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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vatican Reopens Missionary Museum

As a part of their 500 year celebrations, the Vatican on June 21st reopened its Ethnological Missionary Museum after an extensive, five-year renovation project. The museum is organized into four main sections, devoted to Asia, Oceania, Africa, and America, with smaller subdivisions within each sector featuring displays devoted to specific countries and their religious practices.

The Asia section is the only one currently open to the public, where some 100, 000 artifacts from China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia are on display, including painted Japanese silk scrolls dating back to 1667, a special section on Korean Shamanism, and beautifully carved Chinese religious sculptures. Many of these artifacts were given to the Pope as gifts from all corners of the world on the occasion of the 1925 Jubilee.

The aim of the museum is to recognize and celebrate the multiplicity of cultures which take part in the Christian faith. “It is a sad fact that indigenous people weren’t treated respectfully but too often treated as inferiors by Europeans,” the curator, Monsigneur Roberto Zagnoli says. “The Vatican has an important role in promoting a message of respect and tolerance for different cultures and religions. We want to highlight the richness in diversity and also that the role of the missionary is one of dialogue and not of conquest or proselytism.”

The Asia Oceania section is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2007, the African section by 2009 and the section on the Americas by 2010.

Ethnological Missionary Museum, Viale Vaticano, tel. (39) 06 69883333. Open Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m (last admittance at 3:20 p.m.) and Saturday 8.45 a.m. to 3:20 p.m (last admittance at 1:20 p.m.). The museum is open free of charge on the last Sunday of the month, 8.45 a.m. to 2 p.m.(last admittance at 12:20 p.m.). -- Cailin Birch

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

June Issue: Culinary Adventures and Restaurants

The June 2006 issue of Dream of Italy is now posted on the Web site and can be downloaded by paid subscribers. Postal subscribers will receive issues next week. This issue focuses on culinary adventures and restaurants in Italy and includes the following articles:
  • A Drive Through Tuscany: Ceramics, Castles and Culinary Adventures
  • Tuscan Recipes from Two Country Kitchens
  • Restaurant Roundup: Reviews of Eateries in Rome, Turin and Venice
  • Restaurant News: What Has Opened, Changed Ownership and Earned Awards in the Past Year

**Planning to visit Italy in the near future? Paid subscribers receive 10 issues per year PLUS online access to our archive of over 30 back issues of Dream of Italy. That's over 40 issues for the price of a one-year subscription! What more do you need to plan a once-in-a-lifetime Italian adventure? Click here to read about more subscriber benefits and to join!**

Monday, June 26, 2006

Volcano Discovered Off Sicilian Coast

Sicily is always full of surprises. Last week, an immense underwater volcano was discovered just 30 meters off of Sicily’s southern coast, near the city of Sciacca. The volcano was discovered by an oceanographic team who was attempting to study the mysterious island of Ferdinandea , which appeared off the coast of Sicily in 1831, only to disappear within the same year.

In their effort to study this “island that was no more,” however, the oceanographers found Empedocle: an active volcanic complex in a horseshoe shape, currently active, whose base measures 25 x 30 kilometers, comparable with Etna in size except for its height, rising only 500 meters from the ocean floor. Empedocle is believed to have been formed several million years ago, when the continental plates of Africa and Europe collided.

The volcano was baptized “Empedocle” in honor of the Greek philosopher and natural scientist who threw himself into the depths of Mt. Etna to discover the elusive secret of her continual eruptive activity. The oceanographers even attached a plate to the rocky wall of Empodcle in honor of the philosopher, who shared the scientists’ curiousity, but unfortunately, not their technology. Read the whole story, in Italian, on Corriere della Sera's Web site. -- Cailin Birch

This is also a good time to note that Dream of Italy's Special Report: Sicily (also our September 2005 issue) is on sale for just $7.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

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Finding an Italian Cooking School

This is an excerpt from the July/August 2004 issue of Dream of Italy:

So you want to attend a recreational cooking school during your next visit to Italy. Where do you begin? On the Web, of course. Try one of the following sites:

Gourmetget.com: Marlene Iaciofano's Gourmet Getaways site features her own cooking tours as well as detailed information on the several dozen Italian cooking schools she represents in the U.S.

Italycookingschools.com: Mama Margaret's search engine includes over 100 schools throughout Italy. This site also has some helpful articles on how to choose a cooking school and get the most out of the experience.
Shawguides.com: If you can't find it on this Web site, it probably doesn't exist. Shaw guides is the grandaddy of cultural travel directories. It has listings for 25 professional cooking schools in Italy as well as an astounding 572 recreational programs. Shaw Guides also publishes a print version of its guide to worldwide cooking schools.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Prepare to Pay Significant Fuel Surcharges This Summer

In the past week, American, United, Delta, Northwest and U.S. Airways have all moved to increase their transatlantic fuel surcharges by $10 one way. This brings the total fuel surcharge to $75 one way and a whopping $150 for a round-trip flight to Europe. Remember, that's just the fuel surcharge, and doesn't include the additional taxes and fees tacked on when you purchase your ticket.

Delta says it will increase its fuel surcharge for flights originating in Italy by 10 euros, which is about $12.68, at the current exchange rate. Continental officials say they are currently considering a similar increase on their transatlantic flights. No wonder air fares are so steep this summer!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Was Christopher Columbus Piemontese?

Historians and descendants of Christopher Columbus will meet in Turin this weekend to discuss whether the explorer was really born in a small town in the region of Piedmont and not in the port city of Genoa, as has been thought. The Italian news agency ANSA reports that conference organizers claim Columbus was born Cuccaro Monferrato, a village of just 370 inhabitants, southeast of Turin.

According to the ANSA report, Giorgio Casartelli, head of the village's Columbus Centre, has proof of Columbus' origins. "A sentence by the Spanish colonial Council of the Indies, handed down in a 1608 inheritance case, recognised that Columbus belonged to the family of the Colombos of Cuccaro," Casartelli said this week . In Italian, Christopher Colombus is 'Cristoforo Colombo.'

To find out more about visiting Turin and the region of Piedmont, see Dream of Italy's Special Report: Turin/Piedmont.

Sale: Sicily Special Report for Seven Dollars

Going to Sicily or just dreaming of it? Here's your chance to try out Dream of Italy with our sale on our Sicily Special Report. (Yes, we're prone to alliteration). Through the end of June, save $4 off the regular $11 price of a hard copy of our report and read the following articles for just $7:

Sicily's Aeolian Islands Inspire Relaxation
Join author Laura Fraser as she explores Lipari, Vulcano, Stromboli, Panarea, Filicudi and Alicudi

What to Do in the Aeolians
From tasting Malvasia wine to visiting Lipari's Castello, here's a list of fine ideas

Navigate Palermo Like A Native
Find the perfect path to see the entire city, touring neighborhoods and must-see sights like the Cappella Palantina, the Duomo, Teatro Massimo or the not-be-be-missed outdoor food markets

Day Trips Outside Palermo
Visit Monreale, Cefalu, Bagheria, Segesta and Caccamo

Down the Rabbit Hole: An Accidental Agriturismo
Casa dello Scirocco boasts Roman ruins and an authentic Sicilian cooking lessons

A Sicily Guide
A map highlighting some of our favorite towns such as Agrigento, Caltagirone, Giardini Naxos and Siracusa

If you just can't wait to see the report, you can purchase an immediate PDF download of it for just $7, as well.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Vesuvius Reveals Secret Past

Smithsonian Magazine reports in its June issue the discovery that Italy's Mount Vesuvius erupted about 2,000 years before its 79 A.D. eruption to famously covered Pompeii. And that's not all, Vesuvius may be due for another eruption in the next few hundred years. Here's what the magazine says:

Sure, Mount Vesuvius erupted in a.d. 79 and entombed Pompeii. Now a University of Buffalo scientist and colleagues have uncovered evidence the volcano erupted even more violently some 2,000 years earlier. Thousands of human footprints excavated in deeper volcanic ash (left) indicate a mass flight. Many people did not escape; the researchers found skeletons of a woman and man probably suffocated by scalding dust. With Vesuvius erupting violently every 2,000 to 3,000 years, Naples may be in more peril than previously believed: about two-thirds of the metropolitan area falls within the 4,000-year-old blast zone.

Better get to Naples while it is still safe! Read about the city's best pizzerias, waterfront hotels and mouth-watering restaurants in Dream of Italy's October 2005 issue.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

We All Scream for...GELATO!!

This is an excerpt from the (July/August 2004) issue:

When investment banker Michael McGarry's wife received a year-long art history fellowship in Bologna and Rome, he wasn't sure what he would do while she was working. A visit to Bologna's La Sorbetteria convinced him that his calling was gelato. And so began a year of first-hand research that culminated in his book Gelato: Finding Italy's Best Gelaterias(Fancy Pants Press, $10.00)

McGarry reviews over 50 gelaterias in northern Italy as well as Rome and Naples. He plans a follow-up volume on southern Italy and
Sicily. Interspersed with reviews, McGarry explains the history of gelato and how it is to be eaten properly. He also includes a glossary of over 75 flavors, which is very helpful for any serious gelato lover/traveler. La Sorbetteria is still one of McGarry’s favorite gelaterias but he also has a special place in his heart for the legendary Roman gelateria, Gioliti. "Half of it is the experience. It is always packed and there is always a scene," he says.

Gelato changed McGarry's life. He has left investment banking and started his own publishing company. (McGarry has added to his line of ice cream books, recently publishing editions about America's best ice cream shops.)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tips For Buying a Home in Italy

In the May issue, Dream of Italy subscriber Ruthellyn Musil tells chronicles the process of how she and her husband came to buy a home in Chianti. (Ruthellyn also reveals some wonderful restaurants and shops she has discovered while visiting her house in Chianti.) Her she shares some basic tips for anyone considering buying property in Italy:

1. Build on acquaintances and friendships with others who have an interest in Italy. “Network” as much as possible, via e-mail and telephone. If you’ve been fortunate to make friends in Italy, you’ll find them invaluable during your purchase process.
2. Spend time living in or near the place you are considering for purchase.
3. Establish a relationship with a lawyer and banker whom you can trust.
4. If restoring, the project manager will make or break the project. Be sure you trust him/her and work at communicating clearly and regularly. 5. If buying a finished home, understand the customs of Italy. For example, kitchen cabinets (and sometimes appliances) are considered furniture, and may be removed by the sellers. Try to get to know— and hopefully trust—your sellers.
6. Remember and respect that you are doing business in Italy. Be willing to accept the culture and the way of doing business; expect to be both frustrated and fulfilled.
7. Keep a close eye on the dollar-euro exchange rate.

(Not a Dream of Italy subscriber? Become one and get immediate online access to this issue and thirty more + 10 new issues over the coming year!)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Yummy! Parma Culinary Tour

Details of a new, mouth-watering tour came across my desk today. Select Italy has announced a seven-day Parma Culinary Tour slated for this October. This small group tour features accommodations at the five-star Grand Hotel de la Ville two in-depth cooking lessons from experienced chefs in Barilla's professional cooking school, and visits to producers of world-renowned local products such as Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, balsamic vinegar and local wines. Also included in Select Italy's tour is an excursion to visit the Ferrari Museum in nearby Maranello.

I had the chance to experience Academia Barilla a few years back and wrote about it in our July/August 2004 issue. It is definitely worth taking a class there or attending an event -- whether or not you are on this tour.

The tour runs from October 21 to October 27, 2006. Tour registration closes on August 18, 2006 the group is limited to a maximum of 20 participants.