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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yoga in Italy: Sunflower Retreats Holidays in Lazio

Can you imagine anything more relaxing than yoga...in Italy? Vacation yoga retreats are a going trend in bel paese. And they make perfect sense: an affordable way to get away from it all, and an easy place to go solo. In our April issue, Sharon Sanders introduced us to one such retreat in Puglia. She also profiled a Le Marche yoga escape and this yoga retreat near Rome:

Sunflower Retreats Holidays
Via Tito Tazio, 11
Casperia (39) 3331 893092

Casperia, situated in the heart of the Sabine Mountains in the region of Lazio, is a car-free hilltop medieval village, with fewer than 350 inhabitants who are largely involved in the running of Sunflower Retreats. The town is surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and forest-covered mountains.

Philosophy: "Our yoga retreats and holidays are based around health and relaxation, good food, Italian culture, eco-tourism and nature, and we promote, acknowledge and transmit the intrinsic and endless values of nature to all our clients."

Lucy Bremner and many guest teachers conduct classes in English -open to beginners and more experienced yogis-from March through October. Classes are primarily Hatha yoga with some teachers specializing in Iyengar and Ashtanga. Weather-permitting, classes are conducted on an outdoor platform. Other activities available are massages in a variety of styles, reiki, thermal baths and natural hot sulphur springs.

How to Get There:
Casperia is located about 90 minutes from Rome. There is a train from Rome's Fiumicino Airport to Poggio Mirteto Scalo station. The train fare is around 5€ and includes the local bus service from Poggio Mirteto Scalo station to Casperia. Information on a 45€-per-person transfer from Fiumicino directly to Casperia (minimum two people) is on the Web site.

Rates: Basic prices are between 500 and 620€ (based on double occupancy) per person, per week and include accommodation, breakfast, daily 90-minute yoga class, guided mountain walk and all-week use of bicycle. (Single rooms are available for a supplemental fee.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Keep Up with All Things Italian in DC

The nation's capital has much to offer for Italophiles and CiaoDC.com aims to be the go-to source for all things Italian in DC. The brainchild of public relations consultant and third generation Italian-American Alyssa Ciccone, CiaoDC serves as both an educational and promotional online portal to the Italian/Italian American presence in Washington, with particular emphasis on culture, art, language, food, theater, wine and architecture. Ciao DC is hosting a live discussion about Italian food and wine on the CiaoDC Facebook page Wednesday, May 19th at 10:30 a.m. ET. At other times, you can keep up with all of CiaoDC via the Ciao DC Blog.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dream of Italy's Umbria Tour This November

The goal of Dream of Italy's Umbria Harvest Week: Food, Wine and Ceramics (November 6 to 12, 2010) is to provide our guests with a convivial, engaging and relaxing week filled with authentic Italian and Umbrian experiences. We'll spend our days with local families and artisans who have been perfecting their trades for generations. All you need to do is show up with your suitcase, a great attitude and a little bit of spending money for Umbrian specialties to take home (olive oil, wine, crafts). Everything below is included in one affordable price:
  • Six nights accommodations at the 17th-century farmhouse villa La Fattoria del Gelso near Assisi, Umbria

  • All meals ─ with wine.

  • Visit to Italy's ceramics capital, Deruta with a hands-on ceramics painting workshop.

  • Full day touring, and tasting, at the famed local vineyards of the Montefalco wine zone.

  • Hands-on cooking lesson with one of Umbria's hot, up-and-coming Slow Food chefs. After the lesson, we'll have a private lunch at his restaurant.

  • Full-day truffle hunting extravaganza: hunting for truffles with a local hunter and his dog; a visit to a truffle laboratory; cooking with truffles demonstration; full meal featuring truffles!

  • Visit to an olive mill to watch the yearly harvest in action and taste delicious olive oil.

  • Guided tour of the Basilica of St. Francis and the town of Assisi.

  • Guided tour of the historic Umbrian capital of Perugia.

  • Pasta and pizza-making lessons with the villa's chef.

  • Dinner with expats and/or local authors for a lively discussion on everyday life in Umbria.

  • All transportation for the week via private van.

  • Accompanied by Dream of Italy Editor Kathy McCabe and terrific local guides.

$2,450 per person, based on double occupancy, land-only, airfare not included. As the villa only has eight bedrooms, there is limited space available, so book now. See the brochure for details and see Dream of Italy's FREE special report on Umbria for more on this enchanting area.

(Photo by ant moose, flickr.com)

Dream of Italy Fun in Maryland Sunday, May 16th

Join me, Dream of Italy Editor Kathy McCabe, at the lovely store Bella Italia in Bethesda, Maryland this Sunday, May 16 between 1 and 5 p.m. for a celebration of all things Italian! The day's highlights include:

  • Save 20% on any non-sale item in the store including ceramics, olive oil, Italian foods, books, gifts and more

  • Enjoy a jewelry trunk show by Dream of Italy Designs featuring Venetian glass jewelry for summer

  • Learn more about Dream of Italy's Umbria Harvest Week this November (the owners of Bella Italia also own Fattoria del Gelso where I will be hosting the week)

  • Ask me anything about travel to Italy

  • Save $20 when you purchase a newsletter subscription (or renew) at the store Sunday

See you this Sunday at Bella Italia, 4844 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda, MD!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Opera Strike in Italy

Opera houses across Italy are suffering from a strike organized by opera musicians and technicians in response to government-proposed changes to the management and financing of state opera houses. At the end of April, the Italian government announced a decree that would cut workers’ benefits up to 50% and prohibit opera house foundations from providing newly-hired workers with a fixed-term or permanent contract until 2013.

Fourteen Italian opera houses are currently financed almost entirely by the government, with a total budget of $321 million per year. The musicians, choral singers, and stagehands affected by the strike fear that they will face pay cuts and limited outside work as a result of the decree, and many are organizing free concerts in support of themselves and their profession. Others worry that the budget cuts will affect the cultural pride and tradition Italians find in opera.

The decree, which was induced by the current economic crisis, must be passed into law within 60 days in order for it to take effect. Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi says that it is still possible for the decree to be changed to reflect some of its current criticisms, and that he plans to will meet with union representatives.
Teatro Regio in Turin, Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Florence’s Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, have all cancelled or postponed performances due to the strike. Check each theatre’s Web site for updated performance schedules and refund information, if you have already purchased tickets. -- Elaine Murphy