August 30th, 2010
Jousting of the Saracens, is one of the most popular events is the Arezzo area. This is an annual jousting tournament where the men-folk of the local area, get kitted out in armour, mount up and joust in the hope of winning the coveted prize of the Golden Lance. In 2008, this festival will be taking place on Saturday June 1st and there is another later on in September.The whole town goes all out for this event with flag-bearers, trumpeters and people in medieval costume filling the streets. The origin of the festival are shrouded in mystery but it is known that there were tournaments held as far back as 1260! In more recent times, instead of jousting one another, the target has become to hit the shield held by a rotating puppet called the Saracen, so easy feat.To learn about other events in Italy you might enjoy reading one of our other car hire Italy blogs, dont forget that the best way to see Italy is by car rental. Italy is an excellent country to explore for it contains history, culture and some of the finest weather on the continent, so why not check out our car rental Italy options and give Nova a go. How to get there: Arezzo is located in nearly the exact middle of Italy. It is only 75kms southeast of Florence and about 200kms north of Rome. The city is located just off the A1 which runs between Florence and Rome, so if you are travelling between these two cities you could possible drop in and take a look around. If you arent around during the festival, then you could always make a visit to the local churches that feature frescoes of 12th-century crusaders.
August 28th, 2010
In order to find discount lodging in Rome, one needs to first become familiar with the term pension. A pension is like a hotel, only it tends to be smaller. In addition, the price of the room at a pension includes the price of meals.
Some tourists who seek discount lodging have chosen to request mezza pension, which means half-pension. This means that the tourist will pay for eating at the pension for only one meal a day (in addition to breakfast). Whichever arrangement the tourist selects, she or he is guaranteed a comfortable accommodation with an informal atmosphere.
Once the visitor to Rome has located good, discount lodging, then she or he will want to take-in the City’s many sights. Plan any sightseeing with an eye to the discovery of Rome’s many churches and museums. Moreover, do not forget to include a trip to the Colosseum.
The visitor to Rome might want to spend some time within the discount lodging reading-up on one or more of the places that could be part of a sightseeing expedition. One way to get a feel for ancient Rome is by reading Emperors and Gladiators by Thomas Wiedemann. This book offers a very positive picture of early Roman civilization. Anyone who has read this book will realize that the Colesseum did more than just pandering to the masses.
Rome has so much to see that one is foolish not to obtain a map. The visitor to Rome should then study that map, most likely within the confines of some discount lodging. The map should show where the tourist’s accommodation sits, in relation to Rome’s monuments, churches, museums and other places of interest (such as the catacombs).
Once the tourist has chosen the places of interest that she or he wants to visit during a tour of Rome, then that tourist should consult with the operators of the discount lodging regarding the best mode of transportation. A tourist can view Rome on foot, by autobus, by underground or by taxi.
As the tourist departs from his or her discount lodging, that traveler will probably be unprepared for the true wonder of Rome. That first exposure to Rome has left an impression on many travelers. Fenimore Cooper wrote that when he first saw Rome he felt like a compatriot who first visits town, perplexed with the whirl of sensations and the multiplicity of the objects.
A tour through Rome is like paying a visit to another time. It is a way to have a close-hand look at the magnificent skills of the ancient architects, sculptors, and painters. It forces the tourist to re-examine his or her perception of Rome. It will leave that tourist with the desire to return and to plan for a longer stay at some sort of discount lodging.
August 27th, 2010
I Love Italian Wine and Food â€“ Launching a Series
Letâ€™s start with a few statistics. Italy constantly fights with France for the title of the worldâ€™s biggest wine producer. Italy ranks number 3 in per capita wine consumption. As in many other European countries, Italians are drinking less wine, but better wine. Italy exports about 10% of its wine production to the United States. It is home to almost one million registered vineyards, and more than one thousand grape varieties, the majority of which are found nowhere else on earth.
Italy is the king of microclimates: 40% of its territory is mountainous and another 40% is hilly. Such territory can often be ideal for vineyards, even if of little value for other agricultural products. The country is surrounded by five bodies of water; the Ligurian Sea in the northwest, the Tyrrhenian Seas in the southwest, the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea in the south, and the Adriatic Sea in the east. All these geographical factors mean that vineyards a few kilometers apart may yield vastly different wines.
Did you know that Italy is divided into twenty regions? Each and every one produces wine, its own distinctive style or usually styles of wine that accompany its regional food specialties. Almost all regions produce wine for export to North America. Of course some regions are doing better than others, but in many cases regions that were once known for their bland, and perhaps baked wines, have turned the corner and are now making some excellent wines. Because the public is not yet generally aware of these wine-making regions, there are still bargains to be had. Keep posted, Iâ€™ll be making specific recommendations.
Italy can be divided into three major sections: Northern Italy, sharing a border with four European countries (France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia), Central Italy, and the South, traditionally the poorest part of Italy.
Northern Italy is composed of eight regions: The Aosta Valley, Piedmont (whose capital is Turin), Lombardy (whose capital is Milan), Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, The Veneto (whose capital is Venice), Emilia-Romagna, and Liguria (whose capital is Genoa). Because wines from the first and last of these regions are quite difficult to find in North America, we are planning articles on only six of these regions.
Central Italy is composed of six regions: Tuscany (whose capital is Florence), Umbria, The Marches, Abruzzi, Molise, and Latium (whose capital is Rome). We are planning at least one article on each of these regions.
Southern Italy is composed of six regions: Apulia, Campania (whose capital is Naples), Basilicata, Calabria, and the islands of Sicily (whose capital is Palermo) and Sardinia. We are planning at least one article on each of these regions.
Each article will discuss the region and its distinctiveness. Weâ€™ll talk about the wines and the foods that characterize the region. Weâ€™ll taste at least one wine as we are preparing the articles, and sometimes refer to memorable wines that we have tasted months or years previously. When possible, weâ€™ll taste the wine with an imported Italian cheese that typifies the region.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY While we have communicated with well over a thousand Italian wine producers and merchants to help prepare these articles, our policy is clear. All wines that we taste and review have been purchased at the full retail price.
Now back to the subject of Italian wines.
Italy has legally defined four wine classifications that presumably help the consumer make a selection when faced dozens of unfamiliar choices. In 1963 Italy devised the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Origin) wine legislation largely modeled on the French legislation. The goal of the DOC system was to classify and regulate wine production in given geographical areas and help these areas develop their own specific identity. Donâ€™t get confused, in addition to designating the Italian wine classification system, DOC also designates the third classification level within this system.
While most wine producing countries have instituted official wine classifications, arguably the Italian system is the most controversial, some would say the most abused, and the most ignored by the wine producers themselves. Look for these classifications on the wine label. But be warned, a higher classification does not always mean a better wine.
VdT stands for Vino da Tavola, translated as table wine. These wines may be made from any grape, or mixture of grapes, anywhere within Italy. Usually table wines are pretty ordinary, and in Italy they are often served directly from the barrel. And yet on occasion VdT wines are excellent and priced accordingly. Why should these lowest-rated wines be better than their supposedly fancier competitors? Some innovative producers didnâ€™t want to be told by government officials how to make wine (see DOC below). In essence they said, â€śWeâ€™ll do it our way and let the market decide.â€ť The classic examples of outstanding VdT wines are Super-Tuscans, often going for $50 or more a bottle.
IGT stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica, which may be translated as Typical Geographic Indication, in other words a wine that typifies its specific location. This classification was created in 1992 to provide a level of wine above table wine, and below DOC, described next. The IGT classification defines the wineâ€™s geography but not its composition or production method. Once again, donâ€™t jump to conclusions about the wineâ€™s quality. I clearly remember drinking an exceptional IGT served at a public Italian wine dinner. It was a Rosso di Toscana IGT Croce di Bibbiano â€śSanto Chiodoâ€ť Super Tuscan that unfortunately is unavailable in my area. It costs more than most DOC and DOCG wines (see below) and in my opinion, this wine is worth it.
DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin. Each and every region has at least one DOC wine, for example, the Apulia region has 25 DOCs while its neighbor Bascilicata has only one. A given DOC defines the permissible grape or grape varieties as well as numerous details about the grape growing and wine making process. The first DOC wine dates back to 1966. About one fifth of Italian wine is classified DOC or better. Perhaps you can guess from this statistic that a DOC on the label is no guarantee of quality.
DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Guarantita, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin. Please realize that this letter G on the label is no guarantee of quality. For example, the first red wine to achieve DOCG status (in 1980), the Tuscan Brunello di Montalcino is quite highly regarded. In contrast, the first white wine to achieve DOCG status (in 1987 after considerable debate) the Albana di Romagna from the neighboring region of Emilia-Romagna is not highly regarded at all. I have never tasted this particular wine, but the best comment I have ever read it is that this wine is pleasantly fruity. In my opinion, such weak praise hardly justifies its top-of-the-line official status. Perhaps what is required is a DOCGG classification (Iâ€™ll let you do the translation.)
August 23rd, 2010
I visited Rome for the first time last November. As a Roman history buff, visiting Rome was the highlight of my Italian trip. On my first night in Rome I took a self-guided walking tour and became hopelessly lost. I discovered amazing architecture, a plethora of ancient fountains, and wonderful family owned restaurants and gelato shops. I was fascinated by the wonderful confluence of the ancient and modern as Romans rushed by me in designer clothing while talking on cell phones, surrounded by two thousand year old streets and sculpture. I did finally find my way back to my hotel, but my five hour trek took me all over the city and gave me a good working knowledge of its layout.
The next day I spent most of my time at the Palatine Hill. This was by far my favorite part of my stay in Rome, because it was truly like traveling back in time. I purchased a double ticket for the Palatine and the Coliseum. The line to get into the Coliseum stretched completely around the massive structure, so I decided to tackle the Palatine Hill first. There was no line to enter, and it was just like walking into a history book. I felt like I had entered the pages of Robert Graves’, I, Claudius. I was completely amazed by the palace ruins. The Palatine Hill is where the emperors of Rome resided for hundreds of years, and the palace and its ground is in remarkably good shape. I was breathless at the thought that I was walking on the very same mosaic tile that Emperor Augustus and Queen Livia walked, before the time of Christ.
The House of Livia and Augustus still stands a little way away from the palace. It is completely intact, standing white against the green hills just as it always has. This is the house that Augustus lived in before the construction of the palace. The house occasionally admits visitors, but it was undergoing renovations when I was there. The palace balconies offer spectacular views of the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, the Arch of Constantine, the dome of St. Peter’s, and the ancient chariot raceway. Even in November, the Palatine gardens were blooming and the olive trees gave off a lovely exotic scent.
I spent hours exploring the hill and then I descended to the Forum and marveled at the ruins of the ancient trade hub on my way to find some authentic Roma pizza for a late lunch. There are many options for pizza in Rome; I stopped at the first one I came to that had Italians eating al fresco and brick oven baking. Everyone should eat
August 22nd, 2010
Finding Apartments in Rome
It can be difficult at best to set about finding apartments in Rome. When you donâ€™t live in the city, finding apartments in Rome is difficult because you canâ€™t be sure if you are staying in the safest part of the city, getting the best accommodations for you money, and finding apartments in Rome that are central to the things you want to visit.
If you are serious about finding apartments in Rome, it is best to work with a reputable rental agency. Unfortunately not all rental agencies are that reliable when it comes to offering help finding apartments in Rome. Some online companies fail to accurately describe the lodging they are offering and when you finally get to your destination, you are sorely disappointed with the results. Other agencies that claim the help you with finding apartments in Rome play around with the price and then tack on extra fees when you arrive at your destination. There are even agencies that specialize in finding apartments in Rome that are located in the areas that no one would really want to stay.
When you rent an apartment from Best of Rome.com LLC you can be sure that they are dedicated to finding apartments in Rome that are perfect for your needs. Their friendly staff works hard finding apartments in Rome that are only located in safe and secure locales. Their site shows extensive pictures of all the properties they list, so you are never surprised when you work with them finding apartments in Rome. With a wide selection of apartments available, they have lodgings that are sure to fit your space and location needs.
You donâ€™t need to work alone on finding apartments in Rome. The courteous team at Best In Rome.com LLC is waiting to help you plan the perfect Roman Holiday.
August 22nd, 2010
Cork International Airport is the gateway to the beautiful Southwest of Ireland. Last year over 3.2 million visitors passed through its terminals – it has certainly come a long way since its first landing back in 1961. Cork Airport is now the 3rd largest airport in the Republic of Ireland. Located just 8 kilometres south from Cork City centre and ideally positioned on the N22, N20, N8 and N25, there’s easy access from all areas.
SkyLink and Bus Ă‰ireann operate a regular service between the airport and the city centre. The journey takes approximately 25 minutes. Bus Ă‰ireann also run a service to Kinsale, taking in Cork Airport. You’ll find a taxi rank outside the arrivals hall. You can also hire a car at one of the car rental desks. Our advice though is to book your car hire before you travel to Cork to avoid disappointment.
Just two years ago on the 15th August 2006, Cork Airport officially opened a new state of the art terminal. Designed by Jacobs Engineering Group and HOK, this new terminal is the first 21st century airport terminal of it?s kind in Ireland.
Located right in the centre of Cork Airport Complex you’ll find the Radisson SAS Hotel. This is a popular hotel ideal for those wishing to catch an early morning flight or who have a late arrival time. Offering first class facilities all rooms are en-suite and include satellite television, direct dial telephone, trouser press, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar on request and all rooms are air conditioned. There’s also a 24 hour shuttle bus service to and from Cork Airport available. Two other excellent choices are the 3 star Travelodge Cork Airport and the 4 star Cork International Airport Hotel.
Which airlines fly to/from Cork?
A very large number of Irish, British and European destinations are serviced by Cork Airport, the complete list of scheduled flight destinations is as follows:
Alicante – Aer Lingus
Amsterdam – Aer Lingus
Barcelona – Aer Lingus
Belfast – Aer Arann
Berlin – Aer Lingus
Birmingham – Aer Lingus & bmi baby
Bratislava (Vienna) – SkyEurope
Brest – Aer Arann
Bristol – Aer Arann
Carcassonne – Ryanair
Cardiff – Aer Arann
Dublin – Aer Arann & Ryanair
East Midlands – Ryanair (until October 2008)
Edinburgh – Aer Arran
Faro – Aer Lingus
Galway – Aer Arann
Gdansk – Wizz Air
Geneva – Aer Lingus
Glasgow – Ryanair (until October 2008)
Jersey – Aer Lingus
Katowice – Wizz Air
Lanzarote – Aer Lingus
La Rochelle – Aer Arann
Leeds Bradford – Aer Arann
Liverpool – Ryanair
London Gatwick – Ryanair
London Heathrow – Aer Lingus
London Stansted – Ryanair
Lorient – Aer Arann
Malaga – Aer Lingus
Manchester – bmi baby & Aer Lingus
Munich – Aer Lingus
Nantes – Aer Arann
Newcastle – Jet2.com
Newquay – Air Southwest
Nice – Aer Lingus
Paris – Aer Lingus
Plymouth – Air Southwest
Prague – Aer Lingus
Rome – Aer Lingus
Southampton – Aer Arann
Tenerife – Aer Lingus
Warsaw – Wizz Air
For holiday destinations operating from Cork here is a listing of Charter Flights to/from Cork Airport:
Almeria – Falcon
Bodrum – Sunworld
Bulgaria – Sunway, Budget Travel, Falcon, Concorde.
Dubrovnik – Condorde, Sunworld.
Faro – Budget Travel, Sunworld, Topflight, Stein Travel, Panorama, Falcon.
Gran Canaria – Budget Travel, Sunway, Stein Travel.
Heraklion – Budget Travel.
Izmir – Budget Travel, Sunway, Sunworld.
Lanzarote – Budget Travel, Sunway, Sunworld, Stein Travel, Falcon, Topflight, Panorama Travel.
Majorca – Sunway, Stein Travel, Budget Travel, Falcon, Sunworld, Panorama.
Malaga – Stein Travel, Budget Travel, Falcon.
Reus – Budget Travel, Falcon.
Santorini – XL Airways.
Tunisia – Panorama.
Verona – Topflight.
Mairead Foley writes for the Ireland travel and accommodation website http://www.GoIreland.com
Visit GoIreland for all you need to know before visiting Cork, like what to see and where to go. You can also book B&Bs, hostels, guesthouses, self catering and Cork hotels.
August 21st, 2010
Unaided I could fly, swooping and diving.
No Icarus was I for what was there about me
that could melt? – no wings necessary;
just the will not to be on my feet and
no ambition for cloud lands that only freeze.
I knew the secret and could tell it, so soon
it was a family affair. We had a journey to make
to a place and for a purpose I cannot now recall
if indeed I ever knew.
Low we went and fast, laughing at the surprise
on every ground-fast face. We swerved between them
just inches from the pavement. At first we flew sitting
as if on invisible seats: our magic was prosaic;
but soon we became bolder.
Once I broke away down a peeling corridor to a dingy bar and through it without stopping to order: no greater intoxication needed.
After the swerves came now the swoops, clearing buildings with outspread limbs and unpractised ease, for confidence and skill came without effort. I tell you there was no fear and why should you disbelieve this plain fact? (Pilate asked what truth was, but I know he never flew – except in old jokes)
I let the others go on and perched on a chimney pot to think this out. How did I know old Pontius never flew?
One night in Judea he could have dreamed of soaring over the sea to Rome. But I dismissed that at once as irrelevant, for I was not dreaming.
For me then, on that hard unsteady roost, I was in the real world that had brought me sudden and unlooked for grace, just as true as all the griefs and joys that buffet and bend us from our first breathing.
I knew I had the knowledge of the birds, but no need of wings or mighty muscles. All you had to do was clear and simple – to be freely shared as soon as I was ready. But that was for later: now my companions were gone and I was just sitting. It was time to fly again.
Time to fly again, but now without remembrance of how I had first begun. The chimney pot was suddenly steeple high. A time for thought to cease. I trusted and toppled forward. A slither on damp slates and then, and then, a joyful soar.
And I knew the secret again and I knew that trust was part of it. Not all of it, but the soul of it, if a secret can have a soul. So much easier to trust when flying. Staying low now, arms outflung, along a road straight and deep between hushed trees. It was growing dark, but I did not doubt I would find the others.
I was with them again and we flew together among high silent ruins of factories. All life was gone from their gaunt bricks and chimneys but we were not oppressed, so full were we of our common gift. For us they were not lifeless husks of expectation: they were a playground in which we wheeled and circled.
Then I woke up quite suddenly. For a moment I thought I still had the secret, but the shade of Pilate sniggered as I walked to catch my train.
August 20th, 2010
Perhaps one of the most exciting things Iâ€™ve done in Rome is visited the ruins at Ostia Antica which are some of the best preserved ruins to date. With its impressive Forum, large baths complex and more than one Mithraeum, you will need a good half day or more to walk around the the Ostia ruins at leisure. Great for exploring, these ruins are so detailed that you can really imagine what it would have been like to live in this seaside port.
Ostia still boasts impressive mosaics and columns everywhere (statues are mostly taken away for safekeeping), and highlights include the smaller domestic details: the fishmonger’s marble slab, the bar with its wares illustrated on the wall, the communal public toilets and the residential villas with peaceful courtyards. Almost all ruins of Ostia Antica were unearthed in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. The first systematic excavations, initiated by pope Pius VII, were carried out by Petrini in the years 1801-1805.
The best way to reach Ostia is by using the metro. You can leave your Rome accommodation in the morning and be at Ostia within half an hour. Trains leave at station Piramide: get off the regular metro at Piramide, go up the escalator, turn immediately left and down the steps into the Roma-Lido station. Trains also leave at station Magliana, but we advise Piramide: this way you’re sure to find a seat on the train. A normal metro ticket will suffice for the entire journey. You need to alight at the Ostia Antica stop which is about 20minutes from the city. For a more scenic route, Ostia is also reachable by boat. You can buy your ticket to take the boat at the info point located near the Tevere river, in front of Castel San Angelo.
The town of Ostia Lido today is a very different place. A place popular with tourists and young people, Ostia is now a modern, tourist driven resort. Although it may not be everyoneâ€™s cup of tea, it canâ€™t be denied that it has a very cool party scene during the summer. In the Summer months, Romans love to hit Ostiaâ€™s beaches by day, (to enjoy the sun in one of the many paying beach establishments or at the free beach of Castel Porziano), and by night, when Romans venture out to mingle and party in one of the many clubs on the Ostia main sea strip. If you want to experience the fantastic nightlife at Ostia why not rent a Rome apartment or Rome hotel and take a short break.
The season in Ostia starts picking up around May and in June when most of the clubs start opening their doors to Romans and tourists with their open air dance floors, candle-lit exotic lounge bars where the most cutting edge djs entertain a young and vibrant crowd.
Some of the most popular spots are the Shilling, the Spiaggetta, the Open Bar( where you can sip cocktails by the pool) and the Faber beach( where people like to sit directly on the sand with a bottle of beer and listen to music).