It’s all in a Game of Chess-Marostica

In the year 1454, Taddeo Parisio was the ruler and lord of a little town of Marostica, located in the province of Vicenza in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. Lord Parisio had two beautiful daughters: Lionora, who they described as having a beauty that would make angels envious and Oldrada, an equally pretty girl.

Lord Parisio had two knights in his service: Rinaldo D’Angarano and Vieri da Vallonara. Both knights professed their declaration of love for Lionora. So intense was their rivalry that they challenged each other to a duel for Lionora’s hand in marriage.

It was well know that Lord Parisio was highly regarded for his wisdom and good business sense. These knights were so valuable that he couldn’t afford to lose either of them in a duel. So Lord Parisio came up with an ingenious idea. The hand for his daughter would be settled by a game of chess. The winner of the chess game would have the hand of Lionora and the loser the hand of Oldrada.  A win-win situation as his two best knights would be members of the royal family and both be saved from injury. The two knights agreed to the contest.

The staging of the chess game took place on a giant full scale chess board located in the piazza below the castle. The chess board was filled with human chess pieces complete with a king, queen, two bishops, two knights and two castles with their pawns.

Piazza degli Scacchi -Marostica

Five hundred years later, Marostica still continues with this human chess game making sure to include all the traditional pomp and ceremony in the Piazza degli Scacchi. The human chess game is played each even year during the second Friday, Saturday and Sunday in September. The 2016 dates are Friday 9 September, Saturday 10 September and Sunday 11 September 2016. If chess is your game this is not to be missed.

Enjoy this short youtube video

Favotto Tours specialises in taking to you to the small towns and villages of Italy off the beaten track that tourists can’t easily access in order to experience unique aspects of Italian life including food, wine, art, history and people.

Call Giorgio now on 0407 927 787 for your next immersion experience of Italy

'Take me To Calabria' 2017 Immersion Tour


Favotto Tours will take you on a 10-day immersion tour to the magical southern Italian region of Calabria in 2017

When thinking of traveling to Italy, the must see places include Florence, Rome, and Venice. Yet Calabria, pristine and unspoiled, has everything these northern cities offer -minus the tourists. Very little is written about this southern region of Italy and even today remains a mystery to most travelers.

This is your opportunity to explore a new frontier of Italy!

Calabria has historically been suppressed from development due to the influence of the Ndrangheta mafia and yet this isolation has enabled Calabria to preserve traditional customs and practices which make Calabria a real gem of Italy.

Whilst my family was born and bread from the Veneto region in the north of Italy, I am increasingly enchanted by Calabria since being married to wife Beatrice, of 25 years. I have visited and traveled through the little villages and towns several times and I am always amazed and overwhelmed by the warm, friendly and generous locals, ready to greet you with open arms, to share their home, food, wine, and traditions.


The region of Calabria boasts over 800km of pristine and well equipped sunny beaches. You will most likely find Italians that travel south for the summer to indulge in the warm crystal clear waters.

When you travel through Calabria you will experience a region that is unblemished by modern commercial practices and influences. The food, which is produced using organic farming methods, is bursting with flavor.

Email to receive our free Calabria ebook.

Take Me To Calabria Immersion Tour dates are 8 May to 18 May 2017. Tour groups are limited to 20 people. Visit for further details. Be quick as spots are limited!


Mantua. Sleeping Beauty Awakens!

 Sleeping Beauty Awakens!


Mantua or Mantova in Italian, has long been ignored by tourists. Mantua, surrounded by three manmade lakes, created as the city defence system, kept Mantua closed off from the rest of the world. This isolated Mantua from development and is referred to by the Italians as La Bella Addormentata: Sleeping Beauty. Mantua is located 40 km south of Verona and was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008.

Join us as Mantua is about to wake up from its long slumber. The city has been nominated as the cultural capital of Italy for 2016. An award bestowed by the city by the National ministry of Culture which grants Mantua €1 million to complete restoration works of significant buildings and monuments. Adding to Mantua’s escape from the past is its nomination as the European Capital of Gastronomy for 2017 shared with its sister cities Bergamo Brescia and Cremona. 

The Food.

Further enhancing the riches of Mantua is its cuisine starting with the tasty pumpkin ravioli or Tortellini di Zucca.

Cultural Hub.

Mantua provides many cultural experiences including Literature and the Arts.

You may be thinking Mantua.... where have I heard of this city before? For those of you who have studied Shakespeare, Mantua is the town Romeo is banished in the play Romeo and Juliet. Many of Shakespeare’s plays are based in Italy and I start asking myself, was Shakespeare Italian?

From 1328 to 1708 Mantua was ruled by the powerful Gonzaga family who were great supporters of the arts. The Gonzaga family attracted some of Italy’s finest artists including Pisanello and Raphael. Virgil the ancient poet who wrote the Aeneid was born in Mantua.

The real charm of Mantua is the hall of Giants in the Pallazzo del Te painted by Romano. As you enter the hall you will be transfixed by the painted wall featuring giants attempting to scale Mount Olympus and the god’s revenge as they rein thunderbolts on them.

Favotto Tours focuses on providing their guests with an immersion tour of Italy. Immersion is a state of being deeply engaged, to go under the surface and experience what it means to be Italian. 

Tour dates are designed to capture cultural significant events that occur either before or after the designated tour to enhance your experience of Italy.  

The July 2016 tour concludes Wednesday 13 July 2016 with transfers to Venice. Two days later, on 16-17 July Venice celebrates the Redeemer’s Feast (Festa del Rendentore). This Feast commemorates the deliverance from the plague in 1576. On this weekend the Venetians assemble barges stretched across the Giudecca Canal so visitors can walk across the bridge to the Church of the Rendentore to give thanks. Not to be missed is the spectacular fire work display, which can last up to an hour, on the Saturday night which illuminates the city’s buildings, domes and towers. Indeed a fitting way to celebrate what it means to be Venetian. This weekend in Venice is highly recommended.

The Lombardia and Veneto tour commences 4 July 2016. Please call Giorgio on 02 8753 0300 or mobile 0407 927 787 to plan you next Italian holiday.

Opera at the Arena di Verona.

A popular attraction and long tradition in Verona is the watching of an opera performance inside the Arena di Verona.This Roman amphitheater built in AD 30 and later rebuilt due to an earthquake in the 12th century holds some of the best opera performances in the world. This is the third largest roman amphitheater after the Colosseum (Rome) and Capua (Campania) in Italy. The  Arena di Verona is the best preserved and has been in use for many centuries.

Imagine sitting in this massive and breathtaking amphitheater. As the sun sets and the day starts to cool, the amphitheater is illuminated by the moon and stars overhead. You wait anxiously for the performance to begin, then around 9:00 pm the performers appear on stage ready to delight your senses. This year’s opera festival includes La Traviata, Carmen, and Aida.

Watching the opera in Verona is an experience not to be missed.

The opera may not be your thing but don’t let this stop you from having a once in a life time experience. Ticket price includes a plot narrative and English translation. To fully appreciate the opera pre-reading to find out about the plot is highly recommended. The costumes and singing performance will guide you through the opera.

Whilst the opera concludes after midnight, your entertainment continues in Piazza Bra immediately outside the amphitheater as cafes remain open to indulge your favorite drink, gelato or desert. This is the Italian way to celebrate life.


If you want to experience the opera contact Giorgio on (02) 8753 0300 or email me today on


Health and Wellness: Thermal Spa Resort

Thermal baths are found where heated ground water emerges after travelling through the earth’s crust. During the water’s journey it accumulates minerals and nutrients. These thermal waters are believed to possess healing and medicinal values.  Thermal water has been used for centuries to help soothe away muscle strains, aching joints as well as help detoxify the skin against daily impurities. For those who are simply looking to enjoy a nourishing, deep body soak, both men and women can take pleasure in the benefits of Thermal water.

One of Italy’s oldest and largest thermal spa resorts is situated in the Veneto region of northern Italy. The water commences its journey at the Dolomite foothills and gushes out at the foot of the Euganean Hills at 85-87 degrees Celsius. The journey of over 100 km can take 25 years as the water travels through limestone rock at a depth of thousands of meters.

In the Lombardia and Veneto tour, Favotto Tours takes you on a truly relaxing experience. On the tour you will be a guest at the Grand Hotel Trieste and Victoria in Abano Terme. Abano Terme is a spa town that is built on top of the thermal springs below the Euganean Hills. Guests will experience the resort’s ultra luxury thermal spa pools which are known to attract visitors from all around the world including some of Hollywood’s most notable celebrities.

The water temperature is maintained at 38 degrees 

Among other calming and rejuvenating treatments are the mud bath and mud wraps which have been soaked for months in natural spring water and brims with tonnes of pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory healing properties. For more traditional spa treatments, the resort also has manicures, pedicures and revitalizing massages by registered massage therapists.


Abano Terme is famous for its Fango therapy 'mud bath treatments' Photo courtesy of GB Thermea Hotels

2016 tour dates and booking information can be found on our website

September 28, 2015


A short journey from Venice is Treviso, an often overlooked, but absolutely magical Italian town. As part of the Veneto in the north east of Italy, Treviso offers all the charm that has made the region famous: Cobblestone streets, romantic sights, amazing food, and beautiful canals. Being overshadowed by neighboring Venice, however, it also offers a break from tourist lines, and overpriced souvenirs.

Over the years, Treviso has passed through the rule of various powers. The Romans, the French, the Austro-Hungarian, the Lombards, the Calligari, and many more have fought over it. It was the Venetians, however, who ruled over it the longest, and who built the city that exists today. To protect the city from invaders, the Venetians built walls around the town, never imagining what charm this fortification would bring to it. Today, the walls mark the city center. Its portico entries invite visitors in to discover all the beauty it has to offer.



The town is further beautified by the parallel dance of the two rivers that circle it. With their waters running side by side, the Sile and the Cagnan bring peacefulness to the atmosphere that permeates the walls, the streets, and the very air of Treviso. Once again, Venetian influence can be felt, as it was them who strategically used the two rivers. Taking advantage of the Sile, which runs through the city center, the Venetians built waterways that they would use to navigate into the city. These waterways were mainly used for two purposes: Powering flour mills, and bringing in merchandise. The mills brought commerce and wealth into the town, and the waterwheels that powered them can still be seen decorating the canals around the city. The old fishmarket, the economic center for the commerce brought in from Venice, still exists today. Visitors can visit the small island sitting on the Sile, buy fresh produce, and enjoy an afternoon eating tiramisu (the town’s original dessert) and drinking prosecco wine. 

History and architecture lovers can rejoice in the opportunity to spend the day seeing Treviso’s squares, palaces, and churches. The San Francesco church, the church of Saint Lucy, and the church of Saint Nicolo present varied styles in their architecture, but share a soulful feel to them. Dante’s son and Petrarch’s daughter rest peacefully in the tombs of these churches. The Lords’s square, built during the Renaissance, is the main square in the city, followed by Piazza Rinaldi. The two palaces, Palazzo dei Trecento, and Palazzo di Podesta are beautiful examples of architecture, which vibrate with history and beauty.


Treviso is also a haven for anyone needing some retail therapy, as it is the headquarters of several important retailers like Benetton, Lotto Sport Italia, and Diadora. Bicycle lovers can buy from Pinarello and follow one of the bike paths in and around Treviso, traveling the beautiful countryside, and visiting its vineyards. 

This stunning town, decorated with canals, arched architecture, and a pale red color is one of the brightest hidden gems of the region. It is a place to relax, breathe-in, leave behind the worries of everyday life, and welcome the essence of Italy.



Grasping Grana: to the source of Grana Padano

It’s the aromatic and tasty snowfall Italians pour on almost everyone of their “first courses”, be it a soup, pasta, risotto or polenta. It’s the ingredient of other popular dishes, often served as a second or a main course: meat loaf, meatballs, omelette, suppli… and it’s obviously delicious when tasted alone, or with just a hint of honey: it’s Grana Padano, one of the best cheeses produced in Italy.

 Grana omnia divisa est in partes tres

 “Grana” is a hypernym used to mean any kind of grana cheese, that is a hard, granular aged cheese. Please note that although it ends by -a, it’s a masculine noun: il grana. If you say la grana (with the female article), you say “grain” or “money”, a not-so-common colloquial expression.

 There are mainly three kinds of grana cheese produced in Italy (and speaking of which: yes, we do know that  “omnia divisa” follows the Latin female declination, and that there’s no consistency with the masculine gender of “grana”,  but it best represents Julius Caesar’s expression), and they are Trentin Grana, Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano.


They basically are all made according to the same “recipe” - with slight differences among one another - that is: high-quality fresh milk, rennet and time. And the cheese maker’s experience, of course.


It’s hard to say which one is Italians’ favorite: Parmigiano Reggiano is probably the most renowned, while Grana Padano is likely the most popular and diffused; Trentin Grana also has its fans, but it's less consumed outside of its area of origin. 

How – and where - Grana Padano is made. 

According to its production guidelines, Grana Padano can be produced almost all along the course of river Po, and namely in the provinces of:

 - Turin, Novara, Vercelli, Biella, Verbania, Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria, in Piedmont;

-  Pavia, Varese, Como, Lecco, Milan, Lodi, Monza e Brianza, Sondrio, Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona and Mantua (to the left of river Po), in Lombardy;

- Piacenza (Plaisance), Bologna (to the right of river Reno) Ferrara, Forlì-Cesena, Rimini and Ravenna, in Emilia-Romagna;

- Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Treviso, Venice and Rovigo, in the Veneto;

- Trento, in Trentino-Alto Adige.

 It means that cows from which the milk used to produce this cheese will be milked have to be bred in these provinces only, and that each step of production, including ripening, has to take place within their boundaries. Actually, milk can also come from cows bred in a few municipality of Alto Adige, but production must take place in the provinces above.

 Milk is partially skimmed by letting a part of it rest to allow cream to surface and be removed, then it’s heated in traditional copper, bell-shaped kettles and serum and rennet are added. The curd is cooked and then left resting, to let it become compact and clean all the serum out. Then, it’s wrapped in a light canvas and split in two moulds.

 Once the fresh cheese has taken its form, it can be handled and branded by wrapping around it plastic bands, which will leave marks on its surface, but it’s not ready for aging yet, as it still must be brined for a couple of weeks.

Then, it can finally be left resting for months.

 Enter Agriform.

Imagine an idyllic countryside to the south-east of Garda Lake, between Sirmione - homeland of Latin poet Catullo - and Verona: wouldn’t you choose such a place to rest and let all your potential develop?

Sommacampagna is a small (though interesting) municipality in the province of Verona, where a cooperative company committed to ripening, distribution and diffusion of local cheeses was established 35 years ago: Agriform. 

Since 1980, this company has promoted local genuine dairy products all over the world, by specializing in ageing and marketing cheeses - especially Grana Padano –, thus giving a remarkable contribution to their popularity in Italy and overseas.

Nowadays, Agriform is a large company that still aims to market top-quality dairy products, thanks to strict quality standards, modern equipments and frequent controls during the aging period.