As We Travel » Italy http://www.aswetravel.com Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog Thu, 18 Dec 2014 01:52:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Best Health Resorts in Italy to Help You Relax http://www.aswetravel.com/best-health-resorts-in-italy-to-help-you-relax/ http://www.aswetravel.com/best-health-resorts-in-italy-to-help-you-relax/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 20:12:53 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=48956 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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The best health resorts in Italy will help you to relax and greatly enhance your quality of life. Most people rush through life taking little time to care for themselves. They hurry from one responsibility to the next, neglecting to indulge in the relaxation and recreation that could greatly enhance their quality of life. Even […]

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The best health resorts in Italy will help you to relax and greatly enhance your quality of life. Most people rush through life taking little time to care for themselves. They hurry from one responsibility to the next, neglecting to indulge in the relaxation and recreation that could greatly enhance their quality of life. Even worse, they don’t make opportunities to eat a healthy diet or regularly exercise. Sometimes that holds true on vacations as well. It’s all too easy to rush from one must-see sight to the next. Once again, there’s no time to relax, enjoy and feel the regenerative effects that a good vacation should bring.

Best Health Resorts in Italy

A stay at the Hotel Adler Balance is the cure for that kind of vacation. It’s a resort unlike any other in that the health and well-being of every guest is the primary concern of the staff. Accommodations, meals and activities are all geared toward providing the relaxing and rejuvenating atmosphere people need in order to experience the best that life has to offer. Even the resort’s setting seems designed to inspire awe and soothe away every day cares. Set in the breathtaking majesty of the Italian Dolomites, the Adler Balance is the perfect venue for experiencing an escape from the ordinary. Even the air guests breathe here positively affects their health and well-being. At elevations greater than 4,000 feet, visitors enjoy a stronger circulatory system and may benefit from a positive hormone release.

ADLER BALANCE Best Health Resorts in Italy to Help You Relax

Hotel Adler Balance is located in the picturesque Val Gardena, a northern Italian valley. It’s a region recognized for outstanding outdoor recreation like rock climbing, hiking and skiing. One of the valley’s villages is Ortisei, which hosts the Hotel Adler Balance. Only about 6,000 fortunate people get to live in Ortisei, but this is a village designed to cater to the tourism industry. Visitors love strolling along the center of the village to discover quaint shops and one-of-a-kind eateries. Local history and culture is explored at the Gherdeina Local Heritage Museum or during one of the many annual festivals.

While the valley, Ortisei and the Dolomites are lovely, most people come here for the wellness resorts. Foremost among these is the Hotel Adler Balance. In all public areas and private suites, resort management has provided painstaking attention to detail. There are no jarring lines and no wrong notes in the color choices. Everything is designed to soothe and relax. From the muted music pouring softly from state-of-the-art speakers to the tasteful art collection, the Adler Balance is aimed at producing a calming effect. It’s virtually impossible to feel rushed here. Ordinary stress simply melts away under the influence of muted tones and beautifully designed furnishings.

Each suite is luxuriously appointed to cater to an excellent night’s sleep. Sliding glass doors allow in copious amounts of natural light. Even better is the balcony that lies beyond. Each is equipped with a comfortable seating arrangement and a breathtaking view. Back inside, guests enjoy spacious proportions that are enhanced through the use of natural building materials and textiles. The bathrooms are particularly impressive. Each has an extravagant wellness tub where guests can soak their cares away. The tea bar and minibar featuring organic fruit juices are welcome alterations on the usual hotel room offerings.
ADLER BALANCE

While it would be tempting to spend inordinate amounts of time in the suites, there are plenty of enticing activities to experience elsewhere. The hotel offers a number of different packages, each of which is tailored to the guest’s specific health and wellness goals. Some packages are designed to enable weight loss while others provide helpful strategies for coping with stress. The main idea is that guests utilize their time at the hotel to learn new techniques and then apply them to their everyday lives back home. The result is a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle in which the individual is better able to balance responsibilities with taking excellent care of themselves.

Adler Balance achieves this goal using a number of methods. In the gorgeous dining room, guests enjoy items from a diverse menu of al a carte meals or adhere to a nutrition plan that is personally designed for them by the resort’s medical personnel. Regardless of which option is chosen, diners can expect superior cuisine that draws heavily on fresh, local produce and traditional dishes.

The theme of health and wellness is also exemplified in the property’s Water and Wellness World. It’s a sumptuous oasis of indoor and outdoor pools, spas and saunas. A splendid hay sauna resides in a picturesquely rustic mountainside hut while a decadent salt lake hides deep underground. The area is dotted with relaxation zones that are ideal for napping and reading. After a difficult day of spa treatments, there’s no better place to unwind.

Best Health Resort in Italy

ADLER BALANCE Private Best Health Resort in Italy

Speaking of the spa, the Adler Balance features a spectacularly well-appointed one. Guests may select from an impressive array of treatments designed to relax, rejuvenate and beautify in a carefully cultivated atmosphere of repose. Couples may want to choose treatments that pamper both partners at the same time. It’s a lovely way to reconnect while on vacation.

The health and well-being of guests is reinforced at the resort’s state-of-the-art fitness center. The center features a packed schedule of activities. Guests may be introduced to yoga, Pilates or specialized classes designed to burn the maximum amount of fat. There is also an extensive selection of resistance and cardio machines for guests to choose from. Every activity is overseen by friendly, knowledgeable staff members who are there to help guests gain the most benefit from the experience.

The resort even takes fitness outside with walking and outdoor programs. In the warmer months, guests may try walks, climbs and bike rides. When snow covers the ground, skiing and other winter sports take center stage. Guests may indulge on their own or join a program led by an experienced guide.

The Hotel Adler Balance offers a remarkable experience for guests hoping to indulge in a truly relaxing vacation. Its unique mix of activities and accommodations make it the most desirable resort in a region known for its breathtaking beauty.

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Exploring the Great Outdoors – Italy’s Finest Hikes http://www.aswetravel.com/exploring-the-great-outdoors-italys-finest-hikes/ http://www.aswetravel.com/exploring-the-great-outdoors-italys-finest-hikes/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2013 12:34:47 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=44695 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Experience Italy in a completely new way by lacing up your hiking boots and hitting the trail and Exploring the Great Outdoors – on one of Italy’s Finest Hikes Here are some of Italy’s finest hikes: Cinque Terre is on of Italy’s Finest Hikes These five towns are perched on sheer cliffs above the Ligurian Sea […]

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Experience Italy in a completely new way by lacing up your hiking boots and hitting the trail and Exploring the Great Outdoors – on one of Italy’s Finest Hikes

Here are some of Italy’s finest hikes:

Cinque Terre is on of Italy’s Finest Hikes

These five towns are perched on sheer cliffs above the Ligurian Sea and are connected by rail and hiking trails.  It’s best to try and visit in the off-season, as the trails are immensely popular and crowded in the summer. You can check the Cinque Terre National Park site for the most updated information on the status of all of the trails.

The the towns’ candy-colored buildings and old-world charm are seemingly untouched by tourism.  Be sure to build in time in your hike to explore each of the towns.

A dip in the water at one of the beaches is a great post-hike treat.

Tuscany

Tuscany offers a series of diverse hiking opportunities covering dense forests, coast cliffs, medieval villages, amazing history and more. A hike around the Anello del Rinascimento (Renaissance Ring) allows you to take in the nature and history of the countryside surrounding the city of Florence.  While the entire trail is 170 km long, you can utilize public transportation from Florence to enjoy a single section of the trail.

Depending on what part of the trail you experience, you will see country churches, castles, walled communities, and roads dating back to the Medieval and Roman times.

Other trails in Tuscany allow you to meander through the rolling Tuscan countryside and visit some of Italy’s ancient towns. A trip out to Monte Argentario, a rocky promontory connected to the Tuscan mainland by two huge sandbars, is a great way to see wildlife.

Make sure you pack a pair of Bushnell binoculars when visiting La Feniglia Nature Reserve, which is on one of the sandbars, to be able to spot the wildlife there.

The Dolomites

A short trip from Venice or Milan, the Domomites mountains have something to offer everyone.

Some of the paths are wheelchair accessible, while others require serious mountaineering equipment.

Dolomites Italy

It’s possible to take multi-day treks, but remember that pitching a tent is forbidden, so make plans to stay in a refuge and make your reservations in advance! Also, make sure plan ahead with the right equipment and proper footwear from Uttings Outdoor. Break your boots in before the trip — a series of short hikes will help get you in shape for your hiking vacation.

Volcanoes

For something different, try climbing  one of Italy’s famous volcanoes.

Vesuvius

Vesuvius is a good day trip from Naples and is the least difficult volcano to climb.

 

Stromboli

Stromboli is a bit harder to summit, but the island has glimmering black sand beaches to relax on afterwards. The sunset view from the top is hard to beat.

Vulcano

Vulcano is perhaps the stinkiest volcano, with the smell of sulfur apparent as soon as you step off the boat from Sicily, but it also provides a great view of the other Aeolian Islands and the opportunity to peer into otherworldly craters.

Mt. Etna

As it has recently been prone to belching lava, it may not be possible to climb Mt. Etna, but Sicily’s stunning beaches make for a lovely back-up plan.

(Photo 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

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3 Amazing Places to View Remains of Roman Architecture http://www.aswetravel.com/3-amazing-places-to-view-remains-of-roman-architecture/ http://www.aswetravel.com/3-amazing-places-to-view-remains-of-roman-architecture/#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 14:45:48 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=44549 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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The rise and fall of the Roman Empire may be ancient history, but Roman architecture is still on prominent display in countless European cities. From arches to aqueducts, temples to baths, there is no shortage of places to admire the remains of the great civilization.” While not as famous as the Coliseum or the Pantheon, […]

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The rise and fall of the Roman Empire may be ancient history, but Roman architecture is still on prominent display in countless European cities.

From arches to aqueducts, temples to baths, there is no shortage of places to admire the remains of the great civilization.”

While not as famous as the Coliseum or the Pantheon, here are three sites that demonstrate a range of architectural techniques and give visitors a sense of what it was like to live in ancient Rome:

3 Amazing Roman Architecture

Verona Arena – Verona, Italy

Built in 30 AD, this structure is one of the best preserved Roman arenas, and despite a damaging earthquake in the 12th century, it is still in use today.

Originally built outside the city limits, the arena accommodated up to 30,000 spectators, and Romans would flock to it to watch barbaric gladiator fights and other games.

The Verona Arena is famous for its wonderful acoustics, and it is a currently popular venue for opera productions and rock and pop concerts.  A great option is to stay in local Verona apartments and take in a show.

Villa Adriana – Tivoli, Italy

The Emperor Hadrian’s expansive villa, comprised of 30 separate buildings, is a testament to his appreciation of and influence on Roman architecture.

Built in the early 2nd century AD, Hadrian’s vacation home included vast gardens, multiple pools, theatres, libraries, baths, underground tunnels, and housing for guests and servants.

Especially interesting is the Maritime Theatre, a pool with a small island in the center that could only be reached by drawbridge. On the island was a small Roman house – allowing the emperor to retreat from his retreat!

The Ruins – Pompeii and Herculaneum, Italy

Destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, these Roman towns were buried under the volcano’s pyroclastic flows. Pompeii is well known for its ruins, but Herculaneum’s ruins were even better preserved: the city was completely buried so even upper stories of buildings remain intact, and the hot ash preserved wood objects such as furniture.

There are bakeries, bars, luxurious homes, and brothels.

Sharp-eyed visitors will notice ancient graffiti and a “beware of dog” sign.”

Visitors can even come face-to-face with the towns’ last inhabitants; eerie plaster casts are all that remain of those who failed to escape the volcano and were quickly overcome by super-heated air.

Photo Credit (1, 2, 3)

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7 Free Things To Do In Rome http://www.aswetravel.com/free-things-to-do-in-rome/ http://www.aswetravel.com/free-things-to-do-in-rome/#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 12:00:14 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=41057 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Rome is probably not the first destination you think of when it comes to budget travel, but the great thing is that there are so many free things to do in Rome that once you have found cheap apartments in Rome – the rest of your budget planning is easy. The city is practically an open-air museum, […]

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Rome is probably not the first destination you think of when it comes to budget travel, but the great thing is that there are so many free things to do in Rome that once you have found cheap apartments in Rome – the rest of your budget planning is easy.

The city is practically an open-air museum, and there are so many historical sites that won’t cost you a dime – to give you an idea, here are 7 free things to do in Rome …

Take A Stroll In Foro Romano

Stroll among the ruins of what once was the commercial, governmental and religious center of ancient rome and its powerful empire.

Used as a venue for public speeches, criminal trials, gladiatorial games, it was the heart of ancient Rome and one of the most important meeting places in history – an ancient beauty not to be passed up!

Toss A Coin In Trevi Fountain

Rome is home to many incredible piazzas and almost as many fountains.

One of the most famous is the Trevi Fountain, where the Swedish beauty Anita Ekberg splashed in La Dolce Vita – a scene that would become one of the most iconic in film history.

The flamboyant baroque fountain was completed in 1762 by Niccolo Salvi, and legend says that if you throw a coin in the fountain over your shoulder you will return to Rome again some day.

Visit The Pantheon

The Pantheon is the oldest standing domed structure in Rome, built in 27 B.C. as a temple honoring the Roman gods (in 609 it was converted into a Christian church).

The structure is the burial place of several famous artists, and the reason for the huge 30 ft hole in the ceiling is still a mystery.

One of the most popular explanations is that the opening was built as a sundial to illuminate the emperor as he entered on important occasions.

It’s the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, and a must see when in Rome.

Try Your Luck At La Bocca della Verita

Literally translated to “the mouth of truth”, this quirky sculpture is thought to once have been a piece of an ancient Roman fountain.

A legend from the middle ages has it that if you put your hand in the gaping mouth of this grotesque sculpture and tell a lie, you will pull out nothing but a stump!

Relax In Nature

For panoramic views of Rome, Park Gianicolo on Janiculum Hill is perfect!

Another great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the huge city are the fardens at Villa Borghese, some of the largest and most beautiful gardens in Rome and a great place for a picnic.

Check Out The Free Events

Summer is the high-season for free events in Rome, with music, film and theater festivals accompany wine-tastings and food events.

The International Urban Theater Festival has plenty of spontaneous and free dance, music and acting performances throughout the city in September.

The main summer festival, Estate Romana, is dedicated to outdoor performances and practically the whole of Rome becomes a stage.

During the festival hundreds of concerts, film showings, art displays and dances are held, many of them free of charge in all sorts of places, from the ancient ruins at Ostia Antica to open squares.

Visit These Two Churches

There are many absolutely stunning churches in Rome, but you can only see so many churches until you get so sick of them that if you see another church you swear you will go mad.

But before that happens, there are two amazing churches in Rome you should take the time to visit – the first one is St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Roman Catholic building in the world and an amazing work of art.

Make sure you rub the foot of the bronze statue of St. Peter before leaving, as it’s supposed to bring good luck!

The second church is San Clemente, which actually holds three churches in one. Made up of three levels, the lowest one is an ancient worship site, the second level is the first version of the church as a Christian worship site and the third a sanctuary from the 12th century with beautiful mosaics!

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6)

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How To Find The Best Italian Ice Cream. http://www.aswetravel.com/how-to-find-the-best-italian-ice-cream/ http://www.aswetravel.com/how-to-find-the-best-italian-ice-cream/#comments Sun, 02 Jun 2013 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40169 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Italy’s delicious food culture inspired me to start experimenting and learn more about cooking, and during my time there I learned a thing or two about food. In my quest for the perfect Gelato (Italian ice cream), I picked up a few tricks on how to find the perfect Gelato… The Color Of The Pistachio […]

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Italy’s delicious food culture inspired me to start experimenting and learn more about cooking, and during my time there I learned a thing or two about food.

In my quest for the perfect Gelato (Italian ice cream), I picked up a few tricks on how to find the perfect Gelato…

The Color Of The Pistachio – Be Aware!

A great way to quickly check if the gelato is of good quality is to look at the color of the Pistachio flavor.

If it’s neon green or very bright in color, it’s a sign that the ice cream is manufactured and filled with artificial coloring and flavoring.

Good home made Pistachio gelato should have an earthy green color – in general, good gelato of any flavor should have soft, muted colors.

Make Sure The Gelato Is Hidden!

Although ice cream looks so much better when it’s arranged in a big mound with fruity decorations, it’s not a good sign if you want high quality ice cream.

High quality Gelaterias keep their Gelato in covered metal canisters, because that way they can preserve it better and keep the ice cream at the ideal temperature, giving it that perfect creamy, dense consistency.

Avoid Abundant Mounds of Gelato

The big piles of sculpted gelato behind glass counters have often been infused with air. In some cases, so much air is injected into the gelato during production, that half of it by volume is composed of air.

The whole concept of Gelato is that there is as little air in it as possible, which makes it dense and yummy – so next time don’t be fooled by the large mounds or the fruit on top, it might not even be used in the making!

4 Lessons From The Photos Above:

  1. Look at that blue smurf-colored gelato, that’s a bad sign of artificial flavoring and coloring.
  2. Fruity decorations look better than they taste.
  3. Sculpted gelato is a sign of air infusion.
  4. Everyone makes a mistake once in a while, but when you do … at least make sure the colors look natural ;)

Look for Produzione Propria

Try to find Gelaterias that make home made Gelato (preferably in the back room of the shop) and advertise their gelato as ‘produzione propria’.

Another tip is to avoid shops with bright neon signs outside, as often they’re a giveaway for poor quality – the best Gelaterias usually don’t use them.

Gelato vs Ice Cream

Gelato was one of the main things I longed to indulge in when traveling to Italy, but what is it about Gelato that makes it so much better than any other ice cream?

The main ingredient that differentiate Ice cream and Italian Gelato is milk.

Ice cream is made with cream and has air whipped into it. Gelato is made of milk and has no air added at all (except the small amount of air that is naturally produced in the churning process), which is why it’s so dense.

Good news for your Italy trip is that Gelato also has less fat and calories than ice cream – so no need to feel bad about eating too much of it! ;)

If you don’t have the time to find the absolute best local gelateria making home made ice cream, then GROM is a trustworthy brand that has shops all over the country.

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3)

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Turin – Italy’s Forgotten Food Capital http://www.aswetravel.com/turin-italys-forgotten-food-capital/ http://www.aswetravel.com/turin-italys-forgotten-food-capital/#comments Sun, 19 May 2013 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40400 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Before we traveled to Turin we knew very little about the city other than that it was known for its car production. Little did we know that Turin is also a foodie’s heaven, something that we discovered during our time there. Not many people seem to know about this great gastronomical treasure of northern Italy […]

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Before we traveled to Turin we knew very little about the city other than that it was known for its car production.

Little did we know that Turin is also a foodie’s heaven, something that we discovered during our time there. Not many people seem to know about this great gastronomical treasure of northern Italy – it’s almost as though it as been forgotten of.

The locals claim that the reason is because they don’t brag and tell everyone about how great their food is, they just know it’s the best…

Europe’s Largest Open-Air Market

In Turin you will find the largest open-air fruit and vegetable market in Europe.

Full of life, the bustling market starts in the morning (around 8am) and goes on until 2pm. This is where the locals go to buy their weekly food shopping, and a great place to soak up the Italian atmosphere.

Selling seasonal fruits and vegetables by the kilo, you can easily buy a whole week of greens for €6, and it’s the perfect place to put together a cheap pic nic lunch before heading over to one of the parks nearby.

Giandujotto

If you’re a chocolate fan, prepare to be in for a real treat! What was originally an attempt to “thin out” chocolate to make it more affordable turned into one of the most delicious chocolate treats ever: the Gianduja.

A mixture of chocolate and hazelnuts, the Gianduja comes in bite sized treats called Giandujotto, and can be bought pretty much anywhere in Turin. They’re seriously some of the most amazing chocolate treats I’ve ever had, and I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate in my life..!

To give you an idea of the flavor, Gianduja was the inspiration to the more famous (and cheaper) Nutella spread we all love so much – which in Turin they throw into almost everything, from coffee to snacks.

Bicerin

We’ve written before about Turin’s obsession for chocolate, and the Bicerin is one of its proudest inventions. A hot chocolate/coffee drink, Bicerin is a unique drink of Turin, and a must-try for cool evenings.

Zabaglione

Another warm drink typical for Turin is Zabaglione, an alcoholic type of egg-nod, where the egg is whipped into a foam, and you basically eat the drink with a spoon.
It’s sweet, a little sticky, and has a strong alcoholic liqueur flavor.

Biscotti & Bagnati

To go with their hot chocolate coffee drinks, the Savoy family that ruled Piedmont invented bite sized biscuits to dip in their hot drinks.

These delights made especially to be dunked come in many different flavors and varieties, some of the most famous are Baci di Dama, Canestrelli and Savoiardi – better known as ladies fingers.

Our favorite were Torcetti (in the lower left corner), but there is really an infinite variety of specialities waiting to seduce you and be enjoyed in Turin’s small, traditional patisseries.

At Caffé al Bicerin (famous for their Bicerin) you can order a plate of assorted traditional biscuits for €6 to go with your drink – they’re definitely worth it!

Ferrero Rocher

As if the fact that Turin invented eating chocolate wasn’t enough, one of the most famous gourmet chocolates in the world – Ferrero Rocher, was also invented in Turin.

Wine

The Piedmont region of Turin is famous for their wine, especially of the red sort.

One of the perks of Italy, and especially Piedmont, is that wine can be bought everywhere, and surprisingly cheap.

In some of the cheaper restaurants such as “Brek” you just grab a jug of the size you want and pour wine from a tap lie it was water!

Two glasses can cost as little as €1,70, not to mention the prices of bottles from a wine shop of supermarket.

If you like wine that is a little tangy, you’ll love Italian wine.

Aperitivo

Turin claims to be the inventor of so many things it’s almost a bit of a joke; one cafe even claims the fame for “bite sized sandwiches”, and prize them accordingly…

The city is apparently also where “aperitivo” was invented, a sort of “happy hour” thing when you buy a drink and get a buffet or snacks for free.

Unlike “happy hour”, drinks aren’t usually cheaper, but you get free food included. For a proper buffet expect to pay €9, but if you just want to enjoy a refreshing Aperol Spritz with some peanuts and chips you can get a drink for as little as €4 (at least from our favorite local hangout, Roger Bar at Via Torquato Tasso 9).

Slow Food Movement

The invasion of fast food joints popping up like a plague across Italy in the 80’s gave birth to a new food revolution – the Slow Food Movement.

This new movement began in the Piedmont region (in a town called Bra close to Turin) and was aimed to reclaim the meaning of eating in Italy, and offer the public good food carefully made with love, rather than pre-made reheated burger patties.

While the Supermarket/Restaurant Eataly is the most famous, there are many great slow food restaurants all over Turin.

Truffles

The Piedmont area is not only one of the best wine growing areas in Italy, but also the best for growing the exotic (and expensive) Truffels.

Every year Turin holds a truffle festival where the best chefs from around the world travel to the city to seek out the best truffles for their restaurants.

If you’re interested in visiting Turin and sample their amazing food, Co-op Travel offers some great holiday packages to Italy, where you can easily make Turin part of a day-trip.

Next time you travel through northern Italy make sure you stop over in Turin for a day or two to sample their great food!

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5 Top Things To Do In Turin, Italy http://www.aswetravel.com/things-to-do-in-turin/ http://www.aswetravel.com/things-to-do-in-turin/#comments Sun, 12 May 2013 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40295 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Some say that Turin is Italy’s most overlooked city, and until the Winter Olympics in 2006 few people thought of it as anything else than an industrial car city – they couldn’t be more wrong! Although Turin justifiably is known for its cars, there is so much more to the city than Fiat or Ferrari. […]

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Some say that Turin is Italy’s most overlooked city, and until the Winter Olympics in 2006 few people thought of it as anything else than an industrial car city – they couldn’t be more wrong!

Although Turin justifiably is known for its cars, there is so much more to the city than Fiat or Ferrari.

And since we’re not very interested in cars – we will give you a car-free guide to Turin and show what we think are the city’s real treasures …

Eat, Drink & Eat Some More

While you can find good food all over Italy, Turin specializes in the food that we love most; wine, cheese, chocolate and truffles.

Turin is said to have invented the solid form of chocolate, but is more famous for its hot chocolate drink called Bicerin.

Turin has a love story with chocolate like few other cities, and a must-try when you’re there is the Giandujotto, a hazelnut chocolate praline that was the inspiration to the worldwide favorite Nutella chocolate.

If you’re not a chocolate fan there are still plenty of other foods to taste, such as the world famous truffles – every year during the truffle festival the world’s best chefs visit Turin to seek out the best truffles.

Also make sure you spend an evening at a bar and order an aperitivo (a drink with snacks or a small buffet included), a popular tradition in Turin.

For a more detailed guide on what to eat in Turin, stay tuned for our “food guide to Turin” next week.

The (Fake) Medieval Castle

Located by the river front, Turin has a stunning medieval castle – only it dates back to the 19th century…

That’s right, it’s not actually a medieval castle, but a mash-up of inspiration from all the surrounding medieval buildings in the Piedmont area, built in 1884 for an international exhibition.

The replica of the 15th Century Piedmontese Castle and Village gives you a great idea of what life was like in Piedmont during the medieval times.

Each room is furnished and built as a replica of a room in the various castles in the area, so in a way you could say that you get “the best of all the castles in one” – the Valentino Park which the Village is located in is really lovely to spend some time in as well, with a botanical Garden and food stalls.

Visit: The village is free to enter, a castle tour costs 6.00 € – FREE with Turin Piedmont Card.

Reggia di Venaria

Reggia di Venaria is one of the latest additions to Turin’s attractions, as it opened to the public only a few years ago – the beautiful palace where the Savoy family once lived is quite spectacular, and after years of neglect and decline it has been restored to its former glory.

Built in mid 1600’s to celebrate beauty, hunting and leisure pursuits, it was a true show-off palace for the Savoy family that once built it.

We spent several hours in the palace, gardens and cute medieval town and still didn’t see everything there was to see, so it’s definitely a half-day trip in itself..!

Visit: Shuttle bus return ticket €5. An all-inclusive ticket of Reggia di Venaria, gardens and exhibitions costs €20 – All of this is free with the Turin Piedmont Card.

National Museum of Cinema

To tell you the truth, neither of us are big fans of museums so we don’t usually make an effort to visit many of them when traveling – the Cinema Museum, however, is actually really cool, and even Nathan was glad he went to check it out.

Located in Turin’s most iconic building Mole Antonelliana, it’s an interactive museum where you can walk through different rooms, each dedicated to its own film genre; from romance, comedy and Loney Toones to horror and sci-fi, all very creatively designed.

At the top of Mole Antonelliana you can get one of the best views overlooking Turin, and the lift taking you up to the viewing point is a pretty neat experience alone!

 Visit: Museum and lift €12 – FREE with Turin Piedmont Card.

Sassi-Superga

One of our favorite things to do in Turin was to take the old 1930’s cogwheel train from Sassi (a suburb across the river in Turin) up the Superga mountain to the Basilica of Superga.

The cute train is well preserved in its 1930’s condition and slowly climbs the mountain through green forests until it finally stops at an altitude of 672 meters.

The bright yellow Basilica proudly sits on top of the mountain overlooking Turin, river Po and the snowy alps, and there is a cute little cafe just below the Basilica terrace that makes a great Spritze to be enjoyed under the cherry blossom trees on the terrace.

Many football fans make pilgrimages to the top of this hill to pay respect for the city’s historic football team Il Grande Torino, who were on the plane that tragically crashed into the Superga mountain in 1949 – the team used to go under the nickname “the invincible”.

Visit: During weekdays a return-ticket is €6, weekends €9 – FREE with Turin Piedmont card. The Basilica is free to visit unless you want to go up to the dome (also free with the card) for a 360 view.

A big thanks to the Turin tourism board for providing us with Turin Piedmont Cards to help explore the city.

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A Guide To Magical Cinque Terre, Italy http://www.aswetravel.com/cinque-terre-italy-travel-guide/ http://www.aswetravel.com/cinque-terre-italy-travel-guide/#comments Tue, 07 May 2013 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40162 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Cinque Terre is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque areas in Italy, and it’s impossible not to be charmed by the colorful quaint villages clinging on to the rugged cliffs along the coast and its warm hospitable locals. Walking around the villages you can easily picture what it must have been like a hundred years […]

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Cinque Terre is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque areas in Italy, and it’s impossible not to be charmed by the colorful quaint villages clinging on to the rugged cliffs along the coast and its warm hospitable locals.

Walking around the villages you can easily picture what it must have been like a hundred years ago when the area was so secluded that the only way to get there was by sea or mule paths.

These mule paths have been maintained and used over the centuries and are now popular hiking paths with the most amazing views of the sea-swept Cinque Terre …

How To Get Around

Monterosso

You can buy 1, 2, 3 or 7 day passes that are valid on all local trains on the Cinque Terre route – that way you can travel back and forth between all the towns as much as you like for the time period the pass is valid.

A 1 day pass costs €10 per person and lasts all day.

There is also a one-direction pass for €8 where you can travel in one direction, but by the end of the day you’ll still need to return to your city and pay a single ticket, so it kind of evens out anyway.

Single tickets cost between €1.80 and €2 between the villages when bought from the stations.

The 5 Villages

Cinque Terre literally translates to “5 lands”, and includes the five villages Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. While they have many similarities, each village stands out with its own unique attributes and charm.

Vernazza

With a picturesque harbor and stunning views overlooking the village from the walking paths nearby, Vernazza is surrounded by hilly vineyards on one side, and the great ocean on the other.

The cafés are cute and cheap, perfect for a lunch stop.

Vernazza

Manarola

The waves that clash against the dark rugged rocks that the little colorful houses in Manarola cling to really makes the view over the town one of the most dramatic in Cinque Terre.

Completely surrounded by vineyards, Manarola is a good stop to sit down in a Trattoria and taste the local wine – if you’re feeling for something more refreshing, Manarola has the best Gelateria in Cinque Terre called Gelateria Cinque Terre.

Manarola

Monterosso

The largest village and also the flattest, Monterosso has two sandy beaches, a rare commodity in the area, it also offers more budget friendly hotels than the other villages and is often the place travelers base themselves in.

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore was the village we stayed in, so we naturally spent more time there and loved the cafes and take-away restaurants that lined the steep main street of the village.

We never tired of the view of the houses tightly tucked next to each other on the steep hill.

Riomaggiore

Corniglia

Set high above the ocean on a hilltop, Corniglia is very different from the other villages that are located by the shores – the narrow, winding alleys in Corniglia charm visitors with its tiny Trattorias, Pizzerias and handicraft shops.

The views overlooking the other villages below and a small village even further into the secluded hills are stunning.

The village is so secluded that locals buy their daily necessities from vans that drive up to the village to sell food, cooking utensils and what not from the back of their vans.

Our Favorite

Each town has its own charm and special touch, but if we had to choose our favorite, it would be Vernazza – it’s incredibly picturesque, offers beautiful views, and has a great vibe.

What To Eat & Drink

The locals are very friendly and open, and the cafes and eateries serve fantastic food for good prices – we were expecting over-priced meals since the villages in Cinque Terre are rather secluded and small, offering few options.

But instead we found that the meals were normal compared to other places in Italy, and we didn’t have one boring meal during our stay (coffee was a bit more, around €2.50).

Pesto

Cinque Terre is a pesto paradise, and local diners serve all sorts of food smothered in the green deliciousness. We became huge fans of the “Gnocchi al Pesto” at Te La Do Io La Merenda in Riomaggiore (€6).

Limoncino

Cinque Terre grows a lot of lemons, which is why their dessert wine Limoncino is a local specialty.

Wine

Also make sure you try their local wine, which are grown from the unique vineyards you see all over the area clinging to the ocean cliffs and hills.

Cinque Terre was one of the most colorful areas we’ve ever been and we absolutely loved it! What are some of your best tips for travelers visiting Cinque Terre?

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5 Famous People From Florence, Italy http://www.aswetravel.com/famous-people-florence-italy/ http://www.aswetravel.com/famous-people-florence-italy/#comments Sun, 05 May 2013 07:00:01 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40492 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Florence is more than just a beautiful Italian city; over the years it has been the birthplace of many very important people in history, from Donatello to Catherine de Medici. Although there are probably as many notable people who have hailed from this city as there are places to stay in Florence, let’s take a […]

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Florence is more than just a beautiful Italian city; over the years it has been the birthplace of many very important people in history, from Donatello to Catherine de Medici.

Although there are probably as many notable people who have hailed from this city as there are places to stay in Florence, let’s take a look at five you will certainly recognise…

Donatello & Michelangelo  – The “David” Sculptures

Florence is known as the birthplace of Renaissance, and was the home of many famous Renaissance artists such as Donatello and Michelangelo.

Both were incredibly skilled artists, and both are famous for their “David” statues.

Donatello revolutionized the 15th century art scene. One of his most famous works is “David,” a bronze statue commissioned for the court of the Palazzo Medici.

It was the very first free-standing nude sculpture made since ancient times and it was like no other work at the time.

Michelangelo is another important Renaissance artist associated with Florence. He too created a “David” statue, which is perhaps even more famous than that of Donatello.

The statue is meant to be a representation in marble of the perfect male form – so why did his creator not make him – how would one say – a little better endowed?

The mystery is said to have been solved, apparently his “male organ” is supposed to have shrunk by the fear of Goliath..!

Where: Although the real statues of David are in Museo Nazionale del Bargello and Galleria dell’Accademia, you can see a replica of Michelangelo’s David at Piazza della Signoria.

Roberto Cavalli – The Fashion Designer

Born in Florence in 1940, Roberto Cavalli is a fashion designer who is known for created the “sand-blasted” style of lighter-coloured denim jeans, which is now a standard style for many denim makers.

He began his career in 1965 when he was only in his 20s, creating hand-painted T-shirts. He went on to become one of the most well-known Italian fashion designers.

Elton John is a huge fan and is said to spend hours in the store picking out clothes. Cavalli’s designs are synonymous with rock-and-roll and they utilize a lot of leather, colour, silk, feathers and much more.

Where: Next to his shop is Caffe Giacosa, a great cafe which Cavalli actually owns (and designed of course!). It has a great atmosphere and delicious food and coffee!

Catherine de Medici – The Ruthless Queen

Daughter to Lorenzo ll de Medici, Catherine was a French/Italian noble woman born in Florence in 1519. She would eventually take the throne as the Queen of France after marrying King Henry II when she was only 14.

Henry’s death thrust her into the political arena. In 1560 her frail 15-year-old son, King Francis II died, leaving her as regent on behalf of her 10-year-old son, King Charles IX. She also played a key role in the reign of her third son, Henry III.

Although she is thought to be unforgivably ruthless, she is considered by many historians to be the most powerful woman in 16th century Europe.

Where: The Uffizi museum (one of the most famous in the world) was once a palace of the Medici family full of art treasures. Today visitors can view the art collected by the family and others at the museum.

Sandro Botticelli – The Painter

Botticelli was born in Florence circa 1445 and went on to become an Italian painter during the Early Renaissance. He studied at the Florentine school under the esteemed patronage of the famous Lorenzo de Medici during what would later be considered the “Golden Age.”

His best known works are “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera” (also known as the “Allegory of Spring”). The latter is said to be one of the most written about and most controversial paintings in the world.

Where: Both paintings mentioned above hang at the Uffizi museum in Florence.

These are just five examples of famous people who have hailed from Florence, Italy, but of course there have been many more over the years. This city just seems to have something special and inspiring and when you visit you will see it for yourself.

About the Author: Sarah Sherman is a freelance writer who has spent the last two months making her way slowly across Italy and writing about what she discovers. She has fallen in love with this city.

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Florence – Italian Perfection? http://www.aswetravel.com/florence-italian-perfection/ http://www.aswetravel.com/florence-italian-perfection/#comments Tue, 30 Apr 2013 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40167 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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As soon as we arrived in Florence, we knew there was something unique about this city. Everything clicked – it was love at first sight. Florence had everything we had dreamed of Italy, from its gorgeous alleys and squares to the best gelato we had tasted in all of the country and very friendly people. […]

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As soon as we arrived in Florence, we knew there was something unique about this city. Everything clicked – it was love at first sight.

Florence had everything we had dreamed of Italy, from its gorgeous alleys and squares to the best gelato we had tasted in all of the country and very friendly people.

It was the perfect Italian city.

I know that’s a big claim, but what else can you say when there’s really nothing you wish was different?

There was so much to love about Florence that it was hard to take it all in for just two days…

The Views

From cathedrals and palaces to squares and statues, the city is overflowing with masterpieces in the styles of the Renaissance, Gothic, and Neo-Classical periods – be prepared to have a sore neck after a day out from your head constantly twisting from side to side!

One of my favorites was Ponte Vecchio, a bridge unlike anything I’ve ever seen before; shops are built along both sides of the medieval stone bridge, many with an extension so that the shops hang over the river.

These types of bridges were once quite common, but today very few are left.

While the bridge is pretty to look at, don’t buy anything from the jewelry shops as they’re quite over-priced.

For the best view overlooking Florence and the Tuscan hills, head up to Piazzale Michelangelo. You can easily walk up the hill and steps leading up to the viewpoint.

The Atmosphere

Florence is a captivating city, with narrow winding medieval alleys that somehow always seem to lead to the Duomo, the most iconic building in Florence.

In fact the streets are so narrow that the citizens have adapted to the size by driving tiny cars in order to get around. Even the trucks are miniature sized!

And of course there are also more vespas and scooters than you could possibly count (we actually tried counting the parked scooters on a street but gave up!).

Our favorite thing to do in Florence was sitting down on the outside seating of a cafe on one of the many beautiful little Piazzas (squares), order a cappuccino and take in the atmosphere.

The Food

Italians pride themselves on their fresh, delicious food, and Florence is no exception. Every meal we had was pure perfection, from the Italian ice cream to the vegetarian lasagna.

Best of all – unlike some other cities in Italy, you don’t have to seek out the good places to get good food.

The local coffee shop around the corner would serve cheap Focaccias that in any other country would be labeled “gourmet”, and the tiny Trattorias on the side streets served cappuccinos good enough for even the pickiest of coffee fanatics – which we were well on our way to become..!

Simply put, Italians know food, and in Florence you get real Italian food for honest prices, and you won’t find any frozen veggies on your pizza or other tourist tricks!

We’ll post an article in a few weeks on how to find the perfect Italian Gelato, but for those visiting Florence, I’ll give you a hint: Le Parigine (Via Dei Servi 41).

We happened to stumble upon this gem and haven’t had a better Gelato since!

Have you been to Florence? What were your favorite things about the city?

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