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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 2012 Issue: Florence Dining, Shopping and Hotels; Borgo Near Siena

The April 2012 issue of Dream of Italy is hot off the presses. If you're NOT a subscriber, subscribe today to access this issue and more than 88 back issues of our award-winning print newsletter, subscriber-only discounts and our new BONUS - 3 FREE issues of glossy travel magazine Italia! ($32 value).

Our paid subscribers (who can log-in here) are reading the following articles this month:

A Borgo Near Siena
We've found the perfect spot for a getaway outside of Siena. Plus three Montalcino vineyards to hit up for wine tasting.

Florence: Where to Eat and Drink
Our picks for four places to dine/drink on your next visit to Florence including iO Osteria Personale, a hip new eatery that deconstructs classic Tuscan dishes.

Florence: Shopping the Oltrarno
In this neighborhood, you will find the studios and shops of Florentine artisans, many whose families' local roots date back centuries.

Posh Places to Stay in Florence
We review two luxury hotels in Florence - one new 5-star property near the Basilica di Santa Croce and a Ferragamo hotel a stone's throw from the Ponte Vecchio.

News, Tips, Deals and Events
Contemporary Art at Punta della Dogana in Venice; New Rome Restaurant: Pipero al Rex; Friday Nights at the Vatican Museums

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What You Need to Know About Italy's New High-Speed Train

Italo, Italy's new high-speed train made its inaugural run Friday. This new service is going to revolutionize travel in Italy. Imagine traveling from Rome to Naples in just an hour; possible because the train travels up to 216 miles per hour! For the next few months, service will be limited to Milan-Florence-Bologna-Rome-Naples. You can book tickets now for trips through August. Even better the price is right, right now. Introductory fares are as little as 30 euros for a Milan-Rome ticket.
Here are some things to know about Italo, Italy's high-speed train:
  • There's a cinema car.
  • Free WiFi throughout the train.
  • Two station stops in Milan: Porta Garibaldi and Rogoredo
  • Two station stops in Rome: Tiburtina and Ostiense (starting late May)
  • Each station has a "Caso Italo" - a special waiting area where you can also buy tickets.
  • The Milan-Salerno Line will eventually stop at Milan, Torino, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Salerno.
  • The Venice-Rome Line will eventually stop at Venice, Padua, Florence and Rome.
  • There are a number of add-on services including door-to-door luggage delivery.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tips for Snagging Affordable Airfare to Italy This Spring and Summer

It is no secret airfares to Italy are steep this year. Blame fuel charges most of all and also limited capacity. Where $900 roundtrip from New York to Italy in the shoulder season used to seem expensive, it now sounds about right. We'r have an information-packed conversation on Dream of Italy's Facebook page filled with great Italy airfare tips -- especially for buying tickets for this May, June and summer.

I've always said that Dream of Italy has some of the most knowledgable readers around and that I often learn a great deal from them. Looking to buy a plane ticket to Italy, here are some of the tips, tricks and strategies readers are talking about (some I've written about before but great reminders):
  • Big difference in fares between May and June so go in May if you can.
  • August (and Christmas) are always the most expensive in terms of Italy airfares. Italians are coming to the U.S. on vacation, Italian Americans are going home for celebrations, etc. Looking like $1,300 roundtrip for August.
  • Fly major airlines to Rome/London/big cities, then look for lower cost european airlines to destinations to smaller cities. WhichBudget can help you find airlines, routes. But keep in mind you might need to change airports (usually the case in London) and big fees for checked luggage.
  • AerLingus has some decent fares from JFK to Rome through Dublin. (Just under $900 r/t in May) Check about spending a few days in lovely Ireland!
  • Have seen sales on JFK-Venice routing - Air France, Delta. One reader got a fare for $690 r/t in May. Best we have heard of this season.
  • Six weeks ahead might be best time to buy (unless you're going in the really crowded high summer season). Experts seem to thinking buying plane tickets too early or too late is where you spend more.
  • Sign up for alerts from sites like AirFareWatchDog, Travelzoo, etc. to monitor sales. Often you have to move very quickly.
  • Summer usually means a sale on business class fares to Europe. A business class ticket might be cheaper than you think!
  • Air France has some great sale fares for flights now through May 21.
Many thanks to readers Nancy Simioni, Dawn Sposato, Jennifer Dombrowski, Missy Staie, Howard Ladd, Carol Agia, Nancy Falvo for the tips and lively discussion.

The chat was prompted by my own search for a plane ticket for early May or early June so I will report back on any additional specific Italy airfare deals!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Music and Markets on The Amalfi Coast This July

The breathtaking Amalfi Coast is the setting for an inspiring week of discovery and music
with Music and Markets Tours.

In the magical atmosphere of "the divine coast," enjoy mouthwatering cuisine and explorations of delightful seaside towns, the ancient ruins of Pompeii and the fabled isle of Capri.

Complete each day with performances of the renowned Fine Arts Quartet
and other artists in picturesque locations.

Click here for details of this luscious July trip and join us for a thrilling experience of authentic Italy!

(This is an ad.)