Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Como prices decrease for the first time in five years!

Words by Carla Passino
Have you always dreamed of buying a house on the Italian Lakes but your budget didn’t quite stretch to it? Now may be the right time to purchase.According to Italian estate agent Gabetti, prices in and around the lakeside city of Como have gone down for the first time in five years.
The Gabetti study refers to the first half of 2009 and puts current values for properties in the city at £3,000 per square metre for renovated flats with lake views, and £4,000 per square metre for period homes in the historic centre.
Although the price reduction is hardly colossal—only about 5%— proceedable buyers may be in for greater discounts. Sale volumes have gone down too and vendors, keen to secure a sale, are prepared to offer rebates of up to 10% on the asking price to the right person.
Earlier in the year, Gabetti had also reported a slight decrease in prices for second homes in villages along Lake Como.
On the Como side of the Lake, prices went down by about 10% to about £5,000-6,500 per square metre for a lakeside flat in posh Cernobbio, and £4,000-6,000 for a waterside home in neighbouring Laglio, Moltrasio and Carate Urio. The Lecco side of the Lake was similarly affected, with homes here rarely going above £5,000 per square metre.
All this brings formerly unreachable properties within the realm of the (barely) affordable. To take advantage of the market, though, you may need to act quickly as other buyers are in on the secret. Indeed, Gabetti reports that demand in Como has already started to increase, albeit by a modest amount.
And the usual proviso applies—like elsewhere in Italy, premium homes on Lake Como held their value far better than those further down the property ladder.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Agriturismi Near The Lakes Offer Great Food

Roland Merullo's book "The Italian Summer" is all about Golf and Food.  One of the interesting chapters covers Agriturismi.  He's says,  "you will l find yourself at a table at an agriturismo and realize that there are layers upon layers to Italian food, whole sections of the cookbook you haven't opened yet.  Agriturismi are not restaurants but an arrangement by which the owners of small agricultural properties can suplement their income by feeding lunch and dinner guests and housing overnight visitors, as long as half their annual income is derived from the production of some foodstuff."  Locanda Rosati was one of Merllo's favorite stops.
Another favorite was Barcola Agriturismi, near Menaggio.  A sample of the food included, two pasta dishes - simple bow tie dusted in a light tomato sauce, and a more complicated penne in a creamy curry sauce with morsels of the Barcola's own sausage mixed in.   Followed by pork cutlets served with cooked spinach and tender potatoes, and a dry hous red wine.  Most of food was either made or grown on the premises.  Can't wait!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Venice Attractions

From Attila the Hun’s invasion in the year 452 to Napoleon’s invasion in 1797, Venice has had quite an interesting history all documented in European history texts and available in picture in the magnificent city museums. Upon the last invasion Venice surrendered her sovereignty to end a period of 1,070 years of sovereignty.

With cutting edge modern art as well as the works of ancient masters Venice’s churches, scuole and museums are quite an aesthetic attraction. However, only part of these establishments has sites from which you can get information about them. The city’s heritage is the Accademia art gallery that sets a helpful context for every other tour of the city. Fiat owns the enormous Palazzo Grassi gallery, an outstanding venue for showcasing major art exhibitions. It hosts at least three exhibitions every other year.
The St. Mark’s Square hosts the Museo Correo, a major gallery for touring exhibitions. A respectably large structure with good interior lighting, the Museo Correo has quite a welcoming atmosphere for all the art enthusiasts. The home of modern art in Venice Biennale di Venezia is a cultural giant that hosts a huge yearly international festival of architecture, dance, music and theatre. These run from March to November with the annual Cinema festival grabbing the spotlight from August through September

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Studying Italian From Ex Pat Blog

                                                                                                         Studying Italian

I will try and make this article short and sweet. Before I moved to Italy I studied Italian using interactive CD's on the computer. I used the Rosetta Stone package and really increased my vocabulary fast and learned a lot in a short time. The CD's are a bit expensive $400 US approx. (I was lucky to have free access because my workplace had a learning center), but if I was to try another language course I would certainly recommend them.
Anyways, I am not trying to sell anything, just thought that if you were going to tackle Italian, this would be a good place to start. The other thing I discovered is that once I had my Codice Fiscal (like a Social Security Number), I was able to register for free Italian language lessons three times a week at a local school downtown. Any documents that show you have permission (Permesso) to study in Italy should get you into these classes. The school is in Genova off of Via XX Septembre, on Via Fieschi. I cannot recall the name of the school but it's not hard to find. Feel free to contact me through my blog (help! I live with my Italian mother in law) if you want directions.
Ok, so no, I have not mastered the language, I am a work in progress as they say, but I am able to get by and every day my mother in law comments on how I have improved. There is also a website where you can chat online with people who are looking for a language partner. I joined and chat with people who help me with my Italian in exchange for help with their English.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


One day a fourth-grade teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up -- fireman,
mechanic, businessman, salesman, doctor, lawyer, and so forth.
However, little Justin was being uncharacteristically quiet, so when
the teacher prodded him about his father, he finally replied,
'Okay... my father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off
all his clothes in front of other men and they put money in his
underwear. Sometimes, if the offer is really good, he will go home
with some guy and stay with him all night for money.'
The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the
other children to work on some exercises and then took little Justin aside to ask him, 'Is that really true about your father?'  'No', the boy said, 'He actually works for the Democratic NationalCommittee and helped get Barack Obama elected President last year, but I was too embarrassed to say that in front of the class.'

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Malpensa Airport Milan

The Travel Itinerary

You are most likely to fly into Milan Malpensa Airport. Malpensa is located northwest of Milan, and is actually closer to Lago Maggiore than central Milan. From Malpensa, you can take the shuttle to Milano Centrale train station (Malpensa Shuttle departs every twenty minutes from early morning to late at night) to start your journey or to find a hotel (there are many around the train station). If you're coming from the smaller Linate, which is east of Milan, you can take the shorter shuttle to Milano Centrale. Getting back to Milan

The EuroStar Italia makes the journey from Venice Mestre station to Milano Centrale in two hours and 45 minutes or so, which is probably faster than a flight from Venice to Milan, considering the time to get to the airport and the hassles with luggage. If you still have some time left before your flight, you can take the train to Como or Stresa on Lago Maggiore in about an hour. Malpensa can be reached from Stresa. Take the train from Stressa to the Gallarate station, then taxi or bus to the airport. Or, you can do the whole trip by "ALIBUS" which departs from Milan Malpensa Airport - Terminal 1 - bus stop number 12 every day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Prayer For Grandpa!

"Dear God, this year please send clothes for all those poor ladies on Grandpa's computer, Amen."

A Trip Before or After Bellagio.

Location : Italy
Activity : Road Biking, Cultural Immersion, Biking, Wine
Price : From $3895
Departures : April, May, June, July, August, September, October
Duration : 6 days
Lodging : B&Bs/Inns, Villas
Minimum Age : 18
Group Size : 2 - 16
Interest : Couples, Solo Travelers
Biking in Italy
A bike tour in Tuscany is everything you read about. Cycle past olive groves and pastures to quaint hilltop villages on Tuscany's cypress-lined country roads. In Tuscany you feel like you're cycling inside a photograph. Each day you will be bike through vineyards and gliding along rolling fields to ancient villages. During your stay in Italy you will taste Brunello, Super Tuscan, Vino Nobile, and Chianti Classico. You will encounter some challenging hills in Tuscany, but your hard work will be well rewarded with delicious tuscan treats.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let's Get Ready To Travel!

6 Months Before You Travel to Europe
Click the link above to see what you should be doing six months before your vacation. Here's the basics of travel planning we'll help you with:
•Choosing a destination - the big task this month!
•European Guidebooks
•Renting a vacation house
•Learning a language
This is the time to start to choose where you'd like to go, and maybe start thinking about guidebooks. We'll discuss an option for your European vacation that you probably haven't considered, but one which will save money, especially for families--renting a vacation house for a week. We'll also consider learning a language, or at least learning the "polite" words which usually open doors--as if by magic!--for the independent traveler.

3 Months Before You Travel to Europe
Three months before you go is the right time to get serious about your European Vacation Planning:
•Finding the Best Airfare
•Apply for a Passport if you haven't already
•Start thinking about walking shoes!
At this point you'll still be doing some things from three months ago. That's ok, but we're going to add some things, like finding airfares, and getting a passport if you don't already have one. And you'll be walking a lot in Europe, so it's time to think about good, solid walking shoes that you can wear to a good restaurant. There's nothing worse than to have to lug around many shoes, believe me.

2 Months Before You Travel to Europe
A couple months or so before you go you'll need to figure out where to stay and how to get around:
•Hotel Reservations
•Train or Car - Time to choose your main transportation
•Car? Rent or Lease?
•Train? Rail Pass or Point to Point tickets?

1 Month Before You Travel to Europe
Think STUFF! One month before you to, it's time to get your stuff together:
•Travel Insurance
Yes, by now you've got a route, reservations, a way to get around Europe--so it's time to think off all the stuff you're going to bring, including the all-important money.

Right Before You Travel to Europe - Final Checklist!
Time for those last minute checks before boarding the plane for that European vacation!
•Call Your Credit Card Companies
•Got Meds? Write Down the Details
•Pack Light. Pack Right.
•Final Check - Packing List and Department of State Travel Warnings

Map Out Your Italy Trip! your travel planning with this interactive map of Western Europe

How to Use the European Travel Planning Map

Place your mouse cursor over a country with map and traveler essential coverage and it'll turn orange. Click it and you'll be whisked off to that country's map and essentials page, listing all the resources on this site for that country, including tourist destinations, pictures, rail maps, and information that tourists need to be informed: languages, eating out, tipping, weather, and transportation.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monte Carlo and Nearby Hotel Reviews

Hotels in Monte Carlo and surrounding areas, catch a train from Lake Como to Monaco via Milan.  Four Hour drive, or 6 to 8 hour train ride.  If you plan to see Monte Carlo after Bellagio, flying out of Nice would be the easiest way back to New York and the States. Updated Train info after the January 1st.  See Monte Carlo before or after Bellagio Week.  During the week may waste up to two days.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How did Italy Get It's Name?

It's a long story! Italy as a geographical area was mentioned as far back as during the age of the highly civilized Etruscan people, as is borne out by the manuscripts kept in some museums, especially in Tuscany and Latium. These in fact were the regions where most Etruscan settlements are found, although they also populated Umbria, Campania and some zones of what is now Emilia Romagna and Lombardy.
Then came the Romans who, starting from the 3rd century BC, unified the whole peninsula under their dominion (and indeed most of Europe in general).
The word Italia appears on a coin dating back to the 1st century BC which was minted by the confederation of the Italic peoples who rose up against Rome. The coin was found in the region of Abruzzo in Corfinio, the ancient Corfinium, capital of the confederation with the name of Italica. The long Roman domination (from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD) has left an indelible mark in Italy with its roads, aqueducts, temples, monuments, towns and cities, bridges, theatres and so on - all relics and memories of a past that is remote and yet also very present, a past that can be seen in every part of the country. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was invaded and dominated for centuries by foreign populations, especially in the south and Sicily. Thanks to the success of independent city states in the Centre and North such as Venice, Florence, Siena, Genoa, and Milan, Italy nevertheless became a flourishing and civilised country of trade and the arts. Later however, the small independent states could not hold out against the invasions of the great states of Spain and Austria. Only the small kingdom of Piedmont remained independent and after the interlude of Napoleon's occupation it became the "driving force" behind il Risorgimento, the great movement that led to the unification of Italy in 1870 under the Royal House of Savoia.

How to Eat An Italian Roast Beef Sandwich!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bellamo, on the Shores of Lake Como

Bellano located on the eastern shore of Lake Como is a small, intimate but extremely well serviced town.

Bellano is located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. This small town, has escaped mass tourism and is is surrounded by a lovely landscape characterized by beautiful lakeside walks. The old town centre is characterized by interesting tight alleys with medieval houses, arches that date back to the 17th century and Baroque courts.
From the old town centre go up until you find the spot where the Pioverna stream forms the Orrido, a gorge dug in the rocks, formed more than 15 million years ago and in the past used to exploit to iron. Today it can be visited passing through narrow hanging passages.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Telling Time In Italy!

Photo: Ancient Mass Graves of Soldiers, w/bottles of Mike Colonna's Famous Limoncello!

Archeologists have uncovered thousands of graves holding the remains of fifth-century BC soldiers near the ancient Greek colony of Himera, in Italy.

Also included in the burials were arrowheads, amphorae, and infants with baby bottles-like vessels. Researchers think the adult skeletons are from soldiers who died fighting the Carthaginians in a famous 480 BC battle described by Greek historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus.

Grand Hotel, Bellagio

Diners feast on local seafood along the terrace of the Grand Hotel in Bellagio, the "pearl of the lake." The resort of Bellagio commands one of Italy's most scenic vistas of Lake Como, whose glorious setting has inspired the likes of Verdi, Liszt, and Shelley.

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Friday! Ok?

Two blondes living in Oklahoma were sitting on a bench talking, and one blonde says to the other, 'Which do you think is farther way.... Florida or the Moon?' The other blonde turns and says 'Helloooooooooo, can you see Florida ?????'

A blonde pushes her BMW into a gas station. She tells the mechanic it died. After he works on it for a few minutes, it is idling smoothly... She says, 'What's the story?' He replies, 'Just crap in the carburetor'
She asks, 'How often do I have to do that?'

A police officer stops a blonde for speeding and asks her very nicely if he could see her license.
She replied in a huff, 'I wish you guys would get your act together.
Just yesterday you take away my license and then today you expect me to show it to you!'

There's this blonde out for a walk. She comes to a river and sees another blonde on the opposite bank 'Yoo-hoo!' she shouts, 'How can I get to the other side?'
The second blonde looks up the river then down the river and shouts back, 'You ARE on the other side.'

A gorgeous young redhead goes into the doctor's office and said that her body hurt wherever she touched it.
'Impossible!' says the doctor. 'Show me. The redhead took her finger, pushed on her left shoulder and screamed, then she pushed her elbow and screamed even more. She pushed her knee and screamed; likewise she pushed her ankle and screamed. Everywhere she touched made her scream.
The doctor said, 'You're not really a redhead, are you?
'Well, no' she said, 'I'm actually a blonde.' 'I thought so,' the doctor said, 'Your finger is broken.'

A highway patrolman pulled alongside a speeding car on the freeway. Glancing at the car, he was astounded to see that the blonde behind the wheel was knitting! Realizing that she was oblivious to his flashing lights and siren, the trooper cranked down his window, turned on his bullhorn and yelled, 'PULL OVER!'
'NO!' the blonde yelled back, 'IT'S A SCARF!'

A Russian, an American, and a Blonde were talking one day. The Russian said, 'We were the first in space!'
The American said, 'We were the first on the moon!' The Blonde said, 'So what? We're going to be the first on the sun!' The Russian and the American looked at each other and shook their heads... 'You can't land on the sun, you idiot! You'll burn up!' said the Russian.. To which the Blonde replied, 'We're not stupid, you know. We're going at night!'

A blonde was playing Trivial Pursuit one night.. It was her turn. She rolled the dice and she landed on Science & Nature. Her question was, 'If you are in a vacuum and someone calls your name, can you hear it?' She thought for a time and then asked, 'Is it on or off?'

A girl was visiting her blonde friend, who had acquired two new dogs, and asked her what their names were. The blonde responded by saying that one was named Rolex and one was named Timex.. Her friend said, 'Whoever heard of someone naming dogs like that?' 'HELLLOOOOOOO......,' answered the blonde. 'They're watch dogs'!

Enoteca Cava Turacciolo Bellagio

Attraction Type: Bar/club, Winery

Address: Salita Genazzini, 3 Bellagio, Lake Como, Lombardy, Italy
Phone Number: 39 031 950975Traveler Reviews of Enoteca Cava Turacciolo Bellagio

“I could live in that cave!!!!”
by lisa37a on Sep 20, 2009

have been going to the lake como region for 30 years!!! also pop in to see norberto and piero . i recieve a hug and 2 kisses upon arrival.. a very warm welcome the wine is phenomenal and the food... Read the rest on TripAdvisor
“One of our favorite nights!”
by Jennyut on Jan 19, 2009

We spent a few nights in Bellagio on our honeymoon. It is such a magical place. We had dinner/drinks here one night with a couple we met on the ferry. Such a wonderful place---great memories. Good... Read the rest on TripAdvisor “Enjoyed!”
by japindy on Oct 8, 2008

Spent part of an evening here doing a wine tasting with my husband. They bring plate of bread, cheese & meats to eat while you do your wine tasting. Very relaxing, no pressure and quite enjoyable... Read the rest on TripAdvisor “Great Wine Bar in Como”
by Richard-Kay on Aug 25, 2008

We visited this wine bar/cantina August 25 in Bellagio, Italy and had a great experience. It is operated by Mario, Norberto & Piero and they will take care of you. A huge selection of wine by the... Read the rest on TripAdvisor “Stuffy”
by goingtobellagio on Dec 28, 2007

While nice and cozy the service was very cold (stuffy). My husband and I were there in October and stopped by because it looked like a pretty cool place on their website. We enjoy wine and while... Read the rest on TripAdvisor “Favorite part of the trip!”
by rlsnyc04 on Sep 12, 2007

This wine cellar is beautiful, romantic, huge array of wines to taste and buy, with a friendly and helpful staff. Could not ask for a better way to spend the evening's end - both nights we were there! Read the rest on TripAdvisor “Best Wine Bar”
by PeggyMc on Jun 23, 2007

In a narrow street, Salita Genazzini, beside Hotel Splendide in Bellagio on the shores of Lake Como this gem of a wine bar was one of the highlights of our vacation. The premises consist of three... Read the rest on TripAdvisor “In love with Bellagio”
by JP-Traveler on May 12, 2004

After reviewing many online reviews regarding Bellagio, I spent three days with a friend in this lovely little town. We stayed at the Hotel Florence, which I would highly recommend! While you are in... Read the rest on TripAdvisor
Read all 8 reviews on

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hiring Car/Driver Malpensa Airport to Varenna

Re: Hiring Car/Driver Malpensa Airport to Varenna
Oct 27, 2009, 10:24 PM
We just got back from our 3 week trip to Italy. We did hire a limo to go from Malpensa to Bellagio and then Bellagio to Milan Train. We used Como, and would highly recommend the service. There were 4 of us travelling and the cost was 130 Euros from Malpensa to Bellagio and 120 Euros from Bellagio to Milan. It was more expensive than the train but it was well worth it!

Bellagio Forum: Milan, car or train to Lake Como?

Re: Hiring Car/Driver Malpensa Milan Airport to Varenna (Lake Como Area)

Sep 16, 2009, 12:33 AM

I'm sorry but I believe I understated the price differential between train and car/driver. I found an internet site and booked, since it was the only one that replied. We weighed time saved against the money spent so we opted for a car and driver; not too bad divided four ways. Seems the train is quite cheap, but from Milan Milpensa to train station in Milan Central to Varenna and then back again to Milan Central Station would take a lot of time, which we are quite short of. Website for car and driver is: They responded promptly. We bargained and got a slightly reduced fare for round trip--65 euros each round trip. We are leaving 9/17/09 and I understand it is raining there and we return on Sunday when there are fewer trains. Also trains from Milan to Varenna are only every two hours. So---Good luck. Would like to know your experience if you elect this option. Carol

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Eating in Venice...

See The World w/Live Web Cams!


Mary Forbes Bradley writes...

Hey everybody, Please note that our rent for the villa is based on the dollar amount we contracted at the time back when. The fact that the dollar is falling against the Euro will only effect us once we get there.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sounds Like My Family.

Raffaela sat in the far corner of her Culbertson school classroom – too embarrassed to eat lunch in front of the other children.

She quietly unfolded the newspaper covering her meal and hoped that no one would smell the garlic and olive oil wafting in the air. Once, her lunch leaked through the newspaper and the cloakroom reeked for days. She sighed.

Why does it have to be roasted peppers on homemade Italian bread? Why can't it be peanut butter and jelly like my friend Lois? And why do we have spaghetti every day of the year? When I get married I'll never have pasta again. Good old American roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. That's what I want when I grow up. Read More:

Soupy, we will miss you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Student Teacher Fares include Taxes For Travel to Europe! My contact appears to be a "Straight Shooter!"

Nick is a student at Long Beach State, Kathy has taught classes in Escrow, Mike taught one year of High School, years ago, we all qualify for a reduced rate for traveling anywhere in the U.S. and Europe. 

Contact Drew at 400-592-0868 x21080 With Statravel, Student Travel  Drew assures me that if you are under 26 and a student, or have ever taught a class in ???,   which proof is not required, then you are qualified to apply for a card either student or teacher, cost is $22.00 per card, good for one year.  You book your flight to Europe with Drew, before you pay anything  compare prices, which I have done, and you can save more than $275.00 per flight.  Worth a try...You will fly American, British Air.  Any questions call me Mike Colonna, don't call me Shirley, at 714-747-5670. Always nice to save $$.  If you are satisfied with the info from Drew.....go for it!
Even a Judge can qualify.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Villa Piedmont For Sale Near Bellagio...Have you lost your mind, Mike?


This immaculately restored 1800’s Italian Villa has been updated to today’s standards of comfort while maintaining its classic beauty and old world history.
Nestling majestically into the beautiful landscape of the Piedmont Region this hilltop 3-acre gated estate is located in the Town of Pray near Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, just minutes to magnificent wineries and surrounded by a culture full of culinary delights and recreational activities.
This exquisite and private estate commands spectacular views of the Alps and the valley below with the sounds of the running stream. Tranquility at its best.
Romantic views of the sunsets in fabulous gardens and outdoor terraces allow your mind, body, and spirit to rejuvenate while relaxing with family and friends. Perfect for outdoor entertaining.
This villa has preserved all of its original features with hand painted floor tiles, original stained glass windows, 100 year old ceiling fresco, marble staircase, and solid hazelnut wing doors.
The private drive brings you to a beautifully appointed and detailed 3860 SF main house – basement plus 3 floors above - 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, formal dining, den, gym, wine cellar, and a stunning sunroom that opens to an 1800 SF terrace.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rick Steves Writes About Bellagio

The Italian Allure of Lake Como

Varenna's romantic promenade hugs the shore of Lake Como.
By Rick Steves
Stretched over two chairs atop the tiny passenger deck of a 10-car ferry as it shuttles across Lake Como, I look south into the haze of Italy. I'm savoring the best of my favorite country with none of the chaos and intensity that's generally part of the Italian experience.
Turning the other way, facing a crisp alpine breeze, I marvel at the snow-capped Alps. I'm just minutes from Switzerland...but clearly in Italy: The ferry workers have that annoying yet endearingly playful knack for underachieving. Precision seems limited to the pasta — exactly al dente and reliably homemade. Rather than banks and public clocks (which inundate nearby Swiss lake resorts, such as Lugano), the lanes that tumble into this lake come with lazy cafes and hole-in-the-wall alimentari brimming with juicy reds and crunchy greens.
In Italy's romantic Lakes District, in the shadow of the Alps, wistful 19th-century villas are seductively overgrown with old vines that seem to ache with stories to tell. Stunted palm trees appear to be held against their will in this northern location. And vistas are made-to-order for poets. In fact, it was early nature-lovers who wrote and painted here that put this region on the map in the 1800s.
A handful of lakes tempt visitors just north of Milano. The million-euro question is: Which lake to see? Tiny Orta has an off-beat, less developed charm. Maggiore has garden islands and Stresa, a popular resort town. Garda is a hit with German windsurfers. But for the best mix of scenery, offbeatness and aristocratic-old-days romance, my choice is Lake Como. And it's just an hour north of Milan by convenient train.
Sleepy Lake Como is a good place to take a break from the obligatory turnstile culture of central Italy. It seems half the travelers you'll meet have tossed their itineraries into the lake and are actually relaxing. Read more.....

Historical Rome

Brief history of Rome.

Italy’s history sees its most important happenings from the foundation of Rome on.
Before it there were many populations, like the Latins, the Sabins, some of which left important proves of how they used to live, like the Etruscans, but that were quickly absorbed or conquered by Rome.
Rome was founded in year 753 b.C. by nothing more than a not too organized group of shepherd. Their leader was named Romolus.
According to the legend, he, and his brother Remus, were both sons of god Mars, and Rea Silva, from this we can already understand in Rome there were many gods.
They were abandoned in a basket on the Tiber, Rome’s river, and found by a she-wolf , which fed them with its milk, this is why they grew up so brave and tough…
After a fight for quite a silly reason, Romolus killed Remus, marked on Palatine hills’ ground the edges of his new city, and proclaimed himself first king of what would have become the greatest empire of the world. Rome (from Romulus) was just born.
The age called “of the seven kings”, finished in year 509 B.C. with Tarquinius Superbus , one of the etruscan rulers . After this, republic age came.
Since ever, the Romans were conquerors, but never as much as during republic age (that lasted almost five centuries until year 27 B.C.) when this was shown to almost the entire world known in those days.
From a bunch of huts on the Palatine hill, Rome grew up, fast, all the way to northern Europe, north Africa, Greece… conquers made not only of destruction, but mostly of cultural and social growth, either for the empire and its core, the “Forum” and in new conquered territories. Still today big part of our laws, and our politic system, come from this amazing evolution of ancient roman society.
Giulius Caesar’s death signs the end of Rex Publica Romana (Republic) – he died March 15th 44 B.C. ( the ides of March) - everything changed since then, until happenings brought to have all the power in one man’s hands: his nephew Caesar Augustus, the first Emperor, in 20 B.C. .
Is the beginning of the Roman Empire. A time when men succeded, who had more power, considering those days standards, than any president we can think of today, and of course, some were good, some less. Names like Nero, Trajan, Hadrian, Caracalla or Constantine.
This last Emperor, is famous still today for a change that started a new era: in 313 A.D. he proclaimed the end of the persecutions against the Christians.
With the end of Roman Empire in 476 A.D., dark age began, also called middle age, centuries during which invasions, diseases, culture held in the hands of few, and a growing up catholic church that wasn’t exactly an example of forgiveness and love it should have been, made one of the darkest pages of history.
A lot of the most breath-taking pieces of art, and architecture, were made in the age that came right after: Renaissance ( re-birth ) . Names like Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci and many more gave life to some of the most brilliant works in history, like st. Peter’s basilica, the Pietà, Florence’s dome, the last supper and so on.
The centuries to come, will be quite unsteady in Italy, there was not a country, as we mean it today, but small independent states, fighting each other.
A new aspect to Italy, was give by Napoleo, under whom Italy became a Republic, with Milan as a capital and Napoleon as a president, but that wasn’t enough, and in 1805 he became king of Italy in 1805.
In 1861, under king Vittorio Emanuele II , proclaimed the first parlament , but a steady republic won’t be made until the end of world war II.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Yachts of Monte Carlo

Let's Have a Bowl of Pasta....

Being an international celebrity would probably be annoying on some levels, but if it meant I could buy houses anywhere I wanted that wouldn’t be so bad. Some famous folks have taken advantage of their wealth and bought houses in Italy (who can blame them?), but tracking them down is, I’ve found, a bit of a challenge. Now, I’m not saying I’m trying to become a stalker, or that I’m encouraging you to become stalkers, I’m just trying to compile a list of people who own property in Italy. This is what I’ve got so far, and I’m hoping y’all can help me add to this list of celebrities with homes in Italy!

I should mention that this list doesn’t include Italian celebrities, because while they are famous in Italy they could probably walk right up to you and slap you in the face and you wouldn’t recognize them. So while there are certainly more celebrities with homes in Italy than are on this list, I’m trying to restrict the list to international celebrities. So, on with the list of the famous people with homes in Italy:

George Clooney

Anyone who pays attention to this kind of thing (and lots of people who don’t) knows that George Clooney has a house on Lake Como in Italy. He’s owned Villa Oleandra since 2002, and he actually resides there part of each year. Not long ago he thought about leaving because the town of Bellagio was contemplating putting in extra parking lots to sort of encourage people to come gawk at where Clooney lives… They put a stop to that talk when he threatened to just leave instead. Kudos to George, he likes Bellagio just as it is. And by the way, in addition to any potential Clooney-sightings you might have while on Lake Como, there has been a near-constant parade in town of George’s famous friends as well - including the entire cast of “Ocean’s Twelve” when they were on filming breaks.

Will George Clooney Share a Glass of Brunello w/Us?

Lake Como, or Lago di Como in Italian, is undoubtedly Italy’s most popular lake - and it’s held that title since long before the exceptionally hunky Mr. George Clooney bought his house on the shore of the lake. In fact, although there are plenty of people each year who flock to Lake Como in the hopes of getting a glimpse of George (or one of the lake’s many other famous residents), the lakeside towns can’t blame their overflowing feeling on the local celebrities. Summers on Lago di Como have seen congested roads and tourist hordes for decades.
It stands to reason that if so many people are heading for Lake Como, there must be something there worth heading for, right? The answer is a resounding yes. There are lots of reasons Lago di Como is incredibly popular, not least being its stunning views and gorgeous water. The towns which dot the lake’s shores are picturesque and charming, and each one of them feels like it could be home to any number of the rich and famous set. Summers find these towns brimming with not only overseas visitors but also floods of tourists from northern Europe, particularly Germany and the United Kingdom, while weekends throughout the year tend to be when residents of nearby Milan take the time to get out of the smog-filled city. In other words, while the winters are certainly slower, there isn’t really a time of year when Lago di Como is deserted.
Of course, lots of savvy travelers read about the crowds and take that as an invitation to avoid the lake altogether. This is a reasonable reaction, and while the crowds will be big enough for some people to never make the journey to Lake Como, it’s really a shame to never lay eyes on it. So if you’re one of those people who’d like to take in the natural breath-taking beauty of Lago di Como without getting swallowed alive by big bus day-trippers, I’ve got some budget hints for you below so that you can still make the trip without needing a trust fund to do it.
Lake Como is easily identified on maps of Italy by its shape. You’ll find it in Italy’s North, in a part of the Lombardy (Lombardia) region that’s known as Italy’s lake district, and it looks roughly like an upside-down “Y.” It’s the third-largest lake in the country, behind Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, and although it’s narrow enough that you can see across it easily it is one of Europe’s deepest lakes. Lago di Como has glacial origins, and it’s known as a pre-Alpine lake because of its location nestled among the pre-Alps.
These are some of the better-known towns on Lake Como:
Bellagio - This beautiful town sits at the intersection of the three branches of Lake Como, and it’s a great base from which to explore the lake. Bellagio benefits from the lake’s overall temperate climate, so it’s nice to visit year-round, although it’s decidedly more popular (and way more crowded) in the summer. This isn’t a town that has a ton of budget options, especially if you’re hoping to sleep in a room overlooking the lake, but if you’re willing to stay a bit further from the center of the action you can find good deals. This is the town where George Clooney’s villa is, so be on the lookout for star sightings!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Monte Carlo awaits Gary & Sherry Bauer

The Cost of Taking Extra Luggage

Check before you book....Checking two bags on your flight to Italy....?  airlines are cracking down on transatlanitc luggage, dinging coach fliers $50 or more each way for a second bag! 

Airline Upgrading Tricks

Everyone wants to buy a cheap economy class ticket and get bumped up and upgraded to business class or first class. Who doesn't want more comfort, more legroom, better service and the lounge access which come as standard for first and business class passengers. The current generation of flat seats in premium cabins of major carriers makes flying long-haul much more comfortable than ever before.

Every so often airlines will give out free upgrades for operational reasons. Here are a few basic tips for increasing your chances of getting that elusive upgrade and rubbing shoulder with the first class jet-set.
Learn more at

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Landmarks in Italy Website
Landmarks in Italy

An inspiration for artists, writers and poets, the sheer variety of landscapes in Italy accompanied by the scents of the rich Mediterranean vegetation, the sounds of the language and the music, the pleasant warmth of the southern sun, soothen the senses of the traveller; the innumerable traces left by countless civilizations, the amazing creations of the human genius alongside with the unspeakable beauty of God's creation join in an unforgettable, unique mix. Listed by region below are some of the most interesting landmarks in Italy.

Browse by region:

Aosta Valley -Piedmont- Lombardy -Trentino- South Tyrol -Veneto -Friuli Venezia- Giulia --Liguria- Emilia Romagna -Latium- Umbria- Tuscany -Marches -Molise -Abruzzi -Apulia- Basilicata -Campania -Calabria- Sardinia -Sicily

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bellagio Trip Weekly Lineup

Week 1 (May 22 to May 29):

Bradleys, Colonnas, Fosters, Pearces,
Olszewskis, Suares,  Mayeaux
Nick Colonna and Katherine Foster

Week 2 (May 29 to 6-5)
Bradleys, Colonnas, Eversons, Bauers,
Iwaskos, McAtheys, Wilsons
Nick Colonna
Xanthakis (at separate location)

Fly into Milan, Drive to Bellagio (Lake Como) or take train to Lake Como,
take Ferry to Bellagio.
Before and after trips, think of Monte Carlo, Nice, or Paris, Venice, Rome
Read past blogs w/info on side trips.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Tour of Bellagio

The 22 hamlets scattered over the vast area of land stretching from the lakeside (229m above sea level) to the top of Mt. San Primo (1,686m above sea level) are all part of Bellagio. The “Borgo” is the town’s historic centre and was the first area in Bellagio to be inhabited. This itinerary will help the visitor to find out more about this main part of town.

Our tour starts from Bellagio’s Tourist Office (IAT – by the public boat ticket office) in Piazza Mazzini, a rectangular-shaped “piazza” with its characteristic arcades that underwent radical changes during the 18th century following the extension of the area on the lakeside where the market was held. Opposite the boat landing stage No.1, under the arcade, is a dark stone column with an inscription on it giving us details of the level of the lake’s waters in 1829 and below this, another date – 1868. Particularly abundant rainfalls caused the lake to flood in both years. Sadly, there have been other incidents of flooding - they are not recorded on this column however.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bellagio Brunch

Every day starting at 1:30 La Divina Commedia offers, with the special price of 10 euro, an italian brunch composed of italian sandwiches, salads, typical cheeses and hams, pastries, fruits along with a wine glass or your preferred cold soft drink. The best way to taste a complete quality italian gastronomic menu at the best price and be ready to continue your daily trip !

From Bellagio w/Love

La Divina Commedia is an historical evening and night bar in Bellagio. Inspired by Dante Alighieri's poem "Divine Comedy" the bar is made of three areas: hell (an anciente cellar underground), purgatory (ground floor) with bar desk and nice sitting room with sofas and heaven at the 1st floor where you'll be surrounded by angels and baroque decorations.
You may reserve for the entire bar or just for one of its levels. Snacks, italian sandwiches, italian wines and bar menu service could be requested and arranged for big groups too.
La Divina Commedia is opened all year from 9.00 P.M: till 2.00 A.M., please contact us to know the short holiday and closing period the staff will take this year. Different opening times are arranged upon request. We have experience in arranging parties for big groups and we may opened till late night upon request. Special personalized bottles can be painted upon request as a special gift to your guests. We serve "Giulio De Bernardi" Wineyards wines:Cantine Giulio De Bernardi

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Plan 6 Months Ahead!

Before You Go on Your European Vacation - Plan 6 Months Ahead!
By James Martin,
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Here are all the things you need to get done about six months before your European vacation. We'll focus on buying some guidebooks, choosing a destination, and we'll think about learning a bit of a language or two and renting an apartment. All of these things represent the first part of the travel planning experience, and can be done much earlier if you wish. Just don't plan too early and lose your momentum!
Buying a Guidebook
Most of what you need to know at this point can be gleened from our extensive travel resources. Still, having a paper based reference can make sense of you're still undecided. If you haven't picked your countries, then you should just get a big, old Europe guide. Otherwise, get country guides. You'll carry less bulk overall, and you'll get more information.
Top European Guidebooks
Choosing Destinations Part 1 - The Wish List
Europe is a big, diverse place. Are there cities you've always wanted to visit? Make a list. Write down all your favorite places. Don't worry, at this point there will be way too many of them. Haven't a clue where to start? Then read about the best of Europe below, or let us suggest an itinerary for you with our suggested European itineraries.
European Vacation Planning Directory
The Best of Europe
Suggested European Itineraries
Choosing Destinations Part 2 - Considering Distances
Once you've listed your dream destinations, chances are that you'll need to pare it down. I'd start by considering distances between places. I usually don't want to go more than 200 miles in a normal travel day. (There's plenty of great places within 200 miles anywhere in Europe, don't worry!) Use our Flash based Travel Planning Map to see how far 200 miles is by dragging a circle over the map - the radius is 200 miles. Use our calculator to find the distance between European capitals
Travel Planning Map
Europe Distance Calculator
Europe Distance Flat Map