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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Photo #1 Rome Window - Italy Photo Tour via the Italia 2013 Calendar

Ready to fill 2013 with Italy? We have the perfect Italia 2013 Desktop Calendar for you. You can either purchase it OR receive it FREE when you subscribe to Dream of Italy.

The above photo of a Rome window is the featured photo for January 2013. Here photographer Mary Ann Glass explains how she captured the image:

I took this photo while walking to the Vatican in Rome, on a very sunny afternoon. When i walk through the streets -- in fact, no matter what I'm doing or where I am -- I am constantly scanning for photos. I'm looking for beautiful color, dramatic light, interesting subject. This is not a famous building -- just a typical Roman beauty. I was drawn to it because of the wonderful peach color of the stucco, the classic pediment window and the sharp shadows that add drama to the scene.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 2012 Issue - Sicily Cooking Schools, Tuscan Estate, Beer Tasting in Rome

The October issue of Dream of Italy - covering cooking schools in Sicily, a Tuscan estate, a Le Marche villa rental and beer tasting in Rome  -  is hot off the presses.

If you're NOT a subscriber, subscribe today to instantly access the PDF version of this issue and nearly 100 additional back issues of our award-winning print newsletter.

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

A Tuscan Country Adventure: Golf, Hogs and Family
An estate in Tuscany provides the backdrop for a week of activities - golfing, making ravioli, meeting cinta Senese pigs. Learn more about this Tuscan villa rental and agriturismo and the wonderful family ready to help your uniquely Tuscan dreams come true...
Learn from the Masters of Sicilian Cooking
We profile two cooking schools in Sicily where you can learn from native chefs just what makes Sicilian cuisine so unique. Both of these masters are famous worldwide and have written a number of cookbooks.
Tasting Birra Artigianale in Rome
Visiting Italy? Wine tasting is a given. But what about beer tasting? Italy has a vibrant and growing craft beer scene and we have the perfect connoisseur to lead you through a tasting at a Roman brew pub.
Palazzo Donati in Le Marche
When visiting Le Marche, this villa rental makes a great home base to explore Urbino, buy ceramics in Urbania, play golf and taste the local delicacies of Le Marche.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel Marry at Puglia Resort Borgo Egnazia

Superstars Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel married in Italy this week - continuing a trend set by many celebs before them (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were famously married on Lake Bracciano outside Rome).

The couple chose one of our favorite spots in all of Italy to tie the knot - the seaside village of Savelletri di Fasano in the southern Italian region of Puglia. Their wedding was held at the incomparable Borgo Egnazia, a stunning new resort next to the ruins of Egnazia.

Read our review of the Puglia resort where Timberlake and Biel married

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday New York Times Tackles Lots of Italy Travel

I'm visiting my parents in New Jersey and thus got to have the real paper New York Times in my hot little hands this Sunday morning. Lucky for me the paper had a number of great Italy-related articles in this issue, including:

36 Hours in Siena
Nice piece on what to see and do in Siena. We also recommend Cane e Gatto (one of our favorite places to eat) and Siena's Tuscan Wine School.

Buffalo Mozzarella, The Great White Whale of American Cheesemaking
Why is it so hard to make buffalo mozzarella in the U.S.? One man's attempt to bring the Italian magic to these shores.

Hidden Gems of Europe: Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna
Of course Ravenna is a must for the mosaics. We've got a guide to touring Ravenna's mosaics.

Hotel Rooms with Charm, Off the Radar - A Former Convent in Puglia
We've covered lots of great places to stay in Puglia but Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli is a new discovery.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fun Facts About Molise, Italy's Undiscovered Region

Much of our September issue was devoted to a region we have never convered before - Molise. (As we hit our 10th anniversary, I can now say we've covered all 20 Italian regions!) Molise broke off from Abruzzo in 1963 and became Italy's newest region in 1970.
Located approximately 100 miles southeast of Rome and 56 miles northeast of Naples, Molise is a small region (the second-smallest in Italy, following the Valle d’Aosta) where green hills of the Apennine mountain range surround valleys cradled between forested peaks. In the eastern part of Molise lies the Adriatic Sea, where visitors can swim, relax on beaches, go boating and tour islands.
The mountainous region experiences all four seasons, with warm summer nights lasting well into September and snow descending on the hills by November. Because Molise’s climate is unsuitable for grazing animals in the winter, shepherds have traditionally used paths called tratture to move their animals to greener pastures at the end of summer and the start of spring (although shepherds used to travel these routes on foot, the practice continues today using modern vehicles). The tratture remain a defining feature of the Molise landscape, and the transhumance (meaning “crossing the lands”) has shaped the region’s history and culture as an agricultural area.

Molise is a secret so well-kept that even seasoned travelers and most Italians have yet to visit. Its wildness and low profile lend it a sense of mystery – peer inside the villages and shops, and uncover a hidden region steeped in tradition and waiting to be discovered.

As we detailed in the September issue (subscribe now for immediate online access), Molise is the place to go for those who want a truly authentic Italian experience, especially for those who love the outdoors, plus we've found the perfect insiders to show you around...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fractional Ownership in Italy: Tips for Prospective Buyers

After reporting the piece Own a Piece of the Dream: Fractional Ownership in Italy and detailing three fractionals in Tuscany, Le Marche and Umbria, I  became a fan of the concept of fractional ownership. That said, it's a complicated transaction, and the arrangement may not suit everyone. With that in mind, here's a list of tips before purchasing a fractional in Italy:
Visit the Property: This sounds obvious, but we have to state it outright. Not only do you want to make sure the structure, be it a freestanding house or apartment, passes muster, but you want to get a sense of the location, and whether you see yourself spending time there for years to come.

Read the Fine Print: Fractional properties can be structured in any number of ways, depending in part on the developer's provenance. So, a U.S.-based owner will draw on U.S. legal structure, a U.K.-based owner on their own. The transaction will also draw on the site country's laws. Study both carefully. Understand how the property's annual fees work, how the property is run, what role owners have in rules, etc. Critical is how owners determine which weeks they get each year. Another consideration: Insurance obligations and shareholder liability.

Perform "Scenario" Due Diligence: Run through possible scenarios, and ask the developer how they'd handle them. For instance: What if there's an unusually high one-time expense, like a major roof repair? What if one of the owners is a loose cannon, and doesn't respect the week rotations or other rules? What if you decide after a few years to sell, how might that work?

Evaluate Your Schedule: If you and/or your spouse are still working, you want to make sure your professional schedule is flexible enough to accommodate a fractional ownership time table. You won't have total control over which weeks you get to stay at the property.

Talk to an Attorney: Check with an attorney specializing in transactional sales and also perhaps an estate attorney since this is likely to be a long-term investment. -- Barbara Benham

Photo of Borgo di Vagli

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Month of Italy: A Delightful and Engaging Read

With hilarious wit and fast-paced narrative, New York Times best-selling author Chris Brady thrills with honest commentary on what a "trip of a lifetime" actually feels like, and paves the way for you to take one of your own!

This story is one of going slow in order to go fast! Order it now and rediscover the art of vacation.
For free stuff and additional resources, go to www.amonthofitaly.com.

(This is an ad.)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Allure of Pantelleria, One Of Italy's Lesser Known Islands

The island of Pantelleria, 58 miles from Sicily and 45 from Tunisia, is on many a person's wish list, including ours. That said, it's not as widely known as many of Itay's other islands, at least not among U.S. travelers. This despite occasional mentions in the U.S. press, often a nod to Giorgio Armani maintaining a vacation home there. One explanation for Pantelleria's "off the radar" status is it was, until relatively recently, not terribly accessible from mainland Italy. An overnight ferry from Trapani, Sicily, was your best bet.

Today, two airlines, Alitialia and Blu Express, service the island several times a weeks during the summer months. Magically, this inaccessibility works in Pantelleria's favor in many ways. It's not terribly developed, with 18 hotels listed on TripAdvisor, which makes for a delightful place for folks who want to get away from it all. There are vineyards to tour. There are no beaches, but you can swim off the island's jagged coast line. It is, per this WikiTravel entry, a fun place to explore on moped.

To give you a sense of Pantelleria, here's a sampling of three recent articles: Pantelleria: Italy's Anti-Capri, Capers {Pantelleria} and The Great Italian Island Caper. You can also read this 2009 account of a visit to Pantelleria on ABC News' website. -- Barbara Benham

 Photo by Luca Volpi, Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Win a Trip to Italy from Abercrombie & Kent

Here's a chance to win a trip to Italy that we think merits a callout. Abercrombie and Kent, the venerable luxury outfitter, is sponsoring a sweepstakes for an 8-day trip to Italy with an itinerary that covers Rome, Florence and Venice. The trip is part of A and K's Connection Journeys, which include up-close-and-local activities in area eateries, museums and studios. With this one, the lucky winner and equally lucky guest will learn to make pizza at a piazziaolo in Rome; tour the Uffizi Gallery, led by an art specialist, in Florence; and visit the atelier where artisans creates carnival costumes in Venice.

This sweepstakes is noteworthy for several reasons. One, Abercrombie and Kent doesn't sponsor them often. Two, the hotels are exceptional: the Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora, Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence and Hotel Danieli in Venice. As these things go, this sweeps is straightforward. You can enter one time through November 1. You can increase your chances of winning by sharing with friends. There is one fine-print consideration: The winner must take the trip next year on one of the following dates: March 15 – 25, 2013; June 7 – 17, 2013; July 5 – 15, 2013; July 19 – 29, 2013; August 30 – September 9, 2013; or October 11 – 21, 2013. This is a group tour, with a maximum of 28 per group.

 To enter, click HERE. Good luck! -- Barbara Benham

 Photo by Andrea Puggioni, flickr.com