Italy has a new top-rated restaurant called St. Hubertus. Nestled at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains, it has just been awarded three Michelin stars. Located in the ski village of San Cassiano, it is the ninth restaurant in Italy to win the Michelin Guide’s coveted third star. The mountain restaurant, which serves only dinner and closes in spring and autumn, joins the ranks of such culinary heavyweights as Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana in Modena, considered by some the best restaurant in the world and Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, which has earned three Michelin stars every year since 1993. St. Hubertus is the first Italian restaurant that has risen to Michelin’s top ranking since 2014. It won its first Michelin star in 2000 and it’s second in 2007. In total 356 restaurants in Italy have one, or more Michelin stars, according to the guide’s 2018 edition. This year, Italian restaurants have been awarded 22 new stars. That places Italy second only to France in Michelin’s global ranking. The northern region of Lombardy has the highest number of starred restaurants, with 63, followed by Campania in the south with 41. Lombardy’s northern neighbors, Piedmont and Veneto, follow with 39 and 38 respectively.
9th Edition of Barter Week
Last week celebrated barter week in thousands of Italian B&Bs, where guests offered hoteliers a product, or service in exchange for their visit. Plenty of hotels made public requests, listing the offers they were willing to accept in return for a few night’s board, but guests were also encouraged to take the initiative and suggest their own offer. Wine and olive oils were the most popular requests in the food and drinks category. Language lessons, translation and help with practical tasks such as gardening, laundry and olive harvesting were all given as payment for a hotel stay. Other barters included children’s books, a used bicycle and antique mirrors. Una Casa nel Bosco near the Terme di Genova Spa was seeking lumberjacks, although there is no word if they were successful. La Scalinatella in Rome offered bed and breakfast in exchange for extra virgin olive oil and vegetables. With a more niche request, Candy’s Room B&B in Pesaro sought extra Bruce Springsteen memorabilia to decorate its chalet dedicated to The Boss. Barter Week began when VillaVillaColle, a B&B in the heart of a northern medieval Sardinian village, was the first in Italy to start offering to swap accommodation for goods or services. The idea soon spread to others, with thousands now taking part in National Barter Week and 800 accepting barters all-year-round.
Italy’s Creepiest Attractions
While Italy might be famed for its art, history and food, it is also home to some of the creepiest tourist attractions on Earth. Here are three of our favorites. The former psychiatric hospital of Volterra is located in the province of Pisa. The ruins at Volterra have been slowly crumbling since 1978 when the hospital was finally closed after years of mistreating its patients. As if that wasn’t creepy enough, one room contains the runic etchings of a patient who was called Oreste Ferdinando Nannetti. Nobody knows what the etchings mean, but it makes for a chilly tour.
The San Cataldo Cemetery in Modena was built as a high-rise cemetery, intended to become the eternal resting place of the towns inhabitants. The building was designed by noted architect Aldo Rossi and was built between 1972 and 1976. However, plans changed, and the cemetery was never used. Now the cemetery stands, alone and empty with identical rows of empty tombs just waiting to be filled. Walking through, you can just image what it would be like if it was filled to capacity.
Finally, and this is not joke, there is an exhibit of Galileo’s middle finger in the Florence Museum of Science. No one knows why the severed appendage of the renaissance scientist is a suitable tourist attraction, but we do know that the digit was removed from Galileo’s body 95 years after his death by Anton Francesco Gori. The finger is kept in a container made from gold and glass, much like a religious relic — ironic given that Galileo was condemned for heresy by the church for his scientific views. Additionally, why was his middle finger selected? There is plenty of speculation that could accompany such a discussion!
Made in Italy, the First Electric Vespa
More than 70 years after Italy’s iconic scooter was born, the Vespa is getting its most radical update yet. Piaggio, the Pisa-based maker of Italy’s most famous two-wheeler, has unveiled an electric Vespa that will go on sale in spring 2018. The battery-powered Vespa Elettrica is accompanied by a hybrid model, the Elettrica X, that combines a gas-powered generator for extra range. With a range of 60 miles, the Vespa Elettrica’s lithium-ion battery can be recharged by simply plugging it into to any ordinary electrical outlet. The scooter features a color display screen that not only shows the remaining charge and range but, when connected to drivers’ phone via an app, can also alert them to incoming messages and phone calls. As for the look, the Vespa Elettrica will retain the distinctive “wasp-like” shape that earned the scooter its name. Only one color – silver, will be available at first, though buyers can choose from seven different trims. The new-generation Vespa will lose one thing from the original, though: the vroom. According to Piaggio, its electric motor is entirely silent.
Gambling Showcased in Treviso Exhibit
Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche is celebrating its 30th anniversary by holding a show focusing on gambling throughout the centuries. The show will be held in the Bomben exhibition halls of Treviso until January 14th. When it comes to compulsive gambling, it is a problem that many centuries old. The exhibit notes that Emperor Augustus sometimes lost as much as 20,000 sestertius in a single day. Nero was also a big gambler, while Emperor Claudius wrote a treatise on dice and arranged his vehicle so that bumps in the road would not disturb the game. The exhibition also shows the importance of lotteries in which the state intervened heavily, setting aside a share of the earnings to fund various undertakings, even the construction of the Trevi Fountain. The exhibition includes the official notice in which Clementine XII in 1731 authorized the state lottery, only three years after the excommunication of gamblers by his predecessor, Benedict XIII.