Jubilee Year – What You Need to Know While Visiting Rome


2016 – A Jubilee Year

Last year, during a Lenten penitential service in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis summoned an extraordinary Jubilee to be called the Holy Year of Mercy.

What is A Jubilee Year?

A jubilee year is a special year called by the church to receive blessing and pardon from God and remission of sins.

Normally, in order to be forgiven, pilgrims must visit all of the 4 papal basilicas and Rome and the Vatican City during the Holy Year and walk through the holy doors, which are opened only during a Jubilee Year.

But this year is a historical first as the Pope Francis deemed this year’s Jubilee be opened worldwide and that every diocese around the world is supposed to open a Holy Door. The dioceses have registered their locations on a dedicated interactive Google map so pilgrims from around the globe can participate.

When is the Jubilee Year?

The Jubilee Year started on December 8, 2015 with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The other holy doors of basilicas around the world were also opened  as a sign of God’s opening a new pathway to salvation.  The Jubilee year  runs through to November 20, 2016. when the holy doors at St. Peter’s Basilica and in cathedrals around the world are closed.

How does the Jubilee Year impact travel to Rome?

You can expect Rome to be busier than usual, so booking ahead of time is essential especially if you are planning on doing a Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Walking Tour. Pilgrims travelling to Rome to attend Jubilee events will need to register in advance for a specific time slot to enter the Holy Doors.

Book a Private Tour and avoid the queues – your tour guide will guide you past the long lines an  you will enter the Vatican at your appointed entrance.   The Vatican is the smallest sovereign state in the world, at just over 100 acres, and has less than 1000 inhabitants. Over the past millennium, the Catholic church and its Popes have been amassing amazing works of art within its walls.

The Vatican is the center of Catholic religious life and your private guided visit to this mystic, religious, spiritual, artistic and historical treasure will leave you in wonder and awe. You will view the Sistine Chapel with your expert guide, where you can see Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, as well as the other stunning works of art by other renowned artists.

You will have plenty of time to ask questions and truly understand the Vatican from an insider’s perspective. From there you will continue through the Vatican museums, viewing sculptures, painting and other works of art that will take your breath away.

After the museums, you will visit St. Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica is impressive for its immense size, beautiful golden light and many famous works of art, most importantly Michelangelo’s Pieta (Piety).

Make sure you don’t miss this special Jubilee Year by visiting Rome.


Ultimate Tuscany: Top 10 Wineries



Filippo Bartolotta give us his insight into his top 10 Tuscan Wineries.

Tuscany is in the heart of Italy and is the epitome of perfect wine country.
The gentle rolling hills are planted with hectars of vineyards, as you drive through the region you pass medieval castles, wild forests, pilgrim trails and ruins of ancient churches. On the coast streets lined with 400 year old cyprus trees lead you to medieval hamlets.

In Tuscany wine making is an age-old tradition and the wineries are mainly family run with passion for their history and tradition blending in with a new generation of innovation and ingenuity.

First on Filippo’s list of top 10 Tuscan Wineries to visit is Antinori Chianti Classico.

Just 20 kilometers from Florence is the newest addition to the Antinori Brand.  Opened in 2012 after 7 years of construction, built out of all locally sourced material, the winery is state of the art.  It is a working winery which also hosts a wine museum, book shop, art collection and wine bar with tasting rooms.

Next on his list is Castello di Ama the hamlet and it’s vineyards and olive groves and 12th century castle have been lovingly restored and renovated by Lorenza Sebasi and Marco Pallanti.  The owners of Castello di Ama ‘the castle of love’ who are passionate not only about wine and extra virgin olive oil, but also contemprary art. Since 1990 they have been commissioning artists to create personal artworks for Castello di Ama, with permanent contemporary art installations by Anish Kapoor, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Kendell Geers, Daniel Buren and many  more.

Next up is Castello di Nipozzano, the most celebrated and historic property of the Frescobaldi family.  The wine estate dates back to 1855 when the cultivation of varieties previously unknown to Tuscany such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlo and Cabernet Franc were planted.  Nipozzano is the real thing: a true working farm, and a big one at that with more than 600ha, including olive trees and an on-site olive press. Chianina and Angus cows can be seen roaming free in the fields.

Cappezzana is next on Filippo’s list – just a few miles from Florence towards Prato.  Capezzana is one of the oldest wine estates in Tuscany producing wine in Carmignano since 804 A.D. Since 1920 the estate has been run by the Contini Bonacossi family.  The newest addition being the wine bar ‘La Vinsantaia’ where guests can enjoy informal wine tasting as well as food.  In summer you can see Florence’s Duomo from the tasting terrace!

In 2011 Salcheto became the first self sufficient winery in Europe.  Most of it’s energy comes from renewable sources and recycled winery materials.  Salcheto is also a certified organic winery. Their motto is Salcheto is… Sangiovese, Quality and Sustainability.  Overlooking the own of Montepulciano it is one of Tuscany’s most beautiful wineries.

Tours include an insight into the incredible technology in place and a tasting is likely to make you a firm believer in both high-tech and green principles.

Badia a Coltibuono is an old montestary from the 11th century in perfect condition.  The old crypt where the monks once had their cellar is now where the Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico is aged in big oak casks.  With guided tours of the abbey, which include the Italian style garden, the frescoed hall, the ageing cellars, and wine tastings their organic wines a visit to Badia a Coltibuono is guaranteed to be a pleasurable one.

Sassicaia – Tenuta San Guido

Tenuta San Guido is located on the Tuscan coast in the area of Maremma.  It was here that Italy’s first vine cuttings of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon were planted by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta in 1944.  He originally intended to make wine only for his own personal use.  The first vintage to be commercialised was the 1968 vintage.  Sassicaia is the first Super Tuscan wine and has it’s own appellation, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC which started with the 1994 vintage.

Livernano and Casalvento

Bob and Gudrun Cuillo run the Livernano and Casalvento estates with passion and

In 1997 Bob Cuillo (a serial entrepreneur born in the Bronx, New York has a knack of turning everything he touches to gold) bought Casalvento a property in the heart of Chianti Classico and soon afterwards the neighbouring estate of Livernano which he and his wife Gudrun lovingly  restored  along with the Liverano village turning it into a country resort with restaurant.  Along with award winning wines they also produce olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Biondi Santi – Tenuta il Greppo

Tenuta Greppo, is nestled in the hillside of Montalcino in Val D’Orcia, the estate is more than a century old and being run by the fifth generation of the Biondi Santi family. The first Brunello di Montalcino was bottled here in 1888.  Visiting this estate is like taking a step into Brunello history, where a cellar tour will include seeing the barrel used to store the world’s first Brunello.

Castiglion del Bosco

The hamlet of Castiglione del Bosco was built in 1100 in the heart of the Orcia Valley, which in 1972 became a UNESCO World Heitage site. Castiglion del Bosco is one of the founding members of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino and organisation created as a voluntary association of producers who regulate and control the quality of Brunello production, it is also among the first Italian wines to be granted DOC and DOCG status. A new cellar was built in 2004 with a capacity of 3,000 hectolitres. Castiglion del Bosco also boasts a beautiful 18 hole golf course designed by the legendary winner of the British Open, Tom Weiskopf

top 10 tuscan wineries 2


The Floating Piers – Lake Iseo – 18 June – 3 July


In 2016 Lake Iseo will bring to life The Floating Piers, a project which was envisaged 45 years ago by Bulgarian born artist Christo and his late wife Jeanne-Claude.

What are the Floating Piers?

The Floating Piers are walkways suspended just above the water on the lake connecting the mainland town of Sulzano with the town of Peschiera on the lake island of Monte Isola  and then to the Island of San Paolo.  3 kilometers of floating dock create the pathway which is covered bright yellow canvas, the fabric will also cover 1.5 kilometers of pedestrian streets.

Why visit Lake Iseo?

Visit Lake Iseo to see the 70,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric undulating with the ripples on the lake and enjoy a stroll on the Floating Piers that rise just above the surface of the water. A journey that would usually be done by ferry can now be enjoyed above the water.

Come for a long weekend, arriving into Milan, Bergamo or Verona airports and base your stay around Lake Iseo or Lake Garda.  After visiting the Floating Piers on Lake Iseo why not relax and enjoy a Full Day Amarone Wine Tour in the Valpolicella area?

Just north of the enchanting city of Verona, lies Valpolicella, an area rich with vineyards and beautiful cellars. Your Amarone Wine Tour begins when your friendly, English-speaking private driver greets you at your accommodations, and you’ll be off to visit your first Amarone winery of the day. The winery is one of the region’s finest, and is housed in a magnificent historic villa on extensive, lush grounds. The visit will conclude with a guided tasting of the winery’s exquisite Amarone. At lunch you can enjoy the atmosphere and tasty traditional food in a wonderful local restaurant. After your meal, your Amarone Wine Tour continues with a second top-quality winery specializing in Amarone and other Italian red wines. At this winery you will learn even more about the secrets of Amarone, you’ll be able to compare and contrast the intense aromas and flavors of Amarone di Valpolicella.

Escape for a few days and enjoy the wonder of the Italian Lakes and Amarone wine region, a toast to culture and pleasure.


Gin & Tonic… and Sailing


sabatini gin

The quintessence of English tradition with a fresh new manifestation, Sabatini Gin.

The mastermind of the Sabatini Family who linked up with master gin expert Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers to create a new unprecedented Gin.

All the botanicals come from Tuscany and are grown primarily on the Sabatini estate.  These 9 herbs including  juniper coriander, iris, fennel, lavender, olive leaves, thyme, verbena and sage, are harvested on the families own Tuscan estate and sent to London for the artisanal brewing process which produces a Gin that is “full-bodied but not overbearing, leaving behind a delicate, lingering aftertaste”.

The Sabatini estate is near Cortona, which came to international acclaim with the film Under the Tuscan Sun. Cortona boasts views over Lake Trasimeno and the Val di Chiana.

Why not sip a Sabatini Gin and Tonic on a private boat tour on Lake Trasimeno?

Our private boat tour will show you the splendors of the surrounding lake landscape and allow you to experience the beautiful natural vistas found all around. 

Our journey around the fabled Trasimeno lake starts in the morning on a private boat skippered by your friendly captain. While enjoying the views over the hills, rich in olive groves, vineyards, fruit groves and villages mirroring the water, you will be served a choice of Sabatini Gin, wines, soft drinks and local traditional snacks. You will disembark on Maggiore Island, the only inhabited island of the lake, for a panoramic stroll through picturesque windy streets. The small fishing village, today has only around thirty residents. Most of the buildings, including the ruins of a Franciscan monastery, date from the 1300s. The island is also famed for its lace and embroidery production example of which you can admire in the local museum. Then it is onto Polvese, the largest of the islands, you are welcome to dive in the clear fresh waters or simply relax on board. An informal lunch of genuine products will be served in a local restaurant in Polvese.

During your day on your private boat tour you will also come across and discover interesting Etruscan, Roman and Middle Age archaeological remains.

Explore the wonders of Lake Trasimeno while relaxing and being pampered by the onboard crew.