Travel Tips

Travel Agent Secret Tip: How To Save On Holiday Money

Most of us can afford to go on holiday only once a year, and even then, we have to be very careful with money to stretch it as far as we want it to go. When you have saved an entire year for a much-awaited holiday, you wouldn’t want to lose a huge chunk of it to money transfers and hidden bank fees, would you? In this post, you are about to get first hand secret from a travel agent how you can save money so that you can have more to pamper yourself and actually enjoy your holiday.

How do most people lose money on holiday?

Money Exchange
You will not get the best deals when exchanging cash at the bureau de chanage

Before you can figure out how best to save money, it is vital you understand where it often goes. In the past, financial planning for a holiday was a daunting and time-consuming process that never ended happily, largely because of the hurdles of money exchange and hefty hidden bank charges one had to pay just to access or spend it. If you are planning a holiday, there are much simpler and straightforward ways you can plan to get the best deal for your holiday money. The most expensive financial services when you are in a foreign country include on-the-spot currency conversions (especially if you have cash), Travelers’ Check fees, credit card charges, interest on prepaid or debit cards, and dynamic currency conversion rates.

So, what are your best options?

Transferwise

Transferwise is wire transfer service from the creator of Skype. It allows you to transfer money abroad at interbank rates, which are the best exchange rates (wholesale rates) you can get when buying currency, plus a small reasonable fee. Transferwise is ideal when booking establishments that do not take credit cards and require a bank transfer, but also you can use to pay anyone who has a bank account around the world so you can avoid hidden credit card fees, or bank wire costs.

If you are looking for the safest, most convenient, and affordable way to book holidays abroad—whether you are looking to stay in a hotel or some other establishment— then Transferwise is a service designed just for you. With Transferwise, you will never have to:

– Deal with the insecurity of walking around with cash travel money;

– Pay huge commissions of Travelers’ checks;

– Carry prepaid or credit cards you are never sure will be accepted; or

– Worry about the complexities and delays of wire transfers.

Any travel agent who knows his stuff will tell you that Transferwise is the convenient, cost-effective, and quick way to transfer money and make payments while on holiday and get to enjoy the best interbank exchange rates.

Revolut

Revolut’s tagline, ‘Simply Revolutionary’ is exactly what this app-based global payment system is—revolution of payment simplicity. This new way to send and spend money instantly globally is a clever combination of the advancement of MasterCard and the convenience of a smartphone app. What you will need to do as you plan your holiday is simply charge your account with Euros or Dollars travel money before you leave. When you get to your destination, simply draw the money in the local currency and enjoy the best exchange rates in the market with no fees for as much as 650 euros. You can also conveniently make payments for your purchases in restaurants and shops, save your travel money over time, and send money straight from the app

There are several important considerations when comparing the various money transfers methods available to you. The most important considerations today are low transfer rates, money exchange rates, convenience (especially online access), and safety. Take the word of an experienced travel agent, the best ways for you to get the most of your money and enjoy your holiday is by using one of these two great travel money management systems.

How TTIP Will Damage Italian PDO Products

Imitation products and fakes weight down on Italy’s possibility to export its products. As the USA don’t want PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) laws to be involved, the delicate matter of Free Trade agreements is being discussed.

Between full-on fake products and the phenomenon known as “Italian sounding” (where products or brands are named to resemble Italian products while not being such) the most recent estimates have counted an earning loss equal to 60 billion euros for our agro industrial business for what concerns missed exportations, which is about twice as much as our current exportation to the rest of the world.
TTIP protest in Brighton - 12/07/2014
The main concern is protecting the uniqueness of our PGI productions and the growth, value and potential of our products with a Registered Designation of Origin, and in order to do so we have to resort to legal action for fakes and frauds (if they are discovered, especially abroad) but also to legislation between countries and complex business agreements, such as the one that is long being discussed between Europe and the USA, the dreaded TTIP (Transatlantic Treaty of International Partnership).
This treaty should create a free exchange zone between UE countries and the United States, and the matter of protecting European geographic designations of origin is one of the chapters included in the document.
The problem lays in the fact that the USA don’t understand and don’t intend to safeguard designations such as “DOP” and “IGP” (Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication) because the only products they value are commercially registered brands, property of private companies.

The USA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has explicitly admitted that the USA main concern is that protecting European designations of origin would damage certain star-spangled productions, now long on the market (such as “Parmesan” or “Wisconsin’s Asiago cheese”). These productions take part in the “Italian sounding” phenomenon, which tricks the consumer into thinking the product is originally Italian when it has nothing to do with the country, both in origin, taste and quality.
The American “Consortium for common food names” is a powerful lobby, for the most part made of 2nd, 3rd generation Italian-Americans producers that are keen on protecting their own businesses. According to European laws, a cheese can be sold as Parmigiano Reggiano or vinegar as Aceto Balsamico di Modena only so long as it has the trademark attesting its origin, else it must be recalled, and this makes the clash with USA dupes all the more radical.

Negotiations will continue, some say it will come to terms by the end of 2016, or with the next President succeeding Obama. Our producers are giving their undivided attention to the matter but, as a part of UE committees, the protection of DOP and IGP trademarks is a priority only for Italy and few more countries.
The best chance to push the negotiations forward would be to press on the matter of openness with the consumers, a matter that the USA cares a lot about. Guaranteeing that fully transparent information is provided to the consumers would allow original productions to be told apart from dupes and fakes.

This is a translated adaptation of this original article

Puglia’s Best Secrets

Puglia is Italy’s gem when it comes to history, archaeology and culture. The southeastern region has for many years thrived as a tourism hub with so much to offer vacationers interested in taking a step back in time and experiencing old Italy in its most authentic form. Despite its popularity among tourists, Puglia’s unmatched wealth in history and culture is not what makes it one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Below is what most people don’t realize that Puglia has up its sleeves.

1. Porto Selvaggio

The path to Porto Selvaggio

Porto Selvaggio is found in Puglia’s province of Lecce. The beach itself is found along the Salento Peninsula with breathtaking crystal clear waters. In addition to the geographical beauty, Porto Selvaggio has a lot to offer in terms of history. It is actually the only place on earth where an ancient Greek dialect known as Griko is still spoken.

What to see and do

· Sunbathing and swimming

It is nothing short of a crime to visit Porto Selvaggio and not pay the beach one or two hundred visits. It is the reason why it is on this list as one of Puglia’s best kept secrets. You could also decide to experience the water by taking a boat ride or going SCUBA diving.

 

· Sightseeing

Some points of interest in Porto include the walled seaport of Gallipoli, Villa Tafuro and Uluzzo Bay. If you have extra time and an untamed adventurous spirit, you should also plan a visit to the various archeological sites there including the cave of the horse and sierra Cicora.

· Watch the sunset at the beach

You will never find anything to match its breathtaking beauty.

2. Monopoli

monopoli

Monopoli is in the heart of Puglia given its location in the region’s capital province of Bari. The town is right next to the Adriatic Sea. Like all other Puglia gems on this list, Monopoli is a triple threat with the sandy beaches, archaeological and historical as sights as well as culture to enjoy. Below are a few things that you should not leave Monopoli without having seen.

· The beaches

The beautiful waters of the Adriatic Sea meet the mainland forming beaches that you simply must see to appreciate. The aquamarine blue waters will leave you refreshed and ready to explore more of this amazing town.

· The ancient castles

The Castle of Charles V in particular is a must visit for people with a soft spot for history and fine architecture. The building was used as a prison until the mid-sixties when it was converted into a museum and art gallery which is where you will get the best cultural experience of Monopoli. The castle of S. Stephen is also worth a visit.

· The Jerusalem Hospital

This is probably the oldest hospital not only in Italy but in the whole world dating back to 1350. The architectural marvel is full of history and is one of those places you simply can’t leave Puglia without visiting.

3. City of Ostuni

Ostuni

The city of Ostuni is pretty much a white fortress and one of the fewest old towns in the world that has managed to preserve its medieval layout. From a distance, all you can see is white buildings. This is not a coincidence but has a historical etiology where people lime-washed the walls of their houses in an attempt to deflect the heat from their homes. Below is more that this charming little town has to offer:

· The Archbishop’s palace is Ostuni’s highest points and is an architectural marvel.

· Beautiful beaches along the Adriatic sea

· The Saint Oronzo festival every August to celebrate the town’s patron saint.

4. Grotte di Castellana

Grotte di Castellana is a series of amazing cave formations in Itria Valley, Puglia. They date back more than ninety million years and are among the most important of all of Puglia and Italy’s natural attractions. Taking a guided tour though the cave gives visitors the opportunity to experience not only nature at its best but also history and archaeology through the fossils and cave art you will get to see.

5. Da Mimi Trabucco

The Da Mimi Trabucco is a must-see if you want to add an educational aspect to you Puglia trip. The Trabucco itself is actually a unique fishing contraption that is nothing short of genius. You will get to see how it works and as many questions as you would wish to. It is a dining experience that you will not get anywhere else. In addition to the fishing scene, Da Mimi Trabucco is full of history with the Ottaviano family name popping up more than once in the fishing, culinary and construction aspects.

How Brexit Will Affect Travelling To Italy (for UK and US visitors)

The decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union will undoubtedly have uncertain implications for the British people. The only certainty guaranteed by this so called ‘Brexit’ vote is that things will likely never be the same again for Britain in its relations with EU countries such as Italy. As such British tourists are likely to be the first group of Brits who will experience first hand the uncertain and little known consequences that might materialise as the UK negotiates itself out of the EU. Listed below are examples of some of the uncertain repercussions of the Brexit vote to British tourists who wish to travel to Italy.

Brexit tea


1. Costly Visas

Brexit has meant that, for the Brits at least, the days of the freedom of movement of people throughout Europe looks likely to be a thing of the past. Brits might now be treated as non-EU citizens, meaning that it is highly likely that they will be unable to cross a borderless EU without frequent passport checks. If any British national wishes to travel to Italy, it is probable that they will have to apply for and purchase a visa. This will mean that Brits will be subject to visa restrictions upon the amount of time they are permitted to stay within Italy before renewing their visa at an additional cost.

2. Poor Exchange Rate

As the full economic repercussions of the Brexit vote will not be known for many years to come, global markets have naturally reacted negatively at the level of uncertainty created by such a vote. This has resulted in a general weakening of pound sterling against all other major currencies such as the euro, meaning that British tourists travelling to a country like Italy could potentially have reduced spending power. The knock-on effect of this being that they might have less expendable money to spend over the course of their vacation on things like food and drink, excursions and souvenirs.

3. Expensive Air Travel

The Brexit vote has also created uncertainty about UK access to EU airspace, which could mean that the UK will have no other option than to renegotiate its air space treaties with all 27 EU member states. This could potentially mean that all UK-based air travel companies might have to pay increased fees in exchange for access to EU airspace, which perhaps will inevitably have to be passed onto the customer. This could spell the end of British access to cheap EU air travel, by forcing British tourists (and indeed non-EU tourists who fly from the UK specifically to access cheap EU flights) to pay more money for their flight to Italy from any UK airport.

Having said that we should also consider the possibility of less popular routes being abandoned by cheap no frills airlines due to higher costs, casting a shadow on smaller but crucial airports. Travellers from the U.S. too who often use Ryanair flights to Italy might have fewer choices in the future when it comes to air travel.

4. Increased Roaming Charges

The Brexit vote has also cast serious doubt over the UK’s continued access to cheap EU roaming charges, with many fearing that British telecom companies might have no other option than to charge British tourists higher roaming charges while they holiday in countries like Italy. Such a prospect could also negatively affect many non-EU tourists, such as those from the USA, who often purchase a UK sim card in order to take advantage of cheap EU call charges.

5. High-Cost Healthcare

Although not confirmed by either country, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has technically terminated the right of British citizens to be treated by the Italian Health Service while on holiday. This is still far from being a certainty, but if this is to be the case, then in future British tourists might have to procure and manage their own healthcare while on vacation in Italy. If both the UK and Italian governments are able to sort out a bilateral deal over the provision of healthcare to British tourists, it is likely that such an arrangement will charge British tourists for access to the Italian Health Service. However this is speculative and far from certain.

Overall the effects of Brexit on British tourists who wish to travel to Italy will in all likelihood be largely negative in nature. For a start Brits might find that the price of a holiday to Italy will be much higher than when the UK was a member of the EU, largely because of a poor sterling exchange rate with the euro and the fact that many benefits of being a member of the EU, such as visa free travel and access to healthcare, might now come with a costly price tag. In short, Brexit has potentially cost British tourists more money in order to travel to Italy and given them fresh uncertainty over simple things like roaming charges and more substantial issues such as access to the Italian Health Service when injured or ill.

Bologna Festival Gems for Summer and Fall visits

Italy is well-known for its rich culinary and cultural offering, especially during the warm summer and fall months. However, two festivals held in the city of Bologna stand out and are well worth a visit if you find yourself somewhere in Italy or Europe at the time: the Mortadella Festival and the Cinema Ritrovato. The first — officially called MortadellaBo — is a four-day festival celebrating mortadella, a cold-cut, cured pork sausage that is one of Bologna’s specialties. The second is the Cinema Ritrovato, an eight-day vintage film festival that screens gems from cinema’s past and features a beautiful, free outdoor cinema in the evenings.

La Grassa


MortadellaBò Festival

The Mortadella festival is a one of a kind event and a must for fans of what the Italians call “the Queen of Sausages.” The sausage –well-known for its round, pink appearance and white specks — is a sandwich favorite in a lot of homes. It is made of crushed pork mixed with spices and sometimes includes chunks of black pepper or pistachios. Normally, this delicious sausage is cut into thin prosciutto-like slices, but it can also appear in cubes as part of different appetizers or salads.

Mortadella di Bologna (PGI) has a protected geographical status, meaning that it can only be called mortadella if it has been produced in the Emilia Romagna region or other neighbouring Italian provinces. This makes the MortadellaBo Festival a unique opportunity to fully experience mortadella in its region of origin. Apart from tasting the best mortadella in the world, you can also learn more about this specialty’s history in the city and discover new ways to integrate it into your cuisine.

For four days in October, the center of Bologna is transformed into a haven of mortadella-related activities. You can choose to participate in a range of events — from tastings of all of the best mortadella producers in the region to cooking classes held by famous chefs from all over Italy. There is even a range of events for your kids, as well as a fun addition — a mortadella queen wearing a pink dress with white dots. During these four days, you will learn how to pick the best mortadella, what cheeses accompany it best and even get to taste the best wines that go with this specialty. The MortadellaBo is a must-see event that you are sure to enjoy with your entire family.

Cinema Ritrovato

The Cinema Ritrovato is another great local festival that draws thousands of people from all over Italy and Europe. While outdoor cinemas and film festivals are no rarity, this particular one is unique for its focus on films from before 1975. So in addition to drawing thousands of locals and European film buffs, it also attracts numerous film scholars and film archivists from around the world.

For eight days at the end of June and beginning of July, around 350 forgotten gems of cinematography are shown in three different theaters in the city — the Lumiere theater, the Arlecchino and the Jolly. In these venues, you can enjoy themed screenings ranging from homages to beloved actors like Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin to regional themes, such as some lesser-known Argentinian and Japanese films from the 50s and 60s. The Cinema Ritrovato is a truly unique opportunity to enjoy movie classics from around the world in a theater format and surrounded by film buffs from different parts of the world.

Apart from the events requiring a ticket, the Cinema Ritrovato also features free screenings each evening on Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore. These screenings are very well-organized and have excellent sound and a large screen, allowing you to enjoy the film no matter where you are seated. The added bonus? If you are a pass holder, you have access to a special area of reserved seating close to the screen.

Finally, on top of the excellent selection of films, Cinema Ritrovato also features a number of special lectures and panel talks. This gives attendees the opportunity to gain an even better insight into the films being screened. This makes the Cinema Ritrovato a true festival of film, celebrating the legacy of older creations and keeping them alive through renewed attention. Bologna — a city that beautifully combines the past and present — is the perfect setting for this type of event and truly comes alive during these 8 days of film magic.

5 Massimo Bottura Dishes that Blow Me Away

Famous Italian restaurateur Massimo Bottura has been at the top for decades but his style has risen in prominence since 2010, when his Modena-based restaurant Osteria Francescana was rated with three Michelin stars. Since then, he has won numerous awards and established himself as one of the world’s top chefs, known for constantly pushing culinary boundaries. His most recent success — receiving the Best Restaurant in the World award by the prestigious The World’s Best 50 Restaurants list in June 2016 — has catapulted him to the very top and made his restaurant the first Italian restaurant to receive this eminent title. I’ve been following his work for a while and while it’s hard to pick an absolute favorite, here are 5 dishes that completely blow me away:

1. Croccantino di Foie Gras

This preparation is just amazing as it incorporate the novelty of eating croccantino (an industrial icecream from the 80s) and the velvety sensation of fois gras. The beauty of Bottura’s cooking is that it reflects his understanding of how textures and flavors combine to produce a perfect melange of tastes and every grown up dream to eat croccantino again.

The Croccantino is a perfect example of this. By combining the crunchiness and light sweetness of the almond and hazelnut crust with the balsamic heart, Bottura elevates the flavor of the foie gras. To boot, the ice cream stick takes the snazziness off what would normally be a high-class dish and gives it a nostalgic feel.

2. Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart

Massimo Bottura's “Oops! I’ve dropped the lemon tart!”
Oops! I’ve dropped the lemon tart!

I love this dish because it destroys all of our preconceived notions of what a fancy meal is supposed to look like. Turned upside down and purposefully smashed, in this tart Bottura combines the avant-garde taste of haute cuisine with the casual nonchalance of a desert that didn’t turn out as expected.

Bottura’s recipe combines lemongrass ice cream, custardy zabaione filling and a delicious crust spiced with anise, black pepper, cinnamon and juniper. The different components give the dessert layers of flavor, combining the sweetness of the zabaione, the refreshing minty lime taste of lemongrass and the unassuming scent of the crust.

Overall, this lemon tart is an exotic yet familiar addition to any menu. I can’t wait to make it again!

3. Eel Swimming Up the Po River

This appetizer proves that all good food also has a story. The name of this dish references the voyage of the Estensi family in the 16th century from Ferrara to Modena — against the current, the eel gathers a number of ingredients from Veneto, Mantova and the countryside. The dish features a combination of polenta, apple extract, Amarone and saba making for a meal full of history and ripe with regional tastes.

I love this dish because of its feel for the local and its ability to transport you to another place and time. But in addition to appealing to your imagination and drawing upon history, Bottura succeeds in making an excellent dish, full of freshness and novelty.

4. Chicken Chicken… Where Are You?

This is by far one of my favorite recipes, inpired by Bottura’s little daughter, it combines an understated chicken taste with a variety of extravagant vegetables such as Koppert Cress, Daikon and Violet Flower in addition to classics such as Fennel, Scallion and Celery. The elaborateness of this dish is hidden in its style of preparation as well as the effort it takes to integrate a rich chicken taste into this variety of vegetables, but in fact you cannot find solid pieces of chicken in this preparation but just the scent, therefore “chicken where are you?”

5. 5 Different Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano

I love cheese and considering that parmiggiano reggiano is one of my favorite cheeses, I had to try this dish. It’s definitely very Bottura, combining the avant-garde with a firm connection with local history and tradition.

The recipe consists of five different textures of different ages of parmiggiano reggiano — a souffle, a galette, ‘air,’ as well as foam which all combine in spectacular ways considering that we are talking about the same product. Also, the recipe is easier to make than expected! The trick is to find the cheeses.

5 best restaurants in Chianti according to TripAdvisor

If you are heading the Chianti region in Tuscany, you might want to check what the best places to eat are. Here a list of the beat eatires in the area according to Tripadvisor

Vegetarians, please don't look
Have a bistecca alla fiorentina in Chianti

1. Il Ristoro Di Lamole

This is a beautiful little restaurant situated in the Chianti hills with the most gorgeous views. It has earned the highest rating in Trip Advisor for restaurants in this area due to its high quality food and beautiful setting. The food is quite simple as far as Italian cuisine food goes but it’s really delicious and this place is definitely worth a visit during your time in the village of Lamole. It’s a fantastic restaurant and you also have the option to sit out on the terrace which is a great choice during a warm day. Some of the most popular meals at Ristoro Di Lamole include pasta dishes, pork fillet with vegetables and a whole lot more. Don’t fill up too much on mains because the desserts are sure to make your mouth water and are so popular with locals and tourists alike. All the ingredients are locally sourced and of the highest quality to ensure that you have only the best experience at the restaurant. Complete with a wine cellar, you have a lot of equisite bottles to choose from to make your meal extra special. It can be guaranteed that this will be a restaurant you will want to return to, again and again.

2. Ristorante la Castellana

La Castellana is a small restaurant that is found in Chianti, between Florence and Siena. The food is comprised of fresh Tuscan ingredients and the staff at the family run restaurant really care about customer satisfaction before anything else. Some of the delicious meals served include sliced beef, chicken liver pate and of course your typical pasta dishes. The prices are very reasonable especially when the quality is taken into consideration. This is one of the best restaurants in the area, the food will leave you more than satisfied and there are a variety of wines for all different tastebuds. The location is charming and you will be made to feel like family during your time at Ristorante la Castellana. The truffles are very popular with customers at this restaurant and are worth sampling for yourself. Be sure to book a table beforehand as there are very few tables at this quaint establishment, the compact atmosphere is what makes it so great. The decor is beautiful, there is lovely music and the tables are displayed with candles for a little extra ambience. A place that you just MUST visiit if you are iin Chianti and looking for great places to eat.

3. Cantinetta Sassolini

Cantinetta Sassolini is a restaurant in the heart of Chianti that is always jam packed with eager customers wanting to sample the dishes. You can dine in the courtyard or the restaurant itself depending on the weather and what you are in the mood for. There is a varied menu and there will be something for you whether you like authentic tuscan cuisine or your classic t bone steak! The service is quick and the prices pretty cheap in Cantinetta Sassolini, so perfect if you are on a budget but still want a high quality meal. The simple cuisine is truly the best and you will be made to feel welcome at this restaurant which will only heighten your time there. Delicious food, exquisite wine and an amazing atmosphere all amount to a great dining experience and this is why this has its place on the top 5 restaurants in Chianti. This venue has it all and it is not pretentious, what you see is what you get with Cantinetta Sassolini.

4. La Cantinetta di Rignana

If you are looking for a picturesque restaurant on the hills of Chianti, look no further than La Cantinetta di Rignana. It’s scenic setting is probably the most beautiful on this list and the place itself is well known for great food and ambience alike. You will discover a whole variety of Tuscan delicacies that you never ever knew existed. The freshest ingredients of the highest quality are used in all dishes that are prepared and served at this restaurant. You will be high on life after you sample the amazing food and drinks on offer at La Cantinetta di Rignana. This restaurant has been running for many years but it is still really popular with tourists and locals. It can be a bit of a trek to reach this restaurant but once you do, the views alone will be more than worth it. The cheese board is a dish that is particularly popular with customers and once you sample it, you will soon discover why. Whether you want to eat inside or outside, the establishment is decorated beautifully and the staff are very welcoming. The traditional pasta dishes on the menu are delicious but there is a variety of meals to choose from, if something else is tickling your taste buds. For one of the best meals you will ever have in Italy, visit La Cantinetta di Rignana during your time in Chianti.

5. Gallo Nero

Gallo Nero is a restaurant that has been perfected over many years, providing excellent service and high quality food to anyone who decides to visit. If meat is something that is important to you, you are in luck because the finest steaks, sausages, ribs and much more is cooked in an open fire in this establishment. You will be spoilt for choice with the wine menu also, so this will give that extra special touch to your meal. It’s a spacious restaurant with a nice atmosphere, where the staff are friendly and attentive to all customers. The roasted lamb and the steaks are particularly popular with customers which is why this has earned the final coverted place of the best restaurants to visit in Chianti. If you want somewhere that is easy to find in the region but you don’t want to scrimp on quality, Gallo Nero is calling your name. It’s the most modern restaurant out of the others that have been named but the fact that it is family run means that it still has an authentic atmosphere that promises a great outing for the entire family.

Chianti Wineries Map – Best Places To Tour For Wine.

When the word Chianti is mentioned in almost any conversation it is usually associated with the exquisite wines and historic region which both proudly share the name. Chianti, in Tuscany Italy, stretches between Florence and Siena. There are only a few regions of the world, which are not limited to a location on any map and are measured as more of a window through time, Chianti is one of them. These select few “glimpses” of many decades and centuries past, are not recorded by traveling miles or kilometers, but recognized as days and weeks spent in a place which standards of distance do not apply.

If Tuscany is truly the center of culture and refinement, which it is considered to be my many world travelers, then Chianti is the heart and its grapes are the life which flows from it. It would be reasonable and ordinary to notice the breathtaking scenes throughout the region, but traditional words do not apply. When the morning sun begins to smile upon the glorious valley which hosts the best chianti wineries, one feels required to discovery the surroundings.

Wondering where to go in Chianti for a memorable and spectacular experience, is best answered by “everywhere.” When traveling through a land which bears a name synonymous with great wine, it would be nothing short of a sin to not venture out among the vineyards of the world-renowned Sangiovese grapes and experience the wineries which produce the finest Chiantis in the world.

This Google Map is great for navigating the region: click here to see.

Best Wineries to visit in Chianti
Best Wineries to visit in Chianti

It made the most sense geographically to start with the oldest winery and work from the bottom of the map to the top.

The Start and the Beginning:
Chianti Classico is the oldest and most historic section of the area and is world renowned for the Chianti Classico wine. Chianti Classico, as a region is deeply rooted in cultural and history, recorded as far back as the 12th century. The founder of the Chianti blend, noted for its high ratio of Sangiovese grapes, is legendary and his family still operates the winery.

Barone Ricasoli Spa:
Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio is known to be the oldest winery in Italy, dating back to the 12th century, the famed Brolio castle rebuilt many times, still stands to reflect the passing of the centuries with exquisite and historic majesty. It was Baron Bettino Ricalosi who invented the Chianti blend in 1872 and his great grandson who now runs the fourth oldest family business on the planet. For the best place to understand how the tradition began there is no better point than from the birth of the wine and the oldest winery in the country. For those who love the traditional taste of Chianti Classico in all of its glory-the flavor has remained traditional and “earthy” and the excellence is still present.

baronericasoli

Castello Di Ama, Siena
A winery rich in history and culture, was first and the next stop is almost completely the opposite of Ricasoli. Instead of the castle it is a much more peaceful and modest area and the scenery seems more of an “old country” feel with a modern day twist. The families who revitalized the company came together to form a team in the 1960’s. Unlike the first stop, there is more of a modern feel and the art of the local contemporary artists is celebrated and combined for a new approach less dipped in old culture and more trimmed with present day. The modern selection of wines is really quite extraordinary and it is easy to forget they are relatively new kids on the block.

Livernano S.S. – Azienda Agrituristica – Agriturismo
If stop two was a trip forward to the contemporary we really fell back in time, dating back to an area inhabited 2500 years ago this little “charmer” of a winery is the definition of quaint. The surroundings are magical shadows from many centuries ago and it is easy to understand why the feeling of humility blended with pride seems to be the order of the day. Even the labels are understated and almost subtle in their approach to presenting an ancient prize which illustrates the precise feel for the surroundings. Flavors are very unique and the place is adorable.

Recine S.S. – Agricultura Vino
Owned by a Monastery until the 20th century, this ancient wine farm from the 12th century is rustic and almost a back to nature setting. The views across the hills are some of the best scenes in Chianti. Revitalized in the 1970’s and then carefully staffed by a group of wine experts from several countries of the world during the 1990’s this team has put together a great selection in a setting which should be painted with canvas and oils as opposed to digital cameras. The feel is as if the spirits of the monks never left, almost they are walking about, unseen making sure the scientists of wine keep making them proud.

Azienda Agricola Casanova – Sas Di Aldo Furini & C.
Started by an alchemist in the 1800’s the feel of the winery is the feel of a refined country family of the 19th century. The thumbprint was set deep by the Abbott whose religious philosophy of carefully preserving the history is present throughout the grounds. The wines seem to have a more bold flavor than many of the other stops, more of a bite, but not too intense, still flavorful and the staff was very proper but friendly at the same time.

Fattoria Castello Di Volpaia
This is the first instance where the entire village seems to be a part of wine making. Many of the homes and churches in the vicinity are actually housing wine cellars. The ground for the vineyards is admittedly some of the best in all of Chianti, even by competitors which seem to enjoy implying that the reason the wine has such success is its prime location. The selection was very good and each was noticeably more aromatic than others tasted. More info.

volpaia

Azienda Agricola Festeggiata
Of all of the places we stopped this one seemed to be the most reclusive, It was our first in Panzano and they seemed very quiet and more to themselves with their history and tradition. It was almost as if they had some type of “recipe” which made them stand out among the others. The wines seemed more rare in vintage and there was not a lot of information on prices in print. They did not appear to produce a very many bottles, but their wine may have been some of the best flavor in all of Chianti.

Azienda Agricola Monte Bernardi S.S.
Dating back to roots from the 11th century this area seemed noticeably different, the wines were not sold to the public until the 1990’s and were only available to local farms. Panzano provided a different scenery that the other areas. A river is one of the key differences in the flavor which seems to somehow bring another element into the vines. It sounded like a bit of local lore, but the flavor was noticeably different especially in the Chianti Classico. Winery  website.

Fattoria Le Fonti Di Vicky Schmitt Vitali
This was the most unimpressive yet stunningly simple of all of the wineries. Very basic and functional with no frills. It was not by accident or due to lack of success, it was the way they intended to preserve the tradition. The location was very close to the other two in the Panzano vicinity and the wine was just as striking as the somewhat fancier operations. Having the three close together validated the location of the soil theory which we had heard on our other stops. Replanted in 1994 they are simple in appearance and complex in quality. Link here to their site.

Castello di Verrazzano
Our last stop was a thousand year old castle. It is like we started at one end with a bang in Chianti and concluded at the other with fireworks. This was a remarkably self contained almost little village in and of itself. Not nearly as grandiose as the castle overlooking the Ricasoli vineyard but more of a functional castle not so much smoke as fire. Functionality through tradition, mixed with the modern scientists of wine making. The last glass of Chianti from the tour was as unique and splendid as the first.

After the Ball:
After 5 days in the wine country of Chianti, there was certainly nothing which could even come close to the individual universe each of of stops exhibited. Even though they were in the same region, the traditions and history of each ranged from ancient to modern in philosophy and approach. There is much to be said for the wonderful selection of accommodations in the area. Ranging from extravagant to very simple and functional, each had their charms, exactly like the wineries of the highly acclaimed section of the world. Amazing was the word for the adventure, one taste of culture and a single sip of grapes at a time.

How (And Where) To Drive An Exotic Car in Italy

Going to Italy is on the bucket list of almost every person alive. This is because Italy is said to be one of the most romantic places on earth. It’s also home to great fashion trends and has the most exquisite shopping places. On top of the retail therapy and exotic food, Italy offers its tourists the chance to drive super cars on the public roads and also on the racing tracks. Several companies offering this service are available to make your trip to Italy simply unforgettable.

How to Drive an Exotic Car in Italy

You can hire a super car in any agency for a few hours as a driving test or take it on a spin for two days. Every car comes with a driving instructor who is always with you for safety.

Where to Drive an Exotic Car in Italy

Ferrari F12Berlinetta 6.3 '12


1. Maranello and Modena

A test drive in Maranello starts with a private driver picking you up from your hotel and taking you to the heart of Italy of motor sport. This area is also known as the home of Ferrari or Italian Motor Valley. You board your super car of choice right after you pass the Ferrari factory. At this point you get to sit behind the wheel of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari and feel its roar and power. The instructor will sit right by you to give you instructions as you start slow in normal roads. You can increase the speed and use F1 super gear as you get used to the car until you reach the Modena racing track.

At this location you can combine road drive and tracking driving at the Modena autodromo. This is a complete racing track with amazing bends and gradients. The instructor will take the first lap as you watch closely so you can know how to do it. After that you are given back the pilot seat to take four exhilarating laps on the track. You then get to drive the car back to Maranello for thirty minutes before giving it back.

2. Imola Racing Track

The city of Imola is known as the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. It is famous for hosting formula One San Marino Grand Prix .The Imola racing track is one of the biggest tracks in Italy and is also a tourist attraction. Imola has the biggest Lamborghini academy where people are taught to drive this high-end car safely. The instructor stays with you but you stay in control. The instructors are patient, polite and let you make your own decisions. The benefit of the Imola race track over other tracks is that you get unlimited laps and different super cars.

3. Mugello Racing Track

At Autodromo Internazionale Del Mugello, one gets to learn all the tricks of race cars before test driving one. It is a big race circuit in Tuscany that enables one to take long laps and enjoy the super high speed. The facility is upgraded regularly to meet safety standards because it’s used by a lot of companies and individuals. You can test the power of an amazing GT car in this exhilarating descents and long straights with the guidance of an instructor.

At the Mugello’s circuit it also possible to drive a Formula one car.

4. Monza

Monza circuit is the most famous sports complex in the world because it hosts the prestigious grand prix events .It has long straights and fierce bends that will take your breath away. Monza circuit has 3 tracks; Gran Premio, junior tracks and the Speed track. Get a driving course in the junior track and then get behind the wheel on a fast race in the GT program. Monza circuit is also great for watching famous racers do their thing on track days. 

At the Monza’s circuit it also possible to drive a Formula one car.

How to Get An International Driving Permit

If you plan to drive a super car in the public road in Italy you should obtain an international driving permit.

Drivers from outside EU are required to get an international driving license if they are to be allowed to drive in Italy. This license must then be translated into Italian to avoid problems with the traffic police. Anyone who has a USA driving license is eligible for an international one from any AAA club in US or Canada. It does not require a driving test, only an online application with photos and a $15 fee. It must be renewed annually, just like every other driving permit. The process is real fast and comes with minimal hassle.

How To Eat In Italy Without Gaining Weight

Italians are known for their rich culture and amazing food. When travelling to Italy, most people find themselves in the dilemma of skipping all the goodness in Italy or going all out or eating everything they can get their hands on. The problem with these two options is that you either miss out on tasting exotic foods or you gain a lot of weight during your holiday. You can find a balance amidst this dilemma with the following tips in order to fully enjoy your trip in Italy.

Pizza in Trieste


1. Lose weight before your trip

It is a fact people might gain weight during their vacations. This is because they engage in different activities out of their usual schedules hence working out and dieting is not easy. As such, it is advisable to lose some weight before you travel. This will give you some room to gain weight during your vacation without going beyond your ideal weight.

2. When in Italy, do as the Italians do

Italians are known for their good food and healthy appetites, but notably, they are rarely every overweight. Their trick is in their eating habits. Italians follow the system of food which means that breakfast should be the light meal, often just a coffee and a cornetto followed by lunch that should be main meal of the day normally eaten at 12 noon and a light dinner.  The main purpose of this is to ensure that you consume most calories during the day, which is when you need a lot of energy for your activities. Dinner should be small enough to allow your body to process it before you sleep.

3. Be mindful of meal options

Another important food factor apart from how you eat is what you eat. You may have a light dinner whose ingredients will not benefit your body. Thus, ensure that you consume your carbs during the day during breakfast and lunch. This is the best time to satisfy your palate with the famous Italian pasta and pizza meals. The carbs will give you the energy to enjoy other activities during your vacation. For dinner, proteins are preferable since they aid in the growth of muscles and unlike carbs, they will not be converted into sugar and fat during digestion. Proteins will also keep you full throughout the night hence you will be able to avoid unnecessary snacking.

Being in Italy gives you the rare chance of having ice cream for dinner. Italian ice cream, known as gelato, is unlike any other normal ice cream out there. Gelato is made locally and fresh using a lot of milk and less cream and sugar, unlike usual store bought ice creams. It also has less butterfat and sorbets have no egg hence it is quite a healthy version of ice cream. In summer often the Italians replace dinner with a gelato.

4. Walk

Italians often go for a stroll after dinnner, so you do. Walking after dinner increases your metabolism and in turn, your body processes food faster. The energy used when walking after dinner burns up sugar produced by the body and this results in the production of chemicals that induce sleep. Your mindless stroll after dinner fast tracks your digestion and gives you a good night’s sleep.

5. Healthy snacking

Snacking is the one of the culprits of quick weight gain. The sweets and cakes in Italy are very tempting snack options, but their large variety of fruits is healthier. Italy is a major producer of fruits and in summer are plentiful, you can snack on peaches, apricots, melons, plums cherries and the list goes on.

A vacation in Italy is an amazing chance to be part of a rich culture and to enjoy delicious Italian food while keeping healthy and still having fun.