Archive for ‘Events’

December 11, 2013

Italy’s Christmas Markets

Christmas in Milan- Duomo


Piazza Navona Christmas Market

Piazza Navona Christmas Market

As many Americans are already planning their holiday shopping strategy, I am wishing I could be working on my ‘gift list’ in the Mercatino di Natale in Italy. Milan hosts a Wonderland Village in the historic center from early December through January 6 with a market, ice-skating rink, and entertainment. Rome’s Piazza Navona hosts a big Christmas Market. Babbo Natale, Father Christmas, makes appearances for picture taking opportunities and there is a life-size nativity scene set up in the piazza later in the month. Lucca, in Tuscany, holds a Christmas market in Piazza San Michele, usually through December 26. Siena holds several Christmas markets during December as does Arezzo, Montepulciano, and Pisa.

Florence Noel starts at the end of November. Children can visit the house of Babbo Natale (Father Christmas), there’s a Christmas market with colorful lights displays. Also in Florence, Piazza Santa Croce holds a popular German-style Christmas market consisting of many booths from the end of November through mid-December. Naples holds a December Christmas market near Via San Gregorio Armeno, known for its many nativity workshops. Some of the vendors dress in traditional shepherd costumes. Nearby Sorrento, on the beautiful Amalfi peninsula in the Bay of Naples holds it’s market in Tassi Square through January 6. Wherever you are doing your holiday shopping, I wish you a a Buone Feste !

September 25, 2013

America’s Cup 2013

The American team on the Oracle wins the Cup today, over New Zealand! The 34th America’s Cup was a series of boat races held on San Francisco Bay between the defender Oracle Team USA representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club, and the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Oracle Team USA defended the America’s Cup by a score of 9 to 8. Oracle had to win the last eight races to come from behind to once again lift the oldest trophy in international sport. Team New Zealand won the right to challenge for the Cup by winning the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup. The 34th America’s Cup was the longest ever Cup by both number of days and races, and the first to feature a “winner takes all” final race since the 25th America’s Cup.

I saw two of the races won by Oracle Team this past weekend, as they made their way from behind. The speed of these extremely sophisticated boats was remarkable to witness. And the backdrop of Alcatraz Island added an interesting dimension to the race course. Congratulations to Oracle Team USA !

February 27, 2013

Cruise the Baltics in June

Join us on the Azamara Quest for a cruise visiting Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Germany, and Russia. Best to reserve your stateroom for this 11 night sailing from Stockholm to Copenhagen soon.
Contact me for more details.


January 31, 2013

Dining with the Mayor of Rome

Dinner with the Mayor of RomeI just returned from a tourism symposium in Rome. The first evening, after a day packed with informative meetings, Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Rome hosted a gala dinner for about 60 of us. The event took place in the Palazzo Esposizioni Museum after hours, which meant we were treated to a private viewing of the ‘On the Silk Road’ exhibition.

Rome never fails to lift my spirits and make me feel priviledged to be there. To walk past ancient structures mingled with the new, the many beautiful piazza’s, fountains, and historic buildings and monuments in this very ‘lived in city’ is a joy.

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December 21, 2012


Buon Natale 2012 e Felice Anno Nuovo ~ 2013 !

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December 10, 2012

Italian News Bites

sistine chapelFLR biking Sistine chapel celebrates 500 years

Welcoming 20,000 people a day-5 million per year-the Sistine chapel is the most visited room in the world. The Vatican recently celebrated the 500th year of its most precious treasure, Michelangelo’s masterwork on the chapel’s ceiling, with a special Vespers held by Pope Benedict XVI.  Michelangelo’s magnificent frescoes, which depict scenes of the Old Testament on the 1,100 square-metre vault of the chapel, were first unveiled to the public on October 31, 1512, All Saints Day, when Pope Julius II celebrated Vespers to mark the event.  It took Michelangelo four years to complete the ceiling frescoes, while the most recent restoration, completed in 1994, took 14 years. AntonioPaolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, stated that the Sistine Chapel would not put a cap on the number of visitors anytime soon: ‘Although there are a set of concerns about the conditions in the chapel, we won’t be setting any quotas.’

Direct connect to Bologna airport

 A new shuttle service began  between Florence and Bologna’s G. Marconi airport. Called the Apennines Shuttle, the service offers 10 departures daily from the Bologna airport and 10 from the Firenze Fortezza and Calenzano Carrefour stops. With tickets priced at 19 euro (reduced prices for children), each coach can seat 51 passengers. Find more information and purchase tickets at Tickets are also available at the Bologna Airport website (

Biking in Florence

With the nation’s unemployment at a record 10.7 percent and facing the prospect of deepening austerity cuts and rising inflation, many Italians are trading in their more costly cars for cheaper two-wheelers. Recent statistics indicate that new car sales are falling below bike sales in Italy for the first time since World War II.  There are many reasons why biking is better than driving, but there is still room for improvement. Biking in Florence (and other Italian cities) is still a far cry from the high safety levels of pedalling in more bike-friendly cities across the Atlantic, such as Portland, Oregon. I can attest to this fact, having cycling in both cities.  Though I must admit, I feel safer cycling in the Tuscan countryside than the rural roads outside of Portland.  The Italian rural drivers, young and old alike, seem to feel the country roads are to be shared by all.
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