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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Will Drunken Tourists Ruin Rome?

There is some concern among Romans over the fate of their Eternal City if current "rowdy" social behaviors continue to overshadow the Rome they used to know. Peter Kiefer of the International Herald Tribune reports, "As a city, Rome remains a very safe destination for visitors. The rowdiness of its night life is on par with, and often does not match, that of other major capitals. But the uniqueness of Rome's historic center and the fact that this activity is a relatively new phenomenon has prompted more and more concern."

It's a classic love-hate relationship that many Italians have with tourists and it is finally hitting home for many Romans who feel their city is being taken over by foreign standards of what is acceptable social behavior. "It is unbelievable," says Flaminia Borghese, descendant of the House of Borghese, a family of noble and papal background. "There is a total lack of control." She went on to complain that, "the foreigners come here because they know that they can do whatever they want. Nobody says anything."

But is anything being done about the snowballing dilemma? City officials say that they have taken measures such as "limiting traffic into the historic center, putting up surveillance cameras, putting more police officers on the streets and passing a law that requires all glass bottles and glasses to be replaced with plastic cups after a certain hour." -- Laura Cimperman

Italy Events Calendar - Verona Opera Under the Stars

In honor of the launch of our new Italy online events calendar, I'd like to tell you about my favorite summer event - taking in an opera under the stars at the Arena di Verona. It is a must for any opera lover. The Roman amphitheater which holds 22,000 people is the best preserved structure of its kind. Almost every night during the summer, spectators sit under the stars, holding small candles, continuing a tradition started by the ancient Romans. Not only is the amphitheater larger than life, but so too are the sets and special effects as well as the glorious voices of some of the world's best opera singers. The acoustics are perfect. I saw Nabucco a few years back and it is being performed again this summer. Useful bit of advice: Use the bathroom before entering the arena as its facilities are primitive - at least the were the last time I was there.

Hotel Tip:
During opera season, it may be difficult to get a hotel reservation in Verona, but it's not impossible. Instead of checking with each hotel, go directly to Cooperativa Albergatori Veronesi, an excellent and efficient booking service representing 50 Verona hotels. Tel: (39) 045 800-9844

See more events at our new, free online Italy events calendar.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 2007 Issue: Bergamo, Rome Hotels, Cooking School

The June 2007 issue of Dream of Italy is posted online and will be mailed to postal subscribers. Here's what paid subscribers will be reading:

Alta or Bassa: Bergamo Enchants - Bergamo is a city of marvels,” said architect Frank Lloyd Wright. “It is amazing; it stuns whoever comes near it.”

Nights in the Eternal City: Four Fabulous Rome Hotels -
New 4- and 5-star Rome hotels that delight, including one 4-star for under 200 euros per night!

Arthur Schwartz's Cook at Seliano - Stay at a water buffalo farm in Campania and learn to make luscious regional cuisine while touring the area.

What's Old is New Again: Site Opening, Reopenings - Sicilian cathedral reopens after 11 years; famous Venice clock tower restored; Rome museums reopen; Pompeii opens 10 excavated houses - this summer only.

Non-subscribers: Subscribe now for immediate access to this issue and over 42 others as well as 10 issues over the coming year!


Buy a copy of this individual issue - immediately downloadable!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stray Animals in Italy Urgently Need Your Help

Anyone who knows me or has followed my work closely knows that my two passions in life are ITALY and DOGS (as well as animals in general). It is so difficult to see how many stray animals there are in Italy and how abandoning one's pet before vacation seems to be a common occurrence among Italians. I have LONG wanted to do something to help -- besides feeding strays when I can. In the past, I have done Internet searches looking for Italian rescue groups but haven't come up with much.

Today I learned about The Anglo-Italian Society for the Protection of Animals (leave it to the Brits - they love their pets - when I lived in London, one of my favorite shows was "Pet Rescue" - I know, I know). It looks like they are really helping Italy's strays. They have issued an urgent appeal for funds for a rescue vehicle. I plan to donate and hope you do too!!

A parting thought: If we can't take care of our smallest and most helpless creatures, what kind of advanced society are we, really?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sicily's Last Fishnet Maker Dies

Antonio Vultaggio, the last Sicilian fishnet maker, has died at the age of 78, according to Italy Magazine. There’s something so special about Italian tradition that makes younger countries like the U.S. drool with envy since their history and ancestors only date back a few hundred years. And its stories like this one that make one realize how important it is to pass down a family tradition, or in this case, a trade. Sicily is a proud place and many local are devoted to their chosen trades. Vultaggio was one such man. He started making fishnets when he was only five years old, a tradition that had been passed down through three generations, and he would continue to make nets for the next 73 years of his life. He began his day every morning at 6 a.m. and worked outside on Sicilian coast until late afternoon. The pay probably wasn’t in the 6-digit range, but I bet a lot of people today would prefer it to sitting in an ice-cold office cubicle for 9 hours a day! -- Laura Cimperman

Article: The Dream Interview: Theresa Maggio on Sicily (paid subscribers only)
Dream of Italy's Special Report: Sicily

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dream of Italy Wins Newsletter Award!

We're giving ourselves a pat on the back here at Dream of Italy. Our five-year-old newsletter has been named "Best Consumer Subscription Newsletter 2007" by the respected industry publication The Newsletter on Newsletters. A big shout out to everyone on the team who keeps this publication going - interns, researchers, proofreaders, writers and especially, Kim Leaird, who designs the newsletter each month. Want to see what all of the fuss is about? Then become a subscriber yourself!

More Celebrities Tie the Knot in Italy

Rocker Rod Stewart married his longtime girlfriend Penny Lancaster Saturday in a low-key ceremony on the Ligurian coast. According to London Net, "The couple, who have a one-year-old son, Alastair, tied the knot in Santa Margherita Ligure at the impressive Villa Durazzo, watched only by Penny's parents, Sally and Graham.After the ceremony, Rod and Penny were pictured smiling and waving on their luxury yacht in preparation for their reception at mountainside abbey La Carvara."

They're not the only star couple who got married in Italy this month. CSI star Claire Forlani and Dougray Scott of Desperate Housewives (he played Ian) were married at the Forlani family home in Pievebovigliana in the Marche region. According to E! News Online, 120 guests witnessed the June 8 nuptials and Forlani's father cooked for the crowd.

And PerezHilton.com reports that Michael Bolton and Nicolette Sheridan may be marrying in Italy this week.

Of course Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise's Italian wedding seemed to get the most buzz. They were married on Lake Bracciano in November. Read this AOL travel feature, by yours truly, about other celeb couples who married Italian style!

What Makes Italy Such a Romantic Destination (free article)
Romantic Italy Travel Gift Basket

News from Rome: Talk About a Wrong Turn

If you’ve ever been to Rome, or any Italian city for that matter, you know that the streets can be a bit confusing. Add to the equation an out-of-towner, who had a little too much to drink that night, trying to navigate the mind-boggling streets at four in the morning. This is exactly what happened to one 24-year old Colombian man who made the mistake of taking a wrong turn… down the Spanish Steps! He was about half way down the steps when he finally stopped the car.

With the help of some late-night disco-goers who had been socializing on the steps, they tried to push the Toyota Celica back up to the top! Needless to say, the car ended up at the bottom much more quickly and easily, and the driver was soon met by Roman police, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

This sounds like it was a nightmare for the disoriented driver, but what a site to have seen! Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time someone has driven down the historic landmark. In 1963 a policeman driving a standard-issue Ferrari (can we say spoiled?) followed a thief who thought he had out-smarted the poliziotto. The thief turned a corner and sprinted down the steps, never thinking the policeman would actually follow him down. But he did…with the car!

Thirty years after that, a stolen Mercedes was driven all the way to the bottom, but was quickly apprehended by police in Piazza della Spagna. Finally in 2003, another confused driver took a wrong turn and ended up part way down the monument. You would think they would’ve put up some “Do Not Enter” signs by now. -- Laura Cimperman

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Concert Series Abound Near Siena This Summer

If you love music, Tuscany is the place to be this summer . In addition to the three annual music festivals already in place in the city of Siena, this year there are three new concert series slated for nearby towns.

The first three-concert series will be held June 28 to 30 at a private estate about 45 minutes south of Siena near San Giovanni D’Asso. Performers hail from the Stockholm Royal Opera, many of which have performed at La Scala and the Met. For those of you who are more interested in the culiary delights of Tuscany, Siena chef Michele Sorrentino will prepare a four-course dinner perfectly paired with wines, which will be served during intermission. Tickets start at 80 euros.

If you are planning on being in the Val d’Orcia anytime between July 20 and 29, you may want to reserve a ticket for the Incontri in Terra di Siena, which starts at 30 euros and will take place at the world famous La Foce estate, where we happen to be holding our Tuscany Visioning Retreat this October. The day after this festival ends, another concert series begins (July 29 to August 3) in which chamber groups and soloists will perform the music of Bach, Mendelssohn, and Shumann. Tickets start at 25 euros.

Additionally, there is the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Chamber Soloists (July 4 to 10) at the fortress in Montalcino, a harpsichord concert in Montisi (July 18 to 21), and Siena’s long-running Accademia Musicale Chigiana's 64th Settimana Musicale Senese will take place July 7 to 14. -- Laura Cimperman

Thursday, June 07, 2007

And Where Do Your Olives Come From?

Olive oil tastings are becoming increasingly popular as people are beginning to recognize the intricacies in taste and consistency among oils. They can even be infused with flavors like lemon, garlic, basil, and fig, which gives it a subtle, but noticeable bite. In fact, last night I attended a “cooking with olive oil” class and it quickly became obvious that oils from different regions do, in fact, taste different. I was given small shots of olive oil from Australia, Spain, Tunisia and Italy, all of which had distinct flavors. To my surprise I liked the fresh olive oil from Sicily the best (okay, I wasn’t that surprised).

What many people do not know, however, is that when you buy a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil with the label “Imported from Italy,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that the oil was pressed from olives grown in Italy. It means that the oil was bottled in Italy, regardless of where it was shipped from. This misleading practice has many authentic-Italian olive oil producers upset.
"It's a con, pure and simple, like selling Gucci which isn't Gucci, or a Rolex which isn't a Rolex," said Massimo Gargano, head of Unaprol, the Italian olive producers' association, told Reuters. Unaprol estimates that only around 20 percent of "Italian" olive oil is from olives grown in Italy.”
If a bill issued by Agriculture Minister Paolo De Castro passes, new labels would have to declare where the olives were grown, as well as the country in which they were pressed. Unilever, the company that owns Bertolli, says “only 25 to 30 percent of Bertolli oil is produced in Italy." Who would’ve thought? -- Laura Cimperman

For more info on olive oil, read Dream of Italy’s “Olive Oil 101” (paid subscribers only) - our favorite olive farmer Franco gives us the ins and outs of olive oil production.

John Grisham Tells Tale of American in Italy

The Italian landscape beckons authors to set their romance novels against the rolling hills and quaint Medieval villages that have readers longing to jump on the next plane to Florence. Even author John Grisham has been inspired to set several of his novels in Italy - the recent release The Broker takes place in Bologna. His forthcoming novel Playing for Pizza, to be released in September also takes place in bella Italia.

The story of an American quarterback in Italy, it is a bit different from Grisham’s usual courtroom thrillers. In fact, Doubleday publisher Stephen Rubin describes the book to the Associated Press as, “a romp about a fish out of water that had me laughing out loud.

When asked about his inspiration to write the book Grisham commented, "I was pleasantly surprised to find real American football in Italy…and as I dug deeper, a novel came together. The research was tough -- food, wine, opera, football, Italian culture -- but someone had to do it." (Associated Press While it may not be the next A Room With a View, it certainly should be entertaining. –Laura Cimperman

Friday, June 01, 2007

Last Chance: Buy Back Issues, Special Reports Cheap!

We've extended our sale on Dream of Italy's Special Report and Back Issue Collections -- but only through midnight, Monday, June 4. Then, that's it folks - prices go up!

As you may know, all paid Dream of Italy newsletter subscribers receive online access to ALL back issues, but not everyone wants to print them out. Here's an affordable way to build your Italy library with hard copies of our newsletters.

Option 1 - Dream of Italy's Special Report Collection
Our special reports on the Amalfi Coast, Chianti, Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscan Hideways, Living the Dream, Puglia, Villa Rentals, the Lakes, Turin/ Piedmont and Sicily - 12 in all! Valued at $135, purchase for just $67 through June 4.

Option 2 - ALL of Dream of Italy's Back Issues in Two Binders
with Index
ALL 42 back issues of Dream of Italy including the special reports mentioned above and 30 other issues covering everything from cooking schools to private guides, specialty tours to hidden museums and more.Packaged in two binders with detailed index. Valued at $506, purchase for just $247 through June 4.

Option 3 - Dream of Italy's Back Issues + One- Year Newsletter Subscription
: Everything above - all 42 back issues in binders with index PLUS a one- year subscription (10 issues and online access)
to the newsletter + BONUS: Dream of Italy's Collected Florence e-book. Valued at $595, purchase for just $336 through June 4.

German Tour Company Purchases Tuscan Town

"The Germans have conquered our village!" reads the headline of Castelfalfi’s local giornale, Il Tirreno. It sounds shocking to read that Germans are purchasing an entire Italian village, but once you know more details, it’s really not such a bad idea. Andrea Mechacci, a resident of the Castelfalfi tells the British newspaper The Guardian, "If it remains as it is, then the village is dead… Any life German tourists brought with them would be welcome.”

The village of Tenuta de Castelfalfi, which sits just north of Siena in Tuscany, has been a city thirsting for a revival, but the funds needed to restore it have been out of reach. In fact, since 1970, every decade has promised that some large investor would come to revitalize the town, but all projected plans have fallen through, leaving all five (yes, 5!) of its remaining citizens a bit skeptical.

TUI promises to give Castelfalfi a full golf course, 3-star hotel, lush vineyards, and “scores of elegantly crumbling villas” to accommodate the 3,200 tourists, who are expected to be ever-present once the two-year project is complete. If TUI Tours does in fact go through with the project, Castelfalfi could very well be a hot spot for tourists in Tuscany. On the other hand, if you wanted to visit a German town, why not just go to Germany? -- Laura Cimperman

Music Lovers: Get an Insider's View of Tuscany

Experience the riches of Florence and Siena, and the neighboring picturesque hill towns of the Tuscan countryside as you enjoy the hospitality of the Daniel Ferro Vocal Program, July 18 to August 8, 2007. The program is celebrating celebrating its thirteenth year in Greve in Chianti. Observe master classes and attend weekly performances. Even learn Italian. Spend one, two, or three weeks with talented singers from around the world as they perfect their craft. Ideal for singers, teachers, coaches, or just lovers of music. Weekly rates begin at $2,000 per person ($3,000 for two). Fees include private room, program activities, daily breakfast and weekday lunches. Upgraded accommodations available. For more information, visit www.ferrovocalprogram.org , phone (212) 605-0594 or e-mail ferrovoce@aol.com

Also, If you are in New York City, please join us for A Taste of Tuscany, an evening filled with a sampling of fabulous Tuscan wines and specialties. Thursday, June 7, 2007, 6 to 8 p.m. Donation: $50 per person. Call (212) 877-3619 to make a reservation.

(This is a paid advertisement.)