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Friday, December 15, 2006

See the Pope at Christmas

It is a fantastic experience to visit Rome at Christmas. If you go, try to get tickets to Midnight Mass at St. Peter's Basilica...

To request Christmas (or Easter) tickets: Contact Monsignor Roger Roensch or Sister Mary Joanna RSM at the Bishop's Office for U.S. Visitors to the Vatican, Via dell' Umiltá 30, 00187, Rome, Italy. Call (39) 06 690011 or fax (39) 06 6791448. E-mail: nacvisoffrome@pnac.org. Note that it is very difficult to secure these tickets and you will not receive a response unless you are granted tickets.

No tickets needed: At midnight on Christmas Eve, crowds gather in St. Peter's Square to watch (via large screen televisions) the Pope say mass. The Pope also appears at his apartment window over St. Peter's Square at noon on Christmas Day to give a blessing.

How to Get Tickets to the Pope's Weekly Audiences

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Easy, Last-Minute Italian Christmas Gift!

Attention, last-minute shoppers...

Trust me, I am all too familiar with the last-minute shopping panic. That's why I am making it super-easy for you to give a gift subscription to the travel newsletter, Dream of Italy. In fact, you can download a subscription gift certificate and the first issue (a special report on Rome) IMMEDIATELY AFTER PURCHASE! So you have the gift in hand (even though we will send out the first issue, e-book, card, etc. in the postal mail as well. Whew! What a relief!

This is the perfect gift for ANYONE who loves Italy or who is planning a trip to Italia in 2007. Plus it keeps giving all year long...

The gift subscription includes:

  • 10 issues of the newsletter delivered by postal mail or via the Internet.

  • Online access to over 37 back issues – FOUR years of searchable articles – including special reports on villa rentals, moving to Italy, Tuscan hideaways, the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Venice, Chianti,
    Piedmont, the Lakes, Puglia, Sicily and more.

  • A FREE copy of Dream of Italy’s Collected Florence, an e-guidebook filled with our articles and reviews on Florence plus
    additional features ($39 value).

  • E-mail updates on Italy travel news, plus exclusive discounts.

  • Gift letter including your message and recipient's online log-in information.

Don't just take our word for it, did you know that Dream of Italy has been recommended by numerous publications such as USA TODAY, National Geographic Traveler, Frequent Flyer, The Dallas Morning News and more?

***We fully believe in giving yourself a gift!! And the same offer still applies, but please use our main subscription page - you will receive all of the above including Dream of Italy’s Collected Florence e- guidebook.***

Monday, December 11, 2006

Don't Miss Dream of Italy Coupons!

Listen up! Two weeks ago, we e-mailed out exclusive discount coupons for Dream of Italy products ONLY to those on our FREE e-mail update list. We're getting ready to offer some additional holiday discounts -- but you will only hear about them if you receive our e-mail update. We usually send one out NO MORE THAN TWO TIMES A MONTH (we hate having our e-mail inboxes overstuffed just as much as you do!). Sign up NOW.


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Basilicata Catches Coppola's Eye

The New York Times reported this weekend that filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola has turned his attention to his native region of Basilicata. He purchased a 19th-century palazzo in the small town of Bernalda close to Matera, where Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ was filmed, and plans to open it this year as a 10-room hotel.

At Dream of Italy, we've been covering Basilicata for years as it is a most fascinating place filled with beauty and history and a tinge of the bittersweet. Our friend, the prolific travel writer David Yeadon, inspired by Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli, spent a year living in the remote Basilicata village of Aliano, where the non-fiction book took place. He graciously allowed us to excerpt his writings (which became the book, Seasons in Basilicata) AND exquisite drawings of the region in our October 2004 issue.

But Basilicata isn't just caves and rocky villages, one of my favorite places in all of Italy remains Maratea (see our free article), the Italian resort rivaling the Amalfi Coast, which is part of Basilicata's mere nine miles of coastal access. Basilicata = bellissimo!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mail Your X-mas Cards from the Vatican

A customer e-mailed me today to make sure that our St. Peter's Christmas cards were on their way because she's leaving for Rome next week and is going to mail them from the Vatican Post Office. What a cool idea!

Even if you won't be in Rome for Christmas, whenever you do visit Vatican City, mailing letters or postcards from the Vatican Post Office is fun, especially for kids. Of course you need to buy special Vatican-issued stamps and and the stamp will be postmarked by the Holy See. Many believe this postal service will get your items delivered way faster than the Italian mail.

There are branches of the post office (open Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) located on either side of St Peter's Square and in the Vatican Museums (following museum hours). According to this history on the Vatican Web site, the Holy See began postal operations in 1929, after Italy recognized its sovereignty.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I Found the Greatest Spot!!

Okay, it is not in Italy. But indulge me this little play on words and allow me to go off-topic (my other passion, besides Italy is dogs) to introduce you to this amazing Spot - a homeless smooth fox terrier I am fostering and hoping to place in a lucky home. Because the people who get Spot will be the lucky ones....


I grew up with wire fox terriers and six years ago rescued Washington Humane Society which runs the Washington, D.C. shelter (that's where I got Cooper). Smart and sweet, she quickly became a staff favorite, with her nose earning her the nickname "our little anteater." There's limited room in the shelter and in order to save her life, the Fox Terrier Rescue Network took her in and she's staying with me.

If you or someone you know is looking for an AMAZING dog who will be a great addition to the family, listen up. Five-year-old Spot not only has a sunny disposition and easygoing attitude, she's a snuggler and loves to curl up to me while I'm watching TV or with Cooper when he's taking a nap.

Alert and curious, she watches Cooper for tips on how to climb stairs, walk on a leash and use her short legs to jump on the bed. She is definitely housebroken and unlike a puppy is on perfect behavior (no chewing or barking while I'm out). It actually takes a lot for her to make a peep! This is how great Spot is: When I gave her a bath, she stood still in the bathtub, happily wagging her tail. How many dogs do that?

She LOVES people and other dogs and I think she might do well in a family with children. Spot deserves a loving forever family who will fall in love with her as I have. If you are interested in Spot, please contact me or Susan with Fox Terrier Rescue.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas and New Year's in Venice

A few years back, for a holiday issue of Dream of Italy, I asked Ruth Edenbaum, co-author (with Shannon Essa) of the book, Chow!
Venice: Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima
, for tips on spending the Christmas and New Year's holidays in Venice as she has spent a handful of holiday seasons in the city. Below are a few of her suggestions (but you can read the full list here):

  • Each year on December 26, the Frari Church in San Polo (in the Campo dei Frari) offers a free concert at about 4:00 p.m. The church is filled with magnificent art, including Titian's Assumption of the Virgin, Canova's Tomb and a carved monk's chair from 1468. Get there early and dress warmly.

  • For an incredible seafood dinner and a warm celebration at midnight, go to Trattoria Antiche Carampane on New Year's Eve. (San Polo 1911; 39-041-5240165) The price for dinner runs about $125 per person. No matter where you go that night, you must make reservations.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gift Idea: Subscription to Dream of Italy!

For: Anyone who dreams of Italy even if he or she has been there a number of times. Anyone planning a trip in 2007. Anyone seeking savvy insider travel information on what to see, where to eat, where to stay and what to do when visiting Italy. Anyone who wants to enjoy a gift all year long!


Did you know that Dream of Italy has been recommended by numerous publications such as USA TODAY, National Geographic Traveler, Frequent Flyer, The Dallas Morning News and More...

Details: The gift subscription includes:

  • 10 issues of the newsletter delivered by postal mail or via the Internet.

  • Online access to over 37 back issues – FOUR years of searchable articles – including special reports on villa rentals, moving to Italy, Tuscan hideaways, the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Venice, Chianti,
    Piedmont, the Lakes, Puglia, Sicily and more.

  • A FREE copy of Dream of Italy’s Collected Florence, an e-guidebook filled with our articles and reviews on Florence plus
    additional features ($39 value).

  • E-mail updates on Italy travel news, plus exclusive discounts.

  • Gift letter including your message and recipient's online log-in information.

All gift subscriptions, including the first issue (a special report on Rome), e-guidebook and gift card, will be mailed on or before December 18, 2006, unless otherwise requested.


***We fully believe in giving yourself a gift!! And the same offer still applies, but please use our main subscription page - you will receive all of the above including Dream of Italy’s Collected Florence e- guidebook.***

Prices: Start at $69 for a one-year online-only subscription.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

NEW: Made in Italy Earrings

For: The fun fashionista

Details: These Made in Italy earrings come in either all silver or gold-plated with silver at the bottom (yours truly is wearing a pair of them right now). We only have five pairs of each type available and it is unlikely we can reorder before Christmas, so buy now!

Price: $39