Postcards from Italy

Contemporary Rome: MAXXI and MACRO

Rome is where the world goes to see history. From the magnificent ruins of Roman architectural wonders to the transcendental beauty of sculptures and paintings by Michelangelo and Caravaggio, the Eternal City's cultural treasures are, indeed, timeless.

Why then spend time in Rome looking at the future? Because this major European capital isn't a relic, frozen in time centuries ago, but a vibrant, modern city with an active contemporary art scene encompassing both local artists and downtown museums.

Maxxi- Zaha Hadid(Photo by Antonella Profeta via Flickr)

You can get a feel for Rome's quiet contemporary pulse by simply walking the city streets, where you will encounter murals by a number of street artists working in Italy's capital. But you should also make time to check out one of the city's two excellent contemporary art museums, where pieces by modern and contemporary Italian and international artists are exhibited in spaces which are themselves noteworthy.
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Wild Greens in Italy

Despite sweeping, well-stocked supermarkets and access to varied, seasonal produce, Italians remain avid foragers...a habit harking back to a time when peasant families lived barely above subsistence level and much of the day's meals would come from what was found in the woods and pastures: mushrooms and truffles, wild berries and asparagus, game, and most of all, field greens.

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

We were guests recently on a foraging excursion, and later feasted on our finds.

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Five Favorite Restaurants

One of the best things about our job is seeking out the best restaurants in Italy to recommend to our travelers. One of the toughest things about this job is selecting our favorites. In virtually every Italian destination, there are several places where you could have the meal of a lifetime. We've created this short list of places where we've eaten recently, very short - our top five, from a Michelin-starred destination restaurant to a humble village osteria. Our picks are diverse in style, but are united by the common and, to us, essential theme of local, traditional cuisine, concentrating on classic, historic dishes and/or locally grown or foraged ingredients.

black-truffle-san-pietro-a-pettine-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

If you are visiting Italy in 2015 and want to sit down to an unforgettable meal, search out these winners:
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Italy's Handcrafted Paper

After its rich culture and even richer food, one of the best things about visiting Italy is shopping. From high-end fashion and design to exquisite artisan wares, Italy is full of unique treasures that are a both a refreshing change from chain store anonymity and imbued with a history and tradition often dating back centuries.

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

We have talked about some of our favorite artisan souvenirs in the past, but have never mentioned one of Italy's most affordable (and packable) traditional crafts: paper.
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First Friday Favorite: Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni (Florence)

Our First Friday Favorite for March is the Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni in Florence. Its exceptional combination of spacious rooms, attentive staff, central location and best bang-for-your-buck rates make it one of our absolute favorites.

antica-torre-florence-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

We wish we could clone this hotel in every Italian city.
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A Day in Turin

Turin, Italy's fourth largest city and the most important urban center in the gourmet paradise of Piedmont, is often overshadowed by nearby Milan, Italy's fashion and finance capital. But Torino has an understated elegance, vibrant café culture, and world-class set of museums and sights that make it one of the most captivating cities in the north.

Torino - Piazza Castello(Photo by Marco Segato via Flickr)

This year, Turin has a number of diverse attractions and events that will be drawing more than its usual number of visitors. One of the city's most famous treasures, the Shroud of Turin, will be on display in the Cathedral from late April through June, a rare event that has attracted over a million visitors in the past. The newly renovated Egyptian Museum, which has almost doubled in size with the addition built over the past five years, will be inaugurated on April 1st. And, of course, the 2015 World Expo kicks off in Milan in May, during which the city will probably see a spillover of tourists venturing into Piedmont from among the tens of millions expected to visit the Expo.

If you will be among those drawn to the city as Shroud pilgrim, Expo refugee, or simply curious traveler, here are some of the highlights of this unique, memorable city.
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