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Monday, March 30, 2009

New Center for Artisans to Open in Florence's Oltrano

Florence's Oltrano neighborhood has long been known as the bastion of craftsmen, artisans and antique dealers. The Florentine reports that the 19th century Conventino, formerly the home of the Monastero di Santa Teresa delle Carmelitane Scalze, located near Piazza Tasso is soon to reopen as a 3,500 square-meter multifunctional center devoted to crafts.

According to the newspaper, "The new Spazio Arte e Mestieri (SAM) will boast 3,500 square meters to hold a vast array of artisan workshops. From sculpture, painting and restoration to blacksmithing, woodworking and engraving, SAM will also feature six apartments to house foreign artisans who are here to learn. The facility will include an informational center that will promote Florence's most important artisan trades." SAM will open on April 21st.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out at Turin's Eataly

This is an excerpt from What's New In and Around Turin from the March 2009 issue of Dream of Italy:

For foodies in the know, Turin has long been a must-visit. Now the city can add another culinary notch to its belt, with Eataly, the world's largest food and wine store. Located in the former Carpano Vermouth production plant, Eataly was founded by Oscar Farinetti in alliance with Slow Food, the organization devoted to preserving local food traditions. Farinetti says the goal is to "Buy, taste and learn about the best foods under the same roof."

To that end, many of the 40,000 carefully selected food items (most locally sourced from 900 Italian producers but other from international sources as well) are labeled with placards describing their provenance and attributes. There's a computer center, a library, a small museum and rooms for tasting seminars and cooking classes.

For travelers, Eataly is a fantastic and affordable destination for a meal or a snack. On the first floor there are eight main sections each devoted to a specific food and overseen by an expert: butcher; cured meats; bakery; pizzeria; pasta kitchen; produce area; fishmonger; cheese section. There's a dining area in each section and if you're feeling ambitious you can move from one to another for a multi-course meal. To finish up your meal with something sweet, nearby you'll find an espresso bar, chocolate section and gelateria.

But wait, there's more. Downstairs there's a more formal restaurant, GuidoperEataly, run by a famous restaurateur from nearby Alba. The basement also houses the wine cellar and a brew pub where you can pull up a stool and taste a tantalizing selection of beers. At Eataly, there's truly something for everyone. Expect to spend a few hours there; the aesthetics alone worth experiencing but bring an empty stomach along too.

Via Nizza, 230
(39) 011 19506801
Open daily 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Take Olio2Go's Tour of Italy Through Olive Oil

Savor the Memories of Italy with Olio2Go, Italy's Finest Olive Oil!

Estate-bottled extra virgin olive oils from Tuscany, Sicily, Umbria, Liguria, Marche, Lazio, Calabria, and more…

Dream of Italy readers can receive a half-price bottle of olive oil! Buy Merlano DOP Tuscia and you can receive Muraccio at half-price.

Use Offer Code: DREAM09 in shopping cart during checkout. One offer per household, quantities are limited; expires April 30, 2009.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

March Issue - Gastronomy Escape, Olive Harvest, Turin

The March 2009 issue of Dream of Italy is out! Paid subscribers can login to see the PDF version (or read the articles on Web pages). Become a subscriber today (you'll get immediate online access to 60 back issues and our Rome e-book too) and this will be your first issue!

A Year of Gastronomy: One Woman's Reawakening in Italy
What does a 50-something romance writer who recently went through a divorce do to jazz up her life? Why run off to Italy of course to take part in a unique culinary learning experience.

An Olive Harvest Feeds the Body and Soul
The traditional Italian harvest method, called brucatura, pulling one olive at a time off the full branches, had brings our writer to a euphoric state. She tells you how you can join in a Tuscan olive harvest this November.

What's New In and Around Turin
There have been a number of new openings and restorations in Torino since the 2006 Winter Olympics. Most notable: the world's largest food and wine store, Eataly.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Meet Tuscany's "Too Much" Man: Dario Castagno

When I worked in hard news, sometimes we'd have what we'd call a "slow news day" or even "slow news week." I felt like that was the case with Italy travel news this week until I kept hearing left and right about the release of Tuscany tour guide and author Dario Castagno's latest book Too Much Tuscan Wine. Aha! Something for the blog I thought, and remembered I had been holding on to an article about this character from Chianti. I've never had the pleasure of meeting Dario though I'm a fan of his work. Writer Laura Cimperman has met the author and recounts the experience for us.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect upon meeting the famous (or should I say infamous?) Dario Castagno. I had some idea of his personality based on what I had read in Too Much Tuscan Sun, however, it was Robert Rodi's comment in the epilogue that stuck out in my mind. "Dario's reserve, as it happens, is of the most attractive kind to vulgar Americans luck us: It's Old World. He's a gentleman in the original sense of the word." Could this be the same man that told me I'd recognize his car because it'll be the filthiest one in the parking lot? I guess I'd have to find out for myself...

He called me five minutes before we were supposed to meet, just to make sure our meeting was still on. I asked him if he had already arrived and he said, in a perfect British accent, "yes, but don't rush...I always arrive early." Isn't it national law that in order to be Italian, you have to arrive half an hour late to every appointment? Was this man really Italian? I was beginning to have my doubts.

Read more about Laura's evening with Dario and his life in Tuscany

Introducing Toscana Americana Travel

Toscana Americana Travel, based in Cortona, Italy (setting of Under the Tuscan Sun) offers tours and art workshops in Tuscany, the Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera, as well as Capri, Positano, Amalfi and Santorini, Greece. Your hosts, Patrick Mahoney and Cortona native Angela Lucani offer escorted visitor services and tours providing a unique cultural and travel experiencesfor both returning and new visitors to Italy.

Visit Toscana Americana at: http://www.toscanaamericana.com/

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

One Step Closer Offers 20% Off Tours

One Step Closer was created for those who don't have the time, the patience or the contacts to organize their own trip to Italy. All our experiences are carefully tailored to the needs and interests of each client, be it for a family trip, an outing with friends, a honeymoon or a corporate off-site.

Today many companies offer customized itineraries but few take the necessary time to really get to know each client via multiple emails or telephone conversations the way that we do at One Step Closer.

The four owners and managers of One Step Closer (all related) were born and raised in Florence from a partly American family: the synergy of motherland (Italy) and mother tongue (English) is total. We never sell a tour without knowing personally the guide, the itinerary and each place each client will be visiting.

We only work with experts (though not necessarily professionals) in each field (art historians, landscape designers, wine consultants, cooking teachers etc.) who are fluent in several languages, have experience in sharing their knowledge and are pleasant people to be with. We like to think of ourselves and whoever works with us as your friends in Italy.

The following itineraries are created to give an idea of what can be arranged, and are exclusive to Dream of Italy readers and can be modified as much as necessary. DOI readers get a 20% discount off the retail cost of the tours, costs that will be provided upon request by sending an email to mail@onestepcloser.net (They do not include accommodations because different travellers have different requirements. )

+ One half day guided walking tour of the highlights of the historical center with timed tickets to one of the most important museums
+ A full day tour of Florence's "botteghe" (workshops) to learn how different objects are made. A hands on experience of marbled paper and pottery making combined into an itinerary of interesting shopping suggestions.
+ A cooking class that follows grocery shopping at one of Florence's fresh produce market. The class will be centered on preparing a three to four course meal which you will have together with the teacher at the end of the class.

+ A full day tour with guide and driver with private appointments to visit and sample wines at two different Brunello wineries, with a light lunch at one of the wineries. The day will also include a visit to the breathtakingly beautiful medieval abbey of Sant'Antimo.
+ A full day tour with guide and driver to visit the fascinating towns of Pienza and Montepulciano.
+ A biking or trekking outing with a guide, during which you will visit a cheese producers.

+ A half day introductory walking tour to the center of Naples and its fascinating neighborhoods which will end (or begin) with lunch at one of the oldest pizzerias, where you will have a pizza making lesson.
+ A half day tour of the archeological sites of Pompeii or Herculaneum, driver included.
+ A full day tour on the Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) visiting Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento; driver included.

FOR INFORMATION (remember to mention you found our information through Dream of Italy):
email: mail@onestepcloser.net
tel.: (39) 055 59420
fax.:(39) 055 599024

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