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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Italians Feel Loss of American Spending Power

Italians who depend on tourism for their livelihoods are missing their American customers these days, according a recent article by the Chicago Tribune. The number of American travelers to Italy has fallen some 20% over the past year and everyone from taxi drivers to store clerks to government officials are feeling their absence and blaming the global economic crisis. More reporting from the Tribune:
  • Italian officials predict about a million fewer admissions at museums and tourists sites due to fewer Americans.

  • Clerks at the high-end shops on Rome's Via Condotti say that Chinese and Russian visitors are the only ones dropping big bucks on designer goods.

  • American Express has closed its offices in Venice's Piazza San Marco and near the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, but blame the closings on high rents rather than fewer travelers.

  • One driver says there are visitors to Italy, but they are a different kind: "Now a lot of tourists are taking low-cost tours or coming from Eastern Europe. We have a name for them: The 'tight-fisted tourists.' "

While the situation may seem grim for the Italian tourism industry, it is actually quite favorable for Americans who choose to travel to Italy now. First of all, there will be fewer crowds - always a good thing for an authentic Italian vacation! Italian hotels and travel companies anxious for customers, will be offering better deals. Finally, the exchange rate is much better than it has been in a long time - today the euro is $1.28.

Lufthansa Italia Launches Next Week

The German flagship carrier, Lufthansa, is launching a new air service, Lufthansa Italia, linking Milan’s Malpensa Airport with eight European cities. Lufthansa Italia’s first flight takes off Monday from Milan to Barcelona, followed a few minutes later by a flight to Paris. Through February and March, flights from Milan to Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest, Lisbon, London and Madrid will be added to the line-up. Flights cost about $130 roundtrip including taxes. The airline is offering two seats for the price of one for any bookings made before February 10th. Visit http://www.lufthansa.com/ for more information.

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Call 630.887.8983, visit http://www.ladolceviatravel.com/ or
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Italian Market on Maryland's Eastern Shore

There's nothing you want more when you return from an Italian trip than to continue to eat as well as you did in Italy. That task isn't made any easier by the fact that truly great Italian food stores can be few and far between when you get outside of America's major cities. If you're anywhere near Maryland's Eastern Shore, head for the brand new Piazza Italian Market in Easton.

The folks behind the new store are aiming for something more than a traditional Italian deli, by providing the whole experience of an Italian alimentari – a local grocery store much like that you would find in Verona, Milan or Naples. Along with typical Italian deli meats and sandwiches, the store also offers high quality fresh, dried, and frozen pasta, extra virgin Italian olive oil, balsamic vinegars, hard to find Italian cheeses, and a wide selection of canned and jar products such as pesto, mostarda, Italian tomatoes, and locally grown Italian fruits and vegetables in season.

As the best food stores often do Piazza Italian Market aims to educate its customers about Italian cusine. To that end, the owners are hosting monthly events such as olive oil tastings and cheese pairings.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Introducing Tuscany's Camporsevoli

Camporsevoli is a unique hamlet in the heart of a peaceful and shaded countryside in the southernmost section of Tuscany, on the border with Umbria. The estate is within an hour's drive from Siena, Pienza, Montalcino, Arezzo, Cortona, Perugia, and one and a half hours away from Florence, Rome or Assisi. Florence and Rome are also easy to reach via frequent and fast trains from the nearby town of Chiusi.

Being guests in Camporsevoli will introduce you to the still unspoilt and quite unknown beauty of this serene and mind resting part of Tuscany. The Italo-American and perfectly bilingual owners, descendants of a family with a long tradition of international hospitality, will go out of their way to make sure you feel comfortable and use in the best way possible your time.

Valentina Grossi Orzalesi, daughter of the owners and manager of the property, also is the founder and manager of a well established luxury customized tour company in Florence, One Step Closer, therefore is the perfect resource and contact for one's holiday and insures total assistance and attention.

On the estate there are two houses available for rent: Casa del Neri (4 double bedrooms) and Le Capanne (5 double bedrooms). The two houses joined together offer accommodations for large groups of friends or family reunions. Children of all ages are welcome and specially catered for with babysitters, highchairs, beds.

Following you will find ideas for thematic weeks based from either house, the itineraries can be adapted and customized as much as necessary. Please consider these as examples. They are exclusive packages for Dream of Italy readers who will receive a 15% discount on the weekly rental for bookings confirmed before Feburary 28th.

A Week of Food and Wine

· Welcome dinner (or lunch) upon arrival or any other day of the week
· Attend a hands-on cooking class, followed by dinner, held at the private residence of the owners, with the owners themselves. The menu will be decided based on your preferences and interests
· One visit with wine tasting and lunch at a world famous winery in Montalcino, where one of the best Brunellos is made
· Poolside wine tasting: On a day of your choice, a professional English speaking wine consultant will come to Camporsevoli for a comparative tasting of 5 wines from different Tuscan regions

Art and Culture between Tuscany and Umbria

· Welcome dinner (or lunch) upon arrival or any other day of the week
· 3 half-day tours - choose between the following cities:
* Florence, to bask in the beauties of renaissance
* Siena, to learn about Mediaeval splendor
* Assisi, for the mystic Franciscan heritage
* Perugia, for the unknown secrets of an art not second to any of the above
* Or, a combination of the smaller - but no less in beauty - towns in the immediate surroundings: Pienza, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, Montalcino.

Visit Camporsevoli's Web site or call Valentina at (39) 335 6595033.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wolfgang Puck Shares Italy Travel Tips

Chef Wolfgang Puck tells USA TODAY that the island of Capri is the best place he has ever visited. "I like everything about it. Great food and people dress very well when they go out at night. Exciting night life and especially fun if you have a boat," he tells the newspaper.

Puck, who is famous for his restaurants including Hollywood's Spago, also waxes poetic about the small fishing village of Nerano on the Amalfi Coast, home to two of his favorite Italian restaurants, Quattro Passi and Il Scolio. In fact he's got a great way to combine a visit to both Capri and Nerano.

"When you are in Capri, rent a boat and make the trip to Nerano, about 30 minutes away. Before leaving, call Chef Tonino at Ristorante Quattro Passi for your lunch reservation. As you arrive in Nerano, he will pick you up in his golf cart and take you to his restaurant. You will end up through the wine cellar where you can sample some wonderful antipasto with a glass of Ca' del Bosco brut. Then he will guide you up to the dining room, and you will enjoy some of the tastiest pastas and great local fish and wild strawberries and gelato for dessert. I really like the wines from the Campania region. To top it all off, you will have a great view of Positano and the whole Amalfi Coast."

Download a FREE Copy of Dream of Italy's Special Report: Amalfi Coast

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cilento: Campania's Undiscovered Gem

In the December 2008/January 2009 issue of Dream of Italy, writer Duncan Campbell unveils the long history and natural beauty of a little-known part of Campania. Here's an excerpt:

The southern Italian region of Campania is justifiably known for its premier attractions, most notably Pompeii, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. But go a little further south– just 70 miles from its capital, Naples – into the region and you'll find a veritable gem, virtually unknown to the throngs that are drawn to its more renowned destinations.

Cilento is a land of myth and legend, folklore and history … moonscapes and misty, forest-clad mountains that plunge down to the sea … long stretches of golden-sand beaches interspersed with cave-pockmarked cliffs and hidden coves … hilltop villages with narrow, cobbled alleys, family-run restaurants still using nonna's recipes and caf├ęs that play daily host to the clutch of old men whiling their days away in cards and conversation …

The National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, covering 700 square miles, is Italy's second-largest national park and also one of its youngest, having been established just 17 years ago. And whether you're a hiker or a beach bum, a gastronome or an historian, you'll find a world of discoveries in a landscape that's as varied as anywhere in Italy.

With over 60 miles of coastline stretching north from about 20 miles above Maratea in Basilicata, the cobalt and turquoise waters of Cilento's beaches consistently earn the coveted Blue Flag awarded annually by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Notwithstanding the influx of mainly Italians during July and August, its beaches are rarely overcrowded, and its moderate temperatures allow you to swim comfortably from April to November.

Paid Newsletter Subscriber Can Log-in to Read More About Cilento

P.S. - If you're looking to rent a villa or apartment in the Cilento, our friends at Summer in Italy can help!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Introducing One Step Closer

One Step Closer is the ultimate resource for a tailor made holiday in Italy full of unforgettable experiences. Everything will be ready for you, stress- free, upon arrival in Italy: hotels, guides, drivers, cooking teachers, wineries, artisans but also access to private venues unknown to most.

The Italo-American (and perfectly bilingual !!) staff is on call for free consultations and interesting early booking discounts.

Visit our Web site www.onestepcloser.net or send an e-mail to mail@onestepcloser.net now!

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

December 2008/January 2009 Issue - Cilento, Venice

Dream of Italy's December 2008/January 2009 issue is out and has been delivered to subscribers! If you purchase our BEST SUBSCRIPTION DEAL EVER by January 15th, this will be the first issue you receive including these compelling articles:

Cilento: Campania'sUndiscovered Gem
Cilento is a land of myth and legend, folklore and history …moonscapes and misty, forest-clad mountains that plunge down to the sea… long stretches of golden-sand beaches interspersed with cave-pockmarked cliffs and hidden coves … hilltop villages with narrow, cobbled alleys, family-run restaurants still using nonna's recipes..

Where to Eat in Cilento
Cilento's cuisine is based on fresh, seasonal ingredients and local tradition. Meat dominates inland, while seafood prevails on the coast.

Where to Stay in Cilento
There are accommodations of all kinds in this corner of Campania. We profile everything from an agriturismo to a beach resort to a former 17th-century hunting lodge used by the kings of Spain and Italy.

Four Favorite Venice Hotels
When you want to stay close enough to Piazza San Marco to be close to the action but want to avoid touristy hotels, one of these four establishments might be just what you are seeking.

Venice for the Holidays
A resident of the city gives us the 411 on spending Christmas and New Year's in Venice. What's open, what's not and what's not to be missed!

Venice Offers Free Internet Access to Newborns

Venice is the first city in the world to offer all newborns lifetime, free Internet access. Newborns will be given a username and password for Internet access at the same time their birth certificates are issued.

"The resident's new digital identity will give free access to the Web, because we consider that's an important universal right," said Michele Vianello, Venice's deputy mayor, according to Network World.

Venetian authorities are overseeing a project to bring connectivity to the entire city by laying 46 miles of fiber-optic cable to support 600 WiFi hotspots which will offer free Internet access to Venetian residents.

Where Tourists Can Get Free Internet Access in Venice (Free Access Article)
Dream of Italy's Collected Venice (E-book)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Get Cooking with Ciao Laura in 2009

Let the FLAVORS of Italy DANCE in your mouth on a CIAO LAURA culinary-based vacation in Italy! Ciaolaura.com offers hands-on cooking lessons, foodie excursions, winery visits, personal chef services and customized itineraries throughout Italy.

Savor the experience in 2009!

Visit our Web site at http://www.ciaolaura.com

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Noted Italy Author Paul Hofmann Dies

One of my all-time favorite books about Italy is That Fine Italian Hand by Paul Hofmann. While I've read many other books trying to explain Italians to foreigners, I believe this book captures their particularities superbly. Paul Hofmann, a former New York Times correspondent, died in Rome this past week at 96. His books about Italy are simply treasures. My friend Joe who e-mailed me Hofmann's obituary, rightly calls The Seasons of Rome, "a blog before its time."

While Hofmann told incredible stories, the story of his own life was of note in and of itself. Born in Austria, as a journalist there, he fought against the rise of Nazism and later acted as an informer for the Allies while serving on the staff of the German commandants of occupied Rome during World War II. From 1970 to 1976 he was Rome bureau chief for The New York Times, and in 1978, he covered the “year of the three popes”: the death of Pope Paul VI, the brief pontificate of John Paul I and the elevation to the papacy of the Polish cardinal Karol Wojtyla. Although he became an American citizen, he lived in the city he loved so much - Rome.