A selection of some of the most unusual and amazing chapels of Italy, ranging from a bone chapel in Milan, over a cave chapel, to a multicolored vineyard chapel, and more.
1. Cave chapel of Genga (Marche) In 1971 a group of speleologists from Ancona discovered a complex system of remarkable karst caves in the municipality of Genga. The cave system, known as Frasassi grottos, is the largest in Europe. The grottos owe their name to the Hermitage Sanctuary of Santa Maria infra saxa, dug in the rock at the entrance of the caves, which pronounced by the locals over time became ‘frasassi’. At about 1.5 km from the entrance of the main Frasassi cave is a cavity called Grotta del Santuario, inside which is the Tempietto del Valadier, a chapel designed by the neoclassicist architect Giuseppe Valadier in 1828 for Pope Leo XII. The Chapel with octagonal plan was constructed with white travertine blocks, which were quarried inside the cave.
2. Ossuary Chapel, Milan (Lombardy) 3. Multi-colored vineyard chapel in La Morra (Piedmont) 4. Cappella Palatina, Palermo (Sicily) 5. The unusual End-of-the-World frescoes of the San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto (Umbria)
The days are getting shorter, the weather chillier, Christmas lights are starting to appear in the streets and Florence and Tuscany are hosting many events to celebrate the festive season. The festivities really get going on December 8, a national holiday to celebrate the Immaculate Conception.
Christmas fairs, markets and festivals - German Market - AILO: The annual Christmas Bazaar held by the American International League of Florence, supporting charities across the city. - FILE: Gourmet products and gift ideas, with proceeds going toward FILE's palliative care support. - Christmas at the Palazzo: A trade show of Christmas gifts in Empoli with free admission. - Festival of Fusigno: Welcome in Christmas Day by eating sausages and drinking local wine round a huge bonfire in the centre of Londa.
For Kids - Palazzo Strozzi: An afternoon for the family in the courtyard (free) and buildings (ticketed) of Palazzo Strozzi, piazza Strozzi, Florence, - Santa by boat: On December 22 and 24 Father Christmas will arrive in Florence by boat (on the Arno, between Ponte Vecchio and Ponte alla Grazie) to give Christmas greetings to the Florentines, www.comune.fi.it. - Santa's Village: Children will meet faries, elves and even Father Christmas himself in the centre of Camaiore - Winter Park: Ice skating on a large rink (800 square metres) next to the Obihall with a real snow track for skiing and snowboarding. - Fiabesque: The whole town of Peccioli transforms into a magical world of fairy tales with street games, performers, dance and workshops and, on January 5, Cartoon Night, dedicated to animated cartoons.
Christmas concerts - Orchestra della Toscana: Together with the choir of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, a Christmas concert with music by Weber and Mendelssohn at Teatro Verdi in Florence on December 23 - Xmas in Jazz: Including Gershwin's An American in Paris and Eric Whitacre's October among others. December 23, 9pm, Teatro della Pergola - Gospel choir: The forty-strong choir ‘The Pilgrims' will fuse voice and music with spiritual and gospel pieces. Proceeds will be donated to the Oncology Operative Unit of Pescia. Teatro Pacini, Pescia (PT),
Nativity Scenes - Christmas in the World: A collection of over a thousand nativity scenes from all over the world, displayed in San Giovanni Valdarno's Basilica di Maria Santissima delle Grazie (piazza Masaccio). December 8-January 6, 2013, www.natalenelmondo.it.
Other towns known for their nativity scenes displayed in their historic centres are Palazzuolo sul Senio, Cerreto Guidi, San Godenzo, Calenzano and Cigoli (most of them remain at least until January 6).
Nativity re-enactments Several towns put on re-enactments of the Christmas story, involving hundreds of residents and animals, and large parts of the historic centres, and bringing to life the angels, shepherds, oxen, Wise Men and, of course, the magical manger scene. Towns hosting these so-called ‘living nativity scenes' include Casole d'Elsa Rosignano Maritime Lari Barga Ceretto Guidi Castiglion Fiorentino
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