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Train Travel

Streets of Palermo, Video | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Friday, 22 October 2010 10:07

You just never know what you will see on the streets of Palermo!

If you can't see the video below, click here!


 
Holiday Specials to Italy | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Sunday, 03 October 2010 14:59
Alitalia, Italy's national carrier, has some specials going on for the holiday season:

Travel in style this holiday season by taking advantage of our Magnifica Class promotion! The new Magnifica Class in-flight service program features Italian regional cuisine, wines selected by the Italian Association of Sommeliers and comforters designed by luxury brand Frette.

On board our new A330’s Magnifica Class seats convert to fully-flat beds and offer excellent entertainment and in-seat work station capabilities. Fly Magnifica and enjoy the best of "Made in Italy"! Purchase your ticket by December 15, 2010 for travel between November 21 and November 27, 2010 or December 20 and January 7, 2011.

Sample fares (taxes and surcharges included)

New York - Milan or Rome from 1598 $ RT
New York - Palermo from 1926 $ RT

Boston - Milan or Rome from 2198 $ RT
Boston - Catania from 2627 $ RT

Miami - Milan or Rome from 2398 $ RT
Miami - Naples from 2497 $ RT

Chicago - Milan or Rome from 2398 $ RT
Chicago - Naples from 2497 $ RT

Los Angeles - Milan or Rome from 2798 $ RT
Los Angeles - Bari from 3528 $ RT
 
Autumn in Italy | Print |  E-mail
Written by Larry Aiello   
Thursday, 23 September 2010 02:04

Probably the best time of year to visit Italy is in the Fall. Some reasons to visit Italy in Autumn include:

  • Travel deals are easier to come by as airlines lower their fares
  • Many fall festivals
  • The big crowds of summer disappear
  • Weather is still pleasant, especially in September and October
  • Fall fashion in high gear, especially Milan, Florence and Rome
  • Food festivals such as wines, truffles, chocolate, chestnuts and mushrooms

What will the weather be like in Italy?
You can often still visit the beach in Italy in September, especially in Sicily and down south. As you go further inland, or up north, the weather will tend to be cooler. In October the days get shorter, and the mornings start out crisp and cool, but the days warm up pretty nicely. November is one of Italy's rainiest months, especially in the northern parts. This is typically when you find the acqua alta in Venice, which is known for its occasional flooding during high tides. However, November also brings some sunny days as well. Toward the latter part of November and early December, many parts of Italy, especially north of Florence will experience their first snows. See the table below for average temperatures and rainfall.

What to pack for Italy?
Since the weather can vary tremendously, it is wise to pack items that can be worn in layers. You should pack some sweaters, and perhaps a heavier jacket if you will be in the north. And always bring a good pair of walking shoes, and perhaps a rain coat if you will be there in November.

Buon Viaggio!
Weather table below for Italian weather in Autumn

italianweather-autumn

Eurail Selectpass


 
Italian Comic Strip | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 20 September 2010 00:43

Conept of Marriage, Italian comic strip

italian_comic_strip

Translation for this Italian comic strip:

"Can you tell me:  Are you in favor of or opposed to (the concept of) marriage?"


 
Halloween in Italy, Ognissanti | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 08 October 2010 00:00

Halloween in Italy - Ognissanti and Festa dei Morti

Technically speaking, Italy does not have a Halloween per se, but the tradition is slowly gaining more popularity. Carnevale, the holiday which comes 40 days before Easter to celebrate Lent, is the main holiday where there are costumes, candy, etc. But Italian retailers are noting that candy sales around Halloween have been increasing the last ten years or so, as the Halloween tradition may be taking hold in Italy. You’re starting to see more private Halloween parties for adults. Who knows? Maybe it will overtake the Carnevale festival someday.

In Italy, they do however celebrate All Saint's Day (“Ognissanti”) on November 1 (a national holiday), honoring all the saints and martyrs that have died for the Catholic church. Then on the following day (November 2nd), All Soul's Day, or “Il Giorno dei Morti” is a day for remembering those that were close to us that have passed away. Italians will typically visit the cemetery on either of those two days, and bring flowers and candles to honor their departed loved ones.

Contrary to what you may think, this is a festive time in Italy; more so in the southern regions. It is actually a celebration of life and the importance of family. Many businesses, banks, etc. will be closed during these two days, although November 1st is the official legal holiday in Italy.

Customs and Traditions

For many centuries, this holiday, along with the Epiphany (celebrated January 6th, i.e. La Befana), was the only holiday where children received gifts. For “La Festa dei Morti” the adults would leave assorted sweets and toys out for the children on November 2nd. The children believed that if they were good all throughout the year they would awaken to various sweets and toys left by their departed grandparents, etc.

Of course, food is an important part of the Italian culture. Some of the traditional sweets that they would make are “Ossa dei Morti”, or literally “bones of the dead”, hard teeth-breaking white cookies in the shape of skeletons and bones, made from almonds, sugar, lemon, etc. “Fave dei morti”, or beans of the dead are little bean-shaped cakes made with similar ingredients. In Sicily, the “Pupi di Zucchero” or sugar puppets (view picture below), made with a sweet dough, and hand-painted, is usually placed on the table with dried fruits, almonds, candy, and assorted other goodies. Sometimes, they will also set an empty seat at the dinner table to welcome a departed one.

These are traditions and festivals that originated in Pagan times and have been adopted by the Romans and incorporated into the current day culture. If you have a chance to visit Italy during this time of year, you will get to witness a beautiful and great tradition.

sugar-puppets


 
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Agriturismo in Italy

What is Agriturismo? In Italian, it is actually a combination of two words - Agricoltura and Turismo - agriculture and tourism.

It basically means spending your vacation on a farm.  It started becoming popular in the 1980s when many Italian farmers were looking for other ways to supplement their income. At an Italian agriturismo you will usually have the chance to experience the foods prepared from raw materials produced on the farm.  Some will allow their guests participate in the activities surrounding the farm such as wine-making, cheese-making, olive production, milking cows, etc.  It is usually a very rustic experience.  Agriturismo can be another option instead of a typical Italian vacation that involves Italian hotels.  Most of them are located in Tuscany, Umbria and Sicily.

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