good morning really wantsto say a good morning.” In the final scene – which seems to have been inspirational for the scene of the flying bicycles in “ET” by Steven Spielberg – the protagonist, along with a group of homeless people, steals the brooms of a group of garbage collectors, and then flies away on top of them towards that world he dreamed of.


Miracle in Milan

And yet, the desire for personal achievement and improvement of one’s condition are the basis of “Rocco and His Brothers”, the 1960 film by Luchino Visconti. On the other side the industrialized man in the grip of neurosis, in some way an archetype of the great workers of Lombardy, is the protagonist of the beautiful “The Working Class Goes to Heaven”, a film by Elio Petri of 1971 with an immense Gian Maria Volonte.


The Working Class Goes to Heaven

To satisfy the most curious, and also provide some inspiration for visiting Milan via a walk off the beaten track, we can remind you that “Nirvana” by Gabriele Salvatores was shot almost entirely in the Portello district of Milan, in the old Alfa Romeo factories, while “Chemical Hunger” – Antonio Bocola and Paolo Vari, 2007 – is set among the youth of the Barona, the suburban South of Milan. Mario Monicelli has also set “Popular novel” (1974), with Ugo Tognazzi, Ornella Muti and Michele Placido, in the tenement of the New Tower of Sesto San Giovanni and in the district of Lambiate.


Popular novel

Milan is then a continuous interweaving of its places and personalities that are modeled inside it. Over the years, we have seen so many aspects of the city and its old and new inhabitants in the movies: from the dream of improving their condition entrusting everything to a difficult and long journey, via the Milan of the factories and the “Milan to drink” in the most frivolous and fanciest meaning of the term. In these films we saw unforgettable comic scenes, as well as many occasions for reflection on the Italian culture and society. Such as the film that received the Golden Lion for Best Film at the 67th Venice Film Festival in Venice in 2010: we’re talking about “Somewhere” by Sofia Coppola. The American director uses Milan, and the Telegatti awards ceremony, to speculate on the emptiness that surrounds environments such as television, where appearance is worth a thousand times more than any substance, and the mouth serves mainly to smile.

Small ideas to have a trip around Milan and immerse yourself in the history and culture of a city, taking inspiration from the eyes of filmmakers who have looked at it in about 80 years of film history. And also to avoid sounding like Antonio from “Toto, Peppino, and the Hussy”, who spoke these words upon arriving in the city: “Now that we are finally in Milan, shall we go see this famous Colosseum?”.