Postcards from Italy

Accommodations in Italy: Some Basic Rules of Thumb

There is an endless variety of accommodations in Italy, from rural farm holidays to cosmopolitan designer hotels. Which you choose depends on a number of factors, including your budget, travel style, preference for amenities or independence, group size, and even where in the country you'll be visiting.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo(Grand Hotel Tremezzo - Lago di Como)

Here are a few general rules to keep in mind when deciding on accommodations:

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Swiss Cheese: Not Wholly Holey

Switzerland is known for three things: mountains, chocolate, and cheese. Though this beautiful Alpine country offers much more—think lakes and castles, contemporary art and music festivals, picturesque old towns and bustling modern cities—there can be no quibble that it is home to some of the world's most stunning landscapes, prestigious chocolatiers, and, of course, unforgettable cheeses.

fondue-cr-ciu-travel(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

If your only foray into Swiss cheese has been...uh, Swiss cheese, you're in for a delightful surprise. Switzerland produces more than 150 different types of cheese, each more complex and storied than the bland commercial cheese called “Swiss” available in the US. If you want to sample some of the country's best cheeses but are overwhelmed by the vast selection, you can start with the ten or so AOP (Appelation d‘Origine Protégée) Alp cheese varieties, certified as coming from Swiss Alpine farms in a specific area of origin and guaranteed to be the best of the best.

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What's New in Italy in 2018

If you're toying with the idea of visiting the Bel Paese in 2018, now's the time to start firming up plans. High season in most of Italy begins around Easter, which falls early this year, so spring and summer trips are right around the corner...don't put off booking until the last minute!

Here's a quick overview of new (and updated) sights and attractions in Italy to consider exploring in the upcoming year; all are excellent for both first-time visitors and seasoned Italy travelers, so keep them in mind when settling on your final itinerary.

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Buying Leather in Italy: A Guide

Long before savvy travelers discovered the joys of collecting hand-painted ceramics from Deruta or Caltagirone, gathering pungent truffles in Alba and Umbria, or choosing fine linens from Anghiari or Perugia, leather was one of the most popular and sought-after specialty items from Italy. Italian leather has been famous for its quality and durability since the Middle Ages, when Florence became the capital of Europe's artisan leather workshops and the Oltrarno neighborhood was thick with craftsmen making everything from shoes and accessories to decorated saddles, leather armor, and even ornate book bindings.

From these roots, a thriving leather production spread that continues across Italy in everywhere from tiny hill town artisan workshops to urban designer boutiques, and Italian leather is considered the best in the world still today. There are important rules of thumb to keep in mind when considering purchasing a leather jacket, bag, or pair of shoes during your next trip, however, to ensure you are choosing a top-quality piece that will last for years. Here are a few tips and guidelines: Read More…

Tanti Auguri from CIUTravel!

As 2017 draws to a close, we are staying warm in our US headquarters while reflecting on past holidays spent in Italy. We love the authenticity of an Italian Christmas, with the town centers decked out in modern twinkling fairy lights, but still sharing the spotlight with traditional crèche scenes tucked into shop windows, decorating city squares, and set beneath towering public Christmas trees.

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

In addition to setting up a lavish artisan Nativity scene, much of the season's celebration centers around food in an Italian family. Women sit around the kitchen table in the weeks before Christmas, deftly turning out hundreds of perfect little cappelletti that will be served with broth on the 25th. Panettone and pandoro are purchased by the dozens, exchanged with friends and neighbors, making a sweet end to the holiday meal. Chestnuts roast in fireplaces and on street corners, children are bribed to be good with pieces of torrone nougat, lest the Befana leave them coal in their stocking on January 6th, and the scent of sweet clementine and mandarin oranges from overflowing holiday centerpieces fill the air.

panettone-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

image(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

clementines-mandarini-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

We have so much to look forward to this year, including expanding our private itineraries to cover Switzerland. Though we are celebrating state-side this year, we would like to send you our warmest Italian “auguri!”, wishing you and your loved ones the best in 2018.

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Related posts:
Visiting Italy in Winter: Do and Don't Destinations
Christmas in July: What to Expect during a Winter Trip to Italy ...
Five Great Italian Desserts for the Holidays

Contributor: Rebecca Winke

Concierge in Umbria
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