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Rocca Calascio is an Italian village in the province of L'Aquila in Abruzzo, inside the National Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga Park.  At an altitude of 1,460 meters, it is among the highest fortifications in Italy.

The attractions that most amaze visitors are undoubtedly the castle, the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà and the ancient village which is now uninhabited. And thanks to its wonderful position there are truly sublime views.

The old castle had a working drawbridge

Located in a very favourable position from a defensive point of view, the castle was used as a military observation point, and communicated with other towers and castles as far as the Adriatic Sea, using flashlights by night and mirrors during the day. The original fortress is in white limestone on a square plan and has four cylindrical towers at the corners and a square keep in the center. Access was across a wooden bridge. In ancient times this was a working drawbridge but today it is supported on stone brackets.

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The 1703 earthquake destroyed the castle and the village 

At the foot of the castle what is now an abandoned village was connected to the fortress with a wooden drawbridge, today replaced by a simple ramp. The earthquake of 1703 destroyed most of the castle and the village, forcing the inhabitants to abandon their homes. Now, thanks to restoration carried out between 1986 and 1989 the castle can be visited again also thanks to the work put in by the many people who love the Abruzzo mountains and contributed to the recovery of the site.

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A movie set for Sean Connery and George Clooney 

The Church of Santa Maria della Pietà in the vicinity of the castle is a small temple with a rather singular shape, reminiscent of the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence. It was erected between the 16th and 17th centuries on a site where, according to legend, the local population got the better of a band of brigands who regularly plundered their property. Rocca Calascio and its castle are famous for having hosted movie sets such as The Name of the Rose with Sean Connery and Lady Hawke with Michelle Pfeiffer. More recently it was the set for the RAI television series Padre Pio and for The American with George Clooney.  

Published in Cities & Regions

Valentine's Day watching snowflakes fall on the roof of a glass cube, in a romantic chalet or in a luxury hotel is something that incurable romantics will not want to miss.

Now is the time to start thinking of a special holiday getaway in an Italian winter resort to celebrate. Here are some winners, all you have to do is add the candy, flowers and that special gift! 

Sleeping in a glass cube under the stars

One super romantic idea is to enjoy watching snowflakes fall on the glass roof of one of he Skyview Chalets.12 glass cube (only for adults) that dot Lake Dobbiaco in northern Italy’s South Tyrol region. The Superior Chalets have infrared sauna, the Deluxe come with Jacuzzis, and breakfast is a selection of organic and regional products served directly in the room. Walks through the snow-covered forest and snowshoeing among the enchanted peaks as well as sleigh rides are just some of the activities to be enjoyed, and the Passionate Lovers package includes homemade chocolates and a bottle of champagne. February 4-16 prices are from €329 for a Skyview Chalet Superior per night, including infrared sauna and a regional breakfast served directly in the chalet.

Castel del Giudice BorgotufiCastel del Giudice Borgotufi

Couples Escape packages in a romantic hotel

A fireplace lit just for two, toasting with a glass of Tintilia and with a bed on a romantic mezzanine and walls of exposed stone. It’s all in the Borgotufi Albergo Diffuso, a scattered hotel in Castel del Giudice in Molise on the border with the Abruzzo region, where the peaks of the Apennines frame enchanting natural scenery. The area has small towns that guard centuries of art, traditions and local specialties like the truffle, which is the privileged ingredient in the restaurant of the Borgotufi property. For February 14 a Double Room, breakfast and a romantic Valentine's Day dinner starts from €279 per couple. For all other dates, there is the Couples Escape package that includes a Double Room, breakfast with local products, the Wellness Centre and a tasting dinner at the Ristorante Il Tartufo. Prices from €264 per couple.  

Romantik Hotel Turm viewRomantik Hotel Turm

Art and horse-drawn carriage rides in the South Tyrol 

Romanics and art lovers will go for the You & Me package in the Romantik Hotel Turm in Fiè allo Sciliar, a few kilometres from Bolzano in Italy’s northern South Tyrol. This splendid 5-star hotel boasts a collection of 2,000 works of art throughout the common areas and rooms, a spa carved into the rock, a heated panoramic black pool with views of Mount Sciliar, and gourmet dishes to be enjoyed in the elegant dining room. The 7 nights (6 days) package is for half board with a 4-course menu, a bottle of sparkling wine in the room on arrival, a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride, and a You & Me treatment for two with peeling and hot stone massage. It also includes a day of discovery in the South Tyrol with a choice between a half-day guided hike or a visit to a wine estate with wine tasting (and return shuttle service), and a romantic dinner with a 5-course tasting menu and matching wines. Prices from €1502 per person.

Romantik Hotel Stafler poolRomantik Hotel Stafler

A Michelin-starred restaurant in a Romantik Hotel

In Vipiteno, which is just south of the Brennner Pass between Italy and Austria, the Romantik Hotel Stafler is home to the Gourmetstube Einhorn fine dining restaurant of double Michelin-starred chef Peter Girtler. With the1 Night - 2 Stars package guests get one night in a Superior Room or Suite, an exclusive gourmet tasting menu at the restaurant, with the possibility to book a wine pairing. Prices are from €249 per person and the poolside Romantica Wellness Centre is made for relaxation.    

Published in Experiences & Tips

The 4-star Villa Capri in Gardone Riviera (one of Lake Garda’s main tourist resorts in Lombardy) has been acquired by the South Tyrolean Athesia group led by Michl Ebner who is active in various sectors including publishing, and owns several local newspapers. It is thought that the hotel, formerly owned by the Piva family, was sold for around €10 million.

45 rooms and partnerships with local golf clubs

Gardone Riviera is a town in the province of Bresica on the western shore of Lake Garda and is known for the Vittoriale degli Italiani, the former residence of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. Villa Capri consists of 45 rooms surrounded by a 10,000 square metre park with a heated swimming pool. The building dates back to the 1920s and was originally called Villa Mathieu. The level of service, elegant rooms, heated swimming pool and the partnerships with local golf clubs make it an excellent choice. Prices for 2022 are not yet available for this first season under the Athesia brand after almost 40 years with the Piva family at the helm.

Revenues were down 33% in 2020

The Athesia group also owns the Hotel Terme in Merano and has controlled most of the Funivie Ghiacciai Val Senales company since 2018 as well as the Grawand Hotel in the same area. Villa Capri performed well in the pre-pandemic era. While the hotel did not record high revenues per key in 2019, it was able to boast a gross operating margin of over €307,000 and damage caused by the pandemic has been limited, with 2020 revenues falling only by some 33%.

Published in Hospitality

Just a few kilometers from the city center the B&B Hotel Arezzo, formerly Ac by Marriott, is the new Tuscan address of the transalpine group. The Arezzo property has 79 single, twin and double rooms with unlimited and free wifi, self-adjusting air conditioning, minibar and electronic safe, and smart TVs with Chromecast. 

A low-budget hotel with a gym and a restaurant

Tuscany’s new low-budget hotel also has a fitness center open daily 24 hours a day, and the Lo Zafferano Restaurant for breakfast and dinner, with a menu of typical local specialities. There are also two meeting rooms for up to 50 people, and free outdoor parking.  "We start 2022 with this important opening in Arezzo, which brings our Tuscan hotels to seven,” says Valerio Duchini, President and CEO of B&B Hotels Italy. “We are very proud of this new challenge and of this more complete style of hospitality. In fact the B&B Hotel Arezzo has a gym and a restaurant providing guests with a 360° travel experience.”

Comfort, design and quality services at attractive prices

Acquired by the investment company Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking in July 2019, the B&B Hotels group is the most important and fastest growing international low-budget hotel chain in Europe. It has 312 hotels in France, 151 in Germany, 51 in Italy and 39 in Spain. B&B Hotels also operates eight hotels in Poland, seven in Switzerland, seven in Portugal, one in the Czech Republic, five in Belgium, one in Slovenia, five in Austria, one in the Netherlands, one in Hungary and six in Brazil. The B&b Hotels properties offer business and leisure guests a mix of comfort, design and high quality service at attractive prices. 

Published in Hospitality

The San Michele Appiano winery entered the Wine Intelligence ranking as the 14th strongest brand in Italy, and has managed to collect many prestigious awards. An example is their victory at the 23rd National Pinot Noir Competition with their Pinot Noir Riserva Sanct Valentin 2018 confirming the talent of winemaker Hans Terzer in working with one of the most difficult grape varieties. Gambero Rosso, the Italian wine and food publishing group, awarded the winery the prestigious Tre Bicchieri for its Pinot Noir Riserva Sanct Valentin 2018.
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The award-winning Appius 2016

At the seventh edition of the exclusive Cuvée by winemaker Hans Terzer the Appius 2016 was the most decorated  wine of  the Cantina San Michele Appiano. It also won the WineHunter PLATINUM Award, the highest recognition conferred during the Merano Wine Festival as well as getting 5 bunches from Bibenda, the Quattro Viti award from the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS) and 95 points from the Veronelli Guide to Wines 2022.
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The Sauvignon 2018 also tops many rankings

Sauvignon 2018 won the prestigious The WineHunter Award GOLD, got 5 bunches from Bibenda and 94 points from the Veronelli Guide to Wines 2022. The Sauvignon 2020 of the historic Sanct Valentin line is also on the list of winning whites from San Michele Appiano, with The WineHunter Award GOLD, 95 points from Doctor Wine, 93 from James Suckling and 92 points from both Falstaff and Robert Parker - The Wine Advocate.

The uncompromising quality of San Michele Appiano

The values of the cooperative, the strength of the brand and its drive for innovation are the things that, especially during 2020, allowed Cantina San Michele Appiano to maintain excellence and uncompromising quality.  

Published in Food&Wine

Bids for new projects, and a €100,000 budget to promote the city of Genoa as a top-tier MICE destination, are how the city council, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce, intends developing the city’s conference tourism.

This promotion of the city as a prominent destination that attracts events, meetings and congresses took another step towards realization with the allocation of the €100,000 budget. These funds come from the 2021 tourist tax and from sale of the Genova City Congressuale 48h pass.

genoa meetings

Projects to boost arrivals and overnights

Universities and convention bureaus, associations and companies in the cultural, sports, tourism and pharmaceutical-health sectors all presented projects aimed at boosting arrivals and overnights. An analysis of the data gathered shows an investment of just over €1 million for the organization of events, with an estimated 14,000 participants. Of these 500 will be international visitors who will spend over 5,000 nights in the city. 

gaggeroLaura GaggeroPositioning Genoa as a sustainable brand

"The MICE sector is a very important market segment for the entire tourism industry, and it is not seasonal. One of our main objectives is to position Genoa as a sustainable brand - explains Councillor for Tourism and Territorial Marketing, Laura Gaggero – and to this end we are investing 5% of the tourism tax, compared to the 1% allocated by other major Italian cities.

“Genoa’s congressional vocation is solid” 

Confirming Genoa’s position as an ideal destination for congressional tourism, last September the city hosted the Convention of the Association of Swiss Engineers, the Boat Show and the G20. "Genoa’s congressional vocation is solid - concludes Genoa’s Chamber of Commerce  Secretary General, Maurizio Caviglia – and it grew in the pre-pandemic years. From 2014 to 2019 participants at events in Genoa’s 82 congress venues doubled, and this is where we need to start again, as soon as conditions allow, with Genoa’s tourism supply chain functioning twelve months a year." 

Published in MICE & Events

Italian fashion house Gucci returns to Florence with the opening of Gucci Garden 25, the Maison’s first cafe and cocktail bar. The opening, initially scheduled for mid-January, has been postponed to a date yet to be announced due to the pandemic, but the excitement for the new opening is palpable in the Florentine city. 

Gucci-Osteria_Pagina-Facebook-ufficiale-Gucci.jpeg25 is a lucky number for Gucci’s creative director

Gucci Garden 25 will open at number 37 Piazza della Signoria, which is the historical heart of Florence, and a must-see for every visitor to the city. Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele has turned number 25 into a good luck charm, and it is a recurring motif in his creations, while the "garden" was added for the historic florist who once occupied the premises. The new café and cocktail bar will be the latest addition to Gucci Garden, the creative and multidisciplinary space opened in January 2018, which also houses the Gucci Osteria helmed by the young Mexican chef Karime Lopez. The winning Alessandro Michele-Massimo Bottura tandem that launched the Florentine Gucci Osteria then opened one in Los Angeles (which has just won a Michelin star) and another in Tokyo.

Opening hours from 8am to 1 am

The mood of the interior features large beams on the ceiling, inlaid parquet flooring, a mustard-coloured bar counter and peacock-blue leather for the large sofas: a harmonious blend of unusual contrasts that echo the typical style of the osteria in its colours and furnishings. The opening hours will be from 8am to 1am, making the bar a multifunctional space from breakfast to the after-dinner hours. Apparently the menu will be Mexican and Japanese inspired, and the cocktail menu will feature old stalwarts and sizzling new mixes. 

Published in Food&Wine

Italy’s Dolomite Val Gardena valley has mountain chalets in which to enjoy culinary delights. The joy of skiing becomes a real pleasure when it is accompanied by a good lunch in a mountain chalet or lodge on snowy slopes. In the Val Gardena there are 65 lodges, almost all of which have been family-run for generations. Each one offers unique culinary experiences, ranging from traditional dishes to the most sophisticated cuisine, and the menu is always complemented by a wide selection of wines, mainly from the South Tyrol.

daniel5.jpgSome of the most popular lodges

The Emilio Comici Lodge, at 2,150 metres, directly on the mythical Sellaronda, is famous for its fresh fish specialties. In addition, themed dinners are organized here on special evenings followed by a night descent on the slopes.  The Baita Daniel, on Monte Seceda at 2,230 meters, is a typical spot serving local specialties such as dumplings and ricotta desserts filled with chocolate, as well as with plums, strawberries and apricots.

Local meat specialties and traditional soups

The Curona chalet is located on the La Longia slope, which from Seceda leads to Ortisei with a spectacular view of the Alpe di Siusi and the Sciliar. Here you can enjoy grilled meat specialties from the local farms and you must try the Krapfen with chestnut or poppy jam and the delicious caramelized Kaiserschmarren. The Saslonch is at the entrance to Run 3 which leads from Ciampinoi to Selva. In Tyrolean style and with a panoramic terrace, it serves traditional soups of all kinds and game dishes with yeast dumplings and cranberry jelly.

_BSC2063.jpgOmelettes with chocolate

Baita Vallongia is on Run 5, which from Ciampinoi leads to the Plan de Gralba ski area and towards the Sellaronda. Here an absolute must-have are the Bavarian white sausages with sweet mustard and the traditional brazen omelettes with chocolate that are served every day from 3.00 pm.

Michelin and Gault Millau restaurants

The iconic Ciampac lodge, made entirely of wooden logs is at the mouth of the Vallunga, and is  accessible on foot from Selva, or on skis from Dantercepies. Near the lodge there is also the cross-country skiing centre with three circuits, one of which is 12 kilometres long and leads into the Puez-Odle Nature Park. Here you will find numerous traditional dishes on the menu and many South Tyrolean wines to accompany them. In addition to the ski lodges, in the Val Gardena you can find good food in the many traditional restaurants, pizzerias and gourmet restaurants that have won Michelin stars and Gault Millau chef hats. Their menus are a blend of typical Alpine cuisine and Mediterranean delicacies.

Published in Food&Wine

Rome should be the fourth Mandarin Oriental destination in Italy following Milan, Lake Como and the pipeline property in Cortina d'Ampezzo.  And in Sardinia Hyatt will debut its soft brand mid-2022. The news of the Rome Mandarin Oriental comes from in the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, which stated that the property chosen by the group should be the Villini Sallustiani, acquired a few months ago by Merope from Colony Capital.

€100 million invested in a Rome villa complex

The Villini Sallustiani is a complex of ten villas set in a centuries-old park and represents one of the capital’s main trophy assets. In order to secure its ownership Merope is believed to have invested €100 million, to which a further 80 million will be added for a makeover.   

baja sardinia destination by hyatt

New branding for the 7Pines Resort in Sardinia

From Sardinia the news is that a hotel property originally planned to be a Kempinski will now be branded by a major US group. Following the departure of the group's CEO, Martin Smura, the Geneva-based Kempinsky pulled out of the deal for the new 7Pines Resort in Sardinia, scheduled to open in mid-2022.

Italy’s first Hyatt Destination property

But now we know that the 76-room, 4-star complex will become a Destination, Hyatt’s soft brand which will thus make its debut in Italy. The Hyatt Group already boasts a portfolio of five hotels located in the so-called Big Four  - Milan, Venice, Rome and Florence - with a total of 500 keys. Among these, the latest arrivals, Jdv by Hyatt The Tribune, and the Unbound Collection Tornabuoni, located respectively in Rome and in Florence, are the result of a deal with Ag Hotels. 

Published in Hospitality

This original and romantic Valentine’s Day Training & Love travel package with food experiences, wellness and training from Yuniqly combines sports and romance. The package, valid 12 to 14 February, includes the Love Path, which is two nights at the Leonardo Trulli Resort in Locorotondo with breakfast, two dinners and a bottle of wine in the ArteCibo restaurant which is helmed by Chef Francesco Cataldi, a Gambero Rosso Emerging Chef.

Training with a Yuniqly Sport Leader

The package also gives free access to the solarium and to the heated saltwater pool.  The training consists of a personalized training bike or running programme with a qualified Yuniqly Sport Leader, a gift box containing a T-shirt, an eco bike water bottle and a Yuniqly logbook. The price is €370 per person.   

Love, gourmet dining and relaxation

Strolling through the gardens hand in hand, caressed by the morning breeze and warmed by the first rays of sunshine is the perfect way to start the day at the Leonardo Trulli Resort in Locorotondo which is about 70 kilometres from Bari, Apulia’s main city. The Resort is surrounded by typical old limestone trulli dwellings, beautiful gardens and manicured paths. These trulli are authentic old stone houses that were built in the 18th century, and have been beautifully restored 

Biking or running with Yuniqly’s tailor-made professional training programmes

The biking programme uses Aria Disc model or similar Bianchi muscle bikes, and there is also a running program. The training sessions are a totally new experience, thanks to the expertise of the Yuniqly Sport Leaders and their knowledge of the region. From the pre-training warm-up to nutritional advice and the support of the mental coach who advises how to manage a race.

Published in Experiences & Tips
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