This is the blog for Dream of Italy™, The Insider's Guide to Undiscovered Italy, a paid subscription travel newsletter. Dream of Italy™ (www.dreamofitaly.com) has been recommended by USA TODAY, National Geographic Traveler, U.S. News & World Report and American Way. Editor Kathy McCabe has helped thousands of travelers get the most out of their visits to Italy.

Monday, May 30, 2005

For Young Italophiles/Bibliophiles

I credit my love of history in part to the trip to England my parents took me on when I was 10. I encourage all parents who can afford it -- to take their children abroad at around this age -- it can literally change the course of their lives...

If you're taking the kids to Italy this year or just want to encourage their love of history, be sure to get them reading! A review of The Enemies of Jupiter by Caroline Lawrence (in yesterday's Washington Post) caught my eye. Here's what reviewer Elizabeth Ward had to say:

Some lucky kids might be headed to Italy this summer, but stay-at-homes can compensate with the "Roman Mysteries" -- a detective/adventure series set in and around 1st-century Rome, by a writer trained in archaeology, Latin and Hebrew. The Enemies of Jupiter is the seventh title in the series, which stars four bright children who have forged a bond despite differing social, ethnic and religious backgrounds. They are also regular magnets for trouble. Here the quartet gets to help the Emperor Titus pinpoint the cause of a plague sweeping the city. The books' plots are blithely improbable, in the manner of a Boxcar Children or Cam Jansen mystery, and the dialogue can be stilted ("The fate of Rome may be in your hands!"). But the series shines in its depiction of daily life, reflecting Lawrence's scholarly interest in everything to do with ancient Rome, from language, social structure and architecture to food and medicine. Kids who immerse themselves in these books -- and 11 more are promised, including The Gladiators From Capua in October -- will be well prepared to appreciate Italy when (or if) they do get there.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Pinch Euros on Summer Hotel Stays

One of my favorite things about Sunday is reading the big newspapers; you guessed it, I turn to the travel section first. But there's also a great travel-related piece in today's New York Times Sunday Business section. "Some Ways to Pinch Euros on Summer Hotel Stays," has some excellent tips for securing the best rates at European hotels. Here is an excerpt:

  • Be flexible about your date of arrival in a particular city. Some hotels may charge less for midweek stays, while business hotels may offer discounts on weekends.
  • If you plan to stay more than one night at a particular hotel, ask it or your travel agent or tour company about special rate plans. If you book four nights at the same hotel through a general travel Web site, for example, the hotel may offer a fifth night free. Booking an airfare/hotel package can also produce savings.
  • Negotiate with the hotel for a better price. This may work about 25 percent of the time, some experts say.
  • Use search engines like kayak.com, mobissimo.com and sidestep.com, which comb a variety of travel Web sites for information.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Grazie Mille to Our May Sponsors

Amalfi Life - unparalleled access to the authentic life of Italy's Amalfi Coast through tours, villa rentals, weddings, cooking programs, etc.
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Cantalupo Tours - in 2005, tour Sicily's culinary splendor
Dream of Italy Designs - fine Venetian glass jewelry created by the masters
Giovanni Musella's Limo Service in Rome
Gourmet Getaways - a selection of cooking schools and tours throughout Italy
Shop Wine and Dine- luxury oeno-gastronomic tours
Tripinsurancestore.com - discover how to protect yourself and your trip for pennies on the dollar
Vatican Tours Inc.- private, personalized tours in Rome and beyond
The Villa People- distinctive Mediterranean property rentals

Linda's Venice Food Finds

We didn't have room for this sidebar in the May issue of Dream of Italy, so we're providing it here. (The entire May issue which is a special report on Venice is available to paid subscribers only.) Linda Burbank is a travel writer who spent the winter living in Venice. Here are some of her favorites places to eat:

Osteria Al Mascaron
Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa
Castello 5225
(39) 041 52255995
Go for the famous spaghetti all'astice and fresh seafood. Communal seating.

Corte Sconta
Calle del Pestrin
Castello 3886
(39) 041 5227024
Closed Sunday and Monday. Also closed for four weeks in the winter and four weeks in the summer.
If you go, start with the seafood appetizer sequence and don't even think about ordering anything else until you've finished that.

Rosticceria San Bartolomeo
Calle della Bissa
San Marco 54212/A
Closed Wednesday and Sunday.
For take-out roast chicken and vegetables.

Ciap Ciap
Calle del Mondo
Castello 5799/A
Closed Tuesday.
Some of the best take-out pizza in town.

La Maison de la Crepe
Salizzada San Giovanni Crisostomo
Cannaregio 5781
Sweet and savory crepes to go; plus gelato.

Enoteca La Cantina
Strada Nova
Cannaregio 3689
(39) 041 5228258
Friendly wine bar with small kitchen serving local specialties.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The 411 on Italian Strikes

Italy, wouldn't be Italy without strikes (scioperi). A few weeks before you leave for Italy, it always pays to check on potential strikes scheduled during your visit. While Italian unions are notorious for their frequent stirkes, if there's one upside, they usually plan them well in advance. Since they're often cancelled or rescheduled, it's important to keep checking on their status.

One of the best resources for information on Italian strikes is the Web site, What's On in Rome. The editor not only lists the strikes planned in Rome and other areas of the country for the coming month, but she keeps her strikes page constantly updated, indicating which ones have been cancelled.

Another page on her site gives helpful instructions on deciphering the Web site of the Commissione di Garanzia, the Italian strike authority.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Venice Blogs

The May issue of Dream of Italy (which is also a special report on Venice) is just about off to the printer. It includes a blurb on some of the Venice blogs I like:

Mystery writer Sharon Zukowski recently started a blog called Weird Venice, filled with photos and covering quirky news from La Serenissima. A recent entry explores how fellow mystery writer (her books are based in Venice) Donna Leon really feels about the city’s numerous American tourists.

Former Venice resident Norman Hajjar’s Venice Blog is clearly a labor of love. He posts frequently about Venetian politics, the sinking of the city and historical intrigues.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mais Oui! Fly Air France CHEAP to Italia!

Air France is offering a special that will knock your socks off!

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Air France’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange on May 5 (5/05), fly to Paris for $299 and add as little as $5.05 to travel round trip to one of five cities in France (Nice, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse) or $50.05 round trip to one of eight cities in Europe (Barcelona, Lisbon, Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence, Geneva, Zurich). Purchase by May 15, 2005, and depart between November 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006. There are no blackout dates!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Special Summer Offer at Venice 5-Star Hotel

I can talk about Italy anytime, anywhere. Last week, I was in the dog park and the owner of Buster, the beagle mix was raving about his stay last year at Venice's San Clemente Palace. I just received news of a special deal the hotel is offering to American guests this summer (specifically in May, July and August). Book a junior suite for three nights for $515 per night. Anyone who knows Venice hotel prices knows that this is a steal for a 5-star property. The special rate includes private water taxi from the airport, daily breakfast and private water shuttle to/from St. Mark’s Square. For more about where to stay in Venice, don't miss the forthcoming May issue of Dream of Italy, which is a special report on Venice!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Save $25 on Alitalia Tickets

From Alitalia:

Come celebrate our new homepage with this $25 e-Coupon offer! Simply buy your ticket online between April 29 and May 26, 2005 and receive a $25 discount off your ticket purchase. To take advantage of this exclusive offer, simply go to www.alitaliausa.com select your flights and dates and enter SPRINGPROMO in the promo code box on the Ticket Details page and the $25 will be deducted from your total amount. This code can be used for tickets purchased exclusively at www.alitaliausa.com between April 29 and May 26, 2005.