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Monday, November 30, 2009

Join the 2009 Travel Bloggers' Caravan & Win Cool Prizes

Is the Lingo 16-Language Translator (available from Magellan's Travel Supplies) on your holiday wish list? If so, read this entire post to find out how to enter and win a translator for yourself!

I'm thrilled to announce the first (and, hopefully, annual) Travel Bloggers' Caravan. Starting today, I invite you to follow 15 top travel bloggers for a chance to win prizes in celebration of the season.

Prizes range from hotel gift cards and overnight stays to digital cameras and noise-cancelling headphones to luggage and camera bags to travel guidebooks and DVDs. Magellan's Travel Supplies has signed on as a sponsor of this event. If you've got a traveler on your holiday shopping list, check out the unique gifts available at Magellan's.

Each day, between December 2–15, a different travel expert's blog will be featured in this round robin event. You'll have a chance to win one of over a dozen prizes by reading and commenting on the daily blog post.

The Caravan starts tomorrow! Simply visit the Luxury Cruise Bible blog each morning to learn about the featured Caravan "stop-of-the-day" between December 2 and 15, and then enter to win.

This blog will be featured on December 3rd. Mark your calendar and be sure to comment on my post that day in order to be entered in the giveaway.

Complete Travel Caravan Schedule

December 2: LuxuryCruiseBible.com (Andrea M. Rotondo)
$100 Marriott gift card

December 3: DreamofItaly.com (Kathy McCabe)
One-year online subscription to Dream of Italy newsletter & DVD ($79 value)

December 4: NovelDestinations.com (Shannon McKenna Schmidt & Joni Rendon)
Literary Travel Prize Pack
(A tote bag, book, travel kit, note cards, tea, bookmarks, and a keychain.)

December 5: TheBrooklynNomad.com (Andrew Hickey)
Imagine: A Vagabond Story by Grant Lingel and $50 Magellan's gift certificate

December 6: The Tranquilo Traveler (Joshua Berman)
A copy of Moon Belize, accompanied with personal travel advice from the author about your trip

December 7: CiaoBambino.com (Amie O'Shaughnessy and Kristi Marcelle)
Napa Valley Getaway
(One-night stay at the Westin Verasa in Napa, California,
plus gourmet lunch for two on the Napa Valley Wine Train)

December 8: JohnnyJet.com (John DiScala)
Alaska and Seattle Toursaver books ($198 value) and $50 Magellan's gift certificate

December 9: What a Trip (Nancy D. Brown)
Two Otterbox cell phone cases ($50 value each)
and Baseline 20” Carry-On Expandable Wide-Body Upright ($369 value)

December 10: JtheTravelAuthority.com (Jeanine Barone)
Mountainsmith Tour FX Camera Bag ($99 value)

December 11: CruiseDiva.com (Linda Coffman)
Fodor's The Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises and a World Grounding Set (courtesy of Magellan's)

December 12: EllenBarone.com (Ellen Barone)
Day pack from First Ascent, a new extreme adventure line of gear and clothing by Eddie Bauer and partners ($79 value)

December 13: MyItchyTravelFeet.com (Donna L. Hull)
"Library Edition" of the most recent season of "Rudy Maxa's World", including six DVDs containing 13 shows on destinations in India, Turkey, Japan, Thailand, St. Petersburg, Estonia, and Argentina ($112 value)

December 14: EuropeUpClose.com (Terri Fogarty)
Fujifilm FinePix J28 10MP digital camera with 3x optical zoom

December 15: LuxurySafariExperts.com (Andrea M. Rotondo)
Folding noise-cancelling headphones courtesy of Magellan's Travel Supplies

If you love exploring new destinations and revisiting old favorites, you won't want to miss the Travel Bloggers' Caravan & Giveaway! You just may discover a few new favorite travel blogs to bookmark.

Win a Lingo 16-Language Translator

Help us kick off the Caravan right now! Follow @luxcruisebible and then tweet about the Travel Bloggers' Caravan between December 1 and 15. Include a link to this blog post and the #caravan hashtag and you'll be entered to win the Lingo 16-Language Translator, courtesy of Magellan's Travel Supplies. Entrants must have a U.S. mailing address. Entries must be received between December 1–15, 2009. One winner will be randomly chosen from eligible entries on December 21, 2009. Winner will be notified via Twitter DM (direct message).

Just log onto Twitter and tweet something like this: Check out the Travel Bloggers' Caravan. 15 travel bloggers and tons of cool prizes to win. http://bit.ly/6zfZEr #caravan

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Deals: Travel Gifts and Italian Gifts

This week, Dream of Italy, is offering special deals on subscriptions to our award-winning travel newsletter, our Venetian glass jewelry and our selection of Italy-inspired gifts.

BONUSES WHEN YOU BUY: When you spend $110 or more in our online store, you'll receive a BONUS set of Italian Christmas cards ($16.95 value). When you spend $200 or more in our online store, you'll receive either a BONUS online subscription ($79 value) or a copy of Dreaming of Florence ($45 value).

Scroll down for some of our special offers. And whether or not you buy from Dream of Italy today, please patronize a small business this holiday season!

Buy a full-price (no discounts) one-year subscription to Dream of Italy with BONUS DVD and receive a FREE online subscription with BONUS DVD ($79 value). An affordable way to give the gift of Italy all-year round! (If you've recently purchased a full-price subscription as a gift or for yourself and would like your bonus gift subscription, just contact us!)

Dream of Italy Designs Venetian Glass Jewelry

Framed Italy Photographs of Rome, Venice and the Amalfi Coast

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cyber Monday Deal for Travel: 2-For-1 Dream of Italy Subscriptions!

No I didn't have too much wine at Thanksgiving dinner and I haven't lost my mind, just 'tis the season to spread the Italy love! In honor of Cyber Monday, we've got a deal you can't refuse.

Purchase one full-price, one-year subscription to Dream of Italy for yourself or purchase a gift subscription (either includes a BONUS DVD) and RECEIVE A FREE one-year online subscription to Dream of Italy with BONUS DVD to give to someone else ($79 value). That's basically two-for-one on subscriptions to our our award-winning newsletter!

Here's what our subscription package includes:
  • one year (10 full-color issues) of the newsletter delivered online or by postal mail ($100+ value)
  • immediate online access to over 70 back issues, including special reports on everything from the Amalfi Cost to Villa Rentals ($700+ value)
  • FREE DVD: Visions of Italy: The Great Cities ($20 value)
  • 2-FOR-1 BONUS: A FREE one-year online Dream of Italy subscription w/BONUS DVD to give to someone else! ($79 value)
Subscribe today and receive a bonus subscription to give to someone else. Surely someone on your list loves Italy as much as you do and won't they be excited to get a unique travel gift that will last all year long!

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 2009 Issue - Puglia, Christmas in Sicily, Florence Hotels

The November 2009 issue of Dream of Italy is out. Here is what paid susbcribers will be reading about:

Sisters Share Their Private Puglia
Travel recommendations that delve deep into the Italian region of Puglia - its food and restaurants, glorious natural wonders and musical, cultural and religious celebrations.

Cooking School in Puglia with a Splash of Wine
Stile Mediterraneo Cooking and Wine School offers a six-day cooking itinerary aimed at discovering and relishing in Pugliese cuisine and wine.

Hotels and Apartments to Come Home to In Florence
Barbara Ohrbach, author of the new book Dreaming of Florence, delves into her little black book to reveal her favorite places to Italy in Florence - from small pensione to hotels in the hills to a Florence apartment rental offered by a church.

Celebrating the Feast of Seven Fishes, Sicilian Style (Free Access to All Readers)
The idea of serving seven fish dishes or varieties of seafood - a Christmas tradition in Italy - is often linked to the number of sacraments or the days God required to create the world.

Sicilian Seafood Recipes for an Italian Christmas Eve (Free Access to All Readers)
Celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes with BaccalĂ  Con Patate Stew alla Siracusana and Octopus (Polipo) al Nero d'Avola.

Ready to dive into this issue but not a paid susbcriber? Become one today and get access to this issue, more than 70 other, 10 issues over the coming year and the BONUS DVD Visions of Italy: The Great Cities!

Save 10% at All Things Italian

All Things Italian is a small market with authentic Italian products – specializing in pantry items, confections, coffee, linens, pottery & housewares.

A great place to get gifts for anyone that enjoys great food, including yourself!

Dream of Italy readers who order by Dec 12th, will get 10% OFF.

During checkout enter – Dream09 – as the coupon code. Order now and get 10% OFF!!
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Christmas in Rome: Museum Devoted to Nativity Scenes

Italians are crazy about presepi (Nativity scenes) - almost every Italian home is sure to have at least one if not more on display during the Christmas holidays. If you'd like to see a variety of these small works of art, visit Rome's Museo del Presepio, run by the Italian Association of Friends of the Nativity, which was founded in Rome in 1953, with the mission of keeping alive the tradition of the crib. (See our Italian Christmas Cards featuring Rome)

The museum contains over 3,000 figures from all the regions of Italy as well as from many other nations. The pieces show various interpretations of the Nativity, and are made of many different types of materials, including in paper, Sicilian clay, wood, ceramics, glass, stone, coal, cloth, and even marzipan and eggs!

Between December 25 and January 6, the museum is open on weekdays between 5 and 8 p.m. and on holidays, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and 5 and 8 p.m. The Feast of St. Stephen on December 26 is a popular day for Italians to view presepi. If you're not in Rome during the holiday season but still want to visit the museum, you can do so on Wednesday and Saturday, 5 to 8 p.m. The museum is closed July and August. Museo del Presepio is located inside the Church of Ss. Quirico e Giulitta at Via Tor de’Coni, 31/A. -- Frances Kidd

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Highlights: Visiting Italy for the Holidays

Our new, free 35-page, downloadable guide Christmas in Italy (filled with great photos too!) is a the perfect resource, whether you're traveling to Italy for the holidays or want to bring some Italian influences to your celebrations at home. Here are some highlights from the guide:

The Holidays in Rome
  • Rome is home to the largest continuous Jewish population in Western Europe. The community celebrates the beginning of Hannukah on December 11 with the lighting of the Menorah in Piazza Barberini.

  • Italians are crazy about their creches (presepi) and you can see 100 of them at the Sale del Bramante in Piazza del Popolo between November 26 and January 6.

  • An alternative to midnight mass at St. Peter's - how about a magical service inside the Pantheon? Get there early. We've also got a full list of English-language Christmas masses.

Italian Holiday Traditions

  • Traditionally Italians eat seven fish courses for La Vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve). The origin of the "seven" is a mystery. Many believe it is based on the number of sacraments, others say it relates to the phases of the moon. Some Italians even serve 13 fish dishes, 12 for the apostles and one for Jesus.

  • While Babbo Natale (Santa Claus, Father Christmas) is growing in popularity, Italian children can't wait for the Epiphany (January 6) when La Befana brings gifts.

  • Quick Italian lesson - I piu cari auguri per un sereno Natale e per un anno nuovo ricco di soddisfazioni - Dearest wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a satisfying new year
    Italian tradition says that if one eats lentils on the first day of the year, the year ahead will be rich and rewarding. (Great lentils recipe in the guide.)

Get more on celebrating Christmas and New Year's, Italian style, in our free guide Christmas in Italy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nero's Banquet Hall Opens to Public

Although the Roman scholar and official, Suetonius,described Nero as “average height, his body marked with spots and malodorous, his hair light blond, his features regular rather than attractive, his eyes blue and somewhat weak, his neck over thick, his belly prominent, and his legs very slender” in his The Life of Nero, he more than acknowledged Nero’s penchant for luxury.

In late September, one of Nero’s most lavish rooms was discovered during routine maintenance in the Domus Aurea, or Nero’s Golden Palace, in Rome: a revolving banquet hall.

According to Suetonius’ account, “There were dining-rooms with fretted ceils of ivory, whose panels could turn and shower down flowers and were fitted with pipes for sprinkling guests with perfumes. The main banquet hall was circular and constantly revolved day and night, like the heavens.” Lavish, indeed.

At the time of unveiling, lead archaeologist, Francoise Villedieu, said the dig had shed light on the hall’s foundations, the rotating mechanism underneath which is thought to have been powered by a constant flow of water and a space believed to be kitchens.

In late October, the newly discovered area was opened to the public for the first time from the Vigna Barberini Terrace on Palatine Hill. No reservation is required and one ticket grants access to both the Colosseum and Palatine Forum. Tickets can be purchased online and picked up at the Colosseum and cost 9 euros, plus 3 euros extra when there's an exhibition. -- Michael Lowe

Monday, November 16, 2009

Introducing the Italian Gift Incentive Program

Dream of Italy wants to be YOUR SOURCE for unique and inspiring Italian Christmas gifts - including our always-popular holiday gift subscriptions - so we've devised a BONUS PROGRAM to encourage you to shop with us! It applies to everything in our inventory - from a subscription for yourself to Italian Christmas cards to our latest collection of Venetian glass jewelry.

Spend $110 OR MORE* in our store, including subscriptions, and receive:
our Sampler Set of Christmas Cards
Venice in Snow Cards ($16.95 value)

SPEND $200 OR MORE* in our store, including subscriptions, and receive:
the new book Dreaming of Florence ($45 value)
an online subscription to Dream of Italy w/DVD ($79 value)

*Total spending (can shop multiple times) BEFORE SHIPPING is added, on purchases made between November 1 and Christmas.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Florence's Piazza Duomo Now Traffic-Free

Two weeks ago, over 2,000 buses, taxis, cars and scooters disappeared from Florence's Piazza Duomo. No, it was not part of a massive, simultaneous grand theft auto, it was, merely, the law.
In September, Florence mayor Matteo Renzi announced that by October 25th, the square would be completely vehicle-free and declared a pedestrian-only area.

Gone are the honking taxis slowly passing through the crowds. Gone are the lumbering busses blocking that perfect photo op. Gone are fumes induced by thousands of puttering motors. Here to stay are new photographic angles never before shot and leisurely strolls around the famous Florentine architecture without the threat of a bumper to the behind.

Construction on the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as the Duomo, began in 1296 and completed in 1421 and remains the fourth largest church in Europe. The edifice itself is comprised of multiple pieces including the aforementioned cathedral, Brunelleschi’s Dome, the tower, known as the Campanile di Giotto, and the Battisterio di S. Giovanni.

Accompanying the car-free Piazza were celebrations and new bus schedules. The 2,000 rerouted busses were sure to cause some stir, but, luckily, good preparation met possible disaster in stride and new Florence bus maps were promptly and preemptively distributed. -- Michael Lowe

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tuscan Town of Volterra Launches "New Moon" Tour

Surely by now, you've heard about, if not read some of (it is not just for teens and tweens) the Twilight series books by Stephanie Meyer. The second film installment of her Vampire saga - New Moon - is due to hit theaters November 20th and Tuscany plays a starring role...

You see, in the story, the royal family of vampires, the Volturi, hail from the Tuscan town of Volterra and the main characters find themselves there in a dramatic turn in the story. For the In honor of the movie, the tourism office of Volterra has put together a unique three-day tour package.

Whether you're into the vampire series or not, find out why Volterra is worth visiting and learn more details about the tour!