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.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

December 2005/January 2006 Issue

Our paid newsletter subscribers will be reading the following articles in the current issue of Dream of Italy:
  • All Aboard! Rome to Venice on the Orient- Express
  • Venetian Enchantment Resides at Ca Maria Adele
  • Florence's Ferragamo Museum Celebrates the Art of Shoes
  • A Foray Inside a Florentine Deli
  • Book Review: An Italian Housewife in Hollywood

Prosecco and Piazzas: Ring in the New Year in Italy

This is an excerpt from the December 2005/January 2006 issue of Dream of Italy:

New York’s Times Square isn’t the only square that knows how to throw a New Year’s Eve party. Italy’s city squares offer less flashy alternatives to the raucous New York crowds. On December 31, locals and tourists convene in piazzas throughout Italy to ring in the New Year with groups of friends and bottles of Prosecco. Those looking kick off 2006 in Rome should head over to the Piazza del Popolo, in the north of the city, where celebrations include performers, fireworks, and concerts.

Festivities in Florence take place throughout the city center, in Piazza della Signoria, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Repubblica. In Siena, residents pile into Piazza del Campo for a concert. San Gimignano rings in the new year with the help of the bells in its famed towers (and of course some Vernaccia). For more than the standard concerts and firework displays, crowds head to Bologna for La Fiera del Bue Grasso, or the Festival of the Fat Ox.

Venice’s St. Mark’s Square floods with people awaiting the ringing of the Campanile bell tower at midnight, making New Year’s Eve perhaps the only time all year that people outnumber pigeons. For those who prefer to avoid the crowds all together, hotels and restaurants throw black-tie gala dinners. After all the spumante has been sprayed, brave “polar bear” swimmers take to the chilly waters off Venice’s Lido Beach on New Year’s Day. Participants are rewarded with traditional lentils said to provide luck for the upcoming year.

Whether you join the crowds in St. Mark’s or stay for celebrations stateside, when making plans for the last night of the year, keep in mind an Italian saying – Quel che fai a capodanno, lo fai tutto l’anno! What you do on New Year’s, you do all year long! -- Shauna Maher

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

CIA Team Stayed in Style While Working in Milan

Have you been following the news reports about the arrest warrant issued for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives who apprehended a terrorism suspect (Abu Omar) in Italy in 2003 and whisked him out of the country for questioning? According to a recent Chicago Tribune article, those CIA agents traveled in luxury while working in Italy. Italian prosecutors say the CIA spent "enourmous amounts of money" were spent (mostly in Milan) on lodging and food for its people. Here's a summary from the Tribune:

Number of operatives tracked: 20
Length of stay: From 5 to 42 days
Total room charges: $158,096.56
Where police say operatives stayed - Jan. 8-Feb. 19, 2003; amount spent at each for room charges:
Westin Palace $40,098.81
Principe di Savoia $39,995.36
Milan Hilton $21,266.67
Milan Marriott $17,089.29
Star Hotel Rosa $15,280.95
Excelsior Hotel Gallia $5,595.24
ATA Hotel Executive $4,951.19
Four Points Sheraton $4,928.57
Others $8,890.48

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Olympic Torch: On the Move in Italia

The Olympic Torch will spend the next two months on a circuitous route, touring 140 Italian cities, from theAlps to the boot. Passing through the hands of more than 10,000 runners over 6,300 miles, the torch will make an appearance in everyprovince and every region. The torch passed through Tuscany last week. The entire route can be found on the official website (www.fiammaolimpica.it), along with a diary of the flame's journey, updated with pictures and stories from each city it passes through. -- Shauna Maher

Monday, December 12, 2005

Gift Idea: FREE DVD with Subscription or Gift Subscription

Do fall into one of these categories?
  • You're looking for the perfect gift for the
    Italophile on your holiday gift list?

  • You've been meaning to subscribe to the Dream of Italy newsletter?

  • You're planning a trip to Italy in 2006 and want the inside scoop on where to go and what to do (information you won't find in guidebooks)?

  • You're already a paid subscriber, but need to renew your subscription?
If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," now's the time to subscribe to the paid print newsletter, Dream of Italy, The Insider's Guide to Undiscovered Italy.

Each holiday gift subscription (we will send out the gift around Dec. 18th) or personal subscription comes with a FREE DVD set of the PBS documentary Inside the Tuscan Hills -- worth $25. The six episodes take you on an enchanting journey through the workshops, vineyard, kitchens and villas of Tuscany.

And of course a one-year subscription to the newsletter comes with 10 issues over the next year, as well as, and this is the best part, online access to over 28 back issues of the newsletter -- hundreds of pages of savvy and exclusive travel information. If you or a loved one is planning an Italian escapade, you won't want to miss this! CLICK HERE to subscribe or purchase a gift subscription.

Gift Idea: Exquisite Italian Note Cards

When I was in Italy last month, I was on the hunt for elegant stationery as well as Italian Christmas cards. All of the cards I saw were either low quality or outrageously overpriced. When I returned to the U.S. and received samples of Allison Cross' Italian card creations, I not only ordered a half-dozen sets for myself, but I asked her if she would be interested in selling her work through this Web site. Allison is an art historian and travel consultant who has lived and worked in Italy.

These note card sets are perfect for your own use, but I guarantee any Italophile would also enjoy receiving them as a gift -- we offer special gift wrap! Here are some of the choices:

Gift Idea: Venetian Glass Jewelry

Do you have an angel in your life? If so, show her how special she is by giving her our elegant and unique Venetian Glass Christmas Angel
. (Note: I get stopped whenever I am wearing mine and recently was maid of honor in a wedding where all the bridesmaids wore these angel necklaces!) You can choose the color(s) of your angel as well as whether you want it to hang on 24 karat gold or silver wire.

Dream of Italy Designs also has other elegant pieces that make perfect gifts: Murano Glass Slide on Freshwater Pearls, Glass Leaves on Italian Leather Bracelet, Jet Black Geometric Pendant Neckace, Antique Chain Brass Necklace, Coin Slide Earrings, and much more...