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Monday, June 29, 2009

Save 10% on Mozzarella Excursion with Ciao Laura

Let the flavors of Italy dance in your mouth and sing in your heart on a Ciao Laura Culinary Vacation.

Ciao Laura offers hands-on cooking lessons, boating excursions, winery visits, personal chef services & customized itineraries in Italy.

Mention this ad and receive 10% off our Make Your Own Mozzarella Excursion in Sorrento (new bookings only; expires 9/1/09)

We can accommodate groups of all ages and sizes - see http://www.ciaolaura.com/ for more information.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our First Full-Color Issue Is Here!

Get a preview of our first full-color print newsletter. Become a fan of Dream of Italy on Facebook on/or before July 1st and we'll send you a link to this full 12-page special report on Umbria - for free! Our new color printing means prices have to go up so subscribe or renew by July 15th and save $15 to $25!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New in Florence: Day Capers

For years now, Da Vinci Capers has remained a standout in small group tours of Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast, mostly because of owner Barbara Hardesty's devotion to her company's mission: to spark the imagination and feed the soul in the tradition of Leonardo Da Vinci. Each week-long programs incorporate Leonardo DaVinci's teachings, especially sfumato, an open mind and playfulness allowing for creative expression. The activites on a DaVinci Caper - cooking, creative writing, sculpting, language lessons and more - are famous for incorporating sensazione (feeling), dimostrazione (demonstration) and curiosita (curiosity). Yet not everyone can take a week or so to explore their inner Leonardo.

Fortunately, Barbara has developed mini-versions of Da Vinci Capers -- Day Capers, launching this summer in Florence. She's tapped her impressive collection of scholars, artists and maestros to provide unique half-day and day-long experiences in the city of art. Walk in the footsteps of Da Vinci with a tour of the Uffizi and exploration of his Florentine haunts accompanied by a Da Vinci scholar. Take a private painting and drawing workshop (complete with a live model) in the great Vasari's former palazzo. Hit the streets of Florence with a professional photographer who will teach you how to get the best shots before reviewing your work at a digital lab. For more information, visit the Da Vinci Capers Web site.

The Colors of Italy NOW in Dream of Italy

The big news at Dream of Italy these days is that we are switching over to producing and printing our paid print newsletter in full color. These means all of our photos will now be bold, lucious and vibrant - like Italy itself. You will see this change in both the PDF and print versions of our paid newsletter. Plus we have a special change for our online-only paid subscribers - all forthcoming PDF versions of our newsletters will include live links.

Because of the cost of color design printing, our subscription rates will be going up in mid-July! We want to make sure everyone knows this well ahead of time. If you subscribe now, you will lock in our current sale rates:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Save 5% With DOI's Auto Europe Discount Code

It is that time of year again when many people are planning their summer adventures in Italia. We're happy to remind you that we can help you save a few dollars or euros on your travel with Dream of Italy's special 5% discount on Auto Europe car rentals!

To take advantage of this offer, call Auto Europe at (800) 223-5555 or visit this special link to the Auto Europe Web site. Please be sure to use or mention this coupon code: 72002261

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Dispatch From High Atop a Tuscan Hill

This is the first in a series of guest posts from Italy by Anthony Capozzoli of How To Tour Italy:

Dante writes La natura e l’arte di Dio (nature is the art of God).

You can see the storm coming in for miles. Like most things in Italy it is a gradual build-up. But when it hits it is as fierce as they come. Perched high atop a Tuscan hill the view from where I sit is exceptional. The valley seems to have been decorated by a master artisan. The clouds slowly roll in to cover everything in a cool mist. The wise olive trees are perfectly placed, while the sad bending and weaving Cypress trees hold their own against the wind.

Eight kilometers, 20 minutes by cab, one hour by bus if you catch both on time, and about 10 degrees cooler Villamagna seems trapped in history. The locals speak very little to no English (which I love). There is one little café, one little restaurant, and small bar. Nothing seems to have changed here in decades. Walking into the café you hear the record skip while being greeted with a very warm buon giorno.

Villamagna is just outside Bagno a Ripoli which is just outside of Florence, but the worlds are so different. The locals have lived here for generations. The little house I’ve rented has been in the owner’s family for three generations. That is a foreign concept to most Americans.

It takes some time to beat the American out of me. Waiting for the bus is a little like therapy. I walk far too fast for my own good in a hurry to get nowhere. I barely enjoy my dinner before I’m asking for the check. But gradually, surely, the American in me seeps out like the comfortable feeling you get when you secretly loosen your belt after a three-course Tuscan meal. It is quite good for the soul to let life pass you by while enjoying it. I’ve come to learn as I do every year that Italy really is a lifestyle and not a destination.

There are few things as good as Fagioli Uccelletto, the Bargello, or the smell of Villamagna after the rain. I wonder how many times the serpents tail would encircle me to deliver my fate in Dante’s hell? I’m guessing four times around due to my avarice nature. I seem to squander things away with no thought of tomorrow. I hope my search within my soul that began so many years ago leads me to Beatrice and inner peace. If it doesn’t I can say that I truly gave it everything and I’m ok with that.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Italy Travel Deals of the Week

There’s still time to scheme up a summertime getaway to Italy. Check out these flight and hotel deals -


Airfare Watchdog has found round trip flights between New York and Rome for as little as $296 INCLUDING taxes for late August, September and October. These are unheard of prices!!

Kayak is a great site for finding low priced flights and hotels, particularly in the site’s “Deals” section. This week, Kayak lists discounted peak summer fares to Italian cities, starting at $635 roundtrip from East Coast locales and Chicago. You’ll have to act fast – book by June 17 – and travel sometime between June 4 and August 16, 2009.

Also, Delta is offering 25,000 to 50,000 bonus Skymiles for flying on its new international routes. On June 4th, Delta introduced service between Detroit and Rome so that route qualifies.


Starwood Hotels lists some good deals on hotels in Rome, Bologna and Florence in July. For example, at the Sheraton Firenze Hotel & Conference Center, rooms can be found for 80 Euros per night. And at Four Points by Sheraton Roma West Hotel, rooms start at 90 Euros per night in mid-July.

There’s also an enticing Starwood sale going on now. Starwood includes several brands – Sheraton, Meridien, Westin and St. Regis among others – and if you complete the free registration to become a Preferred Guest, you can earn one free weekend night at any Starwood property for every two nights you book. The number of free nights you can rack up is unlimited, but the freebies must be used by September 27. -- Sarah Amandolare

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Punta della Dogana Museum Opens in Venice

The Dogana, a 17th-Century “former customs house” in Venice, is making headlines this week. The space was bought by renowned French art collector Francois Pinault in 2007 after he out-bid the Guggenheim Foundation, according to The New York Times. Renovations to transform the building into a stunning gallery space were led by Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect, and completed earlier this month.

Two buildings comprise the Punta della Dogana: the expansive Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi, a triangular-shaped space that opened in 2007 and is also owned by Pinault, according to artdaily.org. The Palazzo Grassi already houses work by prominent artists like Takashi Murakami, known for his successes in both fine arts and digital media. “Mapping the Studio,” the inaugural exhibition on display now, was planned with both sites in mind, and allows each space to dictate the presentation of the works.

“Mapping the Studio” features works from Pinault’s personal collection, as well as “Boy With Frog,” an 8-foot sculpture by American artist Charles Ray that was “commissioned for the building," reported The New York Times. Ray agonized a bit over how large to make the sculpture, which sits outside the Dogana along a popular walking route among Venetians, but he isn’t usually one to obsess over the way his work will be perceived, telling W magazine in 2007, “I’m worried about making a good sculpture. I’m not so worried about the interpretation of it.”

To see it for yourself, head to the museum’s official Web site for information on visiting the Punta Della Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi, both owned by the Francois Pinault Foundation. Tickets are 20 euros (for access to both sites) or 15 euros (to visit one). The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. except Tuesday. -- Sarah Amandolare

Monday, June 01, 2009

What You Don't Know About Italian

The Italian language is as fascinating as it is beautiful. When I read a preview copy of the new book, La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair With the World's Most Enchanting Language, I asked author Dianne Hales to share her captivating findings about the history and nuances of Italiano. She shares them in a special article in our May newsletter. But here a few excerpts from her book:

Italian's basic word chest, as tallied in a recent dictionary totals a measly 200,000, compared to English's 600,000 (not counting technical terms). But with a prefix here and a suffix there, Italian words multiple like fruit flies. Fischiare (whistle) sounds merry enough, but fischiettare means "whistling with joy." No one wants to be vecchio (old), but invecchiare (to become old) loses its sting - and according to an old Italian, no one does so al tavolo (at table). Sooner or later we may all may end up in a garbuglio, or muddle, but stumbling through the syllables of garbugliarsi is sure "to get (you) muddled." A sign outside a rustic osteria (a tavern serving simple food) summarized its entire menu on a single word: pranzo (lunch) - fifteen euro; pranzetto (lighter lunch)- ten euro; pranzettino (bite to eat) - five euro.


What Italian doesn't say also is revealing. Italian has no words that precisely translate lonely (unthinkable for its gregarious speakers), privacy (equally unthinkable in an Italian family), spelling (since words generally look as they sound - to Italians that is), or dating (although it begins before puberty). Yet some of the most tantalizing Italian words such as garbo, a pitch-perfect combination of style and grace, and agio, a sense of comfort and ease, don't translate into English.

Follow Dream of Italy on Twitter where this week we will give away five copies of La Bella Lingua!

Wine Captain's Course Starts in Washington, DC

Since 1989, the Wine Captain's Course has provided outstanding wine education for both professionals and amateurs. Graduates of the Wine Captain's Course staff some of the D.C. area's finest hotels, wine shops, and restaurants. Taught by sommelier and former chef Rob Stewart, the WCC is the best choice for anyone desiring an enhanced knowledge of wine and food. The nine-week course, offered three times per year, provides a comprehensive look at the world of wine, with 12-14 wines tasted each week, along with recipes for dishes which complement each wine.

Summer session starts Monday, June 8th. E-mail Rob Stewart or call him at 703-685-7970 for more details.

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