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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Get Your FREE Guide to Christmas in Italy

Traveling to Italy for Christmas or New Year's Eve or just dreaming about Christmas in Italy? Interested in Italian Christmas traditions and the ways Italian spend the holidays? Looking for some Italian holiday recipes especially Christmas desserts from Italy? We've got the Italian holiday information you're looking for... In early 2011, we will finally (was scheduled for 2010) be launching a free daily e-mail devoted to Italian food, wine, travel and lifestyle called Italian Daydreams. These short, savvy dispatches will provide us with the chance to cover more of the topics, such as food, wine, culture and the arts, that are important to our Italophile readers. Plus the daily e-mail format is a terrific way to feed everyone's daily need for everything Italian!

In exchange for adding your e-mail to our mailing list (you can unsubscribe at any time!) we would like to give you a FREE COPY of our e-book Christmas in Italy: Traditions, Travel Tips and Recipes! This 35-page guide to Christmas in Italy includes all of our back content on spending the holidays in Italy as well as new articles on how to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Italian-style, whether you are traveling or staying home.

We've gathered the experts to give you practical Christmas travel advice as well as share their own memories of Italian holiday traditions:

  • Dream of Italy Editor Kathy McCabe outlines the Italian holiday season for you, what happens when and more importantly what to eat when.

  • Frequent Dream of Italy contributor and Susan Van Allen explains the magic of La Befana and the holiday market at Rome's Piazza Navona.

  • Dianne Hales, author of La Bella Lingua, offers a fascinating lesson in the language of the holidays in Italy - a quick Italian lesson for us all.

  • Our woman in Rome Frances Kidd heads to Naples to visit the master artisans behind Italian creches.

  • Back in the Eternal City, Kidd shares a complete guide to Christmas in Rome.

  • McCabe gives readers the 411 on how to see the Pope during the Vatican's Christmas celebrations.

  • Shannon Venable of ItaliaKids.com shares how to keep the kids entertained during a holiday visit to Italy.

  • Family travel expert Amie O'Shaughnessy of CiaoBambino.com fills us in on hotels offering special Christmas and New Year's packages.

  • Three - yes, count 'em three - Venice experts guide us to the best markets, restaurants and events in Venice this Christmas season.

  • Laura Faust of CiaoLaura.com instructs us on New Year's traditions in Campania and includes a traditional lentils recipe.

  • Robin Locker of MyMelange.net proclaims her love for the classic Italian holiday
    dessert - panettone.

  • Cookbook author and Tuscany resident Pamela Sheldon Johns fills us in on the best of the holiday season in Tuscany (with recipe).

  • The Diva of Tuscan cooking Judy Witts Francini shares four mouth-watering recipes for Italian desserts.

  • And much more..

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cyber Monday Deals: Italian Gifts, Travel Gifts, Italian Jewelry

Our Cyber Monday Deals are good through Wednesday evening.
Support a small business and check out our travel gifts and Italy gifts.

The Gift of Angels: Venetian Murano Glass Angel Charm w/ Italian Rubber Necklace

Cyber Monday Sale: Italy Travel and Movie Gift Baskets

In honor of Cyber Monday, we're discounting all of our Italian gift baskets $10. You don't have to wait till Monday to order and we'll keep this discount available (if stock lasts) through December 1st. You won't find these gift baskets anywhere else and they make a unique travel gift or gift for Italy lovers!
Here are the choices:

PLUS if you spend $155 or more at DreamofItaly.com between October 1 and December 31 (before shipping - including subscriptions and gifts) we will send you a FREE Blu-ray/DVD set of Rudy Maxa's Best of Europe: Italy - a $28 value!

Friday, November 26, 2010

November 2010 Issue - Amalfi Coast Treasures, Biodynamic Wines in Tuscany, Rome Restaurants

The November 2010 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 access to this issue and nine more over the coming year, online access to over 75 back issues, some incredible Italy travel discounts and our NEW BONUS, the 640-page book Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler! Here's what is in the issue:

In Tuscany, Biodynamic Wines Help Preserve the Past

One "fabbrica" near Lucca dives into biodynamic wines. Like organic agriculture, biodynamic methods eschew chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. But biodynamic agriculture goes further, operating a farm, a vineyard as a self-contained living organism.

Capri's Villa San Michele + Where to Eat and Where to Stay in Anacapri

The white stucco structures are blinding under the Mediterranean sun but nothing in Anacapri dazzles more than Villa San Michele. Here Axel Munthe created a museum, gardens and cultural foundation.

Badia di Cava - An Amalfi Coast Landmark - Celebrates 1,000 Years in 2011
The imposing L'Abbazia della SS. Trinità di Cava de'Tirreni, known locally as Badia di Cava, is recognized for its religious, cultural and artistic significance. It's only a few miles above the
pottery town of Vietri sul Mare, yet has remained a relative secret to foreign tourists.

Two New Favorite Casual Rome Restaurants
Looking for a casual place to eat in Rome? We've got two new favorites - one is a trattoria near Campo de' Fiori specializing in dishes from Piedmont, the other is a wine bar near the Spanish Steps.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Year's Package at New Hotel on Lake Como

The newest 5-star resort to open on Lake Como in a century, CastaDiva Resort offers luxury amenities and a prime location, in a 280,000-acre botanical park on the shores of Lake Como. It has already attracted celebrity guests and received rave reviews since its opening this past summer. If you're looking for a new place to ring in the new year, consider CastaDiva Resort.

Bring in 2011 with a 7-course New Year's eve gala dinner with wine, live music and dancing, and traditional Italian lenticchie after midnight. CastaDiva's New Year's package, priced at 1,075€ per person, includes two nights in a lake-view room, full breakfast on the lakeshore or in your room, a New Year's day brunch buffet and free entrance to some spa amenities. -- Elaine Murphy

Considering traveling to Italy for the holidays? Be sure to get our FREE Christmas in Italy E-book - includes Italy travel tips on spending Christmas and New Year's in Italy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's It Like to Film a Television Travel Series in Italy?

I recently did an interview with my friend travel expert Rudy Maxa. A former Washington Post investigative reporter and life-long traveler, Rudy began covering the travel industry 15 years ago for public radio’s evening business show, Marketplace where his commentaries under his moniker, The Savvy Traveler, were heard by nearly five million listeners. He now hosts a Los Angeles travel radio show and has filmed dozens of episodes for two travel series that have appeared on PBS. My favorite part of our chat was this insightful bit on what it is like to film a travel series in Italy:

Dream of Italy: We’re offering your Blu-ray/DVD set "Rudy Maxa's Best of Europe: Italy" as a bonus to customers who spend more than $155 in our store/on subscriptions this holiday season. Tell us about the making of your series. Any funny stories from your time in Italy? What are some of your favorite scenes? How do you go about selecting what you would like to film?

Rudy Maxa: Choosing destinations is really up to me and the producers. When I started hosting the shows 11 years ago, we filmed the basics--London, Rome, Paris, and so on. But the production company who hired me--I did not yet own the shows--had worked with Rick Steves for five seasons and already knew that shows on Italy were among the most popular. So over the course of the first several seasons, we shot 11, half-hour shows in Italy.

The one hallmark about shooting in Italy is how little assistance we receive from the Italian tourism offices. Almost everywhere in the world--and I've shot shows from Shanghai to Uzbekistan to Delhi--tourism officials are happy to work with us helping get shoot permits, local guides or translators, hotel rooms, and so on. In Italy, bureaucrats know the country is so popular, they apparently think there's no need to work overtime hard to help anyone publicize it.
I happen to think that's short sighted on their part, but there you go. I recall my co-producer sending fax after fax to the tourism officials in Florence. She never got a reply. When we arrived to shoot, she visited the tourism office, and an employee there proudly gestured to a pile of her faxes to prove they'd received them.

And then there's the matter of, um, fees. When we arrived at Pompeii to shoot, it didn't matter that we had the necessary paperwork and an overall insurance policy that all film crews carry in case they cause any damage. The official at Pompeii informed us we'd have to pay $7,000 on the spot as "insurance" to shoot. When my producer accompanied the bureaucrat to his office to discuss this, a local guide approached and told us if we gave him $200, he'd take care of everything. And he did. He guided me and the crew around the entire complex, slipping a few bucks to gatekeepers along the way. And by the time our producer emerged to say no agreement could be reached, we'd already shot the place.

The recent, tragic collapse of a historical building there reminded me of that incident. I love Italy, but I have a hunch if we'd paid that $7,000, not much of it would have gone toward the upkeep of the historical site.

As for the making of the series, we travel lean with me (the host), the episode producer, a grip, and a shooter. Sometimes, if we have the budget, we'll hire a dedicated sound man. We usually shoot a show in seven to eight days. We arrive with a rough script and, hopefully, all our permissions and other details in order. We don't simply arrive and start shooting things that look interesting. We know what we want to shoot and how things fit into the theme of the show. Obviously, if something interesting happens while we're there, we go with the flow, and often that makes it into the script that has to be re-written to the pictures upon our return to the U.S.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas Cooking Lessons in Italy: Learn Italian Christmas Recipes an Traditions!

This holiday season, spend Christmas in Italy and learn to cook Italian meals and desserts, while experiencing Christmas traditions and exploring Italy:

Ciao Laura offers a weeklong Christmas cooking vacation in Sorrento, which includes three Italian cooking lessons, Christmas lunch, and opportunities to explore Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii, and Positano and other spots along the Amalfi Coast. To whet your culinary appetite, watch a demonstration on making Neapolitan pizza in a traditional wood-burning oven, and sample wine in Campania. Then, once you’re ready to start cooking, learn to make traditional Italian Christmas pastries, including zeppole and struffoli. The trip includes three cooking lessons, focusing on a special holiday menu, and Christmas lunch. The highlight of the trip is cooking an authentic three-course Italian seafood meal, under supervision of a professional chef.

Apple Languages combines Christmas cooking courses with Italian language courses of any level. Participants in this 12-day program, beginning December 20, will stay with an Italian host family in Sorrento while preparing traditional Italian meals, and will enjoy Christmas activities in Sorrento and excursions to Naples, including a visit to a Neapolitan church to see handmade cribs.

Spend four days on a country farm in Umbria, improving your Italian cooking skills and exploring the region of Umbria, whose Christmas traditions are sacred to the region. The four-day Christmas cooking session from Let’s Cook in Umbria is available from December 8, 2010 to January 6, 2011 and can be booked on any day of the week. The program offers participants the option of taking planned half-day trips to Perugia, Assisi, and Gubbio, and includes three cooking classes featuring traditional Italian Christmas recipes and dishes. -- Elaine Murphy

Also, get your free copy of our Christmas in Italy guide - travel advice, Italian holiday recipes and more!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Tips from An Insider: What to See and Do in Pisa Italy

Pisa is so much more than a tourist city BUT you have to know where to go. That's why we asked Pisa resident Gloria Capelli to share her insider secrets for the best sites (besides the tower), restaurants, shops, day trips and more. (Dream of Italy subscribers can save 10% on Gloria's Pisa apartment rental, Behind The Tower. ) Here are two of the more than dozen recommendations she shared in the October 2010 Special Report: Tuscany's Province of Pisa:

Keith Haring's Mural "Tuttomondo"
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele
Not many people know about this large mural that Keith Haring painted on the side of a building in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele in 1989. It is dedicated to the theme of peace and harmony in the world. Opposite to the mural, a cocktail bar has recently opened.

Max il Cuoiaio
Via Domenico Cavalca, 57
(39) 050 574299
Closed Monday morning
If you like leather goods, this is the place for you. They make fabulous leather purses, professional bags and briefcases, wallets, belts and other leather goods. Truth be told, if you are looking for a leather bag, the many stalls near the Leaning Tower also have some fabulous things.

Subscribe to Dream of Italy (or log-in if you are already a subscriber) and receive the rest of Gloria's list in the Pisa Special Report as online access to more than 75 issues, the BONUS BOOK Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler Book and more....Save $20 on gift subscriptions through November 15th!
(Photo by Elisabetta_81, flickr.com)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Introducing Queenslander Tours - Small Group Trips to Italy

It has an Australian name, it is owned by Americans, and the specialize in small group tours to Italy. QueensLander Tours invites you to check outtheir growing list of trips and consider traveling with them on the"anti-tour" experience of Italy. Owner/director Mark Story describes their tours as a small group of friends traveling as QueensLander "unwraps Italy before their eyes."

Trips include Italy's Great Cities Tour, Italy's Lake District to CinqueTerre, Delights of Tuscany, Amalfi Coast Vacation, Sicily with Friends and other destinations including Spain & Portugal, Scotland & Ireland and Australia & New Zealand.Visit them online at www.queenslandertours.com
(This is an ad.)