Posts tagged ‘favorite’

June 16, 2011

Cinque Terre

Le Cinque Terre  (the five lands) are a group of five picturesque villages along the coast surrounded by terraced vineyards, olive groves, and forests.  The villages can be reached on the train that runs between La Spezia and Genoa or by ferry from La Spezia, Portovenere, Levanto (the next village up the coast toward Genoa where there’s also a train station), as well as other Italian Riviera villages.

There are popular hiking trails between the villages as well as in the scenic hills above them.  One can easily blend one or two hikes between the villages with a few minute rail ride between others, hence have time enough to visit all of them in one day.

The Cinque Terre region is very popular with Americans and is crowded in summer. Spending the night in one of the villages is a good way to experience the charm without the huge crowds since the majority of visitors  only experience Cinque Terre as a ‘day trip’.   Lodging is very limited….but worthwhile if you can land a room, since evenings are quieter.  I strongly recommend that room reservations be secured many months in advance if you plan on overnighting in Cinque Terre.  Simple 3 star hotels, generally family owned and operated, will cost Euro160 per night for two in high season including breakfast.  For one of the few 4 star options requiring a  2-3 night minimum, add another Euro 100 per night.

The little bitty cove beaches are packed with sun bathers.  Umbrellas and chaise lounges are available for rent each day, but don’t expect much peace or quiet or private space, though it is festive and colorful.

All of the villages have shopping and dining options,   Monterosso al Mare being the  largest .. offers the most services for visitors, including a little nightlife in high season.  And Monterosso is accessible by car..though you will not want to explore Cinque Terre via car once you arrive.

Enjoy these charming fishing villages soon, as civilization is encroaching on these once very isolated hamlets.

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April 13, 2011

Invitation to Tuscany: Campalfi, Stigliano, Siena

Campalfi, Stigliano, Siena

Three apartments in farm buildings.

Campalfi, set back from the river Merse by about 200 metres, is a group of ancient farm buildings that once had all the necessities for the self-contained life of a small community. It has been converted to provide seven spacious dwellings. There is a central open-sided courtyard entered through an archway, around which are arranged the apartments, and to one side of this is a large dining-room where the English-speaking owner, a renowned chef, serves wonderful meals every Saturday night and on alternate evenings. The old granary has made a delightful cottage with a patio and an outdoor oven; a large ground floor apartment for five people is at right angles to the granary; and on the ground floor below the old tower is a light and airy apartment for two people.

The conversions are a harmonious blend of ancient tradition and modern comforts. All the apartments have a quiet, cool and restrained atmosphere and make excellent use of attractive fabrics and materials including old terra cotta floors, and simple, traditional Tuscan furniture. The hand of the artist owner is seen in the soft colors that grace the apartment walls and in the blossoms that drape arch and pergola alike.

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February 16, 2011

Carnevale, the Festival of Masks

Carnevale, also known as carnival or mardi gras, is celebrated in Italy and many places around the world 40 days before Easter, a final party before Ash Wednesday and the restrictions of Lent.

Carnevale in Italy is a huge winter festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. Children throw confetti at each other and play tricks one each other in fun.

Although carnival is actually one day, in Venice and many other places in Italy the carnival celebrations and parties may begin  2 weeks earlier.  This year February 19th,  the “Grand toast in Venice” will be the opening event, an elegant and joyful “cheers” for tourists and locals alike  to officially welcome the Carnival. The main attraction will be a big wine fountain spouting vino for all.   The dancing commences and a full agenda of activities continues  throughout the 2 week long festival.

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January 16, 2011

My Favorite Destination is…

Veneto Trip 2010Though I love so many destinations around the world, when asked which is my favorite….I must say ‘Italy’.  I by no means limit my travels to Italy, but I do visit Italy with more regularity than any other single destination.  I have yet to find anything I don’t like about Italy.  The culture, cuisine, history, architecture, art, sea, mountains, wine, and song all blended together with the incredible genuine  warmth of the people make it a destination that draws people back over and over.

Since we are just a few days into 2011,  and most of us setting goals and making plans for things we wish to accomplish this year …that means decisions need to be made about where you will journey.

Springtime travel to Italy holds many advantages.  Temperatures are warming up, the flowers are blooming (my favorite red poppies in Tuscany), airfares and hotel prices are reasonable, and most of Italy gets less rain in the Spring than the Fall. Italian holidays like Easter, Liberation Day, and the Festa della Republica offer many festive concerts and processions!

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December 27, 2010

A WOW Winery

This is a WOW winery I visited in November and tasting the wines here was a fabulous treat. Not to mention a stunning contemporary structure designed by the famed Swiss architect Mario Botta (who also designed the San Francisco Museum of ModernArt).

– Colleen Lamont, Peak Travel Agent

A little about the Petra Winery

Petra Winery, Maremma, Tuscany It’s the dream of every wine lover who has allowed themselves to be seduced by the rolling vineyards, forests, and olive groves of Tuscany: to find a little corner to call your own and to join in the age-old tradition of coaxing luscious wines out of the soil. For Vittorio Moretti and his daughter, Francesca, who discovered this beautiful seaside estate while on vacation nearby, the dream came true. In 1997 the pair founded this small boutique winery in Maremma Toscana in Suvereto, where the hills of Val di Cornia rise toward the Colline Metallifere.

Three hundred hectares make up the peaceful estate, although only a third is planted with vineyards. Sitting on the edge of the Tirreno Sea, they’re constantly caressed by the breezes blowing in off the Follonica Gulf. The soil of the steep slopes here (which form part of the Colline Metallifere, or “Metal-Yielding Hills”) is particularly mineral-rich and ruddy colored, leading to strong-willed, complex wines. The vineyards’ layout, which is a patchwork of different varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc) seemingly strewn about randomly, is no coincidence. The arrangement is based on long and careful studies of the soil, wind, sun and climate conditions in each area of the estate. Only the vines most suited to a particular area were planted there.

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