Sofia: an elegant city awaiting discovery
An unusual European capital for celebrating the New Year
Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, is one of the European capitals least frequented by tourists. This makes it perfect as a holiday destination. So why not depart on a voyage of discovery during the festive season? Sofia is a very unusual city, it is at the crossroads between the East and West. Over the centuries Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have supplanted one another, and even though during the two World Wars a large part of the city was destroyed, the remains of the past empires together with the beautiful religious buildings from the 19th century bear witness to the city’s historical and cultural wealth. However, Sofia also has a modern and sophisticated spirit and is a capital where an unforgettable New Year’s Eve can be spent among the designer hotels and refined restaurants.
Just a little history: the Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral
What can be said about the Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral? It is, without doubt, the most beautiful and imposing building in the Bulgarian capital and an attraction not to be left off any tour itinerary when visiting Sofia. In the centre of an enormous square is the majestic soaring Orthodox church, the largest in the Balkans after that of Belgrade. The interior is also well-worth a visit to admire the rigour and artistry of this period.
Il festival di Kukeri e i Koledari
Visitare Sofia durante il mese di dicembre è l’occasione perfetta per ammirare il festival dei Kukeri che si celebra sui Balcani, nei luoghi in cui i residenti della città fanno le vacanze. Durante il festival ci si veste con maschere di animali in legno e campanelle e si danza lungo le strade per spaventare gli spiriti maligni. Si dice che le maschere della sfilata portino felicità e bellezza a chiunque le ammiri. Un’ altra tradizione molto famosa è quella dei “Koledari”. Giovani ragazzi che vanno di casa in casa durante la vigilia di Natale per trasmettere ad ogni abitante e persona non solo la parola di Cristo, ma anche la pace, la salute e la felicità. Anche questa è una tipica tradizione bulgara. Andare a Sofia a dicembre è quindi una grande occasione per assistere a tradizioni folkloristiche di grande fascino.
And there is no shortage of Christmas markets!
Winters in Sofia are properly cold, and snowfalls are light but frequent; all the ingredients for a typical winter landscape. For Christmas the city is decked out in decorations and lights. In Sofia, as in other major European cities, there are many of the much-loved winter markets, a delight for all tourists. Strolling through the markets you’ll find numerous souvenirs and local artisan items. Particularly renowned are the fabric dolls and the terracotta cooking pots. Furthermore, in Sofia you’ll find the famous and unique rose oil, celebrated around the world.
Sense Hotel: a hotel of a thousand and one nights
We recommend a stay at the Sense Hotel. Located right at the city centre, it boasts a Rooftop Bar that is considered to be the best in town. Not so much for the quality of the food but for its vista: truly spectacular. At night it feels as though you could reach your hand beyond the glass and touch the golden dome of the Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral. The bar is also open to customers not staying at the hotel, making it a busy venue. You must try the rakia, a fruit brandy common throughout the Balkans, it’s certain to warm you up! The designer hotel boasts a sophisticated spa and concept store. It’s a truly special place (www.sensehotel.com).
A magical and secret location
The perfect place for celebrating the festive season is the Villa Victoria Loven Park, (http://villa.victoria.bg/) a restaurant housed within a historic villa immersed in a stunning park. It’s like entering a fairy tale with its special and romantic atmosphere created by unique furnishings, crystals, early 19th century chandeliers and candlelit dinners… how could you let yourself miss such a beautiful experience? This location alone makes a trip to Sofia worthwhile!
The sophisticated and elegant furnishings tie in perfectly with the concrete-effect flooring from the BLEND collection by Ceramica Fioranese, in a timeless and elegant fusion of styles. BLEND gives new life to cement: apart from the classic light and dark greys, Fioranese has introduced other original colours for this concrete-effect porcelain stoneware for interior and exterior flooring. Avorio, Sabbia, Senape, Oliva, Grigio, and Gomma. This project demonstrates how to marry minimalist and elegant finishes with different and even antique furnishings while respecting balance and harmony.
Now all that is left to do is buy a ticket for Sofia!
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