Veneto Spa Hotel Has the World’s Deepest Thermal Pool

Diver in y-40 pool

About half an hour by train from Venice and even closer to Padua is Hotel Millepini Terme, a spa hotel that has the Guinness World Record for the world’s deepest thermal pool. The Y-40 The Deep Joy is 137-feet deep (40 meters) at its deepest, with four underwater grottos along the way. There’s a viewing tunnel at about the 5-meter mark. Fed by the warm waters of the Terme Euganee, one of the most popular thermal spa complexes in Italy, the Y-40 maintains a constant temperature of 30-32 degrees Celsius (about 90 degrees Fahrenheit).

Illustration of the Y-40

The Y-40 was designed for free-divers and scuba enthusiasts, who can book time at the concept pool separate from staying at the hotel. But pro divers and amateurs can stay at the hotel and take advantage of several dive and relax packages, including ones for families and beginners.

H/t Laughing Squid; Photos: Hotel Terme Millepini

Falling For Italy: Three Fun Activities to Put on Your Radar

 

Cascatemarmore

This month for the Italy Blogging Roundtable, my colleagues and I decided we would write about “fall.” Not autumn, but fall. So that left me a little bit of room for interpretation. Without doubt, Italy is a wondrous place to be in the fall: leaves are changing, fall fashion is beckoning from store windows and on the perfectly trim bodies of Italian males and females, and truffles are appearing on menus throughout the country. But I decided to write about “fall” in a different way by highlighting a few interesting activities that take you away from the art and the shopping and the endless indulging of food and wine – all fabulous things but not the end-all-and-be-all of what Italy has to offer for active travelers. The following three activities are focused on “fall” but are not strictly reserved for autumn.

Continue reading “Falling For Italy: Three Fun Activities to Put on Your Radar”

Culinary Tour of Ravenna

Cooking school teacher and chef Angela Schiavina shows off the culinary riches of Ravenna in this “My City” video from The Guardian.

Here is a fabulous video from The Guardian, which has been doing a video series called “My City.” This installment, starring cooking school teacher Angela Schiavina, offers an intimate look at her home town of Ravenna, a city in the region Emilia Romagna, the gastronomic heart of Italy. Join this affable host as she takes you on a ten-minute tour of Ravenna’s markets and culinary shops then shows you how to make a typical Romagnole (of the region of Emilia-Romagna) dinner. The Guardian also provides a companion map of Ms. Schiavina’s Ravenna tour.

LUXE City Guides: Now in Italian and On Sale

With the release of new Italian language travel guides, LUXE Guides is offering discount of its guides to Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan.

LUXE City Guide RomeIf you consider yourself a stylish traveler, then you’ve probably already heard of LUXE City Guides. These handsome little guides give you the low-down on the chicest restaurants, bars, boutiques, and more in some of the world’s most happening cities. Now LUXE has announced its first foray into foreign language publishing with its guides in Italian. These guides are available for purchase online at http://www.luxecityguides.it and in bookshops throughout Italy.

Chances are, since you’re reading this blog, you prefer to get your Italy travel information in English. Luckily, to celebrate the launch of LUXE’s new Italian-language line, the publisher is offering 20% off of its Italy titles through June 30. You can snap up one of their guides to Rome, Florence, Venice, or Milan by ordering online at http://www.luxecityguides.com and entering LUXEITALY at checkout. (Note that this offer is available for worldwide shipping with the exception of Italy.)

Reading this post after June 30, 2011? Visit LUXE City Guides on Amazon.com.

Romantic Hotels in Tuscany

Tuscany is, without doubt, one of the foremost locations in the world for your honeymoon. Whether you wish to visit the tiny, romantic, hilltop villages or simply watch the olive groves and cypress trees gently sway in the wind, Tuscany offers some of the most romantic hotels that you are likely to come across and allows you the opportunity to enjoy a perfect honeymoon. Here are a few romantic hotels in Tuscany available for booking from Escapio.com by guest blogger Holly Maguire.

Monsignore della Casa Country Resort Tuscany Hotel
Monsignore della Casa Country Resort
, situated in Borgo San Lorenzo, is a four-star country house hotel with breathtaking views of the Mugello. Within 5 km of the resort are a variety of bars/pubs, discotheques, restaurants, cinemas, and shopping opportunities. The extensive grounds of the hotel offer fabulous gardens, a pool and spa area inviting to relaxation. This is ideal for couples happy to spend their honeymoon without lifting a limb, as every necessity and modest luxury is available on the hotel grounds. The hotel was named after Giovanni Della Casa, best known as the official secretary of Pope Paul IV. (Melanie: nothing says romance like the Pope’s personal secretary!)

UNA Palazzo Mannaioni Tuscany Hotel
UNA Palazzo Mannaioni
, located in Montaione, is an enchanting castle hotel with a distinct historic character encompassing 400 years of romance and history. Montaione has forged a reputation as one of the most spellbinding areas of Tuscany. It is also home to the much celebrated Montaione Castle. The original building was constructed in the year 1500, and over the years the hotel has undergone many renovations, most recently in 2006. The local area sings with vineyards, olive groves, oak and lemon trees – perfect for hand-in-hand strolls, or even one of Tuscany’s many bicycle tours. You can also take advantage of the many in-house facilities that this sublime hotel has to offer. The De’ Mannaioni restaurant in the old mill will cater to candelit dinners after days sunbathing and sipping exotic cocktails by the outdoor pool.

San Biagio Relais Tuscany Hotel
San Biagio Relais
is an old patrician mansion which was converted into an intimate 41 room hotel in 2006. Situated in Orbetello, the hotel’s muted modern décor inside historic walls guarantees a unique experience, and this may well be the perfect place for star-crossed lovers to retreat. Take in the spectacular views of the Monte Argentario mountains from the stylish rooms and savor breakfast and outstanding cuisine in the Ristorante Wine Bar. Rooms offer large comfortable bed, stylish furniture, and wonderfully crafted historic arched ceilings. While romantic couples will find everything they need in the hotel, they can also enjoy the Orbetello peninsula, which has a lively nightlife district full of bars and restaurants.

Mediterranea Hotel Tuscany
Mediterranea Luxury House
is a small bed and breakfast offering four star luxury in a beautiful, romantic setting in Quercianella. Quercianella, known for its macchia – the evergreen Mediterranean vegetation enveloping the landscape – is a nature lover’s paradise and is just a stone’s throw from the sea. Mediterranea Luxury House is a private retreat which affords stunning views and personal service. This exquisite bed and breakfast serves up local hams, cheeses and home-grown tomatoes as part of the renowned morning fare. Owners Roberto and Vania will ensure your stay at this white villa is a memorable one, and can help you with recommendations for nearby activities including mountain climbing, sailing, surfing, and fishing.

Villa Campestri Hotel Tuscany
Villa Campestri
,  a 13th century country home, is set in the awe-inspiring natural surroundings of the village of Campestri, not far from the magic of Florence. Villa Campestri pampers honeymooners with homegrown fruits, vegetables, and finely tuned cuisine; enjoy regional specialties and vegetarian options accompanied by a glass or two of the local Oleoteca wine. From the outdoor pool, couples can enjoy views of vineyards, olive trees, forests, and meadows stretching out to the horizon. In addition to the attractions of Florence, the Medici fortress at San Piero a Sieve is a great day trip from here. This beautiful hotel offers high-flyers a helipad should they wish to arrive in style and horse-drawn coach rides are an opportunity to lap up romance and style with a timeless touch.

Contributed by Holly at Escapio.com. These are just a selection of the luxury, design and boutique Tuscany hotels available for booking. All photos courtesy of Escapio.

A Bribe-Free Holiday in Sicily

Vucciria Market in Palermo Sicily
You Wanna Pizzo Me?

The brave work of the anti-mafia organization AddioPizzo.org was recently brought to my attention. “Addio Pizzo” means “Goodbye, Pizzo,” the latter word meaning the protection money that hundreds of businesses throughout Sicily have had to pay to the powerful, omnipresent mafia. AddioPizzo was formed in 2004 after a group of young Sicilian entrepreneurs, afraid that they too would have to pay a racket if they wanted to open up a pub, began plastering Palermo with stickers that said:

Un Intero Popolo Che Paga Il Pizzo È Un Popolo Senza Dignità

An Entire People Who Pay the Pizzo Is a People Without Dignity

As more Sicilians spoke up to agree with this message, the anti-pizzo movement was born. Slowly but surely, businesses stepped forward bearing the “addiopizzo” label, which meant that because they refused to pay the pizzo, then their customers did not have to worry about funding the Mafia through their purchases. Today there is an ever-growing list of AddioPizzo businesses in Palermo, from sporting goods stores to pharmacies and from restaurants to industrial service providers. You can download the 2009 AddioPizzo Guide and Map to Pizzo-Free Businesses (PDF) here (the most recent guide available as of this writing). You can also print out this list, which is less handy because it is without a map but probably more updated.

AddioPizzo Banner - Anti-Mafia
AddioPizzo also now has an offshoot called AddioPizzo Travel, which takes tourists around Sicily to not only pizzo-free establishments but former homes and hideouts of mob bosses which have been reclaimed by the state and turned over to anti-mafia organizations such as Libera Terra. AddioPizzo Travel goes beyond the Sicilian capital of Palermo to explore many of the other beautiful – but mafia-scarred – cities of Monreale, Capaci, Cinisi, and Cefalù.

Libera Terra is in itself interesting anti-mob organization. It operates as a cooperative that has begun cultivating lands seized from the mafia and producing goods with the “from lands freed from the mafia” label.  Libera Terra also runs a B&B in the former home of mob capo Bernardo Brusca (Portella della Ginestra) as well as the co-op farmstay inn (Pio La Torre) in Corleone, renowned Cosa Nostra territory.

This is responsible travel at its core. Let’s hope that the AddioPizzo organization, label, and tours will spread north to other mafia-infected regions like Calabria and Campania.

Photo © Stefano@Benetti from Creative Commons

Italy Insiders Share Their Favorite Spots for Romance

Lovers on Lake Como

I like to do a romance-themed post every year around Valentine’s Day for obvious reasons. So given the popularity of crowd-sourcing (and the positive response I received from friends for last month’s crowd-sourced article on Rome When It Rains), I decided to give the power of the people on LinkedIn, Twitter, and elsewhere another try. Here was my query:

If you live in Italy, where is the most romantic spot in your area?

Not surprisingly, people had strong opinions about this topic. One commenter even said, “Melanie, we cannot tell you this otherwise in no time it will be full of tourists and not romantic anymore!” (-M.G.) My response was “Ha! You got me there, M.G. What if we promise to be really quiet?? 🙂 ”

Luckily, my little bit of pleading worked. In fact, I received about two dozen comments from various sources which I will share with you after the jump. Some listings are plugs for (worthy) hotels, restaurants, and tours while others are just beautiful places – known and lesser-known – that Italy insiders and Italophiles wanted to share with the world*.

So, if you visit any of the places listed below promise me one thing: please be a nice, respectful tourist so  I can continue to get Italians and expats living in Italy to share their travel secrets! Continue reading “Italy Insiders Share Their Favorite Spots for Romance”

Italy Article Round-Up

In case you missed these recent articles on travel to Italy…

New York Times
Sicily, Through the Eyes of the Leopard

The Washington Post
See Naples…And Eat

Sydney Morning Herald
Ready for Super-Bol (A Search for the Best Ragu in Bologna)

Los Angeles Times
Exploring Sun-Splashed Venice’s City Squares

The Guardian (UK)
Instant Weekend…Turin

The Boston Globe
Eat Them All, Pray For More, Love the Neopolitan Pie
Ancient Capri Still Casts Its Powerful Spell

Seattle Times (Rick Steves’ Europe)
For Italy In the Extreme, Go to Naples

The Independent (UK)
See Italy – From the Wheel of a Ferrari
Lyrical Charm in Capri

The Vancouver Sun
How To Enjoy Rome With the Kids

The Financial Times
Do You Need Another Reason to Visit Florence?

Touring the Venice Lagoon by Pénichette

While browsing the web recently, I happened upon Emmanuelle Jary’s excellent primer on touring the Venice Lagoon on ViaMichelin (full disclosure: I have written for Michelin Travel Guides). But what, I wondered, was a pénichette? Turns out that it is a small barge-like houseboat – just the perfect type of transportation for getting around the city of canals on a mini-tour.

The word “pénichette” is a registered trademark, perhaps owned by the company Locaboat, whose photos are used throughout the Michelin article and which runs several tours of the Venice Lagoon. You can choose one- to two-week excursions, and travel from the base at Chioggia to points such as Treviso, Padova, and the Venetian islands. According to Locaboat, pénichettes are ideal for family or group travel and those “which bear the ‘R’ label are boats which have been updated with the latest low-pollution, high performance equipment.” So, your trip to Venice can be eco-friendly, too.

While you’re out and about, consider following Jary and Michelin’s suggestions for dining out or ordering in (listed at the bottom of the article) from some of the great restaurants in Venice. I’m salivating for the potato risotto and cuttlefish polenta from Do Farai right now…

Photo © Via Michelin

Swimming in Sardinia

An article today in the New York Times on Swimming Vacations inspired us to see if there were any swim adventure tours in Italy. In fact, one of the companies profiled – Swimtrek (located in London) – offers a one week swim trip around Sardinia’s Maddalena Archipelago. The tour features:

    Swimming from Maddalena to Spargi.
    The crossings between the three northern islandsof Budelli, Santa Maria, and Razzoli are inspiring.
    The swim down Caprera’s eastern shoreline is a great delight, ending at the beautiful beach of Tahiti (named after the South Pacific island!)
    Enjoying the abundant flora and fauna as we make tracks across the archipelago.
    Savouring the delights of the main town of La Maddalena.

For this season, there are still two dates available – June 14-20 and September 27-October 3. If you’re a swimming enthusiast, this is a wholly unique way to see Italy. As an added bonus, each day you’ll have a chance to work off all that pasta you ate the night before!