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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Join Us for #italychat on Traveling in Italy with Kids

Dream of Italy (@dreamofitaly) will be hosting #italychat on Twitter on Wednesday, May 30th at 3 p.m. ET. The topic taking your kids to Italy and our guest will be Madeline Jhawar (@madelinej)! You're invited to join us by asking questions and/or sharing your own own advice on traveling with children in Italy.

After five years in Italy working first as a hiking and biking guide and then as a corporate expat, Madeline and her husband settled down in the USA and had two kids, but didn't stop traveling. In 2008 Madeline founded Italy Beyond the Obvious and now spends her time creating unique itineraries for families traveling to Italy. Her kids are 5 and 7 years old and are now (finally!) okay on 10-hour flights.

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 family-friendly town in Italy? #italychat"
  • Our special guest @madelinej will tweet her answer using same number - Sample tweet from @madelinej: "A1: I really like San Gimignano #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 think Siena is great for families, so much to do #italychat"
  • If you want to ask Madeline 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 Is there a great amusement park in Italy? #italychat"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Aftermath: Traveling to Emilia-Romagna Post-Earthquake

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake north of Bologna in the region of Emilia-Romagna Sunday morning killed seven people and destroyed numerous buildings. One of our long-time subscribers, Italy travel planner Jim Zurer was staying in nearby Modena and shares his experience in this report.  The local cheese production and sites of cultural and historic significance were hit hard. Experts say it is the worst cultural damage since the 1997 earthquake that devestated Assisi in Umbria. If you're planning to visit Emilia-Romagna in the near future, here is a rundown of the damage (we will keep updating this post):

Local cheese production: This is where Reggiano Parmigiano and Grana Padano cheeses are produced and the Coldiretti Italian farm lobby says 400,000 wheels of cheese were damaged when the racks where they are aged collapsed. Workers are trying to determined what can be salvaged before mold moves in.  At least 10 percent of Parmesan production has been impacted, according to early estimates by the Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium.

Finale Emile:  Finale Emile was at the epicenter of the quake. The town's bell tower came crashing down and of the town's churches as well as the cathedral, according to AFP. The turrets of the 13th-century  century Castello delle Rocche were extensively damaged.

Sant'Agostino: City hall heavily damaged.

Ferrara: Ferrara, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has temporarily closed museums as a precaution. One modern building came down, killing four people.

San Carlo: The 16th-century Ghisilieri Oratorium (pictured above, pre-earthquake), an elaborate chapel used for concerts has partially collapsed. According to AFP, "A painstaking eight-year restoration was partly funded by a campaign on social media networks and contributions from local residents."

San Felice sul Panaro: Three churches destroyed and three of four towers of La Rocca Castle in ruins, according to the BBC.  Church of the Archpriest and its great works of art severely damaged.

Modena's Osteria Francescana: Recently named as one of the best restaurant's in the world, the chef at Osteria La Francescana tweeted that the osteria is open and not damaged.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cruise Italy This Summer With Silversea and Save

Whether you've seen Italy by land already or its your first trip, cruising the Italian coastline (there are 4,700 miles of it) is an amazing way to experience Italy from a unique vantage point. Cruising can be a great way to see so much in short amount of time for one price and without packing and unpacking...and oh and with lots of people waiting on you hand and foot.

I will admit to being a bit partial to Silversea Cruises since cruising with them a few years back. I have been to Italy 30 times and my Silversea experience was one of my top three trips EVER. The ships are small (540 or fewer people), the service is incomparable and so much is included (all alcohol and wine with a bar in your room and evening appetizers delivered to your room, etc) that isn't included on other cruise lines. Plus Silversea is owned and operated by one Italian family - the Lefebvres. How many family-run cruise lines are there any more?

Last Minute Deal for June 4th Sailing From Athens to Rome

Sometimes the best things come to those who wait or procrastinate. Hurry up and back your bags because Silversea is offering the amazing rate of $3,999 (and a $1,000 shipboard credit) per person on its June 4th 9-day sailing from Athens to Rome with stops in Milos, Zakinthos, Itea and Corfu in Greece, Gallipoli in Turkey and Sorrento and Rome in Italy.

On this sailing, the Silver Wind stops for two full days in Sorrento giving cruisers the perfect opportunity to really explore the Amalfi Coast and Naples. When I cruised on Silversea, we also stopped for two days in Sorrento. One day we spent in Naples, primarily at the National Archeological Museum and the next day my parents, with whom I was traveling took Silversea's tour of Pompeii (they were impressed that a crew member from the ship also accompanies each shore excursion just to make sure all guests are well looked after) while I took the ferry from Sorrento to the nearby islands of Ischia and Procida.

July 2nd Sailing From Athens to Venice

While I've been to Venice a handful of times - even once arriving on the Orient Express - NOTHING compares to saling into Venice in the early morning while cruising on Silversea. It is a stunning perspective of the city you simply can't get any other way than arriving by boat.

Experience it for yourself on Silversea's July 2nd sailing from Athens to Venice. The rates for this cruise start at an amazing $2,999 per person - that's a steal for 7 days of luxury. Port calls include Monemvasia and Corfu in Greece, Kotor Montenegro, Split Croatia and Venice. You even get to spend one night on the ship while exploring Venice.

Check out more of Silversea's Mediterranean Cruises

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Villa Rental in Puglia: Masseria Gelso Bianco

So far on my trip to Puglia, I have stayed in four great places and it is hard to pick a favorite since they are all so unique but if I had to, it would be Masseria Gelso Bianco near Alberobello (my photos won't do it justice so I have taken some from the site).

This combination farm/villa/trulli was restored by Antonello Losito in record time (just about 6 months) two years ago. If you have ever met Antonello, you will know that he is a passionate perfectionist and no detail was overlooked here. It is an incredible mix of authenticity and luxury.

I stayed in the room "Carciofo" (meaning artichoke) which is actually two trulli - I slept in one and the bathroom was in the connecting one. I can't wait to write more about this place in our upcoming special issue on Puglia but in the meantime, if you are looking for a stupendous Puglia villa rental complete with trulli, swimming pool, professional kitchen -- that sleeps up to 10, this is the place. (Get a free copy of Dream of Italy's Guide to Villa Rentals in Italy too)

George Clooney in Italy: He Might Be in Puglia

Forget Lake Como, if you're looking for George Clooney, you just might find him in Puglia. Earlier this week, my guide Yle took me to the new gelateria/cafe CREM in Lecce. The owner is a dead ringer for Clooney, especially when he takes his sunglasses off.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Natural Wonder: Puglia's Cava di Bauxite

If you find yourself near Otranto in Puglia, don't miss the natural wonder of Cava di Bauxite. I visited earlier this week and no one else was there!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sunset Cocktails Overlooking the Trulli Near Alberbello Puglia

Sunset cocktails at Masseria Gelso Bianco near Alberbello (land of the trulli) in Puglia.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Riding Around Lecce Puglia in a Fiat 600

Someone had a great day in Puglia today - me! I rode around the stunning Baroque city of Lecce in a 1956 Fiat 600. This beautiful bronze bi-color has 97,000 kilometers on it and easily navigates some of the city's smaller streets.

Three Bonus Issues of Italia! Magazine When You Subscribe to Dream of Italy

We are so excited to be partnering with Italia! Magazine to bring our subscribers all the very best of Italy...when you subscribe to the award-winning travel newsletter Dream of Italy (or renew your subscription) during May or June, you will receive THREE FREE issues of Italia! Magazine mailed to your home as a bonus. This mini-subscription to Italia! is worth $32.

If you're dreaming of living in Italy, Italia! does a particularly good job covering real estate in Italy and considerations facing expats.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Cool Swimming Pool in Puglia Italy

Arrived in Puglia today where I found a very cool swimming pool (with a famed Puglia olive tree in the middle!) at Masseria Provenzani.Thanks to Yle from Yltour for introducing me to this place.