Dreaming of A Weekend in Italy

I know so many of you watch the TV series Dream of Italy as inspiration for your own travels. You can easily recreate some of my experiences in the show with help of one of our Season 2 sponsors, Weekend in Italy.

Based in Italy and in business since 1995, they specialize in exploring the way I do, being in touch with fun, food, culture and, of course, the people of Italy.  Whether it’s a relaxed day in the countryside or a busy day in Florence, Rome, Venice or any of the art cities you can dream trip on their website, www.weekendinitaly.com.

Here’s how:

Venice – In my Venice  episode, we are delightfully greeted by an 8th generation gondolier who has spent the last 27 years, loving his job.  So, get romantic on a gondola ride with music and the serenity of the canals. A magical and unforgettable Venetian evening.  Another way to appreciate Venice in all her glory is a dinner cruise on the Galleon, under the stars with incredible Italian food and wine.  Oh, la la!

As if we weren’t already mesmerized by this enchanting city, we also meet Marisa who is an incredibly talented bead stringer  Many Venetian women historically contribute to the household income by stringing and selling beautiful beaded jewelry and beads.

It’s almost a felony to visit Venice without seeing at least one of the perfect palaces, like Doge’s Palace and the Lace Museum, and the clock tower, which has measured Venetian life for more than 500 years.  St. Mark’s Basilica, the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Venice, and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice is another.  The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is housed in her former home, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni right on the Grand Canal.

A bit off the beaten path are Murano, Burano, and Torcello the islands that  tell the story of Venice and its origins. This half-day trip includes the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the S. Elena Gardens and the Lido famous for its refreshing, sandy beaches.  In Murano, you will find gorgeous glassware galore!

Florence – My Florence episode focuses on the Duomo’s restoration and Marcello, a stonemason dedicated to his craft.  This tour will take you behind the scenes to witness the work of the team that keeps the cathedral in top shape. My visit to the Advancing Women’s Artist Foundation introduces Sister Plautilla Nelli the only female interpreter of the The Last Supper painting. Her rendition is an incredible 21 feet long!

We also meet an inventive street artist, learn to make fabulous Italian veggie soup, paint delicate frescoes and gain a new perspective of Florence from the eyes of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio. The bridge was originally built to privately join the Medici home to the city to allow the family to commute to work without being approached by the public. Learn more Medici secrets here, on a trip to the Palazzo Vecchio!

We also meet a wine-making family that dates to the late 1300s and is the second oldest winery in the world. Today it is managed by women, whose ancestors can be linked to the Medici family.  If wine excites you, the  Tuscan wine trail is a can’t miss opportunity.  Back in the city, walking tours of Florence are a good way to soak up its culture of art and cuisine.

Basilicata – The New York Times has called Basilicata “Italy’s best-kept secret.”  Fair to say that the secret is out. In my Basilicata episode, Enzo who shows us how to reap a special type of clam in the shallow shores beachside. Chef Mario prepares the specialty spaghetti with clams dish, yet another hidden treat in this fabulous region. In Bernalda, we visit Francis Ford Coppola’s gorgeous nine-room palazzo (plus a winery) that will take you back in time to the 19th century with all its beauty.
On your way to or from Basilicata you may want to take a peek at the Pompeii Archeological Area and a tour that includes Vesuvius. How about three days in Pompeii, Sorento, and Capri?  It is as fabulous as it sounds!  The incredible Caserta Palace is another unforgettable trip that you can easily loop in with your Basilicata agenda.That’s a lot of Italy to take in but now you know I’m not the only one who has Italy covered.  Weekend in Italy is right there with me! — Kathy McCabe