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How Romantic “ Springtime in Italy: A Classic Car Tour

February 13, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Peaceful Assisi

The hillside town of Assisi in Italy

If Valentine’s Day has you thinking of romance, how about springtime in Italy?  I adore Italy, a country oozing with love and sauced with spirit.  Oh, how I wish I could go.  However, I’ve got two new grandbabies coming in the next two months.  I’ll be busy helping out in Baltimore and Boston, not to mention snuggling those tiny bundles.

But…if I were planning a trip, I’d take this driving tour .  It starts in classical Rome, the Eternal City, moving on to Abruzzo in Umbria, a base for daily explorations of centuries old hilltop towns and pastoral countryside. Even includes a day-trip to that peaceful hamlet of Assisi, home of St Francis and his Basilica with the famous frescos by Giotto .

Then the small group will explore Tuscan villas, vineyards and castles.  They visit Siena and Florence, Renaissance cities housing priceless art museums and magnificent churches with ceilings begging you to lie down on the pew, for a better view. I could never have enough time in Tuscany.

Holding Up the Leaning Tower

Holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa

And what’s a trip to Italy without the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, where everyone must take a photo like this for laughs.  Make sure to visit the fascinating Duomo and Baptistery, as well, keeping in mind that these building were started around 1170.

Finally return to Rome, toss your coins in the Trevi fountain, then arrivederci.

What’s truly special about this trip is that you will be driving a classic Italian roadster, like an Alfa Romeo .  I know I’d feel like punching the gas pedal, pretending I’m in a chase scene of a Bond movie, roaring up and down the country roads.

My colleague, Rich Truesdell, of  AutomotiveTraveler.com, has put together one heck of a tour. Everything is primo, as smooth as fine wine or should it be Corinthian leather?

Visit this link for more information on the Springtime Classic Car Tour in Italy, and be prepared to drool over the itinerary.  It’s better than a home-cooked meal straight from Rosa’s kitchen.    Manga, manga!

Italy ~ A Secret Hideaway in Busy Florence

September 23, 2006 by · Comments Off on Italy ~ A Secret Hideaway in Busy Florence 


Hotel Review–Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo

Overlooking FlorenceWhy not stay above Donatello’s workshop when visiting the priceless art treasures of Florence? Discover lodgings so close to the Duomo that you need special permission to drive into the restricted historic district. This hideaway is such a well-kept secret; we had to hire a taxi to lead us into the gated courtyard. But once you find it; you may not want to leave the posh accommodations. Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo is a 16th century historical palace, renovated into an exquisite small hotel.

Leaving the courtyard, take a tiny lift up to the second floor reception to enter an elegant patrician home. Then slip into the drawing room which bursts with aristocratic details: brilliant fresco,  carved wooden ceilings, tromp l’oeil painting on the walls and comfortably arranged sofas, giving a feeling of warmth and wealth. We booked  private wine tasting of extraordinary Tuscan reds in this elegant lobby.

Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting

The welcoming staff will lead you down a long hallway or up a flight of stairs, then open the doors to reveal your luxurious accommodations. The oversized, airy rooms feature king size canopied beds amongst antique and reproduction furniture, oriental rugs and original art. The ceilings are so high; you’d have to erect scaffolding to repaint them.

Florence is a walking city and this ideal location is within easy distance of all the famous museums, churches, palazzos, and shops. Spend your days strolling the Ponte Vecchio, gazing at Michelangelo’s David and other masterpieces of art. Your hotel is always nearby, a haven to rest your tired feet.

Working in the Lobby
The Lobby

Palazzo Niccolini has just 2 large suites, 1 junior suite and five double bedrooms. Overnight stays include a bountiful continental breakfast and aperitifs.

The bridal suite or Dome Suite on the top floor drinks in likely the best view of Duomo in the entire city. Don’t deny yourself this once in lifetime lookout.

And best of all, you’re steps away from the tourist crowds and queue leading to the top of Brunelleschi’s famous cathedral dome. Though it’s a rigorous climb, you won’t regret the effort to catch this unforgettable view of russet tiled roofs. Don’t forget to have someone snap your photo for the scrapbook.

This boutique hotel is a walkable 600 meters from the train station (I easily did it) and a mere six kilometers from the airport. Perfect for a honeymoon or anniversary. Shhh. Let’s keep this gem our secret.

For information, photos and booking: www.Nicolinidomepalace.com
Telephone +39 055 282412

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