Tanti Auguri from CIUTravel!

As 2017 draws to a close, we are staying warm in our US headquarters while reflecting on past holidays spent in Italy. We love the authenticity of an Italian Christmas, with the town centers decked out in modern twinkling fairy lights, but still sharing the spotlight with traditional crèche scenes tucked into shop windows, decorating city squares, and set beneath towering public Christmas trees.

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

In addition to setting up a lavish artisan Nativity scene, much of the season's celebration centers around food in an Italian family. Women sit around the kitchen table in the weeks before Christmas, deftly turning out hundreds of perfect little cappelletti that will be served with broth on the 25th. Panettone and pandoro are purchased by the dozens, exchanged with friends and neighbors, making a sweet end to the holiday meal. Chestnuts roast in fireplaces and on street corners, children are bribed to be good with pieces of torrone nougat, lest the Befana leave them coal in their stocking on January 6th, and the scent of sweet clementine and mandarin oranges from overflowing holiday centerpieces fill the air.

panettone-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

image(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

clementines-mandarini-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

We have so much to look forward to this year, including expanding our private itineraries to cover Switzerland. Though we are celebrating state-side this year, we would like to send you our warmest Italian “auguri!”, wishing you and your loved ones the best in 2018.

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Related posts:
Visiting Italy in Winter: Do and Don't Destinations
Christmas in July: What to Expect during a Winter Trip to Italy ...
Five Great Italian Desserts for the Holidays

Contributor: Rebecca Winke

Concierge in Umbria
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Neighborhoods in Rome: Where to Wander and Where to Stay

Rome is a sprawling city, covering 3,000 years of history and almost 500 square miles of land. It isn't always easy to decide which neighborhood in the city center to choose as your base, and which to explore during your stay. The Eternal City is made up of 22 different rioni, or districts, many of which contain a cluster of neighborhoods, each with a distinct character and vibe. Some of the more chic areas are a delight to explore on foot, but can be loud and crowded with revelers after sunset. The stately upscale districts are home to the finest hotels, but have little to see aside from designer boutiques and restaurants filled with VIPs.

Capitoline Museums, Rome(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

Here is a brief guide to the main neighborhoods in the city center to help you decide which suits your travel style for hotel accommodations, and which beckon with unique sights, dining, and shopping options.


48 Hours: Ticino

We understand your dilemma: you've decided to add a couple of days to your next Italy trip and explore Switzerland just to the north, but aren't sure where to go. Zürich, the country's largest city, and its Old Town of pastel-hued buildings along the Limatt River? The postcard-perfect capital of Bern, with its steeply pitched rooftops and excellent pastry shops? Or perhaps the lakeside cities of Lausanne or Lucerne, both set against a backdrop of snowcapped mountain peaks.

ticino-cr-ciutravel(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

We suggest dipping your toe in gradually, with a stop in the Canton of Ticino just across the border with Italy. The only Canton where Italian is recognized as the sole official language, Ticino has a unique landscape that blends dramatic Alpine peaks with the lush, palm-lined shores of Lake Lugano, and is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the picturesque cities of Lugano and Locarno. Here, you can discovery the beauty of Switzerland, tempered by the cultural and climatic influence of the country's warm southern neighbor.

lugano-cr-ciutravel(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)


Porcini: Italy's King of Mushrooms

Of all Italy's fall foods, porcini mushrooms are among the most eagerly anticipated. The decisive, nutty flavor of the famous Boletus edulis gives depth and richness to dishes from risotto to soup, their high protein content make them an excellent substitute for meat, and the spongy underside of their massive caps melts down during slow cooking into a rich earthy sauce. The perfect blend of comfort food and gourmet specialty, fresh porcini are a highlight of any fall trip to Italy and can be found on menus from tiny trattorias to Michelin-starred restaurants.

Boletus Aureus(Photo by Pietro Bertera via Flickr)


Art Inside: Exhibitions to See in Italy This Fall

The month of September in Italy has been glorious: temperatures have plummeted from the record highs of the summer heatwave that brought much of southern Europe to its knees, a few heavy storms have washed the dust off the countryside and brought a pleasant crispness to the air, and the each evening's sunset seems to be more breathtaking than the one before. This is the golden moment of autumn, with balmy days and cool evenings perfect for outdoor touring.

caravaggio-palazzo-barberini-cr-brian-dore(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

As the season moves into October and November, however, the weather will gradually become less ideal for spending long days outside. Nippy winds and cold showers that hint at the oncoming winter will make you want to duck inside to dry off and warm up...luckily, there are a number of excellent art exhibitions planned this fall in museums across Italy that are perfect for coming in out of the cold.

Here are a few of the most noteworthy to keep in mind during your fall trip to Italy: