Archive for » June, 2014 «

Cultural Italy – Jousting of the Saracens

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.

Touring the Shorelines From Civitavecchia to Rome!

There are many ways on how you can enjoy and even get to Rome. The shore excursions from Civitavecchia to Rome prove to be one of them. In fact, it has become one of the most important ports, as it invites more and more passengers every year.

The shore excursions from Civitavecchia to Rome will usually start at the northern and farther portion of Rome. It is basically at least 1.5 hour’s drive from the capital. However, because of the comprehensive transport system, with wide highways and fast trains, it’s not going to be a very long wait for you. It also intersects the road leading to the Fiumincino, a Roman airport.

If you’re going for the shore excursions from Civitavecchia to Rome, then you better start packing all your essentials the night before. This is because cruise ships will usually dock so early in the morning, and buses that will take you to shore excursions will not wait for you for too long.

Going through by Train

Besides shore excursions from Civitavecchia to Rome, you can also travel to Rome by train. There are different schedules that you can take, and it will only take less than 2 hours from the central station called Roma Termini before you can reach the metropolis. If you can catch up with more modern and faster trains, you can even cut the number of hours in half. The train station of Civitavecchia can be located near the port’s entrance, but you may have to still walk a distance as the unloading terminal is somewhat far.

Is Shore Excursions from Civitavecchia to Rome Right for You?

There are certain factors that you may have to consider before you can actually decide that shore excursions is the right way to enjoy the various historical locations of this ancient Roman city. Normally, tours are very much suitable to all types of passengers. You don’t have to walk very long distances, and there are only few stairs to climb on. This is extremely ideal for old people, who may already be suffering from joint and leg pains. Shore excursions from Civitavecchia to Rome are also friendly to people with wheelchairs, though it may be advisable to have someone who can guide them as they have to walk few steps. After all, there are only limited wheelchair lifts on shore trips.

If you’re not sure whether shore excursions from Civitavecchia to Rome is fitting for you, you can always ask for more information from the travel agency. They will surely be happy to provide you of any data that you need. You can also spot if the tour is family oriented or good for children by simply looking out for the family-friendly icon or logo. It can be in their websites or in their brochures. Children aged 11 and below usually have lower price fees than teens and adults.

Civitavecchia-Rome Shore Excursion Tours

Shore excursions tours are the best way to experience and appreciate the Eternal City in a limited time. They can include private transportation from the ship to any destination.

A cruise towards Rome requires you to be as comfortable as you can. You can’t just allow yourself to be bothered by your poorly fitted garments. Moreover, make sure that you put on your most comfortable and durable walking shoes, sun hats, a bottle of water, and enthusiasm—and your leisurely trip will be truly perfect.

Biography: Paavo Nurmi, the flying Finn

With another Olympiad upon us, we should be reminded of the great moments provided by our many Olympic heroes. A lot of these great moments were provided by long distance runners. Throughout the long and storied history of the Olympic Games, there have been a great many runners whose names and deeds have become the stuff of legend. There was Abebe Bikila, a member of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selasse’s Palace Guard, who would come out of nowhere to win the Marathon at the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome while running in his bare feet! He would repeat his victory at Tokyo in 1964 – this time wearing shoes. Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia would win unprecedented TRIPLE Gold Medals in the 5000 Meter Run, 10000 Meter Run, and the Marathon at the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. Finally, there was Frank Shorter who would become the first U.S. Gold Medalist in the Marathon in 64 years at Munich, West Germany in 1972. His victory was significant because it set off a nationwide running boom that, to some degree, continues to this day. Perhaps the greatest Olympic distance runner of all was Paavo Nurmi, the legendary “Flying Finn”, whose Olympic career spanned the period from 1920 to 1928. Nurmi would win a record NINE Gold Medals in Track and Field events. This record would be equaled seventy two years later by Carl Lewis – a sprinter!

Paavo Nurmi was born on June 13, 1897 in Torvu, Finland. His father, a carpenter, died when he was only 12 years old. One of the more remarkable facts about Nurmi was that he had a resting heart rate of ONLY 39 beats per minute! Nurmi had his earliest success at 3000 Meters, but it was during a short stint in the army that he first attracted attention. Nurmi entered a 20 Kilometer march with full equipment. Running was allowed, so he ran the entire way. In spite of the fact that he was carrying a rifle, a cartridge belt, and an 11 pound sack of sand, he finished the course way ahead of everyone else. So quickly, in fact, that some officials were convinced that he had cheated.

All throughout his running career, Nurmi ran his races with a stopwatch. However, towards the end of his races, he would toss the watch on the ground. His first Olympic Gold Medal came at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium in the 10000 Meter Run. Afterwords, Second Place finisher, Joseph Guillemot of France (who had beaten Nurmi in the 5000 Meter Run earlier in the Games) vomited on Nurmi’s shoes. This was

How to choose Discount Lodging in Rome

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.

I Love Italian Wine and Food – Launching a Series

I Love Italian Wine and Food – Launching a Series

Let’s start with a few statistics. Italy constantly fights with France for the title of the world’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, I’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. We’ll talk about the wines and the foods that characterize the region. We’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, we’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.

Wine Classification.
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. Don’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 didn’t want to be told by government officials how to make wine (see DOC below). In essence they said, “We’ll do it our way and let the market decide.” 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 wine’s geography but not its composition or production method. Once again, don’t jump to conclusions about the wine’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 “Santo Chiodo” 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 (I’ll let you do the translation.)

Why I Couldn´t get enough of Italian men in Rome!!

The stereotypical image of Italian men; tall, dark and very, very handsome. Is this stereotypical image untrue, I ask myself? After spending 2 enchanting weeks holidaying in the ´Eternal city´ of Rome, sightseeing with my friends, mingling with the local hotties, I have to say this stereotype is, in my experience, a definite 100%. Although many of them think they are God´s gift to women – for once, they´re right…

My two week holiday started when we arrived at the most amazing Rome apartment, close to the Piazza de Popolo. We were really geared up about the holiday and all the great must sees; The Vatican City, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps but also and we couldn´t wait to get onto the fantastic Piazza Novona, packed with people in the restaurants, cafes and bars at night.

We immediately noticed how dark, strong and sensitive the men were, and so well dressed too! I had always been a fan of Italian footballers, especially Manuele Blasi, Fabio Cannavaro, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Gianluca Zambrotta, and in Rome I felt like I had a hundred Zambrotta´s all around me! Italian men seem to have a certain something about them, I´m not sure if it´s the way they speak English with an Italian accent when you ask them for directions, or the way they are so interesting to talk to, playful and funny.

We met a group of men in a bar, they were dressed very smartly. Some of the best bars I’ve ever been to were in Rome and I think we met these guys in “Anima” in the Historic Centre, they had been to a wedding that day, and looked positively dashing in their suits. Marco, Luca and Francesco were their names, it was hard getting this out of them, as they spoke hardly any English, and we spoke next to no Italian, apart from my friend Becca who is studying it at university. The guys were from Florence but were staying in a hotel in Rome near to the Piazza Novona and said they would show us round because they knew Rome quite well.

We spent the fifth day of our trip sightseeing together, they guys said they´d show us the attractions in Rome such as; Capitoline Museums at the Piazza del Campidoglio, Fontana Dell’acqua Paola and the Piazza Della Repubblica. We had a great day together. The guys were really sweet, opening doors for us, pulling out chairs, paying for lunch – certainly something you wouldn´t expect in England we laughed, – at home, a man´s idea of romance is normally more like ´Fancy a pint luv?´

Towards the end of the trip there was a lot of romance in the air, I think it was not only how sweet the Italian boys were, but also just being in Rome itself. Although the city itself is loud and chaotic, (as is to be expected in ´the city that never sleeps´), the pretty sidestreets, Rome accommodation, boutiques and cafes are filled with couples holding hands, children riding their bikes and old people sitting on the benches gossiping and watching the world go by.

Quite honestly, whilst I was sitting in a enchanting square in one of the most exciting cities in the world with my friends and 3 beautiful Italian men, I was completely content and couldn´t have imagined anything better than just being there and enjoying myself.

Cultural Italy – Miracle Players at the Roman Forum

Miracle Players at the Roman Forum is an English language theatre group who are performing in the Ancient Roman Forum. This group comes to Rome every summer and frequently play to huge crowds as they are very popular with the locals. Their down-to-earth and family friendly comedy style is usually a hit with everyone. The plays are usually only around 40 minutes long so even the younger members of the audience shouldn?t get too bored.

In 2007 the comedy play ?Caesar – More Than Just A Salad? and was a major success. This years production is called the ?The History of Rome – Part One?; how they manage to get over a thousand years of Roman history into a 40 minute play is pure genius by the plays writers. Any fan of Monty Python will be a fan of the Miracle Players’.

The play is being performed in the Roman Forum from June 20th to August 8th, and the shows are performed on Fridays at 7.30 pm. If you are around the Roman Forum area at this time, drop in and take a look as the shows are free and you do not need to make a reservation.

How to get there: The Roman Forum is located close to the Piazza Venezia in the city centre. There are several bus routes that stop on Piazza Venezia and these include the 64, 70, 170, 492, 175, 40, 63, 95, 85, 628, 87, 715, 716, 60, 44, 81, 117, 119, 62. Alternateively you can take the Metro B to Colosseum and then walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali to the forum.

This comedy production is just one of a large number of things you can do and see while in Rome, so for other ideas check out our other Car Hire Italy Blogs. If you are looking to drive out of the city then take a look at our Car Hire Italy options.

How to save money while visiting Rome – Part 5

If you’re looking to save money when visiting Rome, there are a few tips to keep in mind. These include tips regarding transportation, lodgings, dining, and even water.

Number One: Lodgings. When first arriving at the airport in Rome, you will have to take some sort of transportation into the city. My bus ride took about forty-five minutes. We arrived at night, and we were exhausted having come from the U.S. and been on a connecting flight from London.

When we arrived at the airport, therefore, we immediately went to a booking station inside the airport. When you approach these kiosks, you are asked how much you would like to spend per night, and then the employees book a hotel for you through a computer. This is an excellent service, but there are ways to save money. Keep your wits about you and you could come out getting a great deal. Low-ball your estimate of what you’d like to spend. If a number comes to mind, cut in by one-third and see what comes up. Ask for something that’s on the subway line, but not within the main tourist area. These hotels are likely to have bigger rooms with bathrooms in them (a definite plus) for far less than Rome.

In addition, off-the-beaten-path hotels will likely have small local family-owned restaurants nearby who will be very appreciative of your business. A hotel we found featured a woman who spoke five languages and an up-all-night bakery/dessert shop right across the street. The restaurant around the corner took Euros, American dollars and American Express Traveler’s Checks we hadn’t had a chance to convert to Euros. We spent a couple of dollars on the subway fare for the day and rode about ten minutes into the city.

Another great way to save money on lodgings once you’ve settled into your first hotel (if you plan on staying in more than one), is to go to the Rome Termini station (the main train station which connects all of Italy in a vast rail network). Representatives from area hotels will be on hand trying to coax you out of line at the booking kiosks with deals at their own hotels, armed with brochures. Politely decline their offers several times and watch them keep lowering the price. Then offer to take the room, but only if you can have that low rate for two nights instead of one. My husband and I got a $150 a night room for $60 a night using the “no, thanks” method.

Number Two: Food

There are some absolutely wonderful restaurants in Italy, of course, where you can actually

Walking all Over Rome – An Easy Guide to Rome’s Must See Shoe Shops

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a love of shoes. The first time my parents took my sisters and me to Rome in 1996 was when my love affair with shoes started, beginning with a trendy pair of black platforms – similar to a pair Ginger Spice would have worn in the Spice Girls around that time… Rome is famous for it’s style and high fashion, and this certainly applies in the shoe department. Not only can you find hundreds upon hundreds of fancy boutiques offering the latest in classic style and sophistication, Rome is famous for its ability to create fun and outlandish designs, flooding the market with shoes in unusual colours, shapes and materials. The list of high quality shoe shops in Rome is endless, but in terms of quality, I’d start with “Re Mishelle”, a shop which caters for those looking for high fashion, true work-of-art shoes, which are almost too good to be worn on the street. This shop, close to the Piazza del Popolo, stocks shoes from top Italian fashion designers, namely; Loriblu, Casare Paciotti, Vicini, Mario Bologna, Les Tropeziennes, Roberto Cavalli, Hamlet, Sergio Rossi, Lerre, Versus, Gianmarco Lorenzi, Ruco Line, Casadei, Gerardina di Maggio and Star Artioli, but the list truly goes on… “Petrocchi” can be found at Via dell’Orso 25, in the centre of Rome, take note that this is where the most phenomenal shoe shops are and for this reason it is wise to stay in a <a target=”_blank” "http://www.oh-holidays.com/en/italy/rome/apartments_1/">Rome apartment</a> or <a target=”_blank” "http://www.oh-holidays.com/en/italy/rome/hotels_1/">Rome hotel</a> in the heart of the shopping district to find the quirkiest boutiques, but also the big name shoes shops too. Petrocchi is a sophisticated store providing shoes of the highest quality leather, in numerous chic styles. Many high-class people visit this shop for their made-to-measure shoes and thus the prices can reflect the special attention given to each customer. Petrocchi is open from Tues-Fri 9 am-1 pm and 3:30-7:30 pm; Sat 10 am-1 pm and 3:30-7:30 pm and is closed Sun and Mon. Bruno Magli at Via Condotti 6, has a good reputation for stylish, well made shoes. Via Condotti is literally the nucleus of the shopping district in Rome and abundant with <a target=”_blank” "http://www.oh-holidays.com/en/italy/rome/accommodation_1/">Rome accommodation</a>. Again, this designer store is rather pricy, which is to be expected from many shoe shops in Rome. However, I always consider spending money on shoes money well spent as they protect your feet from the ground, so regardless of how comfortable, well made or simply gorgeous they are, they are a major necessity! With that in mind, Bruno’s shoes are rumoured to be so comfortable they are the preferred shoe of choice for many air stewardesses.

Book Your Accommodation In Rome In Advance

As such, it has a large variety of accommodation options available for those who are visiting the city.

There are a variety of different quality hotels that are available. You can find anything from a luxury hotel to a bargain budget hotel room. The budget hotels may require you to pay extra for a private bathroom otherwise you will need to share. If you have a shared bathroom, the room may not include their buffet breakfast. It is worthwhile to check all of these facts and to consider paying extra for the bathroom and breakfast. The cheaper, budget hotels can often be found in the area surrounding Termini station. This makes them highly accessible and convenient. You may find that they offer special deals so ask about this when you book. They may also give you a discount if you pay in cash.

If you are looking for a luxury hotel, head for the area of Via Veneto. Here you will find many grand and glamorous hotels. The area around the Aventine or a classy hotel near Villa Borghese Park will provide you with a peaceful and comfortable stay in Rome. You can stay at a camping site although these tend to be further out of the city and are not convenient if you want to spend a lot of time visiting the attractions within the city itself.

You can find holiday apartments for rent in Rome. These can be found over the Internet or through agencies. They are generally a good option for larger groups (such as families) who would like a bit more privacy and freedom than you can find in a hotel. They also provide the opportunity to feel like you are living in a Roman home. They generally have all the self catering amenities such as a kitchen and terrace. Villas are also available. A more recent addition to the hotel accommodation options in Rome, are bed and breakfasts. These are as simple as people opening their homes and renting out a spare room. These will be much cheaper accommodation options than hotels. You can also find a vast number of Roman hostels which are also a good budget option for visitors to the city.

An interesting form of holiday accommodation that you can find in Rome that is not available in other cities is convents. There are a number of convents in Rome that put up paying guests. The convents are strongly Catholic. Some of them will only accept Catholic guests who book their accommodation through their church, but most will accept guests of any religion as long as they are happy to stay in such a Catholic environment. The amenities are generally fairly simple, but they are well priced and generally a peaceful place to stay. They are also a good choice for a budget traveler, but they may not suit the backpacker as they generally have curfews of around 11pm.