Archive for ‘Travel Tips’

November 25, 2017

Autumn harvest in Toscana

Every season has its own charm, says Alain Liggia, Florencetown Executive Chef, but Autumn is definitely one of the best times to come to Tuscany. November means olive harvest, truffle hunting, mushrooms, chestnuts and … squids! The weather is perfect for long walks and also for great tastings.  (Florencetown.com)

 

 

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November 14, 2017

Sedona, Arizona at Enchantment Resort

Set on 70 acres of panoramic natural terrain, Enchantment Resort stands a the doorway of Boynton Canyon..surrounded by red rock formations known for inspiring mind, body and spirit.  No one knows when the first humans arrived in Boynton Canyon, but his magnificent setting is part of the creation story told by elders of various Arizona tribes.  The prehistoric waters that covered the Southwest left behind incredible red rock formations which in turn, attracted ancient peoples seeking places of natural beauty and energy.  The mysterious Boynton Canyon, known also by the Apache name, Che Ah Chi, has an intriguing history that includes dramatic earth changes, prehistoric ruins, creation stories, inhabitants and healing waters.  Activities abound for guests from sunrise to sunset…fitness classes, outdoor experiences, education & lectures, to art classes, as well as tennis, cycling and golf.

Mii Amo, is a world-class destination spa on the Enchantment grounds, that defies imagination. Inspired by the rich wisdom and traditions of Native American people, complemented by the beauty and energy of Sedona, Mii Amo presents a unique, full-service luxury spa experience where guests can find balance and harmony.

Seven Canyons Golf Course is available to Enchantment guests and is a picturesque course with unique personality.  Seven Canyons boasts subtle contours and small greens alongside narrow landing areas and artfully packed bunkers.  Natural water features and mature trees only add to the majesty of the course’s scenic backdrop.  The course’s red rock scenery is beyond spectacular and unrivaled.

October 12, 2017

Baltic Cruising on Azamara

 

I recently cruised in the Baltic Sea on the Azamara Journey. The twelve night itinerary was outstanding in every way, from the ports of call, to my experience on the Journey. Though I had enjoyed sailing on Azamara previously, this was an excellent reminder for me of what an outstanding product Azamara is for a wide range of our clients. The clientele onboard were in general well-traveled, many repeat guests, who also may cruise on Silversea and Seabourn, but do love Azamara and their suites which come with many unique extra privileges.

Azamara, true to its tagline, is most certainly for guests who ‘love travel’. The destinations are the primary focus, with long days and overnights in port, and very convenient docking, generally right in the heart of the city. One feels almost like you are stepping out of your floating hotel each time you go ashore. The complimentary AzAmazing Evening events offered on most cruises is generally destination focused and truly Amazing.

Their ‘port intense’ itineraries do attract guests who are seeking enriching experiences in the destinations. There was a good mix of international travelers onboard, which I consider another great benefit to the American client. Guest lecturers are often featured on Azamara. On the cruise just prior to my boarding of the Journey, Lech Walesa was the guest lecturer, President of Poland from 1990-1995 and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. Imagine what a ‘wow’ that was. I understand that it came to be in great part, by the personal efforts of one of officers.

The Azamara staff all seem happy to be there… and they are ‘there’, in the moment… comfortably engaging, smiling and conversant, without exception. Another very unique feature that makes Azamara standout is the fact that the staff is ‘empowered’ to make decisions on the spot that enhances the guest experience. In my opinion, Azamara has no rival when it comes to the friendliness and accessibility of all the officers… from House Keeping to the Bridge to security, to the Hotel side, F&B… including Monica, the executive chef! It sets a uniquely comfortable atmosphere throughout the ship… not unlike the perfect private club. The recent renovations onboard the Journey enhanced greatly the look and feel of the ship as well.

March 8, 2017

Festa della Donna ~ International Women’s Day ~ March 8th

Today is International Women’s Day…a Global Day to celebrate all female achievements–past, present, and future.
Courageous women began it in the early 1900s, holding demonstrations for the right to vote and for equal pay and working conditions.

International Women’s Day, originally called International Working Women’s Day, is celebrated on March 8 every year. It commemorates the movement for women’s rights. The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York and organized by the Socialist Party of America. On March 8, 1917, in the capital of the Russian Empire, Petrograd, a demonstration of women for bread and peace began…the beginning of the Russian Revolution. The Union of Italian Women officially declared March 8 Women’s Day in 1945. The United Nations began celebrating in International Women’s Day in the International Women’s Year, 1975. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

Italians celebrate this holiday with mimosa flowers, given by men to the women in their lives, or by women to their friends. An endearing tradition.

November 17, 2016

Ideas for visiting Italy when you only have a week.

Focus on the south, starting with Rome.  The capital of Italy and home to the Catholic Church has thousands of years of rich history: the pull of the Eternal City is inevitable. From the Roman Forum, with the landmark Colosseum, to the Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, the list of what to see could be endless. But sometimes, you just want to wander around and take in all that history, appreciating the way that it creates visible layers – an ancient column worked into a modern façade, a Medieval church next to a 19th-century house.

The many fountains of Rome are another thing to look out for as they signify the strength of the various rulers and benefactors who built them. The one immortalized by films is the recently restored Trevi Fountain, where legend has it that tossing in a coin will ensure a trip back to Rome!

The food lover will find solace in Rome’s down-home trattorie, where pasta with cacio e pepe should be on most menus – creamy and simple, with the kick of freshly cracked black pepper. Vegetarians also have a blast with the many simply prepared and delicious seasonal vegetables like artichokes (in the fall), made every which way, or the bitter puntarelle served with anchovy sauce, or other bitter vegetables prepared simply on the grill.

Head south to the ruins of Pompeii, south of Naples, are on the bucket list of every art and history lover, while Naples may be given the backseat due to its gritty, chaotic reputation. But give it a moment and you’ll realize that this city has more of a bustling aura than a chaotic one. Not only is it Italy’s third largest, but also one of its oldest, artistic cities, but its city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with impressive archeological riches in the midst of an urban stretch of tumult and confusion. It may seem shabby and unkempt, but dig a little deeper, and its elegance will catch you off guard.

What art has come off the street has made it into the Naples Archeological Museum that also holds almost all of the artifacts, sculptures and frescoes found among the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Other parts of the collection come from the Farnese family. Naples is the city to use as a base when planning trips to Capri, Pompeii, Sorrento and anywhere else around the Bay of Naples.

If Italy is famous for pizza, Naples is the place you must have it, since pizza was invented here in the 19th Century, it’s safe to say the Neapolitans know how it’s done.

Pizza in Naples, Italy

It’s a simple but tasty dough that should contain nothing more than flour, salt and water, topped with fresh tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and – for purists – not much else. Colleen Colosseumnaples1

November 15, 2016

Lecce, the Florence of Pulgia

 

Lecce is on the Salento Peninsula, the heel of the boot, in southern Italy’s Puglia region and was most certainly on my agenda on my recent travels in Puglia. The climate is fairly mild although it can get very hot in summer. Lecce, sometimes called the Florence of the south, is the main city on Puglia’s Salento Peninsula. Because of the soft limestone that’s easy to work, Lecce became the center for the ornate architecture called the barocco leccese and the city is filled with Baroque monuments. The historic center is compact making it a great place for walking and its restaurants offer abundant fine food typical of Puglia. Also notable are the traditional handicrafts, especially the art of paper ‘mache’.

It is a lively town, with a well attended university, more than 40 churches and at least as many palazzi, all build or renovated between the 17th and 18th centuries. The city’s focal point is   Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square. It dates top 12th C and has a massive bell tower.   Via Vittorio Emanuale is the main street lined with shops and cafes that runs between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Sant’Oronzo.   Roman Amphitheater was built in the second century AD and once held 25,000 spectators. The amphitheater is partially excavated and concerts are held there.   Church of Santa Chiara, famous for its ceiling with paper mache’ decorations, is a short distance from the amphitheater.   Basilica of Santa Croce, on Via Umberto I, has a richly decorated facade and is considered the emblem of the city.

 

 

 

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