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Cooking & Touring in Bella Abruzzo

Posted by: Anna | November 24th, 2015 | No Comments »

Abruzzo National Park

Abruzzo National Park

Lucia Giugliano runs Italia Sweet Italia, an Italian tour operator based in Abruzzo. Her company offers experiences and creative holidays in Abruzzo, the greenest region in Europe. (Abruzzo is located just 3 hours east of Rome.)

Italia Sweet Italia (ISI) currently offers four standard packages: cooking, pottery, Italian language class and painting holidays. They are happy to customize their packages (days, activities, accommodation and so on) based on customers’ requests and they also offer also ancestry tours in Abruzzo & Molise.

Italia Sweet Italia’s aim is to create ‘sustainable experience’ tours of Abruzzo for those seeking a unique and different kind of holiday in Italy. ISI’s Italian breaks offer an insight into the Italian lifestyle, arts, culture, food and traditions one one of the most interesting regions south of Rome.

ISI offers a 7-day Italian cookery tour in Abruzzo, central Italy! You will be part of a small group of people and will be able to develop your cooking skills, expand your wine knowledge and discover the region’s off-the-beaten-track secrets. The highlight of this tour is the chance to learn how to make authentic Italian gelato, to replicate it at home and surprise your friends and relatives and yourself!


ISI Italian cookery tour in Vasto Italy includes:
6 Nights accommodation at Hotel San Marco in the historic centre of Vasto
All meals and breakfasts (food, water & wine) in selected restaurants except lunch on day 4
4 hands-on cooking classes and associated food costs
Daily trips and excursions
Pick up and drop off at Rome Fiumicino airport
Personalized cooking booklet and apron
All transport for daily trips and excursions
All entry fees for excursions, tours and wine, olive oil and cheese tastings
English-speaking tour manager throughout the duration
All taxes included. Priced from 1,495 Euros pp.

For more information, contact:

Italia Sweet Italia
T: +39 349 8630483

Windsurfing on the Amalfi Coast

Posted by: admin | November 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »


The Amalfi Coast is an ideal area for windsurfers, as it is particularly exposed to thermal winds throughout the year, blowing from the west with speeds of up to 15 knots. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced windsurfer, this unique experience offers you the chance to admire the scenery of one of the most beautiful coasts in the entire world in a wonderful, fun and entirely new way: On a Windsurf board!

In the summer months the wind is generally from the South, swinging round to a South West or South Easterly with the wind strength picking up in the afternoon. In the mornings it’s a wonderfully light force 2, picking up to a force 4 in the afternoon.

As with most Mediterranean destinations the warmest time of year to visit is during July and August with temperatures at their highest, then in the shoulder months of May and October it hovers around the 20’s.

Windsurf & Kayak Praiano, located in the heart of the Amalfi Coast in Marina di Praia, offers the chance to admire the scenery from the sea of one of the most beautiful coasts in the entire world, the Amalfi Coast, in a wonderful, fun and friendly way: On board a Kayak or a WindSurf.

Special Kayaking Excursion: Every Thursday Windsurf & Kayak Praiano dedicates a day to discover the Marine Park of the Bay of Ieranto with a visit to the Island of the Sirens. The tour will leave at 9:30 from Praiano by rubber boat and arrived in the vicinity of the Park, an area forbidden to motor boats. There the kayak tour begins to discover the beauty, secrets and legends that characterize this area! Then the tour stops to dive in the clear waters of the famous archipelago of Li Galli and then back to the coast where the tour group will stop for a swim and to enjoy a packed lunch provided by Windsurf & Kayak Praiano. Price per person € 80 packed lunch included; min 4 max 6 pax.

> For more information, contact:
Windsurf & Kayak Praiano
T: +39.339.48.35.115

Wine Spectator’s Top 100 (2015) – Vino d’Italia

Posted by: Giovanna | November 21st, 2015 | No Comments »

WS top 100 Logo

Wine Spectator’s 2015 rating of the Top 100 Wines of the World includes 18 selections from Italy. Ranging in price from $195 per 750 ml bottle to $20 (Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna) the group includes both fine and value driven wines. Not surprisingly, the highest rated Italian wine was a Brunello (Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino), placing #4 best on Top 100 list. Three other Brunello wines made their way into the Top 30….

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino

Here is the best of Italy according to Wine Spectator for 2015:

4 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino /2012 / 96/ $195
8 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Serègo Alighieri Vaio Armaron /2012// 96/ $140
13 La Serena Brunello di Montalcino 2012/ 98/ $70
18 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 2010/ 95/ $85
26 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva /2012 /95/ $60
27 Livio Sassetti Brunello di Montalcino Pertimali /2012 /94/ $54
41 Podere Sapaio Bolgheri Volpolo
43 Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino 2013/ 95/ $69
46 Castello d’Albola Chianti Classico 2009 / 95/$80
50 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo 2013 / 95 / $60
52 Brancaia Toscana Ilatraia
55 Arcanum Toscana Il Fauno / 2009/ 93/$25
62 Oddero Barolo /2010/ 93 / $31
67 Feudo di Santa Croce Primitivo di Manduria LXXIV / 2012 /94/ $55
71 Antinori Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso /2013/ 93/ $36
74 d’Angelo Aglianico del Vulture /2012/ 92/ $25
83 Torre Rosazza Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali /2014/91/ $22
87 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna / 2009 / 91 /$20
89 Zisola Sicilia 2013 /91/ $23

Ultimate Nightlife… Rome’s Top Ten Clubs

Posted by: Claudia | November 21st, 2015 | No Comments »

Where to head in Rome when the sun goes down…

Circolo degli Artisti / Photo courtesy of jimmi cossu

Circolo degli Artisti / Photo courtesy of jimmi cossu

10. Circolo degli Artisti
For some of the best live music around town, you will never be disappointed at Circolo degli Artisti. The centro sociale (underground bar) is situated between San Lorenzo and another hip, bohemian part of town called Pigneto. Plenty of big name indie rock bands (both Italian and international) have played here such as Pete Doherty, Billy Corgan, the Sonics and others. The club is rather big and has various rooms full of activities such as movie screenings, makeshift picnics and art galleries. The outdoor area is large with bar service provided throughout and there is often a couple of food stands and sometimes even a vintage market. BUS: 5, 14. TRAM: Porta Maggiore.

9. La Cabala
One of Rome’s flashiest and most exclusive nightclubs, La Cabala is situated in a medieval palazzo on top of the restaurant Hostaria dell’Orso, a 14th century building that overlooks the Tiber River. It’s pretty much Rome’s version of a classy supper club and located in the ever stylish Piazza Navona area it’s no wonder the venue has developed this reputation. The is quite big and it is spread out across a three-level space that includes a piano bar, restaurant, and nightclub. The crowd is very stylish and generally aged 25-30+. Music is generally house, dance and techno and the venue is open only on weekends, Friday to Saturday. BUS: 30, 492. Metro: Spagna.

Insider Tip: Saturday is the busiest night of the week so get there early if you can.”

Contact Info:
La Cabala
Via dei Soldati, 25/C
T: 06.68301192

8. Porto Fluviale
Many of the latest hotspots in Rome are New York warehouse style eateries, with quite a few located in up-and-coming industrial Ostiense. Porto Fluviale is a bright and cool space and houses several different types of restaurants: a trattoria, pizzeria, bar and dining room all with the same modern rustic style and laidback feel. The food is great, affordable and local. At lunch time they put on a large buffet spread and the in the evening there is a lively atmosphere at aperitivo time where you can order “spuntini” or small bar snacks off the menu plus an extensive drinks and cocktail list.

Contact Info:
Porto Fluviale
A: Via del Porto Fluviale, 22, Ostiense;
T: +39 06 5743199

Insider Tip: Porto Fluviale is a great option for a low-key night out where you can combine food with a couple of drinks in a stylish setting.

7. Fluid
When it comes to aperitivo time, this bar is one of the best in Rome. Thanks to its posh décor and hip music, this place gets lively around happy hour time (7-9pm), when tourists and locals pack this place in to grab a drink with friends and chow down on their hearty food buffet. Here one can order a glass of wine or prosecco or even one of their uber delicious cocktails made with exotic fruit. It’s also the perfect place to come for a late night drink and listening to the music playing from their nightly live DJ set. BUS: 40, 64, 46.

Insider Tip: At the foot of Piazza Navona, Fluid makes for a great city night with cocktails and lively music to match.

Contact Info:
Via del Governo Vecchio, 46/47
T: 06/6832361

6. Salotto 42
Conveniently located across from the suggestive Hadrian’s Temple, is a tiny sleek bar where locals go to see and be seen. The interior of this venue is modern and fashionable featuring plushy couches and chairs. The walls are adorned with contemporary art and design and fashion books are stacked against the walls. At night, Salotto 42 morphs into a buzzing cocktail bar for the hip, 30-something crowd. If there isn’t anything that you fancy on the list, the bar staff are always happy to come up with something signature just for you. Closed in August. BUS: 80, 492, 62, 52, 53. METRO: Spagna.

Insider Tip: Right in the heart of the historical center, Salotto 42 is the place to be for delicious cocktails.

Contact Info:
Salotto 42
Piazza di Pietra 42
T: 06-6785804
Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-2am; Sun 10am-Midnight

5. Freni e Frizioni
Freni e Frizioni (which literally means shocks and brakes)is perhaps one of the most happening places in all of Trastevere. The mechanic shop-turned hipsters’ bar is especially popular during aperitivo time. The place gets jumping from 7pm onwards and features a mixed crowd of shabby chic bohemians, tourists and American college students. This place does up a mean mojito for about 7-8 euros. During aperitivo hour (7-9pm), they also have a nice spread of finger foods and veggies to munch on. Freni e Frizioni stays lively well into the night as well. So if you don’t make it for happy hour, grabbing an after-dinner drink here is also a good alternative. BUS:23. TRAM: 8.

Insider Tip: This Trastevere institution is not only good value with their massive aperitvo buffet, but a cool and hip place to be.

Contact Info:
Freni e Frizioni
A: Via dei Politeama, 4/6
T: 06.45497499


4. Rome Tram Tracks
Who takes you to dance in the shadow of the Colosseum? Rome Tram Tracks that’s who! You will no doubt see all the sights and main attractions in Rome but never have you seen them on board a vintage tram with live music, wine and aperitivo snacks. The energy on board is electric and as Domenico and his band belt out tracks by the Rolling Stones, Elvis and Italian artists like Antonello Venditti and Lucio Battisti, you just can’t help but be on your feet and dancing. The ride runs for about an hour and 45 minutes and is one of the most unique ways to spend a night in Rome. The total price is 40 and includes all food, beverage and entertainment. Shows are currently running twice a month (generally Monday evenings). Visit website for details. BUS TRAM: Porta Maggiore.

Insider Tip: “Spots for Rome Tram Tracks are limited and bookings are mandatory so visit the website and get in early.”

Contact Info:
Rome Tram Tracks
A: Piazza Di Porta Maggiore
T: 334 732 8705
Hours: Mon 7:30pm-9:30pm / Event Dates and Times Vary

3. Rome’s Comedy Club
Rome’s Comedy Club founded by Italian-American Marsha De Salvatore is one of the most entertaining nights in Rome. The eternal city’s only English speaking comedy show features an open mic round up of Rome’s funniest. Held at a theatre restaurant in the Ostiense neighbourhood, it’s easily accessed by the historical center. Doors open for dinner at 8:45pm with showtime at 10:00pm and the entry is 15 for drink and show or 35 euro for a drink, show and 4-course meal. Shows are generally held on the last Friday of each month but visit the website for more information or to sign up for regular updates. BUS:
3. METRO: Piramide.

Insider Tip: Book early if you’re in town for the last Friday of any month and it’s great value going for the dinner and show package.”

Contact Info:
Rome’s Comedy Club
A: Via Francesco Carletti 5
T: 06 5755561 or 3921505171

2. K-Club
K-Club is one of the hottest restaurant and cocktail bars in the Centro Storico. This venue enjoys a prime position tucked away in a lovely little piazza behind the Pantheon called Piazza delle Coppelle. K-Club is a chic restaurant decked out with a sleek black, silver and purple design throughout the locale. It starts of the night as a ‘trendy’ restaurant. hip with the well-to-do thirty-somethings and politico crowd. Then close to midnight, the restaurant morphs into a lively cocktail bar with dj set and sometimes even live music. It specializes in over 130 different cocktails. BUS: 116, 80, 52, 53, 492. METRO: SPAGNA.
Insider Tip “For party details and other events, check out the ‘events’ section of K-Club’s website. More than 30 cocktails and cool DJ set, K-Club is one of the hottest spots in Rome’s Centro Storico.

Contact Info:
A: Piazza delle Coppelle 54/55/56
T: 06 6880 4760

1. Shari Vari Playhouse
Shari Vari Playhouse has fast become the new It-girl on Rome’s nightclub scene. The club, which was formerly known as the Supper Club, is huge and is conveniently located just around the corner from both Largo Argentina and the Pantheon. It has three levels of rooms to choose from with each featuring a different dance genre including hip-hop, retro, house and dance music. It attracts quite a stylish international crowd and very well-dressed Romans with a worldy attitude. To avoid disappointment, it’s highly recommended to reserve a table. The club hosts regular themed events and promote these ’serate’ on their website. BUS: 64, 40, 46. TRAM: 8 (3342532673)

Insider Tip: To get on the guest list or to reserve a VIP table here, contact Rome’s PR guru and party guy Marc Cefaratti: 334 253 2673.”

Contact Info:
Shari Vari Playhouse
A: Via di Torre Argentina, 78
T: 3342532673

Source: USA Today, Top Ten

Kayaking on the Venice’s Grande Canale

Posted by: Giovanna | November 21st, 2015 | No Comments »


Venice is the most spectacular city in the world, unique in every conceivable way. A kayaking experience through its famous canals –where you will have the chance to enjoy the main sights of the city while paddling along its canals, away from the confusion, exploring those areas inaccessible to pedestrians—is a bucket list memory.

A special tour group appropriately named “Venice Kayak” offers a variety of kayaking tours in and around Venice: full day and half day trips through Venice, in a group or as a private tour; lagoon tours to Burano, Torcello and San Francesco del Deserto; and multi-day packages for groups and kayaking clubs. All tours are lead by skilled and experienced guides.

Venice Kayak can cater for groups of 2-5 participants on short notice, and up to 12 participants on longer notice. Availability can be limited, so book your kayaking tour in Venice well in advance.All tours start and end on the Certosa island, easily reachable from most of Venice by water bus.

> More information, contact:

Venice Kayak Srl
Castello 1858,
30122 Venezia, Italy
T: +39 346 477 1327

Giorgio Baldi’s… One of LA’s Finest Italian Restaurants

Posted by: Claudia | November 11th, 2015 | No Comments »


    Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi is a family-managed restaurant that was established in 1995 and centered in Santa Monica. The restaurant is run by Roberta Baldi and her two children Eduardo and Elena. When dining there these standards are worth a try…any dish with white truffles, the tagliatelle, the rissotto, the ravioli…these are all excellent choices. The restaurant is frequented by Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris and Rihanna.

    > The Menu:

    What they say about themselves: “that has been serving the Los Angeles area for twenty-five years. Our rules are: simplicity, authenticity, the love for tradition, and full respect for our customers. Our establishment is appreciated not only in California, but also by the rest of the country.”

    Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi (aka Giorgio’s)
    Hours: Open Tuesday-Sunday from 6-10pm
    T: 310-573-1660
    A: 114 West Channel Road, Santa Monica Canyon, CA 90402

Two New in NYC: Marta & Santina

Posted by: Giovanna | October 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

Screenshot 2015-10-30 13.37.19

> Marta
W: | A: 29 East 29th Street | T: 212-651-3800
NY Times review: “Nick Anderer, the chef at Maialino, and Terry Coughlin, the manager, went to Danny Meyer, whose Union Square Hospitality Group owns the restaurant, with a proposal for a new pizza restaurant. “We wanted to expand on what we do at Maialino, and he was very excited about the idea,” Mr. Anderer said. It’s something of a first for Mr. Meyer, who said his company had never had a chef in charge of more than one place. “It’s a way of encouraging entrepreneurial aspirations that young chefs have,” he said. “And at the same time, they can also draw on Union Square resources for this project. But it also represents an evolution in my thinking about how I run this company.” He said he no longer felt he had to control every aspect. Marta will open in August, with a wood-fired grill and a couple of wood-burning ovens for thin-crust pizzas, Roman style, which Mr. Anderer said would be “the heart of the restaurant.” Antipasti and family style dishes will fill out the menu. The restaurant, at the King & Grove Hotel, will also provide room service.

> Santina
W: | A: 20 Washington Street, Meatpacking District | 212-254-3000
NY Times review: “The calendar said January when Santina opened early this year. The temperature outside hovered just above freezing. That said January, too. But almost nothing inside did. Santina’s new glass¬box building sits under the High Line like an unwisely located greenhouse, but oranges grew on the branches of a little tree, potted palms sat in the corners, heliconia and other tropical flowers gushed from glazed urns above the bar. Servers wore jelly¬bean ¬colored polo shirts and slim¬ waisted chinos, like Dean Martin reaching for his 9¬iron at Pebble Beach. People were sharing fritto misto, as crisp and fresh as any in town, and pulling apart multicolored bouquets of crunchy raw vegetables radiating from bowls of chipped ice. They were sipping cocktails through straws stuck into pineapple mugs, as if on a Waikiki honeymoon. Even when the front doors opened, the building is so painstakingly designed by the architect Renzo Piano (with the firm Beyer Blinder Belle) that its vestibule kept the cold winds of the meatpacking district from invading the dining room. Inside Santina, it was summer in January. It’s summer there now, and unless the landlord turns off the heat, it will still be summer when Christmas gets here. Almost all the food at Santina pulses with the bright, refreshing flavors we crave in hot weather and, it turns out, in other months, too: jolts of chiles, sparks of citrus. Fresh herbs are tossed around frequently and enthusiastically. Chives, mint and basil turn a wonderfully gentle tomato ¬free minestrone garden¬ green; Thai basil leaves are flattened over the mint¬ and ¬parsley salsa verde applied to a juicy, sweet grilled porgy; tortellini sorrentina (delicate eggy pasta sheets stuffed with soft sheep’s milk ricotta) are surrounded by raw marinara sauce and some olive oil mixed liberally with, what else, fresh herbs. Individually, none of Santina’s tricks are really new, but the kitchen throws them all together in ways that are fun, energizing and mood altering. Santina comes to us from Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, busy restaurateurs who somehow find the time to endow each place they open with the thematic complexity of a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. The food, they have said, is coastal Italian, in part because the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Streets where the restaurant sits used to be shoreline. The three restaurateurs take their concepts further than anybody else in New York, though. They have elaborated the coastal¬ seafood notion to the point of seeing Santina as a seafood restaurant in an Italian beach town somewhere, maybe along the Italian Riviera during the 1950s or ’60s. This gets them to the palm trees and the servers’ resort¬-wear costumes. It also inspires a hilarious playlist, mix (Remember how the same Perez Prado tune pursued Marcello Mastroianni in “La Dolce Vita” wherever he went, even at the seaside village by Fiumicino?) and period Italian pop tunes from singers including Fred Buscaglione, the gangster impersonator who always seemed to get gunned down by a vengeful woman in the last verse. Mr. Carbone, who leads the kitchen with Dan Haar, the chef de cuisine, has said that the restaurant is named after his Sicilian grandmother. But Liguria plays a bigger role in the kitchen, providing pistou and the chickpea pancake, called a cecina, crisp on top with a soft white underbelly, ready to be spread with crushed, exuberantly seasoned avocados or an excellent salad of tiny shrimp or cold cubes of raw tuna humming with herbs and Calabrian chiles. The Carbone ¬Torrisi¬ Zalaznick team doesn’t let its themes get in the way of a fun idea, though. The bartenders stock plenty of Italian aperitifs for their excellent run of cocktails, but they also let their grass skirts sway to the ukulele strains of tiki drinks in concoctions like the pineapple¬ and¬ banana¬ flavored Manganelli punch. While Italian seafood dominates the main courses, the grilled chicken comes in a sensational robust guajillo sauce that is as Ligurian as Rand Paul. These are not the kinds of two ¬ingredient recipes that you would throw together when it’s too hot to cook. It’s fairly complex stuff, and occasionally a heavy hand gets the better of the kitchen and the summer sun turns oppressive. Blue crab meat with spaghetti became mired in an oily glop of tomato sauce, and excess pork fat dragged down a bowl of warm rice salad tossed with guanciale and heaps of black pepper. Sea bass Agrigento, though cooked just right and buoyed by herbs and orange sections, sank under suffocating amounts of red peppers. Josh Ber’s desserts, on the other hand, almost seem under thought. Filling three cannoli with cream in the Italian ¬flag colors — green pistachio, white coconut and red maraschino cherry — is a cute idea, but the pastry tubes are limp. So is the tart shell that’s filled with a pond of dark, rich pudding to make a chocolate diplomatico; it’s thin without being crisp.

Screenshot 2015-10-30 13.39.20

All the desserts are gluten ¬free, a worthwhile goal, but the substitutions entail more sacrifice than they probably should. The meringue puff topped with lime custard is very good, but it could use company. By the end of the meal, though, if the noise ricocheting off the glass walls hasn’t gotten to you, you’re likely to be in a frame of mind that isn’t much bothered by limp pastry. Most of the food, particularly toward the top of the menu, is charming and playful in a way that’s hard to fight. The rice¬ salad concept applied to shrimp zingara is a lively, spicy hit. Beyond seafood, Santina has a very winning way with vegetables. Even when it stoops to using seasonal produce, it gives them a warm ¬weather brightness. Butternut squash discs, lightly scorched to char and soften their edges, get a topping of cracked pink peppercorns, pumpkinseeds and honey agrodolce that almost turns them into candy. Even the kale and sun choke salad, with pomegranate capsules strewn around like buckshot, tastes cheerful. Santina’s eternal sunshine is a kind of rebuke to dogmatic seasonality. It feels like an answer from Mr. Carbone, Mr. Torrisi and Mr. Zalaznick to the wintry Scandinavian visions that are now in fashion; to the chefs whose bleak, gnarled plates of sunchokes look like scenery left over from one of Ingmar Bergman’s gloomier excursions. If the people at Santina ever meet Death on the beach, they’re ready to kick sand on his blanket and challenge him to a game of volleyball.

Five Myths About Bella Italia

Posted by: Giovanna | October 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

Screenshot 2015-10-30 11.10.05

From USA Today:
“Italy may well be the European destination most beloved by American travelers. But stereotypes and misconceptions persist about the country.

Here are five myths about Italy that should be laid to rest.

1. When you visit Italy, you should avoid doing the touristy things, like taking a gondola ride in Venice, or hanging out on the Spanish Steps in Rome, where you’ll only meet other tourists.

“One of the reasons all roads lead to Rome is because most people want to see the Colosseum, St. Peter’s and the Pantheon,” says Elizabeth Minchilli, a resident of Rome and author of Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City.
“The same can be said for the Duomo in Florence or St. Mark’s Square in Venice. I would never tell someone not to go see these monuments. Yes, they are touristy, but they are also some of the most amazing sites in the world.” Minchilli does have some savvy advice for traveler to Italy, saying “you should plan your trip and visits accordingly to avoid feeling like a sardine. If you can plan your trip off season, November through March, this is the best time to avoid crowds.”
For those who can only visit in high season, she encourages visitors to “hire a tour guide, who can buy your tickets ahead of time and get you in the back doors. While things like taking a gondola ride may seem touristy, it’s also one of the most amazing ways to see Venice, from the water. But even in this case, seek out a gondolier who will take you off into the lesser charted canals. Like most major tourist cities in Italy a few blocks can make the world of difference.”
Indeed, this is also the advice of Italian expert Kathy McCabe, host of the new PBS series Dream of Italy and publisher of the Dream of Italy blog. “You’ve dreamed of taking a gondola ride in Venice your entire life,” she says. “Why not do it? Who cares if there are lots of other travelers doing the same thing?” That said, McCabe suggests that travelers “make time for experiences that put you in touch with locals. I recommend taking at least one cooking class and scheduling a meal in a local home through Home Food.”

2. Women cannot go out alone in Italy without being harassed.
While that may have been true 30 years ago, Minchilli says that things have gotten a bit better these days. That said, she says that “Italians have a slightly different definition of harassment. For most Italian males, following a woman down the street with their eyes is a major form of compliment. ”
McCabe agrees, asking “Do Italian men notice women more than their American counterparts? Perhaps. But that usually means a polite hello or a smile. Italy is an absolutely safe and pleasant place for women to travel alone and I’ve done it many times.”

3. Pickpockets are everywhere in major Italian cities.
“Aren’t pickpockets a problem in major cities everywhere?” Minchilli asks. “I think that many tourists get to Florence, Venice or Rome and since everything looks so beautiful, get into a ‘this is Disneyland’ frame of mind and forget this is the real world, and these are big cities.”She adds that major monuments and crowds can be distracting and that part of the problem is that many tourists are coming from small towns and cities where pickpockets are not a problem. “My advice,” says Minchilli, “is always to leave as many credit cards, documents and cash in your hotel safe, and just be aware at all times.”

4. It’s hard to eat healthfully in Italian restaurants because you’re expected to order a four-course meal, from an antipasto to a primo, and a secondo, followed by dessert.
The Italian diet, Minchilli points out, is one of the healthiest in the world. “I could write a book about it, ” she says, “and in fact I did, but here are a few facts to keep you on track. You never have to order a four-course meal in a restaurant. One course, plus a vegetable or antipasto, is just fine if that’s what you want.”McCabe notes that while there are rituals to Italian meals, bending the rules is not that difficult.”I think when someone first arrives in Italy they might follow the ‘traditional’ menu but they soon realize they can’t walk all of that off,” she says. “Italian waiters are generally very accommodating. There’s no wrong way to order.” It’s helpful to remember, that portion sizes are much smaller in Italy, Minchilli adds, “So if you want to order that extra course, go ahead. It’s probably less food than you thought. Order from the ‘contorno’ or side dish part of the menu. Ask your waiter what fresh vegetables there are for the day, and order some of those as one of your courses.”

5. Pizza is pretty the same in Italy as it is back home in the U.S.
You might change your mind when you go to Italy, say both experts. “Even though pizza has had a major upgrade in places like San Francisco, L.A. and New York, the stuff that comes with the delivery man to your front door has nothing in common with what Italians are eating,” Minchilli says. “When Italians go out for pizza, they head to their local pizzeria, which usually has a wood-burning oven. Once there each person orders their own, single serving-sized pizza. Pizzas rarely have more than three toppings and sometimes less, and are never overloaded with cheese as they are in the States.” McCabe also claims that pizza is much better in Italy, adding that “in the Naples episode of the Dream of Italy PBS series, I take a pizza-making lesson with a master and learn the ins and outs of traditional pizza margherita. There is even debate within Italy if the pizza in Naples is better than anywhere else in the country. Some say it is the local water. Others credit the fresh local ingredients like buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes grown in rich soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.” One thing most critics agree upon is that the pizza tastes different depending on where you travel in the country. Minchilli points out that pizza in Naples has a softer, thicker crust while in Rome it’s paper-thin and a bit crispy. And if you’re traveling to the north of Italy? “You better hope there is a southern Italian slinging pies,” Minchilli says, “since it’s definitely not a northern Italian thing.”

Venice’s Best Wine Bars (and Pubs)

Posted by: Claudia | October 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

Screenshot 2015-10-30 10.45.57

“For those looking to take advantage of the social scene in Venice, or perhaps even for those who will need a break from all of their tourist activities, there are plenty of bars to choose from in Venice. Wine bars in Venice are also known as cichetteria. These are some of favorites:

Al Marca
(Campo Cesare Battisti, near the fish market, just off the Rialto bridge in San Polo). Perhaps our favorite in the city. Good for wine, aperitifs (try the local favorite: spritz con Aperol or Campari), and mini sandwiches with wine in the evening and coffee in the morning. Stand outside in the campo with the rest of the crowd — this bar is just a hole in the wall place.

Al Postali Wine Bar

Al Postali Wine Bar

La Cantina
A: 3689 Strada Nuova, Cannaregio; Tel#: 041522 8258. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sunday. Very good place, with good wines and probably the best tasty small plates of meats and seafood.

I Rusteghi
A: Campiello del Tentor San Marco; Tel#:041/523 2205. Just off the Rialto bridge and right around the corner from Alle Botte in the corner of a small campo, it’s a little more upscale than Alle Botte and its less busy atmosphere allows for interactions with the family behind the bar. Drinks and small sandwiches. The frizzante rose is worth a try.

Banco Giro
A: 122 Campo San Giacometto, San Polo; Tel#: 39-041 523 2061. In summer, open 10:30 a.m. to midnight. Closed Sunday night and all day Monday. Good place, very laid-back and usually not too busy. You can find this bar behind the markets on the right side immediately after you descend from the Rialto Bridge. Banco Giro also serves sit-down dinners in the quaint upstairs.

Harry’s Bar
A: Calle Vallaresso. This is perhaps the most famous and popular bar in Venice. It is so full of history and has a magnificent interior. Your Venice experience really isn’t complete until you have been here.

Al Marca wine bar

Al Marca wine bar

Zen Cafe
A: Via Torre Belfredo. In the heart of this Italian tourist hot spot you can find a truly oriental bar experience. Everything from the dress of the staff to the light decor adds to the unique experience. The drink is great and the food isn’t too bad either!!

Ai Canottieri
(Sestiere Cannaregio) This bar is suited to different people depending on the time of day that you visit. The daytime atmosphere is relaxed whilst in the evening things become a bit livelier, although it is certainly not packed to the rafters like in certain other bars, but this is a positive feature as it gives you breathing space in which to enjoy your drink.

Al Volta
A: Calle Cavalli.If you love wine and enjoy the tale behind the experience even more then you simply must visit this wine bar. It is the oldest wine bar in the city and has a wine list the length of your arm……well 9 arms actually. You can taste before your buy and mix with the locals.

Ai Postali
A: Fondamenta Rio Marin.
Love this bar for providing an experience which can surely only be experienced in Venice. You can moor your boat underneath the terrace and pop in for a fine local beer. This bar is popular with the locals which gives it an authentic Venetian feel.


IF YOU GO…Stresa

Posted by: Giovanna | October 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

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The famous town of Stresa (Italy, 5000 inhabitants, 200 m above sea level) enjoys a splendid location on Lake Maggiore in the Gulf of Borromeo, where it overlooks the eponymous islands, the main attraction in the region. Its beautiful countryside, architectural gems and mild climate combine to make Stresa one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. The Borromean Islands, with their stunning palaces and ornamental gardens, are an unmissable destination for aesthetes. Luxury villas and opulent Art Nouveau hotels line the elegant lakeside, which is ideal for a tranquil stroll. Since the late 19th century Stresa has been renowned for its sophisticated atmosphere and genteel visitors, and today still enjoys an impressive roster of cultural, musical and meeting events.

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Where to Nosh…
(Suggestions from an A&B Client): Go to Gigi Bar for a cappuccino and the famous apple tart. Then go to Rampolina delle Streghe for a traditional meal (dinner) with a magnificent view from the hills surrounding Stresa/ Tel#: 0323 923415; A: Via Per Someraro Campino 13, 28838. Have the risotto with pear, gorgonzola and walnuts and also their pickled veggies are great.