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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Forte Dei Marmi - Where the Sea Meets the Hills

Forte dei Marmi, Toscana, ItalyImage via WikipediaAh, Forte Dei Marmi. A cool sea breeze, healthy salty air, anything anyone could care for. A lovely Tuscan port made famous for marble shipping, Forte dei Marmi is definitely a good rocky base. Surrounded by magnificent white sand beaches, elegant venues, and being an up and up hotspot, Forte Dei Marmi delivers to the avid vacationer without falling short of the mark.
Geared towards wealthy Italians, Forte Dei Marmi aspires to be the all encompassing beach resort, where people can come from any and everywhere to collect a taste of style. From Puccini to Bocelli to Zucchero himself, Forte Dei Marmi is both home and vacation spot to many shining stars and attractive as a vacation spot to the rest of us.

Offering festivals at many times of year, breathtakingly inspiring hills, and of course the fabulous beaches, this part of Tuscany has a bit of something for everyone and is an up and coming hotspot not yet completely milked dry by tourism. The annual caricature and satire festival is a large draw to many as it's very particular and a museum has even sprung up around it. Museums, history, a jazz festival, mushroom picking season, and a stunning fireworks display in August are among the many reasons to visit, and let's not forget the amazing cuisine.

Thanks to its location where the hills roll into the sea the climate and soil are ideal for a variety of produce and thus cuisine in this region ranges from the heavier Tuscan grains and meats to a variety of local seafood. Cod is definitely quite the local staple, prepared in a variety of ways, as well as shellfish and blue fish which are present at least most of the year. During mushroom season local fairs are abundant and in the summer people beat the heat by escaping to the hills for blueberry, raspberry, and cranberry picking......and then use their spoils to create a variety of local liquors, desserts, and just plain deliciousness. Tordelli is the local ravioli and testaroli, flatbread served with the local cheese and pesto sauce, is an absolute can't be missed menu item. Surprisingly, even lard is a delicacy in this area, after being seasoned in a marble vessels in the small village of Colonnata, above Carrara. Sgabei is the name of a delectable deep fried pancake that begs to be enjoyed during any sojourn in Forte Dei Marmi, and the legendary chestnut cakes are not to be ignored.Wine and Tuscany go hand in hand and the Candia wines are the best on offer here, made from the grapes of local vineyards from Vermentino to Luni to Massa to Carrara,. Of course you can still find the much sought after tried and true staples like a good Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino, Trebbiano, or Chianti.

Staying in Tuscany is wonderful, and as always one needs a place to stay. Among the many uniquely fantastic selections here in Forte Dei Marmi, Hotel Byron really holds its own. A boutique hotel comprised of two recently refurbished villas, Hotel Byron delivers the height of modern comfort with the right amount of old world charm and attention to detail. Located just 3 km from the train station, on the coast, in a very residential area makes Hotel Byron an amazing draw. Built in the late 1800's for the Canavero family, the villas now house 29 rooms and suites and are and excellent spot for all aficionados of golf, swimming, and tennis, seeing as resorts for such are only a stone's throw away. La Capannina, Italy's first nightclub, is walking distance from the hotel, and another major draw.

Culinary delights prepared by Chef Mattei with a variety of specialty pasta and bread accompanied by variously stellar local wines make the hotel restaurant a must-taste point and is wonderfully convenient to all guests.

Travel is also convenient from this location, allowing one to hit beaches from outside Carrara back to town where one is able to indulge in the Poets Gulf. A visual adventure even while entering the area, the Poets Gulf is also surrounded by stellar architecture.

Tellaro is a particularly interesting sea village to visit in this region, and highly recommended in terms of architecture as well as cuisine. Initially built as protection against invasion, the houses crowded together separated only by the winding sidestreets eventually leading to the sea, is a defitnite must while here.

Not far from Cinque Terre, Forte Dei Marmi is a good base and considerably less expensive. The Cinque Terre are extremely accessible from this location, with its villages of Monterosso, Manarola, Vernazza, Rio Riomaggiore, and Corniglia.

Small towns aside, transit to Florence, Pisa, and Siena is a complete breeze from here and most recommended, especially as from Forte Dei Marmi they all classify as day trips. Firenze with its markets and museums, not to mention the fabulous duomo, Siena and the cathedral, Pisa and the Field of Miracles, all of Tuscany has something to offer and at least the Hotel Byron puts one close to the general action but is a hidden gem society has yet to find.

With its vast culinary options, beach draw, and the fact Forte Dei Marmi is a tourist hotspot for Italian travellers, this is the real thing and the place to go before you can't find a spot on the beach!

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The Best Rome Department Stores

Galleria Alberto Sordi.Image via WikipediaIn Paris, the grands magasins, or big department stores, were an integral part of the turn-of-the-century redesign for the city. Beautiful Art Nouveau buildings for Printemps, Galleries Lafayette, and La Semaritaine replaced the passages that were the city's first indoor shopping arcades.
Visitors to Rome expecting to find departments stores in a league with those or Harrods in London may be a little disappointed. Since much of the city was laid out in ancient times, buildings, including the Rome department stores, are much smaller. But what they lack in size, they make up for in convenience - most are open every day until 9PM. If you're looking for a huge store with dozens of departments, those are mostly found on the ring road that encircles the city.
Many of the stores in the historic heart of the city are near fashionable Via Condotti. So if you don't find what you're looking for, you can head for the haute couture boutiques, such as Dolce & Gabbano or Versace.

The premier Italian department store, La Rinascente first opened in Milan in 1865. A pair of brothers began making men's clothes there and opened their first Rome store on Via del Corso in an old palazzo. The international Zara chain recently purchased La Rinascente and opened Rome locations in Galleria Alberto Sordi and suburban Piazza Fiume.

Both stores carry all the top Italian and international brands, including Armani Collezione, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, 7 for all Mankind, and Guess. For something stylish but more affordable, look for La Rinascente's own Ellerre brand. The perfume, cosmetics, and different fashion departments are set up like individual boutiques within the store. Clothing for men, women, and children are all gorgeous.

The Piazza Fiume location is a little off the beaten path, but if has beautiful housewares.

Coin doesn't quite have the cache of La Rinascente, but it's also a little less expensive. If you like brands like DKNY, Calvin Klein, Esprit, and Lacoste, you'll find them here, as well as good clothes for kids and nice things for the home. The main store is near the Vatican on Piazzale Appio. And with a Milan hair salon, restaurant, and bar, it's pretty full service.

The U.S. equivalent to Kohl's or Target, Oviesse has inexpensive accessories, cosmetics, and clothes that appeal to a younger crowd. So if you're traveling with teenagers, this should be on your list. Some of their store are also called OVS Industry or OVS. If you're shopping for a baby, Fiorucci designs for their Baby Angels boutiques. They're located all over Rome, so chances are there's one convenient to your hotel.

Unico Presso Italiano Milano (UPIM) was founded in 1928 in the town of Cremona. La Rinascente owned the chain until they sold them to Coin in early 2010. UPIM competes directly with H&M and they have their own fashion lines for kids, men, and women. Their BLUKIDS line is especially cute and well priced. This is a great place to come if you're looking for stylish things for the home too. They're on Via del Tritone not far from Palazzo Barberini.

Find more on Rome here. Or find London department stores here.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Manarola Hotels in the Cinque Terre

Manarola in the Cinque TerreImage via WikipediaThere are five villages that make up Italy's Cinque Terre, or five lands. Noted for incredible natural beauty, laid-back ambience, and good local wine, the region is no longer undiscovered. But it's still a delightful place to get away from it all and enjoy the Italian Good Life.
Manarola is one of the most attractive of the villages, especially when seen from the hiking path on the way from Corniglia. The town's pastel houses are stacked vertically against the local black rock. Beneath them, the shimmering bay is a great spot for a swim.
Manarola hotels are some of the nicest in the Cinque Terre, and most of them offer breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
Today, you can get to Manarola by train or boat from Genoa or La Spezia. If you prefer to drive, there's a parking lot with a shuttle that will take you down to the town.

There's not a lot to do here. The local citizenry fishes, makes wine, or produces olive oil, and you can taste the fruits of their labors almost anywhere. The heart of town is the marina, and there are a couple of good beaches and places to swim, although the beaches here aren't sandy.

Piazza Capellini, the new main square, is a popular gathering spot and a good place to watch the locals. There's a small museum that describes the wine-making process. And the church in the upper part of town has a pair of Renaissance paintings and a bell tower.

During your visit, take time to walk through the surrounding vineyards and lemon groves. The hike to the old cemetery at Punta Bonfiglio is also worth it for the gorgeous views.

Manarola hotels and places to stay.

One of the most appealing hotels in the Cinque Terre, La Torretta has 13 nicely outfitted rooms with plasma TVs, leather furniture, and tile floors. The family-run hotel occupies a 17th-century building with a tower, and many rooms have terraces. Those without still have views.

If you want to be right on the water, the best choice is the Hotel Marina Piccola, which also has a good restaurant. The fishing boats and rocky beach are practically outside your window. There are two buildings and the accommodations here are clean and comfortable.

The ten rooms at Ca d'Andrean are clean, but basic with simple furnishings and tile floors. Request a room with a balcony for the best views. You can have your breakfast in the property's pretty lemon grove.

Find more Manarola hotels, or Vernazza hotels.


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A Visit to Historic Stratford upon Avon

The picture was taken by me on 18th September ...Image via WikipediaI suggest a visit to Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire if you are planning a vacation to the United Kingdom. This old town is very historic and is probably best known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. There are still areas of the old town to see and you can take a look at so many of the original buildings. Plan your vist so that you get to see and do as much as possible.
A visit to Stratford would not be complete without taking in a performance by the RSC or Royal Shakespeare Company whose performances of Shakespeare's works are world renowned. There are several theatres in Stratford but the two most worthy of note are The Swan Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The Swan has undergone complete refurbishment and will re-open in early 2011. You can also book a back stage tour where you can see some of the sets and costumes. Take a guided tour where you will be told about the way in which a performance is organised.

The Bancroft Gardens are located in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, on the banks of the river Avon. There are perfectly manicured lawns of emerald green where you might like to sit and take in the views or nibble on a picnic. There are several statues including one of Shakespeare by Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower and the swan fountain. There are also many cruises where you can glide up and down the river taking in the sights.

You might like to visit the Holy Trinity church. As well as having the graves of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, this 13th century church has its own history. There was a church built on the banks of the river Avon previously and is mentioned in historical documents dating from 845AD. The Holy Trinity church is constructed from limestone and work commenced in 1210AD. There have been several modifications over the centuries including a glorious stained glass window which was a gifted by the American people in the 20th century.

For even more culture and history, a visit to the Stratford Armories is not to be missed. There are several galleries dedicated to different exhibitions including The Indian Gallery which contains many unique artifacts including a set of full size elephant armour. The Globe Gallery holds ancient artifacts of war from around the world. Don't miss The Arms and Armour Gallery which exhibits a vast range of items of war from Leonardo Di Vinci's cross bow to the oldest known cannon. As well as the art of war artefacts, there are also many works of art to view.

If you would like something of a more sporting nature, be thrilled by the 'sport of kings' at Stratford racecourse. Listen to the thundering hooves on turf, the rustle of the brush fences as the horses pour over them and the rising exhilaration of the spectators, whether you are looking for a hospitality package or just an easy day at the races enjoying a small wager, this will be a memorable a day out.

There is so much more to see and do in and around Stratford upon Avon, youire bound to find many things to entertain your family for the extent of your vacation.


If you are planning to visit Stratford upon Avon, there is so much to see and do that you need to do a little research beforehand so that you don't miss anything.

Search for vino con vista


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Friday, September 24, 2010

Touring Northern Italy

Lakeside promenade in Riva del Garda, Lago di ...Image via WikipediaBy Keith Barrett
For those wanting to experience Italy without the crowds and the sometimes unbearable summer heat, a tour of the north has plenty that appeals. Let's take a look at some must-see highlights.
The rise of budget airlines has meant that it has never been easier to find a cheap flight to northern Italy. Both Milan and Verona have busy international airports, with flights from most major European cities. Verona is served by regular flights from London Gatwick, making it a perfect starting point for any tour.
If you can't find a suitably priced flight from Verona, then you might also consider Bologna as a feasible alternative.
Lake Garda is within easy reach of both airports. This grand lake has a quite wonderful location, with a mountainous backdrop and a coastal feel. Lined by pretty villages and towns, Lake Garda is a natural focal point for any tour of northern Italy.
The area here is well known for its fine cuisine - eating out in Italy is not to be missed!
Verona itself, as well as providing an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding countryside, has a rich history. This is a city that was first brought to the attention of the English by no lesser figure than William Shakespeare.
The Dolomites, the mighty mountains of the region, provide some spectacular views and wonderful spots to enjoy. The popular towns of Vipiteno, Brunico and Bolzano are all well worth a visit.
Finally, no tour of this part of Italy would be complete without visiting the medieval walled magnificence of Trento.
A tour of northern Italy involves some of the most beautiful towns, villages and countryside that this country has to offer - it is not to be missed.
To find out more about Lake Garda Italy, check out Keith Barrett's other travel articles. This article may be used by any website publisher, though this resource box must always be included in full.
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Capri Island - A Slice of Paradise in Italy

[The town, Capri Island, Italy] (LOC)Image by The Library of Congress via FlickrBy Alfard Lee
Italy has been the inspirational source of unique architectures, exceptional culture, classic streets, delightful cuisine and a wide range of entertainment. Among the most charming and captivating modern attractions of Italy, the mind blowing island of Capri is the top of the list that appeals a mass of tourists to book the cheap flights to Italy from all over the world and delight their relaxing vacations at their favorite destination. Although it covers about four square miles of area, the Italy tours are incomplete without have a full day at Capri. Whether just day-tripping from Naples or taking a full week in one of the profligate Capri island hotels, there is more than enough to entertain the most experienced travelers.

The good looks of the Capri Island is definitely no secret - its peak season stays radically longer than most Mediterranean resorts and the hotels reservations get difficult between April through October. So, get your plan well in advance and book your tickets for the flights to Italy before time. It is advisable to get the lodging done with the air tickets as it tends to produce more discounts. The majority of the island of Capri is like an oversize resort, and prices increase consequently.

The Capri is the city in Italy where most of the hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops exist in. Here you may enjoy lovely walks, stay in a cafe for a limoncello cocktail, a local lemon flavored beverage, or stopover Villa Jovis, the remains of one of twelve villas built under during the first century. Committed to the Olympus Gods and identified as the Palazzo di Tiberio, legends and tales of the debauched emperor are so omnipresent; you'd feel that he was still presiding in the tall cliffs. So, book now the flights to Italy and make splendid tour to Capri Island.

Further, you may stop at the Giardini di Augusto that makes a sight facing the legendary I Faraglioni - the steep cliffs battered by fast winds and tides to elevate independent of the mainland. Another beautiful attraction of the island is the renowned blue grotto, a cave where sunrays illumine the Mediterranean clear waters so the waves emerge a shade of delicate azure. You will observe some exotic wildlife there including sea gulls, monk seal and blue lizards. The international visitors of the Italy flights can hire boats to reach the grotto. Another Green Grotto is located in close proximity, equally beautiful as blue but less famed.

The pleasurable charm of Capri is just left behind the booking of the cheap flights to Italy.

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I Love Italian Travel - Tuscany Wine Touring

A close-up view of sangiovese grapes to be mad...Image via WikipediaWho has not heard about Tuscany? Its capital Florence is a living work of art, whose relatively small historic center contains far too many sites to list here. Where else you can find world-class jewelry in shops lining a bridge as they have been for centuries on the Ponte Vecchio? You might be surprised that Bistecca all Fiorentina, the local beefsteak, is excellent. Enjoy it with a Chianti or other fine Tuscan wine. Tuscany is a lot more than Florence. You may want to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa and visit the partially walled city of Lucca, home to 99 churches. Or visit Florence's historic rival, Siena, which has retained its medieval flavor. Its Piazza del Campo is one of Italy's finest squares. Make sure to see the Palio, a historic horserace pitting the city's 17 neighborhoods against one another every July 2 and August 16. The Renaissance village of Montepulciano is best known for its Vino Nobile de Montepulciano DOC. Go to Saturnia to see some Etruscan and pre-Etruscan tombs. There's a whole lot more to see, for example, the region of Chianti.

What about the wine? Virtually everywhere you turn in rural Tuscany somebody is making fine wine. Most of it is red, but there are some great whites as well. Tuscany is home to Super Tuscans, wines that defied traditional wine making practices and regulations. They aren't allowed to carry Italy's fine wine designations. Many of these wines sell for much more than $100 a bottle, so successful producers are laughing all the way to the bank.

Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape in Tuscany. It's the heart of Chianti DOCG (with and without the Classico refering to the traditional Chianti region), Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, and many others. Don't be confused; many Super Tuscans contain Sangiovese and sometimes no other grapes. Other quite common Tuscan red varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The whites are simpler. The most common are Trebbiano, especially Trebbiano Toscano, and Vermentino. The famous Tuscan sweet wine Vino Santo is made from white grapes.

Companies that sell Tuscany wine tours include Prime Italy, Select Italy, and Alabaster and Clark Wine Tours Worldwide. Tuscany wineries that provide visits include Antinori in Firenze now in the agriturismo business, Avignonesi in Montepulciano, the organic winery Badia a Coltibuono in Gaiole in Chianti which offers a restaurant and lodgings, Barone Ricasoli in Gaiole in Chianti, and Ruffino in Pontassieve to name but a few. A few words of warning are in order. Be sure to check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some of these places may charge admission; others may expect that you buy some of their products.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but he prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website which includes information on Italian wine and food.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Where to Go If You Want the Best Markets in London

The interior of Convent Garden Market, London.Image via WikipediaBy Larry Lindley
One of London's pride is its market places, which conveys a little bit of the history of London. Some of the markets date back to the medieval times, that is why a trip to buy simple food or valuables may sometimes end up being a trip to memory lane
This goes without saying that of course, different people have different preferences. You may or may not agree about our choice of the best markets in London, but we have outlined our explanations why that certain market enters our list - and its up to you to judge.

Abbey Mills Market
If you are aiming to relax in South London area while browsing the different goods displayed, Abbey Mills Market is for you. The market place boasts an assortment of crafts, jewellery, antiques, and hand made goods plus a functional pottery located in the old watermill. You will likely find some unique baubles and other gifts including those which you may consider as out of this world. The Abbey Mills' history is also etched in the textile museum. The market is situated on the Northern Line near the Colliers Wood Tube station.

Camden Market
Beautifully crafted antiques, second hand objects, jewellery, and vintage clothing - these are the statements of the Camden market. The place has been constantly innovated but it still retains its underground flair. The archaic vibe may be attributed to the fact that the market is just adjacent to the Grand Union Canal sprawled with old buildings and has sections which surrounds the Victorian Market Hall. They have numerous alternatives when it comes too food stalls and local dining areas where you can just unwind. The local pubs also showcase local musicians who will entertain you after your shopping spree. Busy market days would be Saturdays and Sundays. The market is just 5 minutes away from the Northern Line Camden Town Tube station.

Brick Lane Market
To savour a genuine London atmosphere, bring yourself to the famous Brick Lane Market located in the East End of London. The upbeat environment where shops sell second hand belongings in the midst of Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine serving restos and popular bars will surely capture your attention. The only downside to this market place however, is that it is only available every Sunday, although there are other happenings in Brick Lane on other week days. The place is close to Liverpool St, which is conveniently linked to places like the Circle, District, Metropolitan, and Central lines.

Greenwich Market
If you want a more laid back market place alive with history, then find your way to Greenwich. The stores are active from Wednesdays to Sundays. The stall feature a variety of interesting collectibles, antiques, and collector's arts and crafts.

Leadenhall Market
The City of London holds the well - groomed Leadenhall Market, which is a sight to behold. The Victorian styled and glass-roofed ceiling will leave you awed and strolling beneath it is breath taking. Lamb Tavern, a local historical site, still welcomes visitors for a good drinking session.

Covent Garden
Despite being dubbed as a century old market place, Covent Garden is home to the younger population and tourists. Modern shops, gourmet restaurants, street dining places, and several pubs now sprawl the area. Whether by day or night, the place is bustling with energy since jugglers, mimes, and buskers habitually perform in the streets all day long. The Covent Garden tube is just close by the market place.

The markets in London can give you almost anything, so give yourself a nice stroll and enjoy the ambiance of the environment, the views, the sounds, and the aroma of London's marketplaces.

The author loves London and enjoys writing reviews for UK hotels, comparing hotel prices to know where to get cheap UK accommodation.

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Abetone Italy

The Pas de la Casa sector of the Grandvalira s...Image via WikipediaBy Larry Lindley Abetone is major Appenine ski location located in the province of Pistoia, in Tuscany, Italy. It is approximately 80 kilometres Northwest of Florence and around 49 kilometres Northwest of Pistoia. The name Abetone means 'large fir' in Italian. The ski resort of Abetone is home to 51 kilometres of downhill slope skiing, in addition with 41 individual pistes, which can be accessible by its 22 lifts. The slopes of the resort spans out between the four interconnected valleys of Valle dello Scoltenna, Val di Luce, Valle di Lima and Valle del Sestalone. These slopes constitute one of the most awesome, renowned and scenic view of the Apennines. The pistes at Abetone will pose a great challenge, reaching at 1,800 metres, on a clear powder day.
Transportation going to Abetone is moderately accessible. There are also a few airports near the ski resort from which you can start your travel. From Pisa airport, you can access the motorway on going to Casa Marginetta, and from there, you can travel for another hour through a clear main road to go to Abetone. On the other hand, travel time from Venice airport going to the resort would take about three hours depending on weather and road conditions. From Florence airport, the trip would last for less than two hours. From Bologna airport, you would have to make a 70-kilometre drive before you can arrive to Abetone.
There are also various ways to get to the skiing destination. The nearest rail station to Abetone is Pracchia. Bus services are also available to transport you there if you are from Pistoia, Pisa, Florence, Modena or Luca. Rental cars, taxis and ski transfer companies, whether shared or private vehicles are also very much available from any of the airports mentioned.
The attractiveness and appeal of Abetone not only relies on its panoramic view or white-covered mountains but also in its friendly accommodations and facilities. If you are a new visitor travelling to the resort, you need to book your air trip, ski transfer, and lodgings in advance. This is the best thing to do when engaging in any ski holiday. Travelling in groups than individually can also save you money because transportations and accommodations usually come in cheap packages available for multiple visitors. If your budget could allow, you can rent a private car rather than take public transportations so that it would be more convenient for you with all the bulky gears being carried.
The author writes articles about ski travel and Geneva ski transfers including resort information and info on ski transfer destinations Austria
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Bardonecchia - Italy

The Amphitheatre at FréjusImage by TyB via FlickrBy Timothy Kent
Bardonecchia is located at the Italian gateway to the Frejus tunnel, in the Province of Turin, Piedmont region, western part of the Susa valley. This is one of the prominent Italian destinations during the old times, and is now a major attraction as a key skiing destination today. The resort is excellent for beginner and intermediate skiers but it also offers good areas for professional skiing and also sections for snowboarding. It has direct access to 140 km downhill run, having 49 individual pistes, some rising at 2.300 altitude. The 21 ski lifts available around the resort can accommodate up to 23,000 skiers or snowboarders as an hourly rate. Prominent ski areas are Campo Smith, for beginners and Jafferau, the higher ski area suitable for intermediate or expert skiers.

Bardonecchia is in Italy, so you can avail of flights going to the resort. Available air transfers include:

from Turin-Caselle to Bardonecchia
from Milan Malpensa to Bardonecchia
from Milan Linate to Bardonecchia
from Geneva to Bardonecchia
from Chambery to Bardonecchia
from Grenoble to Bardonecchia
from Verona to Bardonecchia

The resort is close to the city of Turin and it is only an hour and a half away from the Turin-Caselle airport, a sixty mile drive, which makes it the nearest airport from the resort. The fastest and most affordable way to go to Bardonecchia is to get those discounted flights to Turin, Chambery, or Milan airports. Coming from the city centre of Turin, you can arrive close to the slopes if you ride the TGV train with travel time of just less than an hour. You can then get off the train to the bus stops and then use buses that will bring you to any of the major accessible skiing areas of the resort. From Chambery, you can drive through N6 going to the Frejus tunnel and Turin. Passing the tunnel will get you in Bardonecchia in a short while. If you are starting your trip from Milan Linate, you can hire cars or shuttles going to Bardonecchia via the road, or, you can also choose the Torino - Bussoleno - Bardonecchia train line to arrive at Bardonecchia station, and then use buses in going to the ski areas.

Apres ski nightlife in the area is a lot more peaceful than other resorts but there are available bars, restaurants, and 3 disco houses. During the weekend, life at the resort usually get a little crowded and hectic as local Italian residents flock the area for some weekend ski break. The resort also provides a games hall, a natural ice skating rink, a sauna and a cinema and also has available amenities for activities like ice hockey, horse riding, snowboarding, hiking and even simple sight seeing.

The author offers insights and tips in getting the right ski transfers including resort information and ski transfer destinations.

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I Love Italian Travel - Wine Touring In Trentino-Alto Adige

Trento, Trentino Alto Adige, ItaliaImage via WikipediaSo you are planning a visit to Trentino-Alto Adige, a region of northeastern Italy bordering Switzerland and Austria that features the Alps and the Dolomites. Ski resorts abound as do forests. Most residents of Alto Adige designate German as their mother tongue. Let's start at Caldaro in the southwest of Alto Adige. Its town center hosts and the historic Church of Santa Caterina in the center of Caldaro; it's also home to a beautiful lake and the Museo Provinciale del Vino. Naturno is home to the Seventh Century Church of San Procolo whose ancient frescoes are among the oldest in the German-speaking world. Nearby you'll find the Thirteenth Century Castel Juval. Merano, sometimes called the city of flowers, boasts many beautiful promenades. The famous Cure Promenade splits into two, the shady Passeggiata d'Estate (Summer Promenade) and the sunny Passeggiata d'Inverno (Winter Promenade). If you're in the neighborhood be sure to see its Christmas Market. The local capital Bolzano (Bozen) has a fine Gothic cathedral, other churches worth visiting, as is South Tyrol Archeological Museum whose star attraction is Oetzi, the more than five thousand year old iceman. There's a strada del vino (Weinstrasse-wine route) that runs mostly in Alto Adige from Salarno to Bolzano.

Trentino has many sights to see including Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra (Italian Historical War Museum) in Roverto. Its capital, Trento, was the site of the historic Council of Trent that shaped the Church in the Sixteenth Century and is home to many classical churches. Don't miss the fresco collection at the Museo Provinciale d'Arte (Provincial Art Museum) situated in the Castello del Buonconsiglio (Castle of Good Counsel). Madonna di Campiglio advertises itself as Italy's number one ski resort.

The region is not home to any DOCG wines and few of the DOC wines stand out from the others. Despite being so far north, this region still produces more red than white wine. Regional wine classification is different from most of the rest of Italy. The Alto Adige DOC includes dozens and dozens of grape varieties and styles. Trentino and Alto Adige share only two designations. It's fair to say that you can't pick a wine on the basis of its name. But isn't that often the case elsewhere in Italy, and around the world?

Grape varieties abound. Let's start with the whites. Gewuerztraminer may have first come from in the Alto Adige town of Termeno (Tramin). Pinot Bianco is important as is Sauvignon Blanc often called Sauvignon. The popular German Mueller-Thurgau does quite well in Trentino. Try to find Nosiola, a Trentino native. The major local red is Schiava (Vernatsch) in both Trentino and Alto Adige. Other important local Trentino varieties include Teroldego and Marzemino. Alto Adige's second most popular local red grape is Lagrein. The popular international red grapes are Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot which are also grown in Trentino. My apologies for the relative complexity of the region wine scenes.

Companies selling regional wine tours include Prime Italy, Vineria, Wine Tour Italia, and Alabaster and Clark Wine Tours Worldwide. Some of the regional wineries accepting visitors include Pojer e Sandri in Faedo, Tiefenbrunner in Bolzano, and Cantina Produttori Valle Isarco in Chiusa. A few words of warning are in order. Make sure that you check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some of these places may charge admission; others may expect that you purchase some of their products.

Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored 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 teaches classes in computers at 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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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Florence Holidays

Garden Folly in the Boboli Gardens, Florence. ...Image via WikipediaBy Madhumay Mallik
The quieter side of Florence is found on the south bank of the Arno River. To reach it, one must cross over the Ponte Vecchio. It's short walk to the Pitti Palace.
Built for the wealthy merchant Luca Pitti and later sold to the Medici family, who ruled Florence for nearly 400 years, the Pitti houses five museums. The Galleria Palatina displays hundreds of 16th and 17th-century masterpieces once belonging to the Medicis. The Raphael collection is exceptional. A modern art gallery includes Italian paintings ranging from Neoclassic to Impressionist. Additional museums highlight historical fashions, silver, furnishings and carriages.
Behind the Pitti Palace, the elegantly landscaped Boboli Gardens spread over expanses of lawn graced with fountains and statuary. Footpaths lead to hidden grottoes.

As a grand finale visitors often catch a taxi up the hill to the Piazzale Michangelo for a glorious view overlooking the red-tile rooftops of Florence. One of the city's two copies of Michangelo's 'David' stands in the centre of the Piazzale, this one in bronze.

In the movie Field of dreams, a mysterious voice says, "If you build it, he will come." In Pisa, they bulldozed the Field of Miracles - the Campo dei Miracoli - and they are coming. By the thousands. No mystery though, just lots to see.

Pisa's thoughtful designers have conveniently bundled most of its top attractions on the campo. There's the Leaning Tower, of course, seemingly eager to careen earthward but reasonably stable for the moment.

The tower is only a miracle. Another is the dazzling cathedral, a fine-art wonderland housing Giovanni Pisano's ornate pulpit and swath of Gothic reliefs. There's also a baptistery, whose acoustics are said to hold a snug note for minutes. No rap demos, please. Next door is the Campo Santo, an elongated white walled cemetery built by the crusaders in the 12th century, now housing stone coffins and frescoes. Across the street, the Museo delle Sinopie displays masterly preliminary sketches for frescoes, which were discovered after World War II. The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, behind the tower, sports works by Pisano and Guardi, as well as area archaeological finds.

Just below the Piazzale Michelangelo is one of Florence's most fragrant enclaves, the Giardino dell'Iris, or Iris Garden. The garden is home to some 2,500 varieties of flower that has been the symbol of Florence since 1251 and that is even displayed on the city's coat of arms.

The iris blooms for only about a month each year between May and June; in May, the annual International iris Competition elicits bulbs from all over the world to be judged by an international jury.

The Greeks were the first to cultivate the purple, violet scented flowers; they planted them on women's graves in the hope that the messenger goddess Iris, embodiment of the rainbow, would lead the women's soul to the Elysian Fields.

Visitors who arrive before May or after June can still enjoy the fragrance of the Florentine iris in a variety of commercial perfumes.

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I Love Italian Travel - The Marches Wine Tours

LoretoImage via WikipediaI Love Italian Travel - The Marches Wine Tours
So you have decided to go to Marches, a small region of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. The Marches (it's often spelled with The) is relatively unknown to tourists. This is a great place to see the real Italy. Sights to see include the college town of Urbino with a lovely Palazzo Ducale that houses the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche and the Casa Natale de Raffaello, the house where Raphael was born. While the National Gallery doesn't contain much work by Raphael, you can view Titian's Resurrection and Last Supper.
The coastal city of Pesaro has the usual (for Italy) components of Ducal Palace, Cathedral, castle, churches, and museums. One museum is devoted to a local boy, the opera composer Rossini. Head further down the coast to the port of Ancona and visit the Duomo di San Ciriaco (Cathedral). Stroll the streets of the old city. Loreto is home to the Santuario della Santa Casa (House of the Virgin Mary). Festival time is Easter week and December 10, the Feast of the Holy House. Finish your tour at Ascoli Piceno. Visit the Piazza del Populo (Square of the People) and the Thirteenth Century Palazzo dei Capitani del Populo (Palace of the People's Captains). Festival time is the first Sunday in August, a day devoted to the city's patron saint, Saint Emidio.

Marches, tucked between the Appennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, produces two top of the line wines, Rosso Cònero Riserva DOCG made from mostly Montepulciano and up to 15% Sangiovese grapes in the hills surrounding Mount Cònero near Ancona. The Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOCG is a red sparkling wine made mostly from the Vernaccia Nera grape near Macerata towards the region's center. The regions' most popular wines are the white Verdicchios: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC and Verdicchio di Matelica DOC. They are usually dry but can be sweet. Be careful, their quality is variable. Try to find Bianchello del Metauro DOC wine from the rare Biancame white grape.

In addition to the grape varieties mentioned previously common white varieties include the Italian Trebbiano, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. The local red Lacrima is relatively rare. Common red varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

Companies that sell wine tours of The Marches include Prime Italy, Vineria la Birba, Hotel Universal Senigala, and Wine Tour Italia. Marches wineries that accept visits include Il Conte in Momteprandone and Casa Vinicola Gioacchino Garofoli in Loreto. Belisario in Matelica offers an extensive wine bar. A few words of warning are in order. Be sure to check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some places may charge admission; others may expect you to buy some of their products.

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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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pierre Herme, Laduree, and the Best Pastries in Paris

Ladurée pastry shop with celadon green façade ...Image via WikipediaBy M Ottersen
You can get pastries almost anywhere you go, but the pastries in Paris are head and shoulders above the rest. They are absolutely superb and the only place they're duplicated is in the Dubai, Japan, or the European shops of Pierre Herme, Laduree, and others. If you live in America, you either have to travel to Paris or bribe a friend to bring some home.
Since there's a Laduree shop at Charles de Gaulle airport, bringing some back from France is easier than it used to be. But your best bet it to just go to Paris and visit as many patisseries as you can. One of the most popular pastries in Paris is the macaron, which is a sandwich cookie made with meringue, almond flour, and an unbelievable assortment of butter-cream fillings.
Laduree invented the macaron in 1862, and they're still one of the best producers. Each year, they introduce a new flavor, and a little, pale green Laduree box of them is a treasured gift.
Similar to the macaron is the financier, which is a small teacake. The boulangerie Poilane makes delicious ones. Also popular are madeleines, which originally come from Lorraine and serve as a memory trigger for Proust in Remembrance of Things Past.
Where to sample the best pastries in Paris.

Although Laduree invented the macaron, Pierre Herme perfected it with flavors like jasmine, litchi rose, passion fruit, and salted caramel. Herme grew up in Alsace as a fourth-generation baker. At 14, he apprenticed with Lenotre, and went on to work at Fauchon. He opened his first patisserie in Tokyo in 1998 and subsequently wrote a book on making macarons. Pierre Herme is also a master chocolatier, so try his truffles too.

Laduree first opened in 1862 and they have six locations in Paris, including a beautiful tea room on the Champs Elysees, as well as shops in Great Britain, Japan, Switzerland, Ireland, and Monaco. They are known for fabulous macarons in exotic flavors including blackcurrent violet, jasmine mango, and chestnut. In addition to macarons, Laduree sells amazing pastries like almond sponge cake with caramelized meringue, raspberries, and pistachio cream, and praline cream with crispy hazelnuts and almonds in puff pastry.

The oldest pastry shop in Paris, Stohrer, opened in 1730. The original Stohrer was the pastry chef to Louis XV and the French court. One of their most famous inventions, Baba au Rhum, is outdone only by the Ali Baba, which includes custards and raisins. The Parisian newspaper Figaro recently declared their éclairs the best in Paris. Their shop, which was decorated in the 19th century by the mural artist of the Opera Garnier, is lovely.

Located on rue de Seine in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Gerard Mulot now has a shop near Place des Vosges in the Marais. His macarons are fantastic, but so are his little cakes, chocolate fondant, lemon and raspberry tarts, and caramel mousse. In fact, it's really hard to decide what to order. Come for lunch so you can try one of his delicious croque monsieur or baguette sandwiches too.

Find more Paris pastry shops here. And other France tips here.

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A Couple of Tuscan Hideaways For Your Italy Tour

In the seventeenth season, Sideshow Bob become...Image via WikipediaBy Priscila Siano
Villa Vignamaggio
For those who have seen the Kenneth Branagh motion picture of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, then you have already seen Villa Vignamaggio, where the movie was shoot. Vignamaggio is likewise renowned as the hometown of Mona Lisa in 1479.
About a couple of miles from the town of Greve in Chianti, Vignamaggio is centrally stationed among the local wineries making Chianti Classico. In fact, Vignamaggio makes its own premier wine and olive oil and sponsors tours and tastings for visitors and guests alike. Include in your tour Italy a taste of Vignamaggio's wine which was essentially the first red wine in the area to be known as "Chianti," in 1404.
This agriturismo is a very sensible choice for people because it provides two swimming pools, a tennis square, mountain bicycles, fitness hub, a recreation area including a billiard table. All tour Italy guests can choose among 20 quarters, suites and flats housed in several old-ranch houses. The cottage itself, surrounded by a shocking Renaissance backyard, has suites only. The room we stayed in was full of antiques, but also had a tiny kitchen creatively constructed into an old wardrobe. Still the apartments hold daily maid assistance.

Vignamaggio hosts unique dinners two times a week, if not guests cook dinner for themselves inside their apartments or stop at one of many fine eateries in Greve. During your tour Italy hideaway, it is best to get a rented auto while visiting the region. Driving the winding path up to Vignamaggio in the dark may seem daunting to some. The hotel can also fix for taxi assistance.

Via Petriolo 5
Greve in Chianti
39 055 854661
Open: Middle of March upto the end of the year

Locanda dell' Amorosa

It's no oversight that the name of this Tuscan hideaway means, "Lover's Inn," because this place provides romance from the moment visitors enter the beautiful, cypress-lined driveway. An hour-and-a-half by car from Florence, Locanda dell'Amorosa resembles the little town it once was, a 14th-century old village. The property has only been sold once in 700 years. In 1873, the Piccolomini clan of Pienza (family of Pope Pius II) offered it to Fiorella Favard, whose descendants still own the estate.

The town's beautiful aged church, the venue of special weddings, sits among the main square. Next door, a classic farm structure have been transformed to a wine inn where breakfast is eaten as well. On the side, former quarters for the farmers has been changed into great visitor rooms with similar roomy and airy bathrooms, a shortage in Italy.

The previous stables have become habitat to Amorosa's very good cafe with indoor and outdoor chairs, where tourists can utilize the estate's tranquil setting while indulging in Tuscan specialties. Behind the primary plaza are the remainder of the transformed farm buildings and lodging. The hotel's infinity pool sits inside a quiet pasture overlooking the countryside.

The inn offers little touches like a computer with Internet access inside the lobby and free refreshments poolside. It considers it hard to go away to explore the encompassing towns, but at Amorosa it really is just fine to remain and revel in the sweetness the place has to offer.

Localita' l'Amorosa
39 0577 677211
Open: Early March to early January

Priscila Siano is the Business Manager of, a pioneer among the world's online providers of escorted, customized, small group tours to Italy. She also enjoys writing articles about Italy tour. Feel free to republish this article provided you do not edit it in any way and include the author bio as well.

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I Love Italian Travel - Wine Touring In Lombardy

Lakeside promenade in Riva del Garda, Lago di ...Image via WikipediaSo you are planning to visit Lombardy, a region of northern Italy bordering on Switzerland, the Gulf of Taranto, and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its regional capital and largest city is Milan, the center of Italian finance, fashion, and media. Lombardy is home to La Scala, the greatest opera house in Europe, or perhaps the whole world. And the Cathedral of Milan, ooh, la, la. You will find museums galore and the massive, impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an upscale Nineteenth Century shopping mall.
Small towns in Lombardy that are well worth visiting include Pavia which houses an important university, Cremona the historic center of violin making, and Mantua, where Romeo fled after killing Juliet's cousin. Its Palazzo Ducale contains 500 rooms one of which took a master seven years to paint. Save some time and money to visit the lakes. Lombardy doesn't border any sea but it's home to Lake Maggiore, Lake Iseo, Lake Orta, Lake Como, and Lake Garda which spills over into the neighboring regions of Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto. Each lake has its own special attractions, as do the lakeside towns such as Bellagio, considered one of the loveliest towns in Europe, and honored by a hotel of that name in Las Vegas.

Lombardy is home to three DOCG wines. Franciacorta is produced near Lake Iseo between Bergamo and Brescia. This is Italy's answer to Champagne and priced accordingly. The rosé tends to cost more than the white. Sforzato di Valtellina and Valtellina Superiore are vinified from the red Nebbiolo grape locally known as Chiavennasca. Perhaps it's no surprise that these wines comes from western Lombardy not far from Piedmont. After all, Nebbiolo is Piedmont's signature grape. Just for the record Sforzato di Valtellina is made from dried grapes and often costs more than Valtellina Superiore. The best Valtellina Superiore wines tend to come from the rocky Sassella subdistrict.

The major white grape varieties include the local Garganega (the major componenent of Soave in next-door Veneto), Trebbiano di Lugana, Riesling Renano, and its cousin, Riesling Italico. International white grape varieties include Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, the major components of Franciacorta. Regional reds include Barbera, Bonarda, Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo), and Lambrusco. Pinot Noir is found in Franciacorta and some other wines such as the high-volume Oltrepò Pavese DOC made in a wide variety of styles.

Companies selling regional wine tours include Prime Italy, Le Baccanti, Romantic Travel Destinations Getaway, and Wine Tour Italia. Regional wineries accepting visits include Berlucchi in Cortefranca, Cavalleri in Erbusco, and Sertoli Salis in Tirano. A few words of warning are in order. Make sure that you check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some places may charge admission; others may expect you to buy some of their products.


Over the years Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet but simply prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right foods. He teaches a variety of computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website which includes information on Italian wine and food.



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Monday, September 13, 2010

Chianciano Terme Italy

Chianciano Terme LandscapeImage via WikipediaBy: Hannah Rollmaker
The city of Chianciano Terme is located in the region of Tuscany in Italy. The city lies in the Province of Siena and it can be found about 90 kilometers southeast of Florence. It is also 50 kilometers southeast of Siena. The city of Chianciano Terme is situated between the Val d’Orcia and the Valdichiana. Near to Chianciano Terme you will find the municipalities of Sarteano, Chiusi, Pienza and Montepulciano.
When you look at various archeological records you will find that this city is able to trace its history back to the 5th Century BC. At this point you will find that Etruscans who arrived here had built a temple which was dedicated to the God of Good Health. This temple was located close to the Silene springs. Today you will find the newer section of Chianciano Terme – this is the Terme section – lies here. As the news of the curative powers of the waters of Chianciano Terme became well known in the Roman times many Roman villas began to be built in the area near these thermal baths.

It is a known historical fact that Horace who was the leading Roman Lyric Poet during the time of Augustus came to Chianciano Terme on the advice of his physician. He arrived here around the 1st Century BC. After he returned back to Rome he spread the news about the city and its curative waters. While you will find historical accounts about the city of Chianciano Terme there is little physical archeological evidence to be found. However by the 12th and the 13th Centuries the city of Chianciano Terme came under the rule of the Manenti Counts who were the Lords of Sarteano.

Due to its position near the Via Francigena which is the main medieval connection from Rome to France you will see the development of the city. As a result of this development Chianciano Terme reached a degree of judicial autonomy by 1287. At this point the city established it own statutes. In the 14th Century there was a dispute between the city states of Siena and Orvieto about possession of Chianciano Terme. The dispute was settled when Siena won control over the city.

Today you will find a city which provides its visitors with the various facilities they require. Among the various places that you can visit while you are here you will find it quite pleasant to see the Civic Archeological Museum of the Waters. In this museum you will find artifacts which were excavated from various sites around the city. Another interesting place that you should think about visiting in Chianciano Terme is that of The Museum of Art. Here you will see many works of art on display which has been done by artistes like Tiepolo, René Magritte, Guercino and Renato Guttuso.

So you see there are some interesting aspects about Chianciano Terme that you will need to investigate in person. For this reason and to have a lovely holiday in a part of Italy which you have never come to before is a great reason to see what you can find in the city of Chianciano Terme.

Author Resource:-> Find your next ChiancianoTerme hotel here:

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