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Monday, May 31, 2010

Living it Up in Liguria and the Italian Riviera

Portofino’s small harbour on the Italian RivieraImage via Wikipedia

By Priscila Siano

For more than 100 years, global tourists have accepted the warmth and splendor of Italy's famous Liguria district and the magnificent Italian Riviera. Long the place where the wealthy and famous would get together to enjoy humid water, extensive sandy beaches, and superior resorts, the prime of some towns in the Italian Riviera has passed but the area still maintains a confident fashionable character that beckons discriminating tourists to come and discover.

Liguria is situated in the northern part of Italy, between the French Riviera, Piemonte, and Tuscany. The climate in the Liguria region is almost always nice and can best be described as balmy. Thanks to its location, it is sheltered from largely horrible weather by the mountains of the Alpine range. The usual summertime temperature is a cozy 77 degrees F and in the winter, it hardly ever dips lower than around fifty degrees. The sunlight is abundant and the foliage is luxuriant. That's why, for decades, it's been attracting the wealthy and celebrated who come to have fun in San Remo's famed casino, enjoy the anchorage at Portofino, or discover picturesque coast towns like Camogli and Rapallo.

Liguria is commonly separated into 2 areas or coasts. West of Genoa is where you'll find customary wide, sandy seashores and the resorts that make it a much-visited holiday spot. This area is known as Riviera di Ponente or Shore of the Setting Sun. Stretching all the way to the French Riviera, this side of Liguria boasts towns such as turn-of-the-century Bordighera, with its striking seashore esplanade; the famous resort of San Remo; the medieval city of Masone; pretty Alassio with its 2-mile extended beach; and the hill town of Sassello.

On the eastern side of Genoa is Riviera di Levante, Shore of the Rising Sun. The towns here are less industrial, the shoreline more rugged. You will not discover the huge resorts on this side of Genoa, however what you will find are several of Italy's most charming small towns, all lined up within only a few miles of each other and eager to receive guests. Head for little Portofino, great for those who want a tiny glitz with their retreat, or if you're looking for something less pretentious, go just a few miles to attractive Santa Margherita Ligure, a charming town that was once a well-known haven but is now hushed, boasting a immaculate seaside and a lot of welcoming locals.

If you are a metropolitan person, however, and you're traveling to the Italian Riviera, don't overlook an opportunity to spend some moment in Genoa, one of Italy's least-visited cities but without doubt worth a stop. Fairly a historic city, Genoa's history can be traced back to the Etruscans of the 5th century BC and the capital is purely filled of magnificent archeological and architectural gems.

The most visited sight in Genoa is perhaps The Palace of the Doges, dating from the 13th century not to be confused with the one in Venice. Other must sees include the magnificent Cathedral of St. Lawrence Cattedrale di San Lorenzo; the Old Harbor area; the Museo d'Arte Oriental with its admirable set of Oriental art; and the excitement and educational Aquarium of Genoa, one of the biggest in Europe. You will in addition desire to get a leisurely walk along the Via Garibaldi. This boulevard, lined with palaces, is a fascinating World Heritage Site.

No matter where you travel in Italy, you'll desire to be sure to savor the local food. Liguria is no exemption. Seafood, of course, is fairly popular, given the region's spot, so anticipate most dining establishments to have an exceptional variety including fish that was just plucked from the sea several hours before dinner is served. The produce in Liguria is equally as alluring and - like the seafood - you'll frequently discover fruit or veggies on your plate that were picked that very same day. Be certain to taste the orata, a yummy local fish, usually cooked with olives and potatoes; or the gattafin, pasta stuffed with beetroot, onion and parmesan. Liguria is also the birthplace of pesto sauce hence keep in mind to order a dish that includes this popular toppings.

Priscila Siano is a lover of all things Italian. She also enjoys writing articles about travel to Italy. For more information about Italy, please visit

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I Love Touring Rome, Italy - Hotels In The Pantheon District

The Pantheon, a landmark of the Campus Martius...Image via Wikipedia

The Pantheon in central Rome was a temple dedicated to the pagan gods. It is the most highly preserved temple of Ancient Rome, rebuilt in the Second Century. This magnificent structure is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. Make sure to take a look at the sky through the oculus, the hole in the dome and admire its original bronze doors. The Palazzo Montecitorio houses the Chamber of Deputies, and the Pantheon area is home to many other historical buildings including Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome's only Gothic church which houses a Michelangelo. The Piazza della Minerva in front of this lovely church hosts an elephant bearing an Egyptian obelisk. Talk about multiculturalism. For your convenience we have listed neighborhood hotels in approximate order of cost, starting with the least expensive. We have personally verified all these bed and breakfast and hotel websites addresses making sure that they include English-language pages.

The Baldassini Bed and Breakfast is located right next to a Sixteenth Century palace. It is on the first floor, so you won't have to deal with elevators or several flights of steep steps. There is a single apartment which is suitable for four people. The address is Via delle Coppelle 37 int. 2 00186 Roma.

The Bed and Breakfast Pantheon View is located near the Tempio di tutti gli dei (Temple of all the Divinities.) Each room is furnished with antiques and has a balcony that overlooks the Pantheon. The address is Via del Seminario, 87 - 00186 Rome.

The Albergo del Senato is on the Piazza della Rotunda, often called Piazza del Pantheon. It is located in a building constructed in the second half of the Nineteenth Century that has been in the family for over thirty years. The Albergo was extensively renovated in 2001. It offers 57 guest rooms and a breakfast room whose star feature is an ancient roman column. Its panoramic terrace and roof garden is open to guests during the summer months. The conference room holds up to 50 people. The address is Piazza della Rotonda, 73 - 00186 Rome.

The five star Grand Hotel de la Minerve is a Seventeenth Century building providing facilities for the disabled. Its on-site restaurant relocates to the roof garden during the summer. You may enjoy the piano bar with live music every evening and a well-equipped gym. The hotel offers 135 rooms including junior suites and suites. The larger rooms and suites include a walk-in closet. The address is Piazza della Minerva, 69 - 00186 Rome.


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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Mural of Paquius Proculus and wifeImage by Gauis Caecilius via Flickr


With forty properties, Italy has more inscribed on the World Heritage List than any other country. The historical centers of Florence, Rome, Pienza and Naples are all on the List.

This is a great reference for people looking to plan a trip around the UNESCO sites or just to acquaint yourself as to what is available when you are in a certain region. The article has a click-able Index, maps to locate each site and a short history of each site.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cows invade Rome for art parade

Fibreglass bovines popping up in streets and piazzas

28 May, 18:47

(ANSA) - May 28 - A cow dressed as a Roman centurion and another wearing the colours of the AS Roma soccer team are among life-size models popping up in Rome's streets and piazzas for the capital's first CowParade exhibition.

Herds of the fibreglass cows have been positioned around the city for the now world famous public art charity event, which has already visited some 40 cities worldwide including New York, Paris, Tokyo and London.
Read the entire article here:
Cows invade Rome for art parade - News in English -

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Friday, May 28, 2010

5 Best Annual Festivals in Sicily, Italy

Greek Theater - Taormina, ItalyImage via Wikipedia

Italy has had a strong culture and set of traditions since ancient times and there are a host of beautiful festivals which are celebrated in the beautiful region of Sicily, Italy which are a thrilling experience to be enthralled. We bring you five of the best festivals of the city.

Festa Di Sant'Agata: This festival has been dedicated to St. Agata. During Roman encroachment, St. Agata had refused to give up Christianity while opposing the Romans bitterly. This had led to her execution. Citada remembers her with this festival, which takes place between 3rd to 5th February. The fireworks are a breathtaking sight. A parade also takes place, where millions of people participate, holding large candles in their hands.

Ciclo di Spettacoli Classici: The festival of the Greek Theatre, Ciclo di Spettacoli Classici is held in Syracuse during May and June every year. During this festival, the talented dramatic artists of Italy give their performances at the historic Greek Theatre, which was built around 5th century, B.C.

Taormina Arte Festival: The festival, being conducted at Taormina in July and August is a centre for artistic creations and a hustle bustle of creative activities. This festival includes an assortment of many different art forms, such as dramatics, music, painting and the like. You could also chance upon some of the famous vocalists, at their concert.

Festa di Morgana: This is a rare festival, which is held at Museo Internazionale delle Marionette at the city centre once every year. The date of the festival is not fixed, and it keeps changing every year. So one would have to keep an eye on the museum's website for the dates. This festival is all about puppetry, and it brings together all the famous puppeteers, to present their skills and talents at puppetry. The skill and grace which they portray here is unmatched elsewhere.

International Festival of Underwater Activities, Ustica: This celebration takes place every year in July at Ustica, which is a haven for scuba diving enthusiasts. The island is off the Tyrrhenian shores, known for its volcanoes and underwater scenic beauty. This region is blessed with the most breathtakingly beautiful underwater caves. Divers can explore these bounties of nature, on this day which is dedicated to the wonderful sights that exist under water. The festivals of Sicily are beautiful, just as the place itself!

Paul works in the travel industry and is involved with Sicily travel tours and Holidays in Barcelona. Paul has a Masters in Tourism and loves to travel worldwide.

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Italy For Seniors Travel

Vatican MuseumsImage via Wikipedia

By Bronwyn White
It's no surprise that Italy is one of the world's top tourist destinations, with amazing sights like ancient cities, classic works of art, charming villages, majestic natural scenery and much more spread all over the country. It's also a great place for seniors travel in particular, with a large range of great historical tours, wine tastings, education and language packages and cruises tailored to overseas visitors on offer.

Senior citizens enjoy a respected status in Italy. Culturally, they are considered not old, but wise and experienced having contributed long and well to society. This great respect for seniors translates to all sorts of benefits like discounts at restaurants and all sorts of local places, so be sure to ask wherever you are. However, in terms of overall discounts to well known attractions, we have heard in some instances that seniors travel discounts do not get offered to non-EU citizens, but be sure to ask.

Avoid the queues. As anyone who's been to Rome or Florence in summertime can tell you, seeing Europe's top artistic sights is no mean feat during high season. Visitors from all over the world queue around the block, and sometimes the block after that, to see the many masterpieces on display. We are talking HOURS. If you want to see these great works without standing the sun all day, come to Italy between mid-March and May or in September and October, when the crowds are considerably smaller. Another great way to avoid a long wait at the Vatican Museum in particular is to come on the last Sunday of every month, when admission is free and the line moves considerably faster! Alternatively pre-book your entry tickets. This is a great way to avoid the terrible hassle and something I personally do before all my trips.

Prepare for the heat. Italy is one of the hottest parts of Europe in high summer - in the capital, for example, the temperatures frequently exceed 30C during July and August. For the most comfortable trip possible come between April and June or in September and October, when temperatures will range from 18-25C. The ottobrate, or "beautiful October days", are especially well known as a great time to be in Rome. If you do come during the high season, bring plenty of water and sunscreen and wear a hat during the midday sun. It's easy to get dehydrated when there are so many fascinating sites to visit! I have also found that some of the shopping centres are not air-conditioned, you find this in France too. So at times in high heat, an escape to the shops is not an option.

Take your time. Even without the scorching sun and thronging crowds of summer, seeing all the sights of Italy can be a demanding task for anyone. In fact, most people find themselves walked out after only visiting a couple of the main historical sites in Rome such as the Roman Forum or the Coliseum. Many of the country's coastal and rural tourist sites, moreover, are difficult or inaccessible to anyone with mobility issues. The best way to get around this problem is to take it easy, prioritize which sites you're most interested in and don't try to cram in too many activities in one day. If you truly are interested in visiting the famous historical sites and museums, my advice is to allow plenty of time to do this and try not to do too much in a day.

Stand for your coffee. It is a whole lot more expensive if you take a table at a cafe for your coffee break and panini. You will see the locals standing at the coffee bar because it is cheaper. However, I personally see taking a table at a local haunt as part of the tourist attraction - watch the locals and recover your feet. But if you are on a budget, stand for your coffee.

Savour the flavor. Of course, another of Italy's top attractions is its great food. The home of pasta, ice cream and pizza has a deservedly good reputation for its delicious traditional fare - make it your business to try all three! The Trastavere food district in Rome is a good place to start. You will find great deals everywhere for food, particularly if you are willing to explore the back streets a little and get off the tourist path. A great cost saving tip is to take a set menu, generally offered at lunch time. They include a range of courses and almost certainly come with a glass of wine. So, eat your main meal during the day at lunch time like the Italians. You can walk it off in the afternoon. For the true lovers of Italian food, there are plenty of cooking courses to do. You can choose from half day courses to 2 week immersion experiences.

Enjoy wine country. For wine lovers the world over, Italy is a feast for the taste buds. Famous varietals like Chianti, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Pinot Grigio all come from here, plus dozens more you can come to know and love during your stay. Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to vineyard tours, which are dotted all around the country. If you are not staying in one of the wine regions, again, you can take day trips from some of the major destinations like Florence to Chianti. There are plenty of options from Rome, Milan and Naples too.

Bronwyn White has over 20 years experience in the travel industry. She has gained her experience with airlines, government tourism boards and as a professional travel researcher (yes there is such a job). She consults on a regular basis to the travel industry and is often quoted in the press. Bronwyn also runs a travel information website dedicated to Seniors Travel.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pompeii - Mt Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius as seen from Pompeii. Hi-res sc...Image via Wikipedia

Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius or Vesuvio, the volcano near Naples, is an interesting place to explore. Mount Vesuvius, one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes, has an eruption cycle of about 20 years, but the last eruption was in 1944. Lets continue to find out more about Pompeii Mt Vesuvius.

Mount Vesuvius Active Volcano

When you finally reach the edge of the crater, you will be staggered at its size. Inside the crater itself, it is possible to see glimpses of steam rising from the side of the crater demonstrating that Mt Vesuvius is an active volcano.

Eruption of Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii

It is unknown how many people left Pompeii after the first earthquake, but a considerable number did indeed leave the devastation behind and move to other cities within the Roman Empire. By the 1st century, Pompeii was one of a number of towns located around the base of Mount Vesuvius. Love and sex were considered earthly practices of a man's life that were encouraged by the benevolence of Venus. Some aspects of the Pompeii culture were distinctly erotic, including phallic worship.

Pompeii Eruption of Vesuvius

The eruption was documented by contemporary historians and is generally accepted as having started on 24 August 79, relying on one version of the text of Pliny's letter. The overall experience of the Vesuvius eruption, must have been etched on Pliny's memory given the trauma of the occasion, and the loss of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, with whom he had a close relationship.

Mount Vesuvius What Happened?

The last major eruption was in March 1944 and it destroyed the villages of San Sebastiano al Vesuvio, Massa di Somma, Ottaviano, and part of San Giorgio a Cremano. The eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 1906 was particularly destructive, killing over 100 people and ejecting the most lava ever recorded from a Vesuvian eruption. Since 1944, the volcano has been silent.

Pliny The Younger Mt Vesuvius

Many contemporary sculptures are described and discussed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia published in 77 AD. Campi Flegrei, furthermore known as the Phlegraean Fields (from Greek meaning burning fields), is a large 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) wide caldera situated to the west of the city of Naples. Pliny was here with his Uncle when the eruption of Mt Vesuvius happened. Pliny's uncle, the naturalist Pliny the Elder, was in charge of area warships, but he turned his fleet to rescuing residents and died.

Mt Vesuvius Lava

Mount Vesuvius was built up by a series of lava flows and a number of smaller explosive eruptions interspersed in-between. The lava is composed of adesite, viscous in nature. The whole of Mount Vesuvius comprises layers of lava, volcanic ash and pumice.

Pompeii Volcanoes Area

The pyroclastic blast from the eruption incinerated the inhabitants of Herculaneum. Almost 2,000 years later, You have the opportunity to explore the preserved ruins of this famed disaster.A busy commercial centre with a population of 10,000-20,000, the ancient Pompeii covered about 160 acres on the seaward end of the fertile Sarno Plain. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in 79 AD.

Pompeii Herculaneum

Both Pompeii and Herculaneum have since been excavated to reveal many intact buildings and wall paintings. A full day Pompeii and Herculaneum tour can be a historical discovery exploring the archaeological sites of the Bay of Naples. Silent for thousands of years, Pompeii and Herculaneum are now living museums of life in the Roman Empire.

And now I would like to invite you to visit the following link for more information on visiting Pompeii, Capri, Amalfi Coast, City of Naples and other places in the Bay of Naples when you visit (<--click this link)

From Francesca Laguida - expert local guide and author on Pompeii, Vesuvius, the Amalfi Coast, Capri and the city of Naples Italy.

(c) Copyright 2010 and Beyond - All rights reserved.
Webmasters: Get unique articles like this by contacting me at above link, or republish with all links intact

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Visit Corsica

View of Bonifacio, CorsicaImage via Wikipedia

Remote Figari, an authentic Corsican town which has gone up in reputation combined with the growth in use of the neighboorhood international airport. The primary location for travellers heading off down to this island's exquisite shorelines, Figari carries a specific charm of its own to offer. Look at enjoying a relaxed morning or two eating as well as checking out the town and rounded off through an equally tranquil day at the close by lovely unspoilt beach locations of St Guilia and Palombaggia. A mere 10 miles drive away can be found the attractive seaside destination of Bonifacio.

Flanked with extensive fantastic grape vines, olive groves coupled with strips of farm terrain, Figari?s really a picture of rural excellence and tranquillity equalling the benefits of a calming beachfront getaway easily.

Sun-drenched Figari can be found on the south-west area of Corsica within an away from the coast location and has a plentiful collection of gorgeous coffee shops, enchanting shops and fascinating hikes.

A short length away, ancient Bonifacio is more than an hour's drive across mountainous landscape out of Figari. Very good news if you're a bird but not so great if you're really not an enthusiastic mountain driver. Have no fear, for driver's bravado pays off in the form of a magnificent cosmopolitan plus eye-catching seaside city. There is an aged town area?n which minor streets cross and a lot of traditional eateries show up from nowhere to provide welcoming meals and localized food. There's a amazing harbour offering up more cafes as well as bars and posh outlets, together with an intriguing 18th century area everything apparently balancing on top of the cliffs of South-Eastern Corsica.

When visiting Bonafacio, once the medieval points of interest grow to be tiring, you'll find the beach locations to take pleasure from within the region's Northern shores as well as the alternative to board a pretty little charter boat and make for neighbouring Sardinia and the Iles de Lavezzi.

As you're in Corsica, you need to check out Bastia. The community and French commune, being situated in the north of Corsica, is a fair drive up coming from the southern area of Figari. The administrative centre in the Haute-Corse region, the city was till 1790 the capital of the island too. Among other items, Bastia is particularly famous due to the fantastic wine and port. It's a enjoyable vacation place which is perfect for touring Corsica and even Mediterranean island hopping.

Offering 340 complete days of shining sun per year, comparatively pristine Bastia could be the Mediterranean's best kept secret. Enjoy its tranquillity whilst it is maintained.

Ronnie has a car rental website. His website specialises in Figari Airport Car Hire.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Your Italian Holiday in Milan

Milán: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele IIImage by jrgcastro via Flickr

Milan, one the largest cities in Italy, is situated in Northern Italy and is the capital city of the region of Lombardy. It has a population of more than one million and is a great place to start your Italian holiday with some culture and shopping.

The oldest shopping mall in the world is said to be the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which was designed and built in the 19th century. It features a glass and steel arch covering a street and in the centre a glass dome. You can shop for anything here, including haute couture and the world famous fashion houses. There are also plenty of restaurants where you can get a bite to eat and a drink and sit and watch the world go by for a while. The mall leads to two of Milan's most famous edifices, the Duomo and the Teatro alla Scala.

If you want to include some culture in your Italian holiday, then the Duomo is where to start. The residence of the Archbishop of Milan has incredible Gothic architecture and plays a major part in maintaining and spreading the Catholic faith. If you take a guided tour of Milan, this is sure to be included.

The Teatro alla Scala was built late in the 18th century after a fire destroyed its predecessor. The rich used to gather here but there was a gallery above the boxes where the poor were permitted to attend the opera. It has recently been renovated very sympathetically ensuring the preservation of the historical details.

The Castello Sforzesco or Sforza Castle is another landmark of Milan, home of the Sforza family who ruled here in the 14th and 15th centuries and surrounded by a walled hunting park. There are several museums, one of which is home to an art collection which includes Michelangelo's last sculpture, the Rondanini Pietà, Andrea Mantegna's Trivulzio Madonna and Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Trivulzianus manuscript.

No Italian holiday in Milan would be complete without seeing Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper which is a mural measuring 450 × 870 centimeters (15 feet × 29 ft) and covering the back wall of the dining hall at Santa Maria delle Grazie.

So, whether your preference is art and architecture or shopping for high fashion, you couldn't choose a better place for an Italian holiday than Milan.

For more hints and tips on how to make the best of an Italian holiday, click here.

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I Love Organic Wine - A Rose From Cote de Provence

A glass being full of rosé wineImage via Wikipedia

While Provence is known for many of the finer things in life, great wine is not usually part of the list. But its checkered wine history didn't keep me from trying this bottle produced in the Puget Ville area, part of the gold triangle of Cotes de Provence. La Sauveuse (the savior) refers to a local spring that is more than welcome in an area in which water is often in short supply. So maybe this part of Provence has everything.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review have been purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Domaine de la Sauveuse Cuvee Carolle Rose 2008 13.0% alcohol about $16.50

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. A long-term organic producer, Domaine de la Sauveuse has also been increasingly incorporating sustainable agriculture and biodynamic ideas into its production techniques. So far, the winery has only received organic certification, but their passion for the other two schools of thought is deeply entrenched. This rose is filled with strawberry, cherry and citrus aromas and flavors. A terrific sipper, it is also a good match for a roast pork or grilled, herbed chicken breast. Our Quality Assurance Laboratory has determined that this wine contains 12 mg/L of free sulphur. And now for my review of this Cotes de Provence AOC wine based on Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault grapes.

At the first sips the wine was very fruity with soft acidity. And I thought of Provence. The initial meal was a boxed vegetarian lasagna with Ricotta and Mozzeralla cheese that I slathered with grated Parmesan cheese. The wine was sweet with refreshing acidity. It was round, somewhat lemony, and fairly long.

The second meal consisted of zucchinis and onions stuffed with rice and lightly spiced ground beef on a bed of sliced potatoes. This rose had bright acidity. It faded and yet stayed, if you know what I mean. My glass held lots of strawberries and some sunshine.

The final meal included home barbecued skin-on chicken thighs and wings that had been marinated for two days in a fruity Thai barbecue sauce, accompanied by potato patties and a fresh, garden-style tomato. With the wings the rose was bright and acidic. With the more flavorful thighs the wine was light and refreshing but not very flavorful. The acidic tomato softened the wine somewhat.

Before tasting this wine with two cheeses I tried pairing it with Matjes herring. The wine was freshly acidic with strawberries. Herring and strawberries may not seem to go together, but this was actually a good combo, slightly sweet with soft tannins. With Asiago cheese the Cotes de Provence was almost mouth filling. It was round and balanced with good acidity. With a Swiss Emmenthaler the wine was light, almost too light. It was overpowered by the cheese.

Final verdict. I have no plans to buy this wine again. It was rather disappointing for the price. But it did come close. If you are committed to organic wines your decision may be different from mine.

Author Resource:-> Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine French, German, or other wine. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website features a weekly review of $10 wines and new sections writing about and tasting organic and kosher wines. Visit his Italian wine website .

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Helpful Espresso Troubleshooting Tips

Image by Mark Prince,, 2006, ri...Image via Wikipedia

Helpful Espresso Troubleshooting Tips

By: Mark Ramos

If you have a home espresso machine, it is still important to consider the best troubleshooting tips so that you don't make any detrimental mistakes in your brewing. Even the best of the best can brew an inconsistent shot of espresso from time to time, but these helpful tips will put you on the right track toward brewing delicious espresso with every shot that you pull.

First of all, it is important to understand that a double shot should brew within 20 to 25 seconds, and it consists of 2 to 2.5 ounces of water. A single shot will also brew in roughly 20 to 25 seconds, and it consists of 1 to 1.5 ounces of water. The amount of ground espresso used for a double shot is 14 g, and the ground espresso used for a single shot is 7 g. Some of the common issues with brewing espresso happen if the shot is brewed too slow or too fast. If this is the case, you can adjust either your tamp pressure or your grind consistency so that the shot will brew correctly. If you add more pressure when tamping, the espresso will brew more slowly, and it will brew faster if you reduce the tamp pressure. As a rule of thumb, the best tamp pressure is 30 pounds to create the ideal single or double shot. You may also want to adjust your grind consistency to finer or coarser so that the shot can brew at the proper speed.

If you are brewing your espresso and have not created a crema, which is the hazelnut foam on top of the espresso, it may have to do with your brewing technique. One of the best signs of the perfect shot of espresso is the crema, so you are probably brewing improperly if it does not occur atop your espresso after brewing. The first step to check within brewing is the consistency of your grounds, since they should be fine and thoroughly ground for the best brewing. It is often a better idea to use a burr versus a blade grinder since it will grind more thoroughly without heating the espresso beans. It is also highly important to freshly grind your espresso beans before brewing because pre-ground coffee or espresso is not normally ground to the proper consistency to create the crema atop the shot.

From there, it is important that you are using the right pressure when tamping to create the best crema on your espresso shot. You must tamp evenly, especially since tamping lopsided will reduce the perfect crema after brewing. It is also important to make sure that you give your espresso machine time to heat up thoroughly before you start brewing, which will provide better results in extraction. If you start brewing with a cold machine, you won't have the rich crema that you are looking for.

Overall, it is important to stick with the motto that practice makes perfect! With the use of these helpful techniques, you will be brewing like a pro barista in no time.

Author Resource:-> Mark Ramos is a coffee geek. For a great selection in all things coffee, espresso machines and BUNN coffee makers, check out The Coffee Bump.

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Finding Cheap Eurostar Tickets

2 Eurostars or British Rail Class 373's at Bru...Image via Wikipedia

It is not true that travelling by Eurostar is expensive. You can find cheap Eurostar tickets through the internet. All you need to do is, keep going through its website now and then. This helps you to find the best seasonal offers. Below are some guidelines on Cheap Eurostar Tickets. Make sure you avoid traveling via train from London to Paris on national holidays and at weekends including Saturday nights as it would result in extra expenses for you.

You need to book the tickets 3 months in advance so as to get cheap train tickets successfully. If you book your tickets 90 days before your journey, you are likely to receive the best deals and offers. The cheapest Eurostar tickets are limited in number, so it's better if you don't delay your booking procedure and their price start from £65 to Lille and £69 to Brussels.

If you are traveling for a short period of time, it would be favorable if you book the train from London to Paris an early morning train (5am. to 7am) or take a train after 7pm., as the cheap tickets are available at off-peak times.

While booking your tickets you should surely check if you fall under their special categories so as to take advantage of special discounts.

Eurostar runs a loyalty program for its regular customers, which are very beneficial as it provides them with many facilities like shorter check-in procedure. The customers can even earn points after every journey, which can then be converted into a Eurostar gift or ticket.

If you have any of the rail passes such as Britrail, Interail and Eurail, these passes, purchased through Rail Europe, include discounts on Eurostar. Children below 4 years of age can travel for free on the lap of a parent or guardian.

You should go through Eurostar's special offers page before booking your tickets to know about the various offers and promotions available. There are many seasonal city breaks and offers that Eurostar comes up with, so you can choose the best amongst them.

Eurostar provides some great group-booking discounts as well. It is one of the smartest ways of reducing the costs of the tickets. The same method is used by Travel agents to book cheap Eurostar tickets. So if you're planning on getting a train from London to Paris as a group, either you should book the tickets in bulk for your group or if you are traveling alone you should contact your travel agents too.


Planning to book Cheap Eurostar Tickets? Click on the link to visit our website:
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I Love Touring Rome, Italy - Hotels In The Colosseum District

Though in ruins, the Flavian Amphitheatre, now...Image via Wikipedia

The Colosseum area just about defines central Rome, but in actual fact it is a south central district. This area overflows with history; it was once the center of the Western world. You'll find the Roman Forum and Caesar's Forum when Julie wanted to make a statement. Of course there's the Colosseum itself, home to countless slaughters of people and animals. Once it held lions, now it holds errant pussy cats. At least there are no more slaughters. But you will want to see it, and so you might consider lodging in the neighborhood. The Domus Aurea, the Gold House, was Nero's monument to conspicuous consumption carried to the nth degree. His palace actually covered one third of the city. It was lost for centuries but can and should be seen now. Don't miss the Arch of Constantine, and to see how nature compares with us mere mortals, enjoy the Palatine Hill, preferred by Romulus. As you may well suspect, there is a museum, the Museo Palatino. For your convenience we have listed neighborhood hotels in approximate order of cost, starting with the least expensive. We have personally verified that all hotels contain a website that includes English-language pages.

The Bed and Breakfast Santi Quattro al Colosseo is located in an elegant, recently restored 1930s building. Try not to think about who was ruling the roost in 1930s Italy, he did get his due. If you stay here you will be close to just about everything that matters in the area, including a restaurant belonging to the same owners. You do get breakfast without having to go for a walk. Every room has a view of the Colosseum. On the other hand, the reception desk is by no means 24/7. There are 4 rooms and 3 apartments. The bed and breakfast address is Via dei Santi Quattro, 64 - 00184 Roma.

The Palazzetto degli Artisti offers double, triple, and quad rooms. The building was constructed around the turn of the century (when the Eighteenth became the Nineteenth century) in what had been the heart of Ancient Rome near the Colosseum. There are five floors; the top is a terrace from which you get a great view of all that matters and much more. There's an in-suite breakfast. The bed and breakfast address is Via della Madonna dei Monti, 108 - 00184 - Rome.

The four-star Grand Hotel Palatino offers more than 200 rooms including several suites and two restaurants, a bar and lounge, and several meeting rooms. There is access for the disabled. The top floor has executive rooms that include private balconies. The hotel address is Via Cavour, 213/M - 00184 - Rome.

The five-star Hotel Gladiatori Palazzo Manfredi offers only 17 rooms and some suites so you may have to reserve well in advance. The terrace has been used as a TV and movie set. The hotel is built on a site where gladiators were housed in the days when the Colosseum housed lions. Stay in a suite and you get tickets for the Colosseum as well as breakfast. The property is non-smoking. This hotel's address is Via Labicana, 125 - 00184 - Rome.


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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Monday, May 24, 2010

24 Hours in Rome (3)

St. Peter's Basilica, believed to be the buria...Image via Wikipedia

Rome is a city that has a long time of history. You can track the rudiment of history here. In Rome, you should stay in good spirits. You should grasp every minute to get to know the magnificence and glory of Rome. On the full schedule, if you have only one day to tour around Rome, the following things can help you know Rome quickly.


Rome is famous for its seven mountains. But actually, it is more than that. Gianicolo provides the best place of viewing Rome for you. It is to the west of river Tiber outside this ancient city. However, it is close to the center of history, little higher than Vatican city. It is breath-taking to see the panoramic view from the peak of the mountains. At noon, the tranquility will be broken by a bombing which is used to mark the precise time. This tradition can trace back to 19th century.


Catholic or not, no one would not feel exhilarated when seeing the pope. He does not always stay. He is likely to stay around us, especially in summer. The noon of every Wednesday is the praying time when the pope will overlook St.Peter's Plaza and speak to people from his window. He meets people every Wednesday morning. If you want to see the pope clearly, remember to bring a binoculars with you because there a lot of people there.

Ristorante Al Presidente

Are you hungry? It is possible for you have outside lunch and supper for eight months in a year because of the mild weather of Rome. Among the restaurants that have terrace, the best one is Ristorante Al Presidente. It is located in the city center, near the president house. It is also well-equipped inside the restaurant.

Ice cream

It is not difficult for you to find ice-cream in the center of Rome. The ice-creams here are always with high quality. Undoubtedly, the best one is Giolitti which is located between Pantheon and Italian parliament. You can order three kinds of ice creams of normal size and sit at the table to enjoy them.

He He Jian is obsessed with a great fashion blog:, where various news and information about these hottest accessories are provided, such as discount Tiffany jewelry, Cartier, cheap Christian Louboutin high heel shoes, GHD, etc. It is really great to visit

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Travel Guide to Florence

Florence, ItalyImage by Coy! via Flickr

By Ramon Van Meer
Once the main capital of Italy in the year 1865, Florence reinvented itself yet is always a sight to view inside Europe. Filled by art work, fantastic architectural structures at every corner, a busy business center, populated by men and women pleased with their own heritage, it still is a treasure.

Let the artwork in Florence take your breath away in areas like the Basilica di Santa Maria del Carmine, Casa di Dante, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Galleria degli Uffizi, Macchine di Leonardo or one of the Museos. At the Basilica, you get to look at art by Masolino da Panicale, Masaccio and Filippino Lippi. The frescoes by Masaccio right here are considered his best works and it presents the transition from gothic to the fresh appearance of the Renaissance in its early stages. A museum focused upon Dante's works, life and times is at Casa di Dante. This is not exactly where Dante was born but is the place where he lived. At the Galleria d'Artte Moderna, art work from the 18th and 19th century are presented. They were created by artists of the Florentine Macchiaioli school like Telemaco Signorini and Giovanni Fattori. However, the Galleria degli Uffizi is home to the Medici family's exclusive collection. The Macchine di Leonardo showcases the grand scale models of some of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions like flying machines, a bicycle, a glider, and also a tank.

Admire architectural mastery from times past in Florence by viewing the Basilica di Santa Croce. This had been accomplished in 1385 and commemorates some of the excellent Florentine artists. Michelangelo's' grave here is designed by Vasari. Monuments in memory of Dante and Galileo Galilei can even be found here.

Marvel at the holy center of Florence at the Duomo. This has been once the site of the town's Roman temple. Near the Duomo, the 84.7 meter high Campanile is located. Enjoy its beauty from the outside and then climb the 414 step inside to be treated to a spectacular view of Duomo and central Florence. Check out the Casa Guidi exactly where Robert and Elizabeth Barrett rented rooms and wrote 1847. The house has been refurbished in the 19th century style and has a few of the items owned by the Brownings on display. The Palace of the Guelph Faction's Captains is another well conserved piece of medieval Florence. It is a prepared building that stands on land that has been taken from the Ghibellines that was later created by Brunelleschi and Vasari.

Climate: The summer seasons in Florence are extremely humid and hot. Temperature typical around thirty-one degrees Celsius in July and August. The ideal time to visit Florence is in spring or autumn where temperature tend to be more comfortable and enjoyable.

Transportation: Local transport in Florence consists of taxis, buses and trams. The taxis is located outside the Stazione di Santa Maria Novella and at other taxi stops around town. A lady travelling alone may also ask for a discount in between the time of 9p.m. to 2a.m. Buses go around the town center and also to areas outside the city. Additionally, there are night buses which operate between 9p.m. to 1a.m. You can also rent a car or a bike if you want to discover Florence on your own.

Ramon van Meer is a travel expert and owner of Lets Fly Cheaper, an Online Travel Consolidator.
Lets Fly Cheaper offers Cheap Flights to Florence with the best personal service. For more information about how to get the cheapest airline tickets like Cheap International Flights go to the website.

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Shopping in Rome, Italy

Via Condotti, Rome's main upscale shopping str...Image via Wikipedia
By Roxanne Bridger

With so much to see and do in Rome, shopping is usually one of the activities that gets left till last. But what a lot of people don't realize is that a great place to really soak up Italian culture is at its markets and shopping areas. Here are a few of the best places to really get to immerse yourself in Italian Culture. Opening hours vary by the type of store. Most shops are open from 9 -9:30 until 1pm and reopen from 4 pm to 7:30 pm.

Some clothes shops are closed on a Sunday and maybe even a Monday depending on where the store is, and bakeries and other small food places are usually open from 8 am to 1 pm then reopen from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. They are usually closed on Thursday afternoons and Sundays in the winter months and on Saturday afternoons and Sundays during the summer months.

Via Condotti is one of the most central shopping areas and is the most typical of the old Roman streets. Know as Rome's version of 5th Avenue, many of the Top end brands are here, such as Armani, Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, and, Cartier. Nearby Via del Corso has the more affordable selection of clothes and accessories. there are a number of megastores that sell everything you could need, from leather goods to athletic wear and casual clothing.

If the weather's not too good and you want to spend a few hours warming up in a shopping center, visit Euroma2. There are over 230 shops and places to eat housed in a massive structure, surmounted by domes Arabian, a few hundred meters from the GRA. Take Metro B line from Termini to EUR Palasport station, cross over the road and take the free 15min bus to the and from the shopping center.

If you are looking to find some small and unique shops, head to the historic centre. There are lots of small roads and piazzas, all interconnected, that can make it fun to wander the streets and find something new round each corner. There are too many places here to mention and everybody's trip to the area is different. A great way to spend a warm summer's afternoon.

To find out more about the area including the best hotels in Rome and the best places to eat out, make sure you have a look at a travel guide of Rome so you can plan ahead.

By Roxanne Bridger - a travel enthusiast who loves to explore the world!

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

24 Hours in Rome (2)

Piazza Navona, RomeImage via Wikipedia

Rome is a city that has a long time of history. You can track the rudiment of history here. In Rome, you should stay in good spirits. You should grasp every minute to get to know the magnificence and glory of Rome. On the full schedule, if you have only one day to tour around Rome, the following things can help you know Rome quickly.

Via del Governo Vecchio

If you cross the Plazza di spagrla from Giorgio de Chirico House-Museum, you will see the window of the guest room of ol' Giorgio as well as the famous Via Condotti where most of those Italian designers get together. However, for the sake of money, I will choose to go to Via del Governo Vecchio which is located in the other side the this city. Although it is not that famous, you can still go shopping happily here. You can buy nearly all things here, from fur to bathing suit.

Walk to Ponte Sisto

The best way to understand a city is to choose some cheap and typical store to go around. Here is a two-hour walking route---start from the noisy and crowded Piazza Navona, walk southward to Campo de' Fiori where you can find coffee shops, daily food and flower market, then you will arrive at Dafarr plaza where there are springs and palaces during Renaissance, next continue you walking until reaching Ponte Sisto. The Ponte bridge here provide you with the best prospective of taking view of the beauty of Rome. Then you can walk across the river Tiber. You can continue your walking. Different kinds of charming things will arrive one by one.


If you feel hungry, but do not have enough time to stop to having lunch, you can try some pizza with which you can eat standing up. There are a lot flake pizza everywhere in Rome. What you should do is to point out the kind of pizza that you want to buy. Apart from the standard Magarit pizza, there are also other kinds of pizza such as potato pizza and pumpkin pizza. My favourite kind of pizza do not has a name. You can taste the eggplant one in Via del Piedi Marmo.

He He Jian is obsessed with a great fashion blog:, where various news and information about these hottest accessories are provided, such as discount Tiffany jewelry, Cartier, cheap Christian Louboutin high heel shoes, GHD, etc. It is really great to visit

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'New' Michelangelo work in Rome - News in English -

'New' Michelangelo work in Rome - News in English - "Palazzo"

(ANSA) - Rome, May 21 - A beautiful but little-known sculpture has just made its first appearance as a confirmed Michelangelo work at an exhibition in Rome. The bas-relief carving is one of 35 marble and bronze artworks in a show at Palazzo Venezia paying tribute to Renaissance sculpture, which opened on Friday. The exhibition looks at key artistic developments between the 1460s to the 1520s, leading to the emergence of new trends in sculpture. It focuses on the output of Donatello, Andrea Bregno and Michelangelo, featuring both established works as well as little known pieces, but also includes works by other artists.

Read Here

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Ask the Italy Expert: Outlet Shopping and Rome Pastry Shops

I get lots of emails from readers asking for Italy travel advice. And while I like to think of myself as the Italy travel resource, I know that there are tons of bloggers, writers, tour operators, travel consultants, and many other Italophiles who have knowledge on specific subjects, like villa rentals, Tuscany antique markets, or wines of the Veneto. Previously, I have just answered readers’ questions as best – and as quickly – as I could. But I started thinking that everyone could benefit from the knowledge I’ve earned as a result of researching some of these inquiries.

So, today I am starting a new feature called “Ask the Italy Expert,” in which I utilize my network of Italy experts to answer your travel questions. I’m really excited about the first installment of this feature because it is all about SHOPPING!

Two readers, Dominika and Niek, recently asked me questions about shopping in Italy. Dominika, who is getting married in Rome, was particularly interested in finding out about factory outlets and pastry shops/cake makers in and around the capital while Niek wanted to know about outlets in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Calabria, and Puglia.

This looks like it will e an interesting series. Read On

As soon as I saw that I had two specific shopping questions, I knew exactly who to ask. Stefania Troiani is the creative founder and owner of Rome Shopping Guide, a private tour company that offers personalized shopping tours of the Eternal City, from food markets to outlets to luxury boutiques. While I have never actually “met” Stefania, I have enjoyed reading her shopping advice on her website and Twitter for quite some time now. Certainly, she specializes in Rome, but I had no doubts of her ability to tell me about other shopping experiences south of the capital. Here are her superb shopping suggestions:

Question 1: Factory Outlets and Cake Makers in Rome

The best factory outlets for designer label handbags and clothes and shoes around Rome are:

Castel Romano Designer Outlet elegantly built around a style reminiscent of Imperial Rome that boasts 110 designer name shops with prices reduced from 30% to 70%. Many shops also offer tax free (from a minimum of 4% up to a maximum 16% of the selling price of the goods purchased). The outlet is located 30mins outside Rome (how to get there).

Another perfect place to find special accessories is the Bulgari outlet that carries all the end of series and unsold items from Bulgari shops. It is possible to find handbags, crocodile purses, ties, house furnishings, scarves, sunglasses, glasses, modern silver and also jewelry for which Bulgari has been famous for over 100 years, all to be discounted 30%. The staff speaks English and Japanese. The outlet is located on Via Aurelia, 1052 only a few miles outside Rome.

When in Rome you can also get some great buys on designer handbags, clothes and shoes and if you are looking for Miu Miu, Cavalli, Chloé, and Burberry you should pop into Outlet Gente conveniently located near the Vatican on Via Cola di Rienzo 246.

Antonella e Fabrizio is a discount store for men and women near Piazza Navona, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 247 selling Armani, D&G and Just Cavalli as well as other popular Italian labels.

Il Discount dell’Alta Moda is a boutique near Piazza del Popolo on Via Gesù e Maria, 16 overstocking at up to 50% off goods by Fendi, Gucci, Sergio Rossi, and Roberto Cavalli.

Pastry shops in Rome are all very good. I know many great good cake makers. My two favorites are the historic Marinari pastry shop in the Trieste neighborhood also well known for its delicious “torta della nonna,” it offers a wide range of desserts from ricotta cakes to Sicilian cannoli.

Another one to recommend to dessert lovers is Antonini on via Sabotino, 19 that offers one of the best selections of pastries in town.

(Those pastry shops sound delicious! Best bet is to shop for shoes at the outlets so you can indulge in the cake without worrying about fitting into designer duds!)

Question 2: Factory Outlets in Basilicata, Calabria, and Puglia

There are not many quality outlets in Basilicata and Calabria, whilst in Puglia there are several places to visit for value conscious travelers.

  • Vestebene Outlet Storeon Piazza Dante Alighieri 85 – Galatina – Lecce
  • Filanto Shoes Outlet – Casarano Industrial Park – Lecce
  • Leather Company Outlet (excellent value and quality) – Via Provinciale Uggiano 44 – Otranto – Lecce
  • Molfetta Fashion District (80 shops) Via dei Portuali, Molfetta- Bari

Great tips for outlets in Puglia, Stefania! If anyone else has tips on outlets in Basilicata or Calabria, let me know.

I really hope that you have enjoyed this new Q&A on Italofile. If you’d like to submit a question or if you are an Italy expert who’d like to offer some advice, contact me. Hopefully, we can collaborate on the next installment of Ask the Italy Expert!

Photo © / CC BY 2.0


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