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Mantua is a city of water in the Lombardy region, just two hours from Milan, one and a half from Venice and one from Parma, and is famous for its art, architecture and history.  

Ruled by the Gonzaga family for four centuries

For over four centuries (1328 to 1707), the Gonzaga family ruled and dominated the city of Mantua - which is surrounded by the Mincio river on three sides - giving it splendid palaces, castles and churches, which still bear witness to the family’s power. The historic centre of this UNESCO World Heritage site is small, so it is possible to visit it in a single day and get a good overview of its major attractions. A visit should start at the Basilica of Sant'Andrea, in the heart of the city. With its cross-shaped ground plan and 80-metre-high dome by Filippo Juvarra, it houses works of art by many the greatest Italian artists.

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A clock tower with ringing bells

Not far away is the Clock Tower that measures the hours - marked by Roman numerals, zodiac signs, planetary hours, days of the moon and positions of the stars – thanks to a refined mechanism that rings the bells when the hour strikes. From its summit, some 32 metres high, one can see the entire city. On Piazza Sordello, the centre of Mantua’s political and religious power, stand the Ducal Palace, the Bishop's Palace, the Palazzo del Capitano and the Palazzo Castiglioni and, on Thursday mornings, a traditional weekly market with street stalls is held here.

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The second largest residence in Italy

The Ducal Palace, also known as the Gonzaga Palace, is one of the world's largest tourist sites and the second largest residence in Italy (after the Vatican) with its 600 rooms (only some are open to the public), seven gardens and eight courtyards. Today it is a vast museum complex, and a visit can take a few hours to admire wonderful relics of the past like the Bridal Chamber with the famous frescoes depicting episodes from the lives of the Gonzaga rulers. It took Andrea Mantegna nine years to complete this cycle, which is considered one of the world’s greatest Renaissance masterpieces.

The magnificent Palazzo Te, and river cruises to Ravenna and Venice

Also not to be missed, and just a ten minute’s drive away, is Palazzo Te, a magnificent suburban villa designed by the great architect Giulio Romano which today houses the Civic Museum. It was enlarged by Francesco Gonzaga, the son of Isabella D'Este. His official mistress Isabella Boschetto also lived here and several rooms are dedicated to her. Mantua is a city of water washed by lakes and the Mincio River, with canals connecting it to the Po River, its delta and the Adriatic Sea. Many companies offer river cruises to Ferrara, Ravenna and Venice, as well as around the Mincio Park, a protected water area which is popular with birdwatchers and photographers.  

Published in Cities & Regions

The Starhotels group closed 2023 by exceeding a €300 million euro turnover for the first time.

A further 15% increase is expected this year

The €304 million turnover was 25% more than 2023, and 28 % higher than the pre-Covid 2019. Gross operating margins grew, rising to €105 million, an increase of 31% over 2022 and 67% compared to 2019, while the growth trend is predicted to continue this year.  President and CEO Elisabetta Fabri told Il Sole 24 Ore that she expected a further 15% increase in 2024.

Starhotels has 30 properties, of which 28 are owned

As already announced, Starhotel’s expansion plans continue, now aiming to go beyond direct acquisitions to also explore asset-light strategies, including franchising affiliations. The company currently operates a total of 30 properties, of which 28 are owned. Elisabetta Fabri would like to add a dozen more hotels to the portfolio in the next couple of years. The group is chiefly interested in leisure destinations, in particular Forte dei Marmi and Capri, as well as Sicily and Puglia. Mountainous locations are not excluded either, with an eye on Cortina, home of the next Winter Olympics.

The Michelangelo in New York will be repositioned after renovations

For the present there are no further developments in the pipeline abroad, but The Michelangelo in New York will be repositioned after renovations, while further investments are expected for the Castille Paris. Fabrizio Gaggio has joined Starhotels as co-CEO of the group alongside Elisabetta Fabri.

Published in Hospitality

Trenitalia has acquired Alitalia's historic MilleMiglia programme for €1,5 million and is studying possible synergies with its own loyalty cards.

A database of over 6.2 million names 

According to the Italian media the deal amounts to €1.5 million, and comes after almost two and a half years of searching for a buyer and three unsuccessful calls for tenders. The parent company of the Ferrovie dello Stato Group's Passenger Hub will now have a database of over 6.2 million names, which will be added to the more than 10 million subscribers to the Freccia Card, and to the XGO programme for users of regional or Intercity trains.

The Millemiglia programme has 40 ex-Alitalia partners 

Nothing will change for those enrolled in the programme, as the miles accumulated can be used by the next expiry date of the programme, i.e. 31 January 2025. The €1.5 million is lower than the initial request which started in November 2021 at €50,563,000, then dropped to €20 million, while in Spring 2023, for third and final tender ,no figure was fixed. ITA Airways was unable to participate in line with the European Commission's demands following the birth of the newco that took Alitalia's place. Even though Alitalia no longer exists, the card still allows points to be accumulated through a network of some 40 partners. The acquired company, Italia Loyalty, has 30 employees that Trenitalia has committed to keeping and will now be integrated into the Ferrovie dello Stato state railways Group.

Published in Transportation

Explore Sicily through the unconventional perspective of the island’s matriarchs, old and new, exclusively available at Rocco Forte’s Villa Igiea and Verdura Resort.


Stories of powerful 1900s Sicilian women

Villa Igea and Verdura Resort, Rocco Forte’s luxury Sicilian properties, have launched a new Sicilian Matriarchy experience, inspired by the Belle Époque period socialite Donna Franca Florio. Celebrating the powerful and elegant women who brought creativity to the island in the 1900s, the Sicilian Matriarchy itinerary offers a new way to discover Sicily, with all women-led experiences curated into itineraries for the two respective properties:

The Urban Itinerary at Villa Igea

mini 2 Sicily Matriarchs RFH Villa Igiea Igiea Terrazza Bar 7831 JG Jun 21Villa Igiea


At Villa Igiea, the urban itinerary consists of five carefully selected locations in Palermo featuring the island’s breathtaking architecture and landscapes. From the Fondazione Federico II visitors move on to discover the Norman Palace and the Palatine Chapel, and the queens that inspired Dante’s Divine Comedy. The itinerary then leads to an unconventional atelier, where the ancient Sicilian art of embroidery is brought back to life through a sustainable production model. And it’s then time to a step back in time with an exclusive chamber music concert in a magnificent liberty-style Palazzo.

Stops at an artist’s atelier and a botanical garden

A contemporary artist from London, who moved to Sicily in search of inspiration, opens her house, inviting guests into her atelier, followed by a tour of her favourite markets and shops in the traditional Ballarò neighbourhood. The tour ends at the Botanical Garden of the Duke of Serradifalco, recently restored to its former glory by the owner and with Princess Licata di Baucina who will take guests on a guided tour.
 Verdura Resort Architecture detail VSCAPE Verdura Resort

The Countryside Itinerary at Verdura Resort

At Verdura Resort, Rocco Forte’s 250-hectare countryside estate, the itinerary focuses on how the stories of Italy’s matriarchs continue to unfold in the provincial villages of Sicily. The countryside itinerary starts in Aragona, a town just a few minutes from Agrigento, where local matriarch Maria and her daughter Elena uphold traditions of historical oven-cooked cuisine sharing traditional Sicilian recipes with visitors.

Coral crafts and a couscous cooking class

At the next stop guests are introduced to the art of processing coral with Laura, a fourth-generation goldsmith and coral craftswoman. In the museum and laboratory in her ancient Palazzo in the heart of Sciacca visitors will find authentic coral from the region, renowned for its salmon colours and unique fossil status. Then it’s time to explore the cultural fusion of the Mediterranean diet, led by an award-winning Senegalese Chef. The culinary journey starts with a couscous cooking class, where the main ingredient serves as a key to female empowerment in the small community of Senegalese women in Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples.
mini 4 Sicily Matriarchs RFH Verdura Resort Pool Suite Acacia 1676 JG Jul 18Verdura Resort Pool Suite Acacia

For information: roccofortehotels.com/villa-igiea; roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/verdura-resort
Published in Hospitality

In an exclusive interview we asked Pietro Monti, co-owner and director of marketing of the 5-star Hotel Mediterraneo, why it is a must to put Sorrento on an Italian itinerary.

A long history of welcoming visitors 

Pietro Monti Hotel Mediterraneo Sorrento

“Sorrento is a must for many reasons, but I have to start with our exceptional sense of hospitality. On the Sorrentine Peninsula we have a long history of welcoming visitors from all over the world. Sometimes I’m asked what kind of specific training we give our staff to enable them to deal so seamlessly with such a wide variety of guests from all walks of life. The answer is that hospitality is in our blood, and not just because our hotel is a family business.  It is something we do with true dedication and passion, and this extends to every member of our team, and to Sorrento in general.”   

“In and around Sorrento, we have 14 Michelin-star restaurants”

The second reason Sorrento has to be included on any itinerary, said Monti, is for its gastronomic variety and excellence.

hotel mediterraneo

“Suffice it to say that in a very small area, in and around Sorrento, we have 14 Michelin-star restaurants. Added to which the Hotel Mediterraneo’s Vesuvius Restaurant, under Chef Giuseppe Saccone with his brigade, is renowned for its innovative and often playful take on typical specialties, and we have a wine list with exceptional local wines you will not easily find elsewhere.” Other local products that are unique to the Sorrentine Peninsula, Monti told us, are the lemons from which the town’s renowned Limoncello is made, walnuts, tomatoes and “treccia” mozzarella.  History also abounds in the area, he added: “there are the ruins of the old natural swimming hole which Queen Joanna 1 of Naples used as her summer retreat in the 14th century, as well as Roman remains including Villa Pollio and the many old cisterns under the town’s streets.”    

Sorrento has the most stunning sunsets

“Another unique feature of Sorrento, and one that our guests particularly rave about, are our sunsets over the Bay of Naples and the islands of Procida and Ischia. And they are even more spectacular when seen from our Skybar which is a favourite haunt for its cocktails, gourmet snacks and champagnes.” The Hotel Mediterraneo’s enviable position, we discovered, is another, and a very practical, reason for choosing Sorrento as a base. “Staying here takes a lot of hassle out of visiting the many iconic attractions on the Sorrento and Amalfi coasts. Our hotel is so ideally placed that in less than an hour, you can reach Capri, Ravello, Amalfi, Pompeii and Naples by sea. This a huge plus, especially in the high season when traffic on the coastal drive can add hours to a day’s outing.”

3 Vista Sky Bar Sunset hotel mediterraneo

Hotel Mediterraneo: refined luxury and a warm welcome

A further excellent reason not to miss Sorrento is the Hotel Mediterraneo itself. Just a 15-minute walk from Sorrento’s main square, the handsome white Liberty-style property overlooks Naples and Mount Vesuvius, with the island of Capri in the distance. It is a perfect choice for travellers who appreciate refined luxury and the warm hospitality of a "grand home.” With 61 rooms and junior suites - many have balconies with sea, garden and pool views - there is also a spa and an elevator with direct access to the sea and the deck area reserved for hotel guests.  “Sorrento has an excellent range of accommodation of all levels, with many family-run and para-hotels,- added Monti, -there is an abundancechoice for all tastes and budgets.” For information: www.mediterraneosorrento.com

Published in Hospitality

Hilton is pushing the Tapestry brand in Rome, Naples and Perugia with new properties joining the US group’s 36 hotels in Italy.

A new Tapestry close to the Vatican Museums in 2025 

The portfolio includes the recently opened Ambasciatori Hotel Venice Mestre, Tapestry Collection. “Our development plans in Italy are very ambitious, and we are thrilled to see strong interest from owners and solid demand from guests,” said Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president of development EMEA Hilton. In the heart of Rome, close to the Vatican Museums, the Spring House Hotel Rome Vatican, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, will become the second hotel of this brand in the capital following the opening of the Cosmopolita Hotel Rome in 2022. Featuring a restaurant, bar, wellness area, outdoor terrace, and 73 rooms, the hotel is expected to be completed in early 2025 under a franchising agreement with Spring House, owned by Stefano Gabbani and family, who have managed the property since 1969.

Tapestry PerugiaTapestry Perugia

A historic property in Naples

Naples is to get its first Tapestry hotel thanks to a franchising agreement with Ownco, which previously opened the Britannique Naples, Curio Collection by Hilton in 2020. The Palazzo Caracciolo Naples, Tapestry Collection, in a 13th-century palace, was the residence of Gioacchino Murat before he became King of Naples. Maintaining its Renaissance style, the hotel will continue operations during renovations and will be fully rebranded as Tapestry in the spring. With 145 rooms, a restaurant, bar, gym, and wellness area, it is conveniently located near the coast.

Nestled in the heart of Perugia

Nestled in the heart of Perugia, the Rosetta Hotel Tapestry Collection will be the first Hilton hotel in the area. With portions of the building dating back to the 15th century, the 74-room property showcases hand-painted ceilings, wooden furniture, and wall artwork. Completion of the hotel is slated for the latter half of 2025, following a franchising agreement with a company owned by the Simone Fittuccia and Rodolfa Mencarelli families.

Published in Hospitality

The municipality of Cleto, in the southern region of Calabria, has kicked off an innovative project to revive the town by promoting ancestry tourism, also known as heritage tourism. 

A new destination for Italian-descendantvisitors

With the support of tour operators, local companies, and with great commitment on the part of the citizens of the little township, the project is already achieving tangible results. “We are transforming Cleto into a new destination for Italian descendants,- said Cleto’s mayor, Armando Bossio, - and this March we welcomed the first 25 visitors from Latin America.” Mayor Bossio added that Latin American arrivals are also confirmed through the summer months and that, from September to November, there will also be sizable groups from Canada and Australia. 

“Cleto is only 29 kilometres from Lamezia Terme airport”

Cleto, known as the town of the two castles - one medieval and one Angevin - is a hidden gem in the southern region of Calabria, and strategically located between the sea and the hills. "We are 29 kilometres from Lamezia Terme airport and 25 minutes from the Salerno highway junction,- said Mayor Bossio. -Regular Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains stop in Amantea, which is just half an hour away and is a popular seaside resort town with beautiful beaches.”  

mayor of cleto

 Authentic and engaging experiences lasting a month or more

The project, which was successfully inaugurated in early March with the arrival of twenty-four visitors from Argentina, Chile, and Peru, is based on offering an authentic and engaging experience, lasting a month or more. It aims to help those arriving from countries with a strong history of immigration from Italy to rediscover the traditions and lifestyle of their ancestors.  "Many of these visitors choose to extend their stay for several months, completely immersing themselves in the unique atmosphere of Cleto thanks to the stories handed down by their families, and it also contributes to countering school depopulation as visiting children attend the local school, some for extended periods of time.”

Cleto Castelli

80 Canadians and Australians per month from September to November

With guided visits to symbolic places in Calabria and the discovery of typical local products, the project offers guests the opportunity to take Italian courses with local teachers (volunteers, as are all the inhabitants of Cleto) as well as lessons in music, cooking and traditional arts. “We expect increasing visitor flows and have 38 confirmed arrivals in May, 40 in June and 80 Canadians and Australians per month from September to November.” The project, which is attracting great interest both locally and nationally is a major breakthrough for a community of just 1,300 inhabitants, and was given the name “Cleto Model” when it was presented at the Mediterranean Tourism Exchange in Naples earlier this year.

Published in Cities & Regions

United Airlines has introduced Newark New York-Naples flights and will operate double daily flights during the summer peak.

Up to 11 daily non-stop connections between the US and Italy

With the double daily flights during the summer peak, United will connect the two cities until 26 October 2024, with up to 11 daily non-stop connections between the US and Italy. In addition to the flights from Naples Capodichino United Airlines operates daily year-round connections from New York/Newark to Rome and Milan and seasonal daily connections to Rome from Chicago O'Hare, Washington Dulles and San Francisco, from Chicago O'Hare (the opening of which, again, has been brought forward to 2023) to Milan and Venice to New York/Newark.

“United is offering the largest intercontinental operation ever”

"We are excited to return to Naples with expanded operations, and to allow our customers to book their travel to the United States even earlier this year," said Walter Cianciusi, country sales manager Italy. "For summer 2024 United will offer the largest intercontinental operation ever, with even more travel options thanks to connections from our US hubs to the entire American continent.

“United Airlines is the first American major to fly from New York to Naples”

"The anticipation of United's Newark/Naples flight, the first American major to fly from New York to Naples, shows the strong demand and the enormous connection between the two cities, which share cultural liveliness and latitude - commented Roberto Barbieri, CEO of Gesac -. The airline is doubling its daily frequencies during the summer peak and focusing on a distinctly business product. In addition to New York, the connection with Newark, United's hub, will allow passengers from Naples and Southern Italy to reach the entire American continent more easily". United's transatlantic network for the summer includes non-stop connections from 37 destinations: the carrier's richest offering ever and the highest number of destinations offered by any US carrier.

Published in Transportation

United Airlines operates more Chicago-Italy flights than any other carrier, and brings forward by almost a month the resumption of its seasonal flights from Chicago O'Hare.

“The most extensive transatlantic summer schedule in United’s history”

United is the only carrier that flies between Chicago and Milan, and operates more flights to Italy from Chicago than any other carrier. "This summer United will operate the most extensive transatlantic summer schedule in its history, offering greater travel choices and the opportunity, through our hubs in the United States, to visit numerous other destinations throughout the Americas," says Walter Cianciusi, country sales manager Italy for the US airline.

“A passenger growth of 70% compared to pre-pandemic” 

"United's choice to serve two such important gateways in the United States completes our airport's strategy and makes us particularly satisfied also by virtue of the traffic results obtained - underlines Andrea Tucci, vice president aviation business development Sea Milan Airports -. The current extension of the seasonality is the result the market's response to the injection of direct capacity to Chicago, with a growth in passenger volumes of 70% compared to the same season pre-pandemic.” 

Operated with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners 

The routes are operated with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft configured with a total of 243 seats - 28 flat-bed, fully reclining seats, all with aisle access in United Polaris business class, 21 seats in United Premium Plus class, and 194 seats in economy class, including 36 Economy PlusSM seats with additional legroom.

Up to eleven daily non-stop summer services from the US to Italy 

The extension of seasonal service between Chicago and Milan builds on United's annual daily connections from New York Newark to Milan and Rome as well as seasonal daily flights from New York Newark to Venice and Naples, and from Chicago to Rome, Washington Dulles and San Francisco. The airline will offer up to eleven daily non-stop services from the United States to Italy this summer. 

Published in Transportation

ITA Airways has launched new direct flights between London City Airport and Rome Fiumicino.

“The UK is an increasingly strategic market for ITA” 

"London City is a reference airport for business traffic, but it is also very interesting for leisure flows - says Emiliana Limosani, chief commercial officer of ITA Airways and CEO of Volare. -The UK is an increasingly strategic market for ITA which this summer offers customers 100 weekly connections between Italy and the UK.” 

Connections to ITA’s domestic and intercontinental network

London City Airport allows passengers to benefit from its proximity to the city centre, and  they will also be able to enjoy convenient connections thanks to the domestic and intercontinental network operated by ITA Airways from its Rome Fiumicino hub. These include i Mediterranean destinations (Italy, Spain and Greece) and South American destinations such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

ITA also operates London City-Milan Linate flights

The new flights, operating with an Airbus A220-100 and 12 weekly frequencies, are in addition to the existing London City Milan-Linate flight, with four daily frequencies since the beginning of this year. The airline adds a further daily frequency in April, bringing the total number of weekly frequencies to 31 at the peak of the summer season. This route will also be operated with the Airbus A220-100.

Gatwick Airport to Rome Fiumicino starts in June

As a further confirmation of the strategic importance of the United Kingdom, from June the offer in the British market will be enriched by a further seven weekly flights between Gatwick Airport and Rome Fiumicino, bringing the total to 100 weekly flights between the UK and Italy.

Published in Transportation
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