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A History of Italian Chocolate

Thousands of years and numerous cultures have affected the coveted confectionary of chocolate. Italy’s major contribution came around the 1800s out of necessity more than anything; that was the delicious mix of hazelnuts and cocoa.

Before Italy discovered the secret of chocolate, the sweet journey began with the ancient Egyptians, Aztecs and Mayan cultures. The first trace of cocoa arrived in Europe only in 1492. Christopher Columbus brought cocoa beans to the Spanish King and Queen but the beans were passed over for other treasures. Thirty years later, Spanish explorer Hernan Cortès brought the beans, equipment and recipes from Mexico. This time cocoa was accepted with excitement. Monks in Spanish monasteries were appointed as the cocoa bean processors and made to keep chocolate a secret. This secret remained until the 1600s when Italian traveller Antonio Carletti discovered chocolate while visiting Spain. Once chocolate reached Italy, it spread quickly. Cioccolatieris opened in all major Italian cities. From Italy, the new delicacy reached Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The Catholic Church’s approval helped spread the chocolaty drink’s popularity, as did the royal courts.

Must-Visit Travel Destinations: The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast stretches along the southern coastline of the Sorrento Peninsula and is known for its picturesque landscape. The expanse of vivid blue salt water, vertical climbing mountains, and a soft scent of lemon blossoms surround your senses. The region’s beauty has made this area a highly popular tourist destination and was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape.

Some say the real Amalfi thrill is the scenic drive, and whether by bus or by car, the roads will leave you breathless. Just beyond the hairpin curves of the narrow, Italian road lies a sheer 500-foot drop into the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Hotels and villas are cantilevered amongst the vertical terrain. Beautiful sandy coves peek out here and there far below.

Top Five Things To Do in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Where to start in the bustling, busy, colorful city of Buenos Aires? In no particular order, here are our top five things to see and do in this amazing city.

Plaza de Mayo
Numerous gatherings and political protests have taken place since the Plaza de Mayo was first built in the 16th century. The Presidential Palace, or the Casa Rosada, stands at the eastern end. Many important Argentinean politicians have addressed the country from the palace balcony. The Piramide de Mayo, a white obelisk built in 1811, rises in the Plaza’s center marking the first anniversary of Argentina’s independence from Spain. If you happen to visit on a Thursday at 3:30 p.m., you’ll see the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (mothers of the disappeared) marching for the loss of loved ones during the Dirty War.

Must-Visit Travel Destinations: Tuscany

Tuscany has long ago earned a reputation for its picturesque, Italian atmosphere full of rolling hillsides of vineyards and charming medieval towns. The region’s geography varies dramatically; coastal cities teeter along the Tyrrhenian Sea, while lush mountains, quaint hill towns and river plains stretch far inland. For good reason, the region remains one of the most visited destinations in the world.

Most people recognize Tuscany, Florence specifically, as the birthplace of the Renaissance – a time of learning, beauty and, especially, the artistic movements. It’s the literal birthplace of some of the most famous names in Italian (and world) history. This includes Botticelli, Dante, Michelangelo, da Vinci and Galileo. As part of the Renaissance culture, architects wanted to reflect that in the landscapes and created paths that seemed like they would never end. They created gentle hills that would sooth the soul but make visible an open sky and wide open spaces. After this beauty was created, painters began to immortalize it in their art.

SAN LORENZO MARKET

In mid April of this year, 2014, the San Lorenzo market opened its newly renovated space. Better than “Eataly,” this is Eat IN Italy. Wine tasting, pasta tasting, cheese tasting, pizza tasting, and mama mia! This experience will make both “foodies” and “give me the food” people very happy.

After filling your belly with some local specialties, walk outside around on the streets that form a perimeter. Change your gears from food to clothing and souvenirs. Wander through the leather stalls. Besides being the largest market in Florence, you will also find some of the best bargains for shoes and purses. If interested, you’ll also find cheap and tacky souvenirs at good prices – from T-shirts to key chains, from wine bottle openers to bookmarks. Though this market is not known for bartering, the prices and variety still make it a treat. Avoid buying the knock offs sold on the streets.DSC_0895

The San Lorenzo Market is open daily and caters to locals as well as tourists. Mornings are the best time to visit while casalingue A.K.A. housewives are doing their regular food shopping. It is still common practice to buy food daily and eat it fresh.

 

Must-Visit Travel Destinations: Chinchero Market

Spectacularly sited at an elevation of 12,500 feet, with a breath-taking view of snow-capped mountains, lies Chinchero, one of the most typical towns in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. In that town, bright and early each Sunday morning, the authentic, Chinchero Market spreads out before ancient, Inca ruins. Early each Sunday morning, local Indians meet to sell their handicrafts at the market, as they have done for centuries.

As one of the most traditional markets in all of South America, it has far fewer tourists and far more locals than the nearby town of Pisac. Artisans (or artisania) dressed in traditional, colorful clothing come to buy and sell their handmade crafts and produce.