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Vino 101: Prosecco

Posted by: Giovanna | July 29th, 2015 | No Comments »

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Prosecco is a sparkling frizzante (or still) wine, made from the Glera grape. The most common style of Prosecco as we know it comes in the sparkling style. It is not the methode Champenoise (fermented in the bottle), but rather the method Italiano (fermented in a large pasteurization chamber of an autoclave), also known as Metodo Charmat-Martinotti.

In the same way you can’t label French sparkling wine champagne unless the grapes are actually grown in the Champagne region of France, you can’t label Italian sparkling wine prosecco unless the grapes are grown in the Veneto or the Friuli regions of northeastern Italy. Drinking prosecco in the region where it originated, you can be 99.9% sure it will be a good quality and the real deal, not a sparkling wine made from another kind of grape.

Can you order prosecco no matter where you are in Italy? According to our A&B wine expert, prosecco can be found anywhere in Italy, but the area known for producing the finest prosecco is around Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Both are about one hour from Venice. There you will find the best prosecco to be had in Italy. The only way to know for sure if what you’re drinking is true prosecco is to read the label.

Florence – Top Ten Coffee shops

Posted by: Claudia | July 29th, 2015 | No Comments »

Some of the Renaissance City's Top Cafes...

Some of the Renaissance City's Top Cafes...

10 Caffè Paszkowski
A: Piazza della Repubblica 35R. Tel# +39 055 210236, +39 055 2691105. W:
You’ll find bars and coffee places all over Piazza della Repubblica, but if you are looking for something that truly takes you back, Paszkowski’s can offer you the delicious drink you are searching for. You should think about walking up to the bar like a true Italian and having your drink handed to you by the suited and kind staff. Paired with a pastry or an appetizer off the menu, you can spend your mid-morning looking out onto the piazza and enjoying the carousel and the crowds that appear in the area. Because it’s in such a central location, you can pretty much get to any sight you want to see within ten minutes.

9 Caffe Notte
A: Via delle Caldaie 18. Tel#: 39 055 223067.
When you need to get away from the touristy spots, Caffe Notte offers a safe haven with great drinks and a fun crowd. You can imagine it as a modern, artists’ haven, and whether you want coffee or something a little stronger, sitting at a table here will guarantee that you won’t hear any English. The staff might understand you, so offering up a little bit of your Italian and giving it a try can add to the experience. They also have some freshly-baked pastries that are a buttery and savory way to start your morning before you head to the other side of the river to see some sights.

8 Finisterrae
A: Piazza di Santa Croce. Tel#: 39 055 263 8675
It can be hard to find the perfect place to sit and drink your coffee with a view. Florence’s best is usually tucked away and difficult to find for a reason. However, Finisterrae does an excellent job of catering to the multiple groups of tourists who arrive at the church of Santa Croce where Michelangelo and others are buried. Ask for an espresso or a foamy cappuccino and enjoy people-watching. You’ll want to get there before too many people show up–it’s one of the most frequented areas and tables are snatched up by lunch hour. Think about heading here before you go out sight-seeing. (39 055 263 8675)

7 Popcafé
A: 18 Piazza di Santo Spirito. Tel#: 055 217475. W:
If you are looking for something that diverges from the typical old-school cafe, Popcafe can be a fun place to go on the other side of the river. Not far from the church of Santo Spirito, it’s one of the best places to order specialty coffees. They are happy to make a traditional cappuccino or something a bit extra for you if you just ask. Also a good place for lunch, it can be the perfect place to stop after touring Santo Spirito or before you think about grabbing a mouth-watering panino from one of the many shops that surround the church. (055 217475)

6 Rivoire
A: Via Vacchereccia, 4R. Tel#: +39 055 214412.W: Hours:Daily 8am-10pm
It would be a shame not to sample some of Florence’s best chocolate, and when you stop at Riviore, you are only getting artisan-made products. Between their scrumptious pastries filled with dark chocolate made in-house or their thick, pudding-like hot chocolate, this is a chocolate-lover’s paradise. Whether you feel in the mood for a coffee in the beautiful and famous Piazza Signoria or you feel like grabbing a treat drenched in chocolate, this is your best bet. It’s also in a great location close to all the famous sights, so after you are done with your treat you can head out on your way once again. (+39 055 214412)

5 Osteria del Caffé Italiano/ Pizzeria del Caffé Italiano
A: Via Isola delle Stinche 11/13r. Tel#: +39 055 289020.
Harkening back to the old days of coffee culture, Osteria del Caffe Italiano has a grand decor, but it’s still comfortable and the opportunity to sit and enjoy can be wonderful when you have been on your feet all day. Not only do they have some well-made drinks, but they have some good menu options if you are planning on spending more than the time it takes to finish your espresso. While still maintaining the respect of Italian coffee culture, this place gives visitors a chance to stop and truly smell the coffee beans or a slice of delicious pizza.

4 Café Amerini
A: Via della Vigna Nuova 63r. Tel#:+39 055 284941 Hours:Mon-Sat 8am-8pm
Whether you have been out shopping all day or you are just walking the streets around the train station or Santa Maria Novella church, this can be the perfect place to stop and grab a quick cappuccino before heading out again. It also offers lunch, but the coffee is truly some of the best in Florence and when you are out and about, it can be the perfect place to grab something quickly–the staff is fast and friendly. Also, think about grabbing a brioche or two, they have some great options that will keep you coming back during your stay in Florence.

3 Astor
A: Piazza del Duomo, 20R. Tel#: +39 055 239 9318.
As a visitor to Florence, it’s inevitable that you will end up circling the great Duomo. When you are done gawking, think about stopping by Astor, which is tucked away and has a great menu. Not only is the coffee here worth a taste, but you might want to think about looking into some of their specialties. If you are missing the taste of American coffee and you want something to go, this is establishment to duck into. At night, it turns into a fun bar with some creative cocktails and events in the summer. Whether you go day or night, you can find something delicious to taste.

2 Volume
A: 5 Via di Santo Spirito..Tel#: 055 238 1460. W:
When you are on the other side of the Arno and you want to feel as though you can sit down and have a cup of coffee with a younger crowd, this is the place to go. A frequent favorite of locals, you’ll want to put on your best Italian and avoid ordering in English. In the evenings, they serve some great beer to take out on the steps of the Santo Spirito church. Even though it’s a fun place to go at night, where the place really shines through is as a local coffee spot where you can sit and enjoy in an overstuffed chair.

1 Caffe Donnini
A: Piazza della Repubblica, 15. Tel#: 39 055 213694.
Caffe Donnini has been a staple of the Florence cafe scene since 1894. A quiet cafe in the mornings and afternoons, you can easily tuck yourself away with an espresso or cappuccino for a fair price and in a great location. There are several high-quality coffee places located in the Piazza della Repubblica, but Donnini has been around the longest and remains a favorite of celebrities and locals alike. As one of the gathering places of artists and writers since its opening, the coffee shop still attracts creative types taking advantage of the city and the art and history in that area. The interior harkens back to the golden age of European expats, and the pastries are to die for.

Source: USA Today /10 Best

Four spots to visit when on Capri…

Posted by: Claudia | July 29th, 2015 | No Comments »

Monte Solaro Chairlift

Monte Solaro Chairlift

Four spots to visit when on Capri…

Monte Solaro
The chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro, the highest point of the island of Capri, lies within easy walking distance of the hotel. It takes just 12 minutes to reach the summit of the mountain, where you’ll find a bar and viewing terraces.
Our tip: travel up to the top of the mountain by chairlift, but make the return journey on foot. On your way back down, pay a visit to the gorgeous little hermitage of Cetrella: the most enchanting (and panoramic!) house of worship on Capri.

Grotta Azzurra
Not everybody knows that you can reach Capri’s Grotta Azzurra on foot (or by bus). From the center of Anacapri, the road leads all the way down to the sea and the jetty located next to the entrance of the famous blue grotto. From here, you can climb aboard one of the little rowing boats and sail inside the cave.
Our tip: in the summer, you may have to queue to enter the cave. Go early in the morning (about 9.00) or late in the afternoon, to avoid the crowds.

Villa Axel Munthe
Hotel Caesar Augustus is located within steps of the museum-house built by the Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe in the late 19th century. Munthe chose the site for its spectacular view, the same view which can be seen from our terraces.
Our tip: ask our concierge to see the calendar of events. During the summer, concerts and performances are regularly held in the villa’s garden

Punta Carena Lighthouse

Punta Carena Lighthouse

Punta Carena Lighthouse
On the westernmost tip of the island, Capri’s “faro” is one of the tallest lighthouses in Italy (second only to Genova’s “lanterna”). The beach beneath the lighthouse provides an idyllic spot from where to admire the sun setting over the sea. Our tip: if you’re a lover of the sun and sea, this is the place for you. The sunshines on the beach from dawn until dusk, the water is always crystal clear, and there are some great beach clubs and snack bars.

Lake Garda Ristoranti: Esplanade e Al Gondoliere

Posted by: Laurena | July 28th, 2015 | No Comments »

Lago di Garda

Lago di Garda

Two of the more highly rated restaurants on Lake Garda…

> Esplanade
A: Via Lario, 10
25015 Desenzano del Garda
Tel#: +390309143361. E: W: Hours: 1230PM – 2PM Luncheon; 730PM –10PM Dinner; CLOSED Wednesdays. This restaurant has been run by the same management for the past 30 years. It stands in a panoramic location overlooking the lake and specialises in top quality fresh fish and seafood. For a truly romantic dinner, book one of the tables on the quayside.

> Ristorante Al Gondoliere
A: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, 6. 37018 Malcesine
Tel#:+39 045 7400046. W: E: One of highest rated of Lake Garda restaurants on Trip Advisor.

Most Overlooked Italian Isles

Posted by: Giovanna | July 28th, 2015 | No Comments »



One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Italy has few, if any, unexplored corners. Places like Capri or Taormina can sometimes seem like a caricature of themselves, their natural beauty suffocating amidst tourist hoards and souvenir shops. Yet, many spots are still as authentic and pristine as they were some 50 years ago. Italian islands that have escaped the trap of mass tourism are fascinating in their rugged beauty. Their popularity ranges from unpolished and virtually unknown to non-Italians to those that are frequented by the rich and the famous.

What these unique islands have in common is unspoilt nature – and total absence of package tourists.
Here are the Most Overlooked Italian Isles:

1. Giglio
The island of Giglio belongs to the Tuscan Archipelago, famous for the bigger and much more crowded Elba and the uninhabited Montecristo Island. Giglio is basically a granite rock with only a few patches of cultivated land and a wild untouched feeling about it.
It has a handful of hotels and restaurants, which are quite modest, but offer very good value for money. Giglio is a good base to explore other Tuscan islands. However, keep in mind that the Tuscan archipelago is a marine reserve and access to some islands, notably Montecristo and Pianosa, is restricted to protect the environment. Besides, the island of Gorgona is a site of a penal colony, and no tourists are allowed to disembark on it.
Getting there: By ferry from Porto Santo Stefano in Tuscany. Ferries run several times each day throughout the year.

2. Pantelleria
This arid and incredibly windy volcanic island has been a favourite retreat of many celebrities, including Gérard Depardieu, Sting and Madonna. Pantelleria is an enchanted place, with steam spraying from the rocks, with mud baths and sauna caves, fumaroles and thermal sources. The emerald Specchio di Venere lake has healing waters that are fed by thermal springs.
Pantescan dammusi, unique lava stone houses with whitewashed cupola roofs, have been converted into chic hotels or solitary rented homes. A visit to Pantelleria is also a gastronomic delight. Highly recommended is the local Passito wine and dishes such as bitter ravioli, stuffed aubergines, fish couscous and the famous capers.
Getting there: Daily overnight ferries run from Trapani year round, with faster hydrofoil services available in the summer months. Planes fly in daily from Palermo and Trapani, with additional direct flights fromRome and Milan in the summer.

3. Lampedusa
Of all the Italian islands, Lampedusa is perhaps the most notorious due to its illegal immigrant problem. This southernmost Italian territory is situated just 113 km from Tunisia and is geographically in Africa rather than Europe.
It could have been described as bleak and arid, had it not been for some of Italy’s most beautiful beaches and lagoons. One of the cultural highlights of the island is on the 22nd of September, when a festival of Madonna di Lampedusa is celebrated with fireworks, processions, games and concerts. Getting there: Siremar ferries from Porto Empedocle near Agrigento run all year, on most, but not all, days of the week.



4. Ponza
Ponza is a beautiful, narrow and long island with ragged coast, cliffs, hidden coves and beaches, and picturesque houses lining the slopes of the hills. It is a well known and well-visited, yet largely unspoilt island where life seems to flow as it always has, untouched by the rush of meodernity.
The downside of Ponza’s popularity is a certain lack of privacy, but the facilities are many and the hotels good. The most dramatically beautiful spot of the island is the beach of Chiaia di Luna, which can only be reached through a Roman tunnel.
Getting there: The easiest way to reach Ponza is from Naples by SNAV hydrofoil with a connection at Ventotene.

5. Panarea
The smallest of the fabled Aeolian islands, Panarea is the favourite of the jet-set crowd. However, this island with a population of just over 200 is too small to accommodate any substantial number of tourists, and has only a handful of unique hotels and rented homes. Boasting views of Stromboli, Panarea is a paradisical get-away-from-it-all island with a lifestyle as laid-back and relaxed as it can get in Italy. No cars are allowed, and the only modes of transportation are the electric golf buggies and a few scooters.
Watching the stars is a truly magical experience on Panarea. There is no electric street lighting, only Moroccan lamps and lanterns to light up outside stairs and terraces in the dark.
Getting there: Siremar and Ustica Lines have daily hydrofoil services from Milazzo and Messina. There is also a hydrofoil and ferry connection from Naples, Palermo and Cefalú several times a week.

6. Favignana
Favignana, off Trapani in Sicily, is a smooth, sun-drenched and wind-blown island. Accommodation is simple and family-run and the lifestyle is unpretentious. Favignana’s western part is dominated by Montagna Grossa which, despite its name, rises to a mere 302m.
The eastern part of the island, is flatter and the jagged coastline is interrupted, here and there, with short stretches of sandy beach. You can take a boat from Favignana to other Egadi islands, of which Levanzo is particularly beautiful, even if somewhat unkempt.

La Maddalena - Sardinia

La Maddalena - Sardinia

7. La Maddalena
Off the north-east coast of Sardinia, La Maddalena islands boast pink sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. The main and the largest island that gave the name to the archipelago has a population of about 11 000.
La Maddalena is linked to the island of Caprera by a 600 metre long dam and together they are the only inhabited islands of the archipelago. The US Navy has a submarine tender stationed on the island of Santo Stefano, and consequently you will find many Americans living on La Maddalena. It is worth visiting the minor islands – Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria, which together form a beautiful lagoon of Porto Madonna.
Getting there: Year-round ferries from Palau in Northern Sardinia run frequently, up to four times an hour, 24 hours a day.

8. San Domino
The biggest of the Tremiti Islands off the Adriatic coast of Italy, San Domino is one of those hidden gems few people have heard of. Because of its isolated nature, in the year 1000 it was chosen as an hermitage for Benedictine monks, who subsequently moved to the neighbour island of San Nicola.
San Domino has a rugged coastline with secluded coves and beaches, where fragrant pine woods go right to the water’s edge. It is a diver’s paradise with rich marine life, underwater caves and even a Roman shipwreck. San Domino is the only of the Tremiti islands with tourist accommodation, even though San Nicola is the official administrative centre. Getting there: there are ferry and hydrofoil services from Trapani every day, operated by Siremar and Ustica Lines, as well as additional ferry services from Naples during the peak summer months (June to September)

24 hours in Lecce: 10 things to do and see

Posted by: admin | July 13th, 2015 | No Comments »

Sant’Oronzo Square - Lecce

Sant’Oronzo Square - Lecce

Lecce is an ancient and beautiful city known as the ‘Florence of the South’ because of its ornate Baroque buildings made from the pale-coloured local stone, called pietra leccese. It is one of the most important cities of Italy’s Apulia (Puglia) region, and also the capital of Lecce province. This lively city is buzzing with life every hour of the day. Its compact historical centre is easy to explore on foot and there’s a surprise at every turn, be it a bustling market, a fabulous Baroque building, or a piece of street theatre underway on one of the city’s many lovely squares.

The region of Apulia in Italy’s deep south is attracting more and more tourists every year because of its laid-back way of life, excellent local cuisine and beautiful white-sand beaches. Charming Lecce is definitely worth a stop…

Here are Ten Things to see and do:

1. Just a few steps away from Sant’Oronzo square, is the ‘half-buried’ Roman amphitheatre which was built in the century. It is ‘half-buried’ because it is now surrounded by other monuments, but it is still used for a variety of cultural events.

2. The Chiesa di Santa Croce is another important cultural and historical landmark. It has a beautiful rose window and a richly decorated façade. Have a closer look to spot all the fabulous sculpted details of animals like lions, dragons, and horses, as well as angels, shells, birds, shells and flowers. First built in 1144, this is an imposing cathedral with a 210-foot bell tower, one of the most important in the whole of Italy.

3. You can see skilled local craftsmen working the local stone “pietra leccese” in their workshops along Via Palmieri, in the old town. Beautiful statues, jewellery, lamps and other objects skilfully crafted out of this malleable material.

4. The Botanical Garden on Via Provinciale Lecce – Monterone is maintained by the University of Lecce and covers an area of over 5 acres with several hundred species of plants, trees and flowers.

5. La “passeggiata” is a late afternoon ritual across Italy, when the heat of the day has finally subsided and locals emerge to enjoy the remaining hours of the day. In Lecce,stretches late in the evenings, giving the city’s streets and squares an animated ambiance.

6. Lecce is known for its traditional handicrafts, especially the art of ‘papier maché’, known as ‘cartapesta’ in Italian, which dates back to the 17th century. There are many small shops selling paper statues, masks, dolls and toys made of this versatile material.

7. Apulia is known for its fabulous regional cuisine, and with Lecce’s many rustic restaurants and eateries, foodies are spoilt for choice. Try local specialties like fava beans pureed with chicory, and hand-made orecchiette (“little ears”) pasta with ‘cime di rapa’ (a type of green). Experience eating in a “norcinera”, or artisan butchers, at Il Simposio (Via Dei Veradi, 7, Tel: +39 0832 277 819), or have a meal in a typical macelleria at Pio Bove which is known for its meat dishes.

An excellent place for breakfast. brunch or lunch in the heart of the historic city centre is Doppio Zero (Via Guglielmo Paladini, 2). Its interior is a mix of modern and classical, with a couple of long convivial wooden tables for those who don’t mind sharing a meal with others. On the menu are excellent cured meats and cheeses, organic breads and homemade pasta.

8. Of course no visit to an Italian city is complete without gelato. The place to go in Lecce is Pasticceria-Gelateria Natale (Via Trinchese, 7), the city’s finest and most popular ice cream and cake shop, located just off Piazza Sant’Oronzio. Open from early morning until late into the night, this is a veritable temple of chocolate, gelato and pastry delights.

9. This region is also famous for its excellent wines, like Primitivo (similar to Zinfandel) and Negroamaro, a red wine grape variety grown almost exclusively in Apulia.

10. Must try: The Lecce specialty called caffè in ghiaccio con latte di mandorla (espresso with ice and almond milk).

Posted in Luxury Travel Blog: By Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande on Jan 20, 2015 in Attractions, Europe, Food and Drink,Going Out, Italy.

Top Golf Courses in Puglia

Posted by: Claudia | July 13th, 2015 | No Comments »

San Domenico Golf Club- Apulia

San Domenico Golf Club- Apulia

Puglia is home to some of the world’s most coveted golf courses and a luxury private villa is the perfect place for families to base themselves while holidaying in the region.
With fabulous food, fascinating culture, friendly locals and fantastic attractions, Italy has it all. That’s what makes it one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations. Even golf lovers are in their element, with a myriad of world class courses peppered across the country. And here are some of the best tee-offs the Puglia region has to offer!

Set just over 7km inland from the beautiful Adriatic Sea, this coveted Mediterranean golf course is just minutes away from the pristine beaches at San Cataldo Marina di Lecce. The 18-hole course was designed by famous American architect Michael Hurdzan and has a par of 71. Lakes and streams wind through the course while the wind factor adds a challenging element for avid golf enthusiasts. This Puglian golf course – which is part of the Hilton DoubleTree resort – is a picturesque spot for golfing, and the rest of the family will love staying nearby.

San Domenico
This 18-hole championship club is renowned as one of the Mediterranean’s finest golf courses. It sits on the shores of the crystalline Adriatic Sea and is currently home to the PGA European Challenge Tour Grand Final. Enjoy lush green grounds, incredible ocean views and architecture dreamt up by the experts at European Golf Design.

Barialto Golf Club
Barialto Golf Course is in a highly coveted location, close to the beautiful city of Bari. The natural surroundings of the course are so beautiful that you may get distracted when aiming for those bogies! With a huge lily covered lake, an ancient olive grove and an abundance of umbrella pines and palm trees, this 18-hole course is a real treat for the eyes.

Riva dei Tessali Resort
Fancy teeing off on one of the oldest and largest golf courses in Southern Italy? This resort features 170 hectares of golf course, separated by a white sandy beach and a traditional clubhouse. Take in stunning views of the Ionian coast from Taranto, where the Riva dei Tessali Hotel and Golf Resort is located.

Source: By Chiara Tenuzzo on Jun 18, 2015 in Attractions, Europe, Going Out, Italy, Leisure Travel,Regions, Speciality Travel. Chiara Tenuzzo is Director of Aria Luxury Apulia.

Otranto…Things To Do

Posted by: admin | July 13th, 2015 | No Comments »

Historic Castello Aragonese

Historic Castello Aragonese

The peninsula of Salento is a favorite Italian destination and one reason people keep coming back. Located deep in Italy’s south, Salento is the ‘heel’ of its ‘boot’, part of the region of Puglia, located at the edges of both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Its generous sunshine, typical whitewashed houses, baroque architecture, wonderful sandy beaches, crystal blue waters and fabulous cuisine draw many visitors during the summer months.

Local menus feature fresh fish and seafood like mussels, squid, octopus and anchovies. A must-try is the regional pasta called orecchiette (little ears) served with fresh tomato sauce and ricotta salata (salty ricotta cheese) or cime di rapa (a green vegetable belonging to the broccoli family). Puglia also produces high quality olive oil and renowned wines like Salice Salentino, a deep red made with Negroamaro grapes, and the Primitivo di Manduria made of Primitivo grapes. This region is rich in history and culinary delights and highly recommended for a visit to the charming town of Otranto, one of Salento’s most vibrant towns.

Here’s five things to see and do:
1. Visit the historic Castello Aragonese
The Castello Aragonese is a castle made of beautiful old stones and surrounded by a moat. Recently renovated, this historic structure is well preserved and has been turned into an art space where many high-profile exhibitions have been held, like a retrospective on Andy Warhol’s work, as well as the works by local artists. A visit here is also worth it for the breathtaking rooftop view of the sea and marina from one side and over the white-washed buildings of the town on the other.

2. See the spectacular mosaic floors in the Cathedral of Otranto
The highlight of Otranto’s majestic cathedral is the stunning mosaics covering its entire floor. Covering 700 square feet, the mosaic is a depiction of the Tree of Life with images decorating its spreading branches. While there are many biblical scenes visible, there are also the signs of the zodiac, images from the game of chess, references to Greek mythology, images of King Arthur and others taken from Scandinavian mythology and pre-Islamic Persia. Commissioned by the archbishop, work on this masterpiece started in 1163 and took four years to complete. It was restored in 1993.

3. Join the locals on the evening passeggiata
Once the heat of the day has settled and the sun starts its descent, locals descend on the lungomare, the seaside promenade, for a leisurely stroll and some serious socialising. La passeggiata is a favourite evening pastime in towns and cities across Italy. A stop at the popular Pasticceria Martinucci for some Italian gelato is an absolute must. If it’s too crowded, try again on your way back – they stay open late.

4. Have lunch at the fantastic L’Altro Baffo
This is definitely one of the best restaurants in Otranto. Located just a stone’s throw away from the Castello Aragonese, this small and friendly family-run restaurant serves up traditional local cuisine presented in a contemporary and stylish way. The changing menu reflects what’s in season, featuring the freshest produce, homemade pasta, and fish from that morning’s catch. The staff is welcoming and professional and happy to suggest the perfect local wine to complement your meal.

5. Take a boat tour
The sea here beckons you to explore its blue waters from up close. Onda Blu organises exclusive boat trips along the Salento coast, stopping at spectacular caves on the way and anchoring in pristine waters perfect for a refreshing swim. Private mini-cruises are also available on a beautiful 13-metre wooden boat which can carry 3 to 4 persons for a private outing to remember.

Source: By Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande on Apr 28, 2015 in Attractions, Cruises & Boat Travel,Europe, Going Out, Italy.

The Best Spots on the Italian Riviera

Posted by: Giovanna | April 20th, 2015 | No Comments »

Santa Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita Ligure

Although the entire stretch of the Ligurian coastline known as the Italian Riviera is beautiful, there are some towns and locations within the region that merit special attention.

San Remo
The town closest to the French border at the western side of the Riviera is San Remo. High-rise free, this part of the coastline seems to uphold the image being projected by the Riviera and its magnificent albeit hedonistic way of life. Luxury villas lined with palm trees, long expansive beaches with cabana filled beach clubs and a large walk along the Mediterranean.
Flowers abound in pretty San Remo, a friendly reminder that this is the source of all the flowers needed to manufacture special scents.

Within San Remo, there is a large and lively old section known as Pigna, a medieval town where weekly flea markets are held every Saturday. There is also a huge indoor food market overflowing with local produce and wine. In Pigna there is a hill that tourists climb just to get a breathtaking view of the Levante and the Ponente. The Russian Orthodox Church, which was built for visiting Russian aristocrats, was also constructed in San Remo as specifically requested by the aristocrats who were attracted to the mild weather in the region.
The nightlife is alive and well in this region, with San Remo serving as the site of the glittering Casino Municipal. Just like in Monte Carlo, residents of San Remo are forbidden to play in the casino.

San Remo

San Remo

The port city of Genoa stands right at the center of the narrow stretch of the Ligurian coastline known as the Italian Riviera. The biggest commercial port of Italy, Genoa is the capital of Liguria and the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. During the time of the Romans, it served as an important maritime center for the empire and, during the period of the Renaissance, was known as one of the richest cities of Renaissance Europe. An old port city, Genoa is a mixture of the old and the new, the elegant and the squalid, the historic and the modern. Remnants of the Roman Empire are still available within the town’s medieval walls right next to the tenement homes. Stretching for several miles from the hills to the coast, Genoa lives up to its reputation as the cultural capital of Europe, a title it won in 2004 and which it most likely will be able to continually hold via its theaters, museums, restaurants, cafes, shopping centers and Europe’s largest aquarium. Today, Genoa is alive and bustling at all times of the day and night with its steady influx of tourists and visitors, its restaurants, night clubs, museums and a lot of other colourful and exciting things happening around it.



One of the prettiest harbors in Italy, Portofino is known as Liguria’s jewel. Its multicoloured houses and stunning seaside scenery all contribute to give this tiny harbor town a picture-perfect milieu and make it one of the most visually appealing of all areas within the region of Liguria or the Italian Riviera. Although not as busy as its neighbouring towns, Portofino is nonetheless the best place to go to enjoy and marvel at the magnificence and serenity of the cliffs that surround and protect this once tiny fishing village as well as its magnificent coastline. First described by Pliny and given the name ‘Portus Delphini’, it was the wealthy Italians who discovered Portofino and developed it as a quiet getaway secluded and protected from the frenzy and hassle of city life. Luxury villas perch on the hills of Portofino overlooking the marina where yachts and private boats bob on the water below set against the vibrantly coloured dwellings of fishermen. There are very few beaches and hotels in the picture-perfect Portofino. What there are in abundance are bars, boutiques, nightclubs and fishing boats. Portofino is well known for its world-famous visitors like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, just to name a few.

Santa Margherita Ligure
One ferry ride from Portofino takes you to Santa Margherita Ligure, one of the main resorts of the Italian Riviera. It is also that one spot in the Riviera where vehicular traffic abounds in every corner of the town. One well-known and highly recommended hotel in this resort is the Splendido Hotel. Owned by the prestigious Orient Express Group that owns some of the world’s finest hotels, the Splendido Hotel is a grand hotel in every sense of the world. A favorite among British aristocracy who used the hotel for their discreet trysts with partners other than their spouse, Splendido Hotel was ‘discovered’ by well-known Hollywood stars as well as Europe’s leading politicians and industrialists. The vibrant and modern luxury stores at Santa Margherita Ligure which some people call a shopper’s haven, are wonderful shops to go to for a fine day of expensive shopping. One can pick up a painting or two by one of Italy’s painters Massimo Meda or purchase designer home furnishings, original Lacoste shirts, and designer clothes from brand-name shops. Choose from a wide variety of brands — Marina Yachting, D&G, Harmont & Blaine. If you are shopping for something bigger, like a yacht perhaps, then stop by the Ferreti Yachts office to place your order for your very own yacht.

Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre or region of the Five Lands, as it has been known since the 15th century, is a series of five small villages sitting on the cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea. These tiny villages, which are accessible mainly by train or by foot using the paths that connect them with one another are brightly coloured and create a mountain cliff setting that is overwhelmingly beautiful.

The five small villages — Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore, and Vernazza — are individually lovely and possess a personality all its own. Corniglia is built in the higher part of the mountain, which allows it to offer magnificent views and an even more secluded beach. Manarola is a fishing village whose colourful houses are perched on a rock above the port. Monterosso al Mare was founded in 643 and boasts of the most famous beach in the region, a 16th century Capuchin monastery, and an ancient castle. Riomaggiore is a picturesque village with pastel coloured houses crawling down the cliff to the sea. Vernazza juts out over the sea and houses a medieval tower. Although the train only travels nine kilometers from the first village to the last, the most exhilarating and fulfilling way to visit these villages is to go by foot, following the paths that intertwine and connect the villages. The walk takes anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. While it may seem overwhelming at first, those who have walked through these tiny villages speak only of having an lovely time.

Milano Ristoranti- Four of the Best…

Posted by: Giovanna | March 28th, 2015 | No Comments »

Milan is full of wonderful and exciting places to eat out, with a wide choice of every kind of food imaginable. The many stylish locations in Milan and wide variety of superb, mouth-watering menus, often with an emphasis on fish, make Milan dining an enjoyable experience. Pasta, combined with excellent local produce, such as fresh tomatoes, olive oil and rich Italian cheeses, all combine to create the wonderful and delightful flavors associated with Italy. Whether you are looking for a romantic meal for two or trendy, lively Milan dining, the only problem is deciding where to go as there are so many restaurants in Milan to choose from!

Here are four of the best:

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> Cracco
Via Victor Hugo, 4; Tel#: 02-876774; W:
Credit cards accepted; Closed 3 wks in Aug. and last wk in Dec. Sept.–June: no lunch Sat. and Mon., closed Sun.
$$$. Tasting menus are a good way to savor many of chef Carlo Cracco’s delicate inventions at this crisply elegant restaurant, though an à la carte menu is also available. Specialties include Milanese classics revisited—Cracco’s take on saffron risotto and cotoletta (breaded veal cutlet) should not be missed. Delightful appetizers and desserts vary seasonally, but may include scampi cream with freshwater shrimp, a disk of “caramelized Russian salad,” and mango cream with mint gelatin.

> Centrale
Via Pertuso, 4; Tel#: 0372-28701;; Credit cards accepted. CLOSED: Thursdays and July.
Close to the cathedral, this old-style trattoria is a favorite among locals for traditional regional fare, such as succulent cotechino (pork sausage) and tortelli di zucca (a small pasta with pumpkin filling), at moderate prices. Centrale prides itself on its bolliti, boiled meats like veal tongue and cheek, which are served with salsa verde (a sauce of parsely and capers), as well as Cremona’s most famous condiment, mostarda, a spicy, candied fruit.

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> Giacomo Arengario
Via Guglielmo Marconi 1; Tel#: 02/7209-3814;;
OPEN: Seven days a week, 12pm-Midnight. (Next to Milan Duomo).
Adored by the fashion and finance set, Giacomo’s fish restaurant, bistro and patisserie are joined by this latest locale that’s equal parts swank positioning and exquisite food. Looming high above the majestic Piazza Duomo, Giacomo Arengario’s opulent belle-époque–style interiors are as dramatic as the view of the cathedral’s spires. What to eat: The combination of earthy spelt with plump mussels and clams creates an unforgettable spaghetti dish. When berries are in season, don’t skip the raspberry custard tart.

> Unico Milano
Viale Achille Papa,30; E: (Top floor of Skyscraper WJC); Tel#: 02/3926-1025.
With a Michelin star under his belt for a restaurant he helmed in Rome, Fabio Baldassarre is one of Italy’s talented new generation of chefs. Sitting atop a skyscraper on the edge of Milan, Unico Restaurant is his love note to high-end cuisine. What to eat: Beetroot gnocchi on potato mousse with smoked ricotta cheese and black truffle Note: Book the table inside the kitchen and watch the chefs chop, glaze and braise with finesse. Every Sunday, Unico Restaurant hosts a themed brunch, laying out a cornucopia of dishes based on a region of Italy or a decadent food pairing, such as early November’s not-to-be-missed feast of mollusks and Champagne.

For a complete list of A&B recommended Milano ristoranti, email: .