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OUR 2016 BROCHURE HAS ARRIVED!

January 5, 2016

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

January 5, 2016

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. 

Casta Diva has a unique environment that enhances the Italian excellence, a perfect blend of past and present, of art and culture, the ideal location for prestigious events surrounded by the silence of the most romantic Italian lake, Lake Como. Guests will experience a truly luxurious style and an out of the ordinary service in a magic place where it all comes together. 
 
To book your stay here, contact one of our sales agents.  Please visit our hotels page for more details.

 

Donna Franca Shares Family Recipe

January 3, 2016

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!

Stracotto fiorentino (Serves 10 people)
 
5 pounds of beef eye roast
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
Three stalks of celery finely chopped
3 medium carrots finely chopped
1 teaspoon of freshly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon of oregano
2 cups of red wine
3 cups of vegetable stock
½ cup of crushed red tomato
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste
Recipes
 
How to prepare it:
 
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and the meat rolled first in flour. When the meat is light brown add the additional ingredients. Stir and make sure the remaining ingredients do not burn. When they are light golden, add the wine, the crushed red tomato and the three cups of vegetable stock. Cook over medium heat for 4 hours. Stir often. If you see that the sauce is getting too thick, add one more cup of vegetable stock.
 
How to serve it:
 
Remove meat from the saucepan
Slice the meat in a quarter of inch slices then pour the sauce over the meat. Delicious with steamed rice or egg noodles.

 

Check Out These 3 Mouth-Watering Italian Recipes

December 24, 2015
#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

PREPARATION:
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
Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions
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  

Serves 6:

  • 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).

Preparation steps: 

  • 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

November 28, 2015

Donna Franca Tours is constantly creating exciting new programs for 2016!

Here are three new vacation packages.  

1.  MALTA RENDEZVOUS

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.

2.  THE LADY IN RED FEATURING MILAN & THE ITALIAN LAKES

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.

Starting at $1,249
 
The Island of Sicily enjoys a temperate climate during the winter months. Our hosted "Sicilian Fever Off Season" will guarantee a stress free visit without having to deal with set departure dates or crowded group tours. We offer daily departures, so you may start your vacation from either Palermo or Taormina, as well as personalize your vacation as you wish. Our itinerary will feature the cities of Palermo, Mondello, Monreale, Erice, Alcamo, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, Mt. Etna, Taormina, and Catania. 
 

 

Donna Franca Tours Prepares for the Holiday Season With New Vacation Specials

November 28, 2015
Donna Franca Tours is proud to announce our new partnership with Croisi Europe, specializing in small, intimate cruise itineraries with off the beaten track ports of call.  
To kick off our agreement, we are offering the following Holiday cruises at extremely attractive prices!
 
8 Day Cruise From $2,168
 
6 Day Cruise From $1,367
 
8 Day Trip From $1,863

Donna Franca Tours CYBER MONDAY SPECIALS

November 28, 2015
Donna Franca Tours is giving away special deals on Cyber Monday (November 30th).  Book a reservation using the code I'M ITALY 2015 and SAVE $100 per person on any new vacation reservations.  Offer expires 5:30 PM ET, Nov. 30. 

Here are some our newest vacation packages:
 
4 Day Trip From $529
 
 
4 Day Trip From $409
 
4 Day Trip From $459
 
 
6 Day Trip From $899
 

 

Donna Franca's Top Five Holiday Destinations

November 8, 2015
The Holiday Season is fast approaching, and now is the opportune time to reserve your getaway with Donna Franca Tours.  Here are the very best spots to visit in Italy during Christmas and New Years. 
 
1.  Rome and the Vatican City -  At the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrates Mass at midnight on Christmas Eve.   There's a huge Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square as well as a life-sized Nativity scene in front of the basilica.  Rome is one of the top Italian cities to visit during the Christmas and New Years Holiday Season. The first Christmas Mass was celebrated at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the earliest known permanent nativity was created for the Rome Jubilee in 1300.  Piazza del Popolo exhibits over 100 Nativities, and Piazza Navona boasts a colorful outdoor Christmas market.  For a different twist, perhaps join the Christmas Eve Mass in once of the many historic churches throughout the city - including the Pantheon, where you'll also be treated to a Gregorian Chant concert!
 
2.  Naples-  Neapolitan Christmas traditions are well known around the world.  San Gregorio Armeno is the place to be, especially if you want to find that perfect presepe statuette to make it truly unique.The figurines range from the expected holy family and shepherds to the regional pizza makers. They come in all different sizes, including some that are over a foot tall!   Also savor the local pastries such as zeppole, struffoli, or Pasta Reale.
 
3. Sicily- An island famous for her Christmas Traditions and mild temperate weather, Sicilians prepare elaborate Nativities everywhere, from public squares to churches to private homes. Locals dress up and re-enact the Nativity daily from Christmas Eve through the Epiphany. On Christmas Eve, you'll also see big bonfires in many towns which mark the start of the holiday feasting as well as to help guide the way for the Christ Child! 
 
4.  Cortina- Looking for a different White Christmas?  Perhaps visit this famous world class ski resort located in the Southern Dolomites or Alps in Northern Italy. It features 3 ski areas, 38 lift facilities serving 120 km of trails  and 95 percent coverage of snowmaking facilities.
 
5. Venice-  Venetians know how to ward off the chill with hot spiced wine and other holiday treats found in the local Christmas Markets. No matter your age, you're bound to be charmed by the figure of Father Christmas arriving by gondola to distribute goodies, and the New Years Festivities of Venice are bound to keep you smiling for the entire year ahead!
 

 

3 Reasons to Visit Italy Off Season

November 8, 2015
1.  No Crowds so easy access to major attractions
 
The Big 3 - Rome, Florence and Venice - become different cities, especially in January and February.  In a way you can even say that they are returned to their residents, the large crowds have all but disappeared.  One of the main reasons is due to the weather.  Most people equate blue skies and dazzling sunshine with Italy.  However, with cooler temperatures, rain and grey clouds don't coincide with many people's conception of Italy - it also makes for an experience that is unique and yet just as wonderful, if not more so.  You can still find clear blue skies and sunny days in winter, but walking in Rome's center on a crisp winter evening, under the golden glow of its street lights, her monuments wrapped in a misty fog,  makes for some great memories and moody photographs.  Thanks to the lack of crowds, the sights, smells, and tastes are much easier to appreciate. You can truly experience the magic of the off season!
 
2.  Lower airfares and hotel prices so your dollar goes further
 
Airlines and hotels have lower prices during this time of the year, and during particularly slow periods additional discounts may become available.  In the summer it can be difficult to find air space, as well as a challenge to find a place to stay within your budget.  If you are traveling without firm plans, hoping to book as you go, you'll waste a lot of time trying to find something last minute.  In the winter, many beautiful resorts often have space available at incredible savings. Check out our winter rates on our vacation page.
 
3.  Holiday Festivities
Christmas time isn't necessarily the off season, especially in the major cities, but it is still a great time to visit Italy. Explore the different Christmas markets such as the O Bej o Bej in Milan, the Santa Croce Market in Florence or Baroque Piazza Navona in Rome! Enjoy the creative decorations, ornate church mangers, beautiful masses and processions held throughout Italy during the Christmas season. Afterwards, of course, is the Epiphany. Celebrated on January 6 as the day the three wise men finally reached the baby Jesus, its more secular side is known as "La Befana" after the "Old Witch" who comes to bring children candies and gifts. 
 
The week between New Years to La Befana is considered a major vacation week, and the atmosphere is festive!  Late February and early March bring carnival celebrations.  Opera season is in full swing. Winter is packed with activities, and is the perfect time to soak up the culture of "La Dolce Vita"!
 

Donna Franca Appears on Rachael Ray Show

November 8, 2015
It has been an exciting fall season for Donna Franca!  On Sept. 25, 2015 Donna Franca was honored with the Mayor Thomas Menino Award  for her outstanding contribution to the Italian American Community.  Angela Menino, the former Mayor's wife, presented her with this prestigious award in front of a large audience during the recent "Italianissimo!"  Gala event held at the Museum of Science in Cambridge, Ma..   

A few weeks later, Donna Franca appeared on the Rachael Ray Show on Tuesday, Oct. 20 2015.   Donna Franca, who has a passion for Italian cuisine, prepared a thirty minute meal on this popular cooking show and gave away a vacation package.   

Click here to watch her appearance here.

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