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Friday, November 30, 2007

Find Religion...in Abruzzo

Abruzzo has so many facets and one of them is that is an incredible place for seeing religious relics. Here's an excerpt from our special report:

The town of Lanciano is home to the first Eucharistic miracle recorded by the Catholic Church. During an 8th century mass, after the consecration, the host was turned into human flesh and the wine was turned into human blood. Scientific tests have revealed that the flesh now housed in the Church of San Francesco is muscular tissue of the heart and although over 1250 years old, it contains all of the chemical properties of freshly shed blood. Interesting the flesh and blood have the same blood type (AB) that has been detected on the Shroud of Turin. (39-0872-713189)

For over three centuries, visitors have come to the town of Manoppello to see a thin veil reported to bear the impression of the face of Jesus Christ. In 1506, an angel appeared to a local resident and gave him the veil. Some theologians now think it is the veil of Veronica once housed at the Vatican. The veil is kept in a case above the main altar at the Sanctuary of the Holy Face (Volto Santo). (39-085-859118)

Newsletter Issue: Dream of Italy's Special Report - Abruzzo

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 2007 Issue Covers Abruzzo!

The November issue - a special report on Abruzzo - is now out - it is posted online for paid subscribers and postal subscribers will receive their copies later this week.

Abruzzo: Italy As It Once Was
An introduction to the region and why it is still much like it was in the past - natural and authentic. Thirty percent of the region is covered by national parks and nature reserves making it the greenest region in Europe.

Cool Places to Stay in Abruzzo

From an ancient castle to a chic inn in a revitalized mountain town to a green design resort on the beach, check out these places to stay. Also a list of tour companies who specialize in the region.

Fortresses, Candy and Festivals: Towns to Visit
See a fortress with stunning views and Italy's narrowest street in Civitella del Tronto. Find out why snakes love Castelli. Eat sweet confetti candy in Sulmona. Learn about the bloody World War II battle that took place in Ortona.

There's Something for Everyone in Abruzzo
The region of Abruzzo is a popular destination for skiing and beach vacations. There are numerous sights of interest to religious pilgrims. A few companies now offer cooking vacations specializing in Abruzzese cuisine!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Food for Thought

gI just posted below about the book I am currently reading, The Lost Ravioli Recipies of Hoboken. . I want to share a passage from the book that I found intriguing enough to mark the other night. Author Laura Schenone writes:

By 1920, nine million people - about one-quarter of Italy's citizens - lived outside the country, writes historian Carol Helstosky in her book Garlic and Oil. Ironically, she argues, it was this exodus from Italy that finally helped create more abundance for all Italians. There was more food to go around for those who remained, and those abroad used their new wages to import the foods they desired but never could afford - dried pasta, olive oil, tomatoes, and cheeses from back home. This external demand provided the capital to help build the Italian mass-produced food industry, which ultimately helped create a stronger, wealthier Italy and a new concept of unified Italian cuisine based on tomatoes, pasta, parmigiano cheese, and pizza. It is an odd idea to imagine that immigrants had to leave home to eat the food of home. In this way, Italians around the world fueled an imagined culinary tradtion. It was what life "should have been," writes Helstosky.

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken

I'm reading a wonderful new book called The Lost Ravioli Recipies of Hoboken. The author Laura Schenone, a friend of a writer friend, actually called me a few years back as she was working on the book. She was looking for travel tips for her trip to Liguria where she planned to research the origin of her great grandmother's famous ravioli recipe. What she finds -- on both sides of the Atlantic -- is so much more. Schenone discovers her great grandparents wonderful love story, the difficult choices her ancestors had to make when emigrating to the U.S.

Ravioli is Schenone's vehicle for telling a story about culinary history and about her own family's history. Not only does Schenone draw the reader in with an exploration of the ingredients and techniques for making authentic ravioli, her honest examination of family dynamics and lingering ghosts makes this an addictive read. The problem is that I keep reading the book just before going to sleep and all the talk of this wonderful Italian food makes me intensely hungry. By the time I finish the book, I'm sure that I will trying to make homemade ravioli myself!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not Oprah's Favorite Things - But Mine!

There's an advantage to being your own boss and one of them is the executive decision to watch Oprah, when possible, at 4 p.m. each weekday. That's my coffee break. Today she presented "Oprah's Favorite Things" - the episode people wait for all year with her recommendations for gift giving. It got me thinking about my favorite things.

Cinema Paradiso: Hands down my favorite movie of all time. I have the movie poster hanging in my home and the tag line on the poster says it all - An enchanted village. A wonderful friendship. Star-crossed lovers. And the magic of the movies. That's why I have decided to give the 2-DVD Deluxe Edition of Cinema Paradiso - a $24.95 value - FREE along with all subscriptions, renewals and gift subscriptions this holiday season! My gift to YOU.

Rome: When people hear that I edit a subscription newsletter on Italy and that I have been there some 20 times, they invariably ask me what my favorite place is. Well, it is the Eternal City. I just feel so alive when I'm in Rome and so in tune with human history, thousands of years of it, as well as the joys of everyday life. That's why this holiday season, I've created the Dream of Rome Travel Gift Basket - to celebrate the city I love so much. (The photo is of me, on the right, and my best friend from growing up, Mary, at the Rome's Trevi Fountain.)

Enrico Bruschini: And who is my favorite Roman? Well it has to be the incredible Enrico Bruschini who brings that city and the treasures of the Vatican to life unlike anyone can. If you haven't seen Rome with Enrico, you truly haven't seen it. You can read more about my friend - the official Guide of Rome, the humble friend to presidents and world leadeers - in our FREE sample issue. All the way from Rome, Enrico has sent me 12 inscribed copies of his book In The Footsteps of the Popes - exclusively available to Dream of Italy customers.

You Say Abruzzi, I Say Abruzzo

So which is it? I'm working on a special report on Abruzzo - Italy's mountainous region bordering the Adriatic. Yet so many people call it Abruzzi. Why?

In the Middle Ages the region was called Abruzzo, from the Latin Aprutium. Later, the region was divided into three areas, Abruzzo Citeriore, Abruzzo Ulteriore I and Abruzzo Ulteriore II. So if you've taken Italian you know that the plural of a word ending in an "o" ends in "i" - thus Abruzzi referred to all three of these areas.

When Italy unifed in 1860, the region of Molise was joined to these three areas and the region came to be known as Abruzzi e Molise. In 1963, the Italian government separated Abruzzo and Molise into two distinct regions. Italy has a total of 20 regions in all.

I can now sleep better at night knowing the explantion. Hope you can too!

Newsletter Issue - Dream of Italy's Special Report - Abruzzo

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What Do Italian Hotel Star Ratings Mean?

Did you know that star ratings at Italian hotels are awarded by the government? They can sometimes be tricky to understand. Here are some tips for juding hotel ratings-
  • 4-star or 5-star hotels must have personnel that speak at least two languages. They must provide breakfast areas and have elevators. (2- and 3-star hotels must have elevators above the 2nd story.)
  • Room service is required hotels of 3-stars or more. Housekeeping is also guaranteed once a day as well as an afternoon tidy up.
  • All 3-, 4-, and 5-star hotel rooms have telephone with direct external lines. 2-star hotels must have phones in the rooms.
  • Linens are changed daily in 4- and 5-star hotels. 3-star hotels change their linens three times a week, 2-stars, twice a week. 1-stars change linens at least once a week.
  • Bar service is available 8 hours a day at 2-star hotels, 12 hours at 3-stars and 16 hours at 4-and 5-star hotels.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gift Subscription Comes with FREE "Cinema Paradiso" DVD set!

My all time favorite movie is the Italian flick Cinema Paradiso. That's why we're giving away the 2-DVD collector's edition of the movie ($24.95 value) with gift subscriptions to the award-winning subscription travel newsletter Dream of Italy and regular subscriptions and renewals!!!

Talk about a way to kick off the holiday season right!!! The story is set at the end of World War II in Sicily where a young boy discovers the magic of the movies and bonds with the town's grandfatherly film projectionist. I hope you will all consider a gift subscription (with DVDs) for your favorite Italophile or traveler. Or we don't blame you if you subscribe or renew yourself so can have your own copy of Cinema Paradiso!

So how do you order a holiday gift subscription which includes the Cinema Paradiso DVDs?

Easy, pick one of the following gift subscription plans:

All subscriptions come with online access to all of our back issues. Unless you tell us otherwise, on or about December 18th, we will mail a hard copy of the Dec/Jan issue of the newsletter, the Cinema Paradiso DVDs and a gift letter (including how to access the online archive) to the recipient. (If you would like to order more than one susbcription, make them separate purchases so we get all of the mailing information.)

How do you order a subscription for yourself (or renew your current subscription) and get the Cinema Paradiso DVDs?

Click here! Your first issue will be November 2007, out later this month, and your DVD set will arrive in December!

Quick Tip: When to Visit the Vatican Museums

Don't Go: The last Sunday of the month when admission is free. Truly everyone and their mother will be in line with you.

Do Go: Wednesday morning when other visitors will be in St. Peter's Square for the Pope's weekly blessing. (He blesses the crowd from his apartment window at 11 a.m.)

Gift Guide: Italy in Photographs

While its hard to leave Italy, images and photos are the next best things to preserving the magic of this place. Artist Allison Cross has shared her drawings and photos in the Christmas cards and note cards and prints she has produced for Dream of Italy.

Now we introduce photographer Nancy Robinson who uses both black and white and color film to capture unique angles in Italy's cities and on its coasts. She especially has some phenomenal photographs of the Amalfi Coast (the above photo is from Sorrento). Dream of Italy is pleased to offer these photos, fully matted and framed (in handmade Italian frames, of course), in either 4" x 5" or 8" x 12". These make terrific gifts as well as items to add to you personal collection of Italian images.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Yummy!: Artisanal Bread School in Tuscany

There are few things more pleasurable than freshly baked bread. Perhaps freshly baked bread dipped in Tuscan olive oil? How about learning to bake your own fresh Italian bread in Tuscany?!? That's what you can do at the Artisanal Bread School based at the La Macchia estate in the Tuscan village of Mercatale di Cortona.

Classes are held in one of the estate's old villas and where participants get hands on experience baking in an ancient wood-fired oven. Students will make focaccia, ciabatta, rustic sourdoughs, sourdough olive bread, yeasted loaves and plain white loaves as well as learn about ingredients and techniques. There's even an olive oil tasting class, using oil from the estate's 3,000 olive trees.

In May, the school will offer an in-depth course with award-winning British baker Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. The five-day course along with accommodations and evening meals cost 975 euros. ABS founder and New York native Carl Shavitz will teach two- and three-day courses during May at a cost of 430 to 630 euros. Sign me up!

Get a FREE Copy of "Dream of Italy's Special Report: Sicily"

Interested in learning more about the enchanting and alluring island of Sicily? Sign up for Dream of Italy's twice monthly free e-mail updates on travel to Italy and automatically receive a FREE copy of Dream of Italy's Special Report: Sicily ($12 value). Our report covers everything from the hustle and bustle of Palermo to Sicily's volcanic Aeolian Islands. Find out what Sicily and what Dream of Italy are all about by clicking here.