Archive for the ‘italy travel’ Category

Truffle Hunting, Wine Tasting, and Bike Riding in Piedmont!

That's a truffle. Don't get any funny ideas.

That’s a truffle. Don’t get any funny ideas.

A Truffle huntin’ we will go, a truffle huntin’ we will go!

Who wants to wine taste, bike ride AND hunt for truffles? Who wouldn’t?

Ciclismo Classico, a leading outfitter of cycling vacations around the globe, is offering a food and wine focused Italy cycling tour in which guests stay in family-run luxury hotels, dine at the best local restaurants, and pedal through the vineyards and villages of Piedmont.

Gavi

Gavi

The most important vineyard centers of Gavi, Acqui Terme, Alba, lower Monferrato and Turin serve as the focal points of this eight-day tour. On exclusive winery visits, local experts discuss the tradition of winemaking and the nuances of the area’s many microclimates that give the wine its prized sophistication. Who wouldn’t want to learn about wines in Italy too? With great wine comes cuisine that includes a blend of Northern Italian and French influences, with the truffle and mushrooms as seasonal key players. Other highlights include: hunting truffles with local truffle hunter, biking emerald valleys & vineyard-laden hillsides, exclusive wine tastings and sumptuous dinners.

Riding through vineyards

Riding through vineyards

This tour happens Oct 12 – 19, 2013 and starts at $4,395 so it’s not too late to get on it!

This intermediate Piedmont bike tour covers 250 total miles and averages 40 miles per day. The trip starts with a ride from Gavi to Acqui Terme, passing Castles of Monferrato, a hilly area where each village is protected by a castle. The vineyards of Dolcetto, Cortese, and Moscato are the landmarks of this area. Fantastic food, fine wine, and a daily workout really makes this an ideal Italy holiday.

Guests cruise the vineyards of Barolo and Monforte, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Langhe Area. Along the way, Carlosa local truffle hunter will give a special demonstration with his loyal dogLara. The months of October and November see the frenzy and competition of truffle season as both hunters and buyers compete to find the wonderful fungi. Alba is the truffle capital of Italy and throughout each weekend of both months, it hosts truffle mayhem with the White Truffle World Auction and the Truffle of the Year. The International Truffle Fair is happening Oct 12 – Nov 17, 2013.

Ah, Piedmont...

Ah, Piedmont…

The landscape offers a patchwork series of vineyards as well as fruit and nut tree farms. Guests continue riding north, entering the round hills area of Monferrato. On the final day, riders head west toward Turin, capital city of Piedmont. Along the way, the route offers a rollercoaster ride up and down the lower hills of Monferrato. The last climb approaches Superga, an important monument in the hearth of all the “turineis.” From here a magnificent panorama of the 2006 Olympic site appears.

For more information check out: Italy cycling tours or visit http://www.ciclismoclassico.com

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Tribewanted, Adventure Needed? Look No Further, My Fine Friends

umbria

Who doesn’t want to be a part of a tribe?

Welcome back, cronies! Yes, we’ve been off the grid for a few weeks jaunting around Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Maui, but we’re heading back to home base and feeling better than ever. We also had a morsel of eco-travel awesomeness to share with our loyal adventurers.

Having already built a successful eco-tourism project on a beautiful and barely inhabited Fijian island and then created another sustainable project alongside a Sierra Leone beach community, say hello to Tribewanted because now they’ll be opening a new project, Monestevole, in the Italian region of Umbria.

Monestevole was originally built in the 15th century as a watch-tower for the nearby Monestevole castle. The 38 hectare hamlet was bought in 1997 by Alessio Giottoli and Valeria Cancian as a ruin, but was then restored over the next three years.

Now, travellers are being invited to join the community either as visiting tourists or as “tribe-members,” as they participate in turning a 15th century hamlet into a sustainable community. The project is open to everyone, and for those who prefer a more relaxing holiday, they can enjoy activities such as horseback riding and walks through the stunning surroundings, as well as the unique Umbrian food and music.

The family-friendly project, which opens in a few short weeks on March 21st, will welcome Tribewanted members and non-members.

So, want to be a Tribe Member?

Check out: www.beta.tribewanted.com/join, members become part owners of Tribewanted and will have the chance to directly impact the direction the organization takes by taking part in online votes on future locations and will receive 20% discounted accommodation rates.

Ahhh... Umbria

Ahhh… Umbria

From €60 ($77) a night or $457 a week for the bunk room, to between $127 a night and $762 a week for an apartment for non-members, including all meals and house wine.

www.Tribewanted.com

Sicily’s Eco Steal

Relais Torre Marabino - Sicily, Italy

This just in! Essential Italy is offering reduced rates in May at this fantastic eco-hotel in Sicily. For stays from May 15th -31st. If you  stay 5 nights and pay 4 nights on all types of rooms.

£135.00/night for 4 nights and £110.00/night for 5 nights B&B

(FYI – Usual price is £145/night)

Relais Torre Marabino

This small hotel is just a short distance from the sandy beach at Pozallo. The building dates back to the 1500’s and is now home to an eco-friendly and intimate hotel where all 7 rooms have been furnished and decorated originally; with each one given a different name of a wine produced in the cantina at Torre Marabino. The views across the Sicilian landscape from all rooms are, in one word, enchanting, and produce from the hotel’s farm is used in the kitchen. Did we also mention that they make their own fabulous organic wine – yep, the label is Torre Marabino.

Location: Ispica 3km, Siracusa 60km, Catania 110km, Palermo 302km, Modica 18km, Taormina 165km, Noto 22km, Pachino 20km

www.essentialitaly.co.uk

Italy on Valentine’s Day, Anyone?

Puglia, Italy

Here’s one amazingly cheap and romantic Valentine’s Deal in Italy!

Essential Italy are offering a Valentines Offer for January, February and March at this beautiful B&B in Puglia. Just £70 per room per night on a B&B basis for a minimum 2 night stay.

Masseria Due Torri, Monopoli, Puglia http://www.essentialitaly.co.uk/puglia_hotels_masseria-due-torri.php

A traditional 17th century stone farmhouse set in the heart of the Pugliese countryside which has been converted into a wonderfully comfortable B&B with apartment accommodation.  The elevated location is perfect with fantastic views of the countryside and the sea. The recently finished room renovations are surrounded by lovely gardens with impressive age-old olive trees which encompass the pool.

Price: £70 per night B&B per room for a couple with private use of the main hall and sitting room with log fire, and a bottle of the finest Prosecco and chocolates on arrival. During Jan, Feb and March for a minimum stay of 2 nights. Packed lunches, suppers and taxi services also available.

Flights: RyanAir fly from London Stansted to Bari. Return prices start at £90 per person.

Location: Monopoli 4km, Castellana Grotte 6km, Fasano 12km, Alberobello 10km, Bari Airport 50km, Brindisi Airport 70km

Essential Italy

Tel: 01223 460100

info@essentialitaly.co.uk

www.essentialitaly.co.uk



Europe’s Best Oceanfront Camping

This week we came across some of the top European scenic camping picks from The UK’s Observer. After all, not everything has to be five star digs and a butler when you’re becoming one with nature. Extracted from Cool Camping Europe (£18.95) and Cool Camping France (£14.95), this book is a veritable wealth of information if gorgeous views and camping among exotic locales is your thing.

By Keith Didcock

Les Romarins, Cote d’Azur – France

This is as dramatic a campsite as you’ll find anywhere in France, and not one for those who don’t like heights. A few kilometres up from the village of Eze, you can pitch under olive and rosemary trees in a hillside setting on the French Riviera between Monaco and Nice. With fabulous views across the sea from the steeply raking site, Les Romarins is the perfect place to live the high life without breaking the bank.

• +33 4 9301 8164; campingromarins.com; from €17 to €20 for two people, tent and car plus €5.50 to €7 for each extra person and €3 to €4 for under-fives.

Cala Llevado, Costa Brava – Spain

Set among ragged cliffs in Spain’s Costa Brava, four beaches run along the stunning coastline. With everything from hidden camps to coves, there’s large bay, but keep in mind, some campsites are removed while others are on top of one of the beaches, giving you a bird’s eye view.

• +34 9 7234 0314; calallevado.com; from €16.50 to €27 for a person, tent and car plus €5.50 to €9 for each extra person and €3 to €5 per child.

Costiolu, Sardinia – Italy

This is a working organic farm – un’azienda biologica- in the island’s hilly heart. There aren’t beaches right on your doorstep, but the gorgeous waters of the Costa Smeralda are within striking distance. Run by the colourful Giovanni, the farm is a proper retreat from the trappings of modern life. Sardinia’s cultural capital, Nuoro, is visible from the azienda but the land around is mainly olive groves, fields of cereal and grazing land full of goats. To top it all, Giovanni does the cooking, too.

• +39 0784 260088; email: roccasagriturismo@tiscali.it; from €15 a night for two people, tent and car. Dinner €25 a head.

Mala Milna, Hvar – Croatia

Hvar is Croatia’s answer to the French Riviera, with exclusive beaches, designer hotels, cafes, bars and boutiques, so if you’ve brought your glad-rags you can always rub shoulders with the moneyed glamour on this island for an evening or two. Thankfully, you won’t be disturbed by Dalmatian WAGs and their designer poodles at Mala Milna, though, as it’s the budget option. There are two pebble beaches (the Croatian coast is notoriously rocky) on either side of the site and the coast is dotted with paths and ancient villages alike, so there’s everything you need.

• +38 521 643531; hvar.hr/mala-milna; about 140kn (£16) for two people, tent and car

Nicolas, Peleponnese – Greece

This southern region is the epitome of ancient Greece, a fancy mix of ruins, myths and classic tales. Nicolas campsite is a 10-minute stroll from the town of Tiryns, which hosts an annual classic Greek theatre festival, staged in its two ancient amphitheatres. So you might be sharing the site with actors rehearsing their lines between mouthfuls of moussaka. The camp is set in a former orange and mulberry grove with pitches in the hollows and under the canopy of the flowering trees and it’s all just a ripe orange’s throw from the waters of the bay.

• +30 275 304 1218; nicolasgikas.gr; from €16 to €20 for a tent and two people.

Taking Detox to New Heights

While hunting out the best design properties with a unique twist, we came across a little gem hidden high up in the alpine forests of… Italy!

Blending almost invisibly in to a landscape of snow-capped peaks and deep valleys, Vigilius Mountain Resort, an alpine hotel created by star architect Matteo Thun, offers the ultimate in eco-spa retreats. Only accessible by cable car or on foot, this 35-room eco-luxury hideaway benefits from a remote location with fresh mountain air, stunning vistas of green valleys studded with vineyards, pools filled with spring water and complete… silence.

The large spa follows a five pillar concept: The seclusion of the mountains, the use of pure Vigilius water, the professional spa team, the personal trainer team and the cuisine with fresh and healthy ingredients. The interaction of these five pillars is referred to as the “vigilius lifestyle” which helps guests achieve a healthy and holistic way of living.
For those in need of some legitimate serenity and detox, here this: the spa provides: 11 treatment rooms, a hot tub, an indoor pool, a sauna and a Turkish steam room. Large windows draw nature into the rooms and blur the boundaries between inside and outside, revealing unlimited views of the Dolomite Alps. The outside spa area features a sun terrace and the paradise garden, a small courtyard with 100-year-old larches.

Combining local and Asian spa traditions with premium products, there are over 40 treatments using products such as Sodashi, a range of all natural skincare products (and developers of a fabulous jet lag recovery gel). Massages and facials include unique treatments like a hay bath with local herbs and a polenta peeling with South Tyrolean apples, corn and honey. There are regular yoga workshops or lessons with the aforementioned personal trainer who carries out exercises outdoors. Of course!

The hotel is certainly a sight to see… created by focusing on the hotel’s relationship with the surrounding nature and landscape.

The principle of “organic architecture” is expressed in elements such as a grass-covered roof and the use of natural larch wood throughout. Outside, the hotel’s wooden and glass facades blend with the environment, while inside eco-friendly design prevails. The hotel has been awarded several prizes for sustainable tourism with an ecological based concept, including five green stars from Eco Hotels of the World in 2009. With 35 rooms and 6 suites the resort also features a library, piazza lounge and two restaurants with South Tyrolean and Italian contemporary cuisine.

Vigilius Mountain Resort is within driving distance of Milan, Venice, Munich, Zurich, Verona & Innsbruck and 20 minutes from Bolzano, Italy. There are 3 flights per day with ‘Air Alps’ via Rome to Bolzano and 3 flights per day via Munich to Bolzano.

So what do you say? Time for a little detox… at 4,000 feet?

Rates at around €245/night

www.designhotels.com/vigilius

Personalized Eco-Biking Tours

Personalized Bicycling Tours EuropeImagine the open roads… lush vineyards and verdant mountain ranges just up ahead…

You there? Good. Us too. So get this… combining the love of bicycle touring with social networking, we came across Dream Tours, a personalized cycling experience that allows users to create profiles and design their very own Dream Tour – ie. the cycling route they’ve always wanted to do! Okay, we like this idea because not only is it eco-friendly and personalized (as you know, Eco-Adventurers just love to take the reins), but it’s also great for biking newbies or cycling pros. In the process, you can name the tour, upload photographs of where you’ll be going, describe the focus and highlights of the trip, plot the route on a map and set the cost parameters of the tour by choosing variables such as accommodation, number of riders, food, crew and vehicle support, etc.

Love, love, love it!

If the tour is feasible, the Tour d’Afrique team approves it and the user can start spreading the word via their friends, social network, blog, local media, etc.  Their contacts can visit the site, view the tour, and make comments or suggestions on how to improve upon it, and ultimately click “Count Me In!” to register their intent to join the tour. The process is completely interactive and collaborative – the route can be changed and modified along the way and the Tour d’Afrique staff is there for support. As soon as there are enough people who have expressed interest, Tour d’Afrique office swings into action with the logistics needed to make it happen and here’s the best part… the original organizer gets to go for free!

Eco Bicycling Trips Europe

An example of a Dream Tour that is ready to go is The Amber Route, created by Tour d’Afrique founder Henry Gold.  This particular cycling trip was used as the beta/test example in developing the Dream Tours concept but was so popular with fellow riders that it is now a reality. This  six-week tour through 8 countries follows the Ancient Amber Trade Route used by the Romans. This tour will begin in St. Petersburg winding its way through the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, then onwards through Poland and Slovakia, continuing on to Hungary cutting through Slovenia and ending in Venice, Italy. To take a look at the process of how this tour was constructed, along with the comments and feedback visit:  http://www.tourdafrique.com/dreamtours/show/5.

Other Dream Tours in the works include a North American Epic (Key West to Anchorage), An Indian Adventure (Kerala to Agra), and the Mediterranean Circuit (loops around the entire Mediterranean Sea).

We think this is just about the coolest thing we’ve heard all week. So let’s get riding. The route won’t come to you, suckers!

www.tourdafrique.com/dreamtours

info@tourdafrique.com

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