Monday, June 30, 2008
If you happen to be in Rome on the third day of September, catch the train to Viterbo for the Festa di Santa Rosa, the festival of the city's patron saint. Thousands flock to see one hundred facchini, or strongmen, carry a 90-foot tall, four-ton macchina - obelisk-shaped statue - of the Santa Rosa through the winding streets of the city. The tradition began hundreds of years ago, with the statue becoming progressively larger and heavier until the 19th century, when the macchina toppled over, crushing facchini and spectators alike. Not to worry, however: a disaster has not happened since, although it is still said that the facchini must sign their wills before they can bear the weight of the macchina. The macchina is truly an incredible sight - a gigantic tower, swathed in light, seems to float over the apartment buildings as it glows against the night sky. Onlookers line up for the priming viewing spots in the early morning, sending friends to bring back sustenance from the piazzas, where dozens of stands are set up in a carnival-like atmosphere. The Festa of Santa Rosa is almost an other-worldly experience, so don't miss it. - Justine Gregory
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Friendliness, professionalism, flexibility, culture and attention for detail are Link's key words. Call (39) 055 218191 or visit www.linkfirenze.it
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Sunday, June 29, 2008
Popes, Pizza & Thermal Baths in Viterbo
This Lazio city just 60 miles from Rome offers a welcome respite from the Eternal City's tourists. You'll be greeted by legends of popes, one of the best-preserved groups of medieval buildings in Europe and lovely thermal baths.
Gubbio: A City of More Than Just Silence
This Umbrian city has a reputation as a "city of silence," but there's more than meets the eye, or ear, here including incredible gastronomy and a chance to participate in a truffle hunt.
A Tale of 7 Stars and a Butler
What's it like to stay in a 7-star hotel with your own butler? What makes a property earn 7 stars? Our writer tests out Europe's only uber-luxury hotel in Milan.
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Monday, June 23, 2008
Recently departed Brunello president, Francesco Cinzano, said there were certainly some “bad apples in the basket” who were hoping to profit from the incredible success of the Tuscan wine, but Brunello drinkers can breathe easy, as authorities dropped the threat to ban earlier today after receiving assurances of the wine’s integrity. Brunello will continue to be allowed into the U.S. as long as the imported bottles are accompanied by a quality guarantee from the Italian government – great news for Brunello wineries, which export 25% of their 7 million bottles directly to the United States. With such good news, let’s pour a glass to celebrate -- I’ll toast to that! -- Justine Gregory
If you are looking for other ways to save money on your next trip to Italy, be sure to check out Dream of Italy’s article on money-saving tips for travel in Italy. And yes, the article is that most beautiful of beautiful words – FREE. -- Justine Gregory
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Enjoy an idyllic, affordable week in
Ideal for singers, voice teachers, coaches, conductors, choral singers and… lovers of music wishing to experience the development of young artists and enjoy
Limited space available for the week of July 30th only.
The price to audit the program for one-week is $1,850, which includes the following:
- 7 nights lodging (private room)
- 8 continental breakfasts
- 5 weekday lunches
- observation of all Master Classes
- participation in the Italian language studies
- Participation in all social activities: concerts, receptions, etc.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The Vatican has banned the producers and actors of the movie Angels and Demons, now filming in Rome, from entering the Holy See and any churches in Rome. Ron Howard is directing the film version of Dan Brown's prequel to the popular book and film, The DaVinci Code. You may remember that actor Tom Hanks played Professor Langdon in The DaVinci Code and is reprising his role in this film. Howard and Hanks have already filmed other scenes in the Eternal City. (This photo shows Hanks and Howard filming in Rome last week.)
Angels and Demons producers requested permission to film scenes in the churches of Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria, which house precious paintings by Caravaggio, sculptures by Bernini, and a chapel designed by Raphael, but were denied, explained Monsignor Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the diocese.
“It’s a film that treats religious issues in a way that contrast with common religious sentiment” We would be helping them create a work that might well be beautiful but that does not conform to our views. This is a prequel to ‘The DaVinci Code’ and it’s clear that the theme is similar.”
The DaVinci Code stirred up anger and controversy within the Catholic religious community in with the assertion that Jesus was secretly married to Mary Magdalene and fathered a child with her. The book/film also portrayed the conservative Catholic movement of Opus Dei as a murderous cult.
In Angels and Demons, Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon, who must save the Vatican from a canister of anti-matter that threatens to destroy the Vatican. The Vatican, however, appears to be unamused by Langdon’s kind gesture, forcing the film’s producers to shoot in the city of Caserta, near Naples, where the former Royal Palace (see photo) will stand in for the interior of the Vatican.
If you would like to get a sneak peek at this regal city in the Campania region before it hits the big screen, be sure to check out Dream of Italy’s detailed article on the palace and visiting Caserta (paid subscribers only.) Many have compared its beauty to that of the French palace Versailles. -- Justine Gregory
P.S. - If you want to take your own self-guided tour of Rome following the plot of Angels and Demons, see our article by the guides who developed the first tour around the book. (Paid subscribers only.)
Monday, June 16, 2008
Puglia, the sun-drenched region on the Adriatic coast in the heel of Italy, has a rich tradition of wine and olive oil production. Italians themselves know that some of the country's best vintages and oils come from this area. In fact, Puglia produces 29% of the country's oil and 18% of Italy's wine. About half of Puglia's vineyards and olive trees are located in the Jonico-Salentino district, in the south-central part of the region surrounding the beautiful Baroque city of Lecce. A unique combination of factors including weather, soil, technique and traditional varietals have lead the Salentino wines and oils to international acclaim.
You don't need a plane ticket to enjoy the bounty of this unique land. Salentino comes to America for Italian Week, June 18 to 24.
BuonItalia at Chelsea Market
75 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Thursday, June 19 - 5 to 7 p.m.
Friday, June 20 - noon to 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 21 - noon to 7 p.m.
Teatro Goldoni Restaurant
1909 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Monday, June 23 - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, June 24 - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
To prove their point, they put together a chart directly comparing the cost of breakfast, dinner, a bus ticket, a hotel room in Philadelphia vs. Florence. The results might surprise you. Of the eleven comparison items, eight were more expensive in Philadelphia, one (the hotel room) was more expensive in Florence and two were about the same (cup of coffee and train ticket).
So for all of those who think Italy is so expensive, its not any more expensive than an American city. Sure the plane ticket is a significant added expense but once you get past that...
Tips and Tricks for Saving Money in Italy This Summer (Free Access Article)
Travel to Italy Up This Summer For Americans (Blog Post)
Dream of Italy's Collected Florence (e-book)
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Hear samples at: www.iJourneys.com
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
We’ll have the awe-inspiring opportunity of hearing the renowned Fine Arts Quartet perform on priceless historic instruments at the Stradivari Foundation's annual festival. Surrounded by the brilliant colors of fall, we’ll delight in the marvelous towns of Cremona, Mantua, and Verona , savor mouthwatering cuisine and wander hilltop villages and lakeside castles.
Click here for details of this luscious September trip, and join us for a thrilling experience of
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Fortunately, this summer and fall, Auto Europe is offering a free GPS rental with car rentals in Italy of at least eight days (intermediate class or higher). Book by June 30 for car pickups June 20 through November 30, 2008.
Dream of Italy readers can also save 5% on any Auto Europe rental by using the discount code 722002261.
Monday, June 09, 2008
1. Use new low-cost airlines and get great introductory airfare deals. This month Italian airline Air One launches service from Chicago and Boston to Milan. Low-cost carrier Zoom Airlines recently started flights from Toronto and Montreal to Rome.
2. Use the Web to find and predict the best airfare deals, but don’t hesitate to buy. Farecompare.com and Farecast.com offer predictions on whether ticket prices for your particular route will stay steady, increase or decrease over the next week But if you find a deal, snap it up, seats are nearly filled for summer travel.
3. Buy a package and save two ways. First, by buying a combination of airfare, hotel, rental car, and/or train tickets you almost always save over what each component would cost individually. Second, pre-paying in dollars before you leave eliminates the risk of currency fluctuations if you were to pay euros in Italy.
4. Cruise the Italian coastline. Nearly every cruise line you can think of – Carnival to Princess– will be cruising the Mediterranean this summer, and by climbing aboard, you can cover your transportation, dining and accommodations costs with one price – in dollars.
5. Make a bid. LuxuryLink.com offers luxury hotel packages and villa rentals at discounted rates through online auctions, while Skyauction.com allows individuals to bid on air and hotel packages, coach and business class airline tickets, and hotel nights. The key – do your homework before bidding.
6. Skip the hotel. Hotel rates in Europe are up. Instead, rent a villa or apartment. You will pay way less per night and can save money by using your kitchen to cook for yourself.
7. Get a tourist card. Italian cities like Naples, Orvieto, Padova, Rome, Turin, Trieste, Verona and Venice offer tourist cards which can save you big bucks on public transportation, as well as often including admission to many of the cities’ museums, churches and monuments.
Click here for a detailed and free Dream of Italy article on more money-saving tips for travel to Italy.
Have your own tips? Share them with a comment on this blog post.
Regular hours apply (8:30 am until 7:30 pm [with the final entrance slot at 6 pm] from April 1st until October 31st, and until 5 pm [with final entrance at 3:30 pm] from November 1st until March 31st). Tickets are 11 euros each for Pompeii and Herculaneum, and 20 euros for the “Cumulative ticket,” offering access to Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabia, and the Antiquarium of Bosoreale. Click here for more information at the official Web site. -- Justine Gregory
Rated on a scale of one to five “sails,” 12 beachside resorts were bestowed with the highly coveted cinque vele, with the Tuscan island of Giglio (photo above) receiving highest marks – the first time in the eight-year history of the guide in which an entire island took the number one slot – followed by Pollica in Salerno and Riomaggiore (a.k.a one of the five terre in Liguria’s Cinque Terre) rounding out the top three.
If your future Italian travels look to be more lakes than beaches, however, fret not – for the second year, the group also reviewed the top Italian lakes, which host 24 million visitors a year, and accounting for about 6.6% of the total tourist influx to
- Caldaro sulla Strada del Vino, on Trentino Alto Adige’s Lago di Caldaro
- Farra D’Alpago on
’s Lago di Santa Croce Venice
- Malcesine on Lake Garda
With the great success of the film adaptation of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, it was a forgone conclusion that Brown's other book, Angels and Demons, this one centered on Vatican intrigue, would be made into a film. In fact, as Trovacinema.it reports, director Ron Howard is filming in Rome this week. Actor Tom Hanks (does his hair look any better in this flick?) is reprising his roll as Robert Langdon. I, for one, think Angels and Demons (or Angeli e Demoni in Italian) was a much better book and will probably be a better film. What do you think?
P.S. - If you want to take your own self-guided tour of Rome following the plot of Angels and Demons, see our article by the guides who developed the first tour around the book. (Paid newsletter subscribers only.)
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
We were catching up on what we've both been doing in the past few months and turns out that Suzy and Bill were busy buying a small estate in Umbria! La Fattoria del Gelso , just outside of Assisi, is nestled on 40 hectares of a working farm. The main building is a two-story farmhouse built in the 1700s. There's also a separate annex just across a courtyard. Suzy showed me photos of the estate and it seems to have every modern convenience while maintaining that rustic charm - there's WiFi and satellite television and an enormous modern kitchen. In total there are 8 bedrooms - what a great place to bring a group of friends.
And get this - since they just purchase the property, they would like some folks to try it out and give them feedback on their stays. So they're offering this entire estate for rent for just 1,500 euros per week this summer and I think, fall. WOW! If you bring a group of 10, that's less than 100 euros per person for the week! It should cost three times that amount. Suzy assures me that the estate is in perfect working order and there's someone on call to help with any problem 24/7. If you're thinking about Umbria in the near future, contact Suzy and tell her I sent you! I just might take advantage of this deal myself!
Quiet Places to Stay in Umbria (paid subscribers only)
A Guide to Umbria's Towns (paid subscribers only)
Umbria Surges with Spirit (paid subscribers only)
On the Road with St. Francis of Assisi in Umbria (paid subscribers only)