Discover Underground Rome
Underneath modern Rome is a hidden city. Explorers will find theaters, baths, stadiums, imperial villas, apartment buildings, fire stations, and pagan temples -- even an enormous sundial that used an Egyptian obelisk as a pointer! Throngs of people come to Rome each year to admire her beauty and ancient treasures, unsuspectingly walking above these buried treasures during their visit. Here are a few hidden gems worth visiting.
Beneath Palazzo Valentini
The archaeological remains of ancient Roman houses uncovered beneath Palazzo Valentini are now on permanent display, adding to Rome's already rich historical and artistic heritage. A team of art historians, archaeologists and architects, all working for the Provincial Administration, worked on a project to research, restore and put these excavations on public display. The results are of exceptional significance, revealing an area that was of great importance during Roman times and help piece together the ancient, medieval and modern topography of Rome.
Beneath the Basilica of San Clemente
One of the most fascinating adventures I've taken recently was to descend into the underground levels below the 12th century Basilica of San Clemente. Here there are two excavated levels, one revealing a 4th century Paleo Christian Basilica, and the other with 1st century AD Roman buildings. In one of these is a perfect example of the Temple of Mithras, a Persian God who probably migrated back to Italy with soldiers and slaves.
The Catacombs of Rome are underground burial places underneath the city which visitors can tour today. They are most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together. People of all the Roman religions are buried in them, beginning in the 2nd century AD mainly as a response to overcrowding and shortage of land. The Etruscans, like many other European peoples, used to bury their dead in underground chambers. The original Roman custom was cremation, after which the burnt remains were kept in a pot, ash-chest or urn, often in a columbarium. From about the 2nd century AD, inhumation (burial of unburnt remains) became more fashionable, in graves or sarcophagi, often elaborately carved, for those who could afford them. Christians also preferred burial to cremation because of their belief in bodily resurrection at the Second Coming.
Hotel Spotlight:Caesar Augustus Hotel Capri
Located in Capri, this luxury 5 star Relais et Chateaux resort is designed to look and feel just like your own beautiful island home. Privacy is guaranteed by the secluded location, on a cliff's edge, 300 meters above the sea.
To book your stay here, contact one of our sales agents.
Please visit our hotels page for more details.
Romance in Italy on San Valentino!
Valentine's Days is a holiday that dates to the Roman Empire to celebrate the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses, Juno. This ancient Roman tradition lives on in the 21st century! To celebrate the lover's holiday, Italians gift elaborate floral arrangements, plan intimate dinners and present each other with exquisite chocolates, much like we do in the United States. Italy is home to a myriad of Romantic destination getaways! We are proposing three of the top spots to celebrate Valentine's Day this year with your significant other!
The Serene Republic of Venice is the perfect place to celebrate a week of romance. Couples can renew their love vows in Verona, the City of Romeo and Juliet, dance in St. Mark's Square and hold hands while walking over the Bridge of Sighs. Perhaps enjoy a private gondola ride down the beautiful canals. For a different perspective, a lagoon island cruise makes for a super-romantic day trip. There's Murano, home of Murano Glass artisans, Burano, with its lace making shops, and Torcello adorned with colorful patrician homes.
Secure your eternal love, the Roman way! Set over the Tiber in northern Rome, Ponte Milvio Bridge is an institution among Roman lovers. The ritual involves couples locking a padlock, token of love, to a lamppost set on the bridge, then throwing the key behind them into the Tiber River.
Florence is an ideal romantic getaway for all sweethearts. A candlelit dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Ponte Vecchio, or a stroll along Piazzale Michelangelo to take in the breathtaking view of the city will transform your night into the perfect Valentine's memory!
Donna Franca's New Exotic Vacations
Donna Franca Tours is constantly creating exciting new programs for 2016!
Here are three innovative vacation packages.
1. TORNA A SORRENTO!
Starting at $459
Sorrento is a small resort town located in Southern Italy and offers fantastic views overlooking the Bay of Naples and the beautfiul Mediterranean Sea. For over 2,000 years, visitors from across the globe have been attracted to Sorrento by its breathtaking sunsets and fragrances of the famous lemon trees.
2. LAKE COMO HOLIDAY
Starting at $409
Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It has absolutely stunning views of the majestic mountains with their deep valleys running through them. The clear lake water is mesmerizing and varies in color from light green to dark green/blue. On the rare occasion when the lake is still, it mirrors the magnificent scenery that surrounds it. The towns and villages along the lakes shores are very picturesque and each one of them feels like it could be home to any number of celebrities. In summer you will find villages inundated with tourists from all around the world.
3. LAKE ISEO HOLIDAY
Starting at $599
Most people have heard of the Italian Lakes. Como, Maggiore and Garda are world famous for their beauty, culture and charm. For centuries the rich and famous have come to their shores to rest, relax and recuperate. Yet arguably the most spectacular lake has been left in relative obscurity. Lake Iseo is the quintessential 'undiscovered gem'. It is a place for travellers and tourists who are looking to get off the beaten track and delight in discovering their own special places.
OUR 2016 BROCHURE HAS ARRIVED!
Donna Franca Tours is pleased to announce the release of our 2016 collection of unique travel experiences. Our new brochure offers a variety of suggested itineraries, all of which may be customized to create your ideal Italian vacation. We offer unique cultural experiences throughout Italy and Sicily such as wine tasting, hands-on cooking classes and off the beaten path adventures. Please click on this link to receive your personal copy.
Donna Franca's Hotel of the Month: CASTA DIVA RESORT & SPA
Casta Diva Resort & Spa, located in Blevio, Lake Como is our hotel of the month. This exclusive hotel and private villas resort with spa, is surrounded by the greenery.
Donna Franca Shares Family Recipe
For the New Year, we hope you try some of Donna Franca's family recipes this Holiday Season with your friends and family! Handed down over the generations, these Tuscan specialties are sure to please!
Check Out These 3 Mouth-Watering Italian Recipes
#1: Roasted Pork or Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary
INGREDIENTS for 6:
- 3 pounds pork tenderloin or shoulder
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons dried rosemary
- Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees ºF.
Rub the roast with olive oil, minced garlic and dried crushed rosemary. Sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt. Place it in a deep roasting pan.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 160 degrees ºF .
SERVE WITH Oven-Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Sea Salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil - the best you can find several sprigs of fresh rosemary or a tablespoon of dried rosemary (crushed)
- 3/4-1 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 large Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into bulky French fry shapes (not too small)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees ºF (245 degrees ºC).
In a large bowl, combine oil, rosemary and salt. Stir in potatoes until evenly coated. Place potatoes in a single layer on a roasting pan or baking sheet.
Roast for 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.
Optional - add a few sweet potatoes to the mix for variety.
Serve with a salad; don't forget the arugula - Buon Appetito!
#2: Insalatina Autumn
- 5 ounces (140 g)of baby spinach, washed and patted dry
- 5 ounces (135 g) Tuscan pecorino (pecorino Toscano) cheese, diced
- 4 tablespoons (80 g) pomegranate seeds
- A half cup (75 g) raw pine nuts
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil ,Salt to taste
Divide the baby spinach leaves among 6 chilled salad plates. Divide the diced cheese and pine nuts into 6 equal portions and arrange a portion on top of each salad serving. Add the pomegranate seeds to the top of each portion. Drizzle each salad with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Buon Appetito!
#3: Fossa cheese carpaccio
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 300g of very thin slices of beef sirloin
- 100 g of Formaggio di Fossa di Sogliano DOP
- 1 lemon
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
A stylish entree with a strong flavor based on a very peculiar cheese from Central Italy (Marche and Emilia Romagna).
- Place the meat slices on a plate in one layer.
- Squeeze the lemon in a bowl.
- Add oil, salt and pepper.
- Emulsify the ingredients by stirring quickly.
- Pour the liquid mix onto the meat.
- Let it rest in the refridgerator for 1 hour.
- Cut the cheese into thin slices.
- Place the meat in the serving plates.
Sprinkle with the cheese slices and serve
New Vacation Packages
Donna Franca Tours is constantly creating exciting new programs for 2016!
Here are three new vacation packages.
Starting at $849
The Maltese Islands are 50 nautical miles south of Sicily and enjoy a warm, dry climate year round. It is blessed with sandy beaches, beautiful scenery, excellent modern hotels, and an interesting history. Spend the week of your choice on this fascinating island destination or combine this tour with our Sicilian Fever itinerary.
Starting at $9,889
Donna Franca Tours and Red Travel offer a new travel concept: an innovative approach to the self-drive tour offering absolute luxury combined with ultimate Gran Turismo experience. Our journey is unique, individually created for you to fully experience the Italian way of life by offering a sublime blend of art, fashion, architecture, gastronomy and spectacular scenery.
Our clients will feel part of a real Ferrari Team enjoying the opportunity to personally drive the very latest model: travelling for kilometers, accelerating through the winding roads of Lombardia, putting their driving skills to the ultimate test.