Archive for September, 2014

VBT offers “Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast” tour for 2015

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

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VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations announces its 2015 Italy tours designed to immerse travelers into local history and culture:

BRISTOL, VT (PRWEB) Sept. 18, 2014 ‒ With over 20 years of experience leading active travel in Italy, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations is pleased to announce its 2015 catalog of Italian vacations which includes a new bicycling tour in the northwest corner of Tuscany ‒ “La Bella Toscana: Lucca, Montecatini and Pisa.”

The new trip brings VBT’s Italian portfolio to 12, providing even more opportunities for active travel seekers to discover this culturally rich destination. Known as “The Italy Experts,” VBT immerses travelers into day-to-day Italian life with home-hosted experiences, exclusive tours conducted by local Italian guides and authentic Italian accommodations.

“VBT offers more vacations in Italy than we do in any other country,” said VBT President Gregg Marston. “This year we expanded our Italian portfolio due to popular demand, putting together authentic and immersive adventures to showcase the culture and traditions that travelers love about Italy.”

The new “La Bella Toscana” trip highlights Pisa and Lucca, as well as other off-the-beaten path destinations such as Montecatini and Vicopisano. Notable discovery highlights of this tour include a visit to the Leonardo da Vinci museum in the artist’s hometown to learn about his innovative inventions, a wine tasting at Fattoria del Teso winery and meeting members of the Ginori Lisci family for an authentic Italian lunch in the colorful gardens at the Ginori villa. “La Bella Toscana: Lucca, Montecatini and Pisa” is a 10-day trip, starting at $3,895 per person including international airfare. The first departure is April 19, 2015.

Each Italian tour is carefully designed to bring travelers closer to true Italian life. On “Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast,” travelers visit Il Frantoio, a family-run masseria located on sprawling 150-acre estate, for lunch. The meal includes fresh food grown or produced on site, including citrus fruits, cheese and five different olive oils to sample. The “Tuscan Coast” vacation features a visit with Chicca Maione, the founder of Cooking in Tuscany, at her Tuscan countryside house, where guests participate in a hands-on cooking demonstration of authentic dishes before eating a home-hosted dinner under the pergola.

Other culinary activities include a visit to the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto chocolate factory on “Sicily: Biking the Southern Coastal Villages” to learn how to make chocolate using a 400-year-old Aztecan cocoa-processing technique. On the “Amalfi Coast and Capri” walking tour, travelers sample fresh cheese during a mozzarella-braiding class in Sorrento.

On every vacation in Italy, VBT provides accommodations in masserie, boutique hotels or agristurismi in order to foster encounters with Italian locals and learn about their unique local accommodations. For example, guests stay at Fattoria Di Magliano, an ancient villa set in a secluded spot in the Maremma with terra cotta tiles, manicured gardens and an outdoor swimming pool on the “Tuscany by the Sea” vacation. After a day of cycling on the “Italy: Cycling The Dolomite Valleys” trip, travelers settle at Villa Quaranta where they visit with the Tommasi family to sample various vintages from the family-owned winery.

VBT makes it easy to explore Italy with excellent experiences and the low prices make for an unsurpassed value in active travel. No other tour company includes so many features and advantages in prices such as international roundtrip airfare, complimentary use of custom bicycles or walking poles, most meals, two trip leaders and accommodations. Book any 2015 Italian VBT vacation by Oct. 15 and save $200 using booking code VBT1501.

To learn more about VBT’s vast array of Italian cycling and walking vacations visit http://www.vbt.com/destinations/Italy/ or call VBT’s consultants at 800-245-3868 from Monday-Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. EST and on Saturday from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M.

VBT offers 50 deluxe, small group bicycling and walking tours in 26 different countries, including destinations throughout Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Peru, South Africa, China and the United States. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local Trip Leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities and on-tour vehicle support.

Unlike other companies, VBT also includes roundtrip international airfare from over 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. In 2014, VBT was rated by the readers of Travel + Leisure among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” for the fifth consecutive year. http://www.vbt.com.

Photo courtesy of VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations

Sicily-based TV detective series moving to Puglia?

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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Many film and TV fans enjoy visiting the places where their favorite shows take place. Could this be another potential boost for Puglia’s strengthening tourism industry?

From The Telegraph: “Producers of cult Italian detective series ‘Inspector Montalbano’ threaten to leave Sicily and decamp to mainland region of Puglia because of no support from regional government…”

“The threat to move filming to Puglia, which has a similar coastline and fishing ports as those used in Sicily, has…spooked Sicily’s regional government, which has seen a boom in tourism in the southeast of the island where the series is filmed…”

Read the entire article here. Copyright © The Telegraph

Photo: Actor Luca Zingaretti as Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Copyright © BBC

United Pugliese Federation presents Vito Nicola Paradiso In Concert

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

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Born in Santeramo in Colle (Bari), Puglia, in 1964, Maestro Paradiso earned a Diploma in guitar performance with distinction in 1987. Beginning in the late 1980s and for well over a decade, he competed in various national and international guitar competitions, taking the Gold Medal at the Pergolesi Competition in Naples and the Palme d’Or at the International San Bartolomeo a Mare Competition.

He has performed hundreds of concerts in Italy, France, England, Spain, Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland, Ireland, and the Americas, in prestigious halls and musical venues in cities such as Rome, Paris, London, Florence, Edinburgh, Venice, Budapest, Dublin, Linares, Padua, Ravello and many others. In the Americas, starting in 2012, his concert tours have taken him to Mexico, Argentina and the United States (New York and California).

Maestro Paradiso’s specialty is the melodious repertoire of native Italian songs, for which he has created memorable solo guitar transcriptions.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2014, AT 8 PM
NATIONAL OPERA CENTER OF AMERICA
330 SEVENTH AVE., 7TH FLOOR
NEW YORK CITY
INFORMATION: 212-414-1780
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
SUGGESTED DONATION: $20

Puglia resort plans “bogged down in bureaucracy”?

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Here’s an interesting article from The Independent: Whose side are you on?

“The Treasury minister’s wife and the green resort in Puglia strangled by Italian red tape…

“When Alison Deighton first saw found a wild olive grove overlooking the sea in Puglia she knew it was the opportunity she had been looking for to invest heavily in one of Italy’s poorest and most beautiful regions…”

Read the entire article here.

Copyright © The Independent

From New York Magazine: “What to Eat in Bari”

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

“There are 14 ingredients,” Massimiliano Masolla declares about the stuffed mussels he serves at U’ Gnore, a fish market turned restaurant in Bari, capital of Puglia, a province on the heel of Italy’s boot. It’s a bold declaration to make: How could 14 ingredients all fit into the shell of a mussel? Read the entire article here.

© Copyright 2014 New York Magazine

More details about Tauck’s new “A Week in…Puglia” program

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

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Here are more details about the new Puglia-focused itinerary that Tauck World Discovery is introducing for 2015. When an international travel company of the stature of Tauck enters a new destination, it is good news for several reasons. First, it is an endorsement of Puglia’s tourism product by a company that caters to upscale international travelers, based on the company’s selection of hotels, attractions and visitor experiences. Second, it helps to rank Puglia on par with other high-level destinations. Third, it invites other travel companies to take a look at Puglia and invest their resources in the region. Fourth, it broadens Puglia’s appeal among travelers who will take the time and make the investment in learning about the region’s culture and heritage, thus helping to preserve and foster them. If this new program succeeds, everybody wins.

From the Tauck press release:
The new “A Week in…Puglia” itinerary is limited to an average of just 24 guests per departure, and it is Tauck’s first-ever tour of the region comprising the “heel” of the Italian “boot,” an area renowned for its unique architectural styles, culinary traditions and archeological wonders.

Tauck’s eight-day itinerary (from $3,990 per person, double occupancy, plus airfare) begins in seaside Savelletri di Fasano with a four-night stay at a traditional “masseria,” a fortified country farmhouse converted into a five-star hotel.

While based in Savelletri di Fasano, Tauck guests will sample local vintages at an area winery and take part in a hands-on cooking lesson to discover other Apulian culinary traditions. Guests will also visit the Paleolithic-era cave dwellings at Matera (in the neighboring Region of Basilicata) and 13th-century Castel del Monte in Andria (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and learn about Puglia’s traditional limestone “trulli” houses (in Alberobello).

Guests will next enjoy a tour of the centuries-old cave village of Lama d’Antico, and a tasting of locally produced organic olive oils, while en route to the city of Lecce. During a two-night stay there, guests will visit the studios of a Lecce-born sandstone sculptor and a local papier-mâché artist, whose detailed figures depict 18th-century life.

A chance to explore the whitewashed village of Ostuni precedes a final night back in Savelletri di Fasano, where guests will enjoy a farewell dinner and overnight accommodations at the Borgo Egnazia resort, a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World collection.

“A Week in…Puglia” begins and ends in Bari (in photo), with departures operating from March through June and in September and October.

Photo by Vito Arcomano © Copyright Fototeca ENIT

Tauck introduces “A Week in Puglia” tour for 2015

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

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From Tauck World Discovery: 2015 Prices From $3,990 for eight days

New for 2015! Explore the long heel of Italy’s boot to discover sights, tastes, and gorgeous seascapes you’ll find nowhere else…

Like Matera, the “Subterranean City” (in the neighboring Region of Basilicata), where the houses are caverns and the streets are sometimes the roofs of other houses fairy castles made of limestone slabs, built without mortar…

Castel del Monte (in photo), a 13th-century citadel with a strange design and history…

Discover the stunning array of Renaissance frescoes at the Basilica di Santa Caterina d’Alessandro (by unknown painters) in Galatina, and an entire village of cave dwellings at Lama D’Antico that is hidden among olive groves…

Stay multiple nights in “masserias,” fortified 16th-century farmhouses turned into elegant hotels, and at a modern castle resort overlooking the Mediterranean…

You have personal entrees into the world of papier mâché, mozzarella and burrata making, and sandstone art with charismatic local artists who can’t wait to share their talents with you…

Wine and olive oil tastings at vineyards yet undiscovered by the maddening crowds…

Tours of a medieval castle enticing with soul-stirring views and wines…

Meals tempting with bounty of the sea and land, and stays at breathtaking masserias (farmhouses), one nestled among antique olive trees and Mediterranean vistas, one steeped in history and cultural charm in the heart of Lecce, aptly named the “Florence of the South,” and one Mediterranean stunner in the whitewashed, incredibly dazzling city of Ostuni. Shhhh….

You may want to book this trip to Puglia, Italy now before this secret gem is revealed to the world! Small groups only, averaging 24 Tauck guests!

Photo by Vito Arcomano © Copyright Fototeca ENIT

Puglia’s Alberobello featured in “CNN Style” report

Monday, September 8th, 2014

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A report on the “CNN Style” website titled “10 great towns, villages and neighborhoods for architecture buffs” features a visit to one of Puglia’s leading tourist attractions, the trulli of Alberobello.

The report states, “Situated in southern Italy’s Puglia region, Alberobello is best known for its trullo structures: hundreds of whitewashed, limestone dwellings capped by conical roofs that resemble beehives…”

The report also features the ancient city of Matera, which is situated near the Pugliese town of Altamura in the neighboring Region of Basilicata.

Read entire article here.

Photo by Jeff Barrington/Puglia Connection

Italy’s latest museum reforms benefit Puglia tourism

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

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Puglia’s tourism industry and more specifically one of the region’s major cultural attractions stand to benefit from a major new restructuring of the way Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, or MIBACT) oversees the management of the country’s major museums and other cultural heritage sites.

The new plan streamlines management of cultural, historic and tourism-related sites, eliminates what is called the “traffic jam” caused by bureaucracy and fosters new public-private partnerships intended to improve operations and enrich the visitor experience.

According to a press release from MIBACT, the program is intended “to remedy some of the problems that for decades marked the administration of cultural heritage and tourism in Italy…The reform was first built to solve these six “nodes” and can thus be described along six lines of action: the full integration of culture and tourism; the simplification of the administration device; the modernization of the central structure; the development of Italian museums; the development of contemporary arts; (and) the revival of policies of innovation, training and development of staff MIBACT …”

Included in the list of museums that qualify is the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto (in photo), which was founded in 1887 and today is one of the most important museums in Puglia. Its famed collections include artifacts from the ancient Greeks and Romans as well as other cultures that have significantly influenced the history of Puglia.

Here’s the complete press release from MIBACT:

TOWARDS A NEW MIBACT:
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE MINISTRY OF THE PROPERTY AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES AND TOURISM

Rome, 30 August 2014 ‒ The reorganization of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (MIBACT) originates, as is known, by the policies of the spending review undertaken recently by the Decree-Law n. 66, 2014, converted into Law n. 89 According to the 2014 cuts in 2012-2013, in fact, each Ministry was required to adopt a new regulation for the organization that had transposed the reductions in staffing plan. The MIBACT fulfill, finally, that obligation and redraws itself in a highly innovative, in line with the measures already adopted by the dl n. 83, 2014, converted into Law n. 106 of 2014 (so-called decree ArtBonus).

The adjustment to the numbers of the spending review has become an opportunity to act on the organization of the Ministry and to remedy some of the problems that for decades marked the administration of cultural heritage and tourism in Italy. These dysfunctions and deficiencies recognized and highlighted many times and from many quarters:

1) the absolute lack of integration between the two areas of intervention of the Ministry, Culture and Tourism;

2) the excessive multiplication of lines of command and the numerous duplications between center and periphery;

3) congestion of the central administration, a cast also from the cuts made over the last few years;

4) the chronic lack of autonomy of Italian museums, which greatly limits their potential;

5) the lack of attention of the Ministry towards the contemporary and to the promotion of creativity;

6) the delay of the Ministry in innovation policies and training.

The reform was first built to solve these six “nodes” and can thus be described along six lines of action: 1) the full integration of culture and tourism; 2) the simplification of the administration device; 3) the modernization of the central structure; 4) the development of Italian museums; 5) the development of contemporary arts; 6) the revival of policies of innovation, training and development of staff MIBACT.

Overall, the reorganization plans, as determined by dPCM January 22, 2013 on organic plants of the Ministries, the cut of 37 managers (6 grade I, 31 grade II).

1. TOWARDS A REAL MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM
It has become an urgent priority for the country and ensure the full integration of the two strategic areas of intervention of the Ministry of culture and tourism. For this purpose, in line with expectations with the recent decree n. 83, 2014, converted into Law n. 106 of 2014, are enhanced connections between offices operating in two areas:

1) the powers of the Directorate-General for Tourism are updated to ensure maximum integration between the two sectors;

2) the central competent directorates-general for cultural heritage are enriched with functions relevant for tourism, such as the creation of itineraries and cultural and environmental significance of tourism;

3) the Regional Directorates, transformed into offices of administrative coordination, have specific expertise in the field of tourism, strengthening the interaction with regional and local authorities, as well as the promotion of cultural activities.

2. TOWARDS A MORE MIBACT LEAN BUT STRONGER THAN THE TERRITORY
In order to solve the real “traffic jam” bureaucracy that has been created over the years due to the multiplication of lines of command and frequent conflicts between regional directorates and Superintendents, the administration device has been redesigned, keeping, as required by the hypothesis reform of the central government, the regional level as the optimal scope of reference.

Freeze remaining that will be a next ministerial decree to identify in concrete numbers and home to the offices of the Ministry as being of no general management (in particular, superintendents, state archives and libraries) were therefore taken the following measures:

1) the Regional Directorates of the Regional Secretariats are transformed into MIBACT, with the task of coordinating all the offices of the Ministry operating in the Region. Is so fully recognized the role of these administrative offices, all management of band II, but did not overlap with the technical and scientific expertise of the Superintendent;

2) the line of command between central administration and Superintendents is redefined and simplified the Archaeological Superintendence are peripheral joints of the relevant central management; those mixed, fine art and landscape, so are the corresponding direction. In respect of geographical distribution, are then merged the Superintendence for the historical and artistic heritage with those for the architectural, as it already happened in several cases, and as already was and will remain at the center, with a single Directorate-General. With subsequent ministerial decree, however, will be defined locations of the Superintendent, based on the number of units and the actual organizational needs;

3) the administration of archives is rationalized are better defined and enriched functions of the Directorate General Archives, as well as those of superintendents archives and archives of the State; remains the Central Institute for the archives;

4) the administration of libraries is rationalized, on the one hand, maintaining the scientific autonomy of institutions independent of their nature executive; on the other, providing that both the National Central Library of Rome and the National Central Library of Florence, executive offices of band II, also perform the function of poles including librarians libraries working within the municipality, subject to the supervision of the Directorate General central libraries and cultural institutions;

5) the collective decision-making in the area is strengthened, as the regional coordinating committee, chaired by the regional secretary and composed of the superintendents, becomes the place where decisions are made once adopted by the regional directorate, such as the declaration and verification of cultural interest.

3. MIBACT TOWARDS A MORE EFFICIENT AND MORE MODERN TO THE CENTER AND MORE AUTHORITATIVE INTERNATIONAL
The reforms made over the years have gradually merged with the Directorates-General of the Ministry, but bringing in excessive sacrifices to be of good administration, both areas of great importance for the country. The central structure was then redesigned in order to:

1) strengthen the powers of direction, impulse and coordination of the General Secretariat, entrusting the Office of the tasks of cross-cutting nature and relevant to the entire Ministry, such as the coordination of the programming of EU funds direct and indirect;

2) providing support across two Directorates, one for the organization and the staff and the budget, thereby making it more efficient management and operation of the Ministry, as well as ensure the implementation and monitoring of rules on tax breaks (the cd ArtBonus);

3) give more importance to the policies of promotion, development and training;

4) recognize the importance of international institutions of excellence MIBACT and strengthen policies for cultural cooperation abroad.

4. TOWARDS A “MUSEUM SYSTEM ITALIAN”
A sore point for the administration of cultural heritage in Italy has always been the under-valuation of the museums: no effective autonomy, they are all, except for sporadic cases and not tied to a single plan, the joints of the superintendents and thus free of managerial qualifications .

The reform aims to radically change this, while ensuring the maintenance of museums bond with the land and with the Superintendent and subject to the priority needs of protection and unity of the cultural heritage of the nation. Archaeological museums and archaeological areas, for example, with the exception of the two Superintendents special for Rome and Pompeii, are the joints of the regional museum centers, but also functionally dependent by the Directorate General Archaeology, which defines how the collaboration with the Superintendence archeology also for the purposes of the activities of shelter, storage, cataloging and restoration of artifacts.

They were then provided the following measures:
1) has established a new Directorate-General for museums, entrusted with the task of implementing policies and strategies to use at the national level, facilitate the establishment of museum centers with regional and local authorities, carry out the tasks of development of institutions and places of culture dictate the guidelines for rates, inputs and museum services, facilitate the establishment of foundations museum open to the participation of public and private entities, to facilitate the participation of the Ministry of associations, foundations, associations or societies for the management and exploitation of cultural heritage;

2) is given a special 2 Superintendents and 18 museums the title of executive office, thereby acknowledging the maximum administrative status to the museums of national interest, whose directors will be chosen through a public selection between internal or external to the ‘administration, including foreigners; with subsequent ministerial decree will be defined institutions belonging to 20 museums, being able to foresee additional consolidation; also, in the future it will be possible to identify additional museums which confer such status;

3) are created regional museum centers, museums peripheral joints of the Directorate General, in charge of promoting the enhancement agreements required by the Code of cultural heritage and landscape and to encourage the creation of a museum system between state and non-state museums, both public both private; the headquarters of the poles will be defined by the next ministerial decree on the basis of the presence of the museums in the area, the staffing and the actual organizational needs, and will therefore not be the capital of the region;

4) all of the museums are equipped with the technical and scientific autonomy and its own statutes, in line with the highest international standards; 2 Superintendents 18 museums and special management of national importance have also accounting autonomy;
5) are identified museums and places of culture whose management may be entrusted to private parties under dell’artt. 115 of the Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape.

5. MIBACT TOWARDS A MORE CAREFUL TO CONTEMPORARY ART
To recognize the full dignity and contemporary art and architecture to the redevelopment of urban peripheries There is a special general direction.

The Directorate-General Art and architecture and contemporary urban peripheries’ promotes quality contemporary art and architecture and is directly involved in the shaping of public works, also providing guidance for their design. The management also promotes the regeneration and recovery of urban peripheries.

6. MIBACT TOWARDS A MORE TRANSPARENT AND MORE CAREFUL TO EDUCATION, TRAINING AND RESEARCH
It was always complained about the delay of the Ministry in the areas of innovation and training. The reform aims to fill this gap through the following actions, all aimed at enhancing the professionalism of the staff MIBACT:

1) create a separate Directorate-General for Education and Research, entrusted with the task of working with the Ministry of Education, the National Research Council and other research institutions, universities and schools to ensure the implementation of appropriate training programs, also d ‘agreement with the Regions;

2) increase the activity of study, training and research of the peripheral structures of the Ministry, in particular of the Superintendent, also through agreements with universities, schools and training institutions;

3) activate extraordinary resources for the professional growth of staff MIBACT and strengthening organizational structures;

4) upgrade the skills of all the central and peripheral structures of the Ministry, in order to boost the digitization, collection of information and, above all, publicity and transparency of administrative action;

5) strengthen measures of openness and transparency, so as to ensure the publication on the website of the Ministry of measures taken by the superintendents.

7 ARE ALSO EQUIPPED WITH SPECIAL AUTONOMY THE FOLLOWING INSTITUTIONS AND MUSEUMS OF RELEVANT NATIONAL INTEREST:

MUSEUMS
1) Special Superintendency for the Colosseum, the Roman National Museum and the archaeological area of Rome;
2) Special Superintendency of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae
3) the Borghese Gallery;
4) the Uffizi Gallery;
5) the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Rome
6) the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice;
7), the Museo di Capodimonte;
8), the Pinacoteca di Brera;
9) the Reggia di Caserta.
10), the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence;
11), the Galleria Estense in Modena;
12), the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome;
13), the Polo Reale in Turin;
14), the National Museum of the Bargello;
15), the National Archaeological Museum of Naples;
16), the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria;
17) the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto;
18) Paestum;
19), the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua;
20), the Palazzo Reale in Genoa.

Photo © Copyright APT Puglia

This won’t help Puglia’s tourism image

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Despite the best efforts of Puglia’s tourism promoters in the public and private sectors to foster a sustainable and responsible product, the region’s image can be battered by one negative report about one of its major summer resorts.

From The Independent:

“Drunkenness and vulgarity of holidaymakers sees Italy’s Gallipoli resort labeled ‘the capital of trashy tourism’…As the summer holidays draw to a close, Italy is working itself into a lather over a season of tourists behaving badly.” Read the complete article here.

It shows us that there’s so much work still to be done.