Monday, 3 October 2011

Racking up the Awards

Is there no end to the wonders of Itay and its award winning array of hotels, cities, spas and restaurants.   We thought you might like to checklist the following and find out why did Italy rank as the top overall country according to readers of Conde Nast.


Italy was the only country to have 3 cities in the top 20 (Rome 4th, Venice 6th and Florence 9th


Across Europe, Italy had the most favoured hotels in the Top 20 with 7 fab hotels - Four Seasons Florence (7th),       Capri Palace, Capri (9th), Splendido, Portofino (10th), Villa d'Este, Lake Como (11th) Cipriani, Venice (16th), Feltrinelli, Lake Garda (18th) and Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Tuscany (19th).


Italy was the only country to have two destination spas ranked in the top 15; Terme di Saturnia and Fonteverde, both in gorgeous Tuscany.


As for train journeys, Italy was number 3 with the glorious Venice Simplon Orient Express.


And for the 'small cruise ships' category, Silversea (Italian-owned and Italian-style) was at number 2.  


Get booking.


 


 



Thursday, 29 September 2011

Who wins the Cous Cous Fest comp in San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily?

soloSicily: Cous Cous Fest


Not just food at the Cous Cous Fest, the main Sicilian culinary event held annually in San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily. The Festival focuses on a competitive cook-off with chefs coming from all over the world preparing delicious couscous recipes.


The festival features a rich entertaining program including multicultural workshops, music, belly dancing, food and wine samples and the gastronomic village where visitors can taste delicious couscous from countries like Senegal, Brazil, Turkey, Ivory Coast, Palestine etc.


France is the country winning the 14th edition of Cous Cous Fest 2011.


soloSicily attended this year's festival and summed up the most exciting happenings in a very inspiring video-clip. 


Visit soloSicily youtube channel to watch Cous Cous Fest video, click here.


www.youtube.com/user/solosicily


 


soloSicily - Villas in Sicily to rent
www.solosicily.com
Tel UK: 0044 (0)20 7193 0158
Tel IT: 0039 091 687 0639



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Friday, 23 September 2011

Launching next month....

A new website for ABTOI - our Loveitaly.co.uk is currently being revamped, with a fresh new design and  simplified navigation. Watch this space for further updates!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Why Italy was voted top wedding destination

A recent survey by Weddings Abroad & Honeymoons indicates that European countries like Cyprus, Italy and Greece are top of the list for UK couples looking to getting married abroad.

Of the 1600 brides and grooms who participated in the survey, 12% indicated they were exploring getting married in Cyprus. A further 11% were looking at Italy and 7% looking at the Greece.

While these countries are going through economic difficulties, “they remain popular as they are picturesque and romantic, relatively easy to get to and most often have better weather than you would get in the UK” says Ursula Barzey, Marketing Director, Weddings Abroad & Honeymoons. “Also, whereas a wedding in the UK will cost on average around £20,000, a wedding at one of these destinations will be around £6,500 so quite a savings for a new couple starting out!”

To chat to one of our UK specialist wedding operators try:


Luna Rose:     http://www.lunarosa.co.uk/


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Think Sicily wins Best Villa Company in Conde Nast Traveller Readers Awards

Think Sicily wins Condé Nast Traveller Readers Award, 2011Readers of the prestigious travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller have voted Think Sicily the top villa rental company in the world.

Huw and Rossella Beaugié, the founders and managing directors of the company, picked up the award at the ceremony in London on Wednesday night.

"After ranking in the top ten consistently over the last few years, we are hugely proud to receive this accolade," said Huw. "Our thanks go to everyone who voted for us, to all those who have travelled with us over the last 10 years, to our fantastic team and to our wonderful villa owners."

In the voting, Think Sicily never scored less than 82 and sealed the win by receiving top marks for its range of villas and presentation of villas.

In the same awards, readers voted Italy as their favourite country for holidays, while Sicily was voted 11th best island destination in the world. In the overall Top 100 listings, Italy came 5th and Think Sicily was the only specialist Italy operator to make the cut, coming in at a remarkable 83rd.

Think Sicily was founded in 2002 after husband and wife team Huw and Rossella gave up their careers (engineer and cell biologist respectively) to pursue a passion: they thought that Sicily had the most impressive mixture of history, culture, gastronomy, climate and natural beauty of anywhere they had ever visited and they wanted to share it with other discerning travellers.

Think Sicily rapidly grew into the leading up-market villa rental company for Sicily, offering the most desirable villas, specialist knowledge and an on-the-ground support network that was voted the best of any villa company by readers of Condé Nast Traveller a few years ago.

In 2010, the company's passion for the south of Italy saw the launch of Think Puglia, now provider of the most desirable luxury masserie, restored trulli and sea-front villas with pools in the region.

“We've come a long way in 10 years,” said Rossella. “Our clients and our owners have given us so much encouragement and satisfaction and it is thanks to them that we have achieved what we have. Our goal is simple: to hear our clients tell us that they've just had the best holiday of their lives.”


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Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Most Expensive, Exquisite Food in the World!

In the world of gourmet foods, there is one treasure that is literally worth its weight in gold. Truffles are the pinnacle of gourmet.  As one of the most sought after foods in the world, is only used in the highest of high cuisine, except in parts of Northern Italy and Umbria where Tartufi are a key ingredient in local dishes.


Truffles are related to mushrooms with their root-like structures but never emerge from the surface. They form below the soil close to a tree's root system, living off its nutrients like another type of ‘fruit'.  The reason why it is so unbelievably expensive is that once the fungus is attached to a root, it produces just one truffle per year from that tree.


Harvested from late summer to early spring by experienced gatherers known as trifolau, they are a secretive lot that keep their special truffle groves to themselves, often taking long winding paths at night or in the early morning fog to confuse those that would try to follow. They have very guarded conversations with each other, lest any "trade secrets" are leaked. These men are the masters of the poker face; you can never tell if it had been a good harvest day or bad - they would never give out that kind of information. This secrecy has ensured that these rare edibles are still around for us to enjoy and not ravaged by poachers, who would not dig with the care to preserve the truffle forming fungus underground. The trifolau does have some help in his hunt, as the actual finding of the truffle is done by either a trained pig or by a mongrel dog (it is said pedigree dogs cannot smell truffles) with its superior sense of smell. Without these four-legged friends, truffles would be virtually unheard of.


Harvested in a time-honored tradition that has little to do with gourmet sophistication, harvest season is a time of celebration for both truffle harvesters (trifolau) and the towns that host the ever-popular truffle festivals. A visit to Piemont or Umbria in autumn will reward you with culinary gold in the form of a variety of regional specialties graced with freshly shaved truffles, probably harvested that very morning.  A gastronomique treat for all who are lucky enough to take part.



Quick - Special Offer details for a Gastronomique Weekend:


We give you a fantastic chance to spend a week end on a truffle quest at the 27th Santagatafeltria National Truffle Fair where the village main square is turned into a huge eating area and all the local restaurants will serve their best traditional dishes using only the best truffle, porcini mushroom and other local autumn produce. You will also have a choice of a Gastronomique Tour Bonanza with wine, cheese and olive oil tasting and lunch in local trattoria or a chance to go back in time with the Cultural and Historical Tour visiting the Medieval Towns of Santarcangelo and Verucchio with their museum, fortress and historical caves. A rare opportunity to enjoy a pure week end of Gastronomique enjoyment and cultural discovery.  http://www.loveitaly.co.uk/special-offers-more.asp?Offer=290


 



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Friday, 26 August 2011

LUCCA IS ON THE RISE

Lucca is the only Tuscan city to see an increase in tourist numbers.

New figures just announced from the Tuscan tourism authorities show that Lucca is the only Tuscan city that has increased tourism in the last three years. 

Visitor numbers this year are already up by 12 percent. The Mayor, Marco Favilla, thinks it reflects well on the whole city, and is not just due to the popularity of key initiatives, such as the summer festivals although there have seen some wonderful events appealing to a global audience .


Lucca is now mainly a non-car city where it is more the norm to use a bicycle rather than a motorized vehicle.  There is something very continental about cycling around an historic old walled city, through its pretty paved streets and piazzas with your gorgeous deli lunch sat up front in the basket.   Currently bike hire for half a day costs approx Euros 7.50 per person from the local Tourist Board offices dotted around the city.



Sunday, 14 August 2011

New flights to Naples for 2012

BMIbaby announce new flights from East Midlands to Naples which are already available online, book early to avoid disappointment

Flights are operated every Thursday and Sunday between April and October

Thursday flights

East Midland to Naples   dep. 08:00, arr. 12:00
Naples to East Midlands  dep. 12:45, arr. 14:45

Sunday flights

East Midland to Naples   dep. 06:30, arr. 10:30
Naples to East Midlands  dep. 11:15, arr. 13:15

For more information click on  http://www.bmibaby.com/bmibaby/flights/home.aspx

Naples, an ideal city break on its own, is the gateway to the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida and the steaming Phlegraean Fields.

Few destination in the world can offer such a high concentration of history, beautiful scenery, world class sights and of course excellent food.

Check what's happening in Naples on Qui Napoli Magazine >>

See our selection of hotels on the Neapolitan Riviera >>

As a fully bonded tour operator (ATOL 1249), ExpertoItaly.com can book any schedule, charter and low-cost airline to your favorite destination.



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Monday, 1 August 2011

Win a week in a Tuscany Villa with To-Tuscany!



   

Win a week in a Tuscany Villa with To-Tuscany!

    Win a week in a Tuscany Villa with To-Tuscany!

                                     The To-Tuscany Foodie Blogger Competition has launched!
The To-Tuscany Foodie Blogger Competition has launched!
Tuscany Villas specialist, To-Tuscany is challenging foodie fans to a Tuscan cook-off with its Foodie Blogger Competition!

If you consider yourself a bit of cooking connoisseur and have your own blog, you have the opportunity to enter and win a week in a beautiful Tuscan villa, plus £150 towards flights.

All you have to do is prepare a Tuscan-inspired dish, which includes three key ingredients: olive oil, tomatoes and parmesan cheese, and create a blog post about it. Entries will be posted on the To-Tuscany competition page and the public will then vote for their favourite entries. The most popular three entries will then go through to the final round.


Nico Atrigna, the chef of one of Tuscany's finest restaurants, Osteria Le Logge in Siena will be judging the entries in the final round, and highlights what he is looking for:

"Dishes should demonstrate real cooking expertise, Tuscan authenticity, creativity and innovation. Presentation is key too, entrants should consider not just the dish they create, but how they present their entry. There are some fantastic prizes to be won so I'd encourage anyone to try their hand at the cook off!"


For an added incentive, all competition participants will be automatically entered into a random prize draw to win a Tuscan cookery book and a bottle of authentic Tuscan olive oil from a local farm in Tuscany. There will be 10 of these prizes up for grabs, so everyone has the chance to win something!  

Foodie fans who want to follow all the action on twitter can use the hash tag - #TTFBC.
The competition is now open for entries and will run until midnight on Monday 15th August 2011.

To see the full information on how to enter, visit the Foodie Blogger Competition page. Full terms and conditions can be found on the To-Tuscany website.

About To-Tuscany
To-Tuscany is a family-run business offering a wide range of holiday rental properties in Tuscany and Umbria, with private swimming pools and gardens. The company has been established for 10 years, offering self-catering accommodation in small cottages, villas and farmhouses, apartments and luxury estates. For more information visit http://www.to-tuscany.com/.

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For an added incentive, all competition participants will be automatically entered into a random prize draw to win a Tuscan cookery book and a bottle of authentic Tuscan olive oil from a local farm in Tuscany. There will be 10 of these prizes up for grabs, so everyone has the chance to win something!


Foodie fans who want to follow all the action on twitter can use the hash tag - #TTFBC.

The competition is now open for entries and will run until midnight on Monday 15th August 2011.

To see the full information on how to enter, visit the Foodie Blogger Competition page. Full terms and conditions can be found on the To-Tuscany website.

About To-Tuscany

To-Tuscany is a family-run business offering a wide range of holiday rental properties in Tuscany and Umbria, with private swimming pools and gardens. The company has been established for 10 years, offering self-catering accommodation in small cottages, villas and farmhouses, apartments and luxury estates. For more information visit www.to-tuscany.com.

                              

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Surprising Sicily

Hi - I'm Nigel. I've been leading tours with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays since 2004. 

I don't think it's any one thing that makes a destination so special. It's the rich combination of the natural beauty, the history, the architecture, the food, the people; all the different layers contribute to the real spirit and personality of a place. There is such an incredible wealth of varied scenery and culture within Europe I think there's really almost no need to venture further afield!

My upcoming tour to Sicily is one of my favourites to lead, I love walking in Italy. The history is absolutely fascinating; successive Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Spanish, Neapolitan, British, Piemontese, Fascist, American and Mainland Italian occupations have all left their mark. I absolutely love the way that on a single walk, one can spot evidence of these periods scattered at random in the countryside.

Our tours look at the close intertwining of the surviving relics of radically different historic cultures in an awesome natural landscape. For example, on the morning of the first day at Francavilla, we head up the hill to the ruined Norman castle, from where there is a fabulous view across the Arab citrus orchards and the Greek citadel of Castiglione to the stately, smoking, snow-capped bulk of Mount Etna. It is truly magical.


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