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Friday, September 29, 2006

One Way to Buy an Italian Villa

I love people who make their dreams come true and The New York Times today has a great story about an American graduate student who financed her dream of buying a house in Italy by selling shares!

In 2001, Julie Hampton needed $80,000 to buy a house in a small village north of Florence. She only had a few thousand dollars to put down and devised a plan to sell three weeks at the villa to anyone who paid her $1,000. Hampton created a color brochure and bought a small ad in the Times and within a few weeks had the 60 investors she needed to finance the house. By the end of 2007, all of Hampton's investors will have used up their weeks and the house will truly be hers. Brilliant!

Do you dream of buying a house in Italy? See our special report - Living the Dream - for a story about a couple who renovated their dream house in Chianti. The issue also includes plenty of informaiton about the practicalities of moving to Italy and working there.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pauline Frommer's Picks for Milan and Rome

This is an excerpt from the September 2006 issue of Dream of Italy and Pauline Frommer's Italy. Although Pauline focuses mainly on budget choices, these selections are great options for the more upscale traveler as well. I've eaten at Brek in Turin and had a fantastic meal there. - K.M.

ROME: Bed & Breakfast Association of Rome handles both self-catering apartments and rooms for rent within private apartments, some of which charge as little as 30 euros. Frommer used this service on her last visit to Rome and reports that “our apartment was a charmer, right in the old Jewish Ghetto area on a street where tourists rarely ventured. From our balcony in the evenings,we’d look down on our neighbors feasting in the garden below, and it became a nightly ritual for them to toast us after we toasted them a good evening. We had two large rooms and a kitchen for less than 150 euros a night, perfect for my husband and our two small daughters.” (DOI note: You can also call the association, Mondaythrough Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 39-06- 55302248.)

MILAN: If you’re looking for an excellent, cheap and quick meal near the train station, head to the nearby branch of Brek (Via Lepetit, 20; 39-02-6705149; www.brek.com; closed Sunday lunch; Metro: Stazione Centrale), one of the world’s best quick-casual food chains. Even when the Italians do something as low-concept as a cafeteria, they can’t help but make it fashionable and pour their hearts into the quality of the food. At various food-prep stations, the friendly and helpful staff make pasta and risotto dishes on the spot and roast pork, veal and chicken to order. The large selection of cheeses would put many a formal restaurant to shame, and you can even get excellent wines in tiny bottles. Best of all:Almost every dish goes for just 3 to 8 euros. There’s another branch at Via dell’Annuciata, 2 (39-02-653619), just off Piazza Cavour, a five-minute walk from the Brera Museum, the shops of Quadrilatero d’Oro and the Giardini Pubblici park. (DOI note: Brek has branches throughout northern Italy, in Bologna, Padova,Treviso,Trieste, Turin,Venice,Verona, among other cities. Check the Web site for details.)

(© 2006 Wiley Publishing. Reprinted with permission.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Party in Naples This Saturday

The city of Naples will host its second annual “La Notte Bianca” (White Night) this Saturday, September 30. The theme for this year's event is “The Mediterranean, a Sea of Culture." According to the organizers, "It will feature the artistic expressions of the various countries sharing this sea: not only Europe, with the multiplicity of the cultures and traditions of its southern countries, but northern African too. Naples, with its harbor and its geographic profile, is the natural landing place of Mediterranean cultures, traditions and arts." Each new administrative area of Naples will symbolically "host" one or more Mediterranean countries. The idea is that the White Night can be experienced anywhere, and the mega party has no real center. Events include musical performances by groups from countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Lebanon, traditional southern Italian dancing and a joint Israeli-Palestinian photo exhibit. For those visiting Naples during this time, there will also be "warm-up" events on the evenings of September 28 and 29.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

September Issue - Tropea, Pauline Frommer and More!

The September 2006 issue of Dream of Italy is out! Here are the articles paid subscribers will be reading (mail subscribers will receive their issues early next week):

Tropea: Calabria's Classic Seaside Resort
With chalky cliffs, pristine sand and aqua water, Tropea's beach has been named of the ten best in Italy. Off the beach, Tropea is the consummate old-time Italian resort.

The Dream Interview: Pauline Frommer
The daughter of guidebook king Arthur Frommer, Pauline Frommer, has launched her own guidebook series including, Pauline Frommer's Italy

Pauline's Picks
Pauline Frommer tells us where to eat, shop and stay in Rome, Milan, Bologna, Deruta and San Gimignano

News, Tips, Deals and Events
Florence's Mud Angels: Forty Years After the Flood; Noteworthy Travels: Gelato and Olive Oil Tours; Beppe Severgnini Explores the Hearts and Minds of Italians; Lineadombra: Organic Venetian Cuisine

**Want to buy a single copy of this issue? Click here**

**Planning to visit Italy in the near future? Paid subscribers receive 10 issues per year PLUS online access to our archive of over 35 back issues of Dream of Italy. That's over 45 issues for the price of a one-year subscription! Less than $2 an issue! 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!**

Join Us for Washington, D.C.'s Festa Italiana

Washington, D.C.'s 8th annual Festa Italiana will take place this Sunday, September 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m. and Dream of Italy will have a booth at the celebration! The location is at 3rd and F Streets, N.W. Dream of Italy will have jewelry, guidebooks, DVDs, note cards and more available at its booth, as well as free sample issues of the newsletter. The event takes place rain or shine, so come on down and celebrate Italia!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Piemonte on the Brain

It seems that everywhere I turn there's an event, an article, a conversation involving the Piedmont region of Italy. Even before I attended the Winter Olympics in Turin, Piedmont had one a special place in my heart. I can liken it to Tuscany before it was discovered; and the wine and food in Piedmont (especially those awesome white truffles) give Toscana a run for its money.

Last night I attended a reception at Washington, D.C.'s Galileo (Chef Roberto Donna is a native of Piedmont and I had the pleasure of taking a culinary tour with him in February) in honor of the Alba Music Festival.

This summer series of free daily concerts is a partnership between the city of Alba and St. Mary's College of Maryland. Information on the Web is scarce but the dates for the 2007 festival are May 24 to June 3. Definitely an additional reason to put Alba on your itinerary.

Piedmont is also featured in the current issue of Travel + Leisure. Brothers Matt and Ted Lee do a nice job exploring the region. One place they write about is Marchesi Alfieri (a vineyard I wrote about a year ago; I love when I beat the big magazines.) I started laughing when I realized that the estate's precocious Wire Fox Terriers, named Fox and Fax, inserted themselves into many of the T+L photos. I myself am "owned" by a Fox Terrier and know how they like to ham it up.

One of the thrills of visiting Marchesi Alfieri was meeing these pups. Unfortunately, the locals aren't as crazy as about them as I am as they have been terrorizing the local cats. I guess you can get away with that when you belong to a real life royal. The sisters who own the vineyard are related to European royalty, yet very down to earth. The T+L photos aren't online but I will post one from my visit.

And finally on the topic of Piedmont - Dream of Italy will have a booth at Washington, D.C.'s Festa Italiana on Sunday, September 24. This year's theme is, you guessed it, Piemonte! Come on out and see us!

News Briefs: Pizza, Strikes and More

  • September looks to be an active month for transportation strikes in Italy. Often these strikes are called off at the last minute, but a national strike of public transportation workers looks to still be scheduled for Friday, September 15. National rail service will not be affected, but service on local buses, trams, subways and trains will be limited.
  • A Japanese pizza maker beat the best pizza makers of Naples for the second time in three years. A jury at Naples' annual Pizzafest judged Makoto Onishi's pizza as the best of "real Neapolitan pizza." Onishi trained at Da Gaetano Pizzeria on Ischia, before moving back to Japan to work at a Tokyo pizzeria owned by a native Neapolitan.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Chinese Soldiers in Rome

Someone was telling me last night that she thinks tourism to China might be giving tourism to Italy a run for its money. I don't know of any stats to back that up, but if you're interested in both China and Italy, then this exhibit is for you:

China: The Birth of an Empire, featuring over 350 artifacts - many that have never left China, will run from September 22, 2006 to January 28, 2007 at Rome's Scuderie del Quirinale, the former stables of the palace which is now the official residence of the Italian head of state.

According to ANSA, the exhibition coincides with a visit to China by Italian Premier Romano Prodi, various government ministers and some 500 Italian businesspeople, comprising the largest Italian delegation ever to visit China.

One highlight of the show will be 200 terracotta soldiers, including the 'army' of life-sized warriors, horses and carts found near the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of a united China .

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Stay Up All Night in Rome

Rome will be open all night starting at 8 p.m. Friday, September 8 and ending Saturday at 8 a.m. It is the Eternal City's annual celebration Notte Bianca (White Night), featuring hundreds of events all over the city. Dozens of theaters, art galleries and museums, including the Villa Borghese, the Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Colosseum and the Villa Medici, will remain open throughout the night. All entrances and performances will be free. Public transportion will also be free after 10 p.m.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Wash, D.C.: Beppe Severgnini Reading

Fans of the irrepressible Italian author Beppe Severgnini listen up. If you're in the Washington, D.C.-area, you can hear him speak at an Italian Cultural Institute presentation at the Italian Embassy on Friday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Severgnini, the bestselling author of Ciao, America: An Italian Discovers the U.S., will take attendees on a lively tour of modern Italy that takes you behind the seductive face it puts on for visitors—la bella figura—and highlights its maddening, paradoxical true self. The author is promoting his new book La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind. I'm reviewing the book for the September issue of Dream of Italy (so I won't give away too much here) and can promise that Severgnini turns the same discerning and humorous eye on his countrymen as he did on the American public in his first book.