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No, I’m not talking about the Chinese New Year, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger.  Goat is the acronym for the Greatest of all Trips.  Which is apparently what travellers are going to want this year.  In these very challenging times for travel companies, with airline restrictions and entry requirements changing practically daily around the globe, it’s not easy to forecast which direction things are going to take in 2022. But perhaps we can take heart from the results of a recent survey by Expedia, which coined Goat.

The American online travel shopping giant found that over 40% of world travellers surveyed in Australia will be willing to splurge on travel in 2022, and that many are eyeing Rome as one of their top picks. They will also be looking for immersive rather than touristy experiences, with 40% saying they want to try new food, and 23% wanting to explore more off-the-beaten-track destinations.

Over to you travel designers to set up these Greatest of all Trips!
 

Pamela McCourt FrancesconePamela McCourt Francescone
Executive Editor

Published in Editorial

Five days on foot in Southern Tuscany with Maremma Safari Club. This ultimate slow travel adventure, walking through the little-known Mount Amiata region from 19 to 24 April, accompanied by founder and walker extraordinaire Rudston Steward (he’s been guiding customized walking trips in Italy for 15 years), kick-starts Maremma Safari Club’s six scheduled 2022 walking tours.  

Routes are off the beaten track in unexplored places

Host Rudston says his routes are off beat and off the beaten track in mostly unexplored parts of the country, from the Dolomite peaks in the north to the sunny island of Sicily at the toe of Italy. The Monte Amiata walk is a journey into Etruscan history, stunning nature, and some of the best red wines in Italy. “While Tuscany is quite familiar for many travellers, the Amiata area with the Etruscan holy mountain and ancient sites, the Maremma with the sea, and the Montalcino winegrowing area, is little known,” says Rudston.  

The average walking distance is 20 kilometres a day

Maremma Safari Club’s fixed-date walking tours can be for up to 12/14 in double rooms, and the itineraries are as published. Private walking trips (from one person) are completely customizable to suit personal preferences and fitness levels, and prices have a different price structure. The average distance covered on any day is around 20 kilometres with a lunch break. “Sturdy walking shoes and walking sticks are recommended,” says Rudston. Much of the walking is through natural areas in remote and often untrodden territory, “which is of course the USP and beauty of our itineraries.”   

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Alfresco picnics and lunches in local trattorias

A typical day is divided by a lunch break. Guests can also decide for a half day, with a vehicle pickup bringing them to the overnight stop, although both the Eolian Islands and Dolomite safaris are full-day walks. Alfresco picnics in the countryside and lunches in typical trattorias in little towns along the way are precious time for relaxing and exploring the local folklore.  Rudston leads all the walks and is joined by local guides with in-depth knowledge of the region’s history, flora and fauna, and there are occasions to stop and chat with locals. 

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Relaxing in hot springs and gala dining

“In the south of Italy the accommodation can be fairly simple but always charming, on other occasions we stay in exclusive properties.” On the Monte Amiato walk the first night is in a charming hotel in the little town of Bagno Vignoni, famous for its ancient Roman hot springs, with time to enjoy the hot waters. Nights two and three are in a private farmhouse and in the medieval Castello di Potentino, and the last two nights are in the Castello di Argiano. This is one of Montalcino’s finest wine estates and guests sit down to a gala dinner in the castle’s candle-lit chapel.  From the Castello di Argiano, it takes about 2.45 hours by car to Rome or to Pisa which has a large international airport, and the Bagno Vignoni starting point is a couple of hours by car from Florence.  

“We very rarely come across other walkers” 

Published 2022 tours run to the first week of October, with the final group departure to the Supramonte region in Sardinia, and there is no tour in August. “It’s just too hot, and there are too many crowds. One of the things guests really appreciate about our safaris is that we very rarely come across other walkers. For example on the Monte Amiata route we can go four days without meeting other hikers, while over in the Val d’Orcia the Via Francigena is always packed,” says Rudston. 

Six fixed-date departures in 2022

Maremma Safari Club’s published 2022 departures are Monte Amiata in Tuscany 19-24 April, Aspromonte in Calabria 10-14 May, the island of Elba in Tuscany 21-26 May, the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily 31 May-5 June, the Dolomites in Alto Adige 5-10 July and the Supramonte in Sardinia 4-9 October. Travel transfers and add-ons can be requested for all tours and breakfast, lunch and dinner, and local table wines are included.   

Photo Credits: Maremma Safari Club

Published in On the road

Waking up at dawn to plow down snowy slopes and catch the sunrise in Italy’s Val di Fassa is the perfect gift to start Valentine's Day. Then stop in a high-altitude refuge for a super breakfast. The Trentino Ski Sunrise event is planned for Monday 14 February to celebrate this most romantic of days in the Buffaure ski area which is accessible from Pozza di Fassa. This little town is about 60 kilometres northeast of Trento, in Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region.

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Chairlifts up to 2,354 metres and a traditional breakfast 

Participants will meet at 6.30 a.m. at the Pozza-Buffaure cable car. From there on foot, or on skis or ski boards, they will take the nearby Col de Valvacin chairlift up to the El Zedron refuge at 2,354 metres. Here the Pozza School ski instructors will join them as the sun starts to rise. After this recharge of positive energy those who wish can descend together with the instructors along the red Valvacin run and then return to the refuge by chairlift. Here they will enjoy a traditional breakfast of local cured meats and cheeses, honey, yogurt, eggs and the Trentino’s famous apples.

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Sleeping in chalets with panoramic views

The views are spectacular over the Val San Nicolò and Val Jumela valleys and the most beautiful Dolomite peaks - from the Sassolungo to the Sassopiatto, the Marmolada, the Catinaccio and the Sella Group. At 8.30 the other lifts will open and it’s time to tackle the other slopes in this beautiful ski area or take the Sellaronda route. And to make Valentine's Day even more special, the Buffaure also offers high altitude overnights.  The choice is between the Baita Cuz, a chalet with beautiful panoramic rooms and an outdoor barrel sauna on the terrace facing the Catinaccio, or the Buffaure Refuge at 2,050 metres.

Special prices for children

The Trentino Ski Sunrise experience at Buffaure is priced at €40 for adults and €25 for children from 6 to 12, while it is free for children under 6. The price includes the gondola ride and the two chairlift rides (including the return for pedestrians), the support of the ski school instructors and breakfast at the refuge. 


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Published in Experiences & Tips

The Stregato champagne cocktail at the Baglioni Hotel Regina in Rome, made from Strega liqueur  - a blend of over 70 herbs and spices - and Biancosarti with aromas of basil, has won the contest for the best new signature champagne-based cocktail. 

Champagne and 5-star hospitality

This is the first initiative of the new partnership between the Baglioni Group and the Comte de Montaigne maison, a company in the Aube region of France which has been producing the most popular champagne in the world since the days of the 12th-century crusades. The Baglioni Group owns the iconic 5-star Baglioni Hotel Regina on the Via Veneto as well as sister properties in other Italian destinations including Venice, Milan and Punta Ala. 

cuochi_baflioni_1.jpgA selection of champagnes and fine dining

The Italian Group’s gourmet offerings, inspired by the local traditions of the cuisine overseen by their teams of chefs, now blends with the champagne of the French maison: Brut, Extra-Brut, Rosé, Blanc de Blancs and the Cuvée Speciale (100% Pinot Noir) to accompany the signature dishes on the menus in the Baglioni restaurants.

Gourmet specialties and bubbles

For example, the Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venice offers its guests the prime pairing of Cuvée for its On the Moon dish, enhancing the flavours of fried cod with cuttlefish ink and guaranteeing a well-rounded culinary experience. At the Baglioni Relais Santa Croce in Florence, the Comte range of champagnes is an integral ingredient in the restaurant’s signature risotto recipe, and in each suite, guests will find a bottle of the Comte de Montaigne Brut.

Published in Hospitality

Whether in a mountain chalet or in a trattoria, the food, wines and flavours to be found in the Piedmontese Alps are truly unique and delicious. Around the Sacro Monte di Oropa, a UNESCO heritage site, the classic is the creamy polenta conscia of the Biella Alps which has a heart of rich local cheese and is served with melted butter. In the Susa valleys, on the outskirts of Turin you have to try the Gofri wafers cooked between two red-hot irons and then served with cured meats, cheeses or sweet toppings. 


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Chestnuts and prosciutto cooked in hay are popular

Other favourites are the cajettes which are gnocchi au gratin baked in the oven. Then there are the chestnuts and the cheese-flavoured breadsticks, the soups, the prosciutto cured ham cooked in hay, and really great dairy products including the Blu del Moncenisio, the Plaisentif and the cheese with violets.

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Piedmont is famous for its gnocchi and rich meat dishes

In the valleys of the Cuneo area the Piedmontese, French and Occitan cuisine blend delightfully. An example of this are the gnocchi made in the Varaita Valley with potatoes and flour, enriched with Tomino cheese and served with Alpine butter or a cheese fondue. In the Valsesia area the traditional Miacce are very thin crispy wafers that lend themselves to infinite combinations, and the Torta di Alagna mixes sweet and salty in a blend of flavours typical of the nearby Swiss-German culture. Then there is the Uberlekke, a rich dish of boiled meats accompanied by potatoes, carrots and boiled turnips and served with horseradish sauce. 

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Excellent breads and secret recipes 

The Alpine and Walser tradition can be found in the nearby Verbano-Cusio-Ossola area in the local rye bread and Bettelmatt cheese which is produced in the mountain pastures of the Ossola valley. In the village of Coimo, in Val Grande, they made an ancient bread which accompanies the delicious Mortadella Ossolana. And in the poetic Val Vigezzo the women are the guardians of the ancient secret recipe for the Gnoch da la Chigiaà, the "gnocchi of the spoon" made with wheat flour and water. The same simple ingredients are used for the Sinchéet or Runditt which are dry sheets of dough that are mixed with salt and butter and cooked on a special stone or iron plate.

Red and white as well as aromatic wines

Of course no meal would be complete without wine and between Carema, Caluso and Piverone, around the city of Ivrea they produce the Docg Caluso, the Erbaluce, the Spumante Metodo Classico and the Passito as well as the Carema Doc and Nebbiolo. In the Susa Valley they cultivate  autochthonous grapes such as the Avanà, Becuet and Baratuciat and produce aromatic wines like the Vino del Ghiaccio which is a speciality of Chiomontel. The Pinerolese Doc is one of the red-berried wines produced between Bricherasio and Val Chisone, as are the Nebbiolo and the Doux d'Henry, the Ramie, the Avanà and the Chatus. Northern Piedmont also produces the excellent Prünent, an autochthonous black-berried grape, which is a clone of the Nebbiolo.

Published in Food&Wine

In a small area between the Fermo and Ascoli regions, in the central Italian region of The Marches, you can still feel the historical presence of Pope Sixtus V, the pope who completed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. On this itinerary you can visit many of the monumental buildings that symbolize the pontiff’s attachment to his homeland. 

The pontiff who erected four basilicas in Rome

This amazing journey through sleepy villages, enchanting hilly landscapes and sparkling seaside towns, retraces the tastes and exploits of Felice Peretti, who went down in history as Pope Sixtus V. The 500th anniversary of the visionary pontiff’s birth was celebrated on 13 December 2021, and in just five years, from 1585 to 1590, he left indelible traces both in his region and in Rome.  In fact to symbolically unite the four corners of the Eternal City the pontiff erected obelisks in four of the city’s great square: St. Peter's Square, Piazza dell'Esquilino, Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano and Piazza del Popolo. 

Grottammare has a cycle path with palm trees

Grottammare is an elegant tourist resort on the Riviera of the Palms and our journey begins at the Church of Saint Lucia (closed since the earthquake but soon be restored) that stands near the house where Sixtus V was born. Not far away, caressed by the sea breeze from the beach below, the Church of S. Giovanni Battista where the Pope was baptized has a museum with many religious works. Visitors should stop to take a photo of the beautiful panoramic loggia near the 18th-century Teatro dell'Arancio with a statue of Pope Sixtus V on the façade. Proceeding along the coastal pedestrian cycle path with its palms, orange trees and oleanders, you then pass colourful 20th-century Art Nouveau villas and the beach.

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Fermo has ancient Roman cisterns

Our itinerary through the places close to Sixtus leads us to Fermo, where the spectacular Roman Cisterns - an archaeological complex of unparalleled hydraulic engineering with thirty underground rooms - are dominated by the Palazzo dei Priori, on which stands a large bronze statue of Pope Sixtus V, bishop of Fermo from 1571 to 1585.  After visiting the Civic Museums, with the masterpiece of the Nativity by Rubens and the scenic Sala del Mappamondo map room, treat yourself to some refreshment in the shade of the centuries-old cedar of Lebanon that stands at the center of the Piazzale del Girfalco square and take in the view that stretches as far as the eye can see over the valleys to the sea.  

The Sentina Nature Reserve is great for bird watching

A handsome collection of glittering silverware donated by Sixtus V awaits you in the Museum of Sacred Art in S. Benedetto del Tronto which has 15 kilometres of cycle paths shaded by 8,000 palm trees, gardens, fountains, relaxation areas and games for children. You can cycle to the Sentina Nature Reserve for bird watching and then visit the Museum of the Sea and, continuing through the region, then take time to visit the Sistine Museums (www.museisistini.it - reservations 347/3804444) which are all the province of Ascoli Piceno.    

Published in Experiences & Tips

The itinerary starts in Maratea, the only part of ancient Lucania on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the southern region of Basilicata.

This beautiful town overlooks the Gulf of Policastro between the Campania and Calabria regions and has 32 kilometres of coastline with enchanting coves, fantastic beaches and the backdrop of imposing mountains.

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Ancient towns and natural areas

Moving inland we find Tramutola. Walking through the narrow streets of this old town you can admire the portals of the ancient noble palaces, many with small stone sculptures depicting women, a symbol of fertility. A few kilometers away Viggiano is in the natural area of the Lucanian Apennine Park, a delightful area of woodlands with a rich and varied fauna. Known as the City of Harps and Music Viggiano is the fulcrum of the ancient musical tradition of harp making.

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The town of the writer Carlo Levi

The next stop is Aliano, surrounded by the harsh and suggestive landscape of the calanchi gullies. Perched on a clay spur from which it dominates the Agri Valley and the Sauro torrent, Aliano is the place where the great writer Carlo Levi spent his period of confinement from 1935 to 1936. It is also famous for having inspired the most beautiful pages of his book Christ stopped at Eboli.

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A ghost town to visit with a guide

Before reaching the Ionian coast, standing on a hill a few kilometers from Matera we come to Craco, which is immersed in the silence of the gullies and surrounded by an evocative landscape. Called the Ghost Town as it is uninhabited, it can only be visited on foot accompanied by a guide, and using the Craco Card, an entrance card issued by the local municipality.

The Ionian Sea’s golden beaches 

On the fertile and sunny Metapontine plain which is washed by the Ionian Sea, we fine Policoro whose name in ancient Greek means "spacious".  Today Policoro one of the largest and most important cities in the province of Matera. The National Sirtide Archaeological Museum, the Sanctuary of Demeter, the Temple of Dionysius and the golden beaches of the Ionian coast are just some of the must-does in this part of the region.

Citrus plantations and sea turtles

The last stop on our itinerary is Scanzano Ionico, the youngest municipality in the province of Matera. With its mild climate and fertile soil Scanzano Ionico is famous for its plantations of citrus fruits, kiwis and vegetables, and has been nicknamed Little Southern California. Along the coast the sand dunes with their Mediterranean scrub are a nesting place for the sea turtles that every year choose the pristine Ionian beaches to lay their eggs. 

Published in Experiences & Tips

Taking a Sealife Charter cruise is the best possible way to explore Italy’s beautiful southern Tyrrhenian islands. Sicily, the largest of them all, and the delightful smaller Ionian and Egadi islands lie in startlingly blue seas. They offer unique opportunities for diving, sailing and kayaking, as well as enjoying golden beaches and secluded bays, enchanting landscapes and picturesque villages.

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Maurizio BrandaleoneThe season goes from June to October

Sealife Charter has four gulets (typical two-mast wooden Turkish sailing boats) that can take up to 12 passengers, and they cruise to many of the southern coast’s most beautiful locations. With visits to marine reserves, protected areas and hidden scuba diving spots, there is also time to enjoy walking and cycling around stunning Mediterranean islands where time seems to have stood still. “Typical cruises last a week and on board there is a captain, a cook, a sailor and a hostess. Each cruise can be personalized according to what guests want to see and do. The season goes from June to as late as mid-October, and we also do one and two-day cruises,” said owner Maurizio Brandaleone.    

Air conditioning and private bathrooms in double cabins

“We get a lot of repeat visitors,  beause the coastal parts we sail to have so much to offer it is impossible to see it all on just one cruise.” The four gulets have six, five, four and two double cabins with private bathrooms, and all have air conditioning, showers and TV as well as outdoor areas for relaxation and recreation.
For further information: www.sealifecharter.it

Published in Transportation

This is the most talk-about news of Gardaland's 2022 season: a new and exciting dark ride for adventure lovers right in the heart of the park. Work continues unhindered on the construction site of Jumanji The Adventure, the world's first attraction based on the popular Sony Pictures film franchise.

Five exciting animatronic features

Visitors can expect a jeep ride along a dark path through the jungle: encountering dangerous animals and obstacles of all kinds, with the guests' mission being to save the world of Jumanji from a powerful curse by bringing the precious gem back to the legendary temple. Of particular interest will be the attraction’s five animatronics, from a desk that opens up to become to an immense hippo and a scary spider, to the hand and head of the fearsome stone Giant.

Transporting the Giant from Genoa’s docks to Gardaland

The Giant, the most surprising of the various animatronics and the great antagonist of the adventure, is currently on board a cargo ship powering across the Mediterranean towards Italy. Given the huge bulk of the Giant, three 6-meter long trucks await him at the port of Genoa ready to transport him to Gardaland, where the final painting will be carried out and the final details added.

A massive stone giant almost four times human height

The dimensions of the stone Giant are truly amazing as the head measures 6.45 meters in height, almost four times a human being, and about 6 meters in width, while the hand stands 4 meters high with a palm 3 meters wide! Its creation was long and complex and the initial design phase was managed by the Gardaland creative team. The actual construction took place in Turkey over the course of two months at the headquarters of the Futuraform company that creates scenography and animatronics for amusement parks, cinemas and hotel chains all over the world.

Architects, designers and gardeners are hard at work

At the moment, over 100 operators are hard at work on the Jumanji construction site, with employees of 20 companies specialized in many diverse fields: from architectural and light design, through to 3D printing, metalworking and gardening operations.

Published in Leisure

The new gastronomic look of the boutique Hotel Exclesior in Pesaro, a place where true luxury is synonymous with style and elegance, debuts with a menu by Michelin-starred chef Stefano Ciotti, patron of the Nostrano Restaurant which has held the coveted Michelin recognition since 2017. 

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An exclusive, colonial chic atmosphere  

The setting, on the promenade of the Adriatic seaside town of Pesaro in The Marches region, is one of the most exclusive: a colonial chic salon with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea. Soft lighing, upholstered sofas and hanging lamps all combine with the sophisticated and discreet service, and Stefano Ciotti’s cuisine has a strong identity, expressing techniques and procedures inherited from tradition.

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Vouchers for exclusive spa treatments 

Then there's the chance to give a unique gift, as the hotel has prepared a series of vouchers varying in price, type, and duration of experience. By purchasing one of the Excelsior Spa gift cards you could pay homage to the Spa with a face or body treatment, a bespoke ritual, or with exclusive and private access to the Hydro Suite or the Hammam.

Pampering and sweetness on the go!

You could also give a Ligne St. Barth beauty product as a gift, extending the feeling of wellbeing you get at the spa to your own or to a friend’s home. For only €39 the Spa Cocktail package consists of two hours of relaxation, a cocktail from the barman, a savoury starter, and the chef's finger food in an intimate environment. And for €45 the Spa and Breakfast package completes your stay in the spa with an authentic breakfast of wonders. It's all about pampering and sweetness on the go!

Published in Food&Wine
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