Dream of Italy Header

Featured on ABC NEWS and in USA TODAY, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER + U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

Friday, October 14, 2011

Introducing the ArtFast Pass for Florence Sites

The Tuscan Traveler turned us on to the new ArtFast Priority Pass -- which for seven euros per year allows tourists and locals to skip the lines at its famous Duomo, which can get crowded in peak season. The card grants expedited entry to six attractions in the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, including the Duomo, its cupola and bell tower, the Baptistery of St. John, the Crypt of San Reparta and the Museum of the Opera of Santa Maria del Fiore.

When arriving at the Duomo and its surrounding sites, users bypass the standby lines and go straight to the entrance or to the priority line, swiping the card at the entrance turnstile to gain access. The cost of the card does not include admission prices, which vary according to the attraction. The ArtFast Priority Pass is sold online at artfast.it and can be mailed to the buyer’s address within seven days.

ArtFast is still a new service, and hopes to expand to other Florentine museums – like the Uffizi and the Accademia – as well as to other Italian cities, if it is well-received at the Duomo.-- Elaine Murphy

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Pizza Pilgrims Leave on A Delicious Journey



Tomorrow, British brothers, Thom and James Elliot, are setting off on a month-long culinary quest to serve fresh pizzas as they drive their Piaggio Ape throughout Italy. The brothers, who dubbed themselves the Pizza Pilgrims, purchased the three-wheeled vehicle outfitted with a custom pizza oven, and will fly from the United Kingdom to the far reaches of southern Italy to retrieve it.

Then, they’ll drive the length of Italy at a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour, stopping to gather fresh Italian ingredients for their traditional pizzas, which they will prepare in the back of their van.

"We're going to find the best tomatoes, the best cheese; all the best ingredients,” said Thom, the elder Elliot. According to James, the brothers’ love of food is hereditary. "Our parents have always managed pubs, so the foodie vibe has been instilled in us from a very young age,” he said.

Their journey will send them 2,000 miles across little-traveled areas in Italy, into Europe and finally back to their home in the UK, where they will continue preparing Italian-style pizzas from their van in an effort to create a start-up street food business.

A television crew will be following Thom and James on their journey, filming a series scheduled to air in early 2012. The brothers are also utilizing social media, including Facebook, Twitter and video blog posts, to engage fans in their month-long pilgrimage. -- Elaine Murphy

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Gucci Museum Opens in Florence

In the nine decades since Guccio Gucci opened a small leather shop in Florence in 1921, his name and products have become fashion icons across the world, and can now be viewed at the new Gucci Museum in Florence. The museum opened on September 28th, as part of this year’s 90th anniversary celebration of the iconic Florentine designer.

The museum’s three stories display a variety of items bearing the Gucci brand, including designer clothing, glamorous evening gowns and black and white photographs of stars wearing Gucci garments. A travel-themed room displays luggage and accessories pays tribute to Gucci’s job as a porter at London’s Savoy Hotel in the late 19th century, while another room showcases items with a floral motif created for Grace Kelly in 1966.

Visitors can view a history of Gucci logos, a 1970s Gucci-upholstered Cadillac Seville, handbags, and other rare home and lifestyle items, many of which are on display for the first time. The museum also contains an art exhibit with works from contemporary artists, established by the Francois Pinault Foundation.

All items were pulled from the museum’s basement archives, containing thousands of Gucci pieces, and the museum plans to rotate its exhibits to display more of its archived collection. Half of the museum’s admission price of 6 euros per person will be donated to help preserve historical artifacts in Florence.

Gucci creative director Frida Giannini first created the concept for a museum dedicated to the luxury fashion brand. The museum is located in Piazza Signoria in the 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia, which was once the home and working space of the Medici family. Piazza Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, is a key part of the history of the Florentine Republic. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. -- Elaine Murphy