Settimana del Buonvivere (Week of Good Living) is an annual event conceived by Monica Fantini, Director of Legacoop Forlì-Cesena. During this fourth edition of the event held on September 30th – October 6, there were over 150 seminars, workshops and activities in various venues throughout the Forli-Cesena province of Emilia-Romagna, focused on health, wellness, and personal development to enhance quality of life.
Our group of seven international women bloggers enjoyed a customized version of Settimana del Buon Vivere with our Buonvivere blog tour. Our week of good living indulged us in food and wine; enabled us to explore the area’s sites, culture and history; and educated us on the province’s rich agriculture and industry. Some of these I’ve already covered in more detail in previous posts while others will be covered in future posts. But here’s a brief look at some of the things that were highlights for me.
Our first day in Cesena included a diverse array of activities and sights, starting off the morning with cappuccino and pastries at Mad Cafè on Corso Garibaldi with our Cesena guide, Elena Righi. Elena is a native of the province and clearly loves Cesena and talking about the features that make the city special.
I always enjoy walking around new towns, and Cesena was perfect for that. Being there on a Saturday, the streets were bustling with locals casually shopping, sipping coffee at the cafés, and browsing the wares of the outdoor markets.
On our walk, we stopped at Teatro Alessandro Bonci, which opened in 1846, a neoclassical design by architect Vincenzo Ghinelli. There were rehearsals about to begin, but Elena arranged for us to have a quick look at the gorgeous interior. The photo below taken by Penny Sadler really captures its elegance.
Next up was a place Elena had told us would be stunning — one that she loves very much. The 15th century Biblioteca Malatestiana was the first public library in Italy and is listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. It is a truly beautiful place with history and exhibits that impel you to stop, think and imagine. The main reading room where the Franciscan monks studied is remarkable in its simple, yet stunning design with 11 arches over 58 desks and windows that allow for natural lighting. In the Piana Library across the hall from the main reading room there are many ancient books and letters as well as portraits of three popes (two who were born in Cesena and one who was bishop here). I was taken by the case where very small books were displayed, including the world’s smallest book that can be read without a microscope (shown below, bottom center).
From there, we explored more of the town, weaving through the streets, noting the pedestrian and bicycle-friendly culture of Cesena, while admiring the colorful buildings and lovely decorative touches of the facades and entrances. We quickly walked through the shopping areas with upscale boutiques to the Saturday street market and Masini Fountain on Piazza del Popolo.
A steep climb on cobblestone steps led us to the imposing La Rocca Malatestiana, another of the medieval fortresses built by the ruling Malatesta family in Emilia-Romagna. Inside the fortress, our guide took us down the old stone corridors with loopholes (openings for light, air or shooting) and into several chambers including the museums with well-preserved artifacts, such as the armor shown in the photo below.
From the top of La Rocca, there were views in all directions, including the scenes below of the rooftops and bell towers of Cesena, the Abbey of St. Maria del Monte on another hilltop, and the Apennines in the distance.
Food with a view
We dined al fresco on a warm sunny day at La Rocca Malatestiana and a few days later at Castrum Sagliani. This is high on my list of favorite things, and something I was able to do quite often in Italy, on this trip and in June with Mr. TWS.
Before our tour of La Rocca Malatestiana, we had lunch outdoors at the fortress which included piadinas, cheese, meats and olives accompanied with wines served by Alessandro Giunchi of Altavita Winery (where we later got out in the vineyards for some grape picking). Fine wine, warm weather, delicious dishes of Emilia-Romagna served in the shadows of a medieval castle — perfect.
Pictured below, at Castrum Sagliani, we had a private lunch in this former castle and church that is currently being converted to agriturismo accommodations. What a view for lunch! We also took a tour of the guest rooms, each uniquely decorated and equally inviting. Only a few miles from Cesena city center, Castrum Sagliani is convenient to all the town has to offer, yet secluded on this lovely hilltop with a fantastic view to the Adriatic.
So with all this wonderful wining and dining, how does a food and wine loving blogger try to stay in shape? Although I don’t usually have time to hit the gym when I travel I do a lot of walking, and on this trip we certainly did that. So it was a welcome treat to have a short, but fun personal training session and tour at Technogym’s very cool headquarters in Cesena. Technogym produces state-of-the-art fitness equipment that is installed in fitness centers throughout the world and they were an official supplier to the 2012 Olympics in London. I was particularly interested to learn that the Guest of Honor at their September 2012 opening of the new headquarters and research center was former U.S. president, Bill Clinton, who spoke about the importance of wellness especially as it relates to one of his signature causes, childhood obesity.
From the land
An apple a day keeps the doctor away it is said, but many of us don’t eat an apple a day. Do you? If I could snatch a ripe Fuji apple right from a tree in an Italian orchard, I’d be more likely to manage it. After a tour of the Apofruit Plant in Cesena, it was such fun to actually visit one of the cooperative’s orchards and meet the owner, Piercarlo Fantini. One day, we’re walking around in vineyards, the next in an apple orchard — good living it is!
Although it’s not something that tourists would generally get a chance to do, we toured a seed processing plant in Cesena as well. It was all part of showing us the rich agriculture of Forli-Cesena and giving us a look at the livelihoods of the residents of the area
Art, entertainment and celebrities
Yes, that’s me with famous Italian chef, Carlo Cracco. (And yes, Mr. TWS has seen the photo.) No, we weren’t dining together, but I was quite pleased to get a photo with him. He was the headliner guest at the Settimana del Buon Vivere gala, where he had a group of chefs under his wing to preparing our meal. We were also entertained by the Emilia-Romagna jazz band, the Minor Swingers in the stylish ambiance of Teatro Verdi in Cesena.
The art in the two photos above are part of an exhibition by artist Silvano Tontini currently displayed in the crypt of the Church of Santa Cristina in Cesena. When you stomp your foot near one of the glowing green lights on the floor, the sound reverberates off the stone walls of the room. It was not the kind of exhibit I expected to find in an old Italian church.
The combination of special places and activities on the tour’s itinerary representing “buon vivere” made for a fabulous experience, thoroughly enjoyed. Good living, indeed!
Where have you traveled that epitomized good living for you?
Thanks to Penny Sadler of Adventures of a Carry-On for her photo of Teatro Alessandro Bonci.
I’m contributing this post to Nancie McKinnon’s Budget Traveler’s Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday. Enjoy other links to photos and stories on her site, too.