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Monday, April 14, 2014

Elba to Celebrate Napoleon Exile Anniversary

The island of Elba is preparing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's exile to the largest island in the Tuscan archipelago. A series of events including performances, exhibits and re-enactments will make the occasion.

The Treaty of Fountainbleau, signed in April of 1814, ended Napoleon's rule over France and sent him into exile on Elba, 12 miles off the coast of mainland Tuscany. The treaty also established Elba as a separate principality to be ruled by Napoleon. He arrived on May 4, 1814 and escaped the island on February 26, 1815.

Each year on May 4th, there's a re-enactment of Napoleon's landing in Portoferraio and this year will be no different. A sailing regatta named for Napoleon will take place June 13 and 14. Throughout the summer, Napoleon's original field tent will be on display. There will be special tours of the places Napoleon frequented including Villa di San Martino, which is now a museum devoted to the emperor.

If you would like to learn more about this beautiful island, read 10 Great Things to Do on The Island of Elba and our Elba guide with recommendations on where to stay and eat.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Visit the Home of Tuscany's Famous Martelli Pasta

This article appeared in a previous issue of Dream of Italy.

Dino Martelli can be forgiven for interrupting our conversation every five minutes or so. He has to move the pasta and today, like many days here at Pasta Martelli in Tuscany, he's the only one minding the 60-year-old machines at the small factory his family has run for 88 years. Martelli, sporting a factory coat in his company's trademark bright yellow, has an internal clock of sorts alerting him when to move a row of freshly crafted spaghettini from the extrusion machine to a drying rack. (Martelli produces four pasta shapes -- spaghettini, spaghetti, penne and maccheroni -- each day of the week is devoted to producing a certain shape.)

I'm here in the town of Lari, in the shadow of a 12th-century castle, to see where the pasta many call "Italy's best" is born. It's certainly deemed the best by some of Italy's most famous restaurants. La Pergola, Rome's Michelin-starred restaurant, serves Martelli pasta. This pasta is a true artisanal product.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Sweet Photo Spot in Tuscany

A few years back, our friend photographer Brad Mikel wrote an awesome piece (available to all paid subscribers) on how to photograph Italy. He admitted he's partial to one spot in Tuscany:

OK, time to reveal one of my "secret" locations whenever I'm in Tuscany. It's not really all that hard to find, but I had to search for it. I had seen a photograph of this little farm and chapel in a book, and had to add it to my collection.  I researched, found the general location and drove around until I found it.  That was 12 years ago, and I've returned every time I've gone to Italy, and find that it photographs differently each time.

Capella di Vitaleta is located on SS146 west  of Pienza and close to San Quirico D'Orcia. The light is best later in the day, and even after twilight, beautiful images  can be made. Nearby, the Abbey of Sant'Antimo, south of Montalcino, is another area I return to often. The stone walls and floors echo the beautiful voices of the monks as they sing their prayers in Gregorian chant. 

Subscribe to Dream of Italy  in the next few days and enjoy more visuals of Tuscany with a BONUS 2-DVD set of Inside The Tuscan Hills, as seen on PBS!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tourism in Italy By The Numbers

Recently, I've been looking at the number of people who visit Italy each year and how much they add to the Italian economy and the numbers are simply staggering. Consider first of all that 46.1 million people from all over the world visit Italy each year! Then consider that both Italian tourists and foreigners generated 73 billion euros (that's $100 billion) in spending in 2013 alone, according to Unioncamere-Isnart. Both Italians and foreigners alike spent more on average in 2013 than in 2012. 

So how do the nationalities break down according to spending? Some interesting statistics again from Unioncamere-Isnart...Spending by nationality:

Russian tourists - 149.48€ per person per day
Japanese (122€)
Spanish (111.17€)
British (105.14€)
German (104.42€)
American (102.34€)

I'm not surprised to see the Russians on the top of the list but surprised that American spending is much lower than many other nationalities. 

Photo credit: The above image is available as a limited edition poster by Samara Andrews. Bella!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Issue Covering Italian Food Rules, Valpolicella, Rome Gourmet Tour

The March 2014 issue of Dream of Italy  is hot off the presses!

If you're NOT a subscriber, subscribe now and INSTANTLY access this issue as well as nearly 115 other back issues. Current subscribers can access the issue in our subscribers center and read the following:

The Italian Food Rules
In Italy they love making rules . . . and they obey very few . . . except when it comes to food. The Italian Food Rules may as well be carved in marble. They will not change and you violate them at your peril. Here are three of them:
Vineyards of the Valpolicella
There's a valley that lies to the north of the city of Verona, separated from the shores of Lake Garda by a mountain. Called the Valpolicella, the name of this area is thought to derive from a Latin and Greek mixture of "valley of the cellars."

Gourmet Shopping Tour in Rome
Romans take their food shopping seriously. Gathering staples and ingredients for the coming days is more of a time-honored ritual of visiting small proprietors than a taxing series of errands. A new Rome food tour recreates the experience for visitors.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sneak Peek: Great Italy Travel Advice Coming Up in Dream of Italy

We're very excited about our latest subscription bonus - a 2-DVD set of Inside The Tuscan Hills (as seen on PBS) - $24.95 value - FREE with a subscription to Dream of Italy!

Now is the perfect time to subscribe to Dream of Italy. All subscribers get instant access to more than 110 back issues AND 10 issues over the coming year. Here are some of the issues you will be receiving when you become a subscriber


  A Special Report Devoted to Cinque Terre (May 2014)
We've hired two of the foremost travel experts on the Cinque Terre and surrounding areas to serve as guest editors of this entire issue on the beloved five villages. We will tell you where to stay and eat, which locals to meet, how to navigate the villages (even if you have mobility issues) and how to get out on the water! 

Insider's Venice  (April 2014 and June 2014)
In April, we will tell you about the gondola workshops of Venice (squeri) and how these gondola makers are preserving their ancient artistry. We will also take you on a tour of these workshops and tell you how you can see them in Venice. In June, we'll have a special article on how the glass-making island of Murano is fighting back against fake Chinese glass and how to tell the real thing when you're shopping in Venice

   Italy's Best Cooking Schools  (Summer 2014)  
Much like we did with tour guides, we're compiling THE go-to list of Italy's best cooking schools, whether you're looking for a half-day lesson a full-week culinary extravaganza. We will give you our picks across the country from Lake Como to Calabria.  

   YOUR Italy: Your Chance to Be A Travel Writer  (Fall 2014) 
Have you ever dreamed of being a travel writer? Here's your chance. We will be asking all of our paid subscribers to contribute short articles on their favorite experiences in Italy for a special issue this fall. Editor Kathy McCabe will work with everyone (and hold a free travel writing webinar) to get their stories in shape for print!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Free Tuscany DVDs With Subscription to Dream of Italy

Dream of Italy subscriber Daniel Colacurcio just renewed his subscription and is thrilled that we've brought back one of our most popular bonuses ever - the two-DVD set of the documentary series Inside The Tuscan Hills - as seen on PBS! A $24.95 value and free with any subscription/renewal to Dream of Italy.

"Your Tuscany DVD set is a treasure of mine. I remember trying to track that DVD down. I am happy to have another of the Tuscany DVD sets because my other one is constantly loaned out. If it wasn't for you I would never have met Cesare the master copper maker in Montepulciano. Looking forward to all the articles," Daniel says.

Daniel and all those who subscribe/renew in the next two weeks receive:
  • Instant online access to more than 110 advice-packed back issues including our recent special reports on Italy's best new hotels, ancestry and applying for citizenship, Italy's best tour guides (a detailed listing of more than 80) and hundreds and hundreds of articles on every corner of Italia
  • 10 new issues over the coming year including a special report on the Cinque Terre (May 2014) and one on Italy's best cooking schools (Fall 2014)
  • Subscriber-only travel discounts - receive discount codes for savings on walking tours, villa rentals, cooking classes, food tours, car rentals and more
  • BONUS: 2-DVD set of Inside The Tuscan Hills ($24.95 value)
Don't wait! We will only be offering the Tuscany DVDs for the next two weeks. Plus remember, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee!


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

What's New in Florence in 2014

This is an excerpt from the February 2014 issue of Dream of Italy:
New Modern Museum: Florence, home to more than 80 museums, is gaining another one at the end of April. Museo del Novecento (Museum of the 20th Century) will open in a former Leopoldine convent in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. The city's 2,300 works of contemporary art, which have long been without a permanent home, will now go on rotating display in 20 rooms spread among five floors.  

Baptistery Construction: Starting in March, the façade and roof of the Baptistery in Piazza Duomo will undergo restoration. Scaffolding is already up around the building's eight sides. The baptistery was constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style. This exterior renovation, the first in more than 70 years, is aimed at restoring the worn down marble and blackened surfaces. This is part of a larger project to ultimately clean some 428,000 square feet of exteriors throughout the entire historic piazza. On certain days, there's a chance the work may mean the baptistery will be temporarily closed to visitors. Visit www.museumsinflorence.com to check on any such closings. (That's an historic photo above.)

San Lorenzo Market Moving: Florence's world famous San Lorenzo outdoor market is making a move, one that merchants fear might be permanent. The stalls around Basilica San Lorenzo are gradually being moved to Piazza del Mercato Centrale so that the old stones in Piazza San Lorenzo can be repaired and an electric bus route can be installed. Stall owners staged a one-day protest. Florence's Mayor Matteo Renzi (now Italy's new prime minister) tweeted, "We have freed as promised the San Lorenzo area, one of the most beautiful places in the world. We made a promise, and we've kept it." Some residents are excited to have unobstructed views of the basilica for the first time in years.

Hidden Art: If you’re visiting the Uffizi between now and April 29th, you have an exciting opportunity to see one of Florence’s hidden art collections. The Contini Bonacossi Collection, usually closed to the public, will be available for guided tours (though only in Italian) to anyone who purchases a ticket to the Uffizi. The collection includes sculptures and paintings by Andrea del Castagno, Giovanni Bellini, Girolamo Savoldo, El Greco, Bernini and Velasquez e Goya