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Two New Biographies Are Indispensable for Trips Through Europe or America

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 12/27/2017, 12:00 AM

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are currently purchasing and avidly reading two monumental biographies in book form about two monumental figures in world and American history.  In position number one on every bestseller list is Walter Isaacson’s 900-page volume on the life and achievements of Leonardo da Vinci (Simon & Schuster). The other, ranked closely behind and almost as large, is R...

Upper Levels of Rome's Colosseum Reopening for Tours

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/04/2017, 9:45 PM

The upper tiers of the Colosseum in Rome are reopening to the public for the first time in four decades.  The renowned architectural marvel—which dates to the first century A.D. and is one of the ancient city's most visited sites—is coming off a 5-year, multimillion-dollar restoration paid for by Diego Della Valle, chairman of luxury leather brand Tod's. With public money for major preservation...

Italian Airport Relaxes Liquid Ban—for Pesto Only

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/26/2017, 4:00 AM

Each year, hundreds of jars of pesto are confiscated at airport security checkpoints in the Italian city of Genoa, where the sauce made from basil, pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil is a local specialty. Apparently, the ban on flying with liquids of more than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) even applies to the most delicious liquids.  Until now. Thanks to the Genoa airport's new "pesto is good"...

Following Earthquakes, Is Italy Travel Still Safe?

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 11/04/2016, 4:00 AM

The 6.6-magnitude earthquake that hit central Italy on Sunday—the country's largest since 1980—was only the latest in a series of tremors that have shaken Italy since summer.  Just days before the quake in Norcia destroyed historic buildings, left thousands of people homeless, and injured more than a dozen (though no deaths were reported), there were back-to-back earthquakes in Macerata, e...

The Pope's Summer Palace Now Open for Tours

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/25/2016, 4:00 AM

For the first time ever, the centuries-old residence intended as a summer retreat for popes has been opened for public viewing. The Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, located along Lake Albano about 25 kilometers (16 mi) outside of Rome, has 20 rooms you can tour, including a library, study, chapel, and bedroom, all set aside for the use of the Catholic leader while he's on vacation. ...

Barter for a Free B&B Stay in Italy

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/20/2016, 4:00 AM

Here's a chance to stay in any of a multitude of B&Bs in Italy without spending a penny—though you do have to pay. From November 14 to 20, the country's Barter Week—or, if you prefer, La Settimana del Baratto—lets visitors exchange various goods and services for accommodations at thousands of participating inns.  You can either enter what you have to offer on the event's website, o...

Fountain Dispensing Free Wine Unveiled in Italy

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/17/2016, 4:00 AM

There's a new contender for the title of Best Fountain in Italy.  It's located in the town of Ortona in the Abruzzo region, and it will dispense free wine 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Dora Sarchese is the name of the generous winery that has set up this marvel—a stone basin situated under button-operated taps housed in a giant wine barrel. It's situated along the Cammino di San ...

Luxury Travel Service Offers Chance to Meet Pope Francis—for $25,000

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/24/2016, 4:00 AM

Pope Francis (photo: Aleteia Image Department/Flickr) There are vacation packages that come with free WiFi and water-park tickets. And then there are apparently vacation packages that include a meet-and-greet with Pope Francis. That's the highlight of a showstopping offering from luxury travel service If Only—part of a trip to Italy that will set you back $25,000 (well, actually, ...

Italy Fining Beachgoers for Reserving Spots with Towels and Chairs

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/09/2016, 1:15 PM

The Italian coastguard has had it with people leaving towels, chairs, and umbrellas on Italy's beaches overnight in order to save prime spots for the next day.  Along the coast from Tuscany to Sardinia, authorities have begun seizing gear left unattended in the early morning hours and fining those responsible to the tune of 200 euros (about $222), as part of an initiative called Operation ...

Rome Cracking Down on Fountain Swimmers

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 07/29/2016, 12:15 PM

Authorities in Rome have started cracking down on those who engage in a supposedly romantic yet entirely illegal activity: climbing into and splashing around in the city's fountains. A pair of tourists from California were fined 450 euros (equivalent to about $500) for trying to recreate the Trevi Fountain scene in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita. Other recent offenders include a 22-year-...

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