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  • Rosa Spatola

Dear All


For all those of you who have already read this in our face book page or Travmedia, I am truly sorry however this virus is affecting me and lots of others. No-one is travelling to Italy as everyone is scared. There is so much hype it is completely unbearable. It is SAFE to travel to Italy as it is to travel to other parts of Europe. “…Calm Down, Calm Down” (Harry Enfield's Television Programme BBC comedy show of the early 1990s).


So our RANT starts here. All contributions welcome!!!


This is a story that is constantly unfolding, and we are on top of it and monitoring it with our inside and outside official sources here in the UK and in Italy, with airlines, contacts and our insurance experts in their respective fields. All of our contacts, authorities and leaders in their field have reported not to worry, to be calm and prudent when reading or watching the news. People including friends and family are getting on with their lives and I myself will be travelling to Italy at the end of March to review new properties and tours and excursions. Am I afraid of the threat of getting Coronavirus? I am more afraid of a terrorist attack or an earthquake!


Our inside sources have helped us to understand what is going on and are diligently working to calm and resolve the situation. Italy is the only country which has taken extreme preventative measures and that is the reason they are in the news. They are in full force and have already contained the situation, which is exactly why the media is reporting only in Italy. We know that the media is exaggerating and has many different stories that are heightening the situation and causing fear and panic. The UK government web site and the Italian authorities have confirmed that the lockdown areas are solely in the north of Italy and they are:


In the region of Lombardy:Codogno, Castiglione d'Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano


In the region of the Veneto: Vo' Euganeo


None of the places as stated above are on the tourist trail so it should not affect the majority of people travelling. Furthermore, you would not be able to access these towns due to the lockdown. People living in these areas total about 55,000. They are not allowed to leave as otherwise they will be arrested.


The latest official update for today is that Italy is open and running with flights which arrive on time and are full. For example, this whole situation is like the big high tides in Venice last November 2019. For the Venetians, it was a very difficult day, it took 2 days to go back to normal, but according to international press and media, it seemed as if the Venetians had suffered a tsunami! Press and media tend to exaggerate negative news. It seems that all the city of Venice is under armed guard quarantine, but IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT! In Venice, for example, life goes on as normal: shops, bars, and cafés are all open and public and private transport runs as normal. Venice Airport, Port and Train Stations are open: flights and ships come and go and life goes on as usual. Museums, Churches, and Basilica have re-opened as have the majority of museums in the rest of northern Italy. Locals and tourists wander around the city without wearing any face mask. No other restrictions are in force affecting tourists.


Italy closed museums and galleries and schools etc so that it could carry out a complete cleanup of these locations and of course these things take time and are for your safety. Did this also not happen in Hove? Did the clean up in Hove affect the locals or tourists to Brighton? I am sure it did for a few but not so dramatically. OK so the numbers are higher in Italy, but at least they are doing something about it and far more checks are taking place there, than in other parts of Europe, which means that their records are up to date and they are reporting real numbers. It is important to note that the numbers are high here because out of a population of 60 million, 9000 tests have taken place whilst in the States out of a population of 300 million only 400 tests have taken place, hence why the numbers are still low. This is just an example as I am sure it also applies to other countries.


It is also important that we understand that this virus is classified as a form of influenza. There are 4 types of seasonal influenza viruses, types A, B, C, and D and just like the Coronavirus, all age groups can be affected but there are groups that are more at risk than others. The facts are that in 2017 it was stated by the WHO that more than 650,000 people died of respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year. During 2017-2018, total flu-related deaths, 61,000 and so far between 2019-2020, 14,000 people have died and 250,000 people have been hospitalised according to preliminary estimates from the CDC and the year has not finished yet. FACT! Even President Trump was shocked.

The thing to bear in mind is that influenza numbers have fallen as we have been able to vaccinate against the common influenza and understand its mutations etc.


As it stands at the moment, health authorities in Italy, claim that there are 2036 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, with 52 deaths and 149 recovered. If you consider that Italy has got over 60 million inhabitants, the percentage of people infected is extremely low. Most of the victims who have died were elderly, many over the age of 80. Some of them had underlying health conditions including cancer. It is also important to bear in mind the age group in Italy. Italy has one of the oldest population groups in Europe.


On Friday 28th February 2020, the EU stressed that the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in Europe is concerning but no reason for alarm.


"This is a situation of concern but we must not give in to panic”


EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told reporters in Rome after meeting Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza.


"We must also be vigilant when it comes to misinformation and disinformation as well as xenophobic statements which are misleading citizens and putting in question the work of public authorities,"


She added. Italian authorities have also urged calm whilst taking action, sometimes draconian, to halt the spread of the virus. It's important to remember that according to the World Health Organisation some 80% of those infected will only suffer mild symptoms with some 5% ending up in a critical condition.


The World Health Organisation advise the following basic measures

· Washing your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water;


· Maintain social distancing - Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.


· Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. We remind you that no matter where you are, please follow this rule.


Having said that, there has been an additional report from several Italian Authorities and a panel of doctors who have been studying the outbreak and they have reported that it is expected to pass soon as all viruses have a specific cycle. There is also much work taking place at the moment for the “miracle” vaccine.


That the Italian authorities have taken very aggressive precautions has put them in the news as it is paramount to them that the virus stops so they are doing whatever it takes to resolve this. There are no UK or Italian or regional government orders preventing travel to/from Italy.


There has been a complete media sensationalism without having completely accurate facts and information and there is talk that the Italian government is actually in the process of thinking about taking steps to sue some newspapers who have started this frenzy. People in Italy are getting on with their normal lives, bars, cafes, and restaurants are open, people are shopping at the supermarket and heading to church on Sunday, they are still going for a walk on the promenade or gathering in the piazza, eating pasta and drinking vino and buying a gelato!!!


Every agent’s best interest is the safety of their clients. Each and everyone of them will keep clients posted with first-hand updates as they occur from their own official sources, from hotel owners and drivers, to family and staff who live and work in Italy.

We encourage people to be positive and prudent with their news sources. At this point, none of the existing bookings are being affected as all agents are liaising with the FCO and also with the Italian regional governments. All airlines are operative (except ones to and from China).


Finally, I would like to say that if people do not calm down, this whole situation will affect so many lives, not only from the virus's perspective but our everyday lives as the domino effect is massive. You only have to look at what is happening to the stock markets and China stopping its economy to tackle the virus. Just by China holding back, it is hurting and affecting businesses around the world, from big multinationals to tour guides, it will touch everyone as once fear gets a grip, it will then be the time for the gloom and doom train!


Our message to you is:


Be different, unique and daring and enjoy the very best Italy has to offer.


Your comments and views are welcome.

  • Rosa Spatola

So it is that time of year when everyone starts to think about romance. A bunch of flowers, an evening out enjoying a candle-lit dinner, a bottle of champagne, a gift perhaps. Not with The Italian Connection & Spirito Italiano. We want to make each trip to Italy as romantic as possible, so if you are thinking of romantic gifts and experiences, then allow us to inspire you and perhaps this is the ultimate gift you can provide your loved one, with of course our help.,





So here are our Top 20 suggestions:


1. Visit the places in Venice, which gave birth to Casanova and where he conquered his lovers. After the tour, enjoy a burlesque class which will teach you the art of seduction.


2. Take an evening tour in a glass bottomed boat on the island of Ischia and observe the water begin to glow with fluorescent sparkles as you reach a pristine bay ready for night time snorkelling. A flick of your hand in the water is enough to make the wondrous glow emerge. You will learn all about the dynamics of bioluminescence and the whole thing oozes romance.


3. A balloon flight over the ancient temples of Pompeii followed by a visit on foot with a true archaeologist. Discover erotic art as you walk around the ruins.

4. A helicopter tour over the beautiful island of Capri which offers a dramatic and wild landscape. You may want to stop here for lunch at one of the many restaurants which overlook the sea.


5. A private Mediterranean cruise. A full-day adventure through one of Italy’s most exceptional marine areas. Your experience for this day includes a tour on board the yacht, fish lunch with a qualified chef on board and wine tasting. Choose from an array of wines and canapés.


6. Exclusive dinner in the USEPPI-CHIGI Tower in San Gimignano which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside or if you are after something more dramatic, then we have the perfect venue for you in Florence which overlooks the Arno, truly magical and private.


7. Learn how to master the wonderful creation of three types of desserts. Through the assistance of an English speaking professional, you will learn everything there is to know about fresh and delicious sweets. You will learn to knead, cut, roll and mix. The recipes of our chefs are based on freshness, on high-quality local ingredients, Italian tradition and in-depth experience making this a quintessential Italian dish Yummy.


8. Romantic lunch or dinner in a vineyard or if you prefer a picnic. Enjoy peace, seclusion and breathtaking views.


9. Experience the sounds and the feel of a Ferrari tour. You will be briefed and then your driving experience will commence. If however you are after that touch of vintage, that is also available.


10. Enjoy a day with a renowned Italian photographer who will create an array of perfect pictures for your partner to keep forever. Photographs of you framed in an Italian background. Or why not enjoy a photo shoot just the 2 of you. Allow yourself to be creative.


11. Astronomical trekking. See the sky, feel the earth beneath your feet, be fascinated by the stars, celestial objects which have fascinated humans since the beginning of time. Or what about star gazing on the island of Ponza.


12. Meet your yoga instructor at Anacapri and then ascend to Monte Solaro. From here you will hike through the mountains and reach the perfect spot. Allow your body to be reconnected with your surroundings and allow your mind to relax.


13. Verona the eternal witness of the love between 2 of Shakespeare’s most renowned characters, will be your backdrop which will then give you the chance to meditate about your own experience. At each place where the love between Romeo and Juliet entwined, an experienced psychologist will help you and your partner to heal and strengthen your unique love story. Follow this up with an evening of champagne and canapés in Juliet’s courtyard.


14. A night at La Scala in Milan.. Romeo and Juliet. Pelléas et Mélisande, l’amore dei tre re. Fedora, Swan Lake, La Traviata, Giselle, Onegin, La dame aux camellias, The Nutcracker, La Gioconda.. all about love in one form or another. Opera is available throughout Italy so if you are after that romantic touch, always depicted in Hollywood moments, let us know and I am sure we will find the perfect opera for you.


15. You definitely need to head to the Venice Carnival which kicks off on the 8th February in Mestre. Gowns, masks, gala balls….endless choice awaits. For that one day enjoy the art of play acting.


16. Why not make your own scent, or create one for your partner. Learn about the ingredients, the perfumes, the fragrances and then make your own. Leave with a small bottle of your own bespoke fragrance and a certificate signed by the fragrance master himself. If you want to take it further, we can arrange your own label, how great would that be. Spend time getting the perfect scent which represents you both.

17. Be at one with your surroundings. Endless possibilities to get that very special venue.


18. Enjoy a tour of Venice in your own gondola, the ones with the Bling Effect! Great time for a proposal.


19. Love and Sex History tour of Ancient Rome. Explore the intimate side of the ‘Eternal City’ on a 2-hour evening walking tour which explores Rome’s romantic history, famous love stories, and culture. You’ll see historical landmarks and elegant piazzas along the way, while learning about traditional wedding rituals, seduction practices, and the inside scoop on ancient Roman kissing.


20. AND THIS IS THE MOMENT OF TRUTH! Renew your wedding vows or get married in Italy. Endless possibilities. www.weddingsmadeinitaly.co.uk

Dress up and experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. This is the time when Venice dresses up and is filled with intrigue, atmosphere, colour and that party atmosphere. First held in Venice in the 11th century, it revived in 1979 and is now a wonderful open air festival where everyone can join in. Balls, parties, tours and we can also organise your costumes and provide a flask of Italian brandy or a Grappa to keep you heated on those cold February nights which add to the senses!





Our packages include:


Il ballo del Doge, the Mascheranda grand ball which takes place in the most elegant palace overlooking the Grand Canal, and includes international entertainment and dinner. The Casanova grand ball. Scent of a Woman. Take part in this extraordinary masked ball adventure which welcomes the secrets of Casanova and you get to learn amazing forbidden games in a majestic Palace.


There are carnival cocktails & opera at La Fenice Theatre. Enjoy the Italian opera "Elisir d'Amore" at La Fenice Opera house followed by a carnival cocktail with DJ set.


Enjoy a carnival party cruise A not-to-be-missed appointment on board a true Venetian Galleon. What about the official carnival dinner show and ball 2020 which is not only a dinner, it's an exclusive experience where the pleasures of the food and the party are met.


There is the carnival dinner & party at Palazzetto Pisani, Get involved in the spirit of seduction and elegance, an evening of pure fun, music, opera and spectacular artistic performances. The Santa Chiara glass slippers masquerade ball. Experience an unforgettable enchanted evening of fine dining, opera, entertainment and dancing till the early morning in a medieval glass cathedral – wow…!


The grand carnival gala “Cortigiane a Palazzo” which will bring Venice alive. A carnival mystery dinner 2020 at the Hotel Gabrielli; Take part in the venetian mystery carnival party with dinner, music and entertainment in a panoramic venue in front of the Venetian lagoon. There is the Arabian Nights which is a multi-sensorial, magical experience. What about a venetian style carnival pub crawl or a private murder & mystery tour. Take the chance to set off through the narrow streets in the gathering dusk to discover an entirely different Venice. We can set this off with a variety of games which would be ideal for a group of friends and family.


Perhaps you wish to celebrate an anniversary, a birthday, enjoy a luxury hen or stag night, offer a gift or just indulge…. Then start booking now.


We have named but a few delights but there is so much more. Add to this your costume and if budget allows, have a different one for every night. Choose Agata or why not Anita, Bassano Rosso or Butterfly for the ladies. The men can opt for Donizetti, Paggio, Arlecchino, great costumes and masks to suit.


The party starts on the 8th February in Mestre ending on the 25th in Cannaregio, Venice. Book now to avoid disappointment and to reserve the costume you have always wanted!

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We are all about trying to arrange the very best that Italy has to offer., taking care of it all for you as we want you to enjoy everything about your holiday to Italy and experience true Italian hospitality without any stress. We look after you throughout your stay and are always on call 24/7, try us and see. Your Holiday is important to us.

We are constantly changing and adding to our programme as there is so much to offer, so make sure that you follow us on facebook and twitter. Also if you do not find what you are looking for in this web site, just let us know as we have Italy covered, from the the mountains of the North to the Islands of the South. Remember that we provide tailor made trips to Italy, designed with only your needs in mind. Tell us what you are after, and allow us to inspire you.

Throughout the year we will keep you updated with new destinations, hotels, trends, tours and excursions for you to enjoy and take advantage of. We will also update you with client feedback and photos so you get to experience their holiday with them.

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YOUR PROPOSAL/QUOTATION

All costs and quotations we give you when creating your unique proposal, are current when we send it through to you, however, it is important to note that flight prices and accommodation availability can change at any time before your booking is finalised. 

 

If you wish to make a booking, a 30% non-refundable deposit is required or the full payment if booking within 8 weeks before departure, together with a completed booking form. If there are any price fluctuations we will advise you beforehand. On occasions, if the increase is minimal, then we will still go ahead and book flights and/or accommodation, to ensure that there are no further increases.

TRAVEL INSURANCE & CITY TAX

 

It is extremely important that you are covered by some form of travel insurance when travelling to Italy and it is your responsibility to ensure that you have adequate insurance to cover you for all eventualities you may encounter. Make sure that you are happy with your cover and read the small print.  It is possible to book travel insurance through us if required. and your contract will be directly with the insurance company Just Travel.

All hotels and accommodation venues are required to collect a city tax directly from their customers upon departure. This is known as La Tassa di Soggiorno. The cost varies and must be paid per person per night.  Beginning January 1, 2020, the city tax for 3-star hotels will be 4.50 Euros per person per night, 4.90 Euros per person per night for 4-star hotels and 5.0 Euros per person per night in 5-star hotels. Please be advised that these prices may change. 

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