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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Year's in Venice: San Clemente Palace

Venice seems like the perfect place to ring in 2008. If a New Year's trip is in your plans, consider the two-night New Year's Package at Venice's San Clemente Palace. This package for two people includes:
  • two nights accommodations between December 30th and January 1st

  • an upgrade to the next highest category of room

  • daily buffet breakfast

  • New Year's Eve multi-course dinner, dancing and entertainment

Package starts at 1,300 euros per couple, including tip.


Article: Tips for Spending Christmas and New Year's in Venice
Issue: Dream of Italy's Special Report: Venice

Sunday, October 28, 2007

October 2007 Issue of Dream of Italy

The October issue is now out - it is posted online for paid subscribers and postal subscribers will receive their copies later this week.

The Quiet Jewels of Western Sicily
Visitors often overlook the westernmost portion of this enigmatic and compelling island that takes visitors to the saltpans of Trapani, the heights of Erice and the coastline of Castellammare del Golfo.

Disney Does Italy
The folks behind Mickey Mouse and Disney Cruises are now running organized family tours in Italy. Our writer brings along her family and reviews her experience.

News, Tips, Deals and Events
Take a Walk on the Gourmet Side of Venice (Culinary Walking Tours)
Harvest Time: How to Volunteer at an Italian Farm
Taking the Kids to Rome? Read This
Italy in America: Watch the Pallino
A New Resource for Florence Shopping Tips

Not a subscriber? Click here to subscribe for immediate online access to this issue and 45 back issues!

Washington, DC Event: "Planning for Your Dream of Italy" Wine Tasting

It is no mistake that the name of my subscription travel newsletter is Dream of Italy; for so many, traveling to Italy, spending an extended period of time there or even retiring in the land of la dolce vita is a dream. So how do you make this dream a reality?

Dream of Italy has partnered with Ameriprise Financial and local financial advisor Rich Carlson to put on a fun, informative event on this very topic, November 14, 2007 in Washington, DC. There's no cost to attend this wine tasting and travel lecture and I'd like to encourage all of Dream of Italy's readers in the DC area to attend. I'll be sharing my most closely guarded secrets for experiencing the best in Italian travel as well as tips on how to battle the weakening dollar. Rich will present his perspective on financial planning for your dream trip and steps you can take today to bring that dream to life."

Rich will also announce the partnership program between Ameriprise and Dream of Italy and how you can receive a free subscription or renewal to Dream of Italy ($89 value) for meeting with Rich for a complimentary financial consultation.

What: Planning for Your Dream of Italy - A Night of Wine Tasting and a Travel Presentation by Italian Travel Expert Kathy McCabe - Presented by Dream of Italy and Ameriprise Financial
Where: Trattoria Alberto, 508 8th Street, SE, Washington, DC
When: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 7 p.m.
How: There is no cost for the event, but space is limited. Please RSVP with your name and mailing address by using this e-mail form.

If you can't make the event but would still like to arrange for a complimentary consultation with Ameriprise financial advisor Rich Carlson (you'll receive a year of Dream of Italy as a bonus), contact him directly at (703) 902-8907 or Richard.D.Carlson@ampf.com Rich is licensed in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia and New York.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Looking for Venice Christmas Cards?

Yes, boys and girls, it is just about that time of year...I was in Target this evening, purchasing a Halloween costume. If you must know, it was for me. Apparently, even thirtysomethings go to Halloween parties...Anyway, the aisles just next to the Halloween items were filling with all kinds of Christmas products. Come November 1, the holiday bonanza will be unleashed.

Which brings me to Christmas cards and my incredibly talented friend, artist Allison Cross. She's done it once again this year, created a new series of Christmas cards and my new favorite is Venice's San Marco in snow (pictured above). Allison has also introduced a sampler pack of Italian Christmas cards featuring Florence's Duomo with wreath, Venice's San Marco with wreath, Rome's Pantheon with wreath and the Vatican's St. Peter's with bow.

Get ahead of the game kids, you might be munching on Halloween candy, but it is time to order your Christmas cards and if you or those on your list love Italy, these unique creations are for you!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Trajan's Markets Reopen in Rome

Trajan's Markets reopened to the public today in Rome after more than two years of restoration and construction. The new Museum of the Imperial Forums also opened today, according to the Italian news agency, ANSA. The refurbished markets and new museum are the first steps in the creation of a number of old and new museums and cultural sites on Rome's Capitoline Hill.
Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni calls this new exhibition area, to be completed in 2010, "a new Louvre."

"The museum holds symbolic pieces from every forum," says Trajan Forum archaeological chief Lucrezia Ungaro. According to ANSA, "Stand-outs include a bronze foot from a Winged Victory in the Forum of Augustus; an armoured figure from Trajan's Forum and two pieces from Caesar's Forum; and a frieze with cupids and a cornice stone from the Temple of Venus decorated with dolphins and tridents."


Issue: Dream of Italy's Special Report: Rome

Article: How to Do Rome, So Rome Doesn't Do You In
Dream of Rome Travel Gift Basket
Roma Decoupage Window Box

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Do Your Homework Before Renting a Villa in Italy

In this excerpt from Dream of Italy's Special Report: Villa Rentals, villa rental experts share their tips for selecting the villa of your dreams -

Use the Web to do some detective work. Search for the name of the property you are interested in (as well as the town where it is located) on the Internet. You might be able to find out if the owner rents the property on his/her own. If it is significantly cheaper elsewhere, ask the agency, "why?" If it is only $50 cheaper, go with the agency. That's not a big difference and you get the protection of the agency. --Pauline Kenny, slowtrav.com

Be aware that rental rates for many properties vary from 10 to 15 percent depending on the fee each agency charges. The reason is that most properties are not represented exclusively by one agency. The property may have different names in different agency catalogs. --Patricia Absher, Great Travels

Be sure the agent (or owner) is willing to give you the reference of someone who has actually stayed at the place you're considering. The owner/agent should be willing to have you call that person to find out about both it and the agency. --Daniel Morneau, Vacanza Bella

If you are traveling in warm weather, do not focus exclusively on the inside of the house so much in making your choice. You will spend a great deal of time outside of your house for meals and relaxation, as do most Italians. --Alice Tetelman, Italian Vacation Villas

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Access to Once-in-a-Lifetime Italian Travel Experiences

We've crossed the pond!

Last weekend, The London Sunday Times wrote about Dream of Italy, specifically our travel planning off shoot, The Italian Dream Concierge. In "The A-Lister's Guide to Luxury Travel," reporter Paul Croughton details how yours truly and other high-end planners can offer you once-in-a-lifetime experiences. He writes, "The bespoke travel arranger has contacts where mere wandering mortals have none – thus securing you entry into places where you’re not supposed to be."

Here's what Croughton wrote about two exclusive packages yours truly (pictured above - truffle hunting) can provide...

Gain Exclusive Access to Piedmont's White Truffle Auction

"Take the annual white-truffle auction at Castello di Grinzane Cavour, in Piedmont, which is resolutely not open to the motley likes of you and me. Held each November, this is where the world record for the most expensive truffle is broken with carefree regularity – it currently stands at £80,000 for a particularly gnarled knuckle of a thing, secured last year by a Hong Kong businessman. But the bespoke Italian specialist Dream of Italy (00 1 202 237 0657, http://www.dreamofitaly.com/) can get you a seat among the world’s top food buyers and chefs at the auction, followed by a private dinner dripping with truffles. The next day, you will set off on a private truffle hunt with one of Piedmont’s best hunters and his dogs. A weekend’s truffling costs £2,800 for two people."

Have an Opera Star Serenade You in Your Venetian Suite

"And there’s more. You can go “Ahhhh” to an aria from one of the soloists at La Fenice, in Venice, performed in your hotel suite at the Bauer Il Palazzo (£9,500 with Dream of Italy; as above)."

If you are interested in either of the above luxury packages, contact me.

Do You Know The Three Tomatoes?

The Three Tomatoes is a free weekly e-newsletter written for “women who aren’t kids”. It’s the New York City insiders guide to living, playing, and having fun in and out of New York City. If you’re a woman who has no desire to be a kid, but still wants to look great, feel great and have ball, then you’ll love these weekly missives that provide a balance of service, irreverent humor, passionate storytelling and the need-to-know information on everything from beauty products to the best dining establishments to exotic travel to the latest technology. Sign up today at http://www.thethreetomatoes.com/

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Save Money in Italy by Staying in a Roman Convent

This is an excerpt from an article on staying in Roman convents that appeared in the September 2007 issue of Dream of Italy -

The smell of holy water hits me the moment I'm buzzed into Fraterna Domus, which sits just a few blocks from Piazza Navona. A slim woman in her 50's, with pixie hair cut, navy blue sweater and skirt introduces herself as Sister Milena.

"Where's your habit?" I want to ask, but hold back and get the scoop later from Sister Cecilia, the youngest of the four nuns who live here. "We're an order founded in 1967, after Vatican II, here to help the poor," she tells me. "We are not different from the people we help, so we don't dress differently from them."

The building was formerly used for offices, apartments and artisan workshops till the sisters moved in. Now polished pine tables and wood block paintings of saints and Madonnas in bold primary colors decorate the lobby.

My basement room is as stark as I'd imagine a nun's cell to be, with an IKEA-style closet and twin bed. Over my desk there's a friendly looking Jesus, with long flowing hair, moustache and goatee. The closet-sized bathroom is one of those old fashioned set-ups where there's no shower separation -- water drains into the slanted floor and there's also a gizmo I've never seen before: a spigot sticking out from the toilet, so it can double as a bidet.

The simple atmosphere is calming after running around the curvy Baroque splendors of the neighborhood. I don't even mind the 11 p.m. curfew. I bring a bottle of wine back to my room and stay up late writing and sipping from a paper cup, feeling a twinge of naughtiness: Will one of the sisters knock on my door and bust me for drinking? Outside my tiny alley-level window, signorine in high heels clickety-clack by - their breathy exchanges with their boyfriends adds a spicy touch.
-- Susan Van Allen

Paid newsletter subscribers can get the details on how to stay at Fraterna Domus and a handful of other Roman convents by clicking here ** Not a subscriber? Join now and save $15 off our regular subscription price and gain immediate access to this article and hundreds of others! **

Saturday, October 06, 2007

How You Might End Up in the Slammer When You Visit Italy

Don't worry, it is only for dinner.

There's a new dining option in Tuscany and you will have to submit to a background check and receive a security clearance to get a reservation. The 500-year old Fortezza Medicea in Volterra -- a high-security prison -- invites the public to eat at its prison restaurant, reports Budget Travel Magazine.

"In a cavernous space filled with simple wooden tables and benches, guards stand watch as sommelier Santolo, who's serving 24 years for murder, pours Chianti. In the kitchen, chefs Massimo and Giuseppe prepare mini frittatas served with fennel crisps, nonna Catozza (baked vegetables in a bread bowl), gnocchi with a fava bean purée, and a thick cheesecake garnished with chocolate. They also happen to be doing time for armed robbery and murder," writes Andrea Thompson.
Dinner costs about $34 per person and it takes about two months to secure a reservation. For more information, call (39) 058 886099 or visit volterratur.it