Destination Verona

‘In fair Verona where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny’…. The poetic Shakespearan lines that introduce one of the worlds most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet reference Verona, Italy, as the city where the star crossed couple fell in love.

And ‘fair’ it is indeed. Quaint cobbled streets, eye-catching terracotta buildings and impressive ancient market squares all contribute to Verona’s unique beauty and make it no surprise that the city has been awarded world heritage site status by UNESCO, because of its urban structure and architecture.

Often over shadowed by neighbouring Venice, Verona really is one of Italy’s hidden gems. The city boasts the perfect mix of modernism and culture with plenty of high end designer shops but also traditional restaurants and cafes.

For the culture vultures amongst you there is plenty to see. You can visit the the pink marble Roman Arena, which has has been in Verona since the 1st century AD and survived a 12th-century earthquake. It has stood the test of time and is used as Verona’s legendary open-air opera house, with seating for 30,000 people.

Verona is home to many other ancient Roman monuments and architecture including the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, which is considered one of the great achievements of the Roman era. Built during the 4th century as a shrine to Verona’s patron saint, St. Zeno, the exquisite  building dominates the large square, and is flanked with a beautiful 72 metres tall bell tower, which is mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy.

Verona’s rich history is endless but if you fancy something a little more light hearted, you can enjoy the scenery whilst wandering around designer stores such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. If your wanting to get the most for you money, Verona is the perfect choice as it equals Venice in beauty but your money will go much further.

There are an abundance of quaint eateries and cafes to suit all tastes especially in the Piazza Bra, where you will be spoiled for choice and can sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery and atmosphere.

So, if you want to treat your loved one to a romantic break, or just want to experience some amazing Roman architecture and Italian charm, Verona could be the perfect choice for you!

Flights prices start from £37.99 one way flying with EasyJet.

Article by Lauren Probert

It’s Spring Break: take the kids to Italy

Make ancient Rome and Renaissance art come alive for your children with TourCrafters’ Spring Break package to Rome and Florence. It’s a better investment than a trip to Disney World.

The package – for 2 adults and 1 child up to 16 in a triple room – costs US$1,049 per adult and US$720 per child. For 2 adults and 2 children – in adjoining doubles in Rome and a large suite with queen and two singles in Florence – the price is US$1,209 per adult and US$830 per kid. These prices include air fare from New York, 4 nights’ accommodation at the 4-star Hotel Michelangelo in Rome, 4 nights at the 4-star Hotel Rivoli in Florence, 8 buffet breakfasts, arrival transfer, Hop On Hop Off tour of Rome, Eurostar train ticket, free ice cream for kids in each city, and a special kit, Florence guidebook, and restaurant discount for kids. Prices are valid from March 1 to 31, 2012.

This is the perfect opportunity to introduce the kids to the Italian lifestyle – not to mention authentic pizza, pasta, and gelato – as well as showing them the Roman Forum, Colosseum, catacombs, St. Peter’s, and other highlights of the Eternal City. They’ll enjoy the high-speed Eurostar train to Florence, and be amazed by Michelangelo’s David, the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s cafés, and maybe even a painting or two in the Uffizi.

All prices are per person, double occupancy, are subject to availability and do not include airport taxes of approximately US$100, fuel surcharges of approximately US$460, or city taxes that must be paid directly to the hotels in euros. Add-on air fares from other departure cities are: US$80 from Washington, DC, US$220 from Miami, US$150 from Chicago, and US$260 from Los Angeles.

Reservations must be paid for within 72 hours of booking. For additional information about this and other special Spring Break packages for couples, families, and friends to Italy, France, Spain, and Turkey, visit www.tourcrafters.com . For reservations, call 800-482-5995.

Consider Italy for your next caravan holiday

If you’re looking to go on a fun-filled driving holiday, Italy can offer everything you could possibly need. By taking your caravan and heading from Lake Garda in the north down to Pompeii in the south, you can see exciting cities and participate in amazing activities, while driving through the beautiful Italian countryside.

 

However, before you set off on your break it is important to have the proper financial protection in place in case you suffer an accident while away. Spend time searching for caravan insurance quotes and you can rest assured that in the event your leisure vehicle is damaged you will be covered.

 

Once you have sorted this out, you can start thinking about all the fun that can be had on a caravanning holiday through Italy. And there will certainly be plenty of opportunities for excitement in Lake Garda – the starting point of your trip.

 

As the largest body of water in the country, it should be of little surprise you can try a range of water sports here. These include windsurfing, boating, fishing and snorkelling. However, there is a lot for you to do on dry land. Given its location at the foot of the Italian Alps, Lake Garda is also a great place to go hiking and upon setting off from your caravan pitch you’ll get to walk through forest-covered hills and enjoy amazing alpine scenery.

 

If you’re after some white-knuckle thrills, however, you’ll be glad to know several theme parks are situated in the area, including Aqua Paradise Park and Gardaland.

 

However, there’s much more to explore beyond the Lake Garda region and by getting back on the road you’ll be able to soak up the beautiful Italian scenery on your way to Verona.

 

You’ll find amazing medieval and Roman architecture, so a visit here is sure to be a highlight of any driving holiday. Among the many buildings you can take in are the Renaissance-era San Giorgio church and the Verona Arena amphitheatre, while the city’s cathedral dates back to the sixth century.

 

Continue your journey southwards and you’ll eventually come to the amazing Amalfi Coast. This is a popular destination for many of those taking driving holidays through Italy and as you navigate the coastal roads, you can soak up amazing sea views and – upon parking your caravan – stop at charming small towns and relax on golden beaches.

 

In time, you’ll reach Naples. This coastal destination is one of the world’s oldest continually populated cities and there will be plenty of history and culture for you to soak up.

 

However, if you’re something of a foodie you may be particularly interested to note Naples is where pizza was first made in the late 19th century and there are numerous historic pizzerias where you can try authentic Italian cuisine. There are also plenty of Roman and Greek ruins to see, but if you want to really take a step back in time, make sure you visit the nearby city of Pompeii.

 

Following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, Pompeii was covered in ash and while the city’s residents were tragically killed this helped to preserve many of its buildings and streets. Today it is the largest archaeological site in Europe and by wandering around the partially-excavated settlement, you can get an idea of what Roman life was like 2,000 years ago.

 

With so many fantastic places to see on a driving holiday in Italy, taking a caravan can provide you with the freedom to travel around at a pace that suits you and ensure you’ll always have somewhere to stay. However, you should make sure that you seek out caravan insurance online first so that you will be covered in case your touring caravan is damaged.

 

No matter what caravan holiday spot you choose, by taking a driving holiday through Italy you can be confident of having an amazing time.

Tourist tax begins in Venice

Venice has become even more expensive for tourists, when last week the ‘tourist tax’ came in to force.

When plans emerged from the Venetian authorities last year about the plans to charge tourists a fee for overnight stays, they were met with critisism.

Tourists wanting a relaxing weekend break will now have to pay as much as €5 per person.

The fee is determined by hotel star-ratings, with a couple staying in a 3-star hotel paying an extra €6 on top of the bill.

Luxury travellers staying at one of the city’s gilded five-star options – such as the celebrated Hotel Cipriani – will have to pay the full €5 each.

Defending the ‘tourist tax’ Venice has suggested it is a cultural donation rather than a government levy interested in squeezing a little more from its tourist economy that sees 60,000 people visit every day.

Imposed to protect the city, the imposta di soggiorno, is said to be needed to protect the heritage of Venice which was once at the centre of the European empire.

‘This tax is a new and important opportunity for the city,’ Venice’s deputy mayor Sandro Simionato recently said. ‘The fundamental objective, which will also involve tourists who visit and love Venice, is to save this unique city, which is precious and fragile.’

A brochure outlines the reasons behind the new tax.

‘You will become one of the city’s sponsors, contributing to safeguarding it,’ the brochure explains.

It is illustrate with a sticker that states: ‘Thank you for being a sponsor of the splendour of Venice.’

Mr Simionato’s also stated:

‘The tax will help finance tourism, maintenance of cultural heritage sites, the environment, as well as public services’.

This may not please the tourists that will now be sponsoring domestic funding for the city.

Local authorities will be allowed, through government rules, the spend revenue on public services – tourists could end up paying for matters that should be covered by Italian tax euros.

Brits gain average of 8lb from USA’s large portions

An enjoyable holiday can often leave you with a few extra pounds, as well as the suntan. Delicious foreign food and lazy days in the sun, it’s not surprising holidaymakers pile the pounds.

 

However, new research has found that the weight gained on a holiday can differ dramatically depending on the destination.

 

Predictably, the US is one of the worst. Popular all-you-can-eat buffets, enormous portions had lead to many travellers gaining an average of 8lb on a two week trip to the USA.

 

Following closely in second place is the Caribbean; it’s all-inclusive resorts left many holidaymakers with an average weight increase of 7.4lb on their holiday.

 

The study has also included France and Spain in the top five, although their portions may not be as large as the US wines, cheese and pasta laden with calories have left those visiting France with an increase of 7.4lb and Italy 7lb.

 

Four in ten holidaymakers blamed the increases in alcohol consumption whilst away, with one in six admitting they found it difficult to say no to seconds.

 

Surprisingly half of travellers only realise they have piled on the pounds once home, with one in five not noticing until they see the holiday pics.

Top ten European ski resorts of the last season

French ski resorts have proved to be the most popular in Europe, new sales data released today by SkiHorizon on the 2010-2011 winter ski season reveals.

The French and the Brits continue to have different tastes for their ski holidays– French skiers and snowboarders are far more likely to ski in their own country, whereas British holidaymakers divide their loyalties between France, Switzerland and Austria.

Top ski resorts: French bookers

• Val Thorens
• Les Deux Alpes
• Avoriaz
• Les Arcs 1800
• Les Menuires
• Les Coches
• Saint Sorlin d’Arves
• Risoul
• Tignes Val Claret
• Plagne Bellecôte

Top ski resorts: UK bookers

• Morzine
• Les Arcs
• Saas Fee
• Serre Chevalier
• Avoriaz
• La Plagne
• St Anton
• Megeve
• Puy St Vincent
• Alpe D’Huez

Overall this shows that France is the most popular skiing destination among SkiHorizon’s customers. But Italy is steadily growing in popularity and SkiHorizon forecast that one of its resorts will break into the top 10 in the next few years.

Mark Oliver, UK Marketing Manager at SkiHorizon commented: “It’s no surprise that the French overwhelmingly choose to ski in their own country, with world-beating ski resorts on their doorstep, it takes a lot of persuasion for them to try skiing in other countries.”

“I do wish more French people would take the time to discover the dramatic scenery and the warm welcomes of Austria though, they would be very pleasantly surprised.”

 

Rome on a Budget: Looking Beyond the City’s Most Well-Known Cultural Attractions

Occupancy rates are up, a ‘hotel tax’ is looming on the horizon, and room prices are scheduled to increase once again. It’s a typical scene in Rome, and it’s one that’s becoming a frustrating reality for the thousands of tourists that arrive in the Italian capital daily. Rome is big, beautiful, and all priced outside the reach of many British travellers, particularly those searching for a budget tour.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tourists to Rome have typically spent their daytime hours soaking in the same tired attractions – viewing the Colosseum, walking the city’s cathedrals, and moving from one aggressively priced restaurant to another. With the pesky budget out of the way, Rome isn’t the terrifying travel destination one might expect – it’s actually rather fun.

At least, that’s what community travel website WikiTravel suggests. The website suggests for budget travellers to move from one Monte Verde Vecchio bakery to another, enjoying the city’s cheap meals and student favourites. It also suggests cutting your hotel budget in half and opting for a small local hotel, ignoring the large facade of the looming international chains.

The suggestions, while slightly unappealing for older travellers, are a good idea. Europe’s cities are best explored with a light wallet and an appetite for adventure. Ignore the downtown hotels in place of a room in San Lorenzo – the extra walk to major attractions offers an opportunity to get entirely lose – one of the city’s greatest tourist experiences.

When spending becomes difficult, a change of strategy can eliminate problems. WikiTravel’s tactics certainly don’t make Rome worse, they merely change the side of Rome that visitors may see while on holiday. Given the city’s immense modern culture, that’s certainly not an unwelcome change.