The magazine, L’Italo-Americano the #1 source of all things Italian since 1908, shares with us about eating and living with Italian gusto . . . which is what we at Villas of Italy create for our guests while on tour. Not only during our meals at the villa with Chef Mauro, but also while on tour with Giacomo and our city guides . . . we share the life, culture, cuisine, and art of the Italian people who always - no matter what they do – live life with gusto.
Eating in Italy mirrors life: it speaks of family, friends and love, of history and local heritage, of a past that shapes the future, something of which we are still profoundly and undeniably proud. This is what we share with our guests on every tour.
Just like the arts, food is one of the most important aspects of Italian life and Italian culture. As I experienced growing up in the kitchens of my grandparents, my great aunts and uncles they always used simple recipes, simple ingredients, respect for the past and a lot of love. In Italy, food is an expression of love (sounds a bit corny, but if you’ve met our villa Chef Mauro you know what I mean) where eating becomes a joyous gathering and food is a sign of welcoming, of affection.
We recreate this ‘tradition’, this ‘feeling’, with each meal while on tour at the villa, a philosophy where simplicity is key, using ingredients that are local, fresh and organic, because the most beautiful surprises come from the humblest of things - in the kitchen, just as in life.
In Italy, “every meal counts:” it counts because it becomes, day in day out, the central moment for family and friends to take time to gather. A meal in Italy is a moment of profound community, of sharing and discussion. You eat, and enjoy the warmth of those you love the most. Our Italian ancestors all understood the importance of sharing food and gathering around a table. In a world of social media and smartphone relationships, learning from this Italian tradition could make many rediscover the pleasure of true human contact.
The soul of Italy has been, for centuries, agricultural and it’s here we find the origin of much of our time-honored dishes: and so, out comes our Italian cuisine’s tradition of using simple ingredients and seasonal recipes, for things that fill you up from morning to evening, that comfort the stomach just as much as they soothe the soul.
Very rarely does Italian food ask for ‘special’ ingredients, very rarely does it involve complex, overly fancy preparations. Those who have been at the villa with us and have experienced the phenomena that is Chef Mauro, know it is understanding the beauty of what we have and discovering the treasures of what’s around us. And if this is not a lesson to learn for life as well . . .
Italians are pleasure lovers! And food is one of the pleasures we love the most. What does Italy’s affair with fresh, organic ingredients in the creation of unbelievably delicious food tell us about life?
Well, I think it’s simple: it is an invitation to enjoy the earthy pleasures of everyday living with an open heart because life is too short to be perennially on a diet or to postpone that trip we’ve always wanted to take.
At Villas of Italy we strive to share with our guests that eating the Italian way also teaches us a thing or two about how to live a better life, how to live life filled with friendship, with love, with serenity.
We hope we will see you at the villa soon to experience the life, culture, cuisine, and art of the Italian people who always - no matter what they do – live life with gusto.
Our Tuscan Adventure, August 18-28, 2019 (6 couples Max.) has 3 couples spots (double occupancy) remaining. Contact us for special early booking pricing saving up to $1000 per couple. A small $500pp deposit will hold your space.
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Yesterday we had the great pleasure of having lunch with a good buddy from college and his wife (he was in my wedding and I was in his) who are joining us on our Tuscan Adventure next year August 18-28, 2019. We had a wonderful time catching up but our conversation eventually turned to the trip. One of the questions was how far in advance to purchase airfare? Those of you who will be joining us in Venice for our Venezia - La Serenissima tour in June (sold out) or our Tuscan Adventure (3 couples spots left) you will be receiving many emails with all kinds of great travel tips and what to consider when traveling. You can also read our blogs and FAQ's here on our website that will give you a ton of information. And, if you still have questions you can always email us and we'll get back to you with answers to your questions, and probably answers to questions you haven't thought of yet!?
The question of how far in advance to purchase your airfare . . . we usually recommend the best time to purchase airfare to Europe is 3-5 months out from your trip. If you purchase farther out than 5 months out you could be paying too much, and if you wait to purchase closer than 3 months to your trip you'll likely pay more as well.
We always recommend using fare trackers to watch for preferential pricing like Kayak, airfarewatchdog, skyscanner, tripsavvy, orbitz, etc. that will alert you when the fares drop or into the pricing range you've set.
This coming year however we are suggesting waiting closer to the 3 month mark as 2019 is the year airfares may drop for a few of reasons. With the US economy growing stronger and showing signs of not slowing down anytime soon, the currency exchange rate is moving into more favorable territory for the dollar which will increase your buying power, and there are BIG changes coming in the airline industry which may generate fare wars.
For the last many, many years us Americans rarely flew on an unfamiliar air carrier; it’s been decades since U.S. travelers saw a new airline emerge. The Big Three (American, Delta, and United) have had little competition since Southwest and JetBlue came onto the scene in the 60s and 90s, respectively. But that may finally change. With a new low-cost American carrier taking off and European start-up airlines expanding to the States, so many more cheap flights across the globe could be on the horizon. Here are the new airlines to keep tabs on.
Faithful JetBlue flyers will be happy to know that the buzz about a new airline by the low-cost carrier’s founder, David Neeleman, looks to be coming to fruition. Neeleman recently annouced the tentative purchase of 60 Airbus A220-300 jets for the venture, which he’s referred to as “Moxy.” The new airline’s name is likely to change, but what’s clear is that Neeleman wants to stay true to JetBlue’s low-cost, high-comfort ethos, this time for secondary airports located outside of urban air hubs. “The A220 will enable us to serve thinner routes in comfort without compromising cost, especially on longer-range missions,” Neeleman told investors. But not so fast: Moxy isn’t likely to fly until 2021.
Backed by Qatar Airways and born of a small Italian carrier formerly called Meridiana, Air Italy is looking to capitalize on the shortcomings of financially troubled Alitalia, Italy’s national carrier. Air Italy’s flights to Italy and beyond (including Brazil, Spain, and Israel) began from New York’s JFK airport, Miami, and the airline’s Milan hub in early 2018. Those routes seem to be just the beginning: The new airline is expected to more than double its fleet by 2022.
A new airline concept out of France, French bee is billing itself as the first low-cost, long-haul-only airline. The focus is connecting France to far-off cities like San Francisco, which is the only American route for now. You'll start seeing French bee’s blue planes at more airports, and you should check out some low-cost long-haul options that’ll take you further for less.
Owned by IAG (British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus) and based in Barcelona, budget carrier LEVEL began operations in 2017. It’s so far succeeding with its routes to Martinique, Punta Cana, Buenos Aires, Montreal, and Paris through Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Oakland. However, its recent airport meltdown, which stranded travelers in Montreal, indicates that management still needs to work out some details. LEVEL’s newest mission is to expand offerings from its Vienna hub, beginning with short-haul European flights that could eventually extend to the States.
Yet another new airline that’s low-cost and based in Europe, Primera Air began its transatlantic routes to the U.S. in 2017. Patterned on Norwegian Air (our latest personal favorite nonstop Oakland-Rome), Primera’s U.S. options include flights from New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. to London and Paris.
A rare U.S. startup aiming to launch a big new airline, a tentative venture called World Airways resurfaced in 2017 when new investors bought out the “intellectual property” of a small carrier of the same name that went under in 2014. World Airways has been somewhat vague about its plans. Some statements seem to indicate a focus on long-haul routes with 787s, while others seem to say the line will copy Norwegian with transatlantic flights from New York’s Stewart International Airport.
So, a lot of reasons to watch and wait to purchase your airfare to Europe for 2019 but resist the temptation to wait to see if airfares will continue to drop within the 3 month window prior to the trip.
If you see a great price I would recommend buying it.
In a coming blog we'll give you more tips on 'how' to look for airfare - what to consider - perhaps not just flying from Point A to Point B, i.e., not just searching for airfare and typing in San Francisco to Florence, or Oakland to Venice.
And, if you are considering joining us for our next Tuscan Adventure, August 18-28, 2019, we have 3 couples spots left and we're still giving 'early booking' discounts off our listed tour price as an incentive to book now. Email us for details and our Tuscan Adventure daily itinerary.
Ciao . . . a presto!
Ever wonder which word is the most universally used word? We have, and L’Italo-Americano, the #1 source for all things Italian since 1908 has as well. L’Italo-Americano tells us, the single handedly most popular word of the bella lingua, the ultimate passport to Italian living, a word so famous it has been adopted by other nations, so perfect and clear it can’t be bettered is: Ciao.
Yes, Ciao. Can you think of anything more Italian than that? Where did it come from and when did we start using it? Was it always a salutation, or did it have a different meaning initially? So, here’s what we know about Italy’s “hello.”
Apparently, the origin of the word is found in the dialect of Venice, where people had the habit to say hello to each other using the word “s’ciavo,” or “slave.” No, Venetians were not crazy, quite simply they used the expression instead of the longer and more cumbersome “servo vostro,” which we’d translate in English as
“I am your servant,” or even “ at your service.” To find examples of such use, we don’t need to look any further than the work of Venice’s own playwright extraordinaire, Carlo Goldoni, who employed it often in his comedies about Venetian society.
“S’ciavo,” however, is not quite the same as ciao and it took some time and a good deal of linguistic evolution to go from the first to the latter. “S’ciavo” most likely came from the Latin servus, which meant servant or slave. During Imperial times, many slaves came from the area of what was then called Slavonia or Sclavonia, which roughly corresponds to modern Eastern Croatia. Because of languages’ transitive property, the adjective indicating people from those regions, sclavus or slavus, became synonym with the word servus: and that’s how we went from the Latin servus to the vulgar Italian schiavo.
Fast forward a few centuries and the rise in popularity of Dante and Guido Cavalcanti’s Dolce Stil Novo,
a type of poetry in vulgar Italian inspired by idealized love and the iconic figure of the donna angelo, gives to the word schiavo a new meaning: a schiavo is no longer a mere servant, but also someone subjugated by love and passion, someone ready to do anything for the object of his desire. And so, being a schiavo no longer means only and exclusively being a slave to a master, but also being ready to do anything for someone, just like an infatuated man would do for his lover. It’s in this sense that the use of “s’ciavo”in Venetian dialect should be interpreted: people would salute each other in the street saying “I am at your service,” a polite and reverent manner to show appreciation and respect.
The first, written attestation of the word ciao is 200 years old, although we can imagine its use in the oral language must have been already common for a while: it appeared in a letter written in 1818 by Francesco Benedetti, a playwright from Cortona who in it described the niceties received by a group of Milanese with whom he had gone to La Scala: “Questi buoni Milanesi cominciano a dirmi: Ciau Benedettin.” In 1819, British writer Lady Sidney Morgan mentioned people, always at La Scala in Milan, exchanging cordial ciavo, from a box to another. From the very same period is yet another written confirmation of the word, found in a letter sent by countess Giovanna Maffei, from Verona, to her husband, where she mentions that their young son “mi disse di dir ciao a Moti.”
Today, “ciao” is an international word, always associated with Italy, but whose meaning is clear in every corner of the world. Well, you know what? It has been the case for more than one hundred years, as its presence in a French novel dating 1893 proves: written by Paul Bourget, it has a character speaking in Italian and saying “Ciaò, simpaticone!” Just a few years later, at the beginning of the 1900s, a popular waltz entitled “Ciao” had people dancing around Europe. After the end of the Second World War, the popularity of Italian cinema helped the internationalization of “ciao” even further, making of it a linguistic symbol of Italy.
And because language is continuously evolving - as the origin itself of ciao demonstrates - there are new variations of our favorite salute, which have become particularly popular in recent years and decades: “ciao raga” (hey guys), “ciao neh” (hey! Hi!) and even the horrible “ciaone” (literally, a huge ciao), recent neologism already part of the Vocabolario Treccani della Lingua Italiana.
Today, “ciao” is the most used Italian word on earth, second only to another icon of Italy’s life and heritage: “pizza.” Short, simple to remember and with an interesting story: no wonder we all love it. And so it goes, the illustrious tale of “ciao,” of its birth and how it became the most common and colorful way to say hello to friends, family and people in the street: mostly used only among those who know each other, it’s not that uncommon, when the atmosphere allows it or the occasion calls for it, to say “ciao” to people we’ve just met, especially when we’ve enjoyed their company or shared a special experience: a little word that makes us all feel closer.
Why not join us in Tuscany to practice using ‘Ciao’. We still have a few 'couples' spots (double occupancy) for our Tuscan Adventure tour from August 18-28, 2019 at our villa in Tuscany near Certaldo and Gambassi Terme, 45 mins. south of Florence and 45mins. north of Siena. Savings of up to $1000 per couple still available. Email us for a detailed daily itinerary.
Ciao . . . a presto,
Villas of Italy specializes in all-inclusive superior villa vacations. We've designed our adventures so Italy can be experienced in intimate tour groups, Tourneo Custom air-conditioned vans, and one-of-a-kind Villa estates. Immerse yourself in Italy's picturesque towns and villages while enjoying exquisite cuisine, vibrant culture, and the spirit of Italy.
Explore our vacation options! HERE.
Tony Moglia's grandparents immigrated from Italy in the early 1900's. He's a dual citizen who has traveled extensively throughout Italy for 40 years. He's happily married to a vibrant dancer who together have two children and three grandchildren. Tony has dreamed of Villas of Italy since his first trip to Italy, and now he shares his dream with you.