Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Delta Sensory Gardens and Garden Centre

Delta Sensory Gardens and Garden Centre, Strawhall Estate, Carlow t: 059-9143527 w:

Delta Sensory Gardens consist of a series of interconnecting gardens of a multi-sensory nature covering 2.5 acres (1 hectare). The gardens offer something for every season from thousands of daffodils and tulips in spring to the abundant double flowering gorse in summer and the rustic colour of the many trees and beech hedges in autumn and into winter. The amazing water features will take your breath away, with splashing fountains, cascading waterfalls and the kugal, one ton of pink marble floating on a cushion of water.

Start planning your vacation to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Ireland

Explore filming locations from the Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones tour of IrelandThe Stormlands, Cushendun Caves, Co. Antrim

The Caves at Cushendun were formed over a period of 400 million of years of extreme weather conditions in Ireland. They can be found just beyond the beautiful coastal village and can be accessed by foot next to the Cave House.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Season 2, episode 4: At the behest of Stannis, Davos Seaworth lands Melisandre ashore. He witnesses her giving birth to the shadow baby (which will eventually kill Renly).

Game of Thrones Tour of IRelandWinterfell, Castle Ward, Co. Down

Castle Ward, which may be more familiar as Winterfell, is situated in a stunning location overlooking Strangford Lough. This fascinating house features both Gothic and Classical styles of architectural treatment, internally and externally. Inside the beautiful 820 acre walled demesne you will find an exotic sunken garden and paths that wind their way through woodland and suddenly open onto the quiet shores of the Lough.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

The grounds featured in season 1, episode 1 where King Robert Barratheon and his retinue arrive at Winterfell. It also features in episode 2 where King Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark talk during a hunt: “There's a war coming Ned” and then also in episode 10 with Bran and Osha at Winterfell.

Game of Thrones Tour of IrelandNorth of Winterfell, Tollymore Forest Park, Co. Down

Tollymore Forest Park, which was featured in the first episode of series one, covers an area of almost 630 hectares at the foot of the Mourne Mountains offering stunning views of the sea at nearby Newcastle. The park is a fantastic area for many outdoor activities including walking, caravanning/camping, horse riding and orienteering.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Season 1, episode 1: A member of the Night's Watch rides through a snow-covered forest. He comes upon a gruesome sight - dismembered Wildling bodies lying in the snow. He encounters a White Walker and gallops away fleeing the scene. Later, Ned Stark and his boys come across a stag which has been gored. Nearby they find direwolf pups. The forest also featured in scenes where Theon Greyjoy is being chased on horseback by the bastard of Bolton, Ramsay Snow.

Stormlands, Larrybane, Carrick-a-Rede, Co. Antrim

Located along the stunning North Coast close to Carrick-Rede Rope Bridge, this area is exceptional in is natural beauty. Larrybane headland, which once stretched out towards Sheep Island and had a promontory fort on the top dating to 800AD, had large caves underneath which once served as home to boat builders and a safe resting place from winter storms. Despite having been quarried in the 1950s this quarry is still worth a visit for its exceptional views. Fans will recognise the Stormlands.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Season 2, episode 3: At Renly Baratheon's camp, with Margaery Tyrell of House Tyrell. A tourney is taking place - where Brienne of Tarth bests Ser Loras and is given a place in Renly's Kingsguard as her reward. Catelyn Stark comes to treat with Renly Baratheon (now also calling himself King), on behalf of her son, Robb Stark, King in the North. Renly Baratheon swears he will avenge Ned Stark's death and bring Catelyn Joffrey's head when he takes Kings Landing. Renly confirms he has the Reach and the Stormlands behind him. Season 2, episode 4: Lord Baelish, Littlefinger, arrives at Renly Baratheon's camp. Season 2, episode 5: Renly is dead. Stannis' fleet is off shore and approaching fast.

Game of Thrones Tour of IrelandDragonstone, Downhill Beach, Co. Londonderry

One of our most iconic locations, Downhill Beach is an 11km stretch of sand and surf located on the Causeway Coast. This magnificent location is also home to Mussenden Temple. Part of Downhill Demense, the temple was originally built as a summer library. It perches dramatically on a 120ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean with views to Magilligan Point and Fair Head. Both the Temple and the surrounding views are among the most photographed scenes in Ireland. Fans will recognise this location as the Dragonstone exterior.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Season 2, episode 1: Dragonstone - Melisandre, “For the night is dark and full of terrors”. Burning of the old gods. Davos Seaworth, Stannis Baratheon. Old retainer tries to stop her. She exhorts Stannis to draw a sword from the flames - “The Lightbringer”. The conversion to the new god is complete. Old man tries to persuade Davos to stop Stannis.

Game of Thrones Tour of IrelandIron Islands, Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim

Ballintoy is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of the North Antrim Coast between the Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and looks out to Rathlin Island and beyond to Scotland. As you come over the Knocksoghey Brae from Ballycastle or in from Whitepark Bay you are greeted by spectacular views, each one featuring Ballintoy Church. This stunning seaside location has been used for exterior Pyke shots and as the Iron Islands.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Season 2, episode 2: Theon Greyjoy in small tender from ship, sets foot back on the Iron Islands. A woman approaches and offers to help Theon get back to Pyke. He tells her who he is, but she does not confirm her identity. Season 2, episode 5: Theon Greyjoy admires his ship, the Sea Bitch, but he has difficulty managing his crew. His sister appears and makes fun of him and his weakness. Dagmer Cleftjaw arrives to help him out and eggs him on to ignore his father's orders and instead to sail to Torrhen's Square and take it.

Game of Thrones Tour of IrelandOn the King's Road, north of King's Landing, Dark Hedges, Co. Antrim

The Dark Hedges is a beautiful avenue of beech trees that has been used as the location for the King's road in the hit show. It was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century and intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. Two centuries later, the Dark Hedges remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Season 2, episode 1: On the King' s Road, Arya Stark has escaped from King's Landing, disguised as a boy. She is with Yoren, Gendry, Hot Pie and others who are to join the Night's Watch, in a cart, travelling north on the King's Road.

Game of Thrones Tour of IrelandThe Riverlands, Inch Abbey on the River Quoile, Co. Down

Located on the north bank of the Quoile River, Inch Abbey was founded by John de Courcy in atonement for his destruction of Erenagah Abbey. The buildings are mainly from the 12th and 13th centuries while it is believed the church is older than that at Grey Abbey which was built around 1193. The historic site is used as the locations of the Twins in the Riverlands.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Season 1, episode 9: Robb's army at the Trident. He is with Theon Greyjoy and his mother Catelyn. They need to cross the Trident at The Twins, which is held by the Freys. Catelyn goes to bargain with Walder Frey to allow them to cross. Season 1, episode 10: Catelyn and Robb hear of Ned's beheading; “We will kill them all”.

Robb's Camp, Audley's Field, Strangford Lough

Located along the shores of Strangford Lough in the Castle Ward Estate, Co, Down. Visitors to the area can explore the Castle Ward Farm Trail. This trail leads along the shores of Strangford Lough and then winds through the woodlands surrounding Audleys Castle.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Audley's Tower was used during Season One as King Robert Baratheon and his retinue arrive at Winterfell. And also used to film Robb's camp where he first meets Tulisa as she is tending the wounded on the battlefield.

The Iron Islands, Murlough Bay, Co. Antrim

Located in North East County Antrim, Murlough Bay is known for its outstanding beauty and remote location, with views across the ocean to Rathlin Island, the Mull of Kintyre, Islay and various other Scottish islands. Murlough Bay is located along the scenic Causeway Coastal Route and is also well known for it flora, fauna and geology.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

Season 3, episode 1: Murlough Bay is also used for the Iron Islands and was used in the scene where Theon rides on horse with his sister Yara (he hasn't yet realised it's his sister) and Davos Seaworth is shipwrecked after the Battle of Blackwater Bay.

Beric Dondarrion's hideout, Pollnagollum Cave, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, Co. Fermanagh

Pollnagollum Cave - Irish for “Hole of the doves”. The cave is fed by a waterfall toppling down from the top of a limestone cliff and is swollen to a torrent during harsh weather. Visitors to the area can follow the Belmore Forest walk which leads to a viewing point for the cave.

Game of Thrones - Featured Scene

The exterior of the cave was used to film Beric Dondarrion's hideout in season 3.

Looking to explore these locations in person? Start planning your vacation to Ireland!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Classic Italy with Lake Como - Escorted Motorcoach Tour

Classic Italy -with Guaranteed Departures!

An exciting tour, Classic Italy, featuring Rome, Assisi, Florence, Padua, Venice, Verona, Lake Como and Milan. This tour features the best of Italy at a relaxed pace with guaranteed departures!

Tour Highlights:

  • 12 Meals -Breakfast & Dinner
  • Visit Rome, Assisi, Siena, Florence, Padua, Venice, Verona, Lake Como and Milan
  • Venice boat tour including a stop on the island of Murano

Your Classic Italy tour includes:

  • Accommodation at 4 star hotels (3 star in Venice) for seven (7) nights
  • Italian buffet or continental buffet breakfast daily except for day of arrival
  • Five dinners (excludes drinks)
  • Transfer by private car/minibus on arrival  in Rome and departure in Milan
  • Walking tours of Rome, Florence and Venice
  • English speaking tour and local guides
  • Visits to Basilica of Saint Francis, Piazza del Duomo, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Baptistery of St. John, Santa Croce, Cathedral of St. Anthony, Piazza and Basilica of St. Mark, Doge's Palace, Bridge of Sighs and the Prisons in
    Venice, Verona and Lake Como
  • Ground transportation by deluxe motorcoach from day 04
  • Boat trip to Murano with a glass blowing demonstration
  • Porterage of one suitcase per person
  • Portfolio of travel documents
  • Service charges and taxes included (City Tax at hotels not included - as it must be paid directly to hotels)

    Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hotspots Along Italy's Ligurian Coast

Stretching from the Cinque Terre to Monaco and France, Italy's Ligurian Coast is a narrow strip of land squelched between the sea and the Alps and the Apennines Mountains. This is the Italian Riviera with seaside promenades, charming fishing villages painted in exotic palettes of pastel yellow and orange, medieval centers and cliffside vineyards set against the cerulean Mediterranean.

 Check out these hotspots along Italy's Ligurian Coast:

La Spezia
La Spezia is the gateway to the Cinque Terre region and make a great base for exploring the Cinque Terre National Park.

Cinque Terre
Consisting of five remote seaside villages, speckled with coral, sage and egg-plant hued buildings, dangling from cliffs mirrored on the crystal waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Cinque Terre moves the heart like few places in the world. Nearly inaccessible by car, the Cinque Terre provides a uniquely intimate experience, a hidden gem for your honeymoon or romantic vacation.

Considered to be one of the most perfect and photogenic fishing ports on the Mediterranean, the harbor is surrounded by restaurants and boutiques.

Known as the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus, Genoa has a long history as a rich and powerful trade center. Visitors will find a plethora of hidden gems behind cosy alleyways, palaces and museums. With pastel-colored terracotta-roofed houses, artistic churches, lovely seaside villas, and also several luxurious boutiques, Genoa is a must see if you want to experience the "quintessential" Italy.

San Remo
Founded in Roman times, this sun-dappled Mediterranean resort offers a casino, Riviera-style grandeur, a long stretch of beach and flowers! San Remo is known as one of the most elegant resorts along the Italian Riviera and is a favorite of European High Society, particularly the Russian nobility.

Planning a trip to Italy's Ligurian Coast? Travel with Celtic Tours World Vacations! Check out our website for more travel ideas

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Hotel Gioberti, Rome

Hotel Gioberti
Via Gioberti, 20 : ROME 00185 : ITALY : Phone 39 06-4440625

Located in the heart of Rome, between the basilica of St Mary Major and the railway station Termini, the 4 star Hotel Gioberti is the ideal place to stay whether you are on a business trip or on holiday to discover the wonders of the Eternal City

Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amalfi Coast and Rome - Semi-Escorted Motorcoach Tour

Amalfi Coast & Rome - *Daily Departures!

An extraordinary opportunity! S ee Italy's most impressive coastline, the Amalfi Coast! This breathtaking area will dazzle you with its color filled cliffs, beautiful bays and sea side warmth. Plus start your vacation in the eternal city of Rome!

Tour Highlights:

  • A Celtic Favorite!
  • 8 Meals -Breakfast & Dinner
  • Great for groups
  • Visit Rome, Naples, Pompeii and tour the beautiful Amalfi Coast

Your Amalfi Coast & Rome tour includes:

  • Accommodation at 4 star hotels for five (5) nights (additional nights can be arranged at your request)
  • Italian or continental buffet breakfast daily
  • One lunch (drinks included)
  • Two dinners (excluding drinks)
  • Private transfer on arrival and departure in Rome
  • 3-Hour Discovering Rome walking tour
  • Full day excursion to Pompeii
  • Ground transportation by deluxe motorcoach
  • Entrance fees included where indicated
  • Porterage of one suitcase per person
  • Portfolio of travel documents
  • Service charges and taxes included (City Tax at hotels not included - as it must be paid directly to hotels)

    Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Piazze in Rome

Piazze in Rome

The Italian Piazza is the center of the Italian life. Gathering, shopping, eating, reading, people watching are just a few of the activities that Italian's and tourists can be found doing in an Italian piazza. Piazze are often bedecked in beautiful sculptures, fountains and architecture by some of Italy's most famous names such as Bernini. Italian's gathered in their piazze since BC times with markets and to discuss politics and religion. For sure the squares in Rome well represent over 1000 years of history. Today, piazze are often used as scenes in current movies making great highlights for pop-culture travelers. Many metro stations and bus stops are found on piazze as they are key points in a city. When traveling with others, piazze make wonderful meeting places. Rome has many squares that are worth a look. Grab a book and a gelato or simply find a cozy place to people watch.

Piazza Albania

Piazza Albania іs а square іn Rome, Italy. The squares name wаs before Piazza Raudusculana but got іts present name 4 July 1940 аnd wаs named аfter the country Albania - аt the tіme recently invaded аnd conquered аt the command оf Benito Mussolini. The name survived іts Fascist antecedents аnd remains up tо the present.

Piazza D'Aracoeli

Piazza d'Aracoeli was once a market square at the base of Capitoline hill. The market served not just as a place for commerce, but as a stage for politic debates and religious omilies as well. Here in 1442 the words of St. Bernardino of Siena against gambling and usury resounded. Here in 1551 St. Ignatius of Loyola opened his first school of grammar and christian doctrine, from which the Collegio Romano sourced, and held his first spiritual exercises. Here in 1713 Rosa Venerini opened the first roman house of the Maestre Pie Venerini, the first women's public school in Italy. From here it is possible to admire with a single glance the Quirinal Hill, the Trajan's Forum with its column and the Torre delle Milizie at the back, the two churches of Santa Maria di Loreto and of the Santissimo Nome di Maria, Palazzo Venezia and the buildings of the "Angelicum" cloister. The Fountain of Aracoeli is one of the first and simplest of Renaissance fountains that would embellish the city.

Piazza Barberini

Piazza Barberini is a large piazza in the centro storico or city center of Rome, Italy and situated on the Quirinal Hill. It was created in the 16th century but many of the surrounding buildings have subsequently been rebuilt. At the centre of the piazza is the Fontana del Tritone or Triton Fountain sculpted by Bernini. Another fountain, the Fontana delle Api, also by Bernini is in the nearby Via Vittorio Veneto but it has been reconstructed somewhat arbitrarily following its removal from its previous position on the corner of a palace where the Piazza Barberini meets the Via Sistina

Piazza Bocca della Verità

Piazza Bocca della Verità is a square between Via Luigi Petroselli and Via della Greca in Rome (Italy), in the rione Ripa. The square lies in the ancient area of the Forum Boarium, just in front of the Tiber Island; it takes its name from the Bocca della Verità (Italian: Mouth of Truth), placed under the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Besides the church, dating back to the late Middle Ages, the square houses the Arcus Argentariorum, the Arch of Janus, the Temple of Hercules Victor and the Temple of Portunus, a deity related to the ancient river harbor.

Piazza Bocca della Verità: the Temple of Hercules Victor and the Temple of Portunus. The fountain in front of the two temples, called Fountain of the Tritons, released by Carlo Bizzaccheri under commission of Pope Clement XI, was erected in the square in 1715; it has an octagonal basis and portrays two tritons supporting a shell from which the water springs.

Piazza Borghese

The square lies between Via di Ripetta and Via Fontanella Borghese in an area owned for centuries by the House of Borghese. tt is delimited by Palazzo Borghese at north-east, by the Palazzo della Facoltà di Architettura at north-west and by the so-called Palazzo della Famiglia at south-west. The Borgheses settled in the area in the 16th century. Under Pope Paul V (1605-1621) and cardinal Scipione Borghese, they expanded into the area between Via di Ripetta and the church of Saint Jerome of the Croats. The square was a private space adjacent to the family's palace until 19th century.

Campo de' Fiori

Campo de' Fiori is a rectangular square south of Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy, at the border between rione Parione and rione Regola. It is just diagonally southeast of the Palazzo della Cancelleria and one block northeast of the Palazzo Farnese. Campo de' Fiori, translated literally from Italian, means "field of flowers". The name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow. At night, Campo de' Fiori is a meeting place for tourists and young people coming from the whole city.

Piazza Colonna

Piazza Colonna is a piazza at the center of the Rione of Colonna in the historic heart of Rome, Italy. It is named for the marble Column of Marcus Aurelius which has stood there since 193 CE. The bronze statue of Saint Paul that crowns the column was placed in 1589, by order of Pope Sixtus V. The Roman Via Lata (now the Via del Corso) runs through the piazza's eastern end, from south to north. The piazza has been a monumental open space since Antiquity; the temple of Marcus Aurelius stood on the site of Palazzo Wedekind.

Piazzale Flaminio

Piazzale Flaminio is a square in Rome just outside the Aurelian Walls, and the starting point of the Via Flaminia. The Porta del Popolo on its south side connects it to the Piazza del Popolo.The Flaminio-Piazza del Popolo metro station is located here. On its east side are the neoclassical propylaea to the Villa Borghese, designed by Luigi Canina.

Piazza della Libertà

Piazza della Libertà is a square in the rione Prati in Rome (Italy). The square lies at the end of Ponte Margherita (formerly the last bridge upstream in the town before Ponte Milvio) on the right bank of the Tiber; from it starts Via Cola di Rienzo, that crosses the rione Prati ending in Piazza Risorgimento. The square has a rectangular shape and consists of two green areas with flowerbeds; it shows some centuries-old trees and is surrounded by eclectic-style buildings. It dates back to the urbanization of the quarter, started in 1873 according to the so-called "Viviani Town-Plan". The monuments of the square include a 20th century sacred aedicula portraying the Virgin with the Child,  a 19th century monument to the playwright Pietro Cossa and Casa De' Salvi, an apartment house built in 1930 by architect Pietro Aschieri.

Piazza di San Macuto

Piazza di San Macuto is a piazza in the Pigna rione of Rome. It contains the church of San Macuto, near which the obelisco Macuteo was rediscovered around 1373. This is a small obelisk, only 6.34 m high (14.52 m including its base). It was originally one of a pair at Ramesses II's Temple of Ra in Heliopolis, the other being the now much shorter Obelisco Matteiano. It was moved from there to the Temple of Isis near Santa Maria sopra Minerva in antiquity, in what is now Piazza della Minerva and after its 14th century rediscovery was re-erected east of Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline then in the Piazza della Rotonda in 1711.

Piazza della Minerva

Piazza della Minerva is a piazza in Rome, Italy, near the Pantheon. Its name derives from the existence of a temple built on the site by Pompey dedicated to Minerva Calcidica, whose statue is now in the Vatican Museums. At the center of the piazza, backing onto the Inquisition convent, is the 1667 Elephant and Obelisk by Bernini. This obelisk was excavated in the cloister and came from the Iseum. The elephant was known as "il pulcin della Minerva", or "porcino", from the Roman people's story that - uninspired by elephants - Bernini in fact sculpted a pig. To the right of the church stands the 16th century Palazzo Fonseca, since 1832 the site of one of the historic hotels of Rome, known as the Minerva, whose guests have included Stendhal and José de San Martín, remembered in plaques on the facade. Opposite the church is the Palazzo dell'accademia ecclesiastica (the former Accademia dei nobili ecclesiastici), 14th century in origin but completely rebuilt in 1878.

Piazza di Monte Citorio

Piazza di Monte Citorio or Piazza Montecitorio is a piazza in Rome. It is named after the Monte Citorio, one of the minor hills of Rome. The piazza contains the Obelisk of Montecitorio and the Palazzo Montecitorio.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is a city square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans came there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis" ("competition arena"). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to navona. . It features important sculptural and architectural creations: in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius; the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others; and the Pamphili palace, also by Girolamo Rainaldi, that accommodates the long gallery designed by Borromini and frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.

Piazza della Rotonda

The Piazza della Rotonda is a piazza (city square) in Rome, Italy, on the south side of which is located the Pantheon. The square gets its name from the Pantheon's informal title as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda.

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo is a large urban square in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally means "People's Square", but historically it derives from the poplars (populus in Latin, pioppo in Italian) after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name. The piazza lies inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome, and now called the Porta del Popolo. This was the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum (modern-day Rimini) and the most important route to the north. At the same time, before the age of railroads, it was the traveller's first view of Rome upon arrival. For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826.

Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica is a semi-circular piazza in Rome, at the summit of the Viminal Hill, next to the Termini station. On it is to be found Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. It is served by the Repubblica - Teatro dell'Opera Metro station. From the square starts one of the main streets of Rome, Via Nazionale.

Piazza Scanderbeg

Piazza Scanderbeg is a square in Rome, Italy located on the junction of Vicolo Scanderbeg and Via della Panetteria. It is named after the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, who once lived in Palazzo Skanderbeg located on the square. Palazzo Skanderbeg is the site of the Italy's National Museum of Pasta.

Piazza di Spagna

Piazza di Spagna, at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, is one of the most famous squares of Rome (Italy). It owes its name to the Palazzo di Spagna, seat of the Embassy of Spain among the Holy See.

St Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square is a massive plaza located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave surrounded by Rome, directly west of the neighbourhood or rione of Borgo. At the center of the square is a four-thousand-year-old Egyptian obelisk, erected at the current site in 1568. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the square almost 100 years later, including the massive Tuscan colonnades, four columns deep, which embrace visitors in "the maternal arms of Mother Church." A granite fountain constructed by Bernini in 1675 matches another fountain designed by Carlo Maderno dating to 1613.

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, also known as Piazza Vittorio, is a piazza in Rome, in the Esquilino rione. It is served by the Vittorio Emanuele Metro station. Surrounded by palazzi with large porticoes in the 19th century style, the piazza was built by Gaetano Koch shortly after the unification of Italy. Umbertine in style, it is the largest piazza in Rome (316 x 174 metres). In the centre of the piazza is a garden with the remains of a fountain built by Alexander Severus, and the so-called "Porta Magica" (Magic Gate) or "Porta Alchemica" (Alchemist's Door), the entrance to Villa Palombara, residence of the alchemist Massimiliano II Palombara.

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia is the central hub of Rome, Italy, in which many thoroughfares intersect, like Via dei Fori Imperiali and Via del Corso. It takes its name from Venice ("Venezia" in Italian), after the Venetian Cardinal, Pietro Barbo (later Pope Paul II) who had built Palazzo Venezia, a palace set next to the nearby church of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Palazzo Venezia was the former embassy of the city of the Republic of Venice to Rome.

It is almost impossible, but largely unthinkable to not stroll through at least on piazza on a vacation in Rome! Visit at least one of these fabulous piazze on your next trip to Rome. Start planning your Italy vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Hotel Continental, Venice

Hotel Continental
Lista di Spagna : Cannaregio 166, Venice 30100 : ITALY : Phone 39 041.7151

Positioned on one of the most scenic routes, within minutes from our cosy Venice 3 star hotel, you can arrive and be sipping on a Bellini in Piazza San Marco all on foot. Many Venetian landmarks and museums are all within easy reach

Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Top 8 Sights Along Co. Carlow's Trail of Saints

From pagan sites to ecclesiastical settlements; intricate layers of religious and secular cultural history set against rugged mountains, glorious countryside and lush river valleys make County Carlow a perfect base for exploring the Southeast of Ireland. Whether brought here by faith, born and spent their lives here, educated here or a departure point for great missionary endeavors; at least 22 early Saints are associated with Co. Carlow making it a wonderful destination for religious pilgrimages, history buffs and the curious traveler alike. Come explore the religious side of Co Carlow by exploring the Carlow-Trails of Saints.

The Carlow-Trails of Saints is made up of three separate driving routes which between them cover the entire county of Carlow and feature some 51 ecclesiastical attractions. Many of these sites are considered to be of national significance including the Romanesque doorway at Killeshin, the medieval cathedral at Old Leighlin and the monastic site at St. Mullins.

St. Patrick's Trail
Named after St. Patrick, who is reputed to have baptised the King of Leinster in north Carlow, this trail takes in the county's two largest urban settlements of Carlow and Tullow.

St. Laserian's Trail
A visit to one of Ireland's finest medieval churches. St. Laserian's Cathedral in Old Leighlin, make a perfect start to this trail which meanders through the heart of the county towards Myshall at the foot of the Blackstairs Mountains.

St. Moling's Trail
St. Moling, the seventh-century saint, ranks among 'the four great prophets of Ireland'. The monastery he founded at St. Mullins, beside the River Barrow, is the highlight on this train which bears his name.

Of course, you don't have to drive all three of these trails to get a good glimpse into the life and times of Ireland's saints. Here are a couple of the highlights that you may want to check out along your journey.

Romanesque Doorway of Killeshin
The present church was built in 1150 and is well worth visiting not just for its beautiful Romanesque doorway, one of the finest examples in the country, but for its scenic setting. You will find the church of Killeshin nestled in peaceful countryside, with wonderful views across the Barrow Valley to the Blackstairs Mountains.

Clonmore is one of Carlow's most important early Christian sites with a wealth of history for visitors to discover. The present road cuts through the monastery founded by St. Maedoc around 600 AD. No traces of the monastic buildings remain for the importance of the site is attested by the presence of two large crosses, nineteen cross-inscribed stones, an ogham stone and two bullaun stones.

St. Laserian's Cathedral and holy well
The picturesque village of Old Leighlin is home to one of Ireland's gems of late medieval architecture. St. Laserian's Cathedral was bult of the site of a monastery founded by St. Gobban c 600. The Cathedral features architecture from every century since it was built. The holy well which can be found 330 feet to the west of the church is dedicate to St. Molaise and features an early ringed cross said to denote the place where St. Laserian conversed with St. Finbar of Cork.

St. Brigid's Well
St. Brigid's Well is an ancient holy well that is now a modern shrine.

Cranavane Holy Well
Set in an untouched rural landscape, the holy well at Cranavane is closely associated with the early medieval Barragh church, the ruins of which lie close by. The church was linked with St. Finian who was born nearby in Myshall. It was the custom to dip coffins in the water of the well before burial in Barragh graveyard. The waters of the well are believed to cure a range of ailments including soreness of the eyes, pains and hurt limbs.


St. Fortiarnan's Church
Against the backdrop of the Blackstairs Mountains stand the remains of this diminutive rectangular church which dates back to the tenth or eleventh century. It is a testament to the building skills of these early stone masons that all four walls are still intact almost one thousand years after they were first built.

St. Mullins - Ecclesiastical Ruins
Thus important monastery was founded by St. Moling in the seventh century. It has been a place of pilgrimage since the earliest of times and St. Moling's Well is still venerated for its powers of healing.

A popular boating center on the River Barrow whose character reflects a bygone time when the town was an important focal point for commercial boats. One of Ireland's finest Cistercian monasteries was founded here in 1204. It was called Duiske Abbey from the stream that flows nearby. The church was restored in 1974-80 and consists of a nave and chancel with an aisle on each side.

From pagan sites to ecclesiastical settlements; intricate layers of religious and secular cultural history set against rugged mountains, glorious countryside and lush river valleys make County Carlow a perfect base for exploring the Southeast of Ireland. Come explore the religious side of Co Carlow by exploring the Carlow-Trails of Saints. Start planning your religious tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Hotel Rivoli Florence

Hotel Rivoli Florence
Via della Scala : 33-50123 Florence : ITALY : Phone 39-055-27861

The Best Western Hotel Rivoli was a franciscan convent dated back to the 14th century, the hotel, located in the historical center, offers a charming hospitality taking care of each single client.

The Best Western Hotel Rivoli is nowadays an excellent 4 stars-superior hotel, where guests can breath the famous historical atmosphere of ancient residence in the city. The perfect location in the very heart of Florence, just a few minutes walk from the main historical sights.

Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Hotel Imperiale, Rome

Hotel Imperiale
Via Vittorio Veneto 24 : Rome : ITALY : Phone +39 06 482635

Welcome to Imperiale, your exclusive 4-star hotel in Rome via Veneto, the city's most prestigious and elegant shopping street rich in fine restaurants and historic palaces. Hotel Imperiale is located in one of these magnificent buildings whose harmonious 19th-century façade stands out as a cultural and artistic treasure.
Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Altamont Gardens

Widely respected as the jewel in Ireland’s gardening crown, Altamont Gardens are an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens with riverside walks covering over 40 acres (16 hectares). The estate gains much of its character from the many mature trees, both natives in the avenues and woodland areas, and exotic specimens throughout the gardens including Cedrus deodara (Deodar Cedar), Taxodium distichum (Swamp Cypress), Quercus rubra (Red Oak) and Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Redwood). Lawns bisected by sculpted yews slope down to a lake surrounded by rare trees and rhododendrons and lead in turn to a very different garden featuring exotic shrubs and trees. A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen with its canopy of ancient oaks and huge stone outcrops leads the visitor to the River Slaney.

The original Victorian layout was enhanced by Fielding Leckey Watson (and later by his daughter Corona North), following his purchase of Altamont in 1924. Corona travelled extensively in her search for plants, which continue to flourish throughout the gardens, including Cornus kousa ‘chinensis’ and Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree). When Corona North, who lovingly cared for the gardens for over 50 years died in 1999, the gardens were left to the State at her request. Ongoing restoration and maintenance continues under the careful stewardship of the Office of Public Works.

Altamont is a great experience at any time of year starting in spring with the wonderful snowdrop collection, one of the largest in Ireland and moving on to daffodils and other spring bulbs such as Fritillaria meleagris (Snake’s Head Fritillary) and Muscari armeniacum (Grape hyacinths). Rhododendrons, azaleas and later on the rose collection is in full bloom in midsummer, followed by contrasting autumnal colours and the beautiful silhouettes of the mighty trees in mid-winter.

Start planning your vacation to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Culinary Delights

Tour Highlights

  • A Celtic Exclusive
  • 8 Meals - Breakfast daily and 3 dinners
  • Wine tasting
  • Hands on Tuscan culinary classes
  • Great for groups and individuals
  • Tour Includes

Tour Includes

  • Arrival transfer from Florence Airport or Florence rail station to the Villa Casagrande
  • Five nights in a double standard room at Villa Casagrande in the Tuscany region (upgrade to superior room is also available)
  • Italian buffet breakfast, except day of arrival
  • Welcome dinner at the Villa, including 1/4 wine and 1/2 water
  • Cooking class at the Villa (from 4:00 - 7:00 pm), based on preparation of three recipes. Enjoying, at the end, your prepared feast
  • Hands on pizza making session at the Villa. Enjoying, at the end, your cooking efforts.
  • Full day car at disposal for Siena and San Gimignano tour
  • One wine tasting at farm in San Gimignano

    Start planning your Tuscany Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Networked Blogs