Bergamo airport is dedicated to an artistic genius

When booking flights to Italy you might be puzzled to see references to Caravaggio airport near Milan.

A portrait of Caravaggio
from about 1621
This is because Bergamo airport at Orio al Serio has changed its name to the Caravaggio International Airport Bergamo - Orio al Serio.

ENAC (the Italian civil aviation board) approved the decision by SACBO (the management company of Bergamo airport) to dedicate the airport to the controversial but highly talented painter Michelangelo Merisi.

Bergamo airport is also often referred to as ‘Milan Bergamo’. It is now the fourth busiest airport in Italy and you can fly to it from 29 different countries.

The artist Michelangelo Merisi became known as Caravaggio because he spent the early years of his life living in the small town of Caravaggio just south of Bergamo.

The painter is believed to have been born in Milan in 1571 but his family moved to Caravaggio because of an outbreak of plague.

He returned to train as a painter in Milan but then went on to work in Rome , Naples, Malta and Sicily until his death at Porto Ercole in Tuscany in 1610.

Caravaggio became famous for his paintings for churches and palaces that combine a realistic observation of the physical and emotional state of human beings with a dramatic use of lighting. This was a formative influence for the baroque school of painting.

Despite his artistic success he had a turbulent personal life. He was thrown into jail on several occasions, once vandalised his own apartment and had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope.

Some of his major works, such as The Calling of St Matthew, the Crucifixion of St Peter and Deposition, can be found in churches in Rome , but his work is also well represented in the Uffizi gallery in Florence.

The town of Caravaggio is worth visiting to see the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Caravaggio, which was built in the 16th century on the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a humble peasant woman.

The Sanctuary was later rebuilt and completed in the 18th century and is now a grand building visited by pilgrims from all over the world.



Why I prefer to celebrate with Prosecco rather than Champagne

On Valentine’s Day, and any other occasions when there is an excuse to crack open the bubbly, you will find me drinking Prosecco.

A prosecco from
A delicate, sparkling white wine, Prosecco is sold by the glass in bars in Italy and is a refreshing drink to order at any time of the day.

Named after the variety of grape it is made from, Prosecco is lighter and more delicate than Champagne because it is bottled while young rather than being fermented.

It is made in the areas of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano in the Veneto region, in the north east of Italy .

The grape, one of Italy’s oldest, was probably named after the town of Prosecco near Trieste, where it  is believed to have originated.

Italy produces 150 million bottles of Prosecco a year, mostly from the area around Valdobbiadene.

Fortunately for the rest of the world, Prosecco travels well. It is reasonably priced in the UK , ranging from £6 to £12 a bottle. It is best drunk young, the perfect excuse for not leaving it on the wine rack too long.

When on holiday in Italy, Prosecco is the ideal aperitivo to enjoy before lunch and dinner and is a refreshing drink to order in a bar when you are having a break from sight seeing. Salute!



Italy images provide a welcome winter warmer

What could be more warming on a cold winter’s day than looking back at your summer travel photographs and remembering how hot it was when they were taken?

Yesterday, I was able to do just that by venturing out in the snow showers to W H Smith to buy a copy of the latest ITALIA! Magazine, which includes my feature on Cava de’ Tirreni, a town south of Naples and Sorrento set in the hills above the Amalfi coast.

The feature ‘48 HOURS IN Cava de’ Tirreni’ forms part of a Best of Campania special in the March edition of the magazine and is run alongside reviews of a hotel in Capri and one in Amalfi by boutique hotel booking specialists Mr and Mrs Smith, and an article exploring the property buying options in Campania.

Eagerly turning the pages with fingers numb with cold, I immediately remembered how warm it had been walking round Cava de’ Tirreni for two days last September and how pleasant it had been to escape for a few hours to the slightly cooler village of Corpo di Cava in the hills above the town.

Even some of the locals are wearing sleeveless tops and shorts in the pictures that accompany the feature.

On a day when I needed several layers of jumpers and fleeces to keep warm, it was lovely being transported back and remembering what it was like to be there.

ITALIA! magazine Issue 88 March 2012 is now on sale in branches of W H Smith. For more information about the magazine visit www.italia-magazine.com