Arte Fiera, Italy’s premier art show is bigger and better in 2015.

The country’s largest and oldest art fair begins this Friday and will run for four days in Bologna from the 23 to the 26 of January. The international modern and contemporary show will attract upwards of 50,000 visitors.

Arte Fiera, the only national art show to work in partnership with the Italian Association of Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries, will showcase more than 2,000 individual works by more than 1,000 artists in 185 different art galleries, a 47% increase over the last two years.

The 39th annual show will feature internationally acclaimed Italian artists such as Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani, Alighiero Boetti and Michelangelo Pistoletto. Also showcased will be Alberto Burri, who is soon to have an exhibition at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

Bologna will also host the return of Art City for a third year, a hugely successful schedule of cultural events designed to draw more visitors to the city’s many museums and art venues. Included this year will be the national premier of the film Mr. Turner, a probable Oscar candidate and Cannes film festival favorite about the nineteenth century British painter.

These are only a few example of the hundreds of events that will take place in Bologna during the weekend. One such exhibition is organized by THE POOL NYC, an art gallery founded by three young Italians art experts living in New York City. The show take place in one of the most beautiful palazzos you can find in town: Palazzo Sassoli de’ Bianchi.

The exhibition “ALLIEVO e Maestri. Andrea Salvatori e Bertozzi & Casoni” shows several works by three excellent Italian contemporary ceramists. Below is one of the most impressive sculptures I saw this afternoon.

If you want to know more about THE POOL NYC visit their website.

“Astratto” Bertozzi & Casoni ceramic policroma

Around Bologna during ArteFiera 2015…

Yesterday we went to ArteFiera 2015 Vernissage and it was very exciting!

Below are some gallery photos from the show. The first is a Nicola Bolla and the second is made by famous Italian sculptor Igor Mitoraj.

Igor Mitoraj - Estevillas

Igor Mitoraj – Estevillas



Bologna is not only art. It is also superb food, great shopping and more. Two tips for you: a design store and a bistrot.

Just right next to Palazzo Sassoli de’ Bianchi is the can’t miss Galleria Cavour and one of our favorite shops in town, Il Borgo delle Tovaglie.


Borgo 1

Born in 1996 as a tablecloth manufacturing firm in the ancient Via delle Tovaglie in Bologna, it was transformed in 2005 by the eclectic Valentina Muggia and her husband Giuliano Di Paolo. It established an intense dialogue with contemporary times, becoming a reference point in the panorama of furnishing and decoration.

Today Borgo delle Tovaglie is a worldwide known brand that can be found in the best furnishing shops. It is a brand that finds its vital force in the cultural roots of the best Italian tradition and over the years has expressed a strong heart of modernity and innovation guided by the continuous search for the new and exciting. It is worth a visit!


If you are tired of browsing the shops and looking for something delicious, young and dynamic to finish your day on the town, go to Twinside Bistrot. You will not be disappointed at all!

Arte Fiera:

Where: Bologna Exhibition Center, West Entrance

When: January 23 – 26, 2015

Friday 23 – Sunday 25: 11 am – 7 pm

Monday 26: 11 am – 5 pm


Daily: € 20.00

2-Day: € 30.00

3-Day: € 33.00

4-Day: € 35.00

Free admission for children up to 10 years

Group discount (15 people or more): € 15.00 per person


The Pool NYC exihibition

Palazzo Sassoli de’ Bianchi

Via Farini 14, 40124 – Bologna

22‐26 January 2015


Il Borgo delle Tovaglie

Via Farini 10, 40124 – Bologna


Twinside Bistrot

Via de’ Falegnami 6,  40121 Bologna

Manota Palazzo Te : Room of the Giants

Manota Palazzo Te : Room of the Giants

By  Eileen Ogintz

  • Published January 09, 2015·


After all, I’m staying in a palace — the Palazzo Castiglioni, which dates back to the Renaissance, located right across the piazza from the 500-room Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, Italy.

Where? That was my reaction when Kit Burns, whose company Doorways specializes in booking villa vacations to Italy, suggested we spend a few days in the palazzo that has been owned by the same family since the Renaissance, in a city just 40 minutes from Verona. (If you know your Shakespeare, you’ll know this is where Romeo came to buy the poison.)

Today you won’t find that many tourists here, but you will find the quintessential Italian experience — restaurants spilling out onto cobblestoned piazzas, locals starting their morning with a cafe, the weekly market that takes over the entire Piazza Sordello (we see it from our window) selling everything from socks to cheese and sausage. During the Renaissance, we learn, Mantua was famous for its music, art and the powerful Gonzaga family. I’m so glad we’re here but we nearly missed the opportunity. Burns acknowledges that suggesting visitors stop here can be a hard sell when there are so many more famous sites to see in Italy, but that makes Mantua (Mantova in Italian) all the more special. “It’s hard to find a place that’s off the beaten track in Italy,” Burns said. “Here you can immerse yourself in what was and what is.” Without tripping over other tourists, she adds.

skyline 2

At one time, Mantua rivaled Florence for its art. But sadly, the Austrians and then Napoleon stole much of it. There’s still amazing architecture and frescoes like the Camera Picta painted room in the Ducal Palace with huge wall paintings by Andrea Mantegna. There’s the amazing Biblena Theater where Mozart played as a young teen; In June, there is a music festival where chamber musicians play short pieces in the ancient rooms of the Ducal Palace.

I was nervous suggesting Mantua to the extended family traveling with us, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought. The stop turned out to be a high point of the trip. We met Guido, Luisa and their father, Baldesar Castiglioni, whose family own the Palazzo Castiglioni where we stayed (a portrait of their ancestor by Raphael hangs in the Louvre right near the Mona Lisa). There are also impromptu pasta-making lessons in a tiny restaurant outside of town, the local Sbrisolona traditional tart, amazing frescoes in the Palazzo Te, the pleasure palace Federico II Gonzaga, a young duke, built for himself with the help of Raphael’s top pupil Giulio Romano, to get away from his mother — some things never change!

Most important, unlike other Italian cities packed with tourists and cruise passengers, the locals were genuinely glad to see us and show us their city. That’s why in 2015 I’m going to aim to get off the tourist track more — and I encourage all of you to do so as well. Of course, when you let the kids lead the way you always go in new and unexpected directions.

That doesn’t mean you’ll always find a hidden gem — like Mantua — but when you do, you remember why you’re traveling in the first place — to get out of your comfort zone and share something new with those you love most and, of course, eat great food!

Locanda Le Grazie Mntova

Locanda Le Grazie Mntova

“Come see our pasta maker,” said Daniela Bellintani, who with her husband, Fernando, owns the charming La Locanda delle Grazie in the village of Grazie just a few miles outside of Mantua. The pasta maker turned out to be Chef Fernando and three smiling young men who were happy to show us how they make the local specialties — the pumpkin ravioli, which we happily sample along with pasta with homemade duck ragout, an assortment of local salamis and ham and local Lambrusco wine.

“My father says if you don’t share your recipes, they just die with you,” says Anita Aldighieri, the couple’s daughter, explaining their plan to offer cooking classes, including those for families who will want to visit the Santa Maria del Grazie church. This is a church like none other you’ll visit — and one the kids will remember most. Even before the church was built in the 15th century, pilgrims came to pray for miracles. You’ll see the strangest statues of those whose prayers were heard — a man fished out of a well; another who couldn’t be hanged when a beam broke. Perhaps the strangest and what kids love most is the embalmed crocodile hanging from the ceiling that’s at least 500 years old.


Daniela Bellintani Le Grazie Restaurant

Daniela Bellintani Le Grazie Restaurant


Every August, thousands make a pilgrimage of a different sort here for a unique festival during which artists from around the world are chosen to create chalk paintings on 10-by-10-foot squares of pavement about something that relates to the miracle-making Madonna.


Mantova Palazzo Castiglioni in Piazza Sordello

Mantova Palazzo Castiglioni in Piazza Sordello

The Castiglioni family — Luisa owns a villa rental management company in Italy — has turned a few rooms of their palazzo into the most unique inn I’ve ever seen. (Think sleeping in a palace room — there is even one with an ancient fresco on the wall — but with all the modern conveniences and breakfast, starting at under $200 a night.) While they don’t want their city overrun with tourists, they certainly would like more people to discover its charms — like the Palazzo Te, which is considered one of the great Renaissance palaces.

Kids love the Hall of Horses with life-sized paintings of some of the young duke’s favorites from the 1520 and the astounding Chamber of the Giants with paintings that cover the walls and ceilings, telling the story of the fall of the giants who tried to climb Mount Olympus. When a big fire was going in this room, we’re told, with light playing on the walls, it was like a Renaissance 4-D experience.

It’s pretty great in the 21st century, too.

Eileen Ogintz is a nationally syndicated columnist and creator of Her new  Kids Guide to Boston is available online and from major booksellers, along with the Kids Guides to NYC, Washington, DC, Orlando,  LA and Chicago. Coming  later this year: San Diego, San Francisco and Denver


Where :  Mantua / Mantova  Lombardy Italy – Milano  189km/117ml ; Venice 159 km/85km

Palazzo Castiglioni

Palazzo Te viale Te 13 Mantova  Italy
Palazzo Ducale piazza Sordello 40 Mantova

Locanda delle Grazie

Address: Via San Pio X, 2, Grazie MN
Phone: +39 0376 348038
Post production coordinator Sonia Vaccaro

IMG_1171 web

Fox News Travel video

Everyone loves the food in Italy and there may be no better time to sample it than winter when the crowds are gone.

Hotel rates in cities like Venice are more $50 less in winter, according to Trivago, which tracks hotel rates around the globe. The average rate in Rome between November and January is just $137, Trivago says — significantly cheaper than Paris or London.

Another plus: You won’t bust your budget on meals, nor will haughty waiters make you feel like you don’t belong. You won’t go wrong either with a crusty baguette, salami and cheese for lunch.

Don’t be shy about sharing portions — Italian meals can have several courses with large portions starting with an appetizer, a “primo” that’s a pasta or soup, followed by a  “secondo” main course — a meat, fish or chicken dish — and desert.  Make your pasta your main dish; skip desert for a gelato shop.

Ask locals you meet — the taxi driver, the tour guide, the front desk clerk–for their suggestions. Check out websites like Home Food, EatWith or Meal Sharing, which connects locals who want to invite visitors for a typical meal.

I discovered on a recent trip, you won’t go wrong with house wines either. But whenever and wherever you go in Italy, make sure to sample local and regional specialties. I asked Italian foodie Luisa Castiglione, who travels the country overseeing her villa rental company, for some advice.

Obviously, if you are in Venice, you’ll eat seafood.  Try something you’ve never seen before—maybe cuttlefish or pan fried sardines. Venice is also famous for fried fish. We also had fun at little wine bars where we had the Venetian version of tapas—little toast with various toppings.

Want a spritz? That’s the popular red aperitif you’ll see people drinking everywhere. It’s made with white wine, seltzer and usually Aperol.  I admit I wasn’t a fan and usually stuck to wine.

If you love wine, you might want to visit the hill towns south of Turin famous for Barolo or, of course, chianti.  Go where your favorite wines are made—pinot grigio in the Trentino region, for example, chardonnay in Lombardy near Milan or Puglia in the South.  I usually don’t like lambrusco sparkling wine but loved the locally-made version outside the Renaissance town of Mantua in Grazie.  (See what I wrote about our visit.)

Expect most pizza to have a thin crust.  Modern pizza was of course invented in Naples but you’ll find all variations everywhere in Italy.  Pizza Margherita, people believe, was invented  in Naples as a tribute to Queen Margherita who loved the pie made in the colors of the Italian flag — red (the tomato), green (basil) and white (mozzarella cheese).  I think the best pizza I’ve ever had was in Naples; it would be fun to rank your pizza and gelatos during your trip.  Where did you find the best ever?


Have you tried risotto?  It’s a delicious north Italian rice dish cooked in broth until it’s creamy. It can be very rich—lots of butter.  In the fall, have Risotto alla Milanese cooked with saffron, suggests  Castiglioni.  You’ll find every variety of risotto—with seafood, vegetables, sausage.

How about pumpkin-filled ravioli? That’s a specialty in Mantua and Bologna and it was one of my favorites on a recent trip. If you like filled pastas like tortellini and ravioli, you’ll love this region.




In Tuscany, you’ll want to try Pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup) that people eat hot or at room temperature.  There’s also stewed beef with pepper and garlic that, the story goes, dates back to the 15th century when Florence’s famous cathedral was being built and the workers making the terracotta tiles used one side of the oven to stew their meat — in wine of course.

In Rome, try Artichokes Roman Style — stuffed with bread, garlic, parsley, Romano cheese and oregano.

There’s only one downside — coming home five pounds heavier. Good thing you’ll be doing so much walking on your trip.


Eileen Ogintz is a nationally syndicated columnist and creator of Her new  Kids Guide to Boston is available online and from major booksellers, along with the Kids Guides to NYC, Washington, DC, Orlando,  LA and Chicago. Coming  later this year: San Diego, San Francisco and Denver

© 2014, Eileen Ogintz, 5 Viking Green Westport CT 06880. All rights reserved.