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Toronto’s Best Italian Eateries

Posted by: Claudia | September 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »

Queen's Pasta Cafe - Toronto

Queen's Pasta Cafe - Toronto

Americans are mostly surprised to find that Canada’s Toronto actually has a “Little Italy” section in this fair city. In fact Toronto residents are lucky to have a healthy dose of the Cucina d’Italia in their neighborhoods.

The authoritative food critic Ten Best has helped here with its owned list compiled by Courtney Sunday, a local Toronto resident. Ranked by them here are ten of Toronto’s best Italian eateries…Mangia!

10 Grazie Ristorante
www.grazie.ca
2373 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P 2C8, Canada
+1 416-488-0822
Grazie claims that it “hasn’t been quiet since” opening in 1990. Their website is filled with photos of happy customers, stories of opening and odes to ingredients (like the anchovy or tomato). The place attracts crowds, couples and families and it has an energetic atmosphere. You can dress your pasta in cream sauce, tomato sauce, tomato cream sauce or extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Personal pizzas are quite large and could certainly be shared if appetizers are enjoyed to start. Pasta and pizza are prepared per order, and the freshness is reflected in each bite. All this for a price tag that is reasonably low for a night out in Toronto.

9 Queen’s Pasta Cafe
www.queenspastacafe.com
2263 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6S 1N8, Canada
+1 416-766-0993
By the name of this restaurant, we are certain that you can easily tell it is not the place to order pizza. Queen’s Pasta does pasta spectacularly well. It is served perfectly cooked and handmade to perfection, from striped butternut squash agnolotti to exquisite cheesy tortellini hats. There over 15 pasta dishes and the dimly lit small restaurant in Bloor West Village invites an air of romance. During the summer, the space expands with a big open air patio that is great for nursing your glass of wine. If you are a fan of the pasta, consider buying some wholesale and keeping it in your freezer. Go on…embrace your inner carb lover.

8 Trattoria Giancarlo
http://www.giancarlotrattoria.com/
41 Clinton St, Toronto, ON M6J 2N9, Canada
+1 416-533-9619
We had to move our way over to Little Italy eventually when talking about the best Italian restaurants. Trattoria Giancarlo is an intimate restaurant that prepares exceptional menu items with care and precision. Wine bottles are displayed on the walls with price tags in full view which makes for a unique wine selection process. Menu items are often rich, such as gnocchi with lobster and leek pesto cream. Osso bucco melts in your mouth. Risotto is made fresh and will take half an hour from ordering. All the better to take the edge off with an appetizer or two, such as baked mushrooms with grilled polenta that will set the standards.

Ascari Enoteca

Ascari Enoteca

7 Ascari Enoteca
www.ascarienoteca.ca
1111 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1K7, Canada
+1 416-792-4157
“We love food. We love wine. We love racing.” So declares the website of Ascari Enoteca, named after 1950s racing legend Alberto Ascari. Pastas are made fresh in house every single day and the menu changes both seasonally and locally. There are a nice variety of red and white wine by the bottle or the glass, but you can also pamper yourself with a flight and have 2oz pours of some fine selections. Appetizers are simple but executed beautifully, such as warm lemons dusted with lemon zest. The pasta sauces complement the fresh noodles, with ingredients from homemade sausage to pork shoulder with cream sauce. Flawless food in reasonable portions; this is a neighbourhood restaurant that shines.

6 Tutti Matti
tuttimatti.com; 364 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1R7, Canada
+1 416-597-8839
Some people have been to Italy and fondly remember the flavours. For others, the closest they have come is watching Under the Tuscan Sun on the W Network. In either case, going to Tutti Matti is a flavour experience that is rare in downtown Toronto. Chef Alida Solomon trained in Tuscany and her succinct menu celebrates Tuscan flavours. Her kitchen is open concept in the middle of the restaurant. Meals are robust, like wild boar ragu that will make your eyes roll back in your head in pleasure. The appetizers are equally luscious and well proportioned, like the toscano board that comes with gooey cheese, salumi and house made terrine. You may not want to stuff yourself, but it will be hard not to try to cram as much of this perfectly balanced food into your mouth.

5 Luci
http://www.lucirestaurant.com/
664 The Queensway, Etobicoke, Ontario
+1.416-519-1355
People in Toronto don’t like traveling outside of the neighbourhoods, especially during the winter months. However, it is well worth making the trek to Etobicoke for a special evening out. Luci is Godfather fantastic. The servers are well versed in the menu and enthusiastic about voracious appetites. The ambience is romantic and the food is stunningly presented. From mushroom risotto to al dente pasta to fall off the bone lamb, meals do not disappoint. The owner, Fernando, will often visit tables to reflect on your experience. Try to refrain from kissing your fingers in stereotypical Italian fashion. Words will do.

Pizzeria Libretto

Pizzeria Libretto

4 Pizzeria Libretto
pizzerialibretto.com
221 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z8, Canada
+1 416-532-8000
This is the real deal kind of pizza. You may find yourself enthusiastically affirming the taste of real Neopolitan Pizza at Pizzeria Libretto in Italian. Or, if words fail you, “Mmmm” works well in most languages. This pizza has a soft chewy crust that is beautifully blistered by the piping hot oven. Each pizza is made as a single serving and is not overwhelmed with toppings. Cheese and toppings such as duck confit or house made sausage merely accent the pie, allowing it to be melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The result is a meal that feels lighter than it looks. Even people who are convinced they will just have a slice may find themselves downing a whole pizza. Perfect to eat and then take a nap.

3 Buca
www.buca.ca
HOURS OF OPERATION Monday to Wednesday | 11:30 a.m – 3:00 p.m | 5:00 p.m – 10:00 p.m. Thursday to Friday | 11:30 a.m – 3:00 p.m | 5:00 p.m – 11:00 p.m
604 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, Canada
+1 416-865-1600
Buca is right in the heart of downtown Toronto, and it earns every loonie it receives. Dimly lit with brick walls, the ambience is charmingly rustic. The menu changes daily and utilizes ingredients that capitalize on flavour profile more so than popularity of ingredients. Lamb brains might be wrapped in prosciutto as an appetizer. Don’t question it and your tongue will ultimately decide that it is a very good idea indeed. Extravagantly rich dishes include duck egg pasta with duck offal ragu, or pork braised in 34 year old wine vinegar and then strewn across a pizza. The final result is lavish, memorable and upscale Italian food.

2 Enoteca Sociale
sociale.ca
1288 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X7, Canada
+1 416-534-1200
Enoteca Sociale is built around the idea of wine bars in Rome. Enoteca Sociale manages to take basic ingredients and elevate them. The pasta is made in house, as are many other dishes, included the freshly baked bread that tempts on each table. If you like the experience of eating off of your date’s plate, a la Lady and the Tramp, sharing dishes under the menu column “Piatti Sociale” are all unique and delectable.The wine list has over 80 selections from Italy but also includes fine Ontario reds and whites. Normally you have to splurge in a bottle in order to sample the good stuff, but Enoteca offers tastes, glasses, quartinos (a carafe that can hold a quarter of a litre of wine) or bottles. You won’t forget this dinner.

1 Pizza e Pazzi
pizzaepazzi.ca
1182 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6E 1B4, Canada
+1 647-352-7882
Toronto is crazy for Neapolitan style pizza. This is a strict standard that is determined by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, a non-profit founded in Naples by people who really, really care about their pizza. Once you get a mouthful, you will be convinced of the standards. Pizzas are topped with the freshest of ingredients, from mozzerella di bufala to 24 year old parma proscuitto. White pizzas are drizzled with extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil. Appetizers and pasta dishes are also delicious, but you really want to save your appetite for the pizza. Give your respect to that hard working wood burning oven.

Source: http://www.10best.com/

“Marvelous Maremma: A Historical Gem”

Posted by: Claudia | August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.33.06 PMA wonderful description of Maremma the overlooked part of Tuscany…thanks to the insights found at siciclando.com’s blog:

Marvelous Maremma; A Historical Gem
“Tuscany is known for its beauty and etched-in-time scenic scapes. This glorious Italian place, also known as “a nation within a nation” due to it’s strong cultural identity is a place that leaves an imprint on any visitor

Behold Maremma
Tuscany has an undiscovered and quieter side when you visit its southwestern side; you find a jewel in Maremma. Away from the bright lights of Florence, the Maremma is not inundated by a heavy ratio of tourists to locals. Instead, this quiet region that borders the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas is one of the few Italian territories left that remains true to its quaint ancient peasant roots, untouched by the tourist explosion. These towns are full of Medieval and Renaissance history, that transport you back in time to a place that set the tone for Italian life.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.33.57 PM

Architecture

Step into the revered magnificence of the several old, grand churches and cathedral that seem to whisper the prayers of those gone before. The cathedral in Grosseto maintains original Gothic-style features, remaining untouched for centuries. Or, meander around the impressive and grand Medicean Walls in Grosetto (considered the capital of Maremma), constructed in the Middle Ages. These rare defensive walls in Italy are one of a kind, bearing witness of the many historical conflicts that ensued on Italian soil. Built in 1574 by Francesco I de Medici as part of policy to protect the southern border, the remarkable structure still stands- waiting for you to come and behold this edifice of protection.

Terrain
The dolce vita can be truly experienced as one meanders from village town to town. The expansive region of Maremma can change from sandy beaches to pine tree forests. The natural beauty of untouched forests can mesmerize any nature-lover in the many nation parks. The white sand coves beckons beach lovers as they look like they are straight out of a movie set. The crystal turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea are a charming destination as one visits ports, marinas and fishing villages. You can take a soak in the natural hot thermal spas in Maremma, Tuscany, enjoyed by Etruscans and ancient Romans alike. A free soak will be one that lingers with you, most likely for the rest of your life

Aragon Fortess

Aragon Fortess

There are so many wonderful features to Italy, Tuscany and more specifically, sweet Maremma. You will fall in love with the original historical charm, leaving you breathless as you take in the many sights.

Crystal clear waters and coasts that are still partly wild; inviting countryside for those looking for relaxation away from the busy pace of the city; villages nestled on ancient castles and a rich cuisine where you can find, unchanged, traditional, local food and wine. These are the things that make the Maremma so dear to Italian and foreign visitors. An ideal place for nature lovers, the Maremma is a place to discover on foot, by bike, or even better, on horseback.

History

The Maremma is a large coastal area that is mainly flat, situated on the Tyrrhenian Sea between Tuscany and Lazio. More precisely, it lies between Tarquinia and Cecina, in the province of Livorno, Dante noted in the 13th canto of The Inferno. The first historical records date, however, to the Etruscan and Roman periods, when from the Maremma soil arose the cities of Tarquinia, Populonia, Cosa and Vetulonia, of which traces of archaeological significance still remain.

A Natural Paradise

Part of the look of the Maremma is the result of the reclamation work that occurred in the 1930s. Today, natural areas, once marshes, are protected by long stretches of natural parks (currently, the province of Grossetto alone has 13 nature reserves, as well as various WWF oases), filled with an endless variety of flora and fauna and glimpses of magnificent beauty.
Among the stops that are particularly significant are the wide bay of the Gulf of Follonica, the beautiful beaches of Cala Martina and Cala Violina Punta Ala, the beaches of Castiglione della Pescaia, an ancient fishing village located at the foot of the ancient fortress of Aragon (hence the “fishy” name), and those of Marina di Grosseto and Talamone, a charming village overlooking the sea.
Do not miss the magic lagoon of Orbetello, famous for its golden sand, the Feniglia and Giannella beaches. In front of the sea the green Argentario promontory stands out, with the exclusive holiday destinations of Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano, where ferries depart for the island of Giglio and the Giannutri. 
Further south, 12 kilometers from the border with Lazio, the wild coast of Capalbio is found, known and appreciated by nobles, wealthy landowners, and emperors since ancient Rome. Even today, Capalbio, with its perfectly preserved medieval village and walls where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the valley, is a exclusive holiday destination that allows visitors to be thrown back into the past. Just beyond the regional border are, finally, the Archaeological Natural Park of Vulci and Tarquinia, the necropolis of which has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.



What to do

With its 160 kilometers, the Maremma coast also offers a wide range of possibilities for lovers of active tourism. It is possible to rent boats, enjoy wind-surfing, water skiing and SCUBA diving. There are many schools for sailing, motor boating and SCUBA, where you can discover a colorful slice of life underwater. 
The wonderful promontory of Monte Argentario with its coves and bays, some reachable only by boat, is considered by the lovers of the underwater world of one of the most interesting Italian coastal areas for fishing and for the wealth of the seabed. 
Those who visit the Maremma can see shows of the Butteri shepherds, riding Maremma horses, who perform at fairs, festivals and other national and international events. 
The Maremma, with Saturnia, is also a destination of choice for lovers of spas and well-being.

Rome ‘Insider-only’ restaurants by Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta

Posted by: Claudia | August 25th, 2014 | No Comments »

Michelin one star, Acquolina

Michelin one star, Acquolina

Departures recently spoke to Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta about her Rome ‘insider- only’ spots that are unfailingly to die for. She is the culinary force behind, and owner of, Manhattan’s teeny little East Village trattoria/enoteca II Posto Accanto, the Rome-born Tosti di Valminuta grew up frequently visiting the city’s chic Parioli district, rubbing elbows with aristos both ancient and nouveau. But it’s Rome’s down-home, no-frills spots that came to most excite her palate:

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 4.52.43 PM
II Bar Sotto II Mare
[A:Via Tunisi 27; T:39-06/3972-84131]
A seafood-focused spot in Prati that does “the best vermicelli alla pescatora [long, thin seafood pasta], the best crudi, the best rigatoni with octopus. And it’s a fraction of the cost of places where the food is half as good.” It takes reservations, but, cautions Tosti di Valminuta, it’s a Roman booking, so you may still wait, and people who arrive after you may be seated before you; reserve early in the evening.

If you love pizza, grilled artichokes and arancini”—deep-fried balls of meat- and cheese-stuffed risotto— then go to Osteria da Tesone….
[A:Via Dardanelli 5; T:39-06/372-5860], also in Prati, and sit outside.”

Acquolina
[A: Via Antonio Serra 60; T:39-06/333-7192; acquolinahostaria.it]…Where young chef Giulio Terrinoni turns out his own take on modern Roman seafood. Recent favorites from the frequently changing menu include mixed fried fish with sour red-pepper sorbet and a seafood carbonara.

After dinner, or during a hot afternoon, it’s all about Gelateria Duse
[A: Via Eleonora Duse 1; T:39 06/807-9300], in Parioli, or da Giovanni, as the regulars call it. Owner Giovanni makes small batches of artisanal flavors (bitter chocolate and zabaione are tops), and one should al- ways ask for doppio panna. “That way,” says Tosti di Valminuta, “the gelataio will put the panna—whipped cream—both underneath and on top of your gelato.”

Source: Departures magazine, September, 2014.

Coppola Touts Basilicata

Posted by: Laurena | August 21st, 2014 | No Comments »

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Francis Ford Coppola has become something of a spokesman for Basilicata, a poor region located on the “arch” of boot-shaped Italy. In a promotional video for the area, he reminisced about his grandfather’s tales about Bernalda and extolled Basilicata’s unspoiled — and largely unknown — beauty and culture.

Matera is on UNESCO’s world heritage list, prized as an example of a traditional human settlement that dates from Palaeolithic times. The famous sassi, caves dug into the soft tufa rock that gives Matera the look of ancient Jerusalem, were used as primitive, one-room homes and remain a tourist draw today. Some have been renovated and turned into trendy hotels, but the area remains so ancient- looking that Mel Gibson shot much of “The Passion of the Christ” there.

Matera @ Sunset

Matera @ Sunset

Four Seasons – Firenze

Posted by: Claudia | August 21st, 2014 | No Comments »

Four-Seasons-Florence1

What Makes This Hotel Special:

Experience one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful cities from the quiet garden sanctuary, flanked by historic buildings and lush with modern amenities at this luxury hotel in Florence, Italy. Be near the best Florence has to offer while enjoying the rest and relaxation of a modern urban resort at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze.

Rooms/Suites:

The Four Seasons Florence has 72 guest rooms and 44 suites.

Location:

The Four Season Florence is located just a short 10-minute walk to the city centre where you will find dining, shopping, and bars.

Florence Room

Dining:

IL PALAGIO

Located on the ground floor of the Palazzo della Gherardesca, Il Palagio, awarded one Michelin star, features vaulted ceilings, elegant décor and lovely views of the inner gardens. Large French doors open to a terrace that offers al fresco dining during clement weather. A seasonal menu features regional cuisine prepared with a contemporary twist, accompanied by exceptional Italian wines.

LA MAGNOLIA

On the ground floor of the Conventino, La Magnolia offers an intimate venue that serves breakfast for guests staying in this section of the Hotel. As in Il Palagio, the delectable à la carte menu is wide-ranging, from freshly baked pastries to egg specialties, smoked fish and cold meats.

AL FRESCO

Set in the beautiful Giardino della Gherardesca, adjacent to the swimming pool and spa, Al Fresco enjoys an enviable location under a majestic tree that provides shade on hot summer days. Offering a wide selection of dishes in a completely revisited formula, Chef Vito Mollica features typical Italian trattoria at lunchtime, pizzeria and barbecue grilled on the new Josper grill for dinner, and invigorating libations at the poolside bar.

WINERY

A separate space located in the centre of Il Palagio, the Winery features open displays of close to 400 bottles of wine. A virtual temple of exceptional gastronomy, the Winery’s intriguing menu features a mix of traditional and contemporary local dishes served in small assaggini portions, accompanied by an abundant selection of wines, including vintage wines that can be tasted by the glass. As Florence’s most convivial meeting place, it appeals to connoisseurs and newcomers to wine alike.

ATRIUM BAR

Beneath a skylight in the Palazzo della Gherardesca, the Atrium Bar offers an elegant setting for guests to enjoy light meals, coffee specialties, cocktails throughout the day and scrumptious afternoon teas. As the primary spot for people to meet in the Hotel, the Atrium Bar is the place to see and be seen in Florence. In the evenings, live piano music adds a soothing tone.

Spa:

Find your personal oasis in the only hotel spa in the heart of Florence, Italy. Ten spa treatment rooms, including one double room and one double VIP suite, and signature services such as our Chianti Wine Massage and Iris Sensations treatment, are just the beginning.

Services, Treatments & Amenities:

Outdoor pool
Whirlpool
Steam room
Relaxation lounge
Spa restaurant

Contact:

Four Seasons Florence

Borgo Pinti, 99, 50121 Firenze, Italy

Website: www.fourseasons.com/florence

Tel#: 39-055-26261

Amalfi Ristoranti Reviewed by the Wall Street Journal

Posted by: Claudia | August 19th, 2014 | No Comments »

Here is a short list of Amalfi Coast ristoranti the Wall Street Journal recently highlighted, from Napoli to Mass Lubrense…

Mangia!

Taverna Estia – Napoli
A: Via Guido De Ruggiero, 108; W: www.tavernaestia.it; Tel #: +39 081.519.96.33; E: info@tavernaestia.it .
“A hidden Michelin-starred charmer with a brick fireplace and garden full of rosemary shrubs and cypress trees. Chef Francesco Sposito serves up ornate fare: pecorino- and truffle-stuffed artichokes slow-cooked in extra-virgin olive oil, and strawberry-lacquered goose leg with spinach and foie gras emulsion.”– WSJ Review

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele – Napoli
A: Via Cesare Sersale, 1 / 3; Tel#: +39 081.5539204;E:info@damichele.net; W: www.damichele.net.
“Locally beloved for 140 years before Elizabeth Gilbert touted it in “Eat, Pray, Love”. The $5 pies are eaten with a fork and knife and washed down with Peroni. It’s one of the few pizzerias open all day; lines peak by noon and dwindle by 2 p.m. ”– WSJ Review

Melos – Capri
A: Via Boffe, 2; Tel#: 081 8372088; E:info@meloscapri.com; W: www.meloscapri.com.
“A small, hidden osteria in Anacapri’s bustling Piazza A. Diaz known for its pizza fritta (fried pizza).”– WSJ Review

Il Riccio – Capri
A: Via Capodimonte, 14,ANACAPRI
Tel#: +39 081 9780111
f (+39) 081 8373191; E:info@capripalace.com; W: www.capripalace.com.
“A one-star Michelin restaurant that recently became Capri Palace’s offsite beach club. It’s tucked into a private cove on the same cliff face as the touristy Grotta Azzurra, but a world apart. The turbot baked in salt, scallops nestled into puréed artichokes and its namesake spaghetti laced with sea urchin are worthwhile splurges.”– WSJ Review

Trattoria San Giuseppe – Amalfi
A: Via Ruggiero, 4; Tel#: +39 089 872640
“It’s the real deal—a scattering of al fresco tables at the entrance to an alley with whitewashed arches and street shrines to its eponymous saint. The atmosphere generally trumps the food, but the melted mozzarella sandwiched between lemon leaves and the spaghetti vongole are standouts.”– WSJ Review “Hidden away in the medieval part of town, this simple, down-to-earth place is a real local hangout. It’s a great alternative to upscale dining, and the traditional meals include a variety of solid pasta dishes. For our money, the excellent pizza (served only in the evenings) is the best in town.”– Frommer’s:

Tabaccheria Gaetano Camera – Amalfi
A: Corso delle Republicca Marinare, 15, Tel#: +39 089 872130
“The town’s dozen-plus gelaterias feature unusual flavors like ricotta, gingerbread and sour cherry, but the best is a simple lemon cream or dark chocolate. At 15 Corso delle Republicca Marinare, marked by a red “Gelato Artigianale” sign.”– WSJ Review

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 3.09.52 PM – Massa Lubrense
Tel#: 081 8081026 – Fax: 081/8082870 – E-mail: ristoranteloscoglio@hotmail.it; Piazza delle Sirene, 15, hotelloscoglio.com)
“Perched at the end of a dock overlooking Nerano Bay. The simple spaghetti with zucchini, linguine con cicala and zuppa di pesce are likely contenders for the best meal of your life. Don’t miss the verdure mista, a copper pan of cooked seasonal vegetables from the family’s farm, capable of turning any carnivore a bit more green.” — WSJ Review

A&B Tuscan Wine Escapes…The Best in Concierge Travel

Posted by: Giovanna | August 12th, 2014 | No Comments »

***Tuscan villa

Aielli & Benevento’s “Tuscan Wine Escape” is a five-day, perfect getaway designed as an exceptional touring experience for those who have never been to ‘Bella Toscana’ as well as those seasoned travelers who consider the vineyard region an old favorite. This tour is by invitation only; it is not designed for wine experts. Pseudo wine connoisseurs will not permitted to participate!

The A&B touring experience offers a perfect mix of planned events as well as personal time for maximum rest and relaxation. Restaurants selected for dining experiences are recognized as some of the best Travel commences on Thursday afternoon or evening from US airports with arrival in Florence the next morning. A&B participants have both planned events and unstructured time over the next four full days (Friday thru Monday). The trip concludes with morning departures from Florence that arrive back in the USA on Tuesday afternoon.

2015 Tour Departures (all trips depart on Thursday, return on Tuesdays)
March 26
April 16
April 23
May 7

misty vineyardTrip Summary
Aielli & Benevento provides all the in-country transportation, guides and logistics support.
This privately escorted touring experience includes:

Airport transfers to and from Florence (FLR) airport;
> IATA certified professional escort;
>Five-star hotel accommodations including daily buffet breakfast;
> 24/7 A&B Concierge support;
> Gourmet dinners (3);
> Tuscan luncheons (2);
> Wine tastings (5) ; and
> Optional: private tours of Uffizi Gallery; walking tours of Florence and Siena.

For FREE brochure on A&B Tuscan Wine Escapes, email: info@aielli-benevento.it or call +1.212.695.1511.

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‘Picture Perfect’ Italian Port Towns

Posted by: Laurena | August 6th, 2014 | No Comments »

A short list of some of the more picturesque coastal towns of ‘Bella Italia’…

PORTO SANTO STEFANO -Tuscany

PORTO SANTO STEFANO -Tuscany

PORTO SANTO STEFANO -Tuscany
This gorgeous Tuscan port town—just minutes away from L’Argentario and a quick ferry ride to Giglio Island—features a must-see ancient fortress that was built under Spanish rule in the 17th century. It’s also home to two Spanish lookout towers from the same time period, which offer unbeatable vistas of the port. More a foodie than a history buff? Not to worry—Porto Santo Stefano is known for having the freshest seafood around, as well as some top-notch Tuscan ristoranti.

PONZA - Lazio

PONZA - Lazio

PONZA – Lazio
The pretty town of Ponza is home to a large, sheltered fishing and boating port flanked by restaurants, boutiques, bakeries, and cafes. Though the town bustles with activity, Ponza still manages to remain relatively uncrowded and free of foreign visitors (the majority come from Rome, which is only two hours away). We encourage you to venture from the busy port and discover Ponza’s gorgeous swimming grottoes and its popular moon-shaped bay, Chiaia di Luna—easily one of Italy’s most stunning beaches.

TROPEA - Calabria

TROPEA - Calabria

TROPEA – Calabria
Tropea was built as a commercial port during the Roman Empire (legend has it that Hercules claimed it as his own during his quest for the golden fleece). Hercules had good taste: With soaring cliffs, exquisite architecture, and pristine white sand beaches, we’d want to lay claim to Tropea, too. The walled town center is dense with cute boutiques, cozy trattorias, and gelaterias—but surprisingly, almost no tourists besides other Italians on holiday.

CAMOGLI -Liguria

CAMOGLI -Liguria

CAMOGLI -Liguria
We’ve already waxed lyrical about Camogli, one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. So why aren’t you there already, sipping a glass of prosecco and watching the sun set over the Italian Riviera? The sleepy, colorful port town still remains the summer getaway of choice by wealthy Milanese and Turinese, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the luxe life, too—if only temporarily. Unlike the narrow, tourist-congested streets of nearby Portofino, Camogli has quiet, open piazzas and nature paths that will lead you up to some spectacular coastal views.

SAN REMO - Liguria

SAN REMO - Liguria

SAN REMO – Liguria
With its pretty seaside promenades, Belle Époque hotels, and art nouveau casino, the port town of San Remo isn’t exactly a secret anymore—but it still hides in the shadow of nearby Portofino. Why go here instead? The area has an old-world grandeur about it, with sandy shores that are significantly less crowded and the fitting nickname “La Cittá dei Fiori” (the City of Flowers).

GAETA - Lazio

GAETA - Lazio

GAETA – Lazio
Set between Rome and Naples, the gorgeous town of Gaeta is set on a promontory overlooking (not surprisingly) the Gulf of Gaeta. The town, primarily a fishing and oil seaport, features the typical pastel-colored cliff houses, narrow alleys, medieval churches, and even a 13th-century castle. There are some stretches of public beach available away from the busy deep-water ports, but the main draw here is Montagna Spaccata—a mountain supposedly split in half by an earthquake.

LA MADDALENA - Sardinia

LA MADDALENA - Sardinia

LA MADDALENA – Sardinia
The historically significant Sardinian port of La Maddalena isn’t your typical Italian port town—instead of being built into the cliffs, it’s on a small island that’s part of a larger archipelago. Which, perhaps, just makes it more beautiful: Napoleon himself even tried to occupy it. Who could blame him? Aside from its scenic port, La Maddalena boasts many white sand beaches, a charming town center that feels like an old Italian village, and even its own national park.

Source: “Avoid the Crowds at These Little Known,Picture Perfect Italian Port Towns,” CN Traveler, https://www.yahoo.com/travel/avoid-the-tourists-at-these-c1406674927283/photo-la-maddalena-photo-1406674831346.html

Where to eat in Rome in August…

Posted by: Giovanna | August 5th, 2014 | No Comments »

We thank Romewise.com for this excellent listing of palce to eat in Rome’s m

“Wondering where to eat in Rome in August, when many restaurants shut their doors for some or all of the month?
Some favorite restaurants are open (almost) during the entire month, here’s a few places to eat in August … the following listed by type: Roman trattorias; Italian modern; and Pizzerias:

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Piccolo Arancio – This family-run Roman trattoria near Trevi Fountain is one of my go-to restaurants in this area. They have excellent pasta, seafood, meat and desserts. And, they have a few tables outside. Vicolo Scanderbeg 112/113; Closed 4-10 August, reopening 11 August. Open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Mondays.

Il Baccano – This modern, bright, bistro-style restaurant near the Trevi Fountain is a great place to eat, first and foremost because the quality of the food is fantastic. You can tell there is great care that goes into the menu selection and the food preparation here. But another great thing is the ambience which I find warm and relaxing.Open 365 days a year from 10am – 2am, including all of August.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.49.18 AMCul de Sac – Not only one of my favorite wine bars in Rome, but also one of my favorite places to eat in Rome. Tucked in a little plaza just behind Piazza Navona, Cul de Sac has a fantastic wine list, and scrumptious food, including cheeses, cold cuts and patés, but also hot dishes such as coda alla vaccinara(ox-tail stew), pollo alla romana (chicken with red and yellow peppers), and pastas. They also have some tables outside. Piazza di Pasquino; Open 365 days a year from noon – midnight, including all of August.

Il Corallo – I’d call this a great little pizzeria behind Piazza Navona, but actually they have wonderful Roman dishes too. They have very good, wood-burning oven, thin-crust Roman style pizza, but a full menu as well. Nice service, outside tables, a good wine list… What more can you ask for? Via del Corallo, 11; Open daily for lunch and dinner, including all of August.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.48.51 AMSan Marco – this is another one of our favorite pizzerias that also serves up excellent Roman cuisine. The bright, open, minimalist atmosphere and outdoor seating just off the via Veneto make this a winner with Romans who enjoy their standard Roman fare in a modern setting. Via Sardegna 38; Open daily from 12-midnight, including all of
August.

i Clementini- This is one of those rare finds: a great, affordable local restaurant, right by the Colosseum, where you can have authentic Roman food, like cacio e pepe, gricia, carbonara and fried zucchini flowers…but also some fantastic fresh and slightly innovative dishes too. Get their fried calamari and shrimp platter, light, crispy and fabulous! Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, 106.
Open daily from 12-midnight, including all of August.

Crispi 19 – Of my favorite seafood restaurants in Rome, this one may be at the very top. Between the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Barberini and the Spanish Steps, Crispi19 is very central. The chef is Sicilian, and a genius when it comes to the right balance of flavours, textures and even colors. But the main star is the food: it’s always fresh, exquisite and newly delightful each time. The menu is nearly all seafood, but just in case, there are a few non-seafood items. Via Crispi, 19; Open daily for lunch and dinner. Open all August from the 6th.

Urbana 47 – This “0km” (meaning all local food) restaurant, in the quiet and local Monti neighbourhood not far from the Colosseum, is a breath of fresh air. Its shabby-chic decor and warehouse-y feel, with open kitchen in the back, provides for an interesting ambiance, and their fresh and ever-changing menu is always a treat. Every month, there is a seasonal food featured (one year in February it was cardoons, and they made that into lasagne – trust me, even if you don’t know what a cardoon is, it was melt-in-your-mouth fabulous.) There are limited tables outside. Via Urbana 47. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner, including all of August.

Pizzeria Alle Carrette – do you want a yummy, wood-burning-oven, crispy-thin Roman style pizza? In a warm ambiance, with delicious fried appetisers, and great prices? You can have it all, at this very local pizzeria right near theColosseum and Forum. They have limited outdoor seating but if you want to sit outside, get there at 7 (very early for Romans) or you will have a very long wait. Via Madonna dei Monte 95; Open daily for dinner only, including all of August

Roman Trattorias
It may be a paradox to say you can eat Roman food in a real Roman trattoria during August, since one of the things that makes a Roman restaurant traditional is the traditional full-month closing at August. But there is good news for us foodies! Yes! Here’s where to eat in Rome in August when you want some traditional Roman cuisine:

Zampano – Also known as Grappolo d’Oro, this Roman trattoria is a stone’s throw from Campo dei Fiori but just off of it to avoid the nightly chaos there. They also own Ditirambo, just across from them, which is another favorite (and closed for August.) Piazza della Cancelleria, 80. Open daily for lunch and dinner (Wednesday only, closed at lunch), and all through August.

Sora Lucia - This is one of our favorite mom and pop Roman trattorias, just blocks away from theTrevi Fountain. Inexpensive, local, fresh and always yummy. Via della Panetteria, 12. Open Tuesday – Sunday lunch and dinner, closed Monday. Open all through August.
Taverna della Scala – an old-fashioned, simple Roman trattoria in heart of Trastevere (yet on a quiet street), Taverna della Scala is a great option for Roman food. They also have outdoor seating. Piazza della Scala, 19. Open daily from noon – 11pm, including all during August.

Otello alla Condordia- one of the few excellent dining options at the Spanish Steps, Otello has been a long-time favorite with Romans and tourists alike. Via della Croce, 81. Open Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner. Closed Sundays. Open throughout August.

Italian Modern
These restaurants we refer to as “Italian modern” because they all serve Italian food, sometimes even Roman food, but in an innovative and often modern way. Here’s where to eat in Rome in August if you are looking for a great meal, with interesting and well-prepared cuisine.

Glass- Really, Glass Hostaria in Trastevere should be in a class by itself because it’s a unique, special place with amazing food, and gorgeous decor, and probably should be saved for a special meal out. Chef Christina Bowerman has turned this gem into a 1-star Michelin restaurant and it’s well deserved. 58, Vicolo del Cinque. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 8-11:30pm. Closed Mondays. Open all through August.

Trattoria Moderna – tucked in a little plaza not far from Campo dei Fiori, this warm and inviting trattoria serves Roman and Italian food, with a modern twist. The owner and chef are super friendly and accommodating and the staff is also helpful and nice. There is a small area to eat outdoors. Prices are very reasonable and the food is delicious. Vicolo dei Chiodaroli, 16. Open daily for lunch and dinner, and throughout August.

Osteria dell’Ingegno – this is one of my favorite restaurants overall in Rome. Combine a fantastic setting right in front of Hadrian’s Palace, near the Pantheon, with beautiful, warm inviting decor, soft jazzy background music, and most of all a fresh, fantastic, always interesting and delicious menu. Oh yes, and a great wine list and friendly staff. This is why I come here so often. Open daily for lunch, and nightly for happy hour and dinner. Closed August 11-24.

Pizzerias
A list of some excellent pizzerias above, (Il Corallo, Alle Carrette, and San Marco), and they are open all of August. You may also try these:

Da Francesco - right next to Il Corallo, i.e. behind piazza Navona, in one of the most hip Roman-night-life squares. Superb pizza, and also other Roman food. Outdoor tables. Piazza del Fico, 29. Open daily for lunch and dinner, and also all through August.
of August. But it is a good representation of those really Roman restaurants I know are on the foodies’ radar.

Source: “Where to Eat in August”, http://www.romewise.com.

Bottega Veneta Suite @ Florence St. Regis

Posted by: Claudia | August 5th, 2014 | No Comments »

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The St. Regis in Florence (most recently the Grand Hotel / Luxury Collection property) has been the subject of an extraordinary facelift. Everything you wish to know about the hotel is found here.

We take this opportunity to showcase the hotel’s unique Bottega Veneta Suite…

A large furnished balcony allows seductive views of the timeless Arno River for guests of this Suite. The preeminent design house has created a one-of-a-kind interior, with furniture, fabrics, and accessories drawn from its collections, and wall colors, paintings, mirrors, and even books that reflect the identity of both the city and the brand. Wood flooring is covered with custom-dyed, pure New Zealand wool carpets to highlight signature furniture elements, while finishing details include intrecciato nappa leather-covered frames and desktop accessories.

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The sitting area features a fireplace and a two- or three-person sofa, while the work desk is ideal for connecting via wireless High Speed Internet Access and a direct-dial telephone. State-of-the-art entertainment includes a 60-inch Bang & Olufsen LCD flat screen TV with on-demand movies and a DVD player, as well as a Bose® sound system with an iPod®/iPhone® docking station.

An alluring dining area seats eight for gourmet meals and casual gatherings. A refreshment center completes the comprehensive in-room amenities, and a full guest bathroom is conveniently nearby.

The separate bedroom houses one king-size bed, dressed in exclusive cotton sheets, as well as a 42-inch LCD flat screen TV. The marble master bathroom comprises a deep-soaking tub, a separate shower, and double vanities. Additional nuances include a TV screen integrated into the mirror, an auxiliary telephone, premium Acqua di Parma amenities, plush bathrobes, and slippers.

Main Dining area @ St. Regis Florence

Main Dining area @ St. Regis Florence

Available for this suite is St. Regis trademark Butler Service can provide for any request. The in-season rack rate: 8,000 Euros per night.

Room specs:
969 Square Feet / 90 Square Meters
Dining for Eight
Two Flat Screen LCD TVs
Panoramic Arno River View
Bose Sound System

Contact:
St. Regis Florence
A: Piazza Ognissanti, 1
50123 Firenze
T: +39 055 27161
E: stregisflorence@stregis.com
W: www.stregisflorence.com