Category Archives: Italy

Caffè: When in Rome

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The Art of Espresso is well-documented in Roman cafés. Order a tiny cup, guzzle, head out the door. But what if you want to soak in the flavor of a place? Here are Four Caffè you’d do well not to miss when in Rome.

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Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè

Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè has been a Roman institution since 1938. Historic, laidback, simple yet elegant, this caffè brings the best beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Dominican Republic to your taste buds. Probably one of Rome’s most famous coffee bars, drawing the throngs of tourists and once, the likes of Henry Kissinger and Mikhail Gorbachev, this coffee is still well worth a stop. The staff roasts the beans in a wood-burning stove that’s been operating since 1948. If you’ve a sweet tooth, baristas will add a touch of the saccharine to your coffee in the form of a sweet, frothy foam.

Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82.

Antigua Tazza d’Oro

Antigua Tazza d’Oro is a well-respected café just a few feet from the Pantheon. Open since 1946, they claim to have an award-winning taste, among the best in the world. Grab an espresso or order a slushy granita al caffè. If it’s a souvenir you’re after, take home a tin can of roasted coffee beans.

Via degli Orfani 84.

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Antico Caffè Greco

Open in 1760, Antico Caffè Greco is one of hte oldest coffeeshops in Europe. And it seems to have lost none of its lustrous Renaissance charm. Order a cold caffè fredo on a hot August day from a very ceremonious waiter in formal tux. This caffè boasts an illustrious clientele, from Goethe, Stendhal, Casanova, Wagner, Keats, Byron and dozens more. Don’t miss the 300 works of art on the walls – the largest private gallery open to the public – all available for admiration at the cost of a cup of espresso.

Via dei Condotti 86.

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Panella

Though its claim to fame lies in its delicate pastries, from baklava to amuse-bouches, this coffeeshop charms visitors and locals alike with an outdoor patio dressed in colorful flowers. Though of course you can’t leave without indulging in at least a croissant, it’s best paired with a caffè con panna.

Via Merulana 54.

The Italian Glossary of Coffees

Caffè Corretto: shot of espresso with a small amount of liquor—usually grappa, sometimes sambuco or brandy.

Caffè: Take note, when you want an espresso in Italy, order “un caffè.” Most Italians drink an espresso with a touch of a sweetener.

Caffè Americano: A espresso that’s been watered down slightly and served in a larger cup. The closest thing you’ll get to a cup of Joe in Rome.

Doppio: It’s what it sounds like — double espresso, two shots in a slightly larger cup.

Freddo: Any coffee drink that is served cold or cool.

Granita: The delicious granita di caffè is blended ice with coffee and milk.

Hag: This is a shortcut term for decaf coffee. Also un deca.

Latte: Note that in Italy, latte just means milk—so if you order a latte at a bar, you’ll get—guess what? A glass of cold milk. Order a caffè latte and you’ll get closer to a tall glass of steamed milk, with a small shot of espresso.

Lungo: A caffè lungo is partly Americano, partly espresso. It’s like a cup of espresso that is topped with hot water run through coffee grounds. Something akin to a strong cup of coffee.

Macchiato: This word derives from the Italian “stained,” and in essence this drink is a shot of espresso stained with a drop of hot milk.

Marocchino: This little cup of heaven is the best of all worlds—a small shot of espresso, a sprinkle of cacao powder, and a layer of foamed milk.

Panna: If you want a dollop of whipped cream, any type of caffè con panna will get you your creamy fix.

Scuro: Scuro means dark, and at an Italian bar, it means a little less milk than usual. If you like your coffee with cream just a bit more on the coffee side, this is the specialty to go for.

Ristretto: I’ve seen this item on some Portland bars, and it means the same in Italy – a single shot of espresso with less what than traditional.

Caffè d’orzo: A coffee substitute that nevertheless isn’t that close to coffee flavor. Made from barley, it is treated kind of like chicory is in the USA. A non-coffee coffee option.

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NEW: Celebrated Hotels for Celebrated Travelers

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The British Isles are ever-popular among our clients, so it’s no wonder that we’ve chosen to work with some of the finest tour guides and accommodations to curated memorable trips.

Celebrated Experiences offers tailor-made itineraries to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales — and yes, also Italy.

CE takes pride in hand-picking the most delightful hotels, castles, and country B&Bs through the UK, Ireland and Italy. Their selective staff has over 250 annually inspected hotels. Just earlier this month, CE announced some new properties at their fingertips.

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EDINBURGH: The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square

The Principal always makes a splash in vibrant New Town, boasting a multimillion-pound restoration and refurbishment. Don’t miss the immensely fashionable Eastern Mediterranean restaurant, BABA. When we book the Principal for our guests, we make sure they enjoy a bottle of house champagne and canapés – because what is style without champagne? You can also try your hand at the free Gin or Whiskey Master Class!

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COTSWOLDS: The Lygon Arms

With new owners and management, the Lygon Arms is all about timeless service, blending old traditions with new renovations. Originally built as a coaching inn, the hotel is over 500 years, located in that quintessential Cotswolds village, Broadway. Booking with Celebrated Experiences, your agent at WIT can guarantee an upgrade at time of booking – and a spot in the exclusive Cocktail Making Class with the Bar Team!

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ROMA: Palazzo Scanderbeg

This 15th-century palazzo is just steps from the Trevi Fountain. Originally built by an Albanian noble, this old palace boasts 11 rooms and suites, most of which are 1- and 2-bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchenettes, 24/7 concierge, and all the amenities of a full hotel. We can promise a Welcome bottle of sparkling wine when we book a Celebrated Experience at this exceptional hotel – because why shouldn’t we celebrate all our clients?

For More Celebrated Experiences, call us at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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3 Ghoulish Alternatives to Halloween around the World

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Happy Halloween! So how do other cultures celebrate this time of year? Here are five of our favorite devilish celebrations come November: 

La Diabalada, Peru. Early November. 

In the week leading up to November 5, the village of Puno in Peru celebrates La Diablada, a devilish sort of festival where men dress up as demons and hit the streets in a horned parade. Some say that it was to herald the departure of the conquistadors in the late 19th century—others claim that it’s a much older tradition, a way to pay home to ancient spirits of Lake Titicaca that gradually took on the trappings of Christianity. Set against the backdrop of the Cordillera Real mountains, there’s hardly a more dramatic setting. Before the night is over, don’t forget to try a glass of La Diablada Pisco (Peruvian brandy).

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Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), Mexico. Nov 1-2. 

Nobody does death quite like Mexico, who adopts a kind of upbeat discussion of mortality and immortality. Mexicans believe that the dead wait in Mictlan, a spiritual limbo, and can return to their homes just once a year, the Day of the Dead. Families erect an altar piled high with flowers, candles, ribbons, a bowl of water, and bread, and the house is strewn about with candy skulls, papier-mâché skeletons, banners of colored paper, and miniature coffins. Festivities include cooking, singing, dancing, culminating in a family visit to the cemetery.

Festa del Cornuto (Festival of the Horned One), Italy. Mid-November. 

With famed Mediterranean lust comes also its fair share of broken hearts. The Festival of the Horned One is a tribute to anyone who’s been made a cuckold in love. The small village of Rocca Canterano throws a party each November to remember those unlucky ones spurned by their partners. Actors dress up and recite their misfortunes on the streets, bearing helmets with horns, some adopting a more commercial devil’s garb.

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Happy World Chocolate Day!

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Friday 7 July is World Chocolate Day!

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Originally from Mesoamerica, the cacao bean has been a favorite culinary passion for thousands of years. People’s intimate relationship with chocolate is thought to date back all the way three or four millennia, when ancient pre-Columbian cultures like the Olmec were drinking fermented beverages made from the cacao bean.

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The world chocolate comes from the Aztec “xocoatl,” and the scientific name for the tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”

Why July 7? Friday marks 467 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe.

After all, who doesn’t love another excuse to sip down hot chocolate, or bite into a Belgian truffle?

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Celebrate the sweet day of chocolate by:

  • booking a honeymoon vacation to the Mexican coast to see the land that inspired a worldwide culinary passion
  • asking our travel agents about deals for families on Big Island to visit the candy factory and sample macadamia nut chocolates
  • attending a chocolate-making class in Brussels, Belgium in a fine chocolaterie
  • tasting Mexican cocoa in its mouthwatering perfection at Oaxaca, home to small cacao farms
  • booking a train trip in our office on Switzerland’s chocolate train to discover legendary Swiss chocolate in the medieval town of Gruyères
  • book a chocolate workshop in lovely Paris with our friends Chocolatine (their name is oh so apropos)
  • visiting Turin, home to legendary cioccolato caldo (hot chocolate) and the annual CioccolaTò festival, with chocolate factory and treasure hunt

See more destinations for chocolate lovers here

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Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate

(from Olivia’s Cuisine)

  • 2 (3.5oz) bars good quality bittersweet chocolate (Lindt or authentic Mexican chocolate)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp chili powder (optional)
  • ½ Tbsp light brown sugar (optional)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Whipped cream to serve

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Instructions

  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the chocolate with the water and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Once everything is melted, add the milk, heavy cream, chili powder and sugar, and the nutmeg. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let it cook until it thickens a little (about 5 minutes). If you think it’s too thick or sweet for you, add an extra cup of milk to thin it out.
  4. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top!

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Travel News: Italian Airport Waives Max Limit of Liquids in Favor of: Pesto?

Happy Independence Day Weekend All! We hope you have a fantastic holiday. Our office will be open Monday 3 July 8:30am to 5pm, closed Tuesday 4 July.

 

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Italian Airport Waives Maximum Limit Of Liquids In Favor Of Pesto

Because, perché no? The BBC reports: “In an era of high-security air travel, many a passenger has fallen foul of the rules banning liquids on planes. But now an Italian airport has decided to waive the 3.4-oz maximum limit, as long as the liquid is pesto. More than 500 jars have made it through since Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo airport launched the ‘Il pesto è buono’ (Pesto is good) scheme on 1 June. The cost? A donation to Flying Angels, which flies sick children abroad for treatment. Pesto, a popular pasta sauce made with basil, cheese, and pine nuts, is a local specialty in Genoa. The airport said the brainwave arose after staff were faced with ‘hundreds of jars that were seized in airport security checks’. Tourists with pesto jars of up to [1.1 pounds] can ask for a special sticker in exchange for a [55 cent] charity donation, although the airport says many are donating more. The pesto is then scanned in a special x-ray machine before proceeding onto the plane as hand luggage.” 

SIDEBAR: Recipe for Pesto

Want to recreate delicious pesto from your trip to Italy? No problem!

All you need are: 2 cups fresh basil leaves 2 cloves garlic 1/4 cup pine nuts 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup freshly pecorino cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine basil, garlic and pine nuts until chopped. Then add the oil until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Spread on pasta, toast (with avocado), homemade pizza—the possibilities are endless!

Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson To Head Amtrak

Amtrak said Monday it has named Anderson as the nationwide rail network’s next president and CEO. Anderson, former chief executive officer of both Delta and Northwest Airlines, will begin his role on July 12. Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, on more than 21,300 miles of routes. During fiscal year 2016 (Octoer 2015-September 2016), Amtrak had approximately 31.3 million customers.

BA Facing Backlash After Forcing Families To Pay £20 Fee To Sit Together

Furious travellers complain they are being split up from loved ones on flights. The only way to ensure a seat with your family is to pay a minimum £7 reservation fee on a short-haul flight. Even BA’s executive club members awarded ‘companion vouchers’ to go on a romantic break or honeymoon with their partner are being separated on flights. The worst affected are passengers who have bought the cheapest deals. Seats by the emergency exit cost £50 to reserve, while executive club members are charged £24 per seat on longer flights. The policy was introduced in 2009. Paid-for reservations were said to be based on requests from customers, but many are now complaining about the policy on social media, as the airline also faces a backlash for scrapping free sandwiches on short-haul flights and for its plans to reduce leg room on some flights. BA says its computer system then randomly allocates seats for those who do not pay extra. It says this program aims to sit family and friends on the same booking together. But those who have bought basic fares, where they are only allowed cabin luggage, are given the lowest priority. Critics say BA is becoming similar to budget airlines under its Spanish boss Alex Cruz, previously CEO for a low-cost carrier. It is now ranked below Aeroflot.

Qantas Sorted Through 60,000 Suggestions To Name Its New Fleet Of B787-9s

The Australian carrier sorted through 60,000 suggestions to name its new fleet of B787-9s. A small, amiable marsupial known as a Quokka, the natural wonder of the Great Barrier Reef and iconic folk song Waltzing Matilda have won out against the salty, yeast-based breakfast spread Vegemite as names for Qantas’s new fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Also adorning the new aircraft, due to start arriving from October, will be Aboriginal terms Boomerang, Uluru and Dreamtime. The eight names chosen after a public competition also include Great Southern Land, both a song and an alternative name for Australia, and Skippy, which is most commonly associated in Australia with the 1960s TV series about a bush kangaroo. 45,000 votes were cast in selecting the names of the aircraft that will fly nonstop from Perth to London and Melbourne to Los Angeles. “We think the eight names are a reflection of the places and things that make Australians feel proud.

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Ritz-Carlton To Launch A New Luxury Cruise Line

The company sees a three-ship fleet of ultra-high-end 298-passenger ships, with 149 all-suite, balcony cabins, that will play in the same international waters as the luxe lines Regent, Seabourn, and Silversea. Announced yesterday, the company’s cruise venture, with bookings opening in February for voyages in 2019, makes it the first top-tier hotelier to enter into the cruising waters in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, and New England. Among the unique offerings the new cruise line will offer is a greater percentage of large-scale suites than the competition, including duplexes; the highest crew-to-guest ratio in luxury cruising; and a platform that gives guests direct access to the water. The debut yacht, the next two follow in early 2021 and early 2022, will have three swimming pools and three whirlpools; a Ritz-branded spa; a restaurant from the chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Wolfsburg, Germany’s Ritz-Carlton, plus four additional dining venues, and a panoramic lounge and wine bar.

Scandinavian Airlines Testing Electronic Chips For Biometric Boarding Passes

Rickard Gustafson, CEO at Scandinavian Airlines, revealed that one member of staff has a chip implanted in an employee’s hand to test biometric boarding pass ideas. as part of SAS Lab, an innovation center that aims to come up with ways of disrupting the air travel industry in the next three to five years. Swedish commuters can use a hand implant chip instead of train tickets. You can board or access the lounge by simply reaching out your hand. “I don’t think that a lot of customers will let us implement a chip in their hands, but we’re playing around with technology. And out of that, there will come one or two good ideas that then could be commercially viable.” In addition to the chip, SAS is experimenting with other new technology, such as Bluetooth bags tags. “When you check in on our app, the tag is populated with information,” says Gustafson. “There’s kind of a liquid screen on a bag tag. It’s reusable, so when you check-in, you already have populated your tags. When you get through the airport, you go to the self-service bag drop, you scan it and you put it on the belt. Then when you go back home again and you check in on the app, you have an automatically repopulated bag tag, and you’re all set to go. Sweden seems to be at the forefront of biometric chip technology. Swedish train company SJ recently announced it was offering passengers the option of using a biometric chip instead of a paper ticket. The tiny chip has the same technology as Oyster cards and contactless bank cards, NFC (Near Field Communication), to enable conductors to scan passengers’ hands. The scheme is only applicable to those who already have the biometric implant. SJ is not offering to chip people. Around 2,000 Swedes have had the surgical implant to date, most of them employed in the tech industry.

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Travel News: HAL cruises to Cuba

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Holland America Becomes Latest Cruise Line to Sail for Cuba

HAL just announced it will begin sailings from Ford Lauderdale to Cuba starting December 22, 2017, with a 12-day cruise on the Veendam. HAL will begin with nine 7-day itineraries calling at Havana, with three of these also calling at Cienfuegos. Other ports on the cruises will include Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Grand Cayman, Turks and Caicos, Key West in Florida, Montego Bay in Jamaica, Belize, Dominican Republic. This follows the announcement of Royal Caribbean, Azamara Club Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, who will sail Cuba as well.

Royal Caribbean Adds Chief Meteorologist To Marine Ops Team

Royal Caribbean Cruises has added what may be the first-ever full-time cruise industry Chief Meteorologist to its operations team in Jim Van Fleet, who brings a broadcasting background to the position and has degrees in climatology and broadcast meteorology. Van Fleet joined the Miami-based company in January.

Port of Lisbon Wants Homeport Calls

A new cruise terminal will be inaugurated this summer, a new state-of-the-art building located downtown in the city center as port officials have their eyes on building Lisbon into a major home port. And of those, the port is expecting quite a few with maiden visits scheduled from the Viking Sky, Freedom of the Seas, TUI Discovery 2, Columbus, Silver Muse, Variety Voyager, Caribbean Princess, Ocean Diamond, Viking Sun and the new MSC Meraviglia. Lisbon cruise season is mainly spring and fall and the city wants cruise ship to call year round. In addition, one of the main strategic goals is to increase the turnaround segment and establish Lisbon as a big national and international homeport hub, which will induce growth and eventually reduce seasonality effects.

John Travolta Donates His Famous 707

Actor John Travolta has donated his famous Qantas Boeing 707-138 to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) based at Albion Park, approximately 90 miles south of the city of Sydney, Australia. In a statement Travolta said “The aircraft was originally delivered to Qantas Airways in 1964 and was converted for private use after it finished its life with “The Flying Kangaroo”. I was honored to have the 707 repainted in the original Qantas colors when I became the ambassador for the airline, and it’s so fitting that many of the volunteers at HARS are retired Qantas employees.  HARS is a not-for-profit organization and was formed in 1979 by a group of aviation enthusiasts interested in the preservation of Australian aviation history. It has built up an impressive collection of over both flying and static aircraft including a Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-3 and DC-4. It is, without doubt, the most impressive aircraft museum in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Florence Mayor Aims To Keep Polluting Tourists At Bay

The mayor of Florence has told tourists they will “get wet” if they settle down for lunch on the steps of some of the city’s prized churches as he is turning to hosepipes to restore “decorum” among visitors to the Renaissance city. Dario Nardella wants to discourage people from ‘camping out’ by hosing down steps of Basilica of Santa Croce and other sites. The steps of the Basilica of Santa Croce, the burial place of Michelangelo, will be the first to be hosed down at lunchtime, in order to stop visitors from eating on them, followed by the Chiesa di Santo Spirito. “We have nothing against tourists. We know that they are a great resource for our city,” the mayor told The Guardian. “But there is a problem with respecting decorum. The majority of visitors are respectful and elegant. But there has been an increase among those who don’t respect our cultural heritage, who sit down on church steps, eat their food and leave rubbish strewn on them.” The streets of the city’s historic center, a Unesco World Heritage site, will also be hosed down as part of what will initially be an experiment to see if tourists can be discouraged from eating lunch on the steps. Concerned about the spread of fast-food outlets catering to backpackers, he introduced regulations in January last year stipulating that restaurants in the center use products that were typical of the city and the Tuscany region. He also blocked an application by McDonald’s to open an outlet in the historic Piazza del Duomo, prompting the US chain to seek €17.8m (£15.5m) in damages.

Family-centric getaways to Mexico offer something for all ages

On Mexico’s East and West coasts, Palladium Hotels and Resorts’ all-inclusive getaways emphasize privacy and wellness in the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit. All hotels have tiered kids’ clubs — baby, mini and junior clubs — where children are entertained with kid-centric programs, designed to optimize both fun and education. The resorts’ Play at Palladium with Raggs program includes a group of 5 colorful TV characters as on-site ambassadors, hosting activities, poolside events, disco parties, a pirate show and on-property water sports. For older kids, cooking, science and magic classes are also available. 

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Opera in Rome: Summer Schedule

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Summer is festival time in Europe, and what better place to catch an Opera Festival than Italy!

As an inseparable part of Italian history and psyche, Opera is a must-see for travelers seeking the true soul of Italy. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy the greats! We recommend at least one night of your vacation with an Italian opera. 

Here’s a quick schedule of the best opera performances in and around Rome this summer (and a bit of autumn!). Contact Willamette Intl Travel at info@wittravel.com for more details. 

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Terme Di Caracalla

Madama Butterfly, Nabisco, Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Time: July to August @ 9:00PM

Address: Teatro dell’Opera (Teatro alle Terme di Caracalla), Rome – Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 52

Teatro Salone Margherita

La Traviata with Fixed-Menu Dinner Included

Time: Frequently from June to November at 7:30pm

Address: Teatro Salone Margherita, Rome – Via dei Due Macelli, 75

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Opera Omnia (Guided Visit + Concert)

Various programs throughout summer, included Opera Serenades by Night, Opera Gala in Baroque Rome, Capuchin Crypt, Music in Bernini’s Rome, Sounds and Visions of Caravaggio and more.

Time: Ask WIT for Details

Museo Correale di Terranova

Various programs including Neapolitan songs, the three tenors, arias and more. 

Time: June to October @ 9:00PM

Address: Museo Correale di Terranova – Via Correale, 50

Sferisterio Opera Festival

An annual summer opera festival with 3-4 operas per year. 

Time: July to August

Address: Macerata

Puccini Festival

An annual celebration of Puccini productions, attracting about 40,000 spectators each year to its open-air theater.

Time: July to August

Address: Tuscany

Contact your agent at Willamette Intl Travel today for the best insider tips for your next Italian trip! 503-224-0810 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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