Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Incantato Tours proudly presents the Phoenix Girls Chorus in Rieti, Italy

Incantato Tours is very proud to announce that the Phoenix Girls Chorus is going to perform on Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 7:00 pm at the famous Festa Europea della Musica in Rieti, Italy. 
The newspapers and local blogs in Rieti start to announce the choir's participation and we are sure they are as excited as we are to see their performance. To have a look at the original article in Italian, please have a look here.
For live coverage and information, please have a look at our Facebook page.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Incantato Tours wishes Safe Travels!

Benvenuti in Italia! 

The Phoenix Girls Chorus under the direction of Ms. Danya Tiller is going to leave Phoenix, AZ at 7:40 pm today for their overnight flight to Europe. As of now, their flight is on time and is estimated to depart Phoenix as scheduled.
Incantato Tours Italia tour manager Stefania LaRosa is going to welcome the travelers in the eternal city of Rome. They will spend their first night away from home at the 4-star Villa Irlanda Hotel in Gaeta.

More pictures and updates about the choir and its 2014 Italy Performance Tour can be found on their blog, but also on our Facebook page.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fête de la Musique - There is music in the air

The Fête de la Musique – the European and worldwide Music Day – is an annual festival held on 21 June, the start of summer. It transforms cities around the globe into theatres of enchantment and magical sounds.
It sounds simple. All the events are free and open to the public. All musicians waive their fee and all the concerts take place in unusual venues – mostly outdoors. Everyone is welcome at the Fête de la Musique or Festa della Musica how the Italians say.
That this formula would grow into a worldwide movement that reaches out to millions of people every year must have been beyond the wildest dreams of former French Culture Minister Jack Lang, who organised the first Fête de la Musique in Paris in 1982.
The seed was sown and now the event unites people in over 340 towns and cities worldwide, 60 of them in Europe.
There's nothing that can not be heard. Bands, orchestras, choirs, soloists and DJs perform music of every genre. One other thing remains the same - the Fête de la Musique is a non-profit, non-commercial event. Like everything at the Fête de la Musique, it is about friendship, joy, respect and in short, humanity in music.

Festa della Musica in Rieti celebrates its 14th anniversary this year. Concerts will be held in following locations:
Auditorium dei Poveri, Auditorium Varrone, Piazza S. Rufo, LungoVelino, Piazza Cavour, Via Paolessi, Largo S. Giorgio, Via Terenzio Varrone and Piazza Beata Colomba.

Concerts on Friday, June 20, 2014 all free of admission:
  9:00 pm  - M* Eleonora Podaliri Vulpiani and students of the Conservatory concert at Auditorium Varro
10:00 pm - Joy Stick concert at Long Velino Café
10:30 pm - Duo Voce and piano Maria Rosaria De Rossi and Paolo Panicon concert at Be'er Sheva, via delle Stelle

Concerts on Saturday, June 21, 2014 all free of admission:
  7:00 pm - Phoenix Girls Chorus Cantabile concert at Largo San Giorgio Rigodon Café 
  7:30 pm - Insidious Trap concert at Via Paolessi at Café Luwak
  9:00 pm - Mononoke concert at Auditorium dei Poveri
  9:15 pm - THE KEY 9 concert at S. Rufo Square
10:15 pm - RITMIX concert at S. Rufo Square (free admission)
10:15 pm - Alessio Guadagnoli concert at piazza Cavour at the Grand Café La Lira
10:45 pm - Casale 136-Negramaro Tributo concert at Club Café Bonobo
11:15 pm - Depero DJ Set at via Terenzio Varrone

Concerts on Sunday, Jun 22, 2014 all free of admission:
  9:00 pm - Parole e Musica with Musì Duo-Sandro Sacco (flute) & Paolo Paniconi (piano) concert at Auditorium Varrone
10:00 pm - Postal Docs concert at Cafe LungoVelino

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Delicious Culinary Introduction to Italy

Dear PGC Travelers,

Since the tour starts in two weeks, Incantato Tours wants to share a delicious typical Roman recipe with you for traditional Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Feel free to try it at home with family and friends and enjoy it. There are so many more delicious food finds you are going to make in Italy during your 2014 Italy Performance Tour.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
(serves 4-6)
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 4 fresh large eggs
  • 8 ounces guanciale, pancetta or slab bacon, cubed 
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Sea salt
1. Bring about 6 quarts of generously salted water (it should taste like the ocean) to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the guanciale and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the meat is crispy and golden and has rendered its fat. Turn off the heat.

3. In a small bowl whisk the eggs and the cheeses until well-combined.

4. When the pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup of the water, then drain.

5. Return the guanciale pan to medium heat, and add half of the reserved pasta water to the pan. Toss in the spaghetti and agitate the pan over the heat for a few seconds until the bubbling subsides. Much of the water will evaporate

6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture and stirring quickly until the eggs thicken. The residual heat will cook the eggs but work quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. If the sauce seems too thick, thin it out with a little bit more of the reserved pasta water.

7. Season liberally with freshly cracked black pepper.

8. Divide the pasta into bowls and serve immediately.

Recipe and photo courtesy of

Learning Italian with Incantato Tours

For a lot of people Italian is the most beautiful living language there is. Every word ends in a vowel and it practically begs to be stuck into a romantic sonnet. The sound is just so melodic and soothing.

Since the Phoenix Girls Chorus is going to embark on their 2014 Italy Performance Tour with Incantato Tours, we thought knowing some Italian vocabulary for their free time when they are without their tour guide might be a good idea.

Please find below some common greetings:
  • Buongiorno! (bwohn-johr-noh) = Hello! and Good morning!
  • Arrivederci! (ahr-ree-veh-dehr-chee) = Goodbye! 
  • Ciao! (chou) = Hello! and Good-bye! 
  • Buonasera! (bwoh-nah-seh-rah) = Good afternoon! Good evening!
  • Buonanotte! (bwoh-nah-noht-teh) = Good night!
  • Come si chiama? (koh-meh see kyah-mah) = What is your name?
  • Mi chiamo…(mee kyah-moh) = My name is...
  • Come sta? (koh-meh stah) = How are you?) 
  • Bene, grazie. (beh-neh grah-tsee-eh) = Fine, thank you.

Courtesy is important no matter what country you are in. Use these courtesy phrases below when speaking in Italian so you can be considerate and polite:
  • Per favore (pehr fah-voh-reh) = Please
  • Grazie (grah-tsee-eh) = Thank you
  • Prego! (preh-goh) = You're welcome/ by all means/ after you
  • Mi dispiace (mee dees-pyah-cheh) = I'm sorry
  • Mi scusi (mee skooh-zee) = Excuse me (formal)
  • Scusi, un informazione, per favore. (skooh-zee oohn-een-fohr-mats-yoh-neh pehr fah-voh-reh) = Excuse me, I need some information, please.
  • Permesso? (pehr-mehs-soh) = Excuse me — when walking through a crowded train compartment/ "May I come in?" when crossing the threshold of someone's house
  • Sì (see) = Yes
  • No (noh) = No
To communicate in Italian and to travel with ease, there are practical questions in Italian that you'll use daily and it comes handy to know:
  • Chi? (kee) = Who?
  • Cosa? (koh-sah) = What?
  • Quando? (kwahn-doh) = When?
  • Dove? (doh-veh) = Where?
  • Perché? (pehr-keh) = Why?
  • Come? (koh-meh) = How?
  • Quanto? (kwanh-toh) = How much?
  • Dov'è la stazione? (doh-veh lah stah-tsyoh-neh) = Where is the station?
  • Scusi, dov'è il bagno? (skooh-zee doh-veh eel bahn-yoh) = Where is the bathroom?
  • Come si arriva in...? (koh-meh see ahr-ree-vah een pyahts-sah dehl-lah reh-pooh-blee-kah) = How do you get to...?
  • Parla inglese? (pahr-lah een-gleh-zeh) (Do you speak English?)

    Sant'Agnese, one of the most beautiful churches in Rome and your concert venue on June 26, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    One thing the eternal city of Rome has plenty of are stunning churches, but Sant'Agnese is by far one the most breathtaking ones.  Its magnificence, the marble columns, statues of historical figures and the detailing of the walls and ceilings are impressive. No wonder it is one of the most photographed buildings on the busy Piazza Navona, was selected "Certificate of Excellence 2014" by tripadvisor and is your venue on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

    Sant'Agnese in Agone is a beautiful 17th-century Baroque church in Rome, Italy. It faces onto the Piazza Navona, one of the main urban spaces in the historic center of Rome and the site where the Early Christian Saint Agnes was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian.
    Its construction began in 1652 under the famous architect Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi. After numerous quarrels, the other main architect involved was Francesco Borromini. The church was rebuilt in 1652 and intended to be a family chapel.

    Saint Agnes, whom the church is dedicated to, was buried in the catacombs at the present basilica of Sant'Agnese after her martyrdom in 304. She is one of the great Roman virgin martyrs.

    Homes away from home: The PGC Incantato Concert Tours Hotels in Gatea, Rieti, Florence and Rome

    The first home away from home for the 2014 PGC Italy Performance Tour from June 18 to June 20, 2014 will be 4-star Villa Irlanda Hotel in Gaeta, Italy, won the "Certificate of Excellence in 2013" awarded by Tripadvisor, located just a short walk away from the sea, overlooking the Gulf of Gaeta. 
    The villa is made up of 5 historical buildings, including a former convent and 2 swimming pools. The front desk is built among the walls of a Roman villa from the 1st century B.C. 
    In total there are 49 rooms on the property. The rooms are spacious with a classic décor with wooden furniture, some rooms offer great views of the property. There is free wifi and a satellite TV in each room, with air conditioning and in the bathrooms there is a hairdryer provided.

    The Relais Villa d’Assio located in Rieti, is set in a renovated 18th century villa, preserving its original features and surrounded by the ruins of the Roman Villa of Quinto Assio.
    It has 45 rooms divided into Standard, Superior and Junior Suite. All rooms are equipped with mini-bar,  tv set, hairdryer, safe and air conditioning.
    The hotel offers 2 restaurants and 2 congress halls, fully equipped with modern technological facilities and enjoys a convenient location near Rome, Perugia, Assisi, Todi and Spoleto.

    A 4-star hotel and also awarded by Tripadvisor the "Certificate of Excellence in 2013", Hotel 500 Firenze was originally built in the year 1500 as part of the hospital's orphanage and later became an elegant Villa. It will be the third hotel on their tour from June 23 to June 25, 2014. Through recent restoration work it has become a modern, lovely and pleasant place for people to come and stay at during their vacations in Tuscany. The rooms are equipped with free wifi, satellite TV and modern bathrooms. Just a short drive outside of the city, it is positioned on a beautiful property with an outdoor pool. There is a restaurant on site named 5%, with a great Florentine local cuisine. 

    Your last home away from home will be the H10 Roma Città Hotel, a 4-star hotel, located in the Marconi neighborhood just a short distance from the district of Trastevere. From June 25 to June June 28, 2014 you can enjoy amenities such as comfy beds, solarium, national and international newspaper, ice machines, laundry service and also a rooftop swimming pool. Another great perk is free wifi throughout the hotel - and even in high speed so you can upload all your pictures and videos. The hotel has 181 rooms, which are equipped with flat-screen LCD TV with international channels, smart temperature control, pillow top, MP3 (audio) and PC connection, safe box and professional hair dryer.  

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    Your venue in the ancient city of Itri, Italy

    Incantato Tours is happy to announce that the Phoenix Girls Chorus is confirmed to have a concert at the ancient Itri Castle.

    The castle located in Itri, a small city and commune in the province of Latina, has an impressive history and dates back to the 9th century. Itri is also called "one of the most beautiful towns in Italy".
    As typically for castles, it has a strategically position high on a hill, overlooking the Appian Way, which is one of the most famous ancient roads. The town was built around the castle afterwards and then spread along the passage of the Appian Way.

    The round tower was given the name “Crocodile Tower”. The legend says, the tower contained a pool which was home of a crocodile. Prisoners, who had been condemned to death, were thrown in the pool and eaten by the reptile.

    Recently the castle has undergone extensive reconstruction and renovation.  It was partly destroyed in 1944 when the town of Itri was savagely pounded by aerial bombardment, which left 75% of the town in ruins. The castle is now used for exhibitions and cultural events and an atmospheric setting for summer music and film festivals.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

    Protecting Yourself and Your Investment: Travel Insurance

    Dear PGC Travelers, 

    As indicated on your registration form, it is mandatory for all tour participants to obtain travel insurance to protect your investment in case you have to cancel for a medical situation, loss of luggage or various other reasons.
    Our recommended insurance option is described below along with an online link to Travel Guard. We highly recommend this company based on a long and excellent relationship. TravelGuard has a variety of policies including a family plan. In order for us to keep track of travel insurance for your group, please sign up through the link below connected with Incantato Tours.

    Click here to get a Travel Guard Insurance quote.

    Incantato Tours strongly recommends getting Travel Guard travel insurance for your upcoming journey as they have been a very reliable partner and provide excellent services, but we also know that you may have a different preferred supplier or are already covered under another policy. Again, travel insurance with trip cancellation coverage is mandatory for all Incantato Tours travelers. 
    Not only are you covered medically should anything happen when traveling, but with TravelGuard's policies, you also protect your investment should you have to cancel or interrupt the trip.There is also coverage for delayed and lost luggage etc.
    Here is a direct line to purchase travel insurance online and can you do so with your credit cards and also select the option that is best for you.

    In the meantime, have a look at the most comprehensive coverage option The Protect Assist Gold below.

    Protect Assist (Gold) -
    Comprehensive Travel Protection for the World Traveler
    • Trip Cancellation
    • JUST ADDED! - Trip Cancellation due to employment loss or layoff
      if employed with the same employer 1 year or longer
    • Trip Interruption and Travel Delay
    • Emergency Medical and Emergency Medical Transportation
    • Baggage and Travel Document Protection
    • Baggage Delay and Lost Baggage Tracking
    • NEW - Cancel For Any Reason option now available
    • NEW - Cancel For Work Reasons option now available
    • NEW - Children age 17 and under covered at no additional cost
    • IMPROVED -Trip Cancellation limit increased to $100,000 (from $15,000), 
    • IMPROVED - Trip Interruption coverage increased to 150% of Trip Cost
    • IMPROVED - Travel Delay required hours reduced to 5 hours (from 12)

    ProtectAssist special features:
    • Best coverage for Weather Related Cancellations
    • Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Waiver*
    • Default/Bankruptcy Protection*
    • $50,000 Flight Accident Insurance*
    • 24-Hour "LiveTravel" Travel Agency
    • Emergency Cash Transfers
    • Identity Theft Restoration

    * These additional benefits apply If you are purchasing within 15 days of making your initial trip deposit or payment, however, coverage may still be purchased at any time up to 24 hours prior to departure.
    Increase your coverage with these valuable additions to your Protect Assist Plan:
    Cancel For Any Reason – 50% 
    reimbursement of nonrefundable expenses if you cancel your trip for any reason, up to 48 hours prior to your departure. Only available when this plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.

    Cancel For Work Reasons – 
    Offers additional work-related reasons for cancellation or interruption. Also includes our exclusive “Business Assistant” services if you have work obligations during your travels. Only available when this plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.

    Umbrella Package – Medical Expense limits are doubled and coverage is upgraded to primary. Emergency Medical Transportation limits are doubled and benefits upgraded to take you home or to the hospital of your choice. $25,000 Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage will be added

    Optional coverages cannot be purchased separately. Must be purchased with base ProtectAssist plan.

    Comprehensive non-insurance travel services* automatically included with plan!With the ProtectAssist plan, every customer also has access to these valuable travel services when they travel:
    · Arrangements for last-minute flight changes
    · Hotel finder and reservations
    · Rental car reservations
    · Emergency medical assistance
    · BagTrak® -- lost baggage tracking
    · Pre-trip health and safety advisories
    · Live e-mail and phone messaging to family and friends
    · Cash transfers
    · Airport transportation
    · Golf course reservations
    · Event ticketing
    · Floral services
    · Identity Theft restoration

    Business Assistant* (available when Optional Cancel for Work Reasons coverage is purchased)

    *Non-Insurance services are provided by AIG Travel Assist.

    Citizenship: All Nationalities
    Residency: United States
    New York, Oregon, and Washington residence please call to purchase
    Some rider options are not available and other restrictions may apply
    Destination: Worldwide
    Ages: All Ages
    Max Trip Length: 365 Days

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    Phoenix Girls Chorus performs at St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    The Phoenix Girls Chorus Cantabile is invited to sing in the prestigious Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 4:00 pm. 

    The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter is located within the Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It is the symbolic "Mother church" of the Catholic Church and is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".

    In Catholic tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on April 18, 1506 and was completed on November 18, 1626.

    St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions and for its historical associations. It is associated with the papacy, with the Counter-reformation and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since the days of Ancient Rome, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering brains of the 16th century.

    Incidentally there are over 100 tombs within St. Peter's Basilica, many located in the Vatican grotto, beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. 

    Monday, May 12, 2014

    Incantato Concert Tours prime performance Venue: the magnificent Teatro de Rieti on Friday, June 20 at 6 pm

    The Teatro Falvio Vespasiano di Rieti is a magical place where the PGC Cantabile singers will be presenting a special concert as part of their 2014 Performance Tour in Italy with Incantato Tours.

    The current structure of the theater dates back to December of 1883 but was not officially inaugurated until September 20, 1893, featuring productions of Johnann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust and Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.

    The theater, named after the Roman Emperor Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus, required ten years of construction under the direction of Milanese architect Achille Sfondrini
    The theater underwent complete restoration from 2005 through 2009. A grand re-opening celebration commenced on January 10, 2009 featuring conductor Marcello Rota, and soloists Karina Grigoryan, Jessica Pratt, Anna Gorayacheva, and Roman Burdenko. 
    The Secretary to the Prime Minister, as well as Senator Franco Marini were in attendance. The restoration efforts totaled more than 3.3 million Euros. The reopening of the theater also fostered the formation of the Flavius Vespasian Foundation, aiming to promote international artistry and music. 

    The Rieti Theater also annually hosts the "Città di Rieti", an international dance competition, the International Competition for the New Opera Voices of Mattia Battistini and the National Competition for Young Actors. 

    The theater is well known for its excellent acoustics, a characteristic that earned the structure the very first National Award for the Acoustics. In referring to the acoustics, Professor Bruno Cagli, president of the National Academy of Saint Cecilia, once called the theater “the world’s best in that respect”. 

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    The Phoenix Girls Chorus Itinerary for June 2014

    Day 1, Tuesday, June 17 - Depart for Italy
    Overnight flight to Italy via London

    Day 2, Wednesday, June 18 -  Arrive in Rome
    Benvenuti in bella Italia! Upon arrival in Rome you will meet with your Incantato Tour Manager and then transfer to the charming Costa d‘Ulisses for the first part of your journey near the beach. From there you will check-in to your hotel and in the evening everyone will enjoy a welcome dinner.

    Day 3, Thursday, June 19 - Cathedrals & Castles on the Coast
    Visit the magical cities of Gaeta and Sperlunga that attracted the Romans already over 2000 years ago. Then prepare for a special performance in Itri, an ancient castle located on a hilltop.  This will be hosted by a local choir who will also prepare dinner for the girls.

    Day 4, Friday, June 20 - Sightseeing and Concert in Rieti at 6 pm
    Bid farewell to the beach and continue to Rieti in the very heart of Italy. The charming hill top town has a lot to offer. The highlight Teatro concert takes place on this evening at 6 pm.

    Day 5, Saturday, June 21 - Exploring Assisi (Recital) Festa della Musica Performances
    Explore nearby Assisi with an expert guide prior to PGC presenting a recital at the Basilica of St. Francis. Upon return to Rieti, celebrate the world-wide celebration of music Fete de la Musique or Festa della Musica as it is called in Italian in the town of Rieti and today‘s line-up will feature the Phoenix Girls Chorus in several events. There will also be special reception with the cultural mayor.

    Day 6, Sunday, June 22 - Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at noon
    Today's program has changed as PGC's Cantabile was invited to sing in the prestigious Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Thus, the group will embark on a day trip to Rome and return to Rieti for dinner and to stay overnight.

    Day 7, Monday, June 23 - Under the Tuscan Sun
    Experience the beautiful countryside of Umbria and Tuscany as you journey towards Florence. You will stop in Siena for sightseeing, which is still one of Italy's most ancient cities. As you will see in the small streets and alley ways, not many private cars are allowed inside of the city. After Siena you will then board the coach to continue onto Florence and check into your Florentine hotel. A sampling of local food is also planned and a concert is scheduled for in the evening.

    Day 8, Tuesday, June 24 - Florence Sightseeing & likely Florence Concert at 7:45 pm
    See the wonderful city of Florence with an expert guide, that will show and tell you the famous stories of the city and of the Medici Family. The entrance to the Accademia Museum to see Michelangelo‘s David will also be included. Inside the Museum you may learn about the invention of the modern day piano that was created by a man who was employed by a Prince of the Medici family. Later on, PCG is likely being the featured choir for a concert at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore right in the heart of Florence. Thereafter, the young ladies will see Florence by night.

    Day 9, Wednesday, June 25 - Scenic Road to Rome & Sightseeing 
    See the rolling hills that make this region so famous once again as you journey to the Eternal City of Rome. You will start with a walking tour of the Baroque Squares, climb the Spanish Steps, see the Trevi Fountain and also try some gelato prior to check-in at your hotel.

    Day 10, Thursday, June 26 - Ancient Rome Tour
    No visit to Rome is complete without a walk through the Coliseum and Roman Forum. There will also be free time for you to do some shopping for souvenirs, people watch and see the street artists etc.

    Day 11, Friday, June 27 - Exchange & Concert
    You will have a chance to explore the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel on a special tour before PGC will present a final concert after a school exchange. A special farewell dinner concludes the day.

    Day 12, Saturday, June 28 - Depart for Phoenix
    After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for your journey back to the US. The travelers will return home with memories to last a lifetime.

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    Incantato Insider: Rieti

    Though most international travelers know about and have visited big Italian cities like Florence and Rome, or famous smaller ones like the towns of Cinque Terra or the Amalfi Coast, few know just how many hidden gems are sprinkled throughout the Italian countryside. Rieti is one of these - a town that's important to Italians (and Italian history) and virtually unknown to American tourists.

    Rieti is the name for both a city and a province (like a county) in the region (like a state) of Lazio. Many Italians know Rieti because it's along a major route to get to Rome (also, incidentally, in Lazio). As the capital of the region of Rieti, the town also is a major cultural and commercial center for the many tiny towns in northern Lazio and southern Umbria.
    Historically, Reiti was a major site in the Sabine nation long before Italy was united, and later became a strategic point in the early Italian road network that linked Rome to the Adriatic Sea. Rieti also became a favorite Papal seat and was the site of several important historical events, including the marriage of Constance Hauteville in 1185, the crowning of Charles I by Pope Nicholas in 1289, and the celebration of the canonization of St. Dominic by Pope Gregory IX in 1234.
    Interesting features of modern Rieti include the Cathedral, with a stunning Romanesque bell tower built in 1252 and a statue of St. Barbara by Giannatonio Mari; the Palazzo Vescovile – or Bishops Palace – with its Rennaissance windows and a Grand Hall housing the Diocese Gallery; and the Santa Maria in Vescovio, an 8th century church with frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries depicting the Last Judgment and scenes from the Bible.
    As the center of the Rieti province, the town of Rieti also features a number of gelaterias, clothing stores, delicious restaurants, and the surprisingly diverse music store Mussicisti.

    The Rieti Valley also is an important part of the Cammino di Francesco, or Saint Francis Walk. Along with Assisi and the Verna, Saint Francis made the Rieti Valley his home. It is here that he created the first Nativity in Christianity in 1223, wrote the Rule of the Franciscan Order, and most likely composed The Canticle of All Creatures.