Postcards from Italy

Top Italy Recommendations for 2017

As the year draws to a close, you may be looking at your travel calendar for 2017 and beginning to think about your next trip. Winter is the perfect time to start planning a spring or summer visit to Italy, as later in the year the best hotels, guides, and cooking classes can start to book up, leaving you with limited options.

Taormina(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

If you're dreaming of visiting the Bel Paese over the next 12 months, we have a few suggestions for unforgettable itineraries, unique experiences, and once-in-a-lifetime trips that are perfect for a 2017 Italian vacation.

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Buon Natale - 2016

Italy's love of Christmas decorations has exploded over the past two decades, and the country has gone from muted holiday decor that centered almost exclusively around the traditional crèche scene to downtowns fully decked out in fairy light canopies, shooting stars, blinking swags, and towering, twinkling firs.

buon-natale-assisi(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though the love of the artisan Nativity scene endures, today most private homes sport a tree and the beauty of a city's Christmas lights has become so entwined with civic pride that mayors from Rome to Assisi have been forced to upgrade meager first attempts at public decorations by outraged citizens. Alongside the traditional outings to visit the most elaborate and beautiful Christmas creches, Italians - and tourists - can now take an evening stroll to admire the beautiful light displays along the city streets and elegant trees in the main squares.

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Florence's Museo degli Innocenti

Italy's beautiful Renaissance capital is going through a bit of a modern “rebirth” this year, as a number of Florence's most important museums have been recently renovated or expanded and are now open to the public.

The famed Uffizi unveiled its new Botticelli rooms in October, completely reconfigured to improve the lighting and provide more space to display the early Renaissance masterpieces, marking the final stage of the renovation of the museum's entire second floor. The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo has become one of Florence's crown jewels since its inauguration at the end of 2015, with a renovation that almost doubled its previous size and includes a scale model of the cathedral’s original unfinished façade, dismantled in 1586 and featuring forty statues from the 14th and early 15th centuries. Even the stodgy Palazzo Strozzi exhibition space is hosting a collection of Chinese iconoclast Ai Weiwei's works, and making Florentine tongues wag by hanging a row of his contemporary life rafts on the outside of this landmark of Renaissance architecture.

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Perhaps the most moving renovation, however, is that of the historic Museo degli Innocenti, which documents the history of Florence's Istituto degli Innocenti located in the hospital designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. Founded in 1419 by a donation from the wealthy merchant Francesco Datini and the Florentine Silk Workers Guild, the “Innocenti” was the world's first lay institution dedicated to taking in abandoned and orphaned children and is still providing services to families more than 600 years later.

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2016 Top Travel Specialists

We're excited! Concierge in Umbria is included on Conde Nast Traveler's list of Top Travel Specialists for 2016!

alternative text(Photo by Carol Sachs for Condé Nast Traveler)

Concierge in Umbria was first named as one of CNT's Top Travel Specialists in 2006, and we have appeared on every list published since then. It is especially gratifying to be named as a Top Travel Specialist since Conde Nast Traveler's selection process is particularly rigorous and competitive. Travel specialists must complete a comprehensive application for each year's list, as well as submit contact information for recent clients as references, who the magazine contacts directly for in-depth feedback.

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“Artemisia Gentileschi and Her Time” Exhibit in Rome

One of the great tragedies of art history is that there have been so few successful female artists over the centuries. The combination of social mores, domestic responsibilities, and institutional obstacles meant that talented women were forced to channel their creative energy into more “female” arts, leaving painting, sculpture, and architecture to generations of studio-trained men.

Gentileschi judith1.jpg
By Artemisia Gentileschi -, Public Domain, Link

One of the most interesting exceptions is Artemisia Gentilischi, the 17th century Baroque painter who is known for her dramatic, expressive style which was heavily influenced by Caravaggio, and the subject of the “Artemisia Gentileschi and Her Time” exhibit in Rome's Museo di Roma in Palazzo Braschi, open now until May 7th, 2017.

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