Story of the 7 Cuban jewels



Story of the 7 Cuban jewels

The first seven Spanish settlements that the Spaniards founded in Cuba laid the foundations for for the valuable heritage handed down to Cubans today. Architecture, religion, the dance, art,  literature, the oral tradition and even the racial mixture of today's Cubans were the result of that tremendous blending of Indians, Africans, Frenchmen, Asians and Spaniards over the course of time.

The first Spanish settlements drew on the best trends of the Old World - but also on the tropical warmth of the Caribbean.

Seven Spanish settlements were founded one after another, each in a search for good land that would bring Spain quick richness. At first they were alike; the differences among them that made each of them unique appeared later on.

1) Villa de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion de Baracoa

Diego Velazquez founded Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion de Baracoa on the northern coast of Cuba at a place that the indians called Baracoa - which means highland in the Arawakan language. The Governor immediately declared it to be both a biospheric and the political and ecclesiastical capital of the island and ordered Cuba's first cathedral to be built here.

Even though the settlement prosperity did not last long, Baracoa is still recognised as the first spanish settlement to be established in Cuba. In 1838 Queen Maria Cristina de Habsburg- Lorraine of Spain gave it the coat of arms that is still preserved here. Both coat of arms and the Parra Cross are historic relics.

Located in the eastern province of Guantanamo, Baracoa is richly endowed by nature. Its natural setting is one of the most beautiful in Cuba and is favorite of those who seek unique places and fauna.  Baracoa has more then 60 archaeological sites that contain evidence of the Tainos, who that lived in the area at the time of the Spaniard's arrival but are now extinct.

You can fly to Baracoa from any Cuban province or come by road from the city of Guantanamo, over a viaduct called La Farola - an engineering feature that is literally a cliff-hanger.

2) San Salvador de Bayamo

With different styles of architecture, Bayamo has public squares, mansions and a very old cathedral. The former Monastery of Santo Domingo (now a theatre) is still standing in the original nucleus of the city.

Bayamo, which has been declared a national monument , is the cradle of Cuban nationality. Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, the Father of this Country, was born here; it played an important part in the first Republic in Arms during Cuba's Wars of Independence against Spanish colonialism; and the notes of Cuba's National Anthem were first heard in its streets.

The people of Bayamo have maintained the tradition of using old, colonial-style horse drawn carriages.  Driving through Bayamo in one of those carriages as the ladies and gentlemen of the 19th century used to do, enjoying the passing scene, is a delightful experience that you won't find elsewhere.

3) Villa de La Santissima Trinidad

The settlement of La Santissima Trinidad was founded in the central part of the island in the first few days of January 1514. Soon was to become the starting point for expeditions conquest South America.

Its benign climate, the nearness  of the Caribbean Sea and the fertility of its land made it a most desirable place. The city urban architecture was well adapted to the tropical heat and bright sunlight of the Caribbean. Wooden balustrades, large windows, spacious homes with arcades and continuos balconies are typical characteristics.

Trinidad had its heyday - based on sugarcane - in the first few decades of the 19th century. However. its architecture continued to obey the percepts of the 18th century. Trinidad has now one of the most perfect, most beautiful and best preserved architectural groups in the Americas - leading to its being called "the museum city of Cuba". Unesco declared both the original nucleus of the city and nearby San Luis de los Ingenios Valley, with its amazing Iznaga Tower, to be parts of world heritage.

La Canchanchara, the typical dring of Trinidad, is made of honey, lime juice and high wine and dates from Cuba's War of Independence. It has a pleasant refreshing taste.

4) Santa Maria del Puerto del Principe

Santa Maria del Puerto del Principe  (now the city of Camaguey) was founded at Guincho Point on February 1514. Isolated in the middle of a vast unpopulated territory and with no means of communication, the settlement developed slowly up to the beginning of the 17th century, when, thanks, to the upsurge in cattle raising, it became one of the richest places in Cuba. the buildings facing on San Juan de Dios Square are the best representatives of colonial period.

The city's design is the most asymmetrical of the cuban cities. Many of its streets are labyrinthine,  and in some places of the spider web it's easy to lose your sense of direction. The city is called "the city of large earthenware jars" because, at the beginnings the area was very dry, and large earthenware jars were used to store water fresh and pure for a long time.

Santa Lucia is the main beach resort on the northern coast of Camaguey, where there are around 12 miles of fine white sandy beaches. It is protected by a beautiful coral reef, the longest one in the Caribbean, that is just a short distance offshore, an ideal place for scuba diving.

5) Sancti Spiritus

Diego Valazquez founded this settlement on a bank of the Yayabo River in 1514. These days, Sancti Spiritus is a colonial - style city with centuries of traditions embodied in large houses, churches, museums, old streets and walls, all of which encourages visitors to learn more about its inhabitants customs and way of life.

This territory has may attractions for nature lovers. They include Topes de Collantes, Caguanes National Park and the stone cays. The are around San Jose del Lago is famous for its medicinal-mineral waters, and Alturas de Banao has impressive scenery and lush vegetation.

Music in Sancti Spiritus has a distinctive note. The inhabitants most generous contribution to Cuba's culture is the ballad, with both important singers and songs becoming part of the nation's heritage. The Santiago Espritituano, a carnival whose origins go back to religious celebrations in 1655, is the oldest of the city's traditional festivities.

6) Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is justly famed fro being the city with the greatest Caribbean ambience in Cuba - not just because of its geographic location,  lapped by the warm waters of Caribbean Sea, but also because of its amalgam of cultures : Spanish, African, French, Haitian and Antillean in general.

Many say that bolero was created in Santiago de Cuba, because this is where Pepe Sanchez who wrote the first piece of this genre that arose at the end of the19th century, was born.

The inhabitants of Santiago de Cuba proudly call it "the capital of history" and a heroic city. Twenty -nine generals in Cuba's Wars of Independence were born here.

Santiago de Cuba contains the oldest house in the Americas, which was originally the residence of Governor Diego Velazquez in the 16th century. It is now the Museum of Historic Ambiance.


7) San Cristobal de la Havana

Because of its strategic position, Havana became Spain's most important port in the New World, with Spanish galleons gathering here from fleets before heading bach across the Atlantic to Spain. Therefore the settlement became known as " the key to the New World and rampart of the West Indies." On December 20, 1592 , Philip II declared it a city, and in 1953 in became the capital of the island, the Spanish governor moving from Santiago de Cuba.

Havana has preserved the architectural heritage from its colonial past better then most other cities in the Americas. It contains elegant homes and colonial-styles mansions, public squares, cobblestone streets, churches, old fortresses and sections of the old walls that ones protected the city.  Havana's public squares and system of fortifications - which UNESCO declared to be part of world heritage in 1982- are undoubtedly its main attractions.

Other attractions include the Museum of Fine Arts; The Museum of Cuban Art, whose permanent collections and individual exhibits reflecting cuban identity and genesis; and the National Ballet of Cuba, whose home is in the Gran Theatre of Havana.

Cuba's capital also has more than 30 sites that have been declared national monuments.









Story of the 7 Cuban jewels

The first seven Spanish settlements that the Spaniards founded in Cuba laid the foundations for for the valuable heritage handed down to Cubans today. Architecture, religion, the dance, art,  literature, the oral tradition and even the racial mixture of today's Cubans were the result of that tremendous blending of Indians, Africans, Frenchmen, Asians and Spaniards over the course of time.

The first Spanish settlements drew on the best trends of the Old World - but also on the tropical warmth of the Caribbean.

Seven Spanish settlements were founded one after another, each in a search for good land that would bring Spain quick richness. At first they were alike; the differences among them that made each of them unique appeared later on.

1) Villa de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion de Baracoa

Diego Velazquez founded Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion de Baracoa on the northern coast of Cuba at a place that the indians called Baracoa - which means highland in the Arawakan language. The Governor immediately declared it to be both a biospheric and the political and ecclesiastical capital of the island and ordered Cuba's first cathedral to be built here.

Even though the settlement prosperity did not last long, Baracoa is still recognised as the first spanish settlement to be established in Cuba. In 1838 Queen Maria Cristina de Habsburg- Lorraine of Spain gave it the coat of arms that is still preserved here. Both coat of arms and the Parra Cross are historic relics.

Located in the eastern province of Guantanamo, Baracoa is richly endowed by nature. Its natural setting is one of the most beautiful in Cuba and is favorite of those who seek unique places and fauna.  Baracoa has more then 60 archaeological sites that contain evidence of the Tainos, who that lived in the area at the time of the Spaniard's arrival but are now extinct.

You can fly to Baracoa from any Cuban province or come by road from the city of Guantanamo, over a viaduct called La Farola - an engineering feature that is literally a cliff-hanger.

2) San Salvador de Bayamo

With different styles of architecture, Bayamo has public squares, mansions and a very old cathedral. The former Monastery of Santo Domingo (now a theatre) is still standing in the original nucleus of the city.

Bayamo, which has been declared a national monument , is the cradle of Cuban nationality. Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, the Father of this Country, was born here; it played an important part in the first Republic in Arms during Cuba's Wars of Independence against Spanish colonialism; and the notes of Cuba's National Anthem were first heard in its streets.

The people of Bayamo have maintained the tradition of using old, colonial-style horse drawn carriages.  Driving through Bayamo in one of those carriages as the ladies and gentlemen of the 19th century used to do, enjoying the passing scene, is a delightful experience that you won't find elsewhere.

3) Villa de La Santissima Trinidad

The settlement of La Santissima Trinidad was founded in the central part of the island in the first few days of January 1514. Soon was to become the starting point for expeditions conquest South America.

Its benign climate, the nearness  of the Caribbean Sea and the fertility of its land made it a most desirable place. The city urban architecture was well adapted to the tropical heat and bright sunlight of the Caribbean. Wooden balustrades, large windows, spacious homes with arcades and continuos balconies are typical characteristics.

Trinidad had its heyday - based on sugarcane - in the first few decades of the 19th century. However. its architecture continued to obey the percepts of the 18th century. Trinidad has now one of the most perfect, most beautiful and best preserved architectural groups in the Americas - leading to its being called "the museum city of Cuba". Unesco declared both the original nucleus of the city and nearby San Luis de los Ingenios Valley, with its amazing Iznaga Tower, to be parts of world heritage.

La Canchanchara, the typical dring of Trinidad, is made of honey, lime juice and high wine and dates from Cuba's War of Independence. It has a pleasant refreshing taste.

4) Santa Maria del Puerto del Principe

Santa Maria del Puerto del Principe  (now the city of Camaguey) was founded at Guincho Point on February 1514. Isolated in the middle of a vast unpopulated territory and with no means of communication, the settlement developed slowly up to the beginning of the 17th century, when, thanks, to the upsurge in cattle raising, it became one of the richest places in Cuba. the buildings facing on San Juan de Dios Square are the best representatives of colonial period.

The city's design is the most asymmetrical of the cuban cities. Many of its streets are labyrinthine,  and in some places of the spider web it's easy to lose your sense of direction. The city is called "the city of large earthenware jars" because, at the beginnings the area was very dry, and large earthenware jars were used to store water fresh and pure for a long time.

Santa Lucia is the main beach resort on the northern coast of Camaguey, where there are around 12 miles of fine white sandy beaches. It is protected by a beautiful coral reef, the longest one in the Caribbean, that is just a short distance offshore, an ideal place for scuba diving.

5) Sancti Spiritus

Diego Valazquez founded this settlement on a bank of the Yayabo River in 1514. These days, Sancti Spiritus is a colonial - style city with centuries of traditions embodied in large houses, churches, museums, old streets and walls, all of which encourages visitors to learn more about its inhabitants customs and way of life.

This territory has may attractions for nature lovers. They include Topes de Collantes, Caguanes National Park and the stone cays. The are around San Jose del Lago is famous for its medicinal-mineral waters, and Alturas de Banao has impressive scenery and lush vegetation.

Music in Sancti Spiritus has a distinctive note. The inhabitants most generous contribution to Cuba's culture is the ballad, with both important singers and songs becoming part of the nation's heritage. The Santiago Espritituano, a carnival whose origins go back to religious celebrations in 1655, is the oldest of the city's traditional festivities.

6) Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is justly famed fro being the city with the greatest Caribbean ambience in Cuba - not just because of its geographic location,  lapped by the warm waters of Caribbean Sea, but also because of its amalgam of cultures : Spanish, African, French, Haitian and Antillean in general.

Many say that bolero was created in Santiago de Cuba, because this is where Pepe Sanchez who wrote the first piece of this genre that arose at the end of the19th century, was born.

The inhabitants of Santiago de Cuba proudly call it "the capital of history" and a heroic city. Twenty -nine generals in Cuba's Wars of Independence were born here.

Santiago de Cuba contains the oldest house in the Americas, which was originally the residence of Governor Diego Velazquez in the 16th century. It is now the Museum of Historic Ambiance.


7) San Cristobal de la Havana

Because of its strategic position, Havana became Spain's most important port in the New World, with Spanish galleons gathering here from fleets before heading bach across the Atlantic to Spain. Therefore the settlement became known as " the key to the New World and rampart of the West Indies." On December 20, 1592 , Philip II declared it a city, and in 1953 in became the capital of the island, the Spanish governor moving from Santiago de Cuba.

Havana has preserved the architectural heritage from its colonial past better then most other cities in the Americas. It contains elegant homes and colonial-styles mansions, public squares, cobblestone streets, churches, old fortresses and sections of the old walls that ones protected the city.  Havana's public squares and system of fortifications - which UNESCO declared to be part of world heritage in 1982- are undoubtedly its main attractions.

Other attractions include the Museum of Fine Arts; The Museum of Cuban Art, whose permanent collections and individual exhibits reflecting cuban identity and genesis; and the National Ballet of Cuba, whose home is in the Gran Theatre of Havana.

Cuba's capital also has more than 30 sites that have been declared national monuments.







This week cruise offers Cyber Weekend edition

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This week cruise offers

Inspired by arranging a gathering voyage for family or companions?

Booking a gathering journey with our partner DirectFerries most likely has its points of interest. Whether its complimentary chocolate and champagne, a private locally available mixed drink gathering or a free billet, Alotoftrips.com in association with DirectFerries and CruiseDirect can offer you uncommon enhancements altered for your gathering. All it takes to qualify is a gathering voyaging together in 8 or more staterooms.


Save up to 40% with Fred. Olsen's Warmer Cruising offers

Enjoy a special saving of up to 40% when you book your next cruise now from a selection of autumn and winter escapes departing between October 2019 and March 2020, with Fred. Olsen’s Warmer Cruising offers.


Cyber Weekend Sales Event: Kids Sail FREE, 60% OFF 2nd Guest, Up to $300 Instant Savings, PLUS - Up to $1,500 to Spend On Board on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line! Cyber Weekend Sales Event: FREE Drinks + FREE Tips + FREE WiFi @Sea + PLUS, Up to $2,800 to Spend On Board on Celebrity Cruises!Cyber Weekend Sales Event: 30% OFF All Guests + FREE Open Bar + FREE Shore Excursions + FREE WiFi @Sea + Up to $2,000 to Spend On Board on Norwegian Cruise Line! Cyber Weekend Sales Event: 50% Reduced Deposits, Early Saver Rates & Up to $1,550 to Spend On Board on Carnival Cruise Line! Cyber Weekend Sales Event: 30% OFF All Guests + FREE Open Bar + FREE Shore Excursions + FREE WiFi @Sea + Up to $2,000 to Spend On Board on MSC! Cyber Weekend Sales Event: FREE Drinks, FREE WiFi @Sea, FREE Dining, FREE Upgrades & Up to $2,900 to Spend On Board on Princess Cruises!

Lombardia's Cities of Art

Lombardia's  Cities of Art

Embark on a voyage of discovery through the Cult City masterpieces of Lombardia. Eight Cities of Art just waiting to be discovered, one after the other. Must-see masterpieces, special moments by the water, leisurely journeys of discovery, places where the horizon seems to stretch out in front of you. Get ready for a range of unique experiences in Lombardy's  Cult cities that look to the future while proudly preserving stunning heritage.

1) Milan - From fashionable skyscrapers to the legendary Panettone, from an aperitif to the events of YesMilano. The capital of innovation to experience between tradition and glimpses of the future. From Raffaello to Anselm Kiefer, Art is at home in Milan. Here are a few tips for art lovers of all ages:

- at the Pinacoteca di Brera admire some of the greatest masterpieces of art from the Pala Montefeltro by Piero della Francesca to the Sposalizio della Vergine by Rafaello.

- at the Museo del Novecento where, in 10000 steps, you can cross a whole century up to Lucio Fontana's Neon.

- at the Triennale Milano, where architecture and design interfere with each other

- at GAM in Villa Reale, a masterpiece of neoclassical era. You can treat yourself with a break in the beautiful cafeteria, after admiring Segantini, Canova and Medardo Rossso.

- at the Gallerie d'Italia in Piazza della Scala where you can even visit the vault that hosts about 500 paintings from the Intesa SanPaolo collection.

- at the Museo Poldi Pezzzoli observe one of the most extraordinary story of the collector of the late nineteenth century

-at the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca walk under the Seven Heavenly Palaces of Anselm Kiefer

- at the Fondazione Prada immerse yourself in the architecture designed by the OMA studio.

- at the Museo Teatrale alla Scala retrace the lives of immortal artists, singers and unforgettable dancers.
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2) Brescia - The roman town of Brixia. This is Brescia a Lioness that looks in the future with firm roots in the past. Visit the the square dedicated to Pope Paul VI and discover that the city does not have one Duomo (cathedral), but two. Not to be missed the Clock Tower with its astronomical dial, a wonder of technology and art.

A theatre city. Hundreds of artists, more than 50 city venues, tens of thousand of people. In September from daybreak to midnight, the "Festa dell'Opera" brings opera music into the streets of Brescia, its theatres and its most ancient places, in restaurants and in its backyards. A festival organised by the Teatro Grande, a temple of Italian Opera.

The "Mille Miglia": Brescia to Rome and back. It has been run every year since 1927: 450 historic cars from 41 countries, the roar of engines, elegance and sophistication. "A travelling museum unlike anything else in the world" in the words of Enzo Ferrari. And you can always admire the Mille Miglia Museum in Santa Eufemia della Fonte.

3) Como - The reasons for the city that loves science and designs with light. To be explored inside and out. Without ever losing the sight of the lake. From the Tempio Voltiano to the neoclassical villas, passing through the historic centre  and the secrets of silk.

In the Como area, the silk production dates back from the 15th century. With the arrival of the industrial revolution, between the 18th century and the first part of the 19th century, twisting and spinning factories mushroomed through the region. The Silk Museum illustrates the entire production chain, from the silkworm to the finishing, through a collection of textiles machines and thousands of historical pieces. The Fondazione Ratti's Museo studio del Tessuto houses 3300 individual textile items and over 2500 books.

A tour of the villas. The first to visit is to the cultural centre of Vila Omo, a magnificent 18th century villa also famous for its Italian garden, that offers the best view of Como overlooking its lake. The "Chilometro della Conoscenza", running through 42 acres of centuries-old parks surrounded by water, takes us to the Villa del Grumello and Villa Sucota, where we can explore greenhouses and lemon groves, and in spring enjoy the poetry walks of the 'Festival Parolario".

The world's most famous lake can be explored by boat of by seaplane. The view is breathtaking, but the real thrill is landing on the water.

4) Lecoo - From the locations associated with Alessandro Manzoni to the noble profile of Monte Resegone, a neoclassical theatre, a cabinet of curiosities, and the splendid lake. These are just a few of the resasons to love Lecco.

For a jazz concert or a play by a famous author the destination is the Teatro della Societa. The facade of the building inaugurated in 1844 betrays the intentions of the architect Giuseppe Bovara: to create a smaller Teatro alla Scall on the lake.

Pure adrenalin. Lecco offers this as well : a competition to test yourself without taking yourself too seriously. It's the "Scigamatt", a hurdle race held every month of September, since 2010, which transforms Lecco into a set  of "Jeux Sans Frontieres".  On a race track that changes every year, the contestants jump over 20 tons of hay bales, nets, tyres, water and mud. Recommended  equipment : a carefree spirit and sprightly legs.

5) Monza  - From the Treasure of Queen Theodelinda to the thrill of Autodromo. A two-speed city. Ready to enchant us with record breaking masterpieces. From the cathedral to the Villa Reale and the Design Museum. Off to the Autodromo for a spin on the track. This are just some of the many opportunities to fall in love with Monza.

From the antiquity to the present, in the 14th century building to the former Casa degli Umiliati. One city, many souls. Discover them in the epigraph of a votive altar that reveals the ancient name of the citizens of Monza : "Modiciates"', or in the 20th century art works, including those displayed at the first Monza Triennale.

Monza Autodromo is the fastest Formula1 track : 5,793 metre  of pure excitement. Watching the race crowded along the track or in the stands is a sort of collective ritual. In the rest or the year, the track is open to the public and anyone can sign up for a sports driving course.

6) Pavia -  A city to be discovered slowly. On the  trail of the Lombards or among the cloisters of the university. Without forgetting the heritage of flavours and labels. From one of the oldest universities in the world to the riverside, in the heart of Pavia, capital of the Lombards, or on the hunt for great wines. Enough reasons to live your heart here.

The Lombard greatness has left a strong sense of pride among the citizens of Pavia, as well as several testimonies in the city, like the three Cyrpts of Santa Maria alle Cacce, San Giovanni Domnarum and Sant Eusebio, with magnificent "fibula' and "waterleaf" capitals.  It is inspiring to admire from up close the Teodote stone plutei and the funerary gold jewellery, preserved at the Musei Civici del Castello Visconteo, a red brick fortress with huge towers at the wall corners.

You can navigate the river on boats known as 'barce' or narrow rowing boats or cross it over one of the two bridges. The river Ticino is largest blue thoroughfare  where you can discover the relaxed side of Pavia in the quaint Borgo Ticino.

7) Sondrio is the place that makes the Valtellina even finer. The stue, or wooden rooms, and the terracing, the exploits of Orlando Furioso, a glass of Sforzato, are just so me of the things that make Sondrio unforgettable.

You will be surprised by the hidden treasures like the old "stue", made of Swiss stone pine that used to be the heart of alpine houses, or the stucco work and trompe- l'oeil in the spectacular 18th  ballroom of Palzazzo Sartoli. Some masterpieces reveal the great passions that inspired them: it is the case of the priceless wealth of Renaissance frescoes dedicated to "Orlando Furioso", the protagonist, at the Castello Masegra, of one othe most compelling 16th century "comic strip-like' mural.  A precious testimony of Ludovico Ariosto's love for the Alps, and theirs for him.

The Camminata alla Madonna della Sassella is not just a short escape out of town, but also a way to rediscover a spiritual dimension. It starts in town, almost by accident. From one little shrine to the next, you climb among the vineyards and terraces of the ancient via Valeriana up to the 16th Sanctuary. From the bustle of the city to the quiet of Valtellina, almost without realising it.

8) Varese -  From the gardens of Palazzo Estense to the infinite vistas of the Sacro Monte. To discover the other geometry of a city on a human scale. The Pallazzo Estense park (1771) is the icon of Garden City, which Giacomo Leopardi called Little Versailles. Along the boulevards around the fountain, between the hedges, a reassuring symmetry dominates the scene.

A walk, a journey of faith, a Baroque museum under the open sky: it is the Via Sacra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fourteen 17th-century chapels connect the city to the Sanctuario. The Casa Museo Pogliaghi also deserves a stop, in its jumbled aquarium we will be able to spot classical busts, Egyptian sarcophagi and sketches by Gianlorenzo Bernini mixed up with works of the home owner.

Isolina Virginia another UNESCO World Heritage Site can be reached in twenty minutes by boat from Biandronino. It is the oldest of the 111  pile dwelling villages in the Alps. It was inhabited from as back as 5200 BC until the bronze age. Today, it is also a natural oasis where you can spot mallards, coots and grebes.




Lombardia's  Cities of Art

Embark on a voyage of discovery through the Cult City masterpieces of Lombardia. Eight Cities of Art just waiting to be discovered, one after the other. Must-see masterpieces, special moments by the water, leisurely journeys of discovery, places where the horizon seems to stretch out in front of you. Get ready for a range of unique experiences in Lombardy's  Cult cities that look to the future while proudly preserving stunning heritage.

1) Milan - From fashionable skyscrapers to the legendary Panettone, from an aperitif to the events of YesMilano. The capital of innovation to experience between tradition and glimpses of the future. From Raffaello to Anselm Kiefer, Art is at home in Milan. Here are a few tips for art lovers of all ages:

- at the Pinacoteca di Brera admire some of the greatest masterpieces of art from the Pala Montefeltro by Piero della Francesca to the Sposalizio della Vergine by Rafaello.

- at the Museo del Novecento where, in 10000 steps, you can cross a whole century up to Lucio Fontana's Neon.

- at the Triennale Milano, where architecture and design interfere with each other

- at GAM in Villa Reale, a masterpiece of neoclassical era. You can treat yourself with a break in the beautiful cafeteria, after admiring Segantini, Canova and Medardo Rossso.

- at the Gallerie d'Italia in Piazza della Scala where you can even visit the vault that hosts about 500 paintings from the Intesa SanPaolo collection.

- at the Museo Poldi Pezzzoli observe one of the most extraordinary story of the collector of the late nineteenth century

-at the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca walk under the Seven Heavenly Palaces of Anselm Kiefer

- at the Fondazione Prada immerse yourself in the architecture designed by the OMA studio.

- at the Museo Teatrale alla Scala retrace the lives of immortal artists, singers and unforgettable dancers.
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2) Brescia - The roman town of Brixia. This is Brescia a Lioness that looks in the future with firm roots in the past. Visit the the square dedicated to Pope Paul VI and discover that the city does not have one Duomo (cathedral), but two. Not to be missed the Clock Tower with its astronomical dial, a wonder of technology and art.

A theatre city. Hundreds of artists, more than 50 city venues, tens of thousand of people. In September from daybreak to midnight, the "Festa dell'Opera" brings opera music into the streets of Brescia, its theatres and its most ancient places, in restaurants and in its backyards. A festival organised by the Teatro Grande, a temple of Italian Opera.

The "Mille Miglia": Brescia to Rome and back. It has been run every year since 1927: 450 historic cars from 41 countries, the roar of engines, elegance and sophistication. "A travelling museum unlike anything else in the world" in the words of Enzo Ferrari. And you can always admire the Mille Miglia Museum in Santa Eufemia della Fonte.

3) Como - The reasons for the city that loves science and designs with light. To be explored inside and out. Without ever losing the sight of the lake. From the Tempio Voltiano to the neoclassical villas, passing through the historic centre  and the secrets of silk.

In the Como area, the silk production dates back from the 15th century. With the arrival of the industrial revolution, between the 18th century and the first part of the 19th century, twisting and spinning factories mushroomed through the region. The Silk Museum illustrates the entire production chain, from the silkworm to the finishing, through a collection of textiles machines and thousands of historical pieces. The Fondazione Ratti's Museo studio del Tessuto houses 3300 individual textile items and over 2500 books.

A tour of the villas. The first to visit is to the cultural centre of Vila Omo, a magnificent 18th century villa also famous for its Italian garden, that offers the best view of Como overlooking its lake. The "Chilometro della Conoscenza", running through 42 acres of centuries-old parks surrounded by water, takes us to the Villa del Grumello and Villa Sucota, where we can explore greenhouses and lemon groves, and in spring enjoy the poetry walks of the 'Festival Parolario".

The world's most famous lake can be explored by boat of by seaplane. The view is breathtaking, but the real thrill is landing on the water.

4) Lecoo - From the locations associated with Alessandro Manzoni to the noble profile of Monte Resegone, a neoclassical theatre, a cabinet of curiosities, and the splendid lake. These are just a few of the resasons to love Lecco.

For a jazz concert or a play by a famous author the destination is the Teatro della Societa. The facade of the building inaugurated in 1844 betrays the intentions of the architect Giuseppe Bovara: to create a smaller Teatro alla Scall on the lake.

Pure adrenalin. Lecco offers this as well : a competition to test yourself without taking yourself too seriously. It's the "Scigamatt", a hurdle race held every month of September, since 2010, which transforms Lecco into a set  of "Jeux Sans Frontieres".  On a race track that changes every year, the contestants jump over 20 tons of hay bales, nets, tyres, water and mud. Recommended  equipment : a carefree spirit and sprightly legs.

5) Monza  - From the Treasure of Queen Theodelinda to the thrill of Autodromo. A two-speed city. Ready to enchant us with record breaking masterpieces. From the cathedral to the Villa Reale and the Design Museum. Off to the Autodromo for a spin on the track. This are just some of the many opportunities to fall in love with Monza.

From the antiquity to the present, in the 14th century building to the former Casa degli Umiliati. One city, many souls. Discover them in the epigraph of a votive altar that reveals the ancient name of the citizens of Monza : "Modiciates"', or in the 20th century art works, including those displayed at the first Monza Triennale.

Monza Autodromo is the fastest Formula1 track : 5,793 metre  of pure excitement. Watching the race crowded along the track or in the stands is a sort of collective ritual. In the rest or the year, the track is open to the public and anyone can sign up for a sports driving course.

6) Pavia -  A city to be discovered slowly. On the  trail of the Lombards or among the cloisters of the university. Without forgetting the heritage of flavours and labels. From one of the oldest universities in the world to the riverside, in the heart of Pavia, capital of the Lombards, or on the hunt for great wines. Enough reasons to live your heart here.

The Lombard greatness has left a strong sense of pride among the citizens of Pavia, as well as several testimonies in the city, like the three Cyrpts of Santa Maria alle Cacce, San Giovanni Domnarum and Sant Eusebio, with magnificent "fibula' and "waterleaf" capitals.  It is inspiring to admire from up close the Teodote stone plutei and the funerary gold jewellery, preserved at the Musei Civici del Castello Visconteo, a red brick fortress with huge towers at the wall corners.

You can navigate the river on boats known as 'barce' or narrow rowing boats or cross it over one of the two bridges. The river Ticino is largest blue thoroughfare  where you can discover the relaxed side of Pavia in the quaint Borgo Ticino.

7) Sondrio is the place that makes the Valtellina even finer. The stue, or wooden rooms, and the terracing, the exploits of Orlando Furioso, a glass of Sforzato, are just so me of the things that make Sondrio unforgettable.

You will be surprised by the hidden treasures like the old "stue", made of Swiss stone pine that used to be the heart of alpine houses, or the stucco work and trompe- l'oeil in the spectacular 18th  ballroom of Palzazzo Sartoli. Some masterpieces reveal the great passions that inspired them: it is the case of the priceless wealth of Renaissance frescoes dedicated to "Orlando Furioso", the protagonist, at the Castello Masegra, of one othe most compelling 16th century "comic strip-like' mural.  A precious testimony of Ludovico Ariosto's love for the Alps, and theirs for him.

The Camminata alla Madonna della Sassella is not just a short escape out of town, but also a way to rediscover a spiritual dimension. It starts in town, almost by accident. From one little shrine to the next, you climb among the vineyards and terraces of the ancient via Valeriana up to the 16th Sanctuary. From the bustle of the city to the quiet of Valtellina, almost without realising it.

8) Varese -  From the gardens of Palazzo Estense to the infinite vistas of the Sacro Monte. To discover the other geometry of a city on a human scale. The Pallazzo Estense park (1771) is the icon of Garden City, which Giacomo Leopardi called Little Versailles. Along the boulevards around the fountain, between the hedges, a reassuring symmetry dominates the scene.

A walk, a journey of faith, a Baroque museum under the open sky: it is the Via Sacra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fourteen 17th-century chapels connect the city to the Sanctuario. The Casa Museo Pogliaghi also deserves a stop, in its jumbled aquarium we will be able to spot classical busts, Egyptian sarcophagi and sketches by Gianlorenzo Bernini mixed up with works of the home owner.

Isolina Virginia another UNESCO World Heritage Site can be reached in twenty minutes by boat from Biandronino. It is the oldest of the 111  pile dwelling villages in the Alps. It was inhabited from as back as 5200 BC until the bronze age. Today, it is also a natural oasis where you can spot mallards, coots and grebes.




The Magic of Myanmar

The Magic of Myanmar


The landscape in Myanmar offers spectacular spots to get away from the tourist trail and get out and about in nature. From short walks and treks, kayaking, horseback riding and cycling adventures. 

Myanmar is biologically diverse with many large national parks and wetlands that are home to rare endangered animals. Activities have been inspected for the ethical treatment and protection of animals and their commitment to sustainability. 

With the aim of supporting rural and remote villages, Myanmar is embracing the concept of community based tourism. While still in its early stages, the focus is on authentic experiences and meaningful experiences interactions  between tourists and locals alike. 

Buddhism is ever present and a way of life for Myanmar people. Rites and rituals that have been performed for centuries have been kept mostly unchanged. The practice of meditation has long been associated with physical and mental well-being and is a staple in the lives of Myanmar people. Hear the teachings of Buddha on a meditation retreat and learn how to still the mind and control the breath to achieve mindfulness. 




Kayaking 

Paddle you way by kayak or ride the white water rapids. From the floating villages of Inle Lake to the glacial rivers in Kachin State, or down south to the Irrawaddy Delta, Myanmar has some great rivers and lakes to explore. 

Trekking 

It’s all about the journey! Explore rural villages, diverse scenery and stunning views. The best time to trek is in the cooler months from November to March. Spend a few days trekking to villages in the remote mountain region around Kyaing Tong. The varying terrains make it ideal for adventure lovers with average level of fitness. Meet different ethnic minorities such as Akha, Lisu and Ann, each with their own distinctive customs and culture. Visit a 300 year old monastery that seems lost in time and ponder the ancient solitary Kyayin-bu tree steeped in folklore. 

Venture far beyond the lake to the less travelled area of Loikaw. It’s an epic three hour boat full of spectacular scenery. Stretch your legs at Sagar a crumbling cluster of stupas from the 16th century and try a tipple of the local moonshine. Meet the Kayan people, also known as the ‘ long neck’ tribe. The Kayan woman wrap heavy brass coils around their necks as a sign of beauty. Learn more about their fascinating culture and customs over a cup of tea and chat. 

Tamarind Village - The Village takes its name from the magnificent grove of Tamarind trees and is home to 120 households. Stay overnight in a ‘long house’ and get a peek into the daily life and rural activities. In the evening hear the folk stories told over diner by local people which have been passed down through generations. 

Horseback Riding 

Saddle up for a ride through the Shan Hills. Trot along the village tracks passing by patchwork fields and see farmers tending their crops, or, canter through the temples of Bagan. 

Glamping with dolphins 

Join the search for the rare and elusive Irrawaddy dolphin found in the river north of Mandalay. Learn how to throw the circular net and watch the unique way that the fishermen communicate with the dolphins to help catch fish. Hear folktales over dinner with a  local family and retire for the night in style in tented accommodation. 

Bird watching 

Whether  you are an amateur or professional, Myanmar is a bird watch paradise. The various wetlands and national parks are home to more than 1000 record species, including water and migratory birds. 

Turtle and Tortoise Conservation 

Myanmar is leading the way in conservation and breeding programs to rebuild dwindling turtle and tortoise populations lost to encroachment on their habitats or poached for the illegal wildlife traffic. Visit a sanctuary to see the hatchlings and lear about release programs will help support a worthy cause. 

Elephant encounter 

A wonderful hands-on experience where you will spend the day getting up close to the majestic beasts of the forest. Learn how retired logging elephants are being cared for and help out with the daily chores of feeding and bathing these magnificent animals and see local conservation project at work. 

Wine tours 

Shan State is the wine growing region of Myanmar where the cool temperate climate and fertile soil is perfect for cultivating grapes, producing a variety of wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot and Temperillos. The vines have been grown from cuttings taken from some of Europe’s best regions. Wander the vineyards and learn about the history of winemaking in Myanmar and enjoy a wine tasting lunch. 

Coffee tours 

Robusta coffee was first introduced near Mandalay by missionaries in 1885, and some 45 years later saw the first strains of Arabica to arrive. Take a walk in the plantation and learn about the growing cycle and harvest of cherries which produces some of the finest Arabica beans in Southeast Asia. Then follow your nose to the coffee roaster and experience a professional coffee tasting knowing as ‘cupping’. 

Street food tour

Eat like the locals on a walking street food tour. Some of the best food can be found at breakfast like traditional  mohinga soup and warm flat breads, washed down with sweet milky tea. In the evening smell the barbecue in the air, as skewered meats are grilled over charcoal fires.

Art Gallery Tours 

Stifled for decades by heavy handed censorship, the art scene in Myanmar is becoming widely appreciated by collectors and connoisseurs alike. With galleries popping up throughout Yangon showcasing Burmese and ethnic art in all forms and mediums. From sculpture to installation art, paintings and performance pieces, the art scene is buzzing. 

Hand- loomed textiles are part of the cultural heritage and can be found throughout the country. Each region has a unique pattern and meaning that is woven into the fabric and can be found in the designs and styles of national dress. The most sought after come from Chin State. While silk and cotton are most commonly weaved, lotus silk can be found at Inle Lake. 

E-visa  is now available through the official government website and is the easiest and most common way to obtain a visa. More the 100 nationalities can apply directly online and pay by credit card, with processing taking 3 business days. 

The official language of Myanmar is Burmese and in the tourist areas English is becoming more widely spoken. Buddhism is the predominant religion with about 87% of the population practicing, with Christian, Muslim, Hindu and tribal beliefs making up the remainder. When visiting temples and sacred sites, make sure your knees and shoulders are covered, and remove your shoes, otherwise you may be denied entry. Things don’t always go to plan, so be prepared with a smile when the internet is slow, there is no hot water, or the power is out. 

The Magic of Myanmar


The landscape in Myanmar offers spectacular spots to get away from the tourist trail and get out and about in nature. From short walks and treks, kayaking, horseback riding and cycling adventures. 

Myanmar is biologically diverse with many large national parks and wetlands that are home to rare endangered animals. Activities have been inspected for the ethical treatment and protection of animals and their commitment to sustainability. 

With the aim of supporting rural and remote villages, Myanmar is embracing the concept of community based tourism. While still in its early stages, the focus is on authentic experiences and meaningful experiences interactions  between tourists and locals alike. 

Buddhism is ever present and a way of life for Myanmar people. Rites and rituals that have been performed for centuries have been kept mostly unchanged. The practice of meditation has long been associated with physical and mental well-being and is a staple in the lives of Myanmar people. Hear the teachings of Buddha on a meditation retreat and learn how to still the mind and control the breath to achieve mindfulness. 




Kayaking 

Paddle you way by kayak or ride the white water rapids. From the floating villages of Inle Lake to the glacial rivers in Kachin State, or down south to the Irrawaddy Delta, Myanmar has some great rivers and lakes to explore. 

Trekking 

It’s all about the journey! Explore rural villages, diverse scenery and stunning views. The best time to trek is in the cooler months from November to March. Spend a few days trekking to villages in the remote mountain region around Kyaing Tong. The varying terrains make it ideal for adventure lovers with average level of fitness. Meet different ethnic minorities such as Akha, Lisu and Ann, each with their own distinctive customs and culture. Visit a 300 year old monastery that seems lost in time and ponder the ancient solitary Kyayin-bu tree steeped in folklore. 

Venture far beyond the lake to the less travelled area of Loikaw. It’s an epic three hour boat full of spectacular scenery. Stretch your legs at Sagar a crumbling cluster of stupas from the 16th century and try a tipple of the local moonshine. Meet the Kayan people, also known as the ‘ long neck’ tribe. The Kayan woman wrap heavy brass coils around their necks as a sign of beauty. Learn more about their fascinating culture and customs over a cup of tea and chat. 

Tamarind Village - The Village takes its name from the magnificent grove of Tamarind trees and is home to 120 households. Stay overnight in a ‘long house’ and get a peek into the daily life and rural activities. In the evening hear the folk stories told over diner by local people which have been passed down through generations. 

Horseback Riding 

Saddle up for a ride through the Shan Hills. Trot along the village tracks passing by patchwork fields and see farmers tending their crops, or, canter through the temples of Bagan. 

Glamping with dolphins 

Join the search for the rare and elusive Irrawaddy dolphin found in the river north of Mandalay. Learn how to throw the circular net and watch the unique way that the fishermen communicate with the dolphins to help catch fish. Hear folktales over dinner with a  local family and retire for the night in style in tented accommodation. 

Bird watching 

Whether  you are an amateur or professional, Myanmar is a bird watch paradise. The various wetlands and national parks are home to more than 1000 record species, including water and migratory birds. 

Turtle and Tortoise Conservation 

Myanmar is leading the way in conservation and breeding programs to rebuild dwindling turtle and tortoise populations lost to encroachment on their habitats or poached for the illegal wildlife traffic. Visit a sanctuary to see the hatchlings and lear about release programs will help support a worthy cause. 

Elephant encounter 

A wonderful hands-on experience where you will spend the day getting up close to the majestic beasts of the forest. Learn how retired logging elephants are being cared for and help out with the daily chores of feeding and bathing these magnificent animals and see local conservation project at work. 

Wine tours 

Shan State is the wine growing region of Myanmar where the cool temperate climate and fertile soil is perfect for cultivating grapes, producing a variety of wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot and Temperillos. The vines have been grown from cuttings taken from some of Europe’s best regions. Wander the vineyards and learn about the history of winemaking in Myanmar and enjoy a wine tasting lunch. 

Coffee tours 

Robusta coffee was first introduced near Mandalay by missionaries in 1885, and some 45 years later saw the first strains of Arabica to arrive. Take a walk in the plantation and learn about the growing cycle and harvest of cherries which produces some of the finest Arabica beans in Southeast Asia. Then follow your nose to the coffee roaster and experience a professional coffee tasting knowing as ‘cupping’. 

Street food tour

Eat like the locals on a walking street food tour. Some of the best food can be found at breakfast like traditional  mohinga soup and warm flat breads, washed down with sweet milky tea. In the evening smell the barbecue in the air, as skewered meats are grilled over charcoal fires.

Art Gallery Tours 

Stifled for decades by heavy handed censorship, the art scene in Myanmar is becoming widely appreciated by collectors and connoisseurs alike. With galleries popping up throughout Yangon showcasing Burmese and ethnic art in all forms and mediums. From sculpture to installation art, paintings and performance pieces, the art scene is buzzing. 

Hand- loomed textiles are part of the cultural heritage and can be found throughout the country. Each region has a unique pattern and meaning that is woven into the fabric and can be found in the designs and styles of national dress. The most sought after come from Chin State. While silk and cotton are most commonly weaved, lotus silk can be found at Inle Lake. 

E-visa  is now available through the official government website and is the easiest and most common way to obtain a visa. More the 100 nationalities can apply directly online and pay by credit card, with processing taking 3 business days. 

The official language of Myanmar is Burmese and in the tourist areas English is becoming more widely spoken. Buddhism is the predominant religion with about 87% of the population practicing, with Christian, Muslim, Hindu and tribal beliefs making up the remainder. When visiting temples and sacred sites, make sure your knees and shoulders are covered, and remove your shoes, otherwise you may be denied entry. Things don’t always go to plan, so be prepared with a smile when the internet is slow, there is no hot water, or the power is out. 

International Hotel Deals - Black Friday 800£ savings



International Hotel Deals of the week

Black Friday special edition saving you more than 800£ !!!

Check out this week selection of top international hotel and getaway deals! Enjoy huge discounts on these amazing new worldwide hotel deals secured exclusively for Alotoftrips members! This week we gathered offers from : France,  Spain, India and many more.


Book one incredible tour to Asia and your travel partner will fly for free, saving up to £800 per couple. 

Or, if you're travelling solo, you can save up to £400 with 50% off your economy flight!
Available on tours to China, Japan, India, Vietnam and Cambodia, uncover the extraordinary sights and wonderful experiences that await in Asia's most inspiring destinations. From the iconic Great Wall of China to India's magnificent Taj Mahal, let our tours take you on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Free one-way Premium Economy Upgrade when you book a tour to Southeast Asia Embark on your next unforgettable adventure to Southeast Asia and return home in style with a FREE Premium Economy upgrade with Vietnam Airlines, saving up to £300 per person. Or upgrade to Premium Economy both ways from £199 per person.

Be inspired by natural beauty and vibrant culture in Vietnam or find yourself uncovering ancient history and deep-rooted tradition in Cambodia.


                                                


Special Black Friday Offer, Up to 20% discount - Keytours, Greece
Book your holidays with Keytours in Greece and get up to 20% discount thanks to this voucher code valid during Black Friday!


AFF19
- Offer valid from 18th November 2019 to 9th December 2019
- Valid for travels between 18th November 2019 to 31st December 2020 - Subject to availability
Black Friday Offer: 30% Discount - Caprice Port Alcudia, Ferrer Hotels, Mallorca
Enjoy the Black Friday offer at Caprice Alcudia Port, Mallorca, with 30% discount, in all types of rooms.

CAPRICE19
- Valid for bookings made from 29th November until 2nd December 2019
- Valid for stays in 2020
- Discount valid on non-refundable rates.
Early Black Friday: Up to 25% Off stays at European resorts - Diamond Resorts
Brighten up your November and bag an early Black Friday bargain with up to 25% off* stays at European resorts with Diamond.

FRIDAY
- Travel 1 December 2019 to 30 November 2020
- Book by 2 December 2019
- Minimum stay of 2 or 3 nights required.
Black Friday Super Discount! Up to 32% off all hotels - Azuline, Balearic Islands
This Black Friday, book your next holidays in the Balearic Islands in an Azuline hotel, and get up to 32% discount: 12% thanks to this promocode, and up to 20% early booking discount.


BLACKFRIDAY
- Offer valid for bookings until 2nd December 2019 and for stays in 2020
- Cumulative with web offers
Black Friday Offer, 20% discount in Portugal - Vila Galé Hotels
Don't miss this special offer for Black Friday: 20% off your booking in all Vila Galé Hotels in Portugal thanks to this promocode.


VILAGALEOFF
- The offer will be active from November 18th, and will be valid from November 18th to December 9th, 2019.
- Valid for stays between November 18th, 2019 and March 31st, 2020
Black Friday Offer, Up to 23,5% off - OLA Hotels, Majorca
This Black Friday, grab the best deals for your next holidays in Majorca! Get up to 23,5% off your booking at any OLA Hotel for the 2020 season thanks to this promocode, only valid during the Black Friday weekend!


BLACKFRIDAY
- The offer will only be valid from 29th November 2019
- Valid for bookings made between 29th November and 2nd December 2019
- Valid for stays at any Ola Hotel from 30th April to 31st October 2020
Black Friday Offer, 15% off your booking - Lisbon Heritage Hotels, Portugal
Don't miss this special offer for Black Friday! Book your stay in Lisbon at any of Lisbon Heritage's hotel and get a 15% discount, only during the Black Friday weekend.


BLACK FRIDAY
- Offer valid for bookings made during Black Friday, between 29th November and 2nd December 2019
- Valid for 2-night minimum stays, between 1st - 27th December 2019 and 1st - 31st January 2020
Black Friday Offer, 30% off all hotels - Ferrer Hotels, Majorca
Don't miss this special offer for Black Friday to book your holidays in Majorca for 2020. Book any room type in one of the participating Ferrer hotel, and get 30% off the non-refundable rate. Only during Black Friday week-end!


FRIDAY19
- Valid for bookings made during Black Friday weekend, between 29th November and 2nd December 2019
- Valid for stays in 2020, subject to availability

300x250_Holidays_ Campaign


International Hotel Deals of the week

Black Friday special edition saving you more than 800£ !!!

Check out this week selection of top international hotel and getaway deals! Enjoy huge discounts on these amazing new worldwide hotel deals secured exclusively for Alotoftrips members! This week we gathered offers from : France,  Spain, India and many more.


Book one incredible tour to Asia and your travel partner will fly for free, saving up to £800 per couple. 

Or, if you're travelling solo, you can save up to £400 with 50% off your economy flight!
Available on tours to China, Japan, India, Vietnam and Cambodia, uncover the extraordinary sights and wonderful experiences that await in Asia's most inspiring destinations. From the iconic Great Wall of China to India's magnificent Taj Mahal, let our tours take you on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Free one-way Premium Economy Upgrade when you book a tour to Southeast Asia Embark on your next unforgettable adventure to Southeast Asia and return home in style with a FREE Premium Economy upgrade with Vietnam Airlines, saving up to £300 per person. Or upgrade to Premium Economy both ways from £199 per person.

Be inspired by natural beauty and vibrant culture in Vietnam or find yourself uncovering ancient history and deep-rooted tradition in Cambodia.


                                                


Special Black Friday Offer, Up to 20% discount - Keytours, Greece
Book your holidays with Keytours in Greece and get up to 20% discount thanks to this voucher code valid during Black Friday!


AFF19
- Offer valid from 18th November 2019 to 9th December 2019
- Valid for travels between 18th November 2019 to 31st December 2020 - Subject to availability
Black Friday Offer: 30% Discount - Caprice Port Alcudia, Ferrer Hotels, Mallorca
Enjoy the Black Friday offer at Caprice Alcudia Port, Mallorca, with 30% discount, in all types of rooms.

CAPRICE19
- Valid for bookings made from 29th November until 2nd December 2019
- Valid for stays in 2020
- Discount valid on non-refundable rates.
Early Black Friday: Up to 25% Off stays at European resorts - Diamond Resorts
Brighten up your November and bag an early Black Friday bargain with up to 25% off* stays at European resorts with Diamond.

FRIDAY
- Travel 1 December 2019 to 30 November 2020
- Book by 2 December 2019
- Minimum stay of 2 or 3 nights required.
Black Friday Super Discount! Up to 32% off all hotels - Azuline, Balearic Islands
This Black Friday, book your next holidays in the Balearic Islands in an Azuline hotel, and get up to 32% discount: 12% thanks to this promocode, and up to 20% early booking discount.


BLACKFRIDAY
- Offer valid for bookings until 2nd December 2019 and for stays in 2020
- Cumulative with web offers
Black Friday Offer, 20% discount in Portugal - Vila Galé Hotels
Don't miss this special offer for Black Friday: 20% off your booking in all Vila Galé Hotels in Portugal thanks to this promocode.


VILAGALEOFF
- The offer will be active from November 18th, and will be valid from November 18th to December 9th, 2019.
- Valid for stays between November 18th, 2019 and March 31st, 2020
Black Friday Offer, Up to 23,5% off - OLA Hotels, Majorca
This Black Friday, grab the best deals for your next holidays in Majorca! Get up to 23,5% off your booking at any OLA Hotel for the 2020 season thanks to this promocode, only valid during the Black Friday weekend!


BLACKFRIDAY
- The offer will only be valid from 29th November 2019
- Valid for bookings made between 29th November and 2nd December 2019
- Valid for stays at any Ola Hotel from 30th April to 31st October 2020
Black Friday Offer, 15% off your booking - Lisbon Heritage Hotels, Portugal
Don't miss this special offer for Black Friday! Book your stay in Lisbon at any of Lisbon Heritage's hotel and get a 15% discount, only during the Black Friday weekend.


BLACK FRIDAY
- Offer valid for bookings made during Black Friday, between 29th November and 2nd December 2019
- Valid for 2-night minimum stays, between 1st - 27th December 2019 and 1st - 31st January 2020
Black Friday Offer, 30% off all hotels - Ferrer Hotels, Majorca
Don't miss this special offer for Black Friday to book your holidays in Majorca for 2020. Book any room type in one of the participating Ferrer hotel, and get 30% off the non-refundable rate. Only during Black Friday week-end!


FRIDAY19
- Valid for bookings made during Black Friday weekend, between 29th November and 2nd December 2019
- Valid for stays in 2020, subject to availability

300x250_Holidays_ Campaign

Tuscany in winter

Tuscany in the winter

Winter time is the very best time to appreciate the history and culture of Tuscany without the crowds. If you are staying for a short break the city of Florence is a must, however it is still almost invariably cheaper and easier to fly in to Pisa than Florence airport and take the train or a cheap bus transfer into Florence (about an hour). Whilst accommodation is cheaper in Florence during the winter, it is still expensive compared to the surrounding regions. If you are staying for more than a couple of days it is better value and more fun to rent a car and a holiday home in Pisa or one of the surrounding villages. Bear in mind the evenings are longer in the winter so consider renting a home with a real fire, and well equipped kitchen where you can try out your culinary skills with fresh local ingredients.

Between November and March it rains heavily in region, although rainy days are usually punctuated with fresh clear chilly days. Check the weather forecast regularly and be prepared to be flexible with your itinerary.


Florence

The Uffizi gallery holds one of the finest collections of paintings in the world. Book well in advance online and exchange your online voucher for a ticket at a separate booth before you join the queue. Allow a day for a first time visit. A cafe is conveniently situated half way round as your feet will need a break.

The Galleria dell'Accademia houses Michelangelo's David and a collection of other paintings less grand than the Uffizi, but still impressive. Again book well in advance online and exchange your online voucher for a ticket before you get into the queue.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral is free to enter. Check the opening times online in advance (no tourist visits are permitted during mass). Take the time to appreciate the unique grand exterior before joining the short tourist queue. The interior is surprisingly plain contrasting the grand exterior. Look up as you leave for the one handed liturgical clock. If you are fortunate the organist may be playing.

In addition to the Cathedral you can visit the Dome, the Bell Tower, the Baptistery, the Crypt and the Opera Museum for a combined ticket price of Ten Euros (At the time of writing the Opera Museum is closed for refurbishment). The Bell Tower and the Dome require the visitor to climb a lot of stairs. Since all must be visited within 24 hours for the combined ticket to be valid, start early and consider packing some provisions which you can eat in the square, since restaurants around the Cathedral are mostly over priced and aimed squarely at the tourist.

Museo Galileo

The history of science museum is a worthwhile visit although likely to appeal to the more technically minded and contains a vast collection of priceless ancient technical instruments in superb condition.

Ponte Vecchio

One of the most iconic sights in Florence; take some time to view the bridge from the side before you cross and appreciate the intriguing construction of the shops, dangling over the water.

Piazzale Michelangelo

If the weather is fine an impressive view of the city is available from Michaelangelo square. The Piazza is visible from the riverside. Cross one of the many bridges and the route is signposted. The walk is steep but should be possible if undertaken slowly by all by the most unfit. At the top is a viewpoint and café. If you are on a budget take your own food since prices are steep.

Booking.com
Pisa

Pisa is famous for its tower but the accompanying Cathedral is much under-rated. Whilst the outside is less glamorous than the Cathedral in Florence, is it arguably more sublime and the inside is truly spectacular. Visiting the site on a clear evening is particularly romantic since the white stone glistens in the moonlight and since the site is not a throughfare like Florence, in the evenings it is almost free of tourists.

 It is possible to visit just the Cathedral for free, but if you have a bit more time you have options to visit four other monuments: Baptistery, the Monumental Cemetery, the Opera del Duomo Museum and the Sinopie Museum. You can climb the leaning tower for 18 Euros (book ahead) but you may feel that, given the price, viewing from outside is sufficient. The other monuments can be booked on a more reasonably priced combined ticket. Simply indicate at the office which monuments you wish to visit. The cemetery and the baptistery are particularly impressive.

The Jewish cemetery lies just outside the walls, a short walk from the Tower and is one of the most ancient burial grounds still in use. It is open Monday mornings and Wednesday afternoons.

 On the other side of wall beyond the Cathedral site is a cluster of restaurants designed with tourists in mind. Unless you are truly famished, save your money for some of the excellent restaurants in the centre of Pisa, bear in mind however that most local restaurants have well defined opening hours - for lunch about 12-2 and for an evening meal from 7-10. Outside of these hours snacks are available but any meals served are likely to be aimed squarely at tourists.

Marina di Pisa

The Pisa Marina, set some distance from the town and best reached by car is deserted during the winter, although you will find one or two cafes and a restaurant on the front open at lunchtime serving local workers. On windy days the front is lashed with spectacular waves which, combined with the wide empty streets of attractive shuttered houses make it an atmospheric spot for contemplation.

Viareggio

Viareggio, Tuscany's seaside resort, holds a Carnival on diverse days in February and has a good range of clothes stores which make it worth a visit just for shopping, even in the rain. In January the sales are very aggressive and it is possible to get a bargain on quality winter wear since Italians want to look stylish even when wrapped up warm. The wide promenade is well populated even in the winter and a walk on the beach can be pleasantly bracing.

San Giuliano Terme

If the weather is truly awful, a day spent at the thermal baths between Pisa and Lucca is a good choice. You can choose from afternoon (30 euro) or evening sessions (40 euro), the afternoon sessions tend to be less crowded.

Basilica of San Piero a Grado

The church is held to be on the site where the Apostle Peter landed on his trip from Antioch to Rome and where the first altar on Italian soil was built. Numerous frescos can be seen inside. It contains a rebuilt altar to Saint Peter.

Villages

Take a drive through the villages of Buti, Calci, Cascina, Vecchiano and Vicopisano, situated a short drive from Pisa. Each has beautiful and ancient architecture. You can visit all of the villages in one or two days, but they are best seen in clear weather.

Cinque Terre

A day trip out of Pisa is the cinque terre, 5 picturesque costal villages, built into the hillside. The villages are unreachable by road – either take a train from Pisa, or park at La Spezia and take a train. It is possible to hike above the villages but only recommended in good weather. The whole area is a UNESCO world heritage site.

General tips for your trip to Tuscany in the winter:

-Check the weather reports regularly and plan inside and plan your itinerary accordingly.

-Wrap up warm and bring an umbrella

-Drink Italian thick hot chocolate which is truly superb.

-Remember that it will get dark early, so plan your evenings in advance.

-Bring a good camera

-Remember that good Italian restaurants tend to be open 12-2 and 7-10, anywhere open outside these hours is likely to be for tourists.




Tuscany in the winter

Winter time is the very best time to appreciate the history and culture of Tuscany without the crowds. If you are staying for a short break the city of Florence is a must, however it is still almost invariably cheaper and easier to fly in to Pisa than Florence airport and take the train or a cheap bus transfer into Florence (about an hour). Whilst accommodation is cheaper in Florence during the winter, it is still expensive compared to the surrounding regions. If you are staying for more than a couple of days it is better value and more fun to rent a car and a holiday home in Pisa or one of the surrounding villages. Bear in mind the evenings are longer in the winter so consider renting a home with a real fire, and well equipped kitchen where you can try out your culinary skills with fresh local ingredients.

Between November and March it rains heavily in region, although rainy days are usually punctuated with fresh clear chilly days. Check the weather forecast regularly and be prepared to be flexible with your itinerary.


Florence

The Uffizi gallery holds one of the finest collections of paintings in the world. Book well in advance online and exchange your online voucher for a ticket at a separate booth before you join the queue. Allow a day for a first time visit. A cafe is conveniently situated half way round as your feet will need a break.

The Galleria dell'Accademia houses Michelangelo's David and a collection of other paintings less grand than the Uffizi, but still impressive. Again book well in advance online and exchange your online voucher for a ticket before you get into the queue.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral is free to enter. Check the opening times online in advance (no tourist visits are permitted during mass). Take the time to appreciate the unique grand exterior before joining the short tourist queue. The interior is surprisingly plain contrasting the grand exterior. Look up as you leave for the one handed liturgical clock. If you are fortunate the organist may be playing.

In addition to the Cathedral you can visit the Dome, the Bell Tower, the Baptistery, the Crypt and the Opera Museum for a combined ticket price of Ten Euros (At the time of writing the Opera Museum is closed for refurbishment). The Bell Tower and the Dome require the visitor to climb a lot of stairs. Since all must be visited within 24 hours for the combined ticket to be valid, start early and consider packing some provisions which you can eat in the square, since restaurants around the Cathedral are mostly over priced and aimed squarely at the tourist.

Museo Galileo

The history of science museum is a worthwhile visit although likely to appeal to the more technically minded and contains a vast collection of priceless ancient technical instruments in superb condition.

Ponte Vecchio

One of the most iconic sights in Florence; take some time to view the bridge from the side before you cross and appreciate the intriguing construction of the shops, dangling over the water.

Piazzale Michelangelo

If the weather is fine an impressive view of the city is available from Michaelangelo square. The Piazza is visible from the riverside. Cross one of the many bridges and the route is signposted. The walk is steep but should be possible if undertaken slowly by all by the most unfit. At the top is a viewpoint and café. If you are on a budget take your own food since prices are steep.

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Pisa

Pisa is famous for its tower but the accompanying Cathedral is much under-rated. Whilst the outside is less glamorous than the Cathedral in Florence, is it arguably more sublime and the inside is truly spectacular. Visiting the site on a clear evening is particularly romantic since the white stone glistens in the moonlight and since the site is not a throughfare like Florence, in the evenings it is almost free of tourists.

 It is possible to visit just the Cathedral for free, but if you have a bit more time you have options to visit four other monuments: Baptistery, the Monumental Cemetery, the Opera del Duomo Museum and the Sinopie Museum. You can climb the leaning tower for 18 Euros (book ahead) but you may feel that, given the price, viewing from outside is sufficient. The other monuments can be booked on a more reasonably priced combined ticket. Simply indicate at the office which monuments you wish to visit. The cemetery and the baptistery are particularly impressive.

The Jewish cemetery lies just outside the walls, a short walk from the Tower and is one of the most ancient burial grounds still in use. It is open Monday mornings and Wednesday afternoons.

 On the other side of wall beyond the Cathedral site is a cluster of restaurants designed with tourists in mind. Unless you are truly famished, save your money for some of the excellent restaurants in the centre of Pisa, bear in mind however that most local restaurants have well defined opening hours - for lunch about 12-2 and for an evening meal from 7-10. Outside of these hours snacks are available but any meals served are likely to be aimed squarely at tourists.

Marina di Pisa

The Pisa Marina, set some distance from the town and best reached by car is deserted during the winter, although you will find one or two cafes and a restaurant on the front open at lunchtime serving local workers. On windy days the front is lashed with spectacular waves which, combined with the wide empty streets of attractive shuttered houses make it an atmospheric spot for contemplation.

Viareggio

Viareggio, Tuscany's seaside resort, holds a Carnival on diverse days in February and has a good range of clothes stores which make it worth a visit just for shopping, even in the rain. In January the sales are very aggressive and it is possible to get a bargain on quality winter wear since Italians want to look stylish even when wrapped up warm. The wide promenade is well populated even in the winter and a walk on the beach can be pleasantly bracing.

San Giuliano Terme

If the weather is truly awful, a day spent at the thermal baths between Pisa and Lucca is a good choice. You can choose from afternoon (30 euro) or evening sessions (40 euro), the afternoon sessions tend to be less crowded.

Basilica of San Piero a Grado

The church is held to be on the site where the Apostle Peter landed on his trip from Antioch to Rome and where the first altar on Italian soil was built. Numerous frescos can be seen inside. It contains a rebuilt altar to Saint Peter.

Villages

Take a drive through the villages of Buti, Calci, Cascina, Vecchiano and Vicopisano, situated a short drive from Pisa. Each has beautiful and ancient architecture. You can visit all of the villages in one or two days, but they are best seen in clear weather.

Cinque Terre

A day trip out of Pisa is the cinque terre, 5 picturesque costal villages, built into the hillside. The villages are unreachable by road – either take a train from Pisa, or park at La Spezia and take a train. It is possible to hike above the villages but only recommended in good weather. The whole area is a UNESCO world heritage site.

General tips for your trip to Tuscany in the winter:

-Check the weather reports regularly and plan inside and plan your itinerary accordingly.

-Wrap up warm and bring an umbrella

-Drink Italian thick hot chocolate which is truly superb.

-Remember that it will get dark early, so plan your evenings in advance.

-Bring a good camera

-Remember that good Italian restaurants tend to be open 12-2 and 7-10, anywhere open outside these hours is likely to be for tourists.




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