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Friday, March 28, 2008

Sicilian Cooking Classes in Siracusa

This is a condensed excerpt from the March 2008 issue of Dream of Italy:

A typical day for Fiorangela Piccione, a youthful-looking grandmother, begins with pastry baking for L'Approdo delle Sirene, her Siracusa bed and breakfast She dons running shoes to circle the island and then does an afternoon stint at her travel agency. Oh yes, Fiora also makes time for cooking lessons. At one produce stand, Fiora compared big green olives cracked before brining to small black ones pierced with a needle. At another, she chose huge bunches of sinepa, mustard greens, and tenerume, velvety greens attached to dramatically long, convoluted squash. Fiora's favorite fishmonger, whom she introduced as "an artist," deftly filleted lampuga, a popular fish similar to mahi mahi.

Afterward, I toured Siracusa's fine archeological museum with my daughter until 4 p.m. By then Fiora had prepped and artfully arranged many ingredients. She demonstrated her method of toasting bread crumbs, layering them in a casserole with fresh anchovy fillets. Fiora sautéed the lampuga fillets with onions and peppers, and simmered the mustard greens before seasoning with garlic and hot red pepper. The tenerume leaves joined chopped tomatoes in a soupy pasta sauce. Fiora had invited other americani staying at L'Approdo to attend the feast, which began with antipasti, including olives, soft tuma, similar to farmer's cheese but better, and the anchovy casserole. As we finished dessert, a boat docked just yards away. From the balcony, we watched fishermen unload big blue tubs filled with lampuga for tomorrow's market. A private or small group lesson with market visit and tasting is 80 euros per person. Call Fiora at (39) 0931 24857 or e-mail info@approdosellesirene.com -- Toni Lydecker, author of a forthcoming Sicilan seafood cookbook

Paid newsletter subscribers can read about more authentic Sicilan cooking programs in Palermo, Mondello, Marzamemi, Modica, Menfi and Regaleali.

Get a free copy of our Sicily Special Report: 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).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Papavero Villa Rentals

March 2008 Issue: Sicily Cooking, Rome by Vespa

The March 2008 issue of Dream of Italy is posted online for paid newsletter subscribers. Postal subscribers will receive their copies next week. Here's what they will be reading about:

Sicily: Adventures in Cooking
Just about every visitor falls victim to Sicily's seductive ways with food. We detail a half-dozen cooking programs - lasting from a day to a week - where you can learn culinary secrets from native Sicilians.

Scooting Around Rome in a Vespa
You know you have always wanted to recreate those scenes in the movie Roman Holiday. One woman shares her experience of braving Roman traffic and seeing the ancient sites on a Vespa.

News, Tips, Deals and Events
Finding the Perfect Capri Cafe; Sesame Offers Hip Florence Dining ; "Scent Dinners": Where Taste Meets Smell; How to Get the Best Airfares to Europe

Not a paid newsletter subscriber? Subscribe or renew today and receive an immediate download of our 78-page e-book Dream of Italy's Collected Venice, online access to 50 back issues and 10 issues over the coming year! Don't even think about going to Italy without reading our insider advice first!

The International Cooking School of Italian Food and Wine

Join us for hands-on cooking in our beautiful palazzo in Bologna, the Gastronomic Capital of Italy!

Together with Italian chefs, make delicious authentic dishes. Watch Parmigiano-Reggiano being made, visit a balsamic vinegar attic. Shop in outdoor markets, enjoy winery visits, private truffle hunts and dining in Michelin-star restaurants.

May, June, September & October, Bologna, Tuscany, Piedmont


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Monday, March 24, 2008

Padma Lakshmi's Italy Dining Advice

One of your editor's favorite TV shows is Top Chef but I didn't know the connections tha the host Padma Lakshmi has to Italy. She lived in Milan and Rome for six years and is the former host of the Italian hit television show Domenica In. In the current issue of La Cucina Italiana she shares her Italian dining recommendations.

Lakshmi recounts a restaurant in Italy that allowed her to indulge her love for both Italian and Italian cuisine. "There is a restaurant in Milan called Il Rigolo that has been there for almost 50 years. I used to go there for the lasagna al curry made with a creamy, curry bechamel. Eventually they taught me how to make it myself," she says.

The Langhe in Piedmont is Lakshmi's favorite region for eating. "I love the variety of Northern Italian food, and in particular the heavier autumnal dishes found in Piedmont, like vitello tonnato and all the wild mushrooms.

Where asked where she would go if flown to Italy for dinner, all expenses paid, the television host says "Latteria di San Marco in Milan." She adds, "I would have whatever Maria is making."

Friday, March 21, 2008

International Airfares: The Day You Fly and When You Buy Matter

In last month's issue of Dream of Italy's paid newsletter, I told readers that Farecast.com now makes predictions on fare changes on international routes. It is a great tool for that age old question, "When should I buy my plane tickets?" The company has come out with some great tips for playing the international fare game this summer, especially since prices are up 10% over last summer:

  • Choosing the right day of the week to fly can significantly impact fares. The most expensive day to depart is Saturday, while the least expensive days are Tuesday and Wednesday. Flying Tuesday to Tuesday can save a family of four $220, or $55
    per ticket, on average.
  • For peak summer travel (early June through late July), buying early or late is the best strategy to get the lowest price on airfare.
  • For travel to Europe in July or August, consumers could wait as little as one or two months before departure and hold out for mid-summer sales. In 2007, this strategy worked well for travel to London (LHR), but was riskier for popular destinations such as Paris (CDG) or Rome (FCO).
  • For domestic and European trips in late-August or September, consumers can wait for
    end-of-summer sales which happened throughout July last year for domestic
    travel, and at the end of July for European travel.
  • When planning a multi-country tour, shop less popular airports as your starting point. For example, fares to London (LHR) are typically $200 less than tickets to Paris or Rome, while Madrid (MAD) can be an affordable alternative.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Joe Says: This is the BIG Business-Fare Sale!

My friend Joe alerted his readers today about a major business-class fare sale on Continental flights to Europe this summer.

Joe says," As it has done every summer and fall since 9/11, Continental Airlines has unleashed a huge and deeply discounted sale for business class travel to Europe this summer. One-way prices start at $799 one-way for nonstops from Continental's Newark hub to several cities and reach $999 one-way for most of the other destinations on the airline's route map. A few cities (notably Lisbon at $1,099 one-way and Athens at $1,249 one-way) are slightly high. Nonstops to Europe from Continental's Cleveland and Houston/Intercontinental hubs are appropriately higher. Connecting flights, primarily through Newark, are also priced at very low sale levels."

There are restrictions of course, i.e. outbound travel must take place between June 29 and August 29, must be on actual Continental flights, no code-share. Click here for more details.

Joe expects that other airlines will match the deal but reminds us that "Continental is virtually the only U.S. airline offering flights to Europe from Newark, Cleveland and Houston, so exact comparisons will be difficult."

Best Deal Ever: Complete Dream of Italy Library

In honor of our 50th issue, buy the complete Dream of Italy library for our lowest price EVER! Purchased separately, this incredible travel repository should cost nearly $700, but for two weeks ONLY, it is available for $297 AND includes a BONUS one-year newsletter

Here's what is included:

This library is available for two weeks only for just $297. If you're up for renewal, this is a great way to do it and get all of our printed back issues in the process. Anyone who spends any serious time planning Italian travel or needs information at their fingertips shouldn't miss this!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Music and Markets on the Amalfi Coast

The breathtaking Amalfi Coast is the setting for an inspiring week of discovery and music with Music and Markets Tours. In the magical atmosphere of "the divine coast," enjoy mouthwatering cuisine and explorations of delightful seaside towns, the ancient ruins of Pompeii and the fabled isle of Capri. Complete each day with performances of the renowned Fine Arts Quartet and other artists in picturesque locations.

Click here for details of this luscious July trip and join us for a thrilling experience of authentic Italy!

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Visiting Venice in a Wheelchair

Traversing the waterways and bridges of Venice can sometimes seem like a challenge even when you are an able-bodied person but imagine being in a wheelchair? This interesting article in The Toronto Star explains how one woman, Washington, D.C. Judge Pat Broderick tackled the city despite her disability. She provides hope and some work arounds for anyone in her situation. "Faced with a steep bridge on the way to the famed heart of the city at San Marco Square, we boarded a vaporetto at the nearest stop. It meant going the long way instead of taking a three-minute walk, but the long way in Venice is always a feast for the eyes and the camera lens," writes Broderick's friend.

Here are some tips from Broderick and her traveling companion:

  • Planning a trip: Italian travel agency Regency San Marino specializes in accessible travel and arranges tours for individuals, small groups and families through the Internet and email. Its website also lists hotels and other services that are rated accessible. http://www.accessibleitaly.com/ (photo above from their site)

  • Canal Bridges: Venice provides keys for mechanical lifts that are installed on some bridges. (Regency San Marino can arrange to provide keys.)

  • Transport: The water buses or vaporettos provide room for one or two wheelchairs on each boat. Wheelchair users and one companion are admitted free.

Need more insider's travel info on Venice? Purchase an immediate download of our new e-book Dream of Italy's Collected Venice OR subscribe to our print newsletter and receive the e-book as a bonus!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kids Love La Piazza di Carolina

Located outside of New York City (in Westchester County), La Piazza di Carolina offers innovative programming in Italian for children and adults. Our specialties include our an italian immersion program for pre-schoolers, workshops in Italian cooking for children and adults, and cultural puppet shows. This summer we are offering a unique Italian camp experience in Italy – on Tuscany's Isola d’Elba – for families with children. Please visit our web site for full details: http://www.lapiazzadicarolina.com/

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ca' Sagredo: The Latest in Venetian Luxury

This is an excerpt from the February 2008 issue of Dream of Italy:

The 15th-century palazzo belonging to Venice's prominent Sagredo family lay abandoned for 25 years before work began on transforming it into the new and exclusive hotel, Ca' Sagredo. It took seven years to renovate the frescoes, plaster work and wall-size canvases that the Sagredos collected and commissioned. The result is museum-like -- incorporating 17th and 18th century paintings by Tiepolo, Ricci and Longhi -- yet intimate, there are just 24 suites and 18 guest rooms. Even the standard rooms are large by Venetian standards. The palazzo's original library - now a guestroom - is a national monument. The location of Ca' Sagredo couldn't be better - directly on the Grand Canal just steps from the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square. The hotel's formal restaurant, serving Mediterranean fare, is right on the water and the bar has become a favorite of locals. Rates start at 385 euros per night.

Need more info on Venice? Purchase an immediate download of our new e-book Dream of Italy's Collected Venice OR subscribe or renew today and receive the e-book as a bonus!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Alitalia Returns to LAX

Alitalia has restored its service to Los Angeles International Airport. On June 1, the airline will begin nonstop service to Rome, five days per week, giving California its only nonstop service to Italy.

Traveling eastbound, AZ flight 621 will depart LAX at 3:10 p.m. and arrive in Rome the next day at 12:10 p.m. Westbound, AZ flight 620 will depart Rome at 9:10 a.m. and arrive LAX at 1:10 p.m. the same day. The flights will use Boeing 777-200 aircraft with 42 seats in business class and 249 seats in economy. Rates start at $1,299 roundtrip.

Alitalia was the only carrier offering direct flights from LAX to Italy from 1985 to 2002, but the service due to fewer passengers in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ciclismo Classico Includes Cash in Tour Packages

We all know the dollar is weak. While travelers are still going to Italy, tour companies are doing all they can to stay competitive in these economic coniditions. Nothing speaks quite like cold, hard cash and bicycle tour outifitter Ciclismo Classico is giving 200 euros in spending money to every adult who books one of their European bicycling tours -- they have a number of tours in Italy -- during the month of March.

I predict this will only be the beginning of these types of offers. Have you heard of any interesting promotions tied to the strong euro? Share them in the Comments section!


Article - Tips and Tricks for Saving Euros in Italy (paid subscribers only)