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Bosa, Sardinia: ‘Europe’s Most Beautiful Villages’ by T&L

Posted by: Claudia | January 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

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Bosa, Sardinia:
“Far from the glitzy beach resorts that have many complaining about overdevelopment in Sardinia, Bosa remains an unspoiled gem on the island’s northwestern coast. The medieval town, on the banks of the Temo River, has an attractive riverfront lined with palm trees and palazzi painted in pastel hues. The historic center, crowned by a hilltop fortress from the 12th century, is all stone steps, shady piazzas, and houses with wrought-iron balconies.

Source: www.TravelandLeisure.com

What to Do in Milan, 2015 (NY Times)

Posted by: Lorenzo | January 11th, 2015 | No Comments »

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This article excerpted from NY Times, 01/05/2015:

“If it’s been a few years since you last visited Milan (our top choice for 52 Places to Go in 2015), you’re in for a pleasant shock. Yes, the preparations for the World Expo being held here this year (May through October) turned large swaths of the city into construction zones, many of which are still in progress. But alongside these urban development projects, a more organic wave of rejuvenation has swept through the city. Old structures of various stripes — among them a sawmill, a foundry, a bank and a farmhouse — have recently been repurposed as bars, shops, restaurants and cultural centers worthy of this most international of Italian cities. Put simply, there’s new energy coursing through cosmopolitan Milan, and it’s likely to last long after the Expo

Friday
1. Future of Fashion | 4 p.m.
Beyond the flashy downtown fashion district, a new hub of creative shops has sprouted in and around Zona Tortona, a former industrial district southwest of the city center. The area’s compelling coolness is best exemplified by Nonostante Marras, the spellbinding shop of the Sardinian designer Antonio Marras. Hidden from the street behind a residential building, past a locked gate and through an overgrown courtyard, the airy boutique has a mesmerizing interior: trees strung with fairy lights, artworks and antique furniture, a cylindrical wooden bookshelf with unusual titles, and a cluster of hanging lamps inside long white dresses painted with geometric patterns. Equally captivating is the clothing for sale, ranging from pleated lace skirts and prim pastel coats to statement-making runway dresses printed with howling wolves.

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2. Poolside Aperitivo | 6:30 p.m.
Aperitivo is a sacred rite in Milan, and there’s no finer place to carry on the tradition than around the rooftop pool of Ceresio 7, a new bar and restaurant that oozes sophistication. The elegant spot opened in the fall of 2013 on the top floor of a Fascist-era office building that’s the headquarters of the fashion house Dsquared2. The glamorous interior (blood-red lacquered tables, peacock-blue lounge chairs, Art Deco brass bar) is the work of the local Dimore Studio design firm. But there’s also substance beneath this beauty. For proof, order the Ceresio Spritz (sparkling wine, soda and Solerno, a Sicilian blood-orange liqueur; 15 euros, or about $18, at $1.20 to the euro), which will arrive with a series of snacks from flatbread stuffed with mortadella to a salad of prosciutto and pickled beets. Savor the spread from a poolside perch, where the dazzling view of blinking-light skyscrapers feels more like Tokyo than Italy.

3. Supper at the Sawmill | 9 p.m.
Arrive early to Carlo e Camilla, a restaurant that opened last year in a former sawmill, and you may think you have entered a large-scale art installation. That’s how dramatic the atmosphere is within the cavernous space, where spotlights illuminate ornate crystal chandeliers and one long white table arranged in the shape of a cross. This vivid attention to detail extends to the kitchen, as it should, given that one owner is the well-regarded Italian chef Carlo Cracco. Highlights of a recent meal included an artful plate of tartare adorned with edible flowers, and an inventive pasta dish of paccheri tossed with turnip greens, mussels and smoked pig’s trotters. Dinner for two, about 100 euros.

4. Drink Decisions | Midnight
Three excellent new night spots, all opened in 2013, mean that diverse drinking options await the eager night owl. At the end of a dark alley in an old foundry is Fonderie Milanesi, a lively bar filled with Negroni-sipping, in-the-know locals. Craft-beer drinkers searching for rare Italian microbrews should try the friendly pub Lambiczoon, specializing in sour ales and lambics. Looking for a scene suited to showing off sparkly skin-tight pants? Then slip into Dry, a dimly lighted bar with a concept (cocktails and pizza) that attracts crowds of aspiring fashionistas late into the night.
Saturday

5. Bank Holdings | 10 a.m.
Italian banks apparently have diversified holdings that extend far beyond euros. The evidence is on display at the Gallerie d’Italia Piazza Scala, a trio of grand palazzi that is now an exhibition space for artworks held by the Intesa Sanpaolo banking group. A wing that opened in 2012 displays masterpieces from 20th-century Italian artists like Emilio Vedova and Lucio Fontana in opulent halls that once served as the seat of the Banca Commerciale Italiana. And two adjoining palazzi contain beautiful bas-reliefs by Antonio Canova and dreamy paintings by Giorgio Belloni, among many others. Free admission.

6. Lunch on the Farm | 12:30 p.m.
For a break from the bustle without leaving the city, head to Cascina Cuccagna, a formerly abandoned 17th-century farmhouse that has been transformed into a lively cultural center hosting everything from creative writing courses and yoga classes to film nights and farmers’ markets. In 2012, the project expanded to include a restaurant, Un Posto a Milano, that’s ideal for lunch. The seasonal menu places “Portlandia”-level emphasis on carefully sourced ingredients; an autumnal meal included pumpkin-stuffed tortelli in a sage-and-butter sauce (15 euros) and a slow-cooked egg in potato cream with black truffles (9 euros).

7. Beyond the Duomo | 3 p.m.
Spend the afternoon touring some fascinating yet often overlooked churches, the ones without a grand Gothic facade or masterpiece by da Vinci. Start at the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, where the skeletal remains of Milan’s patron saint can be seen (fittingly, in exquisite dress) in the crypt. A few blocks away is Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, a church attached to a former Benedictine convent (now an archaeological museum) that contains a cycle of glorious 16th-century frescoes. Don’t miss the area once reserved for nuns on the other side of the center partition, where paintings include a depiction of Noah’s Ark with unicorns ascending the gangplank. Finish at the Chiesa di Santa Maria Presso di San Satiro, an architectural gem hidden amid chain stores. Inside, marvel at the illusory apse of Donato Bramante, a spectacular example of forced perspective.

8. Secondhand Shopping | 6 p.m.
When Milan’s fashionable denizens clean out closets, their gently used designer treasures turn up in the best vintage shops, like Cavalli e Nastri. The refined selection at this vintage emporium, which is spread over three locations, includes only pristine pieces from the 1920s to last season. Browse the men’s store to find wool topcoats, dapper hats and loads of leather briefcases. Then cross the street to the women’s shop, where a recent visit unearthed a silk Christian Dior skirt and a cool, neo-grunge Marni jacket. For the newest fashions, try your luck at the boutique in Brera, where dresses from Kenzo and Pucci share space with silk scarves from Hermès and Gucci.

9. Navigli Night | 8:30 p.m.
The Navigli district surrounding the city’s historic canals is a prime one-stop destination for evening entertainment. Start the night with dinner at Taglio, a casual restaurant, bar and food shop that opened in 2013. The menu changes often, but the light tempura zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta that arrive atop broccoli gazpacho (14 euros) ought to be a permanent fixture. Then sample the risotto alla Milanese, a traditional saffron-infused dish that gets a delicious update with the addition of rich roasted marrow and crunchy toasted almonds and pine nuts (14 euros). Afterward head to Mag Cafè, a classy cocktail bar pouring expertly prepared concoctions, like 10 Gennaio, named after a historic date and made with Hendrick’s gin, basil syrup, lemon peel, bitters and vermouth (9 euros).

Sunday
10. Breakfast Breads | 10 a.m.

When a cafe greets its customers with a prominent sign proclaiming “Bread or Death,” you know you can expect breakfast to include some high-quality gluten. So it is at Pavè , a Pinterest-perfect cafe and pasticceria with glass cases filled with a remarkable range of freshly baked goods, like apple-and-almond frangipane tartlets, raisin-studded slices of panettone, brioche filled with hazelnut cream. Devour your chosen treat at a cozy communal table while your hip Milanese neighbors recap their nights over extra-large cappuccini.

11. Great Exhibitions | Noon
No other museum or institution in Italy has lately packed its calendar with as many world-class art exhibitions as the Palazzo Reale, a sprawling palace on the main Piazza Duomo. Two shows currently winding down are “Segantini. Il Ritorno a Milano” with more than 100 works from the 19th-century Italian painter (through Jan. 18), and an expansive Marc Chagall retrospective featuring more than 200 works by the artist (through Feb. 1). But you’ll also find a van Gogh exhibition packed with paintings from private collections typically inaccessible to the public (through March 8). And in April, the palazzo will mount a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition that promises to be the largest ever in Italy. Take it slow, see it all, and when you’re done, you’ll find the resplendent Duomo waiting mere steps away.

Hotels
In a former perfume factory in Zona Tortona, the Magna Pars Suites Milano (Via Forcella 6) is a boutique hotel that opened in 2013 with 28 suites encircling a lush courtyard garden. Decorated with calming, neutral hues, the rooms, starting at 243 euros per night, also feature furnishings from local designers and paintings by artists from the Brera Academy.

Two other new lodgings illustrate the range of options available in Milan. Near the chic Brera neighborhood, Palazzo Parigi (Corso di Porta Nuova 1) is an opulent hotel with 98 luxurious rooms starting at 450 euros. On the other end of the price spectrum is the guesthouse that recently opened at Cascina Cuccagna (Via Cuccagna 2) with 16 beds in hostel-style shared rooms starting at 25 euros.

Washingtonian Magazine’s Top Italian Restaurants – 2014

Posted by: Lorenzo | January 8th, 2015 | No Comments »

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Washingtonian Magazine is out with its year-end rankings of DC restaurants and Italian cuisine is made the cut with 13 restaurants of the 2014 Top 100.

First among the Italian restaurants listed is Fiola Mare (ranked #4) a new addition by Chef Fabio Trabocchi. Washingtonian refers to this special occasion restaurant as “a rarefied realm of luxury and indulgence”. Chef Trabocchi also was recognized as Washingtonian’s “Restaurateur of the Year” since three of his dining spots made the top 50!

AWOL…
Three 2013 Top 100 restaurants that are notably absent this year from the list include Roberto Donna’s AU area trattoria Al Dente, as well as Menomale, one of our favorite Neapolitan certified pizzerias in Brookland, and the downtown’s Tosca, the area standard for corporate luncheons.

The List
The metro area Italian restaurants – thirteen all together – making the 2014 Top 100 DC Restaurant list are found below:

4. Fiola Mare /fiolamaredc.com / 3050 K St NW Ste 101, Washington, DC 20007/(202) 628-0065
7. The Red Hen /www. theredhendc.com / 1822 1st St NW, Washington, DC 20001 / (202) 525-3021
8. Fiola / www.fioladc.com/ / 601 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC/ (202) 628-2888
13. Casa Luca /www.casalucadc.com/1099 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 / (202) 628-1099
28. Obelisk/2029 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036 /(202) 872-1180
31. Two Amy’s (pizza)/ www.2amyspizza.com/ 3715 Macomb St Nw, Washington, DC/ (202) 885-5700
33. Osteria Morini/www.osteriamorini.com/washington-dc/ 301 Water St SE, Washington, DC/ (202) 484-0660
41. Graffiato/ www.graffiatodc.com/ 707 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001/ (202) 289-3600
48. Etto/ www.ettodc.com/ 1541 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 / (202) 232-0920
55. Aggio/ www.volt-aggio.com/ 5335 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20015 /(202) 803-8020
57. Lupa Verde/ www.lupoverdedc.com / 1401 T St NW, Washington, DC 20009 /(202) 827-4726
59. G by Mike Isabella/ www.gbymikeisabella.com / 1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003 / (202) 640-2000
79. Ghibellina / www.ghibellina.com / 1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 / 202) 803-2389

Cefalu’, the town that King Roger built

Posted by: Giovanna | January 8th, 2015 | No Comments »

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Just one hour’s drive east of Palermo, sitting serenely between its natural bay and the towering rocky granite mass of La Rocca, is Cefalù.

For a small town, Cefalù offers a great deal, including sandy beaches, winding Mediaeval streets flanked with all manner of shops, excellent restaurants serving the freshest of fish and last but probably first, its unique Norman cathedral.

While Cefalù’s origins go back to at least Greek times (the name derives from the ancient Greek word for “Cape”), the town we now know and love was built at the behest of the Norman King, Roger II. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1131 and is an exquisite example of what has been termed “Sicilian Romanesque”. Thanks to the splendid mosaic of Christ Pantocrator above the altar, it is twinned with the Palatine Chapel in Palermo and the Duomo in Monreale. Seeing all three on a trip to Sicily is strongly recommended.
Also of interest is the Medieval wash house – “lavatoio” – which is fed by a natural spring and the Osterio Magno which, according to tradition was King Roger’s very own residence. It now houses art exhibitions.
An ascent of La Rocca presents quite a challenge (especially in the hot summer months) but is an absolute must: the views are spectacular, while the walls of the old Saracen stronghold and the remains of a Temple of Diana (which supposedly dates back to Sicilian-Greek times) are of no little interest.

Directly south of Cefalù is the wonderful Madonie National Park with its charming villages and towns, such as Castelbuono, its delightful scenery, its impressive mountains and some wonderful walking.
It is no coincidence then, that after Taormina and Palermo, Cefalù is probably the most popular tourist town in Sicily, offering, as it does, something for everyone.

Source: Think Sicily http://www.thethinkingtraveller.com/thinksicily/guide-to-sicily/towns-and-cities-in-sicily/cefalu.aspx

Valley of the Car Kings (Modena)

Posted by: Lorenzo | November 4th, 2014 | No Comments »

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From The Wall Street Journal:

“At his farm in the rural outskirts of Modena, Italy, Umberto Panini produces about 4,300 wheels each year of the finest Parmigiano-Reggiano you will ever the busted air conditioning in my rented diesel, I am confused and in no mood for cheese. Mr. Panini, I have been told, runs a museum of extremely rare Italian cars, the collection that originally belonged to the Maserati brothers, who launched their famed racing company in Modena in 1914. Yet there is no sign of a museum at this farm, which was exceedingly difficult to find. I see no exotic wheels anywhere—unless you count the rounds of Parmigiano.
“Automobili?” I say to the woman in the farm’s cheese shop.
She guides me to an office where a man is hunched over a desk. Mr. Panini, I presume. He gets on a bike, rides about 100 yards to a box of a building and unlocks the door. Then he disappears without a word. Inside, millions of euros worth of vintage Maseratis from the 1930s to the 1980s are lined up on the tiled mosaic floor. I am alone with the most important collection of Maseratis in the world. In the sunlight beaming through the windows, paint gleams and chrome glows. Every one of these automobiles is a piece of hand-built Italian sculpture, and every one is an embodiment of modernity’s defining ambition: to harness power. On the second floor, vintage motorcycles stand side by side like the most expensive row of dominoes on earth.

There is no security guard, nor was I required to buy a ticket (though I was, apparently, supposed to make an appointment). Only in Italia.

Mr. Panini’s farm is one stop on my trip through Italy’s Motor Valley, the small slice of Emilia-Romagna that contains Modena and Bologna and the hamlets between. This region is known for its eminent cuisine—famed cheeses, prosciutto di Parma, tortellini and zampone (salty pig’s feet). The greatest chef in the world, as ranked by France’s International Academy of Gastronomy this year, is here in Modena—Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana. But it’s the song of engines that lures visitors from all corners of the globe.

Motor Valley is the home of the greatest names in exotic motoring: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Ducati, De Tomaso, Stanguellini and Pagani, maker of the new $1 million-plus, 230-mile-per-hour Huayra. The tradition of hand-building beautiful vehicles in Italy goes back to the days of Roman chariots. Today, the streets of Motor Valley, carved out during the Middle Ages, swarm with supercars old and new.

As the curator of Bologna’s Ducati Museum told me: “This is Silicon Valley for the need for speed. If you don’t like to drive 55, this is heaven on earth.”

Most of these firms have museums and factories a tourist can visit (some by appointment only). The collections are about more than cars; they trace the history of the 20th century through works of mechanized art that were owned by celebrities and royalty. As the Italian film director Roberto Rossellini put it in the 1960s: “There is no finer thrill in the world than driving a Ferrari flat out.”
During my stay, I see as many women as men touring Motor Valley. Yet for couples who want to go their separate ways for a day or two, the quaint piazzas of Bologna beckon. You can brave the area with a GPS and a prayer, or you can book a customized guided tour. You can travel in a standard rental car, but even better is a classic Fiat 500 (about $700 a day) or a sparkling new Ferrari (about $700 for two hours).

If the journey is well planned, all of the following can be conquered in two days. You will have to drive fast—but on these roads, that’s the name of the game anyway.

Aerial View of Ferrari Museo

Aerial View of Ferrari Museo

Ferrari Museum
Down the street from the imperious gates of Enzo Ferrari’s factory in the Modena suburb of Maranello stands the Museo Ferrari. Priceless racing and sports cars abound, but the pièce de résistance is Mr. Ferrari’s simple office from the 1960s, recreated behind Plexiglas. From this worn-leather chair next to a vintage telephone, “the Magician of Maranello” conquered the world’s roads and racetracks in the postwar years. About $18, Via Dino Ferrari 43, 41053 Maranello; ferrari.com
Francesco Stanguellini is considered Motor Valley’s Godfather of Speed. He started building racing cars in the early 20th century and his progeny continued until the company went belly-up in the 1970s. The ultimate treasure in this industrial space is Mr. Stanguellini’s 1900 Fiat, the first car registered in Modena, with license plate Mo 1. Legend has it that Enzo Ferrari learned to drive in this very car. Free, appointment necessary. Via Emilia Est, 756, Modena; www.stanguellini.it

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Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum
From the outside, the building that holds the Lamborghini family museum, founded in 1995, is as banal as an old Fiat. Inside it’s like a Willy Wonka factory for gear heads. There are vintage tractors, a helicopter used by the Rome fire department, a custom golf cart in which Pope John Paul II was chauffeured about Vatican City, all branded with the Taurus logo. Numerous one-of-a-kind Lamborghinis are on display, including the first ever built, from 1963. It all sprang from the fertile mind of Ferruccio Lamborghini (1916-93). Today, his nephew Fabio runs the museum. About $18, appointment necessary, Via Statale, 342, Dosso (Ferrara); museolamborghini.it

Ducati Museum
“In Italy, we don’t make cars or bikes,” says Livio Lodi, curator of the Ducati Museum, located at the factory in Bologna where Ducati motorcycles are hand-built. “We make emotion.” The collection follows Ducati production from the post-war years to present-day racing and road bikes—muscular two-wheeled athletes, each a rolling monument to testosterone. Make an appointment and you can tour the assembly lines. About $14, Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, 3, Bologna; ducati.com

Maserati Factory and Showroom
Only owners of a Maserati or Ferrari can tour the Maserati factory, and only by appointment. But if you’re in Modena, a stop by the corporate headquarters’ showroom is definitely worthwhile. Every Maserati that rolls off the assembly line here is test-driven on the city’s ancient thoroughfares. Viale Ciro Menotti, 322, Modena; maserati.com

The Lowdown: Motor Valley
How To Get There: You can fly into Bologna or Milan. The latter requires a 90-minute drive southeast on the A1.
Where to Stay: Modena’s Hotel Real was the spot for Grand Prix drivers and their paramours in the ’50s and ’60s. The Real Fini (renamed for the family that bought it) is still old-school—elegant and clean, with no extras. (From about $80 per night, hotelviaemilia.it) For a more modern feel, try the Art Hotel Novecento, a boutique hotel in the heart of Bologna. (From about $140 per night, novecento.hotelsbologna.it)
Where to Eat: Ristorante Cavallino—across from the Ferrari factory—is where Enzo Ferrari dined with his Grand Prix drivers in the Golden Age of Speed. The tortellini and Lambrusco are supreme. (Via Abetone Inferiore, 1, Maranello; ristorante-cavallino.it) Don’t miss Modena’s Osteria Francescana, the dining Mecca of northern Italy. (Via Stella, 22, Modena; osteriafrancescana.it)
Booking a Guide: Local agencies like Modenatur (modenatur.it) can create custom itineraries that include factory tours, exotic car rentals and meetings with the likes of Fabio Lamborghini, director of his family’s car museum, as well as tours of Modena’s balsamic vinegar industry.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Five of Firenze’s Best Gelato Shops…

Posted by: Giovanna | November 4th, 2014 | No Comments »

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“Gelato is to Florence like Starbucks is to Seattle- there is a strong gelato culture with a shop nearly every 20 meters! Florence is a tiny city- a village I like to say. You can walk from one end of the historic center to the other in 30 minutes tops!
In just the small quarter of Sant’Ambrogio spanning no more than 200 meters, there are at least 5 gelato shops within that neighborhood. Imagine how many are in the historical center from Piazza della Repubblica to Santa Croce- loads!

So how do you go about going to the good gelato shops in Florence if you are only in town for a few days or you just arrived on an extended trip and overwhelmed by the array of choices? There are also a few parameters in keep in mind when gelato hunting:
> Anything in “mound” form is not natural and is not artisanal.
> If it has a neon color, chances are it’s not going to be gourmet.
> Avoid gelato shops that also serve pizza inside. This communicates “fast food”.

Here are five of the best gelato shops in Florence you can’t miss:

1. Carabe’
Address: Via Ricasoli, 60R; Website: http://www.parcocarabe.it/
A Sicilian style gelato shop in stone’s throw from the Academia where the David is on display, has a strict motto for “quality without compromise.” All products are 100% natural and artisan made daily.
Here you can enjoy Sicilian granite which are a type of slush-ice dessert made from seasonal fruit and sometimes nuts like almond and pistachio, where they grow deliciously in Sicily. If you are a fan of citrus fruit gelato and sorbets, try the “Spirito Siciliano” which is a fragrant sorbet made with Sicilian sourced citrus fruits like mandarins and lemons.

2. Carapina
Address: Via Lambertesca, 18; Website: http://carapina.it/
This gelato shop is owned and operated by one of Italy’s most caring modern gastronomy purveyors, Simone Bonini. Celebrated by the nation’s most revered gastronomic journals like Gambero Rosso, Bonini has started a new kind of gelato shop which focuses on fine, raw ingredients and distinct flavors while celebrating regional traditions like a gelato flavored after Vin Santo, Tuscany’s most traditional dessert wine.
Address: Via Lambertesca, 18; Website: http://carapina.it/

3. Gelateria Badiani
Address: Viale dei Mille 20/r ; Website: http://www.buontalenti.it
In the very off-the-beaten-path residential neighborhood of Campo de’ Marte, lies one of Florence’s most famous gelato shops among native Florentines. During the warmer months, it is not uncommon to find locals perched outside till midnight with friends socializing over authentic Florentine flavors. It is said that the “Buontalenti” is the best in town at Badiani. Buontalenti and Crema Fiorentina are two of the oldest gelato recipes in Florentine history and dates back to the renaissance. They are simple flavors in a base of sweet cream, vanilla and a dash of dessert wine but have cultural significance in the world of Florentine gelato.

4. Il Procopio
Address: Via Pietrapiana 60r
Eccentric concoctions like La Follia (the madness) and high quality raw ingredients (like alpine fresh milk) define the characteristics of the completely handmade gelato production at Il Procopio. Classic flavors like dark chocolate and coffee gelato are not to be missed however this gelato shop is ideal for those with a curious appetite.
Creative mixes like Apple Pie and Sacher Torte or Il Procopio: a blend of dried citrus peel, caramelized fig and Sicilian almond, is award winning from the annual Gelato Festival in Florence. These gelato servings are to be highly considered.

5. La Sorbetteria
Address: Piazza Torquato Tasso 11R; Website: http://www.lasorbettiera.com
This is more like a gelato stand than a shop as there is no inside seating or store to take a cool off from Florence’s unforgiving heat. However, there is a little bench seating area in front of the stand where locals of the neighborhood slurp down their flavorful gelato before it melts away. Located in the Oltrarno near Piazza Santo Spirito in Piazza Tasso, this gelato stand is really good for more modern flavors like salted caramel, dark chocolate sorbet named “Tar” as well as a selection of refreshing citrus sorbets blended with Italian herbs like sage or mint. All gelato and sorbets are made from whole fruits and pure ingredients.

Source: Italy magazine.

When in Rome: Where Stylish Men Shop…

Posted by: Claudia | October 31st, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.48.49 AMAccording to Departures Magazine, here’s some shopping advice for stylish men, when in Rome…

Watch Straps: While the watch is widely regarded as a symbol of a man’s worldliness, perhaps not enough attention is paid to the taste displayed by the strap. At Marco Pelle and Mario Di Clemente’s family-run Artigiani e Pellettieri in the backstreets of Rome, old gentlemen spend years treating and refining strap leather. “I love changing my straps,” says Carlos Souza, of Valentino, an ardent watch collector who makes regular trips to the atelier. Bring a watch face, and they will fit it with the leather, goose or alligator strap you choose. Straps start at $50; 15 Via Vittoria; 39-06/361-3402.

Vintage Jewelry: It’s no secret that Italians love jewelry—men included—but some of their most prized pieces aren’t shiny and new. “I love looking for vintage items, but the real finds aren’t on Via Condotti; they’re on little side streets, like Via dei Coronari,” says Francesca Leoni, worldwide communications director for Valentino and a former director at Bulgari. On that very street, Leoni found M. di M., a tiny estate-jewelry shop curated by Angelica Magaldi that holds plenty of male-friendly pieces from iconic Italian jewelers, like Bulgari ancient Roman coin pendants from the 1960s and ’70s, Buccellati gold and diamond rings and carved skull rings from Venetian jeweler Attilio Codognato. At 54 Via dei Coronari; 39-06/687-1605.

Ties: Getting creative with ties takes delicate skill; going too far with patterns or colors can be tacky, but even the nicest blue silk tie can look boring. For more adventurous options, our Rome-based contributing editor, Lee Marshall, recommends the menswear shop of Alberto Valentini, in the city’s Centro Storico district. The shop specializes in vintage fabrics from the 1920s to the ’60s, and owner (and Salvador Dalí doppelgänger) Valentini’s designs have just the right amount of eccentricity. Ties start at $100; Vicolo delle Vacche 21; 39-06/6476-0682.

Papal Socks: Rome’s pontiffs have a long and bejeweled history in the shock-and-awe approach to fashion, from the gilded Papal Mitre to vivid scarlet and purple socks. Vatican cardinals have visited the cobblestoned streets behind the Pantheon, where haberdasheries like Gammarelli (Via S. Chiara 34; gammarelli.com) have been tailoring ecclesiastical robes for six generations—that is, since 1789. For those contemporary gentlemen not sworn to the cloth, like Carlos Souza, the global brand ambassador of Valentino, a pair of cardinal purple or red wool socks from Gammarelli or from nearby De Ritis (Via de’ Cestari 48; 39-06/686-5843) adds a splash of rich color to any ensemble.

Smart Tailoring: When in Rome, Valentino creative directors Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri recommend their favorite tailor, Franco Masino (Via Belsiana 60;francomasino.it), for elegant suits. When it comes to more formal wear, they suggest Domenico Luzzi (Via del Babbuino 41; sartorialuzzi.com), who makes suits strictly for black-tie occasions.

Source: Departures magazine, http://www.departures.com/fashion/style/when-rome .

Hotel Splendido in Portofino

Posted by: Claudia | October 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

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IF YOU GO

Portofino…the best hotel on the Italian Riviera is the Hotel Splendido. Formerly a Benedictine monastery, the Hotel Splendido was converted into aluxurious hotel in 1922 and quickly became one of Europe’s hotspots. To this day, it is rated an one of the world’s best hideouts. As splendid as its name suggests, perched above Portofino’s yacht-filled harbour, its saltwater pool, exclusive spa, lovely rooms and terraces overlooking the Mediterranean will make you wish you could stay forever.

This Orient Express property is now part of the OX rebrand “Belmond”.

Click here: Hotel website

Burano, Jewel of Venetian Lagoon

Posted by: Giovanna | September 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

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It goes without saying that Venice is a must-visit place for any traveller within its proximity, but it would be unthinkable now to visit this unique place without taking a water bus over to the little island of Burano – the ‘jewel’ in the Venetian crown. A first visit to Burano and one realizes you are in for a treat. It is always exciting to experience new territory, but this isle has great photographic potential. When you reach the Fondamenta Nuove, on the northern border of Venice, facing the lagoon, you’ll find the water bus to Burano. The vaporetto takes just 40 minutes to arrive at the landing stage of the island. From the boat dock you can see the multi-colored terraced homes, which follow the gentle curves of the narrow canals.
The colors are not just beautiful in the distinct light of the region, but they are practical too. Each one marks the territorial boundary of a property and residents can see their homes from quite a distance, useful for fishermen returning with their catch in the misty morning. Get there on an early boat and you are almost certain to see the ladies of the island sweeping and wiping down their immaculate house fronts. Little brooms and polishing equipment ‘decorate’ many a façade along with ‘buntings’ of white linen which are draped neatly across homes and the little squares linking the narrow passages. The fogher or hooded fireplace gives interest to the outer shape of many of the walls, whose typical Venetian windows are ‘framed’ with a white band. From swamps to lace Archeological evidence has shown that early settlers have inhabited Burano since before the Roman colonization. They were fishermen, salt gatherers and farmers, all well versed in navigation. Burano’s naturally sheltered position and its detachment from the mainland meant these original lagoon dwellers were protected from invaders and plagues of malaria which were normal in the other islands. Inhabitants over the centuries raised the ground, dug canals and built bridges to transform a swamp into a hospitable place.

The island is approximately seven kilometres from Venice and has always been closely connected to it by its shared past in good and bad times. It was occupied by French and then Austrian troops and contributed its own heroes to the ill-fated 1848 revolution led by Daniele Manin. In 1866, it joined the kingdom of Italy together with the whole of Veneto and became a township of the Municipality of Venice in 1923. It has long been associated with lace, first produced by nuns in the 15th century, and then taken up by fishermen’s wives. Visit the museum and admire the intricate work of these nimble fingered lace-makers or you can browse the little stalls and small shops along the canal paths into the main square, Piazza B. Galuppi, dedicated to a famous Italian musician born in Burano named Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785). Tapestries, jewellery, linen and other quality items are on display, but there is no ‘hard sell’ and it is so relaxing to sit with a caffé latte in the one bustling thoroughfare that Burano possesses. Seafood is another good reason to visit Burano, as there are many excellent restaurants serving typical local dishes mostly centered around the main piazza.

Each time you visit Burano, the local people play an important part in making the experience a very enjoyable one. A lady bustles past on one of the little wooden bridges and shouts over to a friend who is leaning out of the window, and their laughter resounds from the buildings. An old man passing by in his boat has a conversation with another old man sitting on a step. The voices are amplified by the narrow walls and waterways and it makes it all feel special. A monk in long brown robes passes the central church of San Martino, which has a tower leaning like the famous Pisa one. The church was constructed in the 16th century with three aisles, transept, major chapel and two side chapels with an arched ceiling supported by pillars. The most important work of art in the church is the 1727 Tiepolo’s Crocifissione. Even after capturing a couple of hundred images of Burano, it is impossible to stop.

Around 1921, there was a plan to link the mainland to Venice with an iron street going as far as the Fondamenta Nuove and then a separate causeway to S. Erasmo, S. Francesco del Deserto and on to Burano. Another project suggested a suspended railway could connect Mestre to the Cavallino, with branches to Murano and Burano. Even more incredible was the idea of connecting the islands with a sub-lagoon metro system! Fortunately none of the ideas got under or off the ground. Burano stands in pleasant isolation, a unique little gem of the Venetian lagoon and long may it remain so. The colors, leaning tower and the San Martino Cathedral fade into the distance, but you will have the memories of a wonderful day in Burano.
See more at: http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/jewel-venetian-lagoon-burano#sthash.akF8vhB0.dpuf

Source: Italy Magazine, http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/jewel-venetian-lagoon-burano

Toronto’s Best Italian Eateries

Posted by: Claudia | September 3rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

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/