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Friday, April 30, 2010

I Love Touring Italy - Basilicata

Sassi di Matera (Italy)Image via Wikipedia

If you are contemplating touring Europe, you should consider the Basilicata region of southern Italy. Basilicata forms the instep of the Italian boot and has two small seacoasts, one on the Ionian Sea in the east and one on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west. Depending on your interests, Basilicata may be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. Basilicata is among the few regions of Italy as yet undiscovered by tourists. There's a tradeoff; you won't have to fight the crowds to see what you want to see. On the other hand, you'll have a hard time finding fancy hotels. And its roads are not always the best, hardly surprising when you consider the region's mountainous terrain.

Basilicata's population is only slightly above six hundred thousand. While quite mountainous this is the only region of Italy in which farm workers outnumber industrial workers. Until the 1970s Basilicata steadily lost population to other Italian regions and to emigration abroad. But all is not lost. Its east coast has become an important agricultural area. And the mountainous interior with poor soil and lots of sun; what could be better for producing fine wine? Let's not forget that many consider Basilicata's native Aglianico (also found in Campania) to be Italy's third best red grape, after Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. It sounds like there could be a major breakthrough in Basilicata's wine industry.

We'll start our tour of this region in the northeast at Matera. Then we head south and east to Potenza. From there we proceed southeast to Aliano and then south and east to Terranova di Pollino and the Parco Nazionale. For some seaside you could continue to the little town of Maratea on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. When driving in this part of the world, you'll need a good map and good reflexes; the roads here don't always go directly from Point A to Point B and rarely go in a straight line.

Matera, population sixty thousand, lies just south of the Apulia border. This area has been settled since Palaeolithic times, in other words for at least twelve thousand years. The Romans claimed to have founded the city in the Third Century B. C. Like so many other parts of Italy it was occupied by an almost never-ending stream of invaders. One of Matera's proudest moments occurred in September 1943 when it rose against the German invaders, the first Italian city to do so. We'll start with the usual sights and finish with something truly unique.

Matera's Duomo (Cathedral) dates from the Thirteenth Century and was built in the Apulian-Romanesque style (Apulia is the region north of Basilicata, its architecture reflects Greek, Arab, and Norman influences.) There are frescoes and sculptures to admire. Be sure to find out if the Thirteenth Century Romanesque Church of San Giovanni Battista has been reopened for tourists. If so, stop by. But these sights pale in comparison to Matera's unique old town whose streets are often rooftops and whose houses, churches, and chic restaurants are caves, hewn out of solid rock.

The Sassi di Matera (Stones of Matera) are caves that have been occupied continuously by human beings for an estimated nine thousand years. At twenty years per generation, (remember they didn't wait to finish law school before starting a family in those days) this works out to an incredible 450 generations possibly living in the same neighborhood. The area has been named a World Heritage Site and numerous bars and restaurants now take advantage of this unique location. What a turnaround from the days when Matera because of the Sassi was called ''la vergogna nazionale,'' Italy's shame.

Potenza with a population slightly under 70 thousand is the capital of Basilicata. Here in a famous battle Carthage definitively lost to Rome. The city has endured many invasions and earthquakes, the latest in 1980. During the Second World War the Allies heavily bombarded Potenza. Monuments to see include the Twelfth Century St. Gerard Cathedral, and the Eleventh Century Church of San Francesco which includes a Renaissance painting entitled Madonna del Terremoto (Our Lady of the Earthquake). The Romanesque Church St. Michael the Archangel was also built in the Twelfth Century as was the Church of St. Mary of the Sepulcher. You should also visit the Castle's Tower built prior to the year 1000 and the ruins of a Norman fort, said to be built on Roman and Byzantine foundations. All in all there's a lot of old stuff to see for a small provincial capital that was almost destroyed by earthquakes.

With less than twelve hundred inhabitants you might be tempted to skip the village of Aliano. Don't, it's living proof of the phrase - good things come in small packages. The scenery is spectacular; cliffs and rivers, and gullies, and local growing things include olive, peach, and citrus trees. This lovely scenery may be typical of the region. However, unlike any neighboring village Aliano is famous thanks to an involuntary visitor who stopped by more than seventy years ago. Between May, 1935 and October, 1936 Aliano was the home in exile of the well-known author Carlo Levi. Levi, a painter educated as a doctor, was a founder of an Italian anti-Mussolini movement. This explains his unintentional extended Aliano visit. After his release from exile Levi spent two years in France but returned to Italy and was imprisoned once again. After the war he wrote a book, Christ Stopped at Eboli, describing his Aliano experiences. This book exposed the problem of poverty in Southern Italy to the relatively prosperous North. Levi served nine years in the Italian Senate where he continued his fight against poverty. He is buried in the village. The house where he lived is still standing; it is now the Museo Storico Carlo Levi (Carlo Levi Historical Museum).

Terranova di Pollino is a mountain village in southern Basilicata very close to Calabria. It lies at the entrance to the Parco Nazionale del Pollino (Pollino National Park), Italy's largest measuring just under 750 square miles (more than 1900 square kilometers.) Let's quote their website "With its 192,565 hectares, Pollino National Park, the largest protected area in Italy between Calabria and Basilicata, has a wealth of landscapes to offer: great areas of wilderness where the cuirassed pine -the true emblem of the park- clings to the rocky slopes as the wind shapes its twisted trunk; not far away, rolling hills and valleys, lush slopes with flowering plants in springtime, and then endless upland plains where the sheep still graze like in ancient times."

But that's not all. The park is home to a wide variety of endangered species. Many fossils have been found including a very well preserved giant elephant skeleton dating back 400,000 to 700,000 years. Other fossils date from the time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. You'll have no trouble finding historic churches in the neighboring villages. Many of these villages are home to ethnic Albanians who managed to maintain their language and culture for over five hundred years. Look for their festivals during the spring and summer months.

What about food? Basilicata is very traditional when it comes to cooking. As expected in an economically deprived area meat consumption is limited. The major meat is pork and the locals know how to extract the maximum from their porkers. Hot peppers are popular and can be quite hot. Basilicata bread is consumed in many parts of Italy. Locals make a special pasta from wheat and lard. The Pollino mountains are famous for their wild mushrooms and for game.

Let's suggest a sample menu, one of many. Start with Zuppa di Pesce alla Santavenere (Ionian Fish and Seafood Soup). Then try Spezzatino di Agnello (Lamb stewed in an earthenware pot). For dessert indulge yourself with Frittelle alla Lucana (Doughnuts). Be sure to increase your dining pleasure by including local wines with your meal.

We'll conclude with a quick look at Basilicata wine. Basilicata ranks 17th among the 20 Italian regions for the acreage devoted to wine grapes and for total annual wine production. About 73% of the wine produced is red or rosé, leaving 27% white. The region produces two DOC wines, Aglianico del Vulture and Terre dell Alta Val d'Agri. DOC is short for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. Only 2.4% of Bascilicata wine carries the DOC designation.

If you like powerful wines, try the Aglianico del Vulture from a local grape that grows on the extinct Mount Vulture volcano or its surrounding hills. This wine may be cellared for up to twenty years. The sparkling version may be either dry or sweet. The red Terre dell Alta Val d'Agri is composed of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and perhaps some local red grapes. The rose version may include some local white grapes as well.


Levi Reiss is the author or co-author of ten computer and Internet books, but to tell the truth, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His new wine, diet, health, and nutrition website links to his other sites.

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Find Airline Discount Flights That Will Save You Money!

Airbus A340-600Image via Wikipedia

Moment you think of a holiday, first thing that comes to mind is how to buy airline discount flights, because the amount you spend on your air ticket is a fairly large portion of the cost of your trip. This article provides few tips to find airline discount flights, whether you are planning a return flight to and from your favourite holiday resorts or around the world trip to visit a number of countries.

When you want to find airline discount flights, time of the year you intend travelling is also important. As you will encounter higher ticket costs, it is always advisable to avoid flying during peak seasons. Months of June and July, being northern hemisphere summer, are considered the most expensive periods to fly to places such as UK and USA. Winter holidays around Christmas and New Year eve are also considered to be peak seasons. It is not easy to find airline discount flights during these peak periods. The best bet would be to travel towards mid-January to February end and then again April/May and from mid-September to mid-December.

Another criterion to consider for finding airline discount flights is the time you purchase the tickets from internet. It is believed that the major plane ticket search engines such as Expedia, Travelocity release their new prices on Wednesdays. So if you start searching your airline discount flights from midnight on a Wednesday, you will have a greater chance of finding good prices. Nevertheless there is no absolute guarantee that you will be able to land on the cheapest fare just because it happens to be a Wednesday. You are only increasing your chances of finding the best price by trying on a Wednesday night.

Your flexibility on travel dates also plays a major part in finding airline discount flights. For example 2nd or 3rd of January are very busy days for airlines as many people travel on this day to get back to their places of residence from a holiday or a visit to friends and families. Air tickets for travel on these days could be higher due to the high demand. So if it is alright for you to travel a day or two later, you will be able to find discount flights. You will also face a similar scenario if you are travelling on or about a major holiday such as Christmas. Obviously not many people want to travel on the Christmas day, preferring to be home with their families instead. Again if you do not mind travelling on 25th December, you can increase your chances of finding airline discount flights.

Some budget airlines such as Airasia sell heavily discounted tickets a few months ahead of the travel date. In order to take advantage on such offers you need to make your reservation well before the travel dates. Sometimes these budget airlines offer a limited number of free tickets for promotional purposes too. Best way to catch these free offers is to sign up for the newsletters published by the airlines. Then you will be notified by an email to which you need to respond very quickly. You can use these free tickets by paying only the tax levies.

Flying with the same airline every time you travel will also help you to build your frequent flyer points which can be redeemed to claim a free flight. If you are flying a single airline over a long journey travelling tens of thousands of miles you can collect enough points for a short free flight.

If you would like to discover sure fire secrets in looking for airline discount flights, you can do so here =>>

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Getting Better Exchange Rates With Currency Cards

day 76 - credit cardsImage by JudeanPeoplesFront via Flickr

Once you compare exchange rates offered by the various banks and credit card companies, you will come to realize that prepaid currency cards are the cheapest way to go when traveling abroad. Most financial institutions will charge a 2% premium plus a three pound transaction fee for currency conversions. Prepaid cards are a new, safe and more affordable option to carrying your money during foreign travel.

If you opt to go with a pre paid card that can only be used at ATM machines there are cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo that can be used to withdraw local currency from over one million Visa or Mastercard cash machines in more than 160 countries. You have 24 hour access to your cash. This proves to be more convenient than having to constantly go to the bank or exchange bureaus to get cash.

Prepaid travel cards are preloaded with money that you plan to spend while travelling abroad. You determine the amount and how and where you want to spend your funds. If there are remaining funds on the card you have two options. If you are a frequent traveller of your particular destination, then you can leave the funds on the card. Your other option would be to withdraw the money. Your funds are never lost if you do not use the balance.

These convenient travel cards can be used as a credit or debit card. You are not restricted on your purchases, as long as your vendor accepts the Visa or Mastercard logo. You can also withdraw cash from the cards in most countries.

Currency travel cards are a secure option to banks and currency exchange bureaus. You have the added protection against fraud and identity theft. Travel cards are not like bank debit cards, they are not linked to your personal checking or savings account. So if there is ever unauthorized activity on your account, you can rest assured that your checking or savings accounts will remain unharmed.

Customer service is always available if your card is ever lost or stolen. A hold will be placed on your account preventing any further funds from being withdrawn. They are also insured, therefore any stolen funds would be replaced. And like all credit and debit cards, these pre paid card has associated PINs that you assign, making your funds even more secure.

Prepaid cards offer security, convenience and a more affordable option than banks and currency exchange bureaus. Compare exchange rates They give you the flexibility to spend your money how you want without the added costs of transaction fees. You ultimately get the best currency rates since you can secure foreign currency exchange rates in advance of your visit. This will save you an additional 5 to 8% on conversion rates.


Tom Fisher is a travel writer for severla publications. He suggests FairFX - - for buying foreign currency becuase of their great value prepaid cards.


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I Love Italian Travel - May Attractions Of Central Italy, Part II

The ancient Cathedral of Larino is a prime exa...Image via Wikipedia

So you are considering May holidays in Abruzzi or elsewhere in central Italy. There are lots and lots of special spring events that simply aren't available in the good old summertime. Here are a few of them. You had better get rolling; May is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Abruzzi on the eastern Adriatic coast and then proceed south to Molise. There are so many things to see and do in central Italy in May that this is the second of three articles.

On the first Thursday in May the village of Cocullo, Abruzzi, home to about 300, hosts a Snake Handlers' Procession. A statue of the town's patron St. Dominic, all covered with live serpents is carried through the town. Thousands of people follow this solemn procession through the village. In addition to the snakes, there is a band, fireworks, breakfast at the foot of the hill, and later on a banquet.

The Abruzzi city of Pratola Peligna with a population of about 8 thousand hosts The Festival of the Madonna della Libera in early May. This festival attracts thousands of people, on the weekends. The streets are festively lit and brass bands play all day long. Local food specialties include hot porchetta and warm roasted peanuts. Major highlights include welcoming those doughty pilgrims who have walked almost 30 miles (42 kilometers) from the small town of Gioia de Marsi and the procession of La Madonna's statue from the church through the town's historic streets. If you stay there until Saturday night you will enjoy the great fireworks display.

On May's final Sunday the small town of Rocca di Mezzo, population 1500, hosts a daffodil festival that attracts thousands of people who have come to greet the spring. Saturday night the wagons are festooned with thousands of daffodils. Sunday afternoon they parade through the town. Unlike many other Abruzzi festivals this one is not rooted in time immemorial. It was started in 1947 by soldiers returning from World War II.

In many Molise villages and towns the month of May starts with festivals that are dedicated to Santa Maria, San Filippo and San Giacomo. These festivals are often accompanied by fireworks. The little city of Larino, whose population is approximately 7 thousand, hosts the Feste 'e San Pard (San Pardo Festival and Procession) near the end of the month. This procession includes over one hundred carts that belong to local families. Each and every cart is richly decorated with flowers and pulled by two white oxen. This parade begins at the historic town center, passes by the cathedral and cemetery, and terminates at a historic local church. Sociologists and gossipers can study the local pecking order by noting the carts' position in the parade.


Once upon a time Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten computer and Internet books. And yet, he really prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right food and friends. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website which focuses on wine, weight loss, health, and nutrition issues.



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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Holidays in Sicily Villas

Mount Etna, topped in snowImage via Wikipedia

by John Petersons
There are many different options for villa rentals in Sicily. One of the most popular is the seaside villas. Any property boasting a seaside location should either be on the ocean's edge or within a minute's walk to the water. Much of Sicily's coast line is of the sandy beach variety, but there are also areas speckled with rocky coves for those less inclined to sunbath and more inclined the watch the waves break across the shore. There is a huge variety of waterfront villas. Some are renovated stone farmhouses. Another used to be a frantoio, or olive-oil press. There is even an old castle available. The prices on some of these accommodations can be a bit steep, but since they sleep anywhere from five to fifteen, the cost can be split up between multiple friends or families.

Rental companies often designate some of their villas as family properties. These properties are generally larger, sometimes having sleeping accommodation for twenty people, and come with private pools and grounds. Many of them are located near child-friendly attractions such as Mount Etna and its theme park, Etna Land. On the north coast is Palermo, a town known for its puppet theatre. Regardless of the surrounding attractions, every family villa comes equipped with satellite television and a DVD player.

With its azure seas, craggy cliffs and stunning sunsets, Sicily is a natural location for a honeymoon. There are many smaller, but no less exquisite, Sicily villas available for newlyweds to find the romance they are looking for. These properties may be set on a private beach or amidst the rolling hills of vineyard country. Cleaning service will be weekly, instead of daily, to ensure maximum privacy. In addition to a pool, they will often boast a Jacuzzi.

For those, who wish to experience more of Sicily's city life - the villas in and around the famous town of Taormina are a perfect option. Taormina was made an integral part of the Grand Tour a couple hundred years ago, and since then, luminaries such as Goethe and Steinbeck have made Taormina villas their home away from home. Some of these villas are apartments in the restored historic city center, while others are just a short walk or drive away.

Whether you're looking for a family vacation, honeymoon retreat, or just a relaxing week in the sunshine, Sicily villas can meet all your holiday needs.

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is a vacationer"'s dream come true. This island has it all: year-round warm climate, beautiful beaches, charming Old World towns, vineyards, amazing cuisine, and a variety of charming sicily villas available for rental.John Petersons has been contributing to leading magazines for the past 10 years. He's also an accredited researcher on the subject for leading research institutes in the US.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tips for Cheap Holiday Deals

Irving lived at the Alhambra Palace while writ...Image via Wikipedia

Taking in terms of present context the role of spending holidays with your loved ones or along with entire family to give up your stress cannot be ignored. In fact, the best way you can take a much-needed break is by travelling or having cheap holidays abroad. Perhaps going for a cheap holiday can be considered as the great prospect to relax after having a lot of hard work. Going for a cheap holiday deals provide you an opportunity to go for an adventure trip or even enjoy spending some quality time along with your friends or family members in a beautiful setting. However, at times the plan of fun filled holidays can be dampened by the very expensive travel bills.

It's a very normal tendency that every human being after having a lot of hard work looks for various options to unwind and relax. And, the most feasible option that many people usually prefer is opting cheap holidays abroad. In fact, opting cheap holiday deals is what comes to everyone's mind every time we speak of planning for a break. Spending some relaxing time or enjoying a comfy stay far from home is the most common facility that everyone like to have. Nevertheless, at the same time every every tour needs money if you wish to enjoy all these.

No doubt, going for a cheap holiday can be more fun and exciting than an expensive one, but you need to put some efforts into the planning process. With just a bit of extra effort and proper care, you can plan a budget holiday that you can actually enjoy with everyone. These are some of the most important tips that you need to take care during your planning for a cheap holiday:

Be very clear about when you really want to go- It is very important to be clear in your idea about when you want to go for cheap holiday. Just for an example if you don't like to have trip during the summer season then simply avoid it. Usually the airfare can actually cost much less during the off-season. It is also important to note that seasonal pricing even holds good for lodging. And, therefore going for an off-peak travel be more feasible to explore other attractions as well. Perhaps going for a holiday during a non-peak period can surely be less costly than during peak periods.

If possible try to be flexible regarding the selection of location - These days many airlines even run or offer special promotion holiday package for certain tourist spots. Usually, they don't fly any other destination. Therefore, if you desire to visit any one of their holiday destinations, you can easily have cheaper airplane tickets as well. Always plan your transportation ahead of time- Nevertheless, if you are planning to spend holiday in more than one city then its better you look into your travel options well in advance. As a result, the best thing that you can do is go for car rentals service. Generally car rentals are less costly and can be considered as a good alternative if you really want to drive around or even check out the sights as per your own convince. Therefore, it is always better to book budget car rentals. But at the same time you need to be very sure that you are clear with the reservation policy.

Go for budget lodging or accommodation option- Now in order to reduce your cost-per-night the next best thing that you can do is stay at cheaper hotels, motels or rental apartments. Though, you must take care before making a final selection of an apartment or cheap hotel from a website and then get stuck with an unresponsive agent. So it is highly recommended that you do your homework first and then make a proper selection of your lodging. This way you will spend less money on your lodging.

Make sure to be your own tour guide- Nothing could be more exciting then being your own tour guide. All you can do is take a detailed map or you may even load up your iPod with number of site guides, and podcasts. Certainly, you will simply love touring at your own pace and enjoying sightseeing to your own interests as a great way to go. Moreover, going for economical multi-day or multi-site tourist passes, won't be the wrong idea instead of opting for the sightseeing buses or expensive private guides.

Apart from all these tips, the next and most important thing that you must try to follow is avoid eating in pricey hotel restaurants and theme parks. There are various other options as well, like you may find out eateries where you may enjoy some of the most famous local dishes as well. You can be assured of a place that is reasonable and one that allows you to sample local fare.

Cheap holiday deals can really provide an ideal break to revitalise your energy as well. All you need is proper planning so that you don't come back home with unwanted expenses or huge bills.
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The Best Travel Pillow

ChiropracticImage via Wikipedia

The Best Travel Pillow
Recently, many airlines have announced they will no longer provide pillows on their flights. This has many a traveler looking for alternatives. Good thing. In addition to the questions of sanitation and hygiene, those pillows were largely useless.

As a licensed chiropractor, I see many patients who return from traveling with all sorts of new ailments and re-injured old ones. Usually, the injury occurs during the flight, due to long periods of sitting uncomfortably. The right travel pillow will not only allow you to relax, which offers its own health benefits, but help prevent soreness or even injury.

During the day, the postural muscles in your neck are in contraction, to support your head. When you relax, your neck muscles relax with you.

Lying in bed, gravity keeps your neck and head aligned. When you are upright, like when sitting in an airline chair, gravity is your enemy. Especially, if you are trying to relax.

The standard U-shape travel pillows lack support under the chin. This allows your head to fall forward when you start to relax. Standard travel pillows also have excess padding in the back. This extra padding is unneeded. The airplane chair supports you in the back, much like your bed supports you when lying down. Making matters worse, this unnecessary padding pushes your head forward even further accentuating the lack of support in front.

Your head is now putting extra stress on your spine. Not only will you be uncomfortable and unable to rest, you'll likely end up tired, sore, and perhaps injured.

Picture your head and neck alignment when you are lying in bed. You naturally place yourself in neutral alignment, minimizing stress on your spine and neck postural muscles. You want to mimic this alignment as much as possible when you are sitting upright. Hanging your head forward or cocking it to one side is not only uncomfortable, but places great strain on your spine and neck postural muscles.

The best memory foam travel pillow is one that provides full support, including under the chin. This support helps you maintain proper alignment while sitting upright. Posture = comfort.

Maintaining proper alignment while traveling or sleeping upright is not only important with regards to personal comfort, but vital in reducing stress, soreness and preventing injury.

So don't be concerned about the airline's cost cutting measures. View this as an opportunity to get a travel pillow that works.

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Dr. Kirsti Neely is a licensed chiropractor and owner of Marina Chiropractic in San Francisco and design consultant for the Embrace Sleep Collar Travel Neck Pillow. Please visit http://www.sleepcollar/ for more information.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Looking For Bargain Cheap Flights? Hard To Find - But They Do Exist!

Ryanair is the largest operator at City of Der...Image via Wikipedia

Budgets are tight. In fact, it seems like they are getting tighter. This means that for many people, flying has become a luxury or even impossibility while it used to be a common mode of transportation. Thankfully there are bargain cheap flights that you can find, but they do take a bit of time and effort to find.

When looking for dirt cheap flights you have to be a bit creative and innovative as well. One of the best ways to do this is to really search out a bargain by shopping around between airlines. Do not simply check out one airline and accept that as your only option. Instead, you should look at their main competitors in that marketplace to really try to find the best deal.

Additionally, you may want to spend a bit of time looking at some on-line discount travel sites too. More and more of these sites have been cropping up offering bargain cheap flights. This has actually been a good thing for consumers because it has been driving airfare prices down. When you use these on-line sites, you can input different departure dates and times to look at your options. Then the results will show you which airlines are offering dirt cheap flights that fit within your budget constraints.

Be aware that when you are looking for bargain cheap flights one of the best things you can do is to shop early. This means that you need to plan ahead to give yourself the time to check out the airfares. Generally sale fare promotions are released on Wednesdays at midnight, so that is the best time to check your favourite airline.

Occasionally you can find dirt cheap flights just before your departure date. Sometimes there are last minute fares that will fit in your budget, but you cannot always count on these. Instead, they will become a good option for a last minute impulsive getaway. It is also a good idea to think about travelling during off peak seasons. This may mean that if you want to get to Arizona you may want to travel there during the summer months, as that is quite often when you can find bargain cheap flights. Whereas the very same plane ride might cost you as twice as the normal fare, during the winter period.

Many travellers who are looking for bargain cheap flights tend to purchase fares with no name carriers. Be careful if you choose to do this. Often these airlines do not have the same type of amenities that you would expect them to have. For example, if you are travelling with children and counting on having an in-flight movie to entertain your kids, you may be disappointed to discover that the cheaper airlines do not feature on board movies. Additionally, these dirt cheap flights are cheap because they consist of multiple stops along the way. This can greatly expand the length of your travel time. For some travellers this might not be a big deal, but if you are a nervous traveller or on a tight schedule it may be an impossibility for you to deal with.

While you do want to find bargain cheap flights you also must make sure you get a quality product for the money you are paying. You need to do your research and take your time in the purchasing process. If you follow these tips you are sure to find a pleasantly affordable flight that will get your trip started off right!


If you would like to discover sure fire secrets in looking for bargain cheap flights, you can do so here =>>



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Friday, April 23, 2010

I Love Italian Travel - May Attractions Of Central Italy

This picture was reworked by the Fotowerkstatt...Image via Wikipedia

Part I

So you are thinking of passing your May holidays in Tuscany or elsewhere in central Italy. Don't despair; there are lots and lots of special spring events that simply aren't available in the good old summertime. Here are a few of them. Get rolling; May is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Tuscany on the western Tyrrhenian Sea coast and then proceed in a clockwise direction heading to The Marches on the Adriatic Sea. There are so many things to see and do in central Italy in May that this is the first of three articles.

One of Florence's best-kept secrets is the stunning Iris Garden of Florence, a former olive grove on the eastern slope of Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks the city. As its name indicates, this garden includes a fabulous iris collection. There are also century old trees and an unforgettable view of the city of Florence and its surroundings. This lovely garden is open to the public only from May 2 until May 20; make sure not to miss it. The city of Pescia, home to about 20 thousand, celebrates Pinocchio's Birthday on May 25th. You may choose to celebrate it at the Pinocchio Park in the city of Collodi, population about 25 thousand, named for this author who unfortunately died without an inkling of the colossal success of his children's story. On the final weekend of the month the similarly sized city of Cortona celebrates the Archidado Games, which commemorate an upper-class marriage, which took place in the late Fourteenth-Century. You'll enjoy seeing townspeople dressed in traditional costumes. On Saturday there are religious ceremonies and processions and crossbow competitions that pit neighborhood against neighborhood on the following day.

On the first Sunday in May, the town of Tolentino, with a population of approximately 20 thousand, presents their historic Le Marche Festa. This is a military pageant that recreates the Napoleonic period. The key activity takes place at the Castello della Rancia commemorating an 1815 battle which some historians and others consider to be the first battle in the war for Italian independence. Between the first and second weeks of May the town of Camerino, population 7 thousand, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of the regional capital Ancona, hosts their Fifteenth Century Le Marche Festa that just happens to coincide with the festival of the city's patron saint, San Venanzio. A major festival highlight is the Corsa alla spada in which competitors race up the town's wonderful steep alleys and streets. Another is the Giostra della Quintana (historical jousting tournament). You'll definitely enjoy the local food and wine specialties.


Once upon a time Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten computer and Internet books. And yet, he really prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right food and friends. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website which focuses on wine, weight loss, health, and nutrition issues.



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Cheap Flights Anywhere?- You can Find Them If You Know How To!

When it comes to planning your vacation, visiting distant family and friends or just wanting to see the world, obviously you would want to find cheap flights anywhere. There is no doubt that airlines have been ripping people off for years and it still continues unabated. An airline ticket is one of the biggest expenses of any trip. Though it may be a bit difficult to find cheap flights anywhere you travel, it is not an impossible task. This article is to educate the traveller how to bring down the cost of your air tickets.

One of the most popular methods of finding cheap flights anywhere is on-line travel web sites which offer discounted fares. Basically there are two types of travel sites. One type offers flights on just one particular airline and the other type offers flights from numerous airlines. You need to choose between these two according to your planned trip. Websites such as and are two examples respectively. Sites such as Kayak will give you multiple choices involving more than one airline on different routes. Then it will be easy to pick the best deal without having to check individual airlines. Sites such as Airasia will show only Airasia flights. This being a budget airline, don't be surprised if you get a better deal, depending on your planned route.

On-line travel websites from your own country could be quite useful to find discounted fares which apply to an overseas country, but it is also worthwhile checking sites that belong to the country you intend visiting, from your own country. For example some special deals such as "visit USA" are meant for foreign travellers who can purchase only from outside North America. Foreigners visiting the USA have to buy these special deals from their own country before leaving for USA. Sites such as Expedia have different websites for different countries. Meanwhile sites such as British Octopus sell cheap tickets for Europe travel but it may not be popular in North America.

Around the world tickets are the best option for travellers who plan to travel to a number of locations. Cost of these tickets have been worked out in such a way that it allows you to cover a number of cities around the world at a very reasonable price. In fact it has been found that sometimes it is cheaper to visit more than five or six cities on your around the world trip rather than flying to just one or two cities. At times you would wonder how the airline tariff system works, but why worry about that as long as you get the cheapest fares?

Another smart way to find cheap flights anywhere is to sign up for newsletters published by various airlines. They send text or email messages to notify any special deals. To take advantage of these offers, you need to be extremely quick, as there are only a limited number of seats on offer, and they will sell off in a matter of days if not in hours.

Your flexibility on travel dates and travelling during off peak periods can also save significantly, as airlines and hotels offer cheap rates during off peak periods. Normally midweek flights are cheaper and the prices could vary from day to day. Check the airline flight schedules before you decide your date of travel. Moreover some airlines offer cheap flights anywhere during certain time windows such as after midnight.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Things to do While in Florence, Italy

View at Piazza della Signoria from the front b...Image via Wikipedia

Florence is one of the highlights of a trip to Italy. Whether you enjoy museums, art galleries, eating and drinking Italian food and wine, or simply wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere, you will find that Florence Italy Tourism has something for you.

Easily the most visited square in Florence is the Piazza della Signoria which is an open-air sculpture exhibit. The Loggia della Signoria is home to famous statues such as a copy of Michelangelo's David and the Fountain of Neptune. This square is in the historic center of Florence and is one of the highlights of the city.

Next on the list is the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence's most popular cathedral. The outside of the cathedral is made of green, pink, and white marble. Inside you can marvel at Brunelleschi's Dome masterpiece. Also, by purchasing a ticket you can climb the 463 steps to get to the top of the bell tower and enjoy a panoramic view of the city, which is simply breath-taking. Do note, however, that there is no air-conditioning, so bring water!

Make sure you visit the Galleria dell' Academia on your visit to Florence. This museum gallery holds some of the most important sculptures and paintings from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Here you will find many of Michelangelo's original works including the famous David. You can also see many musical instruments from the Medici family.

While in Florence you will also want to visit Italy's most crowded museum, the Galleria degli Uffizi. The gallery has one of the most prominent collections of Renaissance art in the world. You can enjoy the thousands of paintings from medieval and modern times, as well as antique sculptures and tapestries. Long lines can be a problem, so if possible buy your tickets ahead and avoid them all together.

Finally, what would a trip to Florence be without shopping? Many consider the Florence shopping to be the finest in Europe. From leather goods to paper goods, jewelry to art productions, Florence has it all. There are also plenty outdoor markets where you can find lots of bargains while enjoyingthe surrounding architecture.

There is no doubt that Florence has a rich history and many places that you must visit. From the Galleria dell' Academia to the open air markets, Florence Italy tourism offers something for everyone!


For more tips and advice on Florence visit Suzanne's Florence, Italy website - - here you will find everything you need to know about travel in Florence and Tuscany.


Vino Con Vista Florence and Tuscany: Wine With a View of Italy (Volume 1)

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Poll finds Italians to be the best lovers | Life &Style | ITALY Magazine - StumbleUpon

For those of us who are Italian or of Italian descent we already knew we were the best. Now we have credibility from 10,000 women over the world.
Italians make the ideal lover, according to a new poll which placed Germans at the very bottom. The poll quizzed 10,000 women of 50 different nationalities and was taken for the (where are you now) website which specializes in bringing people together who travel often.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Learn The Italian Language - Effortlessly

Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Red chalk....Image via Wikipedia

Copyright © 2010 Lynsey Carter

Buon giorno! I just said 'hello' to you! See? It isn't that hard to learn the Italian language at all! When someone speaks to you in Italian, do you just look at them and smile?...but how would you like to rattled off a confident and natural reply - IN ITALIAN- and watch their jaw drop in amazement!

...Now, you too can learn to speak an advanced Italian language confidently and naturally in a dynamic, comprehensive, and proven way that works!

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* are you, like me, a big fan of Italian food, wine, and culture, and want to completely immerse yourself more fully in their language?
* do you like to watch Italian language movies or go attend Italian language films with friends or relatives?
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I am extremely passionate about learning another language, and for me it is such a privilege to be able to share this training with you. It is a wonderful experience to be able to speak to other people in their own language. You will be able to enter into a different culture, a different world! Being bilingual is a very special ability, and not that hard to learn with a little dedication and commitment from you!

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Not only do you get the 33 audio tracks, you also get the transcripts of the conversations in Italian and English, so that you can keep up with the lessons and the extra Italian vocabulary relevant to each lesson!.

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I Love Touring Venice, Italy - Hotels In The San Polo And Santa Croce District

San Giacomo di Rialto (S. Giacometto)Image by Daisuke Ido via Flickr

The San Polo district is the smallest of Venice's six districts. It covers only 86 acres (that's about 35 hectares) in the center of the city. It's home to Venice's main market and has been for over 900 years. The main attractions are the Rialto Bridge and several churches including San Giacomo di Rialto, said to be consecrated in the year 421 and perhaps the oldest church in Venice. Santa Croce is north and west of San Polo. You may well stop by here because of the parking lots (cars aren't allowed in the five other districts of Venice) and bus station. But the eastern part of the district has a medieval air and is home to some tourist attractions such as historic churches and the Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna whose collection includes many masters of modern art. For your convenience we have listed district hotels in approximate order of cost, starting with the least expensive. We have personally verified all website addresses making sure that they include English-language pages.

The Acca Hotel has only one star but may be an option for economy-minded tourists. You'll be close to many attractions such as the San Pantalon church whose ceiling was painted by Gian Antonio Fiumani, and is said to be the world's largest painting on canvas. Breakfast is served in the courtyard. Maybe because the hotel has only 8 rooms and 1 suite there is no night porter. The hotel address is Calle Pezzana, San Polo 2160.

The Hotel al Ponte Mocenigo is our only suggestion for the Santa Croce district. It's on two floors of a palazzo that once belonged to the local Mocenigo bigwigs. There's a courtyard for breakfast and a Turkish sauna. Access is via a private bridge with a history that you can read on the hotel website. All 10 rooms and the junior suite are non-smoking, but none of them offer a canal view. The hotel address is Fondamento de Rimpeto a Ca' Moncenigo, Santa Croce 2063.

The Ca' Angeli Hotel occupies two floors of a palace on the Grand Canal that belonged to a famous Venetian architect who oversaw its renovation. The fine breakfast is served in a room overlooking the Grand Canal as do some of the guest rooms. There are only 5 rooms, 2 suites and 1 apartment. The hotel address is Calle del Traghetto della Madoneta, San Polo 1434.

The Oltre il Giardino'Casaifrari can be a fine choice if you are looking for peace and quiet. You may even have trouble finding this little hotel hidden behind a brick wall. Alma Mahler lived there in the 1920s after her husband Gustav's death. Its centerpiece is the garden where breakfast is served, weather permitting. All 4 rooms and 2 suites overlook the garden. By the way, you can't believe everything that you read. Quoting their website, "The house... has now been turned into an exclusive but homely retreat." This place is anything but homely. The hotel address is Fondamenta Contarini - San Polo 2542.

The three star Locanda Sturion hotel was used by the Doge of Venice to house foreign merchants selling their wares at the Rialto Market more than 700 years ago. The decorations have been updated to the Eighteenth Century. Its breakfast room and reading room overlook the Grand Canal. The onsite restaurant offers a historic menu, with dishes and delicacies dating back to the Fourteenth Century, reinterpreted for today's tastes. Be warned, the stairs are steep to this fourth and fifth floor hotel and there is no elevator. There are 11 rooms. The hotel address is Calle del Sturion, San Polo 679.


Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet but he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches various computer classes in an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his wine website with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.



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Know How To Save Money When Flying? - Best Cheap Flights Will Help Save Money!

Statue dedicated to the traveller in Oviedo, SpainImage via Wikipedia

Everyone enjoys travelling, especially to visit your favourite holiday destinations, and it will be more enjoyable if you get the best cheap flights for your journey. Whether they be in your own country or overseas, the most comfortable and convenient mode of travel would be by air. However the costs of air travel have been on the ascendancy during the last decade or so. Spiralling fuel costs and security related tax levies have pushed the airlines operational costs further up. These extra costs have unfortunately been passed on to the traveller. Nevertheless you can still find best cheap flights if you are smart enough.

Due to the recent global financial meltdown and increase in the number of airlines taking to wings, there is stiff competition among the airlines. This comes as some relief to the air passengers, and that will give them enough leverage to find cheap flights. Some travel agents offer discounted tickets. Also one can find so many other online booking portals in order to find the best cheap flights. With so many alternative ways of finding cheap flights, it is not so easy to find the best offer at a given point in time. You need to spend time looking for that best deal.

If you are making your reservation through a travel agent, shop around first and then ask for the best possible quote. Before you decide on the best cheap flights, request quotes from at least three different travel agents to compare the prices. If you decide to make the booking online, try various airlines' online portals. Prices from a variety of airlines could be found on a single web site such as jetabroad too. Choosing similar online booking portals eliminates the hassle of checking in a number of individual booking portals.

Advantages in online booking: You are able to find the best cheap flights. Booking can be done quickly and conveniently from the comfort of your own home. So many relevant details such as tourist locations, maps, tour guides and even car rentals will be presented to you in the web site when the booking is made on line. Travel packages which include discounted air tickets and hotels are also available in plenty when booking through internet.

Disadvantages in booking on-line: you need to be accurate and consistent throughout the booking process. Slightest error will cost you money as refunds are not available once the order goes through. Also if you are on a journey that involves more than one sector, getting an immediate connecting flight for your onward journey will be tricky. If you are flying two different airlines in two different sectors, any delay in the first flight could result in missing the second flight. Missing a flight in this manner will cost you more money to buy a fresh ticket as budget airlines do not compensate for such losses.

You can buy cheap tickets from consolidators and flight ticket bucket shops. Airlines sell their tickets in bulk to consolidators who in turn on sell at cheap prices. Bucket shops are sometimes located in hard to find places in high rise building in some cities, where you may not feel quite comfortable visiting. But the truth is you can buy cheap tickets from bucket shops.

The above tips will certainly help find best cheap flights. Further research will help you find even better ideas that will be useful.


You want to find the best cheap flights whenever and where ever you fly, then learn the secret by visiting the following website =>>



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How to Prepare for Your EuroTrip

Berlin Bode-MuseumImage by Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr

Europe is a continent with 39 nations and countless different cultures that aren't defined by mere political zones. Within countries you can experience a wide variety of different foods, languages and peoples. Whether you're planning on heading to icy Scandinavia or the sunny Mediterranean, you should be prepared to see and do things that you have never done before. Here are some basics to help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime.

1. Visas and Travel Guidelines: Before you buy your Europe airline tickets, it's important to look at a country's entry requirements. Many nations require visas. While the process can be tedious and bureaucratic, it is necessary and well worth it. Make sure that your passport is current, and will not expire during your trip. Make photocopies of your passport and visa, just in case something happens to the original. To ensure that these matters are taken care of before you leave will save you time and money in the event that something goes wrong.

2. Language: Although many Europeans speak English, chances are that most of the people you run into - unless you're going to England, Ireland, or Scotland - do not. It is important to be prepared to communicate without being understood in your native tongue. As a result, it can be helpful to bring a handbook of common words and phrases of the foreign language. If there is something that you want to communicate, but do not have the vocabulary, remember that most language is non-verbal. Gesticulations and pointing can often greatly help to convey an idea where words cannot.

3. Packing: These days you have to pay extra to pack luggage on the plane. Save your money for food and fun when you arrive, and pack light. A pair of comfortable jeans, maybe some nice shirts if you go out for a luxurious dinner, and some comfortable sneakers are really all you need. It's better to pack a few essentials than be burdened with heavy luggage. You also have to be responsible for more if you pack a lot. And going with less gives you more space to store what you bring home (Europe has great deals on certain items that are impossible to find in the U.S.).

4. Sights: Sure you want to see all of the most famous sights that a country can offer, but there are also many hidden gems that are still worth seeing. Do your research in travel books, online newspaper travel sections, or talk to your local Brooklyn travel agency about the specific country or countries you are visiting to get some more information.

5. Make sure that you have a good camera because you will want to be able to remember in detail where you were, and what you did. Keeping a daily journal of your activities can also be helpful.

6. Spontaneity: Travel is all about seeing and doing new things. Don't be afraid to do something you wouldn't normally do. This trip may provide you with once in a lifetime opportunities! But don't go too crazy - remember, always trust your gut if you're unsure of what to do.

That's it! Have fun and bon voyage!


Whether you are thinking about a local weekend gateway or a month long international adventure, the experienced agents at , the Brooklyn Travel Agency, will provide you with all your travel solutions including Europe airline tickets and cheap flights to Israel. Visit our blog at



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Friday, April 16, 2010

The Uffizi at your fingertips

Uffizi Gallery, FlorenceImage via Wikipedia

If you have an iPhone the Uffizi Gallery can be literally at your fingertips from today.
Read the original article here

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5 things we didn’t know about italy last week

5 things we didn’t know about italy last week: "According to Italy’s Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the  Marsili volcano, which is located 150km off-shore, southwest of Naples, could erupt at any time, resulting in a tsunami that could hit the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily.
Five days before the earthquake hit L’Aquila last year, 96% of male toads abandoned a breeding site [...]"
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