Joyce Falcone

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With my calendar full of appointments I head tomorrow to Piemonte, Toscana and Roma. With a well planned list of stops I have used Google maps to plan each and every day. Divided into each day there is a map, contact info, and managers name to make sure that every minute is used wisely. This is called R&D- Research and Development, this is where I travel specifically to gather information to be able to sell and discuss the finer aspects of Italy with you.

Many friends ask to come along on R&D, but I have learned this can be a conflict. For friends, going to Italy is a vacation , for me Italy means work. I do not schedule in time to sit in the piazza and drink a cafe.

During this particular trip I have 39 villas and hotels to review in 10 days. It is an aggressive schedule, with only two days planned in as play days. Upon arrival, at Malpensa, and with a rental car, I will drive to the Langha and Roero with the first appointment scheduled for 11:30. Call me crazy, but I do not use a GPS. I take along a trusty Michelin Map ( now on version #4 having worn out the other editions).

The goal is to review hotels newly opened, and villas in Tuscanys' central core as this is a new service we will be offering. Oh and to have risotto with truffle at least once.

Two days into the research, and I feel like Anthony Bourdain where I cannot even recite to you where I have been. Today I started touring a lovely Relais of 16 rooms a renovated monastery overlooking a pristine valley, with swimming pool ( no the monks did not have that) the rooms simly decorated ( after all they were once cells) but now with halogen lamps. From there I reviewed a beautiful beautiful villa with 4 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, heated pool and hectares and hectares of land. The owner was asking Eu 20,000/week for the rental. The property lovely only issue was it was in the countryside in farm country and not in wine country.

Selling truffles on the side of the road Selling truffles on the side of the road



From there, I raced to Monforte d'Alba to see a newly refurbished villa ( 4 bedroom ) quite fine with pool, would be rented so easily. If I were you I would book it now for next October for truffle season. Stumbled upon a very very chic renovated palazzo

in town and was able to squeeze into the day a classic fried egg shaved with truffle and glass of Nebbiolo. Then to a hotel castello in the Langha proper to a Modern resort complete with Michelin ristorante on the premises and an Aveda Spa, which unfortunately I could not stay and test. But the very highlight of my day was encountering this Trufalao who was hawking his wares out of his new Audi A6 wagon in the parking lot.

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It is hard to believe that this will be my fifth trip to Italy this year.   January- Rome and Firenze , February skiing in the Dolomites, and Venice, May on tour in Puglia and then to Emilia Romagna, early October to Venice and Verona and this week Piemonte and Toscana.  With this job, I am  always searching for more information to share with all of you, this is the life of a professsional traveler to Italy.

Many people would want to ask, Am I tired of traveling to the same places?  But you see, I have not been to the same place this year, and with twenty regions  in Italy each one different, one never is bored.  This trip I am preped for   some glorious foods such as  Barolo, Dolcetto, Gianduja, risotto,  and Truffles.  In Venice the classic pairing is baccala mantecato and Friuliano.   Toscana will serve cingale in a hearty red sauce  ( and God-awful bread).

En route, the United Premier lounge  in Newark airport  is a good place to work, and wait until your flight is called.   Well worth the Chase Visa Card activation charge.  Here are some of the benefits of obtaining this card:  specialty lines for check in, specialty lines through security, and of course the lounge benefits such as snacks, drinks,  comfy chairs and electric outlets for all the business gear that a working traveler needs to stay connected.  Every seat  in the lounge is full by the way, however, when checking on my reservation to Milano apparently  the plane was not.  Whether this had to do with Emirates new discounted fare or the time I year, I do no know.    As a reluctant  flyer in coach class,   I seat surf frequently prior to departure,  to see if I can secure a more advantageous position with a tad more space.  Rarely,  is that the case, especially  when flying to Europe during high season months.

On this flight first class was  empty when I looked at the screen one last time. Then the offer came blinking in front of me,     First Class  Upgrade for $859.   That sounded pretty good, but I did not take it.  After passing security,  and having some time to review,  a little voice said,  Why not try first class?    When approaching the agent she had an even better offer. First Class for $550 and 20,000 miles  How can one resist?

emirates

I just received this email and had to share it with you all:

flight deal

This is a great price for flights to Italy. I haven't seen many flights lower than this in a while, and Emirates is a great airline. It was recently awarded Center for Aviation Airline of the Year award for the third time.

It makes me want to go back for a weekend in December to go Christmas shopping!

In case you missed our update about their new route in the June newsletter,  Middle Eastern airline Emirates entered the U.S.-Italy market with a bang, offering nearly twice as many seats per day as the airlines currently servicing the route.

Beginning October 1, it also became the only airline to offer a true luxury flight experience between NYC and Milan. Each of its 777-300s planes has 12 first-class suites and 42 lie-flat business class seats.

Sweetening the pot even further, if the Emirates sale doesn't work for you for some reason, domestic carriers have created interesting offers to try to match their new competition.



Delta has matched Emirates prices (even going a bit lower in some cases) and offered extra frequent flyer miles on this route.

If you've been waiting for the right time to book flights, we won't see a fare face-off like this again for years.

Joyce

in Italy 2094 0

photo-3 copy 4This month, I headed to the Veneto, the region surrounding Venice, for the Buy Venice show, an excellent place to find stunning, artisanally-made Italian products.

While I have certainly found many new items for my “Things I Love” column in the newsletter, especially these Le Furlane hand-made slippers sold under the Rialto, I have to tell you about something even better than a new pair of earrings or gourmet food to tuck in your luggage:

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in Italy 2032 0


I’m getting ready to head to Italy twice next month, first to the Buy Veneto show and then for two weeks of research in Piedmont, Tuscany, and Rome.

Though I’m familiar with Katie Parla’s stunning Rome app (photo above), I’ve never had a chance to look into the increasingly wide world of  travel apps. But the landscape has changed significantly from the early Italian travel apps, which were little more than shrunken guidebooks.

Today your phone can ask questions for you in Italian or provide a whole set of situation specific vocabulary all while offline. You can find out if the train is on time and translate menus just by snapping a picture with your phone.

Some of these apps are iPhone only, but many are available for a variety of operating systems, including Android and Windows mobile.

Apps that Help You Navigate Italy



  • Word Lens – snap a picture of an Italian word on a sign, menu, or reservation and the app translates it

  • Rail Europe – browse schedules, buy train tickets, and find information on luggage storage and other train station services

  • Pronto Treno – connecting to the Italian national rail network, this app allows you to check whether your train is on time and whether there’s an upcoming strike scheduled

  • Italo Treno - with information on the newest high speed train system that links major cities in Italy


Italian Language Apps



  • The Lonely Planet Phrasebook – type in a phrase in English and the app translates and speaks the phrase for you in Italian

  • Talking Italian Phrasebook – sponsored by the Fiat 500, this app allows you to search by category to find the vocab for the situation you need, whether shopping, checking into your hotel, or getting directions

  • WorldNomads Italian-English Translator – prepared phrases available offline that allow you to practice your budding Italian in any travel situation


City/Region Specific Apps



  • Tuscany for Foodies – recommended by SlowItaly, this app catalogs the culinary artisans of Tuscany that keep ancient traditions alive and the restaurants that serve their food

  • Rick Steves’ Ancient Rome Tour – an interactive guide with audio and video to help create your own walking tour of Rome’s ancient sites

  • Katie Parla’s Rome – an elegant, well-styled compendium of impeccably curated picks for eating, shopping, and exploring Rome

  • Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome - highlighting all the good stuff in Italy. Elizabeth has apps for Rome, Florence and Venice, plus her instagram sends are a glimpse of what we are missing daily


Italian Food Apps



  • Foodies by Gambero Rosso – from the publisher of the Italian equivalent of the French Michelin guide, Gambero Rosso’s comprehensive listing of the best eateries—from pizzarias to gourmet temples—includes GoogleMaps directions and itineraries

  • Italian Menu Decoder – a food-focused dictionary that includes nearly every ingredient, dish, and food festival you’ll come across in Italy, no matter where in the country you are

  • Olive Oil IQ – a guide to the differences between olive oil varieties and uses in different parts of Italy, as well as background on olive oil history and production

Accolades

2008 - 2012 CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER ITALY SPECIALIST

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2009 - 2022 TRAVEL + LEISURE A-LIST

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