Friday, May 30, 2014

Irish Eye Candy: Killahoey Beach

Killahoey Beach, Dunfanaghy, Donegal, Ireland


Killahoey Blue Flag Beach (Tra na Cille) is located close to the town of Dunfanaghy (Dun Fionnachaidh) on the northern coast of County Donegal.

Travel to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Una Hotel Palace, Catania

Una Hotel Palace
Via Etnea 218 : Catania : ITALY : Phone 39 095 2505111

A prestigious building dating back to the early 1900s, in the artistic and commercial heart of Catania, was already an historical luxury hotel. The restoration project has been carried out in the view of maintaining the Sicilian style and traditional cultural heritage. The hotel provides 94 rooms and 9 meeting rooms, fitness centre, Turkish bath, indoor parking, elegant banquet room, roof garden, panoramic terrace with restaurant and American bar.

Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Italy-Regions of the North

Italy's northern regions are a symphony of breathtaking contrasts. Liguria stretches along the Mediterranean, and the jagged peaks of the Alps extend throughout Valle d'Aosta and Piedmont, complemented by Lombardy's rolling plains. The snowy Dolomites provide the backdrop to the Treninto Alto-Adige and the Veneto regions, while Venice and the sea maintain their delicate, dramatic relationship and the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia yields a treasure trove.



Aosta Valley

This is the most mountainous region of Italy, dominated by Alpine peaks, glaciers, valley streams, pine forests and high pasturelands, and accessed by the tunnels at the historic passes of Monte Bianco and Gran San Bernardo. The capital, Aosta, recognizes both Italian and French as the native tongues, and offers visitors such sights as the 11th century Romanesque Cathedral, Sant'Orso Church and the perfectly preserved forts of the Aosta Valley.

Piedmont

A region rippling with Alpine streams flowing into the Po, and dominated in the east by the lakes of Maggiore and d'Orta. The capital, Turin, features cultural and artistic influences from the Romanesque-Gothic and Baroque styles, while Sestrier and Bardonecchia offer fantastic skiing resorts.


Lombardy

Spreading over the Po Valley and bordered to the north by the Alps, this region is a veritable lake district, including eastern Maggiore, Varese, Iseo, Como and northern Garda. Each major city contains striking monuments to Romanesque and Gothic architecture, such as the Cathedral of Milan, while sumptuous Renaissance palaces and churches abound - some containing examples of the Lombard painting movement, which peaked during the fifteenth century.

Trentino and South Tyrol

A dramatic Alpine province, rich in rivers and lakes, and clusters of mountains and valleys, bisected by the Adige river. Three natural parks, Adamello-Brenta, Paneveggio-Pale of S. Martino and Stelvio conserve the native flora and fauna, including bears. Straddling Germany and northern Italy, the capital Trento combines both diverse cultures to create a fascinating artistic aesthetic.

Friuli Venezia-Giulia

A broad, flat province stretching from the Tagliamento River and to the Adriatic coastline, dotted with lagoons, interesting geological formations and countless grottoes. The regional; capital is Trieste; major towns include Udine, Gorizia and Pordenone. Evidence of older civilizations is abundant: Aquileia is a noted Roman archeological center, also with magnificent mosaics in its Romanesque Gothic Basilica.

Veneto

Bordered by the eastern part of the Po Valley, the extensive plain comprises the majestic Dolomites of Cadore and the lagoon zone, including Venice, the region's agelessly beautiful capital. Here, Byzantine influence abound, in San Marco's and the Cathedral of Torcello, while there are innumerable glorious examples of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art and architecture. Other unmissable treats include the Venetian islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello; Chioggia; the canals of the Brenta and the Veneto villas.

Liguria

Centered around the Gulf of Genoa on the Tyrrhenian Sea, Liguria is a mountainous region formed by the Maritime Alps and the Apennines, leaving only a narrow coastline. The region is divided at Genoa, the capital in the Riviera di Ponente (west to Ventemiglia) and the Riviera di Levante (east to La Spezia) - the tail end of which the beautiful, unspoiled "Le Cinque Terre" (the Five Lands). Throughout Liguria, you can find superb examples of Roman ruins, Romanesque and Baroque architecture and many medieval forts, towers, walls and castles.

Travel to Italy with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

NEW TOUR! Italian Perfetto

Italian Perfetto!

Our independent Italian Perfetto tour brings you the perfect blend of wonderful Rome, romantic Florence and the Tuscan countryside.

Tour Highlights:

  • Exciting New Itinerary
  • 9 Meals -Breakfast & Dinner
  • Explore Rome, Florence and the Tuscany region
  • Culinary delights at the Villa with a welcome dinner and a cooking class

Your Italian Perfetto tour includes:

  • Arrival transfer from Rome airport to Hotel in Rome
  • Seven nights accommodations - including 2-nights at a Tuscan villa
  • Italian buffet or continental buffet breakfast daily except for day of arrival
  • Welcome dinner at the Villa including drinks
  • Tour fo the Vatican and Colosseum
  • Private transfer from Rome hotel to Rome train station
  • First class train from Rome to Florence
  • Private transfer from Florence rail station to Florence hotel
  • Tour of Florence
  • Car at disposal fro full day tour excursion to Chianti region with full day English speaking guide
  • Visit to a Tuscan butcher fro a Salami tasting
  • Visit and wine tasting at Verazzano Castle
  • Pizza making with Mamma Paola at the Villa
  • Private transfer to Florence Airport or rail station from the Villa
  • Portfolio of travel documents

    Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Monday, May 26, 2014

Southern Italy & Sicily - Escorted Motorcoach Tour

Southern Italy and Sicily -with Guaranteed Departures!

An exciting new tour featuring Southern Italy and Sicily. Enjoy the historic city of Rome, the beautiful Amalfi Coast and Sorrento and amazing Sicily with our fabulous new tour!

Tour Highlights:

  • GUARANTEED DEPARTURES
  • 15 Meals -Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Visit Rome, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Catania, Siracusa, Ragusa, Agrigento and Polermo
  • Tour Savings* - Save $120 per person on select departures (Apr 7, Apr 15 and Jul 7)

Your Southern Italy and Sicily tour includes:


  • Accommodation at 4 star hotels for eight (8) nights
  • Italian buffet or continental buffet breakfast daily except for day of arrival
  • Six dinners and one lunch
  • Private transfer on arrival in Rome and private transfer on departure in Palermo
  • Vatican Museum Tour and Entrance (entrance fees to other tours not included)
  • Boat from Capri to Sorrento
  • Private transfer from Sorrento pier to hotel
  • Tour of the Amalfi Coast
  • English speaking tour escort in Sicily
  • Sicilian typical products tasting (wine, chocolate, biscuits etc) in Ragusa Ibla
  • Transportation by deluxe motorcoach or minivan with driver/guide
  • 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, May 23, 2014

Irish Eye Candy: Slea Head Drive, Ireland

Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

The Slea Head Drive is a circular route, beginning and ending in Dingle, that takes in a large number of attractions and stunning views on the western end of the peninsula.

Travel to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Best Western Antares Hotel Concorde, Milan

Best Western Antares Hotel Concorde
Viale Monza, 132 - 20127 : Milan : ITALY : Phone +39 02 26112020


The 4 star BEST WESTERN Antares Hotel Concorde in Viale Monza is only a few minutes from Corso Buenos Aires and Milan Central Station. In 2008 the hotel was completely renovated creating a result of great visual impact. The hotel's 120 spacious rooms are now completely soundproof and fitted with the latest comforts, including free Wi-Fi.

This area, with its numerous shops, pubs and Italian and ethnic restaurants, is frequented by locals and tourists alike. The hotel is only 50 metres away from Turro metro station so that the Central Railway Station, the historical centre, Fieramilanocity, the Mi.Co Milano Convention Centre and Fieramilano at Rho can be reached within minutes.

Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Huntington Castle Gardens



Huntington Castle Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow t: 053-9377160 w: www.huntingtoncastle.com

These gardens were mainly laid out in the seventeenth-century and include the French limes on the Avenue, the “parterre” or lawns to the side of the house, the fish ponds on either side of the centre walk through the wilderness and the Yew Tree Walk. A lake at the bottom of the wilderness was built for ornamental purposes but next to it is one of the earliest water turbine houses in Ireland, providing Huntington with its own electricity as early as 1888.

Start planning your vacations to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Italian Indulgence – VIP Luxury Escorted Tour

Italian Indulgence -with Guaranteed Departures!

Indulge yourself in Italian luxury, with our new custom small group deluxe tour of Italy. Featuring private tours, boutique accommodations, five special gourmet meals and more!

Tour Highlights:

  • GUARANTEED DEPARTURES
  • Exciting new itinerary
  • Small Luxury Group - no more than 15 participants
  • 12 Meals -Breakfast & Dinner
  • Visit Rome, Assisi, Ravenna, Venice, Verona, Lake Como, Milan, Florence, Pisa and Siena
  • English speaking tour leaders and guides throughout

Your Italian Indulgence tour includes:

  • Accommodation at 4 star superior hotels for seven (7) nights
  • American buffet breakfast daily (except day of arrival)
  • Five gourmet dinners including wine, mineral water and soda
  • Private transfer on arrival and departure in Rome
  • Ground transportation by deluxe minibus when touring
  • Private guided tours of Assisi, Ravenna, Venice, Verona, Sirmione, Lake Como, Milan,Florence, Pisa and Siena
  • Scenic drives including the Autostrada del Sole, the Emilia Romagna region, the Veneto region, the Tuscan countryside and the Italian Alps
  • English speaking tour leader when touring
  • Small group size, with no more than 15 passengers per departure.
  • 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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Regions of Southern Italy

Blending sheer spectacle with a plethora of architectural remains, the south of Italy presents much to enchant today's visitor. See the breathtaking Roman ruins preserved at Pompeii, the Greek influence and magnificent beaches of Sicily and the mystifying ancient structures in Sardina called nuraghi. Admire the Romanesque and Baroque stylings from Puglia to Campania. Bliss out on the Amalfi Coast or lose yourself in the forested landscape of Abruzzo and Molise, the rugged countryside and bustling fishing ports of Basilicata and Calabria.


Campania

This region is renowned for having one of Italy's most beautiful coastlines, backed by irregular massifs punctuated by valleys and plains. Among Campania's riches are the isles of Capri, Ischia and Procida in the Gulfs of Naples (the regional capital) and Salerno, as well as examples of classic antiquity, such as those in Herculaneum, Pompeii, Parstum and Cuma, where amphitheaters, triumphal arches, villas, bridges and tombs are plentiful. Baroque design is strikingly expressed in The Royal Palace of Caserta, and even Paleolithic Art is represented in Naples and Nocera, while relics of the Longobard Age can be found in Capua and Benevento.




Molise

Molise is a hilly continuation of Abruzzo's landscape, crossed by many rivers that flow into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The region's place in the history of Italian art is secured by the cycle of ninth-century frescoes in the crypt of San Lorenzo in San Vincenzo al Volturno. Elsewhere there are plenty of examples of Romanesque, medieval and Baroque-style architecture - of which Roman - and Neapolitan influenced design can be seen in the civic palaces.

Basilicata

An arid, rocky region of two coastlines, one in the center of the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea, and a tiny one on the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the famous resort of Maratea. Potenza is the capital of this archaeologically blessed area. Relics of the Greek era can be found in Metaponto (the Palatine Tables), while ruins of the Roman Age can be seen in Venosa. Medieval art is featured in Venosa and Cerenza (Romanesque style), with Arab-Byzantine and French-influenced architecture in Melfi and Lagopesole and Matera - where visitors can also see the "Sassi," typical houses and churches literally dug into the "tufa" crag.

Apulia

Occupying the easternmost part of the peninsula with a long coastline on the Ionian and the Adriatic Seas, Apulia is essentially flat and dry, with occasionally plunging cliffs. Of great cultural interest are the megalithic monuments at Dolmens and Menhirs, as well as the great archeological complexes at Canne della Battaglia and Ignazia. Roman remains are especially noteworthy throughout the region, and there are superb Romanesque cathedrals at Trani, Barletta, Molfetta, Bitonto and Ruvo di Puglia and Bari - where majestic castles of thirteenth-century Byzantine-Arab style can also be found. Also unmissable is Alberobello with its typical "trulli" houses.

Calabria

The extreme south-western region of Italy, washed by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, dominated by a high central Apennine ridge, overgrown with thick woods, and wild coastal landscapes. Catanzaro is the capital of this region, which yields abundant evidence of previous artistic civilizations and ancient colonies in Sibari, Crotone, Catanzaro, Locri, Vibo Valentia. In Cosenza and Reggio Calabria are baths, theaters and bridges of the Roman Age, while the religious buildings show Byzantine influence, reflecting the region's time under the Empire of Byzantium. Gothic, Renaissance and baroque influences and styles are also well represented in art, design and monuments.

Sicily

Less than two miles from the Italian mainland, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and the southernmost region of Italy. Famous for its blue skies and mild winter climate Sicily is  also home to Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. This fertile paradise was settled by Siculi, Phonecians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Spaniards and Bourbons amond others, and the remnants of these astounding cultures cover the entire island; from the temples of Agrigento to the priceless mosaics of Piazza Armerina and the ancient capital of Siracusa. Smaller islands, such as the Aeolian, Aegadean and Pelagian chains as well as Pantelleria, just 90 miles off of the African coast, are also part of Sicily, offering superb beaches and local lore.

Sardinia

The second largest island in the Mediterranean, formed by a series of mountainous massifs, hills and narrow highlands, has jagged, rocky coasts concealing marvelous beaches and countless picturesque inlets and islets. Cagliari is the capital, ruled by a special statute. Pre- and - post historic eras are expressed by the megalithic "Tombs of the Giants"; the "domus dejanas" (houses of the witches), tombs dub into the rock; and the mysterious "nuraghi," around 7,000 truncated cone towers found all over the island. Phoenician and Roman remains have come to light at Tharros and Nora; there are Roman relics at Porto Torres and Cagliari and the Gothic-Catalonian style survives from the rule of the Spanish House of Aragon.

Travel to Italy with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Friday, May 16, 2014

Irish Eye Candy: Keem Beach, Achill Island

Keem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland



Keem Bay is a perfect horseshoe bay containing a popular Blue Flag beach at the head of a valley between the cliffs of Benmore to the west and Croaghaun mountain on the east.

Travel to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Grand Hotel Excelsior, Amalfi

Grand Hotel Excelsior
Via Papa Leone 10 : Amalfi, Italy 84011 : : Phone 089-830-015

Enjoy the tastes of the Amalfi region in our romantic restaurant Tato. Located on an open terrace, the restaurant offers stunning views of the city while you dine. Groups and weddings will find our hotel an intimate and elegant setting. We offer two multifunctional meeting rooms for both large and small meetings. Our hotel is just 10 minutes from the Amalfi city centre via our private shuttle. Our guests love to explore the incredible sights and rich history including such monuments as Saint Andrew’s Cathedral overlooking the Piazza Duomo.

Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Italy's Central Regions



Central Italy abounds with diverse landscapes and towns rich in art, architecture and culture. From Tuscan's transcendent treasures amid countless towers, palaces and churches, to the "green heart" of Le Marche and Umbria, to the lush Po Delta in Emilia Romagna and Lazio, home to Rome and the independent papal state, Vatican City.

Emilia Romagna

Half mountain range (the Apennines), half coastal plain along the Adriatic Apennines, this region's capital is Bologna, a famous university town. Historically, important Roman traces can be found in Rimini and Ravenna, once capital of the Western Roman Empire. Romanesque Lombardian style is showcased by the Cathedrals of Modena and Piacenza e Ferrara, while Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles are all well represented in the main towns.

Tuscany

Stretching gently down the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea, this region is a geographically charming mix of hilly landscapes and long sandy expanses, headlands and archipelagos. With Florence as its capital, Tuscany is unrivaled as a cradle of art and monuments to Italy's many eras and civilizations: Etruscan, Roman, Gothic and Romanesque. From Fiesole to Chiusi, Volterra to Siena, Pisa to Elba, Tuscany's beauty and appeal is as varied as it is enchanting.

Umbria

The "cuore verde" (green heart) of Italy comprises an undulating landscape dominated by woods, valleys and water - most notably the lake known as Trasimeno, and Falls of the Marmore, which are the highest in Italy. Etruscan traces are abundant in Todi, Bettona, Orvieto and Perugia, while Spoleto and Spello feature impressive Roman remains: Spello is a city, where the Romans left some impressive remains. Beautiful examples of Romanesque style are embodied in the Cathedrals of Assisi, St. Silvestro and St. Michele in Bevanga. The Renaissance still lives through magnificent monuments in towns like Perugia and Gubbio, to name but two.

Marche

A rugged region, facing the Adriatic Sea, with narrow valleys, deep gorges and numerous rushing streams that meet a coastline of gently rolling hills and flat plains. The regional capital is Ancona, and remarkable Roman remains exist in Ascoli, Fano, Ancona, Fermo, Urbisaglia and near Macerata. The presence of local artists such as Raphael and Bramante made this area one of the hotbeds of Renaissance art. Beauty can also be found in natural form in the stunning views from cities such as Pesaro and Urbino.

Abruzzo

The region embraces the highest and hugest massifs of Central Italy, with peaks which often are higher than 2000 meters, as well as a steep and rocky Adriatic coast. The capital L'Aquila has strong Roman and Renaissance influences, but the most creative period was during the Middle Ages, as seen in many wonderful cathedrals, abbeys and sculptures. Goldsmithing is also a renowned craft, dating back to the 16th century. Adding to the drama of this area, the National Park of Abruzzo is home to species like the Marsican Bear and the Gray Wolf.

Lazio

Billowing between the Apennines and the Tyrrhenian Sea, this varied region combines coastal flatlands, and extinct volcanoes that form the lakes of Bolsena, Vico, Bracciano, Albano and Nemi. Rome is, of course, the capital of Italy, as well of the region, which itself is incredibly rich in outstanding relics of all the different periods, as has been the center of an intensive life from the Middle Ages to the 18th century- and contains the hub of the Papacy in Vatican City.


Travel to Italy with Celtic Tours World Vacations


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Olive Oil, Italy's Liquid Green Gold


Olives are grown all throughout Italy, from the northern shores, to as far as Sicily and Puglia, meaning each region naturally claims to be the best producer of olive oil. Here's a brief look inside this fascinating industry, to help you pick out the perfect bottle on your next trip.

How Do Oils Differ?

Within 24 hours of harvest, olives are crushed whole to maintain their naturally low acidity. The pump is pressed and the liquid obtained comprises water and several oils, the two most common are:

Extra-virgin olive oil - The highest quality oil, noticeably green, with acidity of less than 1%, made by cold-pressing the olives - though the use of heat provides more quantity of the oil, the lack of it provides for a better quality.

Virgin olive oil - Produced with no chemical treatment, occasionally cold pressed method, with slightly higher acidity between 1% and 3%.

There are three distinct categories of extra-virgin olive oil, each suited to specific dishes and preparations.

Mild - Light and buttery, ideal for raw meats and carpaccio, fish, vegetables, soups and pasta sauces.





Fruity - Slightly stronger and fruitier flavor, complements grilled meats, pastas or rice in mild sauces, cooked vegetables and bruschetta.




Fruity-Spicy - Aggressive taste, perfect for accompanying rustic dishes like the panzanella, Tuscan bread and tomato salad; ribollita, Tuscan vegetable soup; or pasta with beans.

How To Taste Oil

Like wine, olive oil is a high-quality product with body, acidity and fruitiness that vary from product to product. Experts recommend tasting it before you buy, so it helps to train your palate to distinguish one form the other. In general, good olive oil is sweetish with a peppery tone to it.

Olive oil tasting should be carried out in a controlled environment. Begin by purchasing a couple of top-quality extra-virgin olive oils produced in different parts of Italy along with one of inexpensive brand to compare.



1. Look at the oil against the light to get an idea of the color. For example, greener oils for usually pressed from earl-season olives.

2. Smell the aroma of each of the oils and sort them from mild to strong to establish the ideal order for tasting.

3. Taste them either on a piece of unsalted bread or from separate glasses, using about a teaspoonful of each oil. Cup the glass in your hand to warm it and rotate the oil to release its aromas and flavors. Sip and inhale to vaporize the oil in your mouth.

4. Do not swallow. Spit the oil out and rinse your mouth with some water, or have a small piece of fruit to cleanse your palate before the next sampling.


How To Buy Olive Oil

Buy olive oil in small quantities, since it ages and oxidizes. Check where the olive oil was bottles and ensure the color is green or a dark green. Look for the DOP label, a standard organization that defines the various grades of olive oils: this signifies improved quality.

The best place to buy olive oil is in frantoi in Italy, where olive pressing takes place. You can also find top quality oils on estates throughout Italy, from the farms, or from other specialty shops such as an enoteca where you buy wine as well.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ferrara - An Italian Treasure

A Renaissance gem and UNESCO heritage city in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region, Ferrara makes a great stop when traveling between Venice and Bologna or Florence. This former fortified city is a real Italian treasure combing history, beauty and romance.

Ferrara grew up on the Po River, more than 1300 years ago. But much of the real growth happened under the Este family reign.  The Este family ruled Ferrara from 1208 to 1598, constructing many of the monuments we see today. Under the Estes, Ferrara became a cultural center, renowned for music as well as for visual arts. Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Petrarch, among others, spent time under their patronage.

WHAT TO SEE

Ferrara Cathedral
Cathedral of Saint George the Martyr reflects glories of both the Romantic and Gothic styles. Construction began in the 12th century  and was consecrated in 1135. The original Romanesque facade resembles those of Modena and Parma Cathedrals.

Church of Sant'Antonio in Polesine
A Catholic monastic complex founded in the early Middle Ages by Augustinians and passed to the Benedictines in 1297 under the Blessed Beatrice of Este. Since then, the monastery has been under the patronage of the House of Este. The monastary contains fascinating frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries.

Estense Castle
A moated medieval structure with fascinating history proves to be a fascinating example of military architecture.

The Casa Romei (Palazzo dei Diamanti)
Named for the unusual shape of the over 8,500 marble blocks on the facade, Palazzo dei Diamanti is one of the most famous Renaissance buildings in the world. The Palazzo was once a luxurious private Renaissance residence, and is now the National Art Gallery that hosts exhibits of international importance.

Museo Nazionale Archeologico
Located in the restored 16th century Palazzo Costabili, the Museo Nazionale Archeologico hosts numerous artifacts that testify to Ferrara's formidable past.

Ferrara is a true Italian treasure, blessed with history, beauty and romance. The city is a wonderful stop when traveling between Venice and Bologna or Florence. Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations


Friday, May 9, 2014

Like & Share if You Need A Vacation!



As a Worldwide tour operator, we are pleased to offer you many destinations to choose from. Making Celtic your one stop for your travel needs. We are pleased to offer you Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, as well as many other European destinations, such as France and Amsterdam.

Travel to Europe with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Make a Meal of It, Italian Style

Italian food is an extraordinary feast for the senses. Ranging from simple to hearty, sweet to spice, subtle to strong, each dish and delicacy is prepared with the freshest of ingredients. It's no secret that Italy's cuisine is incomparable, but you may not know quite how to enjoy it to the fullest. Here's a helpful guide to exploring and savoring Italy's culinary bounty.

MANGIA! MANGIA!

"Pizza al taglio" - Pizza by the slice, typically a lunch item found at bakeries and offered in many different varieties.

Sputino - a snack, usually eaten in-between meals.

Apertivo - an aperitif type of drink, usually wine, which is drunk in order to stimulate the appetite before the meal.

Prima colazione - breakfast, the first meal of the day.

Pranzo - lunch, the midday meal from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm, when activity stops.

Merenda - an afternoon snack.

Cena - dinner, usually eaten late, between 8pm and 11pm

Scarpetta - whatever is left on your plate is "scooped" up with a morsel of fresh bread.

MAKE A MEAL OF IT, ITALIAN STYLE

Italian meals consist of 3-4 courses:

Antipasto - a started (hot or cold), meant to stimulate the appetite.

Primo - the first course, usually a soup, rice of pasta dish. This can be topped with a variety of sauces.

Secondo - the main dish, meat or fish served with a contorno (side dish) of vegetables or salad.

Dolce - Dessert or fruit and cheese, followed by coffee or a digestivo such as grappa.

TIPS OF TIPPING

A coperto is a cover charge, an unavoidable "add-on" that basically covers bread and water and is charged per person. Even though tax and services are usually included in the menu prices, it is typical and courteous to leave a small tip of around 10 percent.

THE ART OF COFFEE

Making caffe is an art in itself and ordering un caffe in Italy usually means an espresso. This means "to press," and refers to the pressure applied to the hot water forced through the ground beans, creating this strong, flavorful mixture, whose main variations are listed below.

Lungo (long) - More water (about double) is filtered through the grinds, giving a weaker taste, but still stronger than normal coffee.

Ristretto (restricted) - Less water, yielding a stronger taste.

Doppio (double) - Simply two espressos in one cup.

Corretto (corrected) - With a dash of liquor.

Americano - Diluted with hot water.

Macchiato (strained) - With a drop of steamed milk.

Con Panna - With cream on top.

Affogato - Served over ice cream.

Tip: When ordering a coffee in a bar, pay at the cash register first, then take the receipt to the barista, who will make your brew.

THE COOL OF GELATO

Gelato is the true taste of an Italian summer. Here's the scoop on the terms you need to learn before you lick.

Cono - cone

Coppa - cup

Con panna - with whipped cream on top

Gelateria - ice cream parlor

Granita - shaved ice with assorted fruit juices and sugar

Tip: Pay first at the cassa (cash register), then present your receipt when you order

THE PLEASURE OF FOOD SHOPPING

Although there are many supermarket chains like COOP and Esselunga, shopping for food in the specialty shops makes for a richer, more interesting experience.

il Forno or Fornaio - bread shop
il macellaio - for meat
la norcineria - for pork
una pasticceria - cakes, pasteries and cookies
una latteria - for milk
alimentary - pasta, ham, cheese, general food
enoteca/vinaio - wide selection of wine
salumeria (pizzicagnolo) - for salami and other meat products
i mercati - markets, mainly for fresh fruits and vegetables

Tip: Food is sold by the etto (100 grams = 4 oz), the chilo (1 kilo - 2.2 lbs) or simply in numbers such as 2 bananas.


Italian food is surely an extraordinary feast for the senses. Start planning your vacation to Italy with Celtic Tours World Vacations


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Hotel NH La Spezia

Hotel NH La Spezia
Via XX Settembre : La Spezia, Province of La Spezia 19124 : ITALY : Phone 0187 739555

Facing the sea and located only a five-minute walk from the main pier, the NH La Spezia hotel in Cinque Terre is the ideal base for discovering the enchanting city of Cinque Terre, one of the main attractions of the Italian Riviera and La Spezia in Liguria. A mere 10-minute train ride unveils the stunning coastline, the five scenic villages of Corniglia, Monterosso, Vernazza, Riomaggiore and Manorola, and the surrounding hillsides-all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

NH La Spezia's location is perfect for exploring the town and its environs. We are set a few steps from the shopping districts and charming city center of La Spezia, where you will find numerous caf├ęs and restaurants. The train station is just a 15-minute stroll away, making travel around the area easy from this hotel. In one hour by car or train, you can visit Genoa's Aquarium, the largest of Europe. Guests of the NH La Spezia hotel can also catch ferries to Cinque Terre from the nearby harbor. Our friendly staff will assist you during your stay with helpful suggestions for day trips.

Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Duckett’s Grove Walled Gardens and Pleasure Grounds



Duckett’s Grove Walled Gardens and Pleasure Grounds, Duckett’s Grove, Carlow

Duckett’s Grove, the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth-century home of the Duckett family, was formerly at the centre of a 20,000 acre estate that has dominated the Carlow landscape for over 300 years. Even in ruin, the surviving towers and turrets of Duckett’s Grove form a romantic profile making it one of the most photogenic historic buildings in the country. The revival of two old walled gardens has been completed by Carlow County Council, the old paths revealed and the beds and borders reinstated. Stylistically the new planting schemes echo the past yet reflect changing fashions, utilizing plants and planting patterns that may have evolved over time.

Start planning your vacation to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Hay Festival For Bibliophiles

Every Spring, the small market town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales plays host to a huge literary festival, bringing together more than 80,000 great international writers and thinkers, film-makers, historians and novelists, philosophers, environmentalists, poets, scientists and bibliophiles from near and far. The Hay Festival is more than just a literary festival, it is an intellectual adventure.

Hay-on-Wye is a picturesque market town nestled in the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The town has an estimated population of less than 2000. Hay-on-Wye is located on the Welsh / English border in the United Kingdom. Most of the town lies within Wales, but eastern parts do encroach into England! The town is, nonetheless, considered to be in Wales.


Hay-on-Wye is often described as "the town of books", it is the National Book Town of Wales. It is a bibliophile's paradise. This small town has over 40 books shops. The castle's a book shop, the cinema's a book shop, the fire station's a book shop even the alleyways are book shops. Travelers to Wales will also find a number of galleries, antique shops, and craft shops to tempt their wallet.

Hay-on-Wye has plenty to keep travelers busy. Explore the atmospheric ruins of nearby Llanthony Priory an early 13th Century Augustinian church. The site is open all year and entrance is free. The towns’ location just inside the Brecon Beacons National Park offers visitors stunning scenery and a wealth of outdoor activities including Monmouthshire and Brecon canal.



Travel to Wales in late May/early June to be part of the annual Hay Festival. An event with a laid-back party atmosphere and a global reputation. High profile visitors to the Book Fair have included former US President Bill Clinton, who called the event "Woodstock of the mind”.

Learn more about the Wales Hay Festival. And start planning your Wales vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations






Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sicilian Sun - Escorted Motorcoach Tour

Sicilian Sun -with Guaranteed Departures!

A Celtic Favorite bringing travelers the best of Sicily! This stunning island offers a landscape of fascinating and dramatic beauty. Along with breathtaking scenery, Sicily welcomes you with delicious cuisine as well as the warmth and hospitality!

Tour Highlights:

  • GUARANTEED DEPARTURES
  • A Celtic Favorite!
  • 16 Meals -Breakfast & Dinner
  • Great for groups
  • Special menus included to taste Sicilian cuisine
  • sicilian tasting in Ragusa Ilba, in oone of the most enchanting squares

Your Sicilian Sun tour includes:

  • Roundtrip airport transters (from/to Catania Airport)
  • Accommodation in charming 4 star hotels centrally located
  • Welcome cocktail
  • Buffet breakfast daily (buffet or continental)
  • Dinner each eveing and two lunches
  • Excellent touring includes three Unesco World Heritage Sites
  • Sicilian typical products tasting (wine, chocolate, biscuits etc) in
    Ragusa Ibla
  • Transportation deluxe motorcoach or minivan with driver/guide for groups with less than 15 pax
  • English speaking tour escort
  • Local guides where necessary
  • 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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hotel Spotlight: Hotel Garden, Siena

Hotel Garden
Hotel Garden S.p.A. Via Custoza : Siena 2 - 53100 : ITALY : Phone 39 0577 567111

Sitting in an exclusive panoramic position nearby Siena’s historic centre, the Hotel Garden opened in 1960, restored from an 18th century villa set within a large park filled with rose-gardens and ancient trees. In 2003 a modern “Banqueting Room” was added to host meetings, seminars and weddings.

The “La Limonaia” restaurant with its indoor dining room and panoramic terrace serves dishes from the Siena region. In the summer there is a large pool and tennis court available for sports and to help you unwind.

Start planning your Italy Vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations

Networked Blogs