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Ryanair / Airline Industry / LCCs / Italy / Italy Travel / Religion Travel / → All Tags
When it comes to inventing new fees and in-flight purchases for their passengers, it goes without saying that Ryanair is a leading... innovator. Sometimes those fees are so egregious they get ruled illegal, so the Irish LCC has to continuously brainstorm. There's a reason that the airline is swimming in profits.
Last time it was porn. This time it's audiences with Pope. Where it not for how simply tiresome this entire act is becoming, we'd almost admire Ryanair's utter disregard for even the barest hint of shame. Almost.
Italy Travel / Italy / Rome Travel / Rome / FCO / Travel Snapshot / Airport WiFi / → All Tags
There are some good things about Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport. It's has some very pretty diplays, for instance, and there are rotating exhibits showcasing Italy's history that are kind of interesting.
But there are also some unpleasant things about FCO. It's the international HQ of Alitalia for instance, and the service is predictably chaotic. It is not unheard of to see the entire Alitalia customer service desk staffed by a single person during the height of morning rush hour. That's not a problem though, because when Italians complain about customer service they do so quickly and efficiently, without any extravagant hand waving or embellishment (no, not really). Also the security sucks. Also it's a pain to get to. Also it's one of the world's worst airports for spending the night. And we thought Budapest was bad.
When you've spent all summer in a wardrobe of bathing trunks, a tux can feel like a straightjacket. George Clooney may have put on his fall uniform to attend a gala at the Venice Film Festival, but he'd clearly rather be on his boat.
He'll have to don the monkey suit again tomorrow for the world premiere of his new film, the Coen Brothers' "Burn After Reading." He doesn't have a film lined up for the fall though, just some voice work for the children's film "The Fantastic Mister Fox," so maybe he'll be back in vacation mode next week.
· Hideout Travel: George Clooney Doing Just Fine In Italy [Jaunted]
· In The Dark Travel: Five Must-Sees at the 2008 Venice Film Festival [Jaunted]
· Celeb Travel coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo: Faded Youth Blog]
LCCs / Low Cost Carriers / Alpi Eagles / Italy / → All Tags
How would you like to fly with a budget airline which began life as an aerobatic team? That's what you get if you book a flight with Italy-based Alpi Eagles. The airline has stopped flying upside-down and now heads to an eclectic range of destinations from its Venice hub: other Italian cities, Ukraine, Spain, Romania and France.
Alpi Eagles ticket prices follow a slightly complicated structure that's explained in the website in half Italian, half English, just to make it more fun. Flexible tickets are refundable and therefore expensive. But if you're sure of your travel date and want to use Alpi Eagles like a true budget airline, you can buy the Tuttotondo ticket which is often set at 50 ($70).
Unlike some LCCs, Alpi Eagles says it loves to take good care of its passengers. The fine print about sending children without parents assures us that the Alpi Eagles staff can handle kids, and passengers with disabilities will receive special care so they can "face the journey with serenity"--as long as the pilots remember not to fly their favorite stunt from the old days.
The New York Times often keeps it domestic with its 36 Hours series--stories on destinations that can be seen in a long weekend. Not this week, though, as Danielle Pergament sings the praises of Venice. The timing couldn't be better: the summer hordes of tourists have now thinned, the weather is cool but not frigid and flights are way cheaper than in, say, June. Oh, and there was that great--albeit fake--scene in the new Bond movie, Casino Royale.
According to Danielle, you'll have to stop off in a European hub in order to get to V-town, but that's not entirely true. Delta, if you can bear to fly trans-Atlantic with them, offers non-stop service from New York on flight 150. (Our buddy once talked to the captain of "the old one-fifty" who said it's a favorite among Delta crews.)
No matter how you end up getting there, there should be enough going on to keep you entertained after you arrive. The art-filled Palazzo Grassi recently reopened after a long renovation. The best hotel deal in town--Hotel Albergo San Samuele--is just down the block, or you could try La Villeggiatura. For grub, try the creative Venetian menu at Lineadombra.
[Photo: Lylla Lausanne]
· 36 Hours: Venice [NYT]
Italy / Art / Museums / Travel Tips / → All Tags
Some things look better in the dark. Whether it's Francesca, the girl with the missing front teeth that you met last night at the bar, or a legendary museum in Tuscany, a lack of light can bring out best of the hot and the not. The Uffizi certainly qualifies as the former.
Once the hordes of frantic families and annoying backpackers empty the halls of the museum, make your way to the courtyard as night falls. You might encounter the occasional couple passing by but the deserted square is pretty much there just for you. What better way to experience the place?
A few strategically placed lights give some life to your only companions for the night: the stone representations of legendary artists, writers and know-it-alls from the Renaissance. We recommend that you kick back on the small stone steps, wave to the caribinieri that pass by every 15 minutes and pretend that the sexy, unflinching Dante is just playing hard to get with his distant stare.
[Image via johnnew/Flickr]
Italy / Culture / Tourism / Books / → All Tags
Italians--what's their deal? No, it's not the beginning of yet another Seinfeldian riff from these quarters, but the subject of a recent book by Corriere della Sera columnist Beppe Severigni. His recent volume, La Bella Figura, is all about Italians being Italians. For those who are unfamiliar with this concept, it's quite similar to Manny being Manny.
Apparently, you can gain a valuable insight in the differences between Italian and British culture solely on the basis of their flight attendants. While the British may be better at the whole pleasant and efficient service thing, Mr. Severigni posits, the Italians are better at cleaning up their spils and making you feel better about it. He calls it the "national talent for responding creatively to small crises".
What can you learn from American flight attendants, you ask? Why, that it's time to sit the hell back down and wait your turn for your snack box. At least the Italians are spilling a tasty meal on your lap.
[Image via kOAn/Flickr]
· La Bella Figura [NYT]
Madonna took her newest world tour to Italy this week, where she took great and purposeful pleasure in using crucifixes inappropriately and causing press releases to issue from the Vatican. And while we in America may assume the Vatican speaks for all Italians, truthfully they do not. Everyday Italians are to busy drinking coffee and making out on the backs of their motos to notice iconoclasm.
Eating and sleeping is of interest to everybody, though, so we present two of Rome's hottest destinations, where celebrities such as Madonna go with regularity. Both are located on the somewhat ironically-named People's Plaza (Piazza del Popolo), and both are ridiculously expensive.
Hotel de Russie: This is perhaps the most elegant hotel in Rome, all subdued colors and perfectly appointed guests rooms. You can get some serious shopping done and only have to schlep your bags one block, as the hotel is on an excellent stretch of road for spending money. The doormen are hot, too.
Dal Bolognese: One of the consistently best restaurants in Rome. Like the name suggests, it's not local food, but heartier fare from further north. The highlight is dessert: a bowl of chestnuts, tiny bananas, and the like, hollowed out, reshaped, and filled with the corresponding gelato flavor. Cutest dessert you'll ever have.
[image via People]
chocolate / Italy / → All Tags
Part of getting to know other cultures is the very important task of getting to know their chocolates. This week we had the chance to try some particularly fine Italian chocolates from Venchi. Despite being assured by the Italian gift-giver that they were only available in Italy, their website tossed up a list of import shops across five continents that sold the Venchi delicacies.
Just the same, Venchi has something special to offer: The Chocotherapy wheel. It matches your problem to exactly the right chocolates from its range to help you back on your feet; whether you're suffering from depression, stress or hyperactivity, or you're simply too passionate or eccentric. Forget the doctor next time you're feeling low. Hit your nearest Italian import store instead.
Chocolate Coverage [Jaunted]
Chocoholics in Slovakia [Jaunted]
Rest Easy, Choc Junkies [Miami Herald]
Yesterday brought us a little gift in the mail--beyond our paycheck--in the form of Bene magazine's inaugural issue. A quarterly mag devoted to all things Italy, we were a little suspicious at first. Really, does Italy need more boosterism? We haven't met a person yet who has returned complained about the food, or the fashion, or even the weather.
Still, magazines are sometimes the next best thing to being there--witness the popularity of Car and Driver--so we dutifully cracked the cover. It's fun stuff. There's a bit too much emphasis on Italian products to buy; part of the joy of going there is discovering that one thing that you think no one else knows about, even if that's not actually the case.
Beyond that though, the back of the book is ingenious. Italian restaurant listings for much of the U.S., plus places in Italy as well? Bravo! We knew they'd get us with the food. We're suckers that way.
Airlines / Travel Sites / Italy / → All Tags
Low-cost carriers pop up everyday, and rather annoyingly, their web sites are often low-cost as well. By that, we mean confusing, hard to navigate, and not necessarily in English. We still love the LCCs, especially Wizz Air, but if you're planning a trip, they can be a royal pain in the ass.
Enter WhichBudget.com, a site that aggregates where LCCs fly according to destination. Just click where you want to go (or where you're coming from) and a list of carriers that fly there pops up. For example, Jeroen Bergmans of Wallpaper* citied Brindisi, Italy as the next hip destination; click on the city, and you'll find that Ryaniar, Helvetica and AirBerlin all fly there. And just like that, the LCCs have ruined another destination for poor Jeroen.
[Image via ildanish/Flickr]
· Finding Destinations Before They're Over [Jaunted]
Churches / Italy / Tourism / → All Tags
We all know about tourists being insensitive boors in churches -- talking too loudly, taking lots of photos when its forbidden. But what about the churches that have turned into theme parks and brought some of that bad behavior on themselves?
Just back from visiting a bunch of Italian churches, Bill Fink found a few that fall in that category:
Then visit Florence's Brancacci Chapel -- but only after you have stopped at the glassed-in ticket booth or booked online. The chapel requires reservations on the Web (major credit cards accepted) for an allocated visiting time slot.
The chapel contains a beautiful and heartfelt fresco depicting the agony and shame of Adam and Eve as they are expelled from Eden. For 5.50 euros (about $6.70 U.S.), you can stand and appreciate the sublime expression of original sin, the cornerstone moment of Christianity. But after you use up your 10 minutes, a shrill guard with a stop watch will expel you as well.
As the sign in their garden says, "Do not linger." The only thing the chapel lacks is a wall to drop down between you and the attraction as time expires, like a third-rate Tenderloin peep show.
Image from Olga's Gallery
· Let he who is without sin take the first photograph [SF Chron]