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Monday, January 29, 2007

Year-round Service to Rome on American

American Airlines has announced upgrade its service between Rome and the United States to year-round beginning April 10, 2007. Previously the service had only been seasonal. During the peak summer season both routes out of Chicago and New York will be flown daily. Beginning Oct. 28, 2007, and continuing through March 31, 2008, the service will be flown four times a week from Chicago and three times per week from New York. Chicago flights will operate Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. New York flights will operate Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Both services will utilize the Boeing 767-300 widebody aircraft.

(Helpful Hint: As I always mention when any new service is offered -- this may be the time to use your frequent flyer miles as the reward seats for the new dates of service have just been released.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Valentine's Day Gift with Italian Twist!

Nothing connotes romance quite like Italy. This Valentine's Day give your beloved the gift of Italy with the unique Romantic Italy Travel Gift Basket. Fuel your fantasies of love and romance-Italian style and take an armchair visit to the land of "la dolce vita" or use the contents to plan a real-life romantic journey. Forget the flowers and candy, instead, give the gift of Italy! It includes:

Valued at $145, this special Valentine's Day gift is insanely well-priced at $99. Order as soon as possible as we have limited quantities

Monday, January 22, 2007

5 Tips for Visiting Italy in 2007

1. Book ahead and I don’t just mean airfare and hotels. If there are restaurants you have your heart set on, call a few weeks ahead for reservations or at least call the first day you arrive in that city. Tickets for the most popular museums and sites - Florence's Uffizi and the Vatican Museums in Rome - as well as those that have special tours such as the "secret tour" at Venice's Doge Palace are musts for booking ahead. You can usually book directly with the museum or use a service such as our affiliate Select Italy for an additional fee.

2. Plan around a special event. In 2007, the big one is the Venice Biennale, the major contemporary art exhibition held once every two years. There are associated dance, theatre and music festivals but the art exhibition runs the longest, June 10 through November 21.

3. For something different, consider a Mediterranean cruise. Even if you don’t think you’re a cruise person (if you're not try one of the small, elegant ships of Seabourn or Silversea. The cruise lines (even Carnival among them) are adding more unusal Italian ports of call - Princess is stopping at Ravenna this year; Oceania has added La Spezia; and Seabourn now stops at Monopoli and the island of Lipari.

4. Mind your Mondays. Keep in mind that generally the state-run museums are closed on Monday. (There are a number of privately run museums that remain open on Monday - and I'll be compiling a list for the major cities in the future.) Also, most shops and boutiques are closed on Monday morning. Plan accordingly.

5. Don't forget to learn something new. That's one of the joys of Italy. Take a cooking class, learn how to make mosaics, stay at an agriturismo and observe a harvest. The mission of Dream of Italy is to bring you the best of all of these Italian experiences!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mona Lisa's Resting Place Found?

The Italian news agency ANSA reports that an Italian scholar has determined that the subject of one of the world's most famous paintings -- Mona Lisa -- was buried in the Convent of St. Orsula in Florence.

"I'm sure her tomb is in there," Leonardo scholar Giuseppe Pallanti said Thursday. I've pored through thousands of archive pages and I'm convinced the remains of Leonardo's model Lisa Gherardini was buried there." The building is no longer a convent and in very bad condition. According to the article, "most modern scholars have agreed with Pallanti that the Mona Lisa sitter was Lisa del Giocondo (her married name)."

Several years ago, I visited Vignamaggio (a hotel and wine estate; my article is here) where Lisa Gherardini a.k.a Mona Lisa was reportedly born in 1479.

Travel + Leisure's Take on Italia

  • Travel + Leisure has a Milan fixation lately; granted they do have a correspondent based there. In the January 2007 issue, Valerie Waterhouse introduces readers to three new boutiue hotels -- the affordable Vietnammonamour, the former factory, turned sleek NHow and the new 7-star (which we have mentioned here before) Town House Galleria. In the Feb. issue, Waterhouse checks out Gold, Dolce and Gabanna's new cafe-restaurant.
  • Seems Rome is as hot as ever. (DOI just published a special report on the city.) The general theme seems to be "Rome's other neighborhoods." Travel + Leisure says Pigneto is the Eternal City's hot 'hood in the December 2006 issue. In the February 2007 issue, it points to Esquilino and Testaccio as two of the city's most authentic areas in an article entitled "Hidden Rome."

My Love For Magazines

You should see my apartment. Wait, maybe not. There are magazines strewn about here and there (I am a true magazine junkie; I receive nearly every major travel magazine; as well as People, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Bark, Elle, Oprah, uhm, you get the idea.) With all of this magazine mayhem, I have had to come up with a system, if I see anything of interest or any article on Italy, I try to rip it out immediately. That magazine then goes into "the pile."

"The pile" is one of the most commented on aspect of my home decor. It is a 5-foot tall pile of magazines in the corner of my living room. I think it is a great way to keep my magazines tidy, others aren't so sure. I have had multiple friends make fun of it and an old boyfriend remark that I should shelac it and sell it as a work of art. I even had a dream one night that "the pile" weighed so much that the floor below it collapsed. Weird. Anyway, I do weed through the pile to give magazines to neighbors or donate them to an organization.

Anyway this whole entry started because I want to tell you what's in the latest magazines and newspapers re: Italy. I have a bunch of those torn out articles sitting right here on my desk. I'll start a new entry and tell you about them. And if you're really good, maybe one day, I will take a photo of "the pile"....

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Florence

Introducing Dream of Italy's Collected Florence e-book! The downloadable PDF includes all of Dream of Italy's tips, features and reviews for the city of Florence -- updated in December 2006 -- from over four years of back issues. All of the Web sites in the e-book's 57 pages are hot linked for easy access to additional information on the Internet. [Dream of Italy's Special Report: Florence (June 2005)is included in this e-book!] Here's what you will find inside:
  • Reviews of 20 3- to 5-star Florence hotels.
  • Reviews of nearly a dozen restaurants, trattorie and cafes.

  • Where to take cooking lessons with the pros.

  • Strategies for visiting Florence's museums.

  • Tips for visiting Florence as a single traveler.

  • Tips for shopping for famous for leather and paper AND a full feature on visiting the Prada and Gucci outlets in Tuscany (we tell
    you how to get there!)

  • A calendar of annual events.

  • And much more...

Normally priced at $39, the e-book will be on sale for $24 for the month of January only!

Bonus Updates Guarantee: All those who purchase this e-book (and do not receive it as a free promotion) will automatically receive updates to this e-book for the next four months. If we publish
a new review or article on Florence during the four months after your purchase, you will automatically receive it by e-mail!
So no need to worry that you are missing something. This is a unique guarantee and shows how serious Dream of Italy is about providing you with the best, most up-to-date travel information!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Those $299 r/t Rome Tix On Sale NOW!

Thanks to my friend Joe for letting me know that the special $299 roundtrip New York to Rome tickets on Eurofly are ON SALE NOW, not starting on Jan. 21 (as mentioned in Arthur Frommer's column below). I just did some searching and right now there are tickets still available! You must book online at www.euroflyusa.com. Joe also correctly notes that Eurofly started flying to the U.S. three years ago, not last year, as noted by Frommer.

Tour Piedmont with The Wine Coach!

(This is a paid advertisement.) If you're looking for a change of scenery this year consider traveling to Italy with your own private Sommelier! Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach® is sponsoring a 6-day wine tour of the Piedmont region from April 16 to 22, 2007. Touring the majestic countryside of Piedmont, you will visit six prestigious wineries in Barolo, Barbaresco and Gavi, dine at some of the areas finest restaurants, visit a chocolate maker and even participate in a cooking lesson with a local celebrity chef. All this for only $2,980 per person*! Visit The Wine Coach Tours Web site for more information or call 410-820-4212.

*Prices based on double occupancy and are subject to availability. Single supplement is $700 Depending on departure city, additional fees may apply.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Steal! N.Y. - Rome for $299 r/t

I love Arthur Frommer. I've had the pleasure of meeting for him and writing for his magazine, but mostly I love him because he still delivers the goods on budget travel. For example, the announcement in his recent column:

This spring you'll be able to make that trip for $299 per person round-trip, departing from New York during the short period of April 21 to May 8, aboard an Italian airline called Eurofly. I believe this column contains the first announcement of a promotional airfare that is perhaps the lowest per mile in aviation history.

Eurofly has been operating all throughout the world for more than 15 years, but it did so in the past as a charter airline for Alitalia. Last year, it began flying the Atlantic for the first time as an independent carrier, under its own name, flying back and forth from New York to Rome, Bologna, Naples and Palermo (Sicily).

The $299 round-trip fare, which will be guaranteed to at least 1,000 passengers, is obviously an attempt by the Italian company to make a big splash, impressing its name on the minds of American travelers.


There are conditions, of course. The $299 round-trip fare can be booked only on the airline's Web site, www.euroflyusa.com, and it can be purchased starting Jan. 21 only.

Thanks Arthur! You can bet that I'll be logging on for tickets on the 21st. I'm familiar with Eurofly as I flew their wonderful business-class only service this fall.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Changes at the Vatican Museums

This is an excerpt from the Dec 2006/Jan. 2007 Special Report: Rome:

Starting this month, museum goers unaccompanied by tour guides will need to wait an extra hour until 10:00 a.m. to enter the Vatican Museums. Since the museums will close at the same time as in 2006, 1:45 p.m. in the winter and 4:45 p.m. in the summer, independent visitors will have one hour and 15 minutes less to visit the collections of the popes.

Only groups who have reserved at least 30 days in advance through an approved agency can enter the museums between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m.; other groups will have to wait in line with everyone else (one that can get excruciatingly long). The cost of a ticket will also change in 2007, increasing 1 euro, from 12 to 13 euros (or to 15 euros if reserved in advance). For more information, call (39) 06 69884947 or visit www.vatican.va

Special Report: Rome

The Dec. 2006/Jan. 2007 issue of Dream of Italy is out. Here are some of the articles in this special issue on the Eternal City.

Rest Your Head in Rome
Detailed reviews of five Rome hotels from practical to posh, including the brand new Portrait Suites created by the Ferragamo family.

Touring Villa Farnesina
A Rome tour guide introduces us to this fascinating and little-known villa in the heart of Trastevere.

Short Notes on Rome Shopping

We let you in on our favorite paper store as well as where to get hip accessories and age-old potions.

News, Tips, Deals and Events
Learn about changes at the Vatican Museums, new taxi fares from Rome's airport, jogging tours of the Eternal City, the elevator at the Spanish Steps and Rome's meccas for foodies!

Three Casual Roman Eateries
Why Renato e Luisa, Ristorante Montevecchio and Cul de Sac should all be on your Rome itinerary.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Italian Post-Holiday Sales Start Jan. 5

As you may or may not know, in Italy, the government establishes official sales periods for stores to discount their merchandise. The two big "saldi" months are January and July. Naples will kick off the winter sales period on January 5, followed by Genoa and Turin on January 6, according to Agencia Giornalistica Italia. The Confcommerico Studies Centre predicts the average family will spend 400 euros during the January sales period, up 4% from last year.

What's New in Italy in 2007

  • Renting a car in Italy? Rent from Hertz if you are one of those parents whose kids must have an in-car DVD player. According to Easier Travel, "The Hertz DVD system, set to become the ultimate holiday accessory, is fully transportable, so can also be used in the hotel room, avoiding those expensive film rentals."
  • Wantedinrome.com reports that 2007 rail fares in Italy will increase an average of 9% over 2006. It is the first fare increase in five years. "The hikes go from about 5 to 25% depending on the class and the route. For example a one-way, second-class Eurostar ticket from Milan to Rome goes up to €51 from €46.48 (9.7 per cent), from Milan to Florence the new price is €33 instead of €28.92 (14 per cent)..."
  • Disney now offers guided tours of Italy for families through Adventures by Disney. A nine-day itinerary covering Rome, Tuscany, Orvieto, Florence and Venice, starts at about $3,300 per person, without airfare.