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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009
That's because Italians celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes on la vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve). As Toni Lydecker writes, "The idea of serving seven fish dishes or varieties of seafood is often linked to the number of sacraments or the days God required to create the world. But the numbers three (Trinity), twelve (apostles) and thirteen (apostles plus Christ) are considered equally propitious. And the truth is that many Italian families don't bother to count-the important thing is gathering in the dead of winter for a celebratory feast."
Toni shares with us how Sicilians celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes and recommends several recipes - for Baccalà and Potato (con patate) Stew and Octopus (Polipo) al Nero d'Avola from her recent cookbook Seafood alla Siciliana.
Win Cool Travel Prizes!
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: LuxurySafariExperts.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win folding noise-cancelling headphones courtesy of Magellan's Travel Supplies.
Monday, December 14, 2009
The new developments are due infrastructure improvements along 600 miles of track spanning the length of Italy over the last 25 years. The high-speed trains will provide major competition to airlines as Trenitalia predicts the new travel time will be almost an hour faster than the same domestic flight when travel to and from the airport and check-in are included.
Trenitalia is offering special introductory rates when riding the Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) or the Frecciargento (Silver Arrow) on the new high-speed routes. Deals include 48-euro, 2nd class tickets departing through February 28, 2010, 30% off tickets purchased 15 days in advance and 15 % off tickets purchased seven days in advance. -- Michael Lowe
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: EuropeUpClose.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win a Fujifilm FinePix J28 10MP digital camera with 3x optical zoom.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: EllenBarone.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win a day pack from First Ascent, a new extreme adventure line of gear and clothing form Eddie Bauer and partners.
Win Cool Travel Prizes on the blog below on Sunday!
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: MyItchyTravelFeet.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble or a "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.
Friday, December 11, 2009
- Montepulciano: Natale alle Logge Christmas market and fair featuring artisanal food and wine products and crafts from the area.
- Abbadia di San Salvatore, near Montalcino: Fiaccole di Natale, a procession of candles and torches on Christmas Eve.
- Montepulciano: concerts, tastings, program still in development, Many of the local churches have concerts, such as Pienza on December 27th.
- Chianciano Terme: "La Dolce Vita," a variety of concerts, dancing, shows, thermal offers, and shopping. Program still in development.
- Montepulciano: Planetario Poliziano - projection of an image like that which the wise men saw. December 21 at 9 p.m., or December 27 and January 5 at 5 p.m.
- Several spectacular presepi (nativity scenes), including an amazing living nativity that you walk through in nearby Pozzuolo.
Win Cool Travel Prizes!
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: CruiseDiva.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win a copy of Fodor's The Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises and a World Grounding Adaptor Set courtesy of Magellan's Travel Supplies.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Fòcara in Novoli, a small town near Lecce, honors the town’s patron, Sant’Antonio Abate, on the eve of his feast day January 17. The origin of the fire ritual is said to date back at least 1,000 years and is credited to monks from the east who settled in Novoli. The fòcara is a bonfire constructed of olive branches and grape vines in Piazza Tito Schipa. Using a huge ladder to pile the branches on top, the fire builders make a “mountain” as high as a three-story house. Thousands of pilgrims walk from nearby towns to honor the saint. In addition to the bonfire, there are masses, religious processions, food, wine, and musical events. -- Sharon Sanders
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: JtheTravelAuthority.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win a Mountainsmith Tour FX camera bag.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Many assume that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is all about Mary’s virginity. Actually December 8 was first called The Conception of Saint Ann, who was Mary’s mother. It’s a holiday that honors Mary’s pure beginnings, celebrating when God swooped in and freed her from Original sin.
No matter your beliefs, if you’re in Italy, you may enjoy the sights of dramatic processions. In Rome, the Pope will be leaving Vatican City and, with the help of the local fire department, a wreath will be hung around a statue of Mary that stands at Rome's Piazza di Spagna.
In 100 Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go, I write about a lot of places that honor Mary through art. Here’s one that seems appropriate for the Advent season - The Museum of Madonna Del Parto in Monterchi, Tuscany.
This may be the only museum on earth where pregnant women get in for free. There’s only one painting displayed here, the striking Madonna del Parto, that shows Mary in her ninth month of pregnancy.
It’s a 15th-century masterpiece by Piero della Francesca, who dedicated it to his mother who was born in Monterchi. Mary stands in a pale blue robe, her hand over her full middle, flanked by young male angels who draw back curtains of a regal tent. It’s dramatic and serene—capturing Mary in a meditative moment, completely involved with the life growing inside her.
Francesca was a mathematician and in all his paintings there’s an arresting symmetry of precise lines and lighting, combined with a gentle spirit of compassion. He created the Madonna del Parto for a Monterchi church that was built on a Cult of Fertility site. Back in pagan days pregnant women traditionally came to the site to bathe in a hilltop spring and pray for protection and abundant breast milk. The church built there, called the Momentana, was actually a cemetery chapel, so ceremonies for both birth and death took place there for centuries.
Outside the museum, the tiny medieval village of Monterchi is a dreamy place to circle up cobblestoned streets and enjoy hilltop views of the valley. When I stopped by, I felt part of a classic Sunday afternoon, with two elderly town couples sitting next to me at a caffe, drinking beer and playing cards.
Museum hours: April through October, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m and 2 to 7 p.m. and November though March, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m and 2 to 5 p.m.. Closed Mondays. Pregnant women and children under 14 get in free. -- Susan Van Allen
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: JohnnyJet.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win Alaska and Seattle Toursaver books and a $50 Magellan's Travel Supplies gift certificate.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Escorted tours aren't for everyone or aren't for every trip however, and that's why I've started Perillo's ItalyVacations.com, to bring our 65 years of Italy travel planning experience to the individual traveler who wants a custom trip to Italy. Our custom services include hotels, transportation, cruises, cooking classes, wine tastings, villa rentals and wedding planning.
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Here are a few of the highlights:
Roundtrip airfare on Alitalia between New York* and Naples
Transfers between Naples airport and the hotel
6 nights accommodation at the 4-star Hotel Cetus on the Amalfi Coast
6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners
Private coach excursions to Pompeii and Paestum
Cooking class with mozzarella making
Visit to a pasta factory
Tour of Naples city center
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Festivities such as fairs and torchlight processions begin weeks before and continue weeks after December 25. Here are the key dates to keep in mind if you are planning a trip:
December 8: La festa dell'Immacolata, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic holy day honoring Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. In Rome, the Pope comes to the Piazza di Spagna to drop a garland of flowers around the statue of the Madonna (Since she tops a high column, firemen on ladders do the actual placement.)
December 12: La festa di Santa Lucia, the festival of lights
December 24: La vigilia di Natale (the vigil, or eve)
December 25: Natale, which literally translates as “birthday”
December 26: La festa di Santo Stefano, Saint Stephen’s day
December 31: La festa di San Silvestro, Saint Sylvester’s day, or New Year’s Eve (la vigilia di Capodanno)
January 1: Il Capodanno, literally the top of the year
January 6: L’Epifania, Epiphany, which marks the arrival of the Magi, the three wise men, who brought gifts to the infant Jesus from afar
If you want to wish your Italian friends happy holidays, here are some greetings:
Buon Natale e felice Anno Nuovo – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
I migliori auguri di buone feste – Best wishes for good holiday
I più cari auguri per un sereno Natale e per un anno nuovo ricco di soddisfazioni – Dearest wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a fulfilling new year
Affettuosissimi auguri per un felice Natale – Most affectionate wishes for a happy Christmas
I migliori auguri per il Santo Natale e per il 2010 – Best wishes for Holy Christmas and for 2010
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: CiaoBambino.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win a Napa Valley Getaway with a one-night stay at the Westin Verasa and a gourmet lunch for two aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
December 5: TheBrooklynNomad.com (Andrew Hickey)
Imagine: A Vagabond Story by Grant Lingel and $50 Magellan's gift certificate
Win great travel prizes by visiting the blog below on Sunday!
December 6: The Tranquilo Traveler (Joshua Berman)
A copy of Moon Belize, accompanied with personal travel advice from the author about your trip
Friday, December 04, 2009
Trying to hail a cab can be an ordeal. Dodging cars in the street while trying to squint in the distance determining if the little plastic light is on or off can be both frustrating and dangerous. Just finding an empty cab can be a luck of the draw.
Once you’re finally in the vehicle, communication with the driver who may only speak a foreign language can prove challenging and some cabs are not beyond charging unsuspecting tourists exorbitant prices. When all is said and done, finding, using and paying for a taxi can be more of a hassle than help. Radio Taxi 3570 is trying to turn that around.
For a convenient (and guaranteed) pick up, travelers can request cabs via phone or text message (the first taxi company in Europe to adopt such a service) and one of Radio Taxi’s 3,500 cabs will respond. Ten minutes before the taxi arrives at your location, Radio Taxi 3570 will give you a call to alert you with the taxi’s name and number.
At no extra charge, Radio Taxi’s booking system allows tourists to specify between a taxi, station wagon or sedan, if the passengers would like air conditioning or non-smoking cars and what kind of payment, including foreign cash or credit card. According to MSNBC.com , passengers can even request drivers who speak English, French, Spanish or German and book and pay online before they’ve even left.
Radio Taxi 3570 was the first Italian organization of its kind to obtain the Quality Certification ISO 9001:2008 for efficient and user-friendly service and the Travel Channel called Radio Taxi the “Best in Italy.” -- Michael Lowe
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: NovelDestinations.coms. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win a literary prize pack, including a tote bag, the book Novel Destinations, Bliss travel kit, notecards, tea, bookmarks, and a key chain.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
How to Enter
Comment on this post between 12:00 am (midnight) and 11:59 pm on December 3, 2009. You'll need to include your e-mail address so I may make contact if you are the winner. Good luck!
Win More Prizes This Month!
Don't forget to enter the daily Travel Bloggers' Caravan & Giveaway. The Caravan stops at NovelDestinations.com tomorrow. Visit, comment on the post of the day, and win a one-year subscription to Dream of Italy and a bonus DVD. See the entire Travel Bloggers' Caravan schedule here.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
The reliquary is said to contain pieces of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, hence its longstanding reverence by the Catholic church. However, beyond its theological significance, the Crux Vaticana is also historically important as the only reliquary gifted from an emperor and emblematic of the unity between Eastern and Western Christianity as well as the Byzantine emperor’s Christian faith.
For 1,500 years, it was used in the Vatican’s Christmas and Easter ceremonies, but after the gems and color began to dull due to candle wax and smoke exposure, it was tucked away for safe keeping and conservation. The restoration was paid for an anonymous donor who did not want the price tag released. The cross will be on display in St. Peter’s Basilica until Easter 2010.
-- Michael Lowe
Today's stop on the Travel Bloggers' Caravan is: LuxuryCruiseBible.com. Visit the blog and comment on today's post for a chance to win a $100 Marriott gift card.