Tag Archives: Italy

Banking on Cheese: Rise of Parmesan Bonds

Lending serious weight to the argument that artisanal goods are properly bankable, news has broken that an Italian dairy cooperative has raised six million euros by issuing bonds backed by giant wheels of Parmesan cheese. Yes this is a real thing that happened. The financial system smells so fishy that curdled milk is more palatable.

“We already have some loans but, after a certain point, the banks don’t want to give you any more,” Andrea Setti, the financial controller of the 4 Madonne cooperative, which produces the famous cheese from milk supplied by some 40 dairy farmers, told the AFP. Clearly the cooperative was cheesed off.

The 4 Madonne cooperative, based near Modena in northern Italy, produces the famous cheese from milk supplied by some 40 dairy farmers. It has seen business boom in recent years with production rising to 75,000 wheels a year and turnover hitting 24 million euros in 2014.

But when it sought additional funding to boost its presence in the US market and concentrate on longer-aged cheeses, the cooperative ran into a wall of indifference from traditional lenders still recovering from the 2007-08 financial crisis.

The solution lay in an Italian government-backed mini-bonds scheme under which investors provide funding for six years in return for a five percent yield backed by cheese assets valued at a 120 percent of the bonds’ worth.

The principle behind the scheme is not entirely unheard of in the region: several banks already hold hundreds of thousands of parmesan wheels as guarantees of loans to local producers.

And the use of bonds to offset the capital costs involved in storing luxury products until maturity is already common in the whisky and wine industries.

Portrait hotel Florence

Florence named best city by Condé Nast Traveler readers

Portrait hotel Florence

More than 128,000 readers of US magazine Condé Nast Traveler cast their votes for this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, which were announced Tuesday.

Among the results of the magazine’s 28th annual survey, Singita Grumeti in Sarengeti, Tanzania was voted as the world’s best hotel, Disney as the best large-ship cruise line, Palawan in the Philippines as the best island and Florence, Italy as the best city in the world.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Closer to home, readers voted Virgin America the best US airline and the Waldorf Astoria Chicago the best US hotel.

Singapore Airlines was named best international airline.

Luxurious Singapore Airlines Airbus A380

Find the results at www.cntraveler.com/travel-award

Milan’s Park Hyatt partnering with Abarth for car offer

Abarth Park Hyatt Hotel

Park Hyatt Milan is hoping to take customer experience to the next level by providing a new way for guests to see the beauty of Italy — by car.

The hotel is partnering with racing and road car makers  to offer an exclusive deal to guests: until October 31, two Abarth sports cars will be available for use during the day.

Abarth Park Hyatt

There are no time restrictions on the use of the vehicles; the 595 Turismo and the 595 Turismo Cabrio can be used either for short stints or for longer excursions in the Italian countryside.

However, they must be returned to hotel property by 8pm each night. The service is subject to availability of cars and can only be used within Italy.

Abarth Park Hyatt Hotel Milan  Abarth Park Hyatt Hotel Milano

Rome Opera

Malaysian billionare gives Rome opera one million euros

Rome Opera

Malaysian tycoon and performing arts lover Tan Sri Francis Yeoh has given Rome’s struggling opera house one million euros ($1.1 million).

Yeoh, chief of the huge YTL conglomerate, was quoted by the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma as saying he hoped the gift would help the institution “distinguish itself on an international level as one of the most prestigious and excellent artistic centres in the world.”

Tan Sri Francis Yeoh

A long-time admirer of Italy’s prized opera singers Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli, Yeoh has financed numerous classical music concerts at home and abroad.

The Roman theatre hit the headlines last year after a series of orchestra and chorus strikes, summing up the struggle across the arts sector in a country hit hard by funding cuts during the deepest recession since the Second World War.

Tuscany's Nature train

Italy hopes tourists take the slow train

Tuscany's Nature train

Italy’s railway has renovated four lines that had fallen into disrepair, hoping rides along picturesque routes in 1920s steam trains will attract tourists.

Officials said the objective is the development of a form of “slow tourism”, inspired by the slow food movement, that seeks to promote the different facets of a regional heritage including history, geography and industry.

“It is a sustainable tourism model that is particularly important in Italy because Italy offers the world excellence in culture and arts as well as in food, fashion, shopping, scenery,” said Tourism Minister Dario Franceschini.

The routes lasting from 20 minutes to three hours are aboard vintage railway cars from the 1920s pulled by steam engines.

The first line runs through the verdant hills of the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. One of the other lines hugs the mountains that surround Lake Iseo northeast of Milan, another runs through the mountains of the central Abruzzo region and the final one by the city of Agrigento on Sicily’s southern coast.

J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, Isola delle Rose

JW Marriott Venice to boast largest spa in the city

J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, Isola delle Rose

 is set to open the doors to a new private island JW Marriott resort that will boast the largest spa in the city.

Nestled within a picturesque lagoon on Isola delle Rose (Italian for ‘Rose Island’), the 266-room JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa offers views of iconic Venice landmarks including St Mark’s Square and La Serenissima.


Isola delle Rose

Rooms at the JW Marriott Venice will be contemporary in design, a departure from many of the luxurious hotels that play up old Venetian glamour with baroque Italian furnishings and elaborate frescoes.

The opening will mark the brand’s first resort and spa in Europe.


J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa

Set across 16 acres, the property will feature fruit arbors, olive groves, restaurants and bars, as well as a cooking school and wine academy.

When complete, the 1,750-meter spa will become the largest in Venice and feature indoor and outdoor aqua-tonic pools, health club, treatment rooms, hammam and luxury spa suite.

J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, Room

Facilities and activities will include canoeing and sailing, while guests will also be able to make their own Murano glass and Venetian masks in workshops led by local artisans.


J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa bathroom

Room rates at the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa start at €395.

Swarovski’s Milan flagship.

Swarovski opens Milan flagship

Swarovski’s Milan flagship

 has opened a new Milan flagship on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, one of the city’s major pedestrian shopping avenues.

Swarovski’s new store is the company’s third in the city, and the 3,230-square-foot space runs over three floors, pulling together all the brand’s jewelry, watches and home décor together for the first time.

The boutique also shows off Swarovski’s ‘Crystal Forest’ design concept, with eco touches including LED lighting and recycled materials.


Eva Longoria

 is the second biggest-selling market for the brand, with the country now boasting 30 directly operated stores.

Celebrities including Eva Herzigova turned up for a launch party last week that showed off the store as well as the brand’s new Stardust bracelets.

The brand also added some exclusive models for the launch of the Milan boutique, including a two-tone version from the Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which will arrive in Swarovski’s other stores early next year.

Lecce Italy

Italy named world’s top destination by Condé Nast

atrani italy

For the second consecutive year,  was named best overall destination in the Readers’ Travel Awards conducted by Condé Nast Traveller UK.

With an overall rating of 94.49/100, Italy was ranked first among destination countries according to readers of the prestigious magazine, which is known as a key influencer in the luxury tourism sector.

Campania Italy

The country’s culture and cuisine were cited as some of its most outstanding assets. With a score of 93.89, the US came in second, followed by France in third with 92.98.

The survey indicates that Oceania is home to some of the world’s most outstanding scenery, as Australia and New Zealand (sixth and seventh overall, respectively) scored the highest in this category. Greece, meanwhile, in fifth place, was praised for the hospitality of the local people.

Grand Canal Venice Italy

The full results of the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards can be found in the October issue of the British magazine.

Argentario golf

Luxury, golf and wellness… under the Tuscan sun

Argentario Resort exterior

The breathtaking Italian region of Tuscany is not only about wrought-iron beds and terracotta floors. The rustic area also features contemporary designs nestled in a traditional atmosphere. Representing this alternative spirit is the 5-star Argentario Resort Golf & Spa, offering avid golfers and spa aficionados a distinctive, environmentally sustainable luxury experience.

Located on the idyllic Maremma coastline, the resort offers 73 panoramic rooms with various styles that vary from modern-contemporary, to classic, to a more eclectic décor.

Argentario Resort Hall Reception

There are 7 appointed suites, and the property also includes an independent, glamorous three-bedroom villa located on a hill next to the golf course.

Argentario Resort Penthouse Suite

The resort belongs to the Design Hotel group. One of the main ideas behind the Argentario project was to show the region’s progressive side.

Argentario Resort Home Suite

“In Tuscany, you are used to seeing rustic villas – which are beautiful – but I wanted to do something new, something fresh”, says owner Augusto Orsini. To fulfill this dream, he looked for particular materials and designs that would give the resort a unique and eco-conscious spirit in rustic Tuscany.

Argentario Golf Club

The on-site 18-hole golf course is BioAgriCert accredited for its minimal environmental impact. It was designed by Italian pro Baldovino Dassù and architect David Mezzacane, and overlooks Orbetello Lagoon.

Argentario Golf Club Tuscany

The local golf academy is managed by Emanuele Canonica, winner of the 2005 Johnnie Walker Championship, and features the Trackman IIIe for golfers to improve their swing.

Argentario Resort Espace Wellness Center

The cutting-edge Espace Wellness Center covers a 29062 ft² area offering luxurious treatments largely based on organic and local products. Wellness services include a heated indoor pool with saline water, an outdoor pool with sun terrace, bio-sauna, hi-tech gym and tennis courts.

Argentario resort Indoor swimming pool

Finally, the Dama Dama Restaurant specializes in locally inspired cuisine made from indigenous ingredients, with dishes presented in an innovative gourmet style. Cooking courses and wine tastings can be organized on site.

Argentario Resort Dama Restaurant

For visitors who wish to escape mass tourism, yet would like to enjoy sightseeing in world-famous spots, the Argentario Resort enjoys a strategic location in the Maremma, an area that is still relatively unexplored in southern Tuscany.

Argentario Resort terrace

Day trips can be easily organized to Rome, Pisa, Siena and Florence, and visitors can then retreat to relaxing, exclusive and green surroundings.

More Information: www.argentarioresort.com

Porto Santo Stefano

Fendi opens Milan flagship

Fendi New Milan Flagship

The Rome-based luxury label is celebrating its latest flagship store with a new exhibition on the link between fashion and film. Located on the famous Via Montenapoleone (Milan’s preeminent luxury shopping street), Fendi didn’t skimp on the glamour in refitting its latest flagship in the 16th-century Casa Carcassola-Grandi which opened September 19.

Set over two floors, the 5,400 square foot space is decked out in travertine, leather, bronze and stone with a feature wall covered in 40,000 bronze spikes to show off the brand’s ‘Baguette’ bags, and metallic and black Japanese lacquered walls for the fur room.

In celebration, the brand has also created an exhibition in the city’s formerly abandoned Manzoni cinema. “Making Dreams: Fendi and the Cinema” explores the relationship between Fendi and film, with key pieces on display from movies including Oscar and Golden Globe-winning 1996 hit “Evita”, and Wes Anderson’s 2001 indie classic “The Royal Tenenbaums.”

Fendi and the Cinema

Curated by opera director and designer Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda, the exhibition will run from September 21 until October 6.

Fendi is hitting social media in a big way, posting a flurry of fabulous Instagram images after joining the image sharing site on September 16, launching an interactive Social Wall, and debuting a short feature titled “Amphitheatre” on website Nowness exploring the cinematic heritage of the brand.

Amphitheatre on Nowness.com

Le Donne della Vucciria

VIDEO: Miu Miu Goes to Sicily

The Italian brand has released a trailer for “Le Donne della Vucciria,” the sixth film in Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales collection of films. “Le Donne Della Vucciria” (“The Women of Vucciria”) shows off the vibrant women of the famous street market in Palermo, Sicily.

Directed by Palestinian filmmaker Hiam Abbass, the teaser trailer opens with a shot of miniature Sicilian puppets wearing the latest Miu Miu collection before building to a rousing musical crescendo.

Fifty-two-year-old Abbass has previously starred in films including Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” and made her directorial debut last year with “The Inheritance.”

Beginning in September 2011, Italian luxury brand Miu Miu has released a series of films exploring women’s experiences of love, with a diverse range of female directors including Zoe Cassavetes.

“The Door,” the last film in the Women’s Tales series, was directed by Ava DuVernay, who in 2012 became the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Dinner in the sky over Venice in June

Dinner in the Sky Venice

From June 19 to 23, guests at Hotel Cipriani on the isle of Giudecca in the Venetian Lagoon will be in for a truly celestial meal: 22 guests at a time will be invited up for a Dinner in the Sky — at a big table on a rotating platform raised 164 feet in the air over the hotel pool. Two chefs will take turns feeding the fearless guests.

Up there in the air, the paying guests will be able to relish a whole gourmet meal or just an apperitivo, prepared alternately by Cipriani Hotel chef Renato Piccolotto or Cips restaurant’s Roberto Gatto.

Those opting for the aperitif will be served appetizers and pre-dinner libations, from €50 per person. These half-hour aperitivi will be offered daily at 5:15, 6 and 6:45 PM from June 19-23.

The three-course dinner with assorted wines will cost from €250 a pop. The one-hour meals will commence daily at 8 and 9:30 PM.

Dinner in the Sky has already been served in several major cities, including Paris, London, Dubai, Las Vegas, Sydney, Monaco and Brussels.

To reserve your Dinner in the Sky: [email protected]

Grand Canal Venice Italy

fontana di trevi

Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld stage photo exhibition

Fontani di Trevi

The creative director of Italian luxury label Fendi will oversee an exhibition of his photographs featuring some of Rome’s most beautiful fountains.

Lagerfeld was in Rome earlier this year for the announcement that Fendi would be restoring the city’s historic Trevi fountains.

Lagerfeld has obviously found real inspiration in the project as the latest news from Fendi is that the brand has worked with the photographer and designer to document the fountains for an exciting new project.

Fendi will stage an elaborate and free public exhibition of Lagerfeld’s photos in Paris during the city’s haute couture presentations this summer.

Titled “The Glory of Water,” the photos will be housed in a series of dark domes erected on the banks of the Seine open from July 4 to 14, which will also coincide with the opening of Fendi’s new Avenue Montaigne flagship store.

Fine art and photography publisher Steidl will also produce a cloth-bound 120-page volume collecting together the photos.

blackberry P9981Gold

Porsche Design announce the Gold BlackBerry P’9981

Porsche Design P9981 Gold

A limited edition 24-carat gold version of the Porsche Design BlackBerry P9981 will be launching in June, BlackBerry has revealed.

Just 25 examples of the gold-plated, leather-bound P’9981 Gold smartphone will ever be created, and each one carries a solid gold plaque on its rear, engraved with its serial number and its all-important 2AA prefix code.

This code forms part of the handset’s PIN and informs other BlackBerry users that they are communicating with a P’9981 owner.

The phone’s chassis is milled from stainless steel before being veneered in gold. Like previous Porsche-inspired BlackBerrys, the design is much more angular and minimalist in its appearance than a standard phone, although the gold aspect is far from minimalist.

Underneath the layers of gold and stainless steel is a BlackBerry Bold 9900 with a 1.2GHz processor and 8GB of RAM (expandable in multiples of 16GB via microSD slot), which together run BlackBerry’s BB7 operating system.

Making it, in tech terms, inferior to BlackBerry’s current non-gold QWERTY keyboard flagship the Q10, which boasts a 3.1-inch HD touch screen, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM and comes with the latest, optimized version of BlackBerry’s operating system, BB10, preinstalled.

The Porsche handset will go on sale for £1,250 ($1,890) directly via the brand’s website and at assorted Porsche Design boutiques around the world from June.

Rome Cavalieri hotel

Luxury hotel Rome Cavalieri celebrates 50th anniversary

Rome Cavalieri hotel

This iconic Cavalieri hotel in the Eternal City is celebrating its golden jubilee in a number of different ways.

One of which is the chance to discover this top address for only €50 a night…a deal which goes to the 50th person to book a room any given week.

Starting now and running into August, those who happen to be lucky enough to make a reservation at just the right time will pay just €50 for the night’s stay — even for a Deluxe Room or the Penthouse Suite with its rooftop terrace.

A photo exhibit on the history of the hotel will also be held to fête the big year. Another exhibit shows stills of movie scenes that were shot right there at the hotel on Monte Mario hill.

Also to mark the occasion, the award-winning hotel spa has come up with a special “wellness” package.

The Rome Cavalieri, which opened in 1963, is owned by the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts group. It is one of the most luxurious hotels in Rome, boasting an impressive art collection and a plentiful wine cellar with 53,000 bottles.

Rome’s only three-star restaurant is also right inside the hotel. Dinner at La Pergola costs between €125 and €183. For information and reservations: Romecavalieri.com

Lamborghini Aventador Turns Bologna Airport Taxi

Lamborghini Aventador Turns Bologna Airport Taxi

Lamborghini Aventador Turns Bologna Airport Taxi

Earlier this month a Lamborghini Aventador wearing the white and green Dubai Police uniform turned up at a Dubai shopping mall, for permanent police duty.

Now, a white and red Lamborghini Aventador has taken up the job of a runway taxi at Aeroporto di Bologna, which is 30 minutes away from Lamborghini’s headquarters.

The specially trained airport staff is guiding arriving flights in the supercar which has been equipped with a light bar.

It’s wearing a white & red theme with the necessary decals, including a “follow me” sticker as well as others to celebrate Lamborghini’s anniversary.

The solution is not permanent, though, and the car will be returned on 19 May.

Lamborghini gathering

Lamborghini hits road on anniversary tour of Italy

Lamborghini 50th anniversary

Hundreds of luxury Lamborghini cars powered through Milan on Wednesday at the start of a tour of Italy to mark the 50th anniversary of the company, which started out making tractors.

The 350 sleek roadsters with a combined horsepower of 190,000 formed a four-kilometre (2.5-mile) long convoy that began the tour from the Sforza Castle in Milan city centre and will end on Saturday at the company’s headquarters near Bologna.

The convoy is the most complete collection of Lamborghinis ever assembled with examples of every vehicle the company has ever built, from the original 350 GT right up to and including the current flagship V12 Aventador.

Drivers from 29 countries are taking part in the Lamborghini tour, which includes cars owned by the company and as well as aficionados, organisers said.

The biggest representation was from Britain, with 71 cars, followed by Germany, Italy and Switzerland with 30 Lamborghinis each.

Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Singapore, South Korea, Tunisia and Ukraine were also among those represented.

“Lamborghini has been the dream and the symbol of Made in Italy for 50 years,” said company chief executive Stephan Winkelmann, adding that the tour “reflects the global dimension we have attained”.

The tour will cruise through high-end beach resort Forte dei Marmi and Rome, as well as the mediaeval towns of Orvieto and Arezzo.

Lamborghini started out in 1948 as “Lamborghini Trattori”, which has since been sold off, while the luxury car division was founded in 1963.

It now has 120 dealerships around the world and is part of the Volkswagen Group.

Dubai police last month announced they had bought a Lamborghini patrol car valued at $550,000 (418,000 euros) to reinforce an image of “luxury and prosperity” in tourist-heavy areas.

This year also sees Aston Martin’s 100th birthday and the much more reserved British company is also in the middle of a European tour. However, its convoy consists of only three vehicles.

Lamborghini tour of Italy

Rialto Bridge

Diesel signs deal to restore Venice’s Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

Italian jeans maker Diesel signed a deal with Venice city council on Tuesday to fund a five-million-euro ($6.5-million) project to restore and clean the floating city’s famous Rialto Bridge.

“Today a fundamental collaboration for the safeguarding of our common heritage comes to life,” mayor Giorgio Orsoni said after Renzo Rosso, founder and owner of Diesel, signed the contract.

The work on the centuries-old bridge will begin in early 2014 and last approximately 18 months, according to the city’s cultural officer Alessandro Maggioni.

“We’ve been lucky to find someone who believed in our idea of putting together public and private for the renovation of this important piece of architecture,” Orsoni said.

The deal will allow Rosso to cover 30 percent of the restoration site with advertising billboards.

The fashion entrepreneur famed for revolutionising the jeans sector said he thought “private entities should commit to cooperate with public institutions, to make this world a better place.”

One of four bridges to cross Venice’s grand canal, the 48-metre (157 foot) long Rialto was built between 1588 and 1591 and “is greatly in need of repairs,” Maggioni said.

The entire floating metropolis, which is visited by some 20 million tourists each year, “needs a lot of maintenance,” including restoring other key bridges and cleaning up the network of canals, home to the city’s trademark gondoliers, he said.

As the economic crisis drags on in a recession-hit Italy, the Rialto is not the only historic landmark to be restored thanks to private funding.

The refurbishment of the Colosseum, Rome’s ancient gladiator ground, is being funded by the Italian luxury shoe manufacturers Tod’s, while a Japanese businessman is paying to restore a large stone pyramid which was built as a mausoleum in the capital for a Roman dignitary.

venice grand canal

Benetton launches megastore on Venice’s Grand Canal

Fondaco dei Tedeschi

Venice has given permission for one of its most famous buildings on the Grand Canal to be converted into a Benetton ‘megastore’ amid fierce protest from conservationists. The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a 13th century palazzo, was bought by the international clothing retailer for 53 million euros in 2008.

Despite promising to spend millions to restore the crumbling facade, the company faced strong opposition from heritage campaigners who claimed it would damage Italy’s ‘historical identity’.

According to the Dailymail, thousands of tourists stop every day to take photos of its magnificent facade, once painted by 18th century landscape artist Canaletto.

Benetton have enlisted the services of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to turn it into a shopping centre and public area inside the building’s 10,000 square metres of floor space.

fondaco dei tedeschi venezia

Rabbit Beach Lampesuda

Top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world

Rabbit Beach Lampesuda

It’s not a beach in the Caribbean or in the middle of Oceania that’s been named the most beautiful in the world but the Mediterranean coastline of Rabbit Beach in Italy that has taken top honors.

In TripAdvisor’s 2013 Travelers’s Choice Beach Awards, Lampedusa island, the southernmost point of Italy, 115 km away from Tunisia and home to Rabbit Beach, got the most rave reviews from online users of the travel website.

Of the 276 beaches identified among millions of TripAdvisor user reviews, the remote Italian outpost of Rabbit Beach emerged a favorite for its white sandy, pristine beaches and sweeping views of the Mediterranean coastline that looks clear out into the sea.

The best time to visit is May through to September. Aside from sunning oneself on the beach, diving and snorkeling are also popular activities.

One user called it the most beautiful beach on earth for its “Crystal clear blue water which you can walk in for half a mile, sand bars everywhere. I cannot begin to describe how beautiful this place was.”

The only country to boast more than one placement in the top 10 list meanwhile, was Brazil for Baia do Sancho and Lopes Mendes Beach.

Here are the Top 10 beaches around the world, according to TripAdvisor members:

1. Rabbit Beach, Lampesuda, Italy
2. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
3. Whitehaven Beach, Airlie Beach, Australia
4. Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
5. Flamenco Beach, Culebra Puerto Rico
6. Playa de las Catedrales, Ribadeo, Spain
7. Lopes Mendes Beach,Ilha Grande, Brazil
8. Horseshoe Bay Beach, Southampton Parish, Bermuda
9. Eagle Beach, Aruba
10. Rhossili Bay, Swansea, Wales