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Monday, April 30, 2007

The Two Sides of Capri

Tuesday, May 1 is a holiday in Italy thus providing Italians with a four-day weekend and it seems everyone is seeking out the sun, sand and the start of summer. This weekend is something like the equivalent of our Memorial Day Weekend. Striving to "do as the Italians do," I headed to the Amalfi Coast and yesterday spent the day on Capri. That is me and my thousand or so closest possible friends. Mama mia! Below, the a photo essay of sorts (via my Blackberry camera phone) on the "two sides of Capri"...


A shot of "the green grotto." It was just about warm enough to swim and I would have had I been wearing my bathing suit. We took a private boat tour around the island with a wonderful native Caprese. I'll tell you how you can do the same in an upcoming issue.


But on land, it was a different story. This was the crowd waiting for the funicular from Anacapri to Marina Grande. If I have never been convinced that Italians are horrible at forming and waiting in lines, I am a true believer now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ciao d'Abruzzo

Your friendly editor has been out of touch as she has been touring the region of Abruzzo as part of a special symposium for American tour operators, travel agents and journalists. An exhausting but rewarding experience. I took this photo from the fortress in the town of Civitella on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. More details as I have time to post....

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tips for Finding Kid-Friendly Accommodations in Italy

I know many of you are taking your children or grandchildren to Italy this summer. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out which hotels or villas will be kid-friendly. Amie O’Shaughnessy, founder of Ciao Bambino!, the first-ever international association of vacation properties for families, shares her list of must-haves. According to Amie,"First, its physical construction and amenities, and second, the attitude of the owners, management and staff – so parents should be prepared to ask a lot of questions." While talking to Amie this week, I was also helping an Italian Dream Concierge client (with kids around the age of 5) choose a hotel on Lake Como. Amie's recommendation: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which we reviewed last summer.

(If you're taking the kids, also be sure to read Barbara Pape's article from our February 2007 issue - plenty of specific recommendations for child-friendly sites and hotels and advice on how to keep the little ones occupied while touring!)

Get in The Travel Mood: Watch a Clip of "La Dolce Vita"

If you're counting the days until you arrive in Rome or if you're just dreaming about the the city, you might want to get a copy of Federico Fellini's classic film La Dolce Vita (1961). Considered one of the best movies of all time, the movie follows the "sweet life" of a tabloid journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) who covers the glitzy show business life in Rome. In constant search for the next big scandal, he is continually seduced by the decadent life led by Rome's pampered rich. The film also stars Anita Ekberg and Anouk Aimee as well as the Eternal City herself.

WATCH A VIDEO CLIP: La Dolce Vita

We've added the 2-DVD Collector's Edition of La Dolce Vita ($39) to our online store. It includes all kinds of extras, including a demonstration of the film's restoration. A collector's booklet is also included.

No Matter Your Heritage, Become a Modern Italian

If you're looking to feed your hunger for all things Italian, let me recommend joining The Modern Italian Network, an organization for all people passionate about Italy. Membership is free! Modern Italian provides enthusiasts with the ability to be actively involved in authentic Italian culture through its newsletters, events, and coming soon, social networking Web site. Members also benefit from the discounts on Italian- related products and services provided by Modern Italian partners. Become a member today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Summer Fare Sale from Boston to Italy

I never thought I would say that $1,100 is a bargain airfare between the U.S. and Italy but this summer, it just might be. (Every summer for the past few years, planes have been packed and affordable seats at a minimum. My advice, book as early as you can.) Alitalia's Boston Summer Promotion offers special roundtrip fares for non-stop flights between Boston and Rome ($1,122 including taxes and fees) and Boston and Milan ($1,072). Travel must take place between July 1 and September 9, 2007 and include a minimum Saturday-night stay and a maximum stay of two months. Tickets must be purchased by April 20, 2007 and can only be booked online.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Want to Move to Italy? A House For Sale in Umbria


I know many, many, many of you dream of living in Italy, whether for a few months a year or permanently. While many of you want to live, "under the Tuscan sun," that dream is an incredibly expensive one these days. In fact, when I interviewed Stew Vreeland of Seeyouinitaly.com for DOI's article "Where to Buy Your Own Tuscan Hideaway," Stew recommended buying in Umbria, as he has and now helps many expats do as well.

And here's an affordable way to do it - my new friends Barb and Art Skinner (I just interviewed them for something I am writing on retiring in Italy) are selling their lovely 1100 square foot Umbrian house in the town of San Venanzo (pictured above). Barb and Art LOVE San Venzano-- conveniently located 45 minutes from Orvieto, Perugia and Assisi -- and have really been embraced by the citizens there. They're not leaving the town, just moving into an apartment instead. Their house is priced at 195,000 euros. Forget even getting something at anywhere near this price in Tuscany. Click here for tons of details and photos.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Taking the Family to Rome

Travel writer Ann Cochran chronicles her trip to Rome with her adult children on the Executive Traveler Web site. I know many of you are planning the same kind of trip this summer and Ann chronicles how she found affordable lodging for all as well as set up the ground rules for how much the group would do together.

Ann and family chose the 3-star Hotel Luxor near Piazza della Repubblica. "We paid 130 euros per double, 90 for singles, at a time when there weren’t many options available for less than 200 euros in central Rome," she writes.

Here's how the group handled logistics: "We were an eight-pack for special tours and dinner. Otherwise, everyone felt free to explore on their own, catch up on work or e-mail at an Internet café, or search for a new museum or more comfortable pair of shoes. What often happened was that one group would discover something, like the botanical gardens in Trastevere, and the others would go later in the week."

Ann enlisted the best tour guide in Rome - probably in all of Italy - Enrico Bruschini! You can read about him in our FREE sample issue.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Think Luxury, Save Alitalia

People far more knowledgable than I have postulated how to save Italy's struggling national airline. Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Tyler Brule might just be on to something, in theory at least, saying, " Alitalia may well be one of Europe's least-loved airlines, but it's also the one carrier with the most potential to reinvent itself as a serious luxury brand." He suggest Alitalia look to other successful luxury brands.

"While Alitalia has continued to stumble and lose passengers to more aggressive hub/carrier combos like Munich/Lufthansa, Italy's luxury goods sector has continued to steam ahead with brands ranging from Loro Piana to Bottega Veneta rolling out shops around the world. Where Alitalia ticket offices used to fly the flag for Italy on the world's most recognizable boulevards, the "tricolore" has been picked up by the likes of Tod's, Ermenegildo Zegna and Poltrona Frau. Imagine if all corners of Italy's premium businesses banded together to mount a rescue."

And what would that look like?

"Alitalia has all the raw materials at its disposal. For ground transport it has the Maserati "quattroporte" to shuttle VIPs from terminal to Airbus. When it comes to uniforms it has everything ranging from design talent to manufacturing on its doorstep. From Turin all the way to Trieste there are not only clusters of manufacturers specializing in bespoke aircraft interior components, there are also factories making furniture for some of the most desirable names in contemporary design, like Poliform, B&B Italia and Cassina. Imagine what the interior of an Alitalia Boeing 777 could look like in the hands of the right designers and craftsman. Imagine the possibilities for lounges in Lagos, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles and London."