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Friday, March 30, 2012

Cinque Terre Travel Update: Ready for Visitors in Spring and Summer 2012

Surely you saw the news about the devastation to Cinque Terre following heavy rains last fall. How are these five villages coping and are they ready for visitors this spring and summer? Kate Little, a tour guide and sommelier originally from Texas, has lived and worked in the area since 1989. (You can find out more about Kate and the Cinque Terre at her site http://www.littleparadiso.com/) She fills us in on some hopeful news for those wishing to visit the Cinque Terre this year:
October 25th, 2011, will be a date that no one in Monterosso will ever forget.
It had been an exceptionally long, dry summer and the drizzle that started on the 24th was welcome. However, during the course of a night and day of constant rainfall, the land could not absorb any more water. Culminating on the early afternoon of the 25th, 20 inches of rain pounded the village in less than three hours. Landslides tumbled downhill and downstream, taking dirt, trees, boulders, automobiles, and in many places - people, with them.
After the rains stopped, residents first made sure that everyone was accounted for and put out the alert for those who were missing. Next they started assessing the damage. The buildings were standing in their correct places as if nothing had happened. However parts of roads had popped open from the volume of water running in the canals underneath and the piazzas, remaining roads and the ground floor of almost every building were a good two to three meters under mud. Livelihoods were mixed in with the sludge. They lost everything, but not their spirit.

Continued - Read what is open in the Cinque Terre this spring and summer

(Photo from RebuildMonterosso.com)

Cucina Povera in Tuscany with Cookbook Author Pamela Sheldon Johns

Cucina Povera in Tuscany
May 3-10,  2012
From the mountains to the rolling hills to the seaside...
Learn about Tuscany's traditional rustic dishes of the past.

Victory gardens of wartime Florence
Peasant farmers & foragers: Artimino & Lucca
Tuscan coast: Pietrasanta, Viareggio, Livorno, Grosseto
Tuscan archipelago island of Capraia
Southern Tuscany: Maremma and Pitigliano

(This is an ad.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Join Us for a Twitter #italychat on Florence

Dream of Italy (@dreamofitaly) will be hosting #italychat on Twitter on Wednesday, June 1st at 3 p.m. ET. The topic will be Florence and our guest will be Alexandra Korey (@arttrav)! You're invited to join us by asking questions and/or sharing your own own advice on travel to Florence or expat life in Florence. Alexandra is an art historian turned journalist, blogger, and digital marketing specialist. She has lived in Florence for 12 years. Read more about Alexandra here

If you would like to participate by reading the chat and hopefully asking and answering questions, here are some tips:

  • Be sure to use the hashtag #italychat within your Tweet so everyone can see your question, answer, contribution, etc.
  • Whether or not you have a free Twitter account, you can follow #italychat LIVE here OR here or you can come back to these links later to read the chat in full.
  • @dreamofitaly will tweet out all questions using "Q" and a number- Sample tweet from @dreamofitaly: "Q1: What is your favorite restaurant in Florence? #italychat"
  • Our special guest @arttrav will tweet her answer using same number - Sample tweet from @arttrav: "A1: I really like Cibreo #italychat"
  • Anyone else on Twitter including YOU can answer the question too using A+number as this is all about sharing great experiences and Italy travel information. Sample tweet from YOU: "A1: I ate at Giovanni last year and think it is the best #italychat"
  • If you want to ask Alexandra or the crowd a question, start your tweet with @dreamofitaly followed by the question and I will put it in the queue and give it a number (example - "Q6") and tweet it out when ready. Sample tweet from YOU: "@dreamofitaly Which Florence museums are open on Monday? #italychat"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Share Your Favorite Italy Tour Guide

We need your help in rounding up the very best of Italy's tour guides and you could be rewarded with a 6-month digital subscription to Dream of Italy ($47) if you're the first person to nominate a tour guide we include in our upcoming special issue on Italy's best tour guides!

Please take two minutes to fill out our favorite Italy tour guide nomination form.

We're looking for private guides as well as those who lead regularly scheduled groups. The tours they lead can be anything from a guided tour of a museum to a full-day city tour to a multi-day, multi-location tour like a bike trip or escorted group tour. They must give at least some of these tours in English.

Please only nominate a tour guide that you have personally experienced. Nominations by guides themselves or anyone who has a financial interest in their tours will be disqualified. Feel free to pass along to friends who might have guides to share.

Remember that if you're the first person to nominate a tour guide we include in our upcoming special issue on tour guides, you will receive a 6-month digital subscription to Dream of Italy ($47 value)! Grazie mille!

Photo by jennconspiracy, flickr.com

Friday, March 23, 2012

To Do in Italy This Weekend: FAI Spring Days

This weekend is the perfect time to find yourself in Italy—great weather, pre-Easter celebrations and one of the most anticipated events of the year, the 20th annual Spring Open Days. Six hundred seventy cultural and historical sites all over Italy will be open to the public free of charge. The event is organized by the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI), the largest Italian non-profit organization for the preservation of Italian historical and natural heritage. Among the participating sites are gardens, churches, palaces, hiking trails, libraries and museums, many of which are not normally accessible to the public.
Some of the most attractive sites this year are in Milan, including the Bank of Italy building which will open to the public for the first time in history. The building’s recently-restored rooms, which contain period furniture and works of art by Balla, Guttuso and Hayez, can be visited. The prestigious institution of higher education in art and music, the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera will also open its doors to the public. It was founded by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in 1776.

In Rome, the Villa Celimontana will open its doors, a 16th-century villa featuring lovely gardens and the recently restored marble mosaics of the Ninfeo dell’Uccelliera. Another first time opening will be held at the Oratorio dei Filippini. The oratory, Designed by Francesco Borromini, is located adjacent to the Chiesa Nuova in the historic center.

Registrations to FAI will be open during the event. Visitors who register with the association during those days will get priority access to the sites.

The complete list of monuments and openings can be seen at http://www.giornatafai.it/

-- Danielle Rovet

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Win a Copy of SimpleItaly Loves Chicken + Rigatoni and Chicken all'Amatriciana Recipe

Frequent Dream of Italy contributor Sharon Sanders has a new e-cookbook out dedicated to Italian chicken recipes. SimpleItaly Loves Chicken ($2.99) is for sale in the Amazon Kindle store and Barnes & Noble Nook store.

LEAVE A COMMENT below with the name of your favorite chicken dish (doesn't have to be Italian, but we do love Italian dishes!) and you might be randomly selected to win a FREE COPY of SimpleItaly Loves Chicken! We will pick one random winner on March 17, 2012. Deadline to leave a comment is 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 16th. Note that comments must be approved so don't worry if your doesn't show up right away.

Sharon kindly shared one of the 25 delicious recipes from her new e-book:

This recipe for Rigatoni and Chicken all'Amatriciana is inspired by the famous pasta dish from the town of Amatrice (in the Italian region of Lazio).
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, cut in slivers
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper + extra for garnish
1 pound dried rigatoni
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Set a covered large pot of water over high heat.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until the pancetta starts to crisp. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until golden.

3. Scrape the pancetta and onion to one side. Add the chicken in a single layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until no longer pink.
4. Add the tomatoes, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and more pepper if needed.

5. When the water boils, add 1 tablespoon salt and the rigatoni. Stir. Cover and return to the boil. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the rigatoni.

6. Add the rigatoni to the skillet. Toss to coat. Add a bit of cooking water, if needed, to loosen the sauce. Garnish with cheese and more crushed red pepper at the table.

Serves 4 to 6.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

One of the World's Most Unusual Libraries is in Perugia Italy

In the February 2012 issue of Dream of Italy, Irene Levine visits the oldest public library in Europe in the town of Cesena. In this excerpt from the current issue, Elaine Murphy looks at another of Italy's libraries that warrants a visit:

Biblioteca Sandro Penna (Perugia)

This public library, located in the San Sisto district of Perugia (Umbria), was named for 20th-century Perugia-born poet Sandro Penna. Its modern design and open floor plan make it an anomaly among Italy's traditional and historic buildings - it was built in 2004 and designed to look like a flying saucer. The library's transparent magenta walls and disc shape allow plenty of light to flow in, creating a homey and relaxing feel. The airy, informal space is equipped with multimedia stations on all three floors, as well as a colorful area catering to children. At night, the illuminated building casts an ethereal glow. Call (39) 075 5772500 or visit http://www.commune.perugia.it/