After the holidays – detox at Lake Garda/Italy

Soon the holidays will be over and we’ll all have to pay the price. Too much food and drink, too little exercise, the past- festivities hangover will kick in. Not to worry though, help is at hand.What about booking yourself into this fabulous spa, getting fit and detoxed and enjoying a great part of Italy at the same time?

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Rebalance your body after the festive season at the eco spa Lefay Resort & SPA overlooking Lake Garda with a programme to purify the body of toxins. In just three days the treatments will improve the free flow of vital energy and eliminate such symptoms as fatigue, irritability and swelling.

 

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The holistic purifying programme uses the stimulation of the Classical Chinese energy points to eliminate toxins, caused by factors such as poor eating habits, alcohol and cigarettes.

Treatments include a detoxifying massage, aimed at removing accumulated toxins working on the meridians and specific points of Classical Chinese Medicine that promote lymphatic drainage and eliminate toxins.

Guests will be given personalised phytotherapy, using specific medicinal plants that work mainly on the kidney and liver to create a bespoke Classical Chinese medicinal herbal infusion that guests drink during and after their stay.

Other treatments include a wrap with micro-eclatée algae and detoxifying essential oils, a massage with mud rich in oils, clays, sulphates and marillonite, which performs an osmotic detoxifying and antioxidant effect and a session in the salt water lake – the high temperature allows the body to absorb the trace elements and minerals from the marine salt dissolved in the water, which has a draining, detoxifying and relaxing effect.

The purifying programme is accompanied by a slightly low-calorie and detoxifying diet.   The price per person is £880 (Euros 1,035) based on two sharing and includes accommodation, all treatments and meals but not flights. The nearest airport is Verona.

http://lagodigarda.lefayresorts.com/eng/special-offers/wellness-programme/

Images provided by the resort.

Christmas markets with a difference – in Italy

Alpine Italy lights up for the Christmas season with some of the most interesting Christmas Markets on offer in Europe, combining Mediterranean flavours and German traditions, festive food and wine, gift ideas, decorations and local handicraft.

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Here is a selection listed by region.

ALTO ADIGE (South Tyrol/ Süd Tirol)

www.suedtirol.info

Bolzano/Bozen: Alpine – Mediterranean Christmas

Savour the magic of Christmas in the traditional mercantile town of Bolzano, at the meeting point of north and south, where the cultures and traditions of central Europe and the Mediterranean. Bright lights, scents and sounds steeped in tradition pervade the medieval centre, with its romantic arcaded streets and picturesque lanes emanating their nostalgic atmosphere. Emotions are heightened by the backdrop of the Rosengarten Dolomites!

Venue Piazza Walther/Waltherplatz

Open from 24 Nov. 2016 to 6 Jan. 2017 (25 Dec. closed)

Bressanone/Brixen: Art and history

The venerable Cathedral with its 800 year-old Gothic cloister lends a unique aura to the Christmas market, taking place in the Cathedral square. You will be fascinated by the bustle of activity and the myriad of colours, seasonal aromas and music, or by the crib exhibition in the Episcopal Palace (Hofburg) emanating tradition and history. You can tour the village on horse-drawn carriage on Saturdays and Sundays during the pre-Christmas period.

Venue Piazza Duomo/Domplatz (Cathedral Square)

Open from 25 Nov 2016 to 6 Jan  2017 (25 Dec. closed)

 

Merano: Sensual Delights and Relaxation

Relish contemplative moments while rejuvenating body and soul. Discover traditional handicrafts at the Christmas market and savour local sweetmeats. A wealth of attractions for children! Enjoy a festival for the senses and leisure, enveloped in the magical pre-Christmas atmosphere of Merano.

Venue Passeggiata Lungo Passirio/Piazza delle Terme (with its ice-skating rink)
Open from 25 Nov 2016 to 6 Jan 2017 (25 Dec. closed)

Brunico/Bruneck: handicrafts and tradition

Discover traditional handicrafts and seductive delicacies ensconced between the four main gates of the medieval town walls. Should you wish to combine a visit to the Christmas market with winter sports, then the superb slopes in the Kron-Platz ski resort are just outside the town.

Venue Via Bastioni, Parco Tschurtschenthaler and at “Oberstadt”

Open from 25 Nov 2016 to 6 Jan 2017 (closed 25 Dec.)

 

VIPITENO/STERZING: LIVING TRADITIONS

The impressive “Zwölfer-Turm” tower built in 1486 watches over the Christmas market in this medieval mining town, itself at an altitude of almost 1,000 metres. It also features a special exhibition related to the history of mining in the nearby high mountains. The atmosphere is enhanced by the quaint town buildings with their characteristic bay windows.

Venue Piazza città/Stadtplatz (Town Square)
Open from 25 Nov 2016 to 6 Jan  2017 (25 Dec. closed)

TRENTINO

www.visittrentino.it

TRENTO

The Trento Christmas Market in Piazza Fiera is one of the most famous festive markets of the region.  The market also extends to Piazza Cesare Battisti with a great number of stalls and mini-chalets offering a wide selection of Trentino’s many excellent foods, wines and crafts.

Open:19 November 2016 – 6 January 2017  (closed 25 Dec)

www.mercatinodinatale.tn.it

ARCO, Lake Garda

It is the time of lights, of colours and Christmas flavours, mulled wine and Christmas bakery. Forty market booths, spread all over the centre of Arco, offer Christmas tree decorations, ideas regarding Christmas presents, handicraft products and local delicacies. Various events taking place in the evenings complete the offer of the Arco Christmas Market.

A ride on the back of the camel Ali or a little pony will make  children’s eyes sparkle. Moreover there are crafting workshops, a parade with Santa Claus who walks across the roads together with his reindeer, as well as a ride with one of the colourful little trains driving through Arco. On the occasion of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, there is also a huge firework in the sky above Castello di Arco.

Open: 18 November 2016 – 8 January 2017 (closed 25 Dec.). Historic centre of Hapsburg Arco

ROVERETO

Renaissance town of Trentino, Rovereto mixes tradition and avant-garde,  together with peace, dialogue and hospitality and reveals itself as a meeting-point between peoples and cultures worldwide, especially during Christmas-Holidays.

That’s why Rovereto hosts year after year a lot of artisans from all around the world.

Christmas in Rovereto become a research for the deep sense of holiday, with its traditions and feasts; art is a mirror of the different cultures that meet each other in the name of solidarity and dialogue. That’s the true meaning of “Christmas of peoples”.
Little wooden houses, smell of resins, fresh air, starred sky  and a dust of snow, will take you into the magic atmosphere of Christmas. Walking across the streets you will find different items: artistic handcrafts, clothing, sweets, typical food and wines in the whole historical centre between  palaces, squares and museums.

Open 25 Nov 2016 – 6 January 2017 (closed 25 Dec.) Centre of Rovereto.

www.visitrovereto.it

 

LEVICO TERME

The fairytale-like Habsburgs Park of Levico, every year hosts a large number of market booths. The Austrian tradition reflects former times, when the Habsburgs have chosen Levico as their summer domicile. Especially when it snows or if the landscape is snow-covered, this park changes into a fairytale-like area: some 30 market booths are spread all over this park between the huge trees and it really seems to be a winter wonderland. Local handicraft products, Christmas tree decorations, ideas for Christmas presents as well as local products such as honey, “Luganega”, a local meat product as well as boar ham. Music and entertainment with folk music groups, Elf Village for the kids and an exhibition of more than 100 cribs as well as concerts complete the wide offer of the Christmas Market.

Open: 19 November 2016 – 6 January 2016 (closed 25 Dec).

VENETO

www.veneto.to

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO

In the shadow of the Tofane, the advent period takes on its traditional colours thanks to the Cortina Christmas Market, which brings lights, colour and a festive atmosphere to the main street, Corso Italia. The famous pedestrian street lined by renowned national and international shops, will be scattered with small wooden huts where artisans and local producers exhibit their products. All accompanied by mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and traditional sweets. Inside each of the characteristics wooden huts, a variety of seasonal merchandise, representing the crafts and traditions of the area, will be exhibited and offered for sale. To complete the atmosphere, and to make the browsing and shopping even more enjoyable, there will of course be music to fit the mood, in the form of all the most cherished and traditional Christmas songs.
Open: 7 December 2016 – 8 January 2017

ASIAGO

The gardens of Piazza Carli host the Asiago’s  Christmas Market, several huts will sell traditional decorations in glass, wood and ceramic, typical Asiago patisserie, natural products and the famous Asiago cheese. There will also be huts selling local dishes and mulled wine.

Open: 12 November 2016 – 8 January 2017 (open from 15.30 on 25 Dec.)

VERONA

Verona hosts each year a Nuremberg Christmas Market in the central Piazza dei Signori. The German styled market will have all the traditional huts, elegantly illuminated and decorated selling typical food, handicrafts, Christmas tree decorations, cribs and serving specialities such as mulled wine, Stollen and Lebkuchen cakes, bratwurst and more.

Open: 18 November – 26 December 2016 (closes at 5pm on 24 Dec and opens at 3pm on 25 Dec.)

www.nataleinpiazza.it

BELLUNO

From November 29 to December 24 2016 the traditional Christmas Market of Belluno will crowd and light up the gardens of Piazza dei Martiri, one of the most beautiful squares of the city, with its wooden stands, decorations, and bright, colorful lights. Called Christmas Gardens, the market sells wool and wood handmade objects, original gift ideas and local and regional specialties.

There will be about twenty stands and many outdoor refreshment areas with mulled wine, sandwiches and hot chocolate. In the weekend there will also be entertainment such as music, games for children and shows.

AOSTA VALLEY

www.lovevda.it

AOSTA

The successful recipe of the “Marché Vert Noël”, one of the most known Christmas markets of the Alps, is explained by the location. A coloured alpine village surrounded by music and lights, with roads, squares, bridges, wooden chalets and a true fir forest, is recreated in the “heart” of Aosta. Visitors will be able to walk around the “streets” of the village searching for a gift or simply admiring the traditional handicrafts such as ceramics, wooden items, clothing accessory in wool, felt, leather and hemp fabric, Christmas decorations and typical gastronomic products.

Even this year, the colourful and suggestive scenery of the Christmas markets in the City of Aosta will take place throughout the Christmas holidays from November 26 2016 to 6 January  2017 (opens at 4pm on 25 Dec.)

FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA

www.turismo.fvg.it

TRIESTE

In Trieste you can experience the old charm of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in its Christmas Market in Piazza Sant’Antonio and surrounding streets: typical Trieste foods and wines, Christmas decorations, artificial snow, songs and music to accompany the visitor during the festive season. Open: 8 to 24 December 2016. From 12 November 2016 to 8 January 2017 you can visit the “Porto Piccolo Christmas Market” where you can find a skating rink with sea-view as well as typical food and crafts.

 

UDINE

Enjoy the magic and the charm of the Christmas songs, markets and the fabulous atmosphere in the fascinating setting of the city of Udine.

Open: 2 – 16 December 2016 in Piazza San Giacomo

SAURIS

The Christmas Market in Sauris re-lives each year the tradition of this delightful mountain village. Along the narrow streets and the quaint squares Father Christmas and wooden hut selling festive food and wine, toys and decoration will animate the atmosphere. Not to be missed is the opportunity to discover the old Sauris on a horse-drawn carriage.

Open: 5-8 December 2016

CHRISTMAS IN THE CITIES

Christmas is a well loved tradition all over Italy and traditional Christmas markets and fairs can be found all over the peninsula in the most important cities.

VENICE

Christmas fairs in various piazzas (campo) in Venice: Campo S.Bartolomeo, Campo San Salvador, Campo San Luca, Campo Manin, Strada Nuova (where you can find the “Venice Christmas Fair”).  You can also find a Christmas Market in Mestre with ice rink in Piazza Ferretto. Another ice rink is located in Venice in Piazza San Polo.

On the Island of Murano you can find “Christmas of Glass” from 5 Dec 2016 to 6 Jan. 2017, with hand-crafted baubles and the Tunnel of Lights, a spectacular glasswork regatta.

FLORENCE

Mercato Tedesco di Natale (German  Christmas Market)

Piazza Del Carmine

This Christmas Market is inspired by the tradition of the German city of Heidelberg, wooden huts and stalls selling Italian and German delicacies, decorations, handicrafts.

Open: 30 November 2016 – 18 December 2017

www.firenzeturismo.it

 

BOLOGNA

Fiera di Santa Lucia

Portico of Chiesa dei Servi in Strada Maggiore

The Santa Lucia market takes place at Portico dei Servi at the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi in the heart of the centre of Bologna. In front of the church building there is a airy space surrounded by porticoes of tall marble columns.

This traditional Fair dedicated to Christmas, stalls full of decorations for the Xmas tree, the nativity crib, food and wine and other delicacies.

Open: 17 November to 26 December 2016

NAPLES

Nativity Cribs in Via S. Gregorio Armeno

This narrow street is famous all over the world for its handcrafted Nativity Crib figurines, from the traditional ones to the most sophisticated, it buzzes at Christmas time with Neapolitans and tourists alike.

TURIN

This traditional market returns with many new exhibitors and full of joy, colour, tradition, celebration, solidarity, peace, light and sweetness: a wide range of gift items for Christmas, together with tastings and selling of culinary delights and specialities of Piedmont producers and other Italian regions.

Open: 4-23 December 2016 in Piazza Borgo Dora, 34.

“Sogno di Natale” is another market with  Father Christmas village open in Piazza D’Armi, with an ice rink and festive street food, open from 26 Nov. 2016 to 8 Jan. 2017

www.turismotorino.org

MILAN

Il villaggio delle meraviglie

Giardini Indro Montanelli, entry from Corso Venezia.

Christmas market and other seasonal activities for adults and children takes place in these gardens in the centre of Milan, with a skating rink and shows with various performance artists throughout the festive season.

Open: 3 December 2016 – 8 January 2017

Milan also hosts every year the “Oh Bej Oh Bej” fair during the celebrations of its Patron Saint, Saint Ambrose, in the area near the Sforza Castle. It is a very traditional market fair with typical Milanese artisan food, wines and other products.

Open 7-10 December 2016

Source: Press Release Stefania Gatta for TravMedia

 

The Hunt is on in Tuscany – for Truffles!

Do you like truffles as much as I do? Just imagine a steaming plate of tagliatelle, white truffles shavings over it, a little butter added and nothing else! Mix, inhale and dig in. Foodie heaven.

trufflepasta

This fall you can enjoy this treat in Tuscany, but what’s more: you can hunt for the lovely things yourself, under the watchful eyes of an expert of course, and then learn which culinary treats to prepare with them. Surprise, surprise, it isn’t pigs which do the sniffing out but the cute Lagotto Romagnola dogs. You might be tempted to adopt one.

If this sounds good, head for Villa Lena in Tuscany.

Truffle Hunting at Villa Lena

Autumn 2016

 

This Autumn, Villa Lena in Tuscany will be hosting truffle hunting expeditions in celebration of the white truffle, trifola d’Alba Madonna, which grows amid the roots of oak, ash, and white poplar trees in their own forests.

 

Guests will learn to forage on the estate with the specialized agriculture team and Lagotto Romagnola dogs. Villa Lena’s chefs in residence will then instruct on preparing and cooking the truffles at the farm-to-table restaurant, which will of course, be followed by a chance to enjoy multiple courses and variations of this Tuscan delicacy at degustation meals customized by the Chef.  As always at Villa Lena, guests are included in the community of resident artists and musicians who host special cocktails, concerts, and creative workshops alongside the other activities on offer.

 

In September, Chef Alexis Delaney from Franny’s in Brooklyn, will host cooking classes with truffle hunting and foraging tours with the estates ‘wild plants specialist’ Stephane Meyer.

 

In October, the new chef in residence Peter Klein, from the critically acclaimed Olamaie restaurant in Austin USA will host the truffle experiences. Klein has spent his career putting a contemporary twist on American Southern cuisine and has worked on artisanal, locally sourced American fast food at Bark Hot Dogs in Brooklyn, as well as at a number of farm-to-table restaurants in the US.

 

Both chefs will be offering one-of-a-kind experiences at Villa Lena; exploring the picturesque 500 hectare estate with the truffle dogs, hands-on cooking classes and unforgettable ‘family-style’ Italian meals with a unique twist.

 

The truffle experiences on offer will be;

 

A la carte

Truffle tours – €15

Truffle lunch – €35

Truffle pasta, mixed truffle antipasti and salad
Extra truffle/gram — market price

Cooking Class – €50

Learn to make fresh tagliatelle and truffle butter followed by lunch with mixed truffle antipasti and salad

Truffle day package – €60
Spend the morning foraging for truffles followed by an afternoon learning to make fresh pasta, and a lunch of fresh truffle pasta, truffle antipasti and salad.

 

For further information on Villa Lena, please visit the website www.villa-lena.it

Images by Villa Lena.

Disclaimer: I have not received any payment or other sponsorship from Villa Lena.

Portofino- Impressions of a Writer Friend

My delightful writer friend Barbara Athanassiadis allowed me to reproduce this lovely story about Portofino. After reading this, who wouldn’t want to pack their bag and go??

Portofino-2-

In Italy there are many beautiful places. Some, however, are not only beautiful, but unique, unforgettable. Among these is Portofino, the pearl of the Italian Riviera. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder mentions it under the name of Portus Delphini because of dolphins swimming off the bay. We do not know whether the first inhabitants were the Phoenicians, the Greeks or the Romans.

On the other hand, more than its story is the extraordinary beauty that characterizes it. Portofino is part of the baggage of my fondest memories that continues to enchant me. I stay for a couple of days, on the way from Rome to southern France, but this is where I most enjoy what the Italians call the sweet “far niente”. Thus, my only activity is gentle strolls, without getting tired, or without searching for hidden beauties, since they are offered to me openly.

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The sea, of a colour ranging from dark green to cobalt blue, insinuates itself into the small bays enclosed by steep cliffs covered with pine, palm and cypress trees that hide villas of a particular architectural style, characteristic of northern Italy. I walk the paths immersed in vegetation and at every turn I see a spectacular landscape. But the secret of the charm of Portofino does not derive from its simplicity.

Each element is part of a harmonious whole, far from affectation. The houses overlooking the harbor adhere to one another with their green shutters and walls painted in ocher, yellow and red. Even here, in this place where Art does not have a place, the colours help to deceive us. The balconies, for example, seem to be real while, in fact, they are only paintings. Before nightfall, the fishermen drag in the little boats onto the shingle and only the larger boats are moored in the middle of the bay.

The sailing boats and yachts, however, are moored at the western bank of the port, at the foot of a wooded promontory dominated by Castle Brown, named after the British Consul of Genoa, who was the owner. Since the fifties, Portofino began to be frequented by actors and people of the jet-set: Rex Harrison bought a villa on the hills, while Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart came there for the filming of the movie “The Barefoot Contessa”. Today Portofino has no need of the legends of the cinema. Thanks to its simple charm, the owners of the exquisite homes on the hills are able to appreciate the beauty of the landscape. Dinner at Puny confirms it.

portofino4

My hotel is called “Splendido”. Thanks to its panoramic position, I think it’s one of the most beautiful hotels in Italy. It is distinguished by its hanging gardens adorned with exotic and Mediterranean plants, a gardening style particularly appreciated by the gardeners of the Ligurian Riviera. The hotel is connected to the little port through a series of steps. It takes up to ten minutes and the walk culminates in a stone arch, probably medieval, where you reach the quay along which are the boutiques and bars for an apperitivo.

At sunset, when the tourists have gone, it is easy to come across some famous Italian tycoons intent on playing chess in a bar, or a queen who walks by with her children. Moments of relaxation for all. At night, while sitting on the terrace of my room overlooking the lit castle, I realize I have written only the good things. But it is not an exaggeration. In fact, this is a place to which nature has bestowed gifts lavishly, and beauty is not in the service of a dream, but of reality. A reality that Italians are able to value at its maximum.

Images: The Hotel Splendido with its spectacular view and San Giorgio print by John Galbo

My books about Italy, illustrated with colour images, are available on:

barbara

Amazon Kindle collection: 
http://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Athanassiadis/e/B00FJ52YIM

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YouTube Book Trailers collection: 
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Turn into a Beach Beauty in Southern Tuscany/Italy

Summer is approaching and we glamorous baby boomers want to look out best. Winter may have taken its toll and left us with some ugly fat rolls where they definitely shouldn’t be. If we plan to hit the beach this summer, we naturally want to look fabulous  when we show off our new swim suits or bikinis.

israel

Action is called for to battle the unsightly spots and what better way of doing so than combining a brand new treatment with a vacation in one of the most beautiful parts in southern Tuscany/Italy, Bagno Vignoni.

 

Cryolipolysis Treatment

The name of the treatment may be a bit of a tongue twister, but the results should be very straightforward. Let me explain what is involved:

Cryolipolysis is a medical treatment, carried out by Adler Thermae’s fully qualified in-house doctors, that destroys fat cells by “freezing” them via controlled cooling to around 4 degrees C (below the body’s normal temperature but not so low as to induce frostbite).  At this temperature, a process known as apoptosis is activated, which will kill off the subcutaneous fat cells (which lie closest to the skin’s surface), leaving the skin and adipose fat cells (located below the subcutaneous level) unaffected.

Apoptosis occurs around 15 days after the Cryolipolysis treatment and the dead cells are then removed from the body naturally, through macrophages, white blood cells that are effectively the human body’s sweepers, engulfing and digesting cellular debris. Apoptosis can continue to occur for up to three months after treatment. The average reduction of subcutaneous fat is about 20% per session.

It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to treat each body area – the areas most frequently targeted are the upper arms, thighs, buttocks and abdomen – and up to three areas can be treated in one session. No recovery time is required, but patients may experience a redness of the skin and should avoid direct sunlight for five days both before and after the treatment

.In summary, Cryolipolysis is a non-surgical alternative to liposuction and has much the same result, contouring the body. Contraindications are renal and hepatic insufficiency, Raynaud’s disease, cryoglobulinemia, serious diabetes, coldness intolerance, pregnancy and breast-feeding, carcinoma, fever, dermatitis and open wounds.

So, if you are suffering from any of the above, this treatment is not for you. Otherwise why not have a go.

Adler Thermae Spa and Wellness Resort

Not only will you reshape your body, you will also be doing so in wonderful surroundings which is good for the soul.

The hotel and spa is located in a picturesque Tuscan villa/farmhouse, modified to the requirements of luxury travelers as well as the many treatments on offer.

Adler Thermae Hotel and Garden

Adler Thermae Hotel and Garden

Situated in Bagno Vignoni and making use of  the thermal springs, you have every chance for excursions into the surrounding countryside or the such famous places as Perugia, Pisa or even Florence.

Adler Thermae is located in the very heart of the Val d’Orcia Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognised for its outstanding natural beauty. The hotel stands just a few minutes’ walk from the ancient spa village of Bagno Vignoni, where the thermal waters were already known for their healing qualities by the Etruscans and Romans. Illustrious visitors, such as Lorenzo the Magnificent, Pope Pius II and Saint Catherine of Siena, as well as several writer and poets including Oscar Wilde, have made the journey to the thermal waters over the years.

Spa Pool

Spa Pool

Why not follow in the footsteps of such illustrious company? Tuscany is of course also well known for its great food and great wine, but you may want to go lightly on both. You don’t want to ruin the results of your treatment by piling the kilos back on.

Restaurant

Restaurant

Adler Thermae currently offer a ‘try out’ package valid until 24th of April. For €673 you get 3 nights accommodation B&B and one Cryolipolysiss session of your choice. After that date, you can make your individual bookings by  visiting https://www.adler-thermae.com/

Meet you there, maybe?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I have received no payment or other advantages from Adler Thermae. Images courtesy of Adler Thermae with the exception of the first one.