Tag Archives: Italy

Italian wine harvest season 2017 has early arrival due to extreme weather

For winemakers, the essence of their millennia-old craft lies in a single event that takes place once a year: crush season. Aptly named ‘crush’, which refers to the process when wine grapes are picked, crushed and fermented, it is basically the wine harvesting stage. It is also directly instrumental to the birth of an exquisite wine.

This year, seasoned Italian winemakers whose calendars have been specially marked for this ritual in October are going to have to reschedule. For the first time in 10 years, crush season has arrived early to vineyards of the world’s biggest wine producer.

The anomalous timing can be credited to the extreme weather conditions that the European country has seen recently. Having forged through spring frosts and hailstorms, Italy is now experiencing an intense heatwave — and this, after months under a dry spell.

The effects of the harsh climate are hardly unnoticeable; all across the country, harvest start dates have arrived around 10 days earlier on average. Grapes have been ripening in the regions of Sicily and Piedmont as early as last month, breaking the tradition of the annual Italian harvest kicking off up north, at the Faccoli family winery in Franciacorta.

Grape Harvest

How exactly this affects the quality of the wine remains to be seen, but local winemakers are optimistic — even a little unbothered. Manfred Ing, a winemaker at the Querciabella estate in Tuscany, says, “With the heat arriving so early this year, the vines have very small bunches and berries so from a qualitative point of view we are in for some good grapes once it finally rains, which it always does. Yields will probably be down but this is not a problem for us from a fine wine making point of view.”

The fall in wine volumes (which is predicted to range from 10 to 15% according to Italy’s agri-food agency Coldiretti) is not a problem unique to Italy. Neighbouring countries such as France and Spain have also witnessed frost, hail and rainstorms this year, and are likewise expected to experience a drop in wine volumes.

Luckily for Italy, the country is more than likely to hold on to its title of the world’s biggest wine producer. In 2017, Italy’s wine exports are even expected to grow at nearly 5% from last year’s 5.6 billion euros. With sales of 10.5 billion euros in 2016 and a headcount of 1.3 million employees, Italy’s booming wine sector is vital to the country’s otherwise struggling economy.

While Italy boasts larger wine volumes, France can attest to its reign in higher valued wine with exports from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne making 8.2 billion euros last year.

Villa Astor Sorrento: A Naples Italy Holiday Home for the Ultra Rich

Situated on the Gulf of Naples, lies Villa Astor in the town of Sorrento, 50km south of Naples, Italy. Towering above the Archipelago Campano, the Villa Astor is a Naples holiday home for the ultra rich. A magnificent private residence built on the ruins of a first century Roman villa (how debauched!), Villa Astor Sorrento is set on the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula, thus, the ultra luxurious holiday home with a beautiful botanical garden (a top 10 in Italy, one might add) provides some of the most breathtaking views of Marina Grande and Marina Piccola.

Villa Astor Sorrento is set on the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula providing epic views for the luxurious holiday home favoured by the ultra rich.

Villa Astor Sorrento is set on the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula providing epic views for the luxurious holiday home favoured by the ultra rich.

Provenance of a Naples Italy Holiday Home for the Ultra Rich

Acquired by then U.S Ambassador to Italy, William Waldorf Astor in 1905, he was the world’s synonym for money and power in the early 20th century right up there with names like Rockefeller. William Waldorf Astor’s great grandfather had made a fortune in fur before pivoting into a real estate empire, from there, the Astor family eventually built a business empire on the foundations of real estate, adding import and export trade, newspaper publishing and of course, forays into being hoteliers with the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York (then as in now, still the gold standard for luxury stays for the ultra rich).

Compared to Astor’s other holiday homes, the US$1.25 million Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, England and the GBP10 million Hever Castle in Kent originally built for Anne Boleyn’s family (yes, the Anne Boleyn from the Tudors); the 110,210 lira Villa Astor Sorrento in Naples Italy was not the most palatial of his other luxury properties including the 67,000 square foot 18 Carlton House Terrace overlooking St. James Park in London; BUT, the Villa Astor Sorrento was his most indulgent.

The grounds of the Villa Astor Sorrento were expanded to develop the lush botanical gardens, rated to be among the top 10 in Italy.

The grounds of the Villa Astor Sorrento were expanded to develop the lush botanical gardens, rated to be among the top 10 in Italy.

Astor had spent the next 3 years quietly adding to the surrounding lands and grooming one of Italy’s top 10 botanical gardens. A neighbouring monastery and medieval church were acquired, torn down and subsequently added to the villa’s verdant lushness where he was able to recreate grand Roman style by adding a Pompeiian villa on the outskirts, decorated by Roman artist Mario Spinetti who added the villa’s signature Ionic columns. Dubbed Villa Florus, Astor then turned the Pompei-style villa into a private museum for antiquities. At the Villa proper, Astor added hand painted frescoes, wood flooring and even a glass dining room with unobstructed views so that his guests could enjoy views of the Naples and the archipelago in the gulf.

When Astor passed in 1919, the antiquities and its surrounding gardens were designated as part of the country’s heritage and they remain untouched, that is to say, not maintained. The Villa Astor Sorrento was eventually purchased by shipping magnate Mario Pane in the 70s. Rita Pane, the shipping tycoon’s wife threw incredible soirees and receptions, entertaining the likes of Princess Margaret and stylish man about town Gianni Agnelli, a meticulous record of provenance kept within the pages of Rita’s guest book. After three decades, the Panes eventually sold Villa Astor in 2012.

The Villa Astor Sorrento was eventually purchased by shipping magnate Mario Pane in the 70s. Rita Pane, the shipping tycoon's wife threw incredible soirees and receptions, entertaining the likes of Princess Margaret

The Villa Astor Sorrento was eventually purchased by shipping magnate Mario Pane in the 70s. Rita Pane, the shipping tycoon’s wife threw incredible soirees and receptions, entertaining the likes of Princess Margaret

The new owners then hired French architect and interior designer Jacques Garcia to restore and update the luxurious holiday home. Garcia’s generous use of marble columns, Greek and Roman statues and many other archaeological pieces in the renovations adds serious Italian patrimony and provenance to the luxury real estate towering above the gulf of Naples. Indeed, it’s the no-expense-spared, full scale renovation, restoration and decoration, no half-measures were taken in bringing back the grandeur that William Waldorf Astor had intended.

Inside Villa Astor Sorrento

Sleeps 12 with 6 bedrooms. Prices range from EUR 9,450 TO 17,500 per night

A classically elegant main entrance hall opens the ground floor of the Villa Astor Sorrento into two luxuriously furnished sitting rooms and a library, all with marble floors and feature fireplaces over which ornate gilt edged mirrors hang.

A classically elegant main entrance hall opens the ground floor of the Villa Astor Sorrento into two luxuriously furnished sitting rooms

A classically elegant main entrance hall opens the ground floor of the Villa Astor Sorrento into two luxuriously furnished sitting rooms

Proceed downstairs and you get to see a splendorous sitting area and dining room the way an ultra rich property tycoon intends. Naturally, your guests are served with by a large country-style kitchen with traditional black and white tiling. A music room for entertainment in the grand old style also exists with a grand piano along with the requisite large terrace facing the sea – the place venue for sundown cocktails overlooking the gulf of Naples or for romantic al fresco dining. Meanwhile, a basement with comfortable seating set in front of huge arched windows offers a beautiful view of the sea and Mount Vesuvius.

Can you believe this is the "basement" of the Villa Astor Sorrento? Huge arched windows offers a beautiful view of the sea and Mount Vesuvius.

Can you believe this is the “basement” of the Villa Astor Sorrento? Huge arched windows offers a beautiful view of the sea and Mount Vesuvius.

The first floor is home to two gorgeously appointed master bedrooms with walk-room wardrobes and en-suite bathrooms. On the second floor, four lavishly appointed but humbler double bedrooms are there to serve your guests. Obviously each room may carry old world aesthetics but they have not only been decadently designed but also equipped with modern integrated audio/visual systems.

Classic old world elegance of the standard double room within the luxurious holiday home.

Classic old world elegance of the standard double room within the luxurious holiday home.

Overlooking the gulf of Naples, it is easy to see why the 20,000m2 garden is among the top 10 finest botanical gardens in Italy, that said, with 180 degree sea views, one might be hard pressed to decide where to cast your focus. The icing of this piece of luxury real estate is this Italian holiday home’s amazing internal pool in a natural grotto, directly leading out to the sea. A roof-top terrace of the Villa Astor Sorrento also offers uninterrupted views of Sorrento and the Gulf of Naples.

The roof terrace of the Villa Astor Sorrento providing 180 degree sea views off the Gulf of Naples

The roof terrace of the Villa Astor Sorrento providing 180 degree sea views off the Gulf of Naples

The natural grotto leading out to the sea.

The natural grotto leading out to the sea.

Finally, a wellness suite in the basement with a gym equipped with the latest Precor equipment, a massage room and shower exist for short-stay pampering in true luxurious fashion. Villa Astor has an elevator serving all floors and secure parking for three cars.

[Book your stay at the Villa Astor Sorrento here.] Sleeps 12 with 6 bedrooms. Prices range from EUR 9,450 TO 17,500 per night

Guests can enjoy many activities in the local area from cooking lessons to hiking and visits to historical sites such as Pompeii and Herculanum.

Most popular luxury summer vacation destinations 2017 from Italy to Spain and more

When money is no obstacle, and the world is your pearl-studded oyster, wealthy travelers are more apt to jet off to Italy than any other destination. That’s according to the luxury travel agency network Virtuoso, which looked at the most popular destinations sought by their wealthiest clients in the US at member agencies around the world. For the list, experts looked at bookings made for this summer through their network which, so far, total more than $39.7 billion USD in transactions.

The list of the 10 most popular destinations is dominated by Europe, with the quartet of traditional favourites Italy, the UK, France and Spain topping the ranking.

Along with offering natural and cultural attractions—among the most important priorities for affluent globetrotters—the strength of the US dollar against the Euro and the British pound are making Europe a particularly appealing destination for 2017.

South Africa is also a favourite for travellers looking to strike off bucket-list dreams, notably safaris and wilderness retreats. This year, Canada has also become top of mind as the country celebrates its 150th anniversary with a slew of events planned coast to coast. Canada Day is July 1. Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are also popular, particularly for ocean and river cruisers.

Here’s where wealthy American travellers are most likely to jet off to this summer, according to Virtuoso:

  1. Italy
  2. United Kingdom
  3. France
  4. Spain
  5. South Africa
  6. Germany
  7. Ireland
  8. Canada
  9. Netherlands
  10. Denmark

Mille Miglia 90th anniversary, Italy: Fans celebrate with classic car race from Brescia to Rome and back

From Brescia to Rome and back again, automotive fans will be out in force to mark the 90th anniversary of the Mille Miglia, when the classic car race gets underway on May 18. Every year, the race is oversubscribed — over 700 cars registered for the 90th-anniversary event — and that number is whittled down to the crème de la crème by a panel of renowned judges, to ensure that the 440 cars that will be racing are truly breathtaking automotive examples.

Of those 440 pre-1957 cars, 92 will be priceless cars that actually raced in the original endurance event between 1927 and 1957 before it was struck from the World Sports Car Championship calendar because of its danger to drivers, cars and spectators. For example, among the 10 museum pieces, Mercedes will be bringing are a 1928 SSK; the actual 300SL that raced in the 1952 event (important in Mercedes’s history as the first event it competed in following the Second World War); eight 300SL Gullwing models; a 190SL; and a 1954 220a.

However, when it comes to classic competition cars, Italian marques will be in a league of their own. Some 14 Fiats that completed the original course will be undertaking the 1000-mile round trip this year, as will 12 Alfa Romeos, four Zagato-built cars, two Maseratis, and four Ferraris.

This year’s event will be of even greater significance for the Prancing Horse. A Ferrari won the last official Mille Miglia in 1957 and the marque has chosen this year’s event as part of its own 70th-anniversary celebrations. It will be allowing Ferrari owners whose cars were built after 1957 to compete in a “tribute” alongside the official race for the small fee of €8,500.

Once one of the highlights of the World Sports Car Championship and truly a measure of both a car and a driver’s true endurance and capabilities, the 1000-mile street course that takes in incredible scenery, twisty mountain roads from one end of Italy to another is considered by many as the birthplace of the GT car and the race that first put marques like Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Maserati, Mercedes and Aston Martin in the public consciousness.

The 90th Mille Miglia will officially start at 2 pm CET on Thursday, May 18 and will start in Brescia, taking in Padova, San Marino and Perugia before turning around in Rome and heading back to the starting point via Siena, Modena and Parma.

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Officine Panerai names Wallace Huo as official ambassador for Greater China

Luxury watchmaker Officine Panerai reveals its first official ambassador for the Greater China region — actor Wallace Huo. The Taiwanese actor has starred in a myriad of Chinese movies and TV dramas, making him one of the most recognisable faces in China. Panerai, which has its roots in Florence, Italy, ushered in a new era with four promotional videos featuring the actor. Angelo Bonati, CEO of Officine Panerai also arrived in Beijing to celebrate this new partnership.

As the protagonist, Huo—donning Panerai watches—journeys through the streets of Florence. He perfectly captures the tradition and culture infused in Panerai’s vision. Visiting opulent locations such as a Florentine villa, the star muses, “Panerai is a timeless brand, coherent with its history and identity that has always offered an uncompromised quality to its fans. The same approach that I apply to my career. Only authenticity and passion stir true emotions”.

Huo is seen wearing a range of Panerai watches: the Luminor 1950 Equation of Time 8 days GMT Titanio, Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Oro Rosso, as well as the Luminor Marina 1950 Carbotech 3 Days Automatic. The first is a tribute to the bond between time measurement and astronomy. Interestingly, the timepiece displays both mean solar time— by which a day may be up to 15 minutes longer or shorter—and apparent solar time. The difference between these two measurements is displayed using a linear indicator on the dial at six o’clock.

“Wallace Huo is a great artist, an elegant man with a distinctive personal style that perfectly mirrors the identity of the Panerai watches”, declares Bonati. “His career is a testament of talent, and the commitment he infuses in everything he does, make those who are lucky enough to know him admire his authenticity and passion. We are honored to give him the task of representing our brand in Greater China.”

After over a century and a half, Panerai continues to marry Swiss craftsmanship with state of the art Italian design. This collaboration sees the brand take another step towards addressing its international audience.

For more information, visit Panerai.

Exhibitions in Rome, Italy: New ‘The Colosseum: An Icon’ exhibition reveals secret history of the tourist attraction

Architecture in Italy: Bjarke Ingles Group to design San Pellergrino’s headquarters in Terme

Known best for their Iconic green glass bottles, San Pellegrino is getting a facelift! The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), founded in Copenhagen in 2005, has won an international competition to build the flagship factory for 118-year-old sparkling water company San Pellegrino. The win was announced at an event held in the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Feltrinelli Foundation in Milan this week. BIG beat out the firms MVRDV (Netherlands), Snøhetta (Norway) and Architetto Michele De Lucchi (Italy), each of whom presented their proposals last October. According to BIG, they look forward to collaborating with San Pellegrino and local architects Studio Verticle over the next 4 years, with construction slated for conception in 2018.

A nod to Italian architectural design, the €90 million project will rebuild and extend the original plant, where water has been bottled since 1899 in the northern Italian alpine town of Terme. San Pellegrino’s new HQ will become a 17,500 square meter facility, with arches serving as its thematic through-line articulated as vaults, arcades, and pergolas. BIG’s winning design was inspired by the local landscape of the adjacent Brembo River, notably by the waterway’s seamless flow.

In addition to the factory production, visitors will be able to learn about company’s history and functionality on site, with a giant geological sample at the center. The San Pellegrino Experience Lab will enable visitors to follow the process of how mineral water is produced.

Bjarke Ingels and his firm recently starred in an episode of “Abstract: The Art of Design” — an eight-part Netflix documentary series featuring various innovators and creatives that went live on February 10. The firm’s portfolio includes such projects as a power plant with a ski slope on its roof in Copenhagen, London’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2016, the Two World Trade Center tower in New York and a design for the Hyperloop high-speed transportation system in Dubai.

Ingels’ firm was also selected by the Nordic Council of Ministers to help build a new collective brand identity for the Nordic region — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands.

5 Best Castles Europe

Invest in These: 5 Top Castles, Europe 2016

There is no better place than Europe to admire some of the most majestic castles in the world. Once theaters of war and conflict, houses of the powerful, those medieval palaces are -for the most part- still standing and ready to reveal their oldest secrets. Palace Magazine selected five of the most beautiful castles currently for sale across the continent so you can start writing your own fairytale now.

1) Italy: Medieval Castle Near Siena – $31.13 million (above)

This castle dates back to the 12th century and despite multiple alterations and extensions it retains the appearance of a true fortress. Set on 360 hectares, the estate includes restored farmhouses, olive groves, vineyards and views stretching all the way to Siena. The 40,000 sq. ft. main castle has 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, original frescoes and fireplaces. Available through Sotheby’s Realty.

2) Ireland: Glin Castle – $7.27 millionGlin Castle

This plush castle near Limerick has been in the FitzGerald family, hereditary Knights of Glin, for over 700 years. The property features 21 bedrooms and superb interiors with decorative plasterwork and notable collections of Irish furniture and paintings. Set on the waterfront and within 23 acres of gardens that seamlessly link to the wider parkland estate and woodlands. Available through Christie’s International Real Estate.

3) Spain: 13th Century Castle – $16.27 million13th Century Castle

Located in western Spain near the border to Portugal, this impressive castle includes over 1,000 acres of land and hunting grounds for wild boar and deer. The property was built in 1275, but has been fully refurbished and includes six bedrooms, nine reception rooms and a small museum. Available through Moulin International Real Estate.

4) Scotland: Earlshall Castle – $6.48 millionEarlshall Castle

Located in Leuchars, Fife, near St. Andrews, this stately 16th century castle features 10 bedrooms, eight reception rooms, a grand dining room, several outbuildings and a five-car garage. The property is set on 34 acres and has a celebrated walled garden designed by Sir Robert Lorimer. A number of renowned golf courses are located nearby. Available through Savills.

5) France: Castle Uzes – Price Upon RequestCastle Uzes

This picturesque 12th century castle in the south of France boasts over 8,600 sq. ft. of living space with 31 rooms, inner and outer courtyards, a roof garden and a swimming pool. The property has been fully restored, but retains original features like a Louis XIV fireplace, 17th century frescoes and coffered ceilings. Available through Sotheby’s Realty.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Town for Sale: Poggio Santa Cecelia, Tuscany

During the summer months, the Tuscan countryside is drenched in sunlight, a golden honey-colored hue that spills over the hills and catches on the stone sides of farmhouses, medieval castles and historic villages. One such village, Poggio Santa Cecelia is perched on a hilltop in the coveted stretch of land between Florence and Siena and includes characteristic medieval features like stone arches, narrow streets and a tall city wall. To access the borgo, one must step through an imposing gate set in an entrance of travertine stone and topped with coats of arms.

The views from the village look like a quintessential Tuscan postcard: Cyprus trees and rolling fields of green and amber. However, what distinguishes this particular borgo from other hilltop towns is that it’s currently available for sale. The owner has listed the entire historic village, which comprises about 50 buildings, for $44 million.

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The town, which first appeared in historic records in 1198, contains a church, a grain store, a foundry, a carpenter’s workshop and a handful of other buildings that are laid out along three parallel streets of the original medieval plan. The sale further includes surrounding farmland: 200 acres of woodland, two lakes, 23 acres of fruit trees (plums and apples), 55 acres of vineyards growing Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG grapes, 26 acres of olive groves, 270 acres of irrigated arable land, as well as several stone houses and animal byres.

Around 200 people used to live and work at Poggio Santa Cecilia farming the surrounding land. As was common practice at the time, workers gave the landowner half of their produce in exchange for the use of a house and some land and animals. However, following the Second World War many of the estate’s inhabitants left in search of a new life, many of them working in the travertine quarries of Rapolano, and so the houses and farms were gradually abandoned.

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The village’s deserted state is in part what allowed the architectural and historical treasures to be well preserved. The current owners, a family from northern Italy, have been operating the estate’s organic farm, but left the village portion largely untouched, save for weatherproofing and installing a security system to keep vandals out.

“The owner is in his 80s”, explains Francesco Carlucci, founder and CEO at Essentis Group who represents the listing. “It’s a big commitment. As you can imagine, it’s not the type of project you might want to develop once you are in your eighties. It’s a project of a lifetime”.

An ambitious individual seeking a passion project, an art aficionado, say, or a history buff is the type of buyer Mr. Carlucci has in mind for the property. Passion is important given the amount of renovation and restoration required. At this quiet hilltop village, time has stood still, be it for the slow forces of nature, the roots and vines that have begun reclaiming the stone houses. Carlucci, who specializes in historic restorations, estimates a full restoration would require five years and an additional EUR 150 million ($167.6 million). “Everything needs to be restored”, he says. “It’s basically a EUR 200 million project. This is something you should do if you are passionate about Tuscany, about art, architecture and vineyards, if you have the money and you have the dream”.

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Tuscany has long been a dream destination for buyers around the world. Travelers fall in love with the region’s natural beauty and cultural riches, which include, to the west, the famed Amalfi Coast with its dramatic cliffs and sparkling beaches, and to the east the Chianti region, Italy’s foremost wine producer, with its rolling green vines and famous Sangiovese grapes. Along the winding country roads there are fields of sunflowers, vineyards, silver olive trees and the smells of lavender, mint and rosemary, aromas that are laced through the region’s mouthwatering cuisine.

Florence, the region’s largest city and birthplace of the Renaissance is home to a dizzying array of notable art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and the Duomo basilica which features the largest brick dome ever constructed. Sienna, 70 kilometers to the south, is home to immaculately preserved medieval buildings and the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo. Even the smallest of villages are layered with history. Medieval churches are built on the foundations of Roman baths; Renaissance frescoes now embellish their earlier austerity.

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The area’s sought-after status, however, means that top quality villas rarely come onto the market. When they do, they often discreetly change hands. “The type of people that own them try to pass them on to the next generation”, says Carlucci. “Owning a property in Tuscany is an asset; people dream of it their whole lives”, Even more extraordinary, he says, is procuring an entire Tuscan town. “This is big. This is a piece of history”.

Over the last decade, several Tuscan hamlets have been restored and redeveloped as luxury hotels. The most notable, Il Borro, was developed by the Ferregamo family. Ferruccio Ferragamo first discovered a Tuscan village while on a hunting trip in 1985. At the time, the hillside village, once owned by the Savoy dynasty, was in a severe state of disrepair and, in spite of being surrounded by fertile land, its inhabitants were struggling to make a living. He bought the hamlet, as well as a neighboring villa that had been half-destroyed during WWII and spent much of the past decade overseeing the restoration. Ferragamo transformed the hilltop village, which dates back to 1039, into a luxury resort where the rooms and villas retain many original features, but include modern comforts like air-conditioning, mini-kitchens with espresso-makers, mosaic-walled bathrooms and Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries.

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Borgo San Felice, located about 50 kilometers east of Il Borro, has also been transformed from medieval town to a luxury hideaway. The village, which dates back to the 8th century, retains its narrow streets and picturesque squares, its Romanesque chapel and shrines, as well as 140 hectares of surrounding vineyards. The hotel’s rooms and suites are scattered throughout the main villas and other buildings.

Developing a luxury resort with villas is one option available to the future owner of Poggio Santa Cecilia, but Mr. Carlucci believes the property could also sell to a single buyer. “In the world we live in today I wouldn’t be surprised if some visionary family decide to actually own the town and do what they want with it”, he says.

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The one point on which Mr. Carlucci remains firm is that the estate be sold in its entirety. “Splitting it up would be like so many other properties on the market. And the second you split it you lose the entire ability to control it”, he says. Careful, considered restorations have become an Essentis Group trademark, which is why the current owner has entrusted the company with the restoration. The company has its own stonemason academy and restores everything from original arches, to facades and floors. Its craftsmen also have the capability of building historic features anew using traditional materials and centuries-old techniques.

In the southern Italian region of Puglia, the group recently built a range of luxury contemporary masseries (courtyard farmhouses). The buildings have traditional features such as a barrel-shaped vaulted stone ceiling made of hand-cut limestone and sandstone, but they also have modern touches like swimming pools, pizza ovens, wine cellars and indoor spas. Such an approach, albeit adapted to a Tuscan setting and style, would guide Essentis Group’s restoration of Poggio Santa Cecilia.

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Most of the village houses have traditional Tuscan wooden doors, terracotta tiled roofs and floors and wood beamed ceilings. There are about 20 farmhouses in total, each one resembling a quintessential Tuscan scene complete with cypress trees and open fields. And although they were originally peasant homes, the properties are stately and large ranging from around 3,800 sq. ft. to more than 10,000 sq. ft. of potential living space. The centrepiece of the village is the summer residence of its former aristocratic owners, the counts of Buoninsegni. The majestic villa, completed about 100 years ago on the site of the original castle still evokes the grace and ease of nobility with its grand salons, conservatory and formal English gardens.

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So far Poggio Santa Cecila has piqued the interest of numerous potential investors. Although Mr. Carlucci cannot comment on who has expressed interest, the real estate professionals in the region say international buyers are currently a strong force. “In Umbria and Tuscany, there is a return of foreign customers, American, Chinese and Southeast Asia”, says Fulvio Biagioli from Italy Sotheby’s International Realty. In particular, he says he receives requests from buyers from Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Current real estate prices in Italy are around 30% below their pre-2009 peak, but this trend is starting to change. In 2015 inquiries on Italian property increased 57% year-on-year according to data from Knight Frank, with Liguria, Umbria, Sardinia and Tuscany all seeing an increase in sales volume. Overall sales were up 7%.

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Mr. Biaioli’s listings include Casigliano, a 16th century manor in Umbria, 1.5 hours from Rome, which includes 13 country houses with views of the Umbrian hills. Eight of the buildings have been renovated, while the remaining four still require restoration. The property, which could make an ideal boutique hotel, is listed for $11.1 million.

Though investors may find other opportunities for development, Francesco Carlucci remains adamant that nothing quite compares to a medieval village in a premium Tuscan location. “There are many beautiful farmhouses, great residences to rent or own, but they are not comparable to a whole town located just 20 kilometers from Siena. This is something that simply doesn’t happen every day”.

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BUYER INFORMATION

Property:
Poggio Santa Cecilia, Italy

Hilltop village:
96,875,19 sq. ft.

Total land area:
700 hectares

Woodland:
500 hectares

Fruit trees:
9.5 hectares

Vineyards:
22.5 hectares

Olive groves:
10.5 hectares

Lakes:
6 hectares

Additional uncultivated land:
42 hectares

Farmhouses and outbuildings:
118,403 sq. ft., of which 53,820 sq. ft. has planning permission to be a residential development.

Developer:
Essentis Group

Price:
$44 million

Estimated price of restoration:
$167.6 million

Contact:
[email protected]
+44 (0) 782 571 7758
www.essentisgroup.com

This article was first published in Palace Magazine. Palace Magazine is published by Lux-Inc.

Hunting Season in Italy’s Truffle Country

Hunting Season in Italy’s Truffle Country

“It is not a job. It’s a passion, a real sickness!” It is the early hours of the morning and Giovanni Sacchetto is explaining why chilly autumn nights find him trailing by moonlight through the woods around Alba in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.

Sacchetto, 64, and his beloved companion Dora, a sprightly Lagotto Romagnolo gundog, are on the hunt for white truffles, the hard-to-find fungi famed amongst foodies for their earthy scent, and their equally heady prices.

“I can go to bed at 11:00 pm and be up again at 3:00 am, ready to go out again,” Sacchetto says. “It is not for the money. It is a sickness you have inside. A truffle is a strange thing. And it’s lovely, because it’s so strange. You never know where you might find one. Never.”

Now nine, Dora has been Sacchetto’s constant companion since she was an eager young puppy learning how to use her sensitive nose to sniff out truffles buried beneath the forest floor.

“I’m not saying it is better than a wife, but for a truffle hunter his dog is something… indescribable,” Sacchetto says with a smile.

Part of humanity’s heritage

The Romagnolo breed is known for its acute sense of smell but individual dogs still have to be trained, starting with pieces of gorgonzola, the whiffy Italian blue cheese, buried under ground, before graduating to actual truffles.

Now when Dora locates a truffle, she wags her tail excitedly over the spot where a valuable tuber awaits – usually buried between 10-30 cm (4-12 inches) below the surface.

For her it is a game – her efforts rewarded with a treat in the form of a biscuit or a little piece of dry bread.

Sacchetto was 14 when he first went truffle hunting, with his grandfather. At the time, it was about putting food on the table, he recalls.

Now it is more of a hobby, but secret spots are still jealously guarded. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years, I know all the plants, all the paths.”

At one time, truffles were more plentiful but the cutting of some trees and the effects of pollution on others has reduced the autumnal bounty, he says.

Fears the delicate ecosystem that produces the white truffles could be at risk has triggered a crowdfunding initiative aimed at raising 50,000 euros to ensure better management of the local woodlands.

Antonio Degiacomi, president of the National Centre for the Study of Truffles, says wooded areas around Alba have been neglected, with faster growing species threatening to crowd out truffle-friendly trees like oaks and lime trees.

“There is not an imminent threat but we have to be pro-active,” he says.

Helpful measures include thinning denser woodland and planting new trees but coordinating action is complicated, notably because the hunters who know where truffles are produced often do not own the land on which they forage.

Like fine wine

Tracking down edible fungi is an Italian obsession with some 200,000 active enthusiasts nationwide, of whom 4,000 are based in Piedmont.

The country is so proud of its truffle culture that it has asked for it be enshrined on a list of humanity’s intangible heritage maintained by the UN’s culture body, UNESCO.

Alba is already well known in gastronomic circles as home to some of Italy’s most famous red wines and it has been hosting an annual white truffle fair since before World War II, drawing in thousands of gourmet pilgrims for nearly two months of tasting, buying and selling.

This year’s festivities conclude on November 27 and prices are averaging 3,000-4,000 euros ($3,300-$4,400) per kilo.

For Swiss enthusiast Marie-Claude, it is a price worth paying. “Just the scent is something unique,” she said. “Personally I like it best with something really simple, just on some pasta or a risotto.”

Matteo Baronetto, head chef at the Michelin-starred “Del Cambio” restaurant in nearby Turin, concurs.

“The thing that is very specific to the Alba truffle is the incomparable lightness of its aroma, and its elegance,” he says as he assembles a salad of seasonal vegetables speckled by ultra-fine shavings of the local delicacy.

“It is such a pure product of nature that us chefs have to be at the service of the truffle, and not the other way round.”

Harvested from September 21 until the end of January, truffles need both rain and cold to thrive, according to Sacchetto.

“The colder it is, the better the truffle,” he says, adding that no two are exactly alike. “The truffle is like wine, each zone has its own smell and those from Alba are the most perfumed.”

Fontana Del Vino, Italy: Free Flowing Wine

Top Luxury Travel Destination Revealed

Italy leads the list of top luxury travel destinations for the coming 12 months in a survey put together by the Travel Leaders Group. Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group (TLG), commented that Italy is popular among “affluent travelers who are seeking authentic, enriching experiences paired with a multitude of very high-end accommodations.”

So what do luxury travelers expect when they explore the world? According to TLG, affluent holidaymakers expect fine dining, private concierge-level access, spas, butler service, and a personalized or private check-in and check-out. “That’s important for industry partners to recognize,” said Gail Grimmett, President of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group.

Italy and Africa had already been on the radar of luxury travelers, as has the United StatesAside from Italy, other top-ranked luxury travel destinations include European river cruises, the United States, Mediterranean cruises, and Australia. Iceland, New Zealand, and Cuba are also recognized in the list as a destination with growing interest. Here is the full list:

1. Italy

2. European river cruise

3. United States

4. Mediterranean cruise

5. Australia

6. Mexico

7. Ireland

8. Caribbean cruise

9. France

10. England (Tie)

10. Iceland (Tie)

11. South Africa

12. New Zealand

13. Jamaica

14. Costa Rica

15. Cuba

Belmond Villa San Michele Launches Inferno tour

Belmond Villa San Michele is launching an immersive Inferno tour of Florence, Italy, as the premiere of the film draws closer. If you’ve always wanted a starring role in a conspiracy theory film set against the breathtaking backdrop of Tuscany and Florence, this looks a good bet. Hotel guests are be able to experience the adventures of the movie’s main characters – Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) and Sienna Brooks (played by Felicity Jones) – firsthand.

The tour will have you go around the city unraveling mysteries and interpreting hidden meanings in works of art. Through secret passageways, palazzi, galleries, and landmarks you will search for clues to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, you can also do what everyone else does and be astonished at the exquisite Florentine architecture, including Badia Florentina, where the movie’s story begins. Your journey will continue to the Palazo Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, and the Baptistery of Saint John.

The ‘Inferno tour’ aims to intrigue travellers who want to discover the city and its protagonists of the past, like Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Giorgio Vasari. The three-hour guided tour is priced at $393, excluding museum tickets.

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Set in the hillside of Tuscany, Belmond Villa San Michele is a calm sanctuary above the bustling city below. The building is a restored 15th century monastery, decorated with frescos, ancient carvings and a façade attributed to Michelangelo. Rich history aside, the hotel also has a panoramic outdoor swimming pool with a view of the city of Florence, terraced Italian gardens, and an award-winning Italian cooking school.

For more information on Belmond Villa San Michele, visit www.belmond.com/villa-san-michele-florence.

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Chianti Classico Makers Bid for UNESCO Status

Chianti Classico Makers Bid for UNESCO Status

To mark the 300th anniversary of Italy’s Chianti Classico heritage, winemakers have announced plans to launch a bid for UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site.

Organized by Chianti Classico winemakers who together form a group called the Consortium, the move is meant to put the Chianti region of Italy on the same plane as Piedmont, Burgundy and Champagne, protected wine-growing regions which are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their long winemaking traditions.

This fall, the Chianti region in Tuscany celebrated 300 years since the Ducal decree that first established the boundaries for Chianti Classico.

The territory’s capitals are Siena and Florence and amount to 71,800 hectares (177,500 acres) of wine country.

Chianti produced outside the designated geographic area is designated by the omission of the word Classico as the two wines are produced in different regions under different sets of production regulations.

Bottles produced in the Chianti Classico region are identifiable by the group’s logo, a black rooster.

To qualify for the designation, Chianti Classico must be produced with a minimum ratio of 80 percent Sangiovese. The remaining 20 percent can be a blend of native grapes like Canaiolo, Colorino and international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

But winemakers of Chianti Classico will be up against another Italian wine-growing region which has long been hoping for UNESCO recognition. The Prosecco-producing region of Valdobbiadene-Conegliano was submitted as an application in 2010 and remains on the ‘tentative’ list.

To be inscribed on the World Heritage List, sites must be of “outstanding universal value” such as bearing a unique or exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or civilization.

The 40th session of the World Heritage Committee takes place in Istanbul October 24-26.

Chianti Keeps Rising After 300 years

By the early 18th century, the sale of counterfeit bottles of Chianti wine to ever-thirsty England had become so rife that the local merchant nobles felt compelled to act.

Three hundred years ago on Saturday, Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, issued a decree declaring that chianti wine could only be produced within a designated area between the Renaissance powerhouses of Florence and Siena.

The world’s first legally enforceable wine appellation had been born. The Medici duke’s decree defined an area of 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) that now produces 35 million bottles a year of chianti classico.

Eighty percent of them are exported to some 100 countries and the region’s reputation has been on an upward curve since the 1980s, making it a magnet for wine pilgrims.

Sipping from a glass of classico riserva in the Enoteca Falorni wine bar and merchant in Greve in Chianti, Diya Khanna says her trip has been an eye-opener.

“In Canada you think of chianti as one type of wine, but if you come here you learn what it’s really all about. There is such a variety of styles,” the Berlin-based Canadian tells AFP.

“All of the classicos we have tried have had this soft velvety finish, like a smooth song that finishes off at the end really, really nicely.”

Brand confusion

Chianti classico producers have long battled confusion among consumers about the difference between their sought-after, geographically restricted wine and the less distinguished simple chianti made in other parts of Tuscany.

Up to 2010, a producer in the heartland area defined by the 1716 decree could produce both. But that practice was banned as part of measures to strengthen the classico brand and its trademark black rooster logo.

Generally lighter and less expensive, ordinary chianti remains associated for many with the staple candle-holder of 1970s Italian trattorias – a bottle half-wrapped in a straw basket known as a ‘fiasco’.

It was from a fiasco that the popes of the 16th century enjoyed their chianti.

But the rounded vessel was to become a symbol of the damage done to the region’s international image by an export-driven boom in which quality was sometimes sacrificed for quantity.

Rugby-loving winemaker

The idea underlying the 1716 decree was that Tuscany’s land and climate had combined serendipitously over centuries with local know-how to guarantee that a wine from chianti would be of a certain style and quality.

Three centuries later, that idea still prevails among the eclectic bunch of characters now producing chianti classico.

But there is also a new emphasis on variations created by particular soils, exposure and altitude – something wine experts refer to as the “terroir” of a particular site.

With his trim beard, gilet and smart suede boots, Marco Mazzoni looks like a gentleman farmer dressed by Giorgio Armani.

But the owner of the small Corte di Valle estate outside Greve insists turning sangiovese grapes into attractive wine is no job for city dilettantes.

“The ground is full of stones and rocks,” he says. “The vines have to suffer to grow and thrive. It makes you sweat.”

At Querciabella on the other side of the valley, rugby-loving winemaker Manfred Ing’s style is more shorts and walking boots as he oversees the harvest of encouragingly plump sangiovese berries: 2016 could be a vintage to remember, he says.

Querciabella is in the vanguard of a push for a shake-up in the rules that would allow classico producers to label their single-vineyard wines as coming from specific micro-zones on the model of Burgundy in France.

Like many of the top Burgundies, Querciabella is farmed organically and according to bio-dynamic principles. Even the use of manure is now eschewed at a property owned by vegan Sebastiano Castiglioni.

“If we want to be still producing chianti here in another 300 years, this is the way to go,” says South African-born Ing as he explains how winter crops such as rocket and wild mustard are used to replenish the vineyard soil in the absence of artificial fertilizers.

Pregnant patience

Once the preserve of men, another thing that has changed in 300 years is that some acclaimed chianti classicos are now made by women.

“We are a small but growing club,” says Susanna Grassi, who gave up the underwear business for wine in 2000 in order to revitalise the family farm.

Grassi’s nine-hectare estate, “I Fabbri” (“The Blacksmiths”), goes up to 680 meters (2,230 feet) altitude, close to the limit of where the heat-loving sangiovese will ripen.

Grassi does not have the option of making powerful, structured wine. Instead the emphasis is on elegance and finesse – a trend towards the expression of pure sangiovese that she thinks Tuscany’s female winemakers are helping to drive.

“I think women do have a different sensibility when it comes to wine,” she tells AFP. “Maybe it is because pregnancy teaches us to wait, knowing that the final result will be “bello” (beautiful).”

Salone del Gusto: Slow Food Fair

Turin is currently hosting the Salone del Gusto fair and it is dubbed the world’s biggest gourmet food and wine fair. Running until September 26, the fair will feature tasting sessions, workshops and street food parties. It is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Organised by the Slow Food movement and Terra Madre network of food communities, the fair is now in its 30th year. Founded by food critic and sociologist Carlo Petrini, the fair was created in response to the first fast-food restaurants in Italy. Visitors to the North Italian city can enjoy food trucks from around the world, themed tours while 7,000 delegates from 143 countries visit the fair.

The association aims to educate the public on different tastes, defend biodiversity and promote a food production model that is respectful of the environment and cultural identities.

Today the movement has 100,000 members in 160 countries.

As well as cooking lessons and dinner dates, this year’s fair offers dozens of taste workshops, where international dishes are paired with world class vintages, and an enormous market where visitors can meet farmers and artisans.

Horticulturalists will be on hand to offer would-be gardeners tips on starting their own vegetable patches as part of the Slow Food movement’s drive to encourage as many people as possible to start growing their own food again.

Russian identical twins Sergey and Ivan Berezutskiy, chefs who have taken Moscow by storm, will show off their modern take on pre-Soviet cuisine, while Xavier Pellicer from Barcelona transforms meat and fish into side dishes alongside a rich main of vegetables.

More than 900 exhibitors of gourmet specialities will also be present, along with 310 producers of traditional or endangered products protected by the Slow Food label, from Mexico’s Serrano peppers to Peru’s Amaranth flake.

“The most important battle for the future is the right to food for all, on the mitigation of climate change, protection of biodiversity, and man’s relationship with food production and with the earth,” Petrini said before the fair opened.

“All together, with our everyday choices, we have an extraordinary potential”.

He said the movement aims to “mobilise the greatest number of people, to tell them what we do and involve them in what we do, because it’s time for concrete action.”

Haute Couture Yachting: Benetti Meets Kiton

In a move that will bring some of the finest Italian craftspeople together, Benetti has announced a new partnership with Italian tailor Kiton. This collaboration will see the yacht manufacturer work closely with the bespoke tailor to deck out the luxury yachts in the best that Italian sartorial elegance has to offer.

Customers who turn to one of the world’s oldest yacht builders will have the chance to tap the skills of the tailors at Kiton to style their lounges for that added touch of luxury. In turn, the top clients of the Neapolitan fashion house can look forward to exclusive access to Italian superyachts during the boat shows. This applies for such shows as Cannes, Montecarlo, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, through 2017.

“The aim of the partnership is to devote increasing attention to our customers who have chosen a unique and exclusive lifestyle”, says Antonio De Matteis, CEO of Kiton. He adds “Excellence and quality: these are the basic principles of our partnership of which I’m extremely proud. Benetti is a beacon of Italian excellence which perfectly matches our own values: a family-oriented atmosphere, innovation, style and quality.”

Clients interested in learning more about the new joint venture can do so at the upcoming boat shows. Alternatively, Benetti can arrange for its top clients to visit Kiton’s premises in Naples and Milan. In turn, Kiton’s clientele will be able to visit the “Yachtique” styling lounges that can be found in the Benetti boutique in Viareggio.

Greece

Greece Best Travel Destination 2016: Report

Despite the economic turmoil and migrant crisis that has plagued Greece in recent memory, the Mediterranean country has topped Condé Nast’s 2016 Readers’ Travel Awards as the best travel destination in the world.

With more than 60 untouched islands, stretches of idyllic beaches and historic sites that span millennia, it is little wonder that tourists remain enamored by Greece. In fact, the country’s tourism board is looking forward to a bumper year for 2016, with arrivals estimated to reach 25 million, or 27.5 million including cruise ship passengers. Yes, we recommended Greek holidays too!

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According to Condé Nast, factors for the surge in popularity include fears of violence and unrest in neighboring Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt – once major resort destinations – which caused holidaymakers to divert their vacation plans to Greece. Italy and the U.S. follow closely behind on the list.

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Maldives continues to reign as the top island retreat destination, followed by the Greek Islands and Balearic Islands in Spain. We couldn’t agree more. Readers of the UK-based magazine also revealed their selection of 5-star boutique hotel Eden Rock – St Barths as best hotel of the year. The Caribbean hotel – owned by Pippa Middleton’s new in-laws – is part of the Oetker Collection, which also boasts The Lanesborough in London and Le Bristol in Paris.

Here are the top 10 countries and islands that made it to Condé Nast’s Traveller’s online Readers’ Travel Awards 2016:

Top 10 countries:

1. Greece
2. Italy
3. USA
4. South Africa
5. France
6. Spain
7. India
8. Australia
9. Thailand
10. Mexico

Top 10 islands:

1. Maldives
2. Greek Islands
3. Balearic Islands
4. Sicily
5. Seychelles
6. St. Lucia
7. Bali
8. Koh Samui
9. Malta
10. St. Barth’s

Full results appear in the October issue of CN Traveller.

Italy Chefs Support Amatrice Quake Victims

Italy Chefs Stand with Amatrice Quake Victims

More than 700 Italian restaurants have added spaghetti all’amatriciana to their menus in solidarity with the victims of an earthquake that destroyed the birthplace of the famous pasta dish.

Chefs around the world are being urged to follow suit after the Slow Food movement threw its weight behind the idea, with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver also backing the idea and urging customers to #EatForItaly.

Amatrice was one of several mountain villages devastated by Wednesday’s powerful quake and it will be some time before the hilltop beauty spot is once again serving up its signature dish to the gastronomic pilgrims who flock there in their thousands every summer.

In the meantime, amatriciana, one of the staples of the cuisine of Rome and much of central Italy, is going to be much more widely available thanks to Paolo Campana, a graphic artist from the Italian capital.

Under an initiative he launched on Facebook, restaurants are being encouraged to put amatriciana on their menus and to donate two euros from every dish sold to the relief fund for the quake victims.

The idea has taken off spectacularly with over 700 restaurants contacting him by Thursday lunchtime to say they wanted to participate, he told AFP.

“I’m very attached to Amatrice,” he said. “On New Year’s eve last year I had dinner in the Hotel Roma which makes the best amatriciana in the village. Today there is nothing of it left.”

The hotel Campana was referring to collapsed in Wednesday’s quake, just days before it was due to be at the center of an annual festival dedicated to a sauce first created by shepherds in the rugged mountains that surround the village.

“At the start it was just a rough idea I put up on Facebook. But it has taken off and I’ve made a little poster that restaurants can put up in their windows to show they are participating in the initiative.

British chef joins in

“I’ve got requests from all over Italy, from Puglia to Tuscany, and also from abroad. I have been asked to translate the sign into several languages to export the scheme. Even restaurateurs who have never cooked amatriciana before are going to have a go.”

Carlo Petrini, president of the Slow Food movement, urged restaurants around the world to put the dish on their menus for at least a year.

“We hope in this way to keep the public’s attention for longer — we have to look beyond the immediate emergency and start working from today to rebuild,” he said.

In a posting on his official Facebook page, Britain’s Oliver said he and the 700 chefs working for him would be cooking up the dish for the rest of the month.

“It will be on the specials board tonight at Jamie’s Italian, and for the rest of the month £2 (2.35 euros/$2.65) from each dish will go straight to the International (Committee of the) Red Cross,” he wrote. “I think we can easily make thousands and thousands of pounds to help.”

An authentic amatriciana

Amatriciana is one of those dishes that Italians love to argue about. Although it is always essentially a combination of pork cheek (guanciale), onions, tomatoes and pecorino cheese spiced with a bit of chili, recipes vary significantly, particularly as the dish has been exported around the world.

Some people use sweet-cured pancetta (pork belly) instead of guanciale, others, including the celebrated River Cafe restaurant in London, throw in a bit of rosemary.

Spaghetti is the most frequently used pasta but in Rome, where the restaurant trade is full of natives of the Amatrice region, they favor bucatini, a slightly thicker noodle with a hole in the middle.

There is also debate over whether to use red or white wine to deglaze the pan after frying the cured pork and onions to the (also much discussed) correct degree of caramelized crispness.

Against this backdrop of culinary confusion, the local council in Amatrice issued a decree a few years ago spelling out exactly how to make an authentic amatriciana.

Spaghetti gets the nod as the pasta of choice, no more than a splash of white wine is allowed and if you use anything other than fatty guanciale you must give your sauce another name.

“Only with guanciale will the dish be incomparably delicate and sweet,” the council warns on its website. San Marzano tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, are de rigeur.

A tiny piece of fiery dried chili is all that is required for a subtle heat and the grated pecorino must only be added at the end, to the cooked spaghetti just before the sauce.

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Africa, Italy Most Popular Winter Destinations

It may seem unlikely but Africa has become top choice for the rich and wealthy when it comes to holiday season this winter. According to a new report from international luxury travel network Virtuoso, Africa has seen a spike of 28 percent in sales compared to last year.

Kenya is expected to be the fastest-growing destination in terms of number of visitors, with a projected increase of 59 percent. Meanwhile, travel to South Africa has increased 28 percent, while Tanzania, 27 percent. Virtuoso reckons this is due to the rise in popularity in safari expeditions, which is great for multi-generational family trips.

However, the top three most popular holiday destinations this winter are still in Europe – Italy, followed by France and the UK. To attract the traveling elite, hotels across Europe are lowering daily rates, a move which will also attract budget-conscious tourists. Parisian hotels have seen a two percent decrease in daily hotel rates. In comparison to summer rates, those in Rome are down six percent, London seven percent and Barcelona 15 percent.

Here are the top 10 most popular fall and winter travel destinations among wealthy travelers:

  • 1. Italy
  • 2. France
  • 3. United Kingdom
  • 4. South Africa
  • 5. Spain
  • 6. China
  • 7. Mexico
  • 8. Australia
  • 9. New Zealand
  • 10. Israel

Countries that have seen the largest percentage growth year-over-year:

  • 1. Kenya
  • 2. Iceland
  • 3. Saint Martin
  • 4. China
  • 5. Ecuador
  • 6. Japan
  • 7. South Africa
  • 8. Tanzania
  • 9. Croatia
  • 10. Jamaica