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Gubbio, known as Umbria’s City of Stone, is among the oldest towns in central Italy, and is a true masterpiece. 

Elevators and a cable car for visitors 

This true masterpiece of the medieval city-states of the 13th and 14th centuries,  which is less than an hour from Perugia, has steep cobbled streets but there are public elevators to reach the town’s two upper levels  and some of its most striking monumental buildings. There is also a cable car (the standup birdcage-like cabins have protective railings to chest level) up Mount Ingino to the Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo, work on which began in 1513 and which holds the remains of the town’s patron saint.

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Gubbio’s Fountain of the Madmen

The Palazzo dei Consoli, on a lower level than the magnificent Cathedral, is the symbol of the city and now a museum, while the Palazzo Pretorio is the seat of the Town Hall. Also worthy of note is the Palazzo del Bargello with one of Gubbio’s most famous monuments, the Fountain of the Madmen. Tradition has it that by running three times around the fountain, one can obtain a madman's licence, but this has to be done in the presence of a citizen of Gubbio!  

A medieval marketplace and a Roman theatre

The handsome Renaissance Ducal Palace documents the reign of the Montefeltro lords over the town. In the lower town the Piazza Quaranta Martiri was an important market area in the Middle Ages.  A visit to the remains of the Roman theatre helps to understand the social organization of the Roman city of Iguvium, revealing the customs and lifestyle of that period. Completed around 20 B.C., it was built with large rusticated limestone blocks and could seat about 6,000 spectators, making it among the largest of its day.

A town with links to Saint Francis of Assisi 

The Church of San Francesco is on a piazza of the same name, and the nearby Spadalonga foundry belonged to a family that welcomed St Francis into their home after he left Assisi. It is believed that the saint tamed a fierce wolf that had been terrorizing the townspeople of Gubbio, another of the many legends of the saint’s extraordinary influence over animals and nature.  The local dishes include crescia, a flatbread of flour, water and salt eaten with cooked greens and local cured meats, while pan caciato is made by adding small pieces of pecorino or caciotta cheese to the bread dough. In season the black and white truffles found in the area are used in a variety of pasta and meat dishes. For information: www.comune.gubbio.pg.it

Published in Cities & Regions

New private villas are in the pipeline at the Verdura Resort in Sciacca (Sicily). 

Branded residences on the Group’ Sicilian estate

Located along the picturesque Sicilian coast, on a verdant hillside within the Rocco Forte Group's Sicilian estate, these are the company's first branded residences available for purchase and are the result of a collaboration between the architects Asa Studio Albanese and Olga Polizzi, director of design of the Rocco Forte Group.

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Private villas with infinity pools and sea views

Available in three to seven-bedroom sizes, the private villas feature modern and innovative architecture that aims to blend harmoniously with Sicily’s heritage. With floor-to-ceiling windows, spacious outdoor living areas with private infinity pools and furnished terraces, the two-floor properties, with gardens and sea views, offer total privacy and access to the amenities of the Verdura Resort. 

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 “An extraordinary opportunity for expansion in the real estate market"

Thanks to Rocco Forte Hotels' rental management programme, buyers can also make their villa available for rent during the periods when they are not using it. "The launch of our first branded residences in Sicily represents an extraordinary opportunity for expansion in the real estate market," says Sir Rocco Forte, CEO and chairman of the company. The private villas are for sale starting at €2.95 million per unit.

Published in Hospitality

United Airlines is ramping up its investments in Rome by boosting seasonal flights from the US to Rome Fiumicino. 

Flights are starting earlier than originally planned

Flights from Washington D.C. to Rome Fiumicino will operate almost year-round, s and started almost two months in advance in February, operating up to 6 January 2025. During the summer peak, daily flights will increase from one to two. Flights from Chicago will commence on 8 March 2024, and those from San Francisco on 30 March, both starting more than a month earlier than initially planned.

Up to eleven direct daily summer flights to Italy from the US

These increased seasonal connections and additional flights between the United States and Rome complement United's existing year-round daily routes to Rome and Milan from New York-Newark. Additionally, there are daily seasonal flights from Chicago O'Hare to Milan and from New York-Newark to Venice and Naples. For the summer of 2024, United is set to operate up to eleven direct daily flights to Italy from the United States.

Largest summer transatlantic schedule in its history

Marcel Fuchs, United’s managing director international sales, says that for the summer of 2024 the airline will be operating the largest summer transatlantic schedule in its history. This year United is operating direct flights from 38 overseas destinations, a record number for the airline, surpassing all other U.S. carriers combined. And United remains the sole airline directly connecting the United States with Dubrovnik, Malaga, Mallorca, and Tenerife.

Published in Transportation

Ryanair, the Irish low-cost airline, announced ten summer routes at its new base in Reggio Calabria. 

A new aircraft is based in Reggio Calabria

Commencing from 1 April eight destinations will take off, including five international routes (one more than expected) and three domestic routes. The national network encompasses the cities of Turin, Venice, and Bologna, while internationally, travelers can fly to Manchester, Marseille, Berlin, Barcelona, and Tirana from Reggio Calabria.

Ten routes from Lamezia, Crotone and Reggio

Ryanair's summer plans for Calabria involve a total of ten new routes across the three airports of Lamezia, Crotone, and Reggio. The launch of the new base in Reggio Calabria is expected to create up to 200 new jobs, coupled with a substantial investment of $100 million in new aircraft. From Lamezia, the airline will open a new route to Valencia (bringing the total to 18) and offer over 180 weekly flights. From Crotone, a new connection to Turin will be added (bringing the total to 4) with over 30 weekly flights, resulting in a 13% and 33% increase in connectivity at the two airports, respectively.

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A commitment to positioning Calabria

Ryanair's ambitious objective is to transport up to 1.3 million passengers to Calabria for summer 2024, marking a growth of +20%. Eddie Wilson, the CEO of the carrier, expressed the company's commitment to positioning Calabria as a leading destination in Europe, promoting inbound tourism, connectivity, and employment while offering affordable fares to citizens and visitors.

Showcasing Calabria's natural beauty, history, tradition, and culture

Roberto Occhiuto, president of the Calabria Region welcomed the significant investment by Ryanair, saying: “Ryanair has decided to invest hundreds of millions of euro in Calabria, bringing ten new routes and creating many new jobs.” Highlighting the region's aim to reach four million passengers in 2024, with a long-term goal of six million passengers within a few years, Occhiuto emphasized the need for improved receptivity of hotel facilities 

Published in Transportation

Volotea will be the first airline to operate flights at the new Salerno airport, set to be officially operational on 11 July.

Starting with three Italian and one French route 

The Spanish carrier will operate four routes, to Cagliari, Nantes, Catania, and Verona, from the gateway airport to the Amalfi Coast. The inaugural route will be Nantes on 11 July followed by Cagliari on 13 July both operating twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Commencing 2 September and for the entire winter season, flights will operate to Catania and Verona with two weekly frequencies on Mondays and Fridays.

“The significance of Campania in our future growth plans”

Operating at Naples airport since 2013, Volotea reaffirms the strategic importance of the  Campania region in its expansion plans, which aim at boosting the local economy by increasing the arrival of tourists.

carlos munoz voloteaVolotea’s president and founder Carlos Muñoz“The start of operations from Salerno’s airport is an important milestone for the region and for Volotea, and will allow us to further expand in the area. With the 23 flights already available from Naples’ Capodichino Airport, we can now offer four new routes from Salerno, once again underscoring the significance of Campania in our future growth plans,” said Volotea’s president and founder Carlos Muñoz.

Volotea’s eighth Italian base will be Bari

“The commencement of flights at Salerno Costa D'Amalfi airport is the result of significant strategic, infrastructural, and commercial efforts, - said Roberto Barbieri, CEO of Gesac, the airport management company. -The partnership with Volotea, which dates back to 2013, is an extraordinary driving force for the tourism development of our region.”  Italy is the second market for Volotea, and in 2024, the airline plans to increase its capacity by 16%, providing 4.5 million seats, introducing new routes and establishing its eighth Italian base in Bari.

Published in Transportation

Italy is the eighth European country for the German Ruby Hotels brand.

The Florence hotel will have 118 rooms

Ruby Hotels, with its brand of so-called essential luxury, is to open in Florence at the beginning of the third quarter of 2024. The hotel, in a historic palace in the heart of the Tuscan capital, will have 118 rooms and a Ruby Workspace on a total area of approximately 300 sqm. The 19th-century building, which is located in Piazza della Libertà, in the northern part of the city centre, will also have a bar and cafeteria, a terrace in the inner courtyard and a dedicated workspace.

The Ruby Hotel Rome will be near the Spanish Steps

The new Ruby Hotel in Rome will open in 2025 and will be located in a former police office building with a historic façade near the Spanish Steps, in the centre of Rome. It will have some 165 rooms, a 24-hour bar and café, and a rooftop terrace overlooking the centre of the Eternal City.  

Published in Hospitality

Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, the jewel of Italy’s Sorrento Coast, is celebrating its 190th Anniversary this year.

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Five million visitors flock to the coast each year 

Founded by the Fiorentino family in 1834, Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is readying itself to celebrate its 190th anniversary, with the family's sixth generation running the hotel today. The Sorrento Coast has been attracting the rich and famous since the 18th century when it became a popular stop on the Grand Tour. Since then, the area’s popularity has grown, and it now sees an average of five million visitors each year.

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Guests should not miss a visit to ancient Pompeii

Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria sits on a perch high above the Mediterranean, with views that extend from the island of Procida across the Gulf to Naples and Mount Vesuvius. Set in five acres of olive, lemon and orange groves, the hotel was built on the ancient foundations of a villa designed for Emperor Augustus. For those looking to add a bit of culture to their Sorrento adventure, this icon is perfectly positioned to explore the ruined city of Pompeii, which was buried under volcanic ash following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79CE. 

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New Frecciarossa trains from Rome to Pompeii

The new direct high speed Frecciarossa train link departs from Rome and arrives in Pompeii every third Sunday of the month, along with a return train for those taking a day trip. From Pompeii, Sorrento is reachable in just 50 minutes via car. This easy new link is yet another reason to make Sorrento an obvious choice for those looking to explore one of Italy’s most hauntingly beautiful coastlines. 

Published in Hospitality

As travellers grapple with the backlash from global warming and post-Covid societal changes, they are rethinking their holiday and business trip choices. Requests for shoulder season getaways to sunny spots like Italy are surging, although sun and sea destinations will hopefully be able to bid farewell to peak-season overtourism madness. Train journeys too are on the rise, of course for the scenic routes and the discovery of hidden gems along the way, but also because “the old way” is increasingly appealing to all ages.

Adding to this wave of nostalgia, and in a surprising twist, the era of high-tech and contactless hospitality is being challenged by a growing demand for tactile experiences in hotels and on transport.  If fact it seems that guests are now looking for the simplicity of how things once were, like checking in at a reception desk, pulling open the curtains in their room, and purchasing a paper train ticket. 

On the other hand, and with a futuristic leap, digital passports are looming on the horizon, and they are a game-changer. Finland led the way with a six-month trial last summer, and the European Union plans to introduce similar trials in Croatia and the Netherlands. Predictions are that by 2030 paper passports will be a relic of the past with electronic passports taking over, and promising enhanced security for globetrotters.


Pamela McCourt FrancesconePamela McCourt Francescone
Executive Editor

Published in Editorial

Luxury Bike Hotels’ mountain bike itineraries on the slopes of Mount Etna and in Umbria’s green valleys.

Tailor-made services for biking enthusiasts

Luxury Bike Hotels is a distinguished collection featuring 50 high-end accommodation facilities strategically located in key areas of cycle tourism in Italy. These hotels are renowned for their ability to provide tailor-made services for biking enthusiasts who love exploring different parts of Italy. Today the accessibility of mountain biking goes beyond experts and super enthusiasts, thanks to the availability of new e-MTBs with pedal assistance.

Monaci delle Terre Nere Eco Wine Resort, on the lava of Etna

One noteworthy property in this collection is the Monaci delle Terre Nere Eco Wine Resort. On the slopes of Mount Etna, in the Zafferana Etnea area, this resort is an 18th-century noble villa on a vast 60-acre estate, and is an ideal starting point for bicycle enthusiasts keen on exploring the unique surroundings of the volcano. The recommended Giro dell'Etna MTB route starts from the Zafferana Etnea bike point, taking cyclists through picturesque towns, up to the volcano's summit, and to medieval Randazzo. The journey continues to Linguaglossa, which is set in lush vineyards, completing a circular route back to Zafferana Etnea.

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Services tailored to cyclists

At the Luxury Bike Hotel Monaci delle Terre Nere the suites and villas are scattered across different areas of the estate, and they all feature private gardens or patios. Services tailored to cyclists include a bike room with e-bike charging points and tools for routine maintenance, laundry facilities, an afternoon snack upon returning from excursions, and bike rental. The Locanda Nerello restaurant offers a seasonally inspired menu and has sea views, while the Pool Restaurant & Bar provides a simple and fresh menu for light lunches.

Torre del Nera in Umbria, the lush green heart of Italy

In another picturesque location, the medieval village of Scheggino in Umbria, the Luxury Bike Hotel Torre del Nera Albergo Diffuso and SPA is an exclusive facility. With 12 rooms in the central building and 16 historic homes dotted along cobbled alleys, it is the only scattered hotel in the Luxury Bike Hotels collection, and is just 15 minutes from Spoleto, 40 from Norcia and Assisi, and 50 from Perugia. The Torre del Nera organizes mountain bike and e-bike excursions to explore the stunning green landscapes of the region, including itineraries through the lush woods of the Valnerina, leading up to the Marmore waterfalls which are the highest in Europe.

An ideal wellness retreat and local products

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Nested within the ancient walls of the village, the Luxury Bike Hotel in Scheggino has an ideal wellness retreat, the Torre del Nera SPA which has a swimming pool, hydromassage, waterfalls, massages, and personalised treatments. The Locanda del Cavaliere restaurant features local olive oil, cured meats and the famous lentils of Castelluccio.

Published in On the road

ITA Airways is abandoning London’s Heathrow airport to focus on London City and Gatwick. 

A220-100 flights from Rome Fiumicino

From 31 March the Italian airline will no longer fly to the UK’s main airport and will focus its operations, initially, on London City with seven daily frequencies, five from Milan Linate and two from Rome Fiumicino, operated with Airbus A220-100s. Subsequently, starting from June 2024, ITA Airways will also fly to Gatwick Airport, with daily frequencies also from Rome Fiumicino. 

Slots at London Heathrow do not come cheap

This decision is essentially due to the chronic lack of slots at Heathrow. The slots that have been used so far by the Italian airline were not in fact owned by it, and renting them certainly does not come cheap. Flying into London City Airport passengers will find that it is the ideal and logistically most convenient airport to reach the city centre, both by taxi and public transport, which makes it a favourite with business travellers.

Published in Transportation
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