Saturday, October 30, 2010

Incantato Tour Hotel: Hotel Maximilian

After spending the nights on the ship, the travelers of the 2011 Grapevine Dolce Vita Tour will stay at Hotel Maximilian (4 stars) in Prague on April 10. The hotel was designed by Eva Jiricna - one of the world's finest architects. The two buildings ("Black House" and "Red House") contain six floors with 70 rooms and 1 suite. Chairs, sofas tables and lightning follow the designs of Pierre Chareaou, Guiseppe Terrani, Eileen Grey, Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd, as well as Eva Jiricna. Graphics by Czech artists of the era are exhibited throughout the hotel. All rooms are equipped with 7" rainfall shower heads, telephone and analogue data port with high-speed internet connection free of charge, plasma-TV, DVD and CD Player, fully stocked mini-bar, bathrobe and slippers, hairdryer, toiletries, air-conditioning with individual temperature control and a safe.

Travel Insurance: Make sure you are protected

Incantato Tours strongly recommends getting travel insurance for your upcoming journey. Not only are you covered medically should anything happen when traveling, but with TravelGuard's policies, you also protect your investment should you have to cancel or interrupt the trip. Last but not least, there is also coverage for delayed and lost luggage, etc.
Here is a direct line to purchase travel insurance online, and you can do so with your credit cards and also select the option that is best for you.

In the meantime, have a look at the most comprehensive coverage option The Protect Assist Gold below.

Protect Assist (Gold) -
Comprehensive Travel Protection for the World Traveler
  • Trip Cancellation
  • JUST ADDED! - Trip Cancellation due to employment loss or layoff
    if employed with the same employer 1 year or longer
  • Trip Interruption and Travel Delay
  • Emergency Medical and Emergency Medical Transportation
  • Baggage and Travel Document Protection
  • Baggage Delay and Lost Baggage Tracking
  • NEW - Cancel For Any Reason option now available
  • NEW - Cancel For Work Reasons option now available
  • NEW - Children age 17 and under covered at no additional cost
  • IMPROVED -Trip Cancellation limit increased to $100,000 (from $15,000),
  • IMPROVED - Trip Interruption coverage increased to 150% of Trip Cost
  • IMPROVED - Travel Delay required hours reduced to 5 hours (from 12)

ProtectAssist special features:
  • Best coverage for Weather Related Cancellations
  • Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Waiver*
  • Default/Bankruptcy Protection*
  • $50,000 Flight Accident Insurance*
  • 24-Hour "LiveTravel" Travel Agency
  • Emergency Cash Transfers
  • Identity Theft Restoration

Comprehensive non-insurance travel services* automatically included with plan!With the ProtectAssist plan, every customer also has access to these valuable travel services when they travel:· Arrangements for last-minute flight changes· Hotel finder and reservations· Rental car reservations· Emergency medical assistance· BagTrak® -- lost baggage tracking· Pre-trip health and safety advisories· Live e-mail and phone messaging to family and friends· Cash transfers· Airport transportation· Golf course reservations· Event ticketing· Floral services· Identity Theft restoration
Business Assistant* (available when Optional Cancel for Work Reasons coverage is purchased)

*Non-Insurance services are provided by AIG Travel Assist.

Citizenship: All Nationalities
Residency: United States
New York, Oregon, and Washington residence please call to purchase
Some rider options are not available and other restrictions may apply

Destination: Worldwide
Ages: All Ages
Max Trip Length: 365 Days

Friday, October 29, 2010

Incantato Dolce Vita River Cruise - flight schedule out of Louisville, KY

Departure for Europe:
Saturday, April 2, 2011
DELTA flight DL4282, leave LOUISVILLE (SDF) at 1:00PM
Arrive in DETROIT (DTW) at 2:21PM
DELTA flight DL252, leave DETROIT (DTW) at 4:00PM
Arrive in AMSTERDAM (AMS) at 5:55AM on Sunday, April 3, 2011
KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIR flight KL1975, leave AMSTERDAM (AMS) at 10:10AM
Arrive in BUDAPEST (BUD) at 12:10PM

Return to USA:
Monday, April 11, 2011
DELTA flight DL211, leave PRAGUE (PRG) at 11:30AM
Arrive in NEW YORK (JFK) at 2:30PM
DELTA flight DL61, leave NEW YORK (JFK) at 4:40PM
Arrive in ATLANTA (ATL) at 7:35PM
DELTA flight DL1243, leave ATLANTA (ATL) at 9:45PM
Arrive in LOUISVILLE (SDF) at 11:15PM

Incantato Dolce Vita River Cruise - flight schedule out of Los Angeles, CA

Those of you choosing the air-land package from Los Angeles, California, will be flying the friendly skies with one of the world's premier airlines, British Airways. For more information on your on-board experience, please visit the British Airways website. The Incantato Tours Team wishes you a safe and relaxing flight. 

Departure for Europe:
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Arrive at LONDON-HEATHROW LHR at 3:30PM on Sunday, April 3, 2011
Arrive in BUDAPEST BUD at 11:45PM

Return to USA:
Monday, April 11, 2011
BRITISH AIRWAYS flight BA853, leave PRAGUE PRG at 8:00AM
Arrive in LOS ANGELES LAX at 3:05PM

Incantato Dolce Vita River Cruise - flight schedule out of Charlotte, NC

Those of you who chose the air-land package will be flying the friendly skies on the long-hauls with one of the world's premier airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, on the 2011 Incantato Dolce Vita Wine Cruise on the Danube. For more information on your on-board experience, please visit the Lufthansa website. The Incantato Tours team wishes you a safe and relaxing flight.

Departure to Europe:
Saturday, April 2, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight 429, leave CHARLOTTE at 5:35PM
Arrive in MUNICH at 8:10AM on Sunday, April 3, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight 1676, leave MUNICH at 11:05AM
Arrive in BUDAPEST at 12:20PM

Return to USA:
Monday, April 11, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight 1697, leave PRAGUE at 7:10AM
Arrive in MUNICH at 7:55AM
LUFTHANSA flight 428, leave MUNICH at 11:40AM
Arrive in CHARLOTTE at 3:35PM on Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Incantato Impressions: Danube river cruise

Floating Hotel on the Danube: MS Amalyra, a four-star boutique vessel

Built in 2009, 360 feet long and 38 feet wide - that could be your home on the Danube river during your performance tour 2011 from Budapest to Vilshofen. The MS Amalyra was designed and built in Holland by Europe's best ship builders and under the watchful eyes of Europe's top Caterers. There are 2 lounges located on the Upper Deck from which you can enjoy panoramic river views, the Panorama Lounge which accommodates up to 150 passengers, and the smaller Adagio Lounge in the Aft of the ship, which can also be reserved for group meetings. A wellness area is located in the aft area of the Violin Deck. This generously designed space includes a glassed-in fitness room, massage and beauty salon. Each ship has an elevator, which very few river cruise ships feature. The onboard culinary staff offers menus comprised of soups, fresh produce, high quality choice cut meats, and fresh fish and seafood. Start your day with a breakfast buffet and choose from a rich assortment of breads, croissants and pastries, a variety of fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, and smoked salmon. In the evening, be the guest for an elegant dinner or a traditional theme night with a feast of regional specialties.

Czech Republic: Nation of Beer

Enjoy the locally brewed beers of historic Regensburg

Regensburg, located along the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, lies to the west of the Bavarian Forest in Bavaria, Germany. Regensburg serves as the capital of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Palatinate, and the city’s medieval center is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first settlements in Regensburg date back to the Stone Age when the Celts originally settled near the present city. The Romans are accredited for founding the city in approximately AD 90 when they built a small cohort fort in what is now the Regensburg suburbs. The Roman fort Castra Regina, meaning “fortress by the river Regen,” was built for Legio III Italica in AD179 during the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The fort’s location became the core of Regensburg’s Altstadt, or “Old City.” Saint Boniface re-established the Bishopric of Regensburg here in 739.
A stone bridge crossing the Danube from Regensburg was completed in 1146, securing the city’s role as a city of wealthy trading families. Regensburg became the cultural center of southern Germany, known for its gold work, fabrics, and beautiful town square.
Regensburg became the World War II Area Headquarters of Military District XIII in the early 1940s, but unlike most other major German cities, Regensburg survived the war relatively undamaged. The city’s slow economic recovery in the post-war era ensured that historic buildings were not torn down, and when the upswing came surged through the city in the 1960s, they mindset favored preservation and restoration of the city’s heritage and historical sites.
The fully-restored historical town square consists of many stunning sights, including the German Gothic Dom Cathedral originally founded in 1275, the Romanesque Basilica of Saint James, the old parish church of Saint Ulrich which houses the diocesan museum of religious art, the fourteenth century town hall, the Golden Tower, and the Gothic villa of the King of Bavaria. Visitors also enjoy visiting Saint Emmeram’s Abbey, now known as Schloss Thurn und Taxis, a huge castle owned by the powerful Thurn and Taxis families.
Although some wine is still grown on the river banks in Regensburg, the city’s main drink is surely beer. The city boasts three functioning breweries and two brew pubs, producing a variety of beer styles, from lighter Pils to heavy Dunkels; wheat beer (Weizen) is also locally made. A popular pub favored by the locals is the "Kneitinger" at the Arnulfsplatz 3. Also the beergardens near the Danube "Alte Linde" and "Spital Garten", both reachable from the Stone Bridge, offer a perfect way to taste Regensburg-brewed beer. The Bischofshof beer can be tasted next to the cathedral in the court of the “Bischofshof,” the brewery’s former location.

Austrian Wine

Want to learn more about Austrian wines? Allow us to direct you to the official Tourism Austria website that features the different varieties and wine producing regions in a beautiful way with excerpts to follow.
Austria’s wine regions are both beautiful and easy to visit. In fact, once you step off the plane in Vienna, you have already arrived in one of the world’s most unique wine region. Vienna. Then about one hour south east of Vienna lies the Burgenland, and one hour west of Vienna is the region of Lower Austria with many beautiful valleys. Many of them along the Danube.
We also recommend visiting the following website: Austrian Wine, NYT on Austrian Wines, Wikepedia on Austrian Wines,

Germany's unique beer tradition

Beer reigns as one of the recognized and popular characteristics of German culture. The nation is home to approximately 1,300 breweries, second only to the United States’ 1,500. The German beer market stands independently from the rest of the world’s beer market due to the German brewers’ adherence to the Reinheitsgebot, or “purity order,” instated in 1516 that requires all German beers to be made only with water, hops, and barley-malt. The law also requires any beers not using barley-malt, such as what and rye, to be top-fermented (warm-fermented). The Germans fall only behind the Czechs and Irish in their per capita consumption of beer.
Germany brews a wide variety of beers. Germany’s top fermenting beers include Weizen, Weizenback, Roggenbier, Berliner Weisse, Leipziger Gose, Altbier, and Koelsch, which range from 2.5 to 8 percent alcohol by volume. Germany’s bottom-fermenting, or cold-fermenting, beers include Helles, Schwarzbier, Pilsener, Export, Spezial, Dunkel, Rauchbier, Bock, Dunkler Bock, Doppelbock, Eisbock, and Muerzen. These varieties are commonly found on tap throughout American bars and range from 4.5 to 15 percent alcohol by volume.
German beer tradition includes leaving some beers unfiltered. Kellerbiers, German for “cellar beer,” are unfiltered lagers conditioned in a similar manner to cask ales. Strength and color will vary, but Kellerbiers most commonly appear a deep amber color with an approximate 5 percent alcohol content.
Zwickelbiers take their name from the traditional practice of the brewery boss taking a sample from the barrel with a special pipe tool called a “Zwickelhahn.” Zwickelbiers are an unfiltered lager like Kellerbier, though with a slightly different conditioning process that gives the lager more carbonation. Zwickelbiers tend to be younger, lower in alcohol content, and less hoppy than Kellerbiers. Many US breweries will use the terms Keller of Zwickel to market unpasteurized beer. German whet beers, Weissbier, are available in unfiltered, Hefeweizen form, or filtered, Kristallweizen form.

Bratislava's vast wine history

The capital of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava, is located amidst the Small Carpathian Wine Region, one of the six registered wine areas in the Slovak territory. The Small Carpathian Wine Region is the oldest wine-producing region in the nation.
The first references to wine production in Bratislava dates back 2,600 years, prior to the arrival of the Celts to the land. Later, the Celts and then especially the Romans diligently pursued the tradition of viticulture, when the legionnaires, in times of peace, planted and cultivated vineyards under the orders of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus. The viticulture survived and developed even after the fall of the Roman Empire, especially during the period of Great Moravia.
The growth and development of Bratislava’s viticulture has perpetually flourished since the 13th century when commercialized distribution of wine took hold to satisfy the demands of the locals. Second only to the castle region, Bratislava townspeople are among the largest population of vineyard owners in the Small Carpathians. The high quality of the wine has secured a permanent market throughout the centuries. Through both local and foreign trade, the town has continued to thrive. Throughout history, regular buyers of Bratislavan wines have included such great rulers as Louis I the Great, Sigmund, and Ladislav V. Queen Maria Theresa loved the local wines, her favorite being the Fränkisch from Rača.
The most widespread grape varieties in the past were Veltlínske zelené (Green Veltliner), Silvánske zelené (Green Silvaner and Red Silvaner), Fränkisch and Portugal for the red varieties.
As early as the 13th century, some Bratislava wine growers had the right to serve wine freely on tab in inns. Tradesmen, tapsters, and publicans also professionally served wine house-to-house, from their own homes, and public wine inns. Drunkenness at these public inns rarely resulted in the loss of face and good reputation, as the main reason for drinking was to relieve oneself of “devouring” worries.
Presently, Bratislava and its surrounding communities are part of the most important Slovak wine producers and represent the highest quality local wine production. Today the whole region actively “lives” with wine. Each year, the Small Carpathian Wine Region attracts a vast international crowd by hosting grape-picking festivities, open cellar days, the blessing of young wine, celebrations for Saint Urban—the patron saint of wine growers and producers, wine tastings, and a wine trail, in addition to a plentiful variety of wine bars, cellars, and shops.
Along with their top quality wines, the Slavs also flaunt their good hosting skills with their traditional cuisine. Local wine bars and restaurants also serve such regional specialties as knofle (dumplings), osuchy (dry-baked dough), dolky (baked pancakes), sciskance (potato pancakes), sulance (gnocchi), and a variety of hearty soups. Dessert consists of decadent pastries, doughnuts, cookies, and scones. The region’s most famous dish, however, remains traditional goose or duck served with potato pancakes. Regardless of one’s desired meal, Bratislava wine restaurants will always offer a perfectly paired glass of high quality wine to compliment the dish.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sightseeing Highlight: Melk Abbey

The Austrian city of Melk will welcome the Vineyards of the Danube River Cruise travelers on Thursday, April 7, 2011. Melk Abbey was originally a palace, and it shows. Located on the bank of the Danube River between Salzburg and Vienna, Melk Abbey stands crowned by towers and resplendent in a golden hue. The impressive Baroque structure at Melk was constructed from 1702 to 1736 by architect Jakob Prandtauer. Especially noteworthy is the church with magnificent frescoes by Johann Michael Rottmayr and the library containing countless medieval manuscripts. The monastic community of Melk is over 900 years old and black-robed Benedictine monks still stroll amidst the marble sculptures and frescoed walls. It is now also a prestigious coed monastery school with more than 700 students.

Vienna Sightseeing Tip: The Mumok

The Mumok (Museum Moderner Kunst/Museum of Modern Art) is the biggest museum of contemporary art in Central Europe, and Vienna’s greatest. The Mumok is always worth a visit, if only for its architecture. And inside it’s just as impressive, since the curators can draw from an extensive collection and present interesting focal points. There are five levels with works by Pablo Picasso, Nam June Paik, Andy Warhol and Günter Brus, ranging from Pop Art to Photorealism and from Fluxus to New Realism. 230 pieces were given to the museum by the German industrialist and art lover Peter Ludwig and his wife Irene in 1981. The Mumok regularly organizes special exhibitions and is known for its large collection of art related to Viennese Actionism. The Mumok is located in the Museumsquartier in Vienna, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien. It is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursdays till 9 pm. This sightseeing tip originates from the website

Explore Historic Linz, Austria

En route to Germany, the Grapevine Cruise will dock in Linz to explore at leisure and taste the country’s finest beers. Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria. It is located in the north center of Austria, approximately 30 km south of the Czech border, on both sides of the river Danube. The population of the city is 189,284 (2009), and that of the Greater Linz conurbation is 271,000. The city was founded by the Romans, who called it Lentia. The name Linz was first recorded in 799 AD, after Bavarians expanded south and Linz became a center of trade.
Throughout the years, Linz has transformed itself from a gloomy industrial city to a bright and bustling cultural metropolis. Linz boasts a reputation as one of the most successful cities in Austria. A multitude historical figures, including scientists, writers and artists such as Johannes Kepler, Anton Bruckner and Adalbert Stifter, thrived in Linz where they all produced some of their most memorable works. 
As you stroll through the historical Old Town, you may want to enjoy a beer or two at Exxtrablatt or visit the Linz Castle, the Lentos, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Travel Guides make great holiday gifts!

Wanting to learn more about your upcoming destinations? Looking for great gift ideas? Consider some of these recommended travel guides:
The Incantato Tours staff recommend visiting for the world’s best-selling travel guides written by eyewitness travelers. Find detailed descriptions and travel tips for any destination, as well as insider advice from other travelers like yourself. DK also lets you create, print, and share your very own travel guide, complete with your own pictures and travel experiences for you to commemorate your adventures and share your personal tips with others. 

Read Frommer’ s 2011 travel guides for helpful tips on avoiding crowds as you explore European tourist attractions, where to see the most beautiful art and architecture, or where to find the best food. Frommer’s experienced writers provide complete user-friendly features including star ratings and special icons to note excellent values, insider tips, and overrated sites. Frommers offers the self-proclaimed “most candid and detailed” complete guides to the world one will find.

Photos courtesy of and

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Roccafiore Resort, Todi


The Roccafiore Resort is located just three kilometers from the town of Todi in Umbria, Italy. The resort offers a variety of guest rooms located in three different 19th century guest homes, professional spa treatments, a vast wine cellar, and the gourmet Restaurant FiorFiore.
Classic guest rooms come equipped with air conditioning, mini refrigerator, flat-screen satellite television, telephone, high-speed internet connection, and an en suite bathroom with hairdryer. Free services for guests include entrance to the spa with access to the warm bath, steam bath, sauna, Kneipp path, four-person Jacuzzi, indoor and outdoor pools, and bicycles. The spa also provides guests with a well-being kit that includes a complimentary bathrobe and slippers.
Additional spa services include hydrotherapeutic treatments, holistic massages, and color and aroma therapy treatments, all intended to encourage relaxation, renew energy, regenerate vitality, defeat fatigue, and release toxins.
The Roccafiore Cellar offers house-made wines resulting from what they call a “perfect synergy between the land, microclimate and vines, valid interpretation of the country, and rediscovery of traditional wine practices.” The resort’s strictly organic wine production aims at the physiological balance of plants to produce high quality wines. These wines can also be sampled at the Resort’s highly acclaimed restaurant Fiorfiore.
Chef Carlo Grimaldi offers patrons of Fiorfiore a variety of seasonal dishes based on Umbrian regional tradition. The cuisine is prepared using products exclusively of the Roccafiore far, such as wine, oil, vegetables, and legumes, and meats, cheeses, and truffles from nearby businesses. Fiorfiore has received high critical ratings from the Michelin Guide, Red Prawn, Italian Restaurants magazine, Espresso magazine, and many others.
The Roccafiore Resort is currently rated number one by TripAdvisor of all specialty lodging in Todi. 

Home away from home: Villa Il Gioiello, Sorrento

In 1970, Count Mario Caracciolo of Nicastro, the last descendent of the prestigious Neapolitan Caracciolo family, decided to relocate to beautiful Sorrento. Enamored by the princely beauty of the Villa Il Gioiello, "Jewel Villa," he bought the property, refurnished it, and even resided there, personalizing the space over the years with his own furniture and possessions.
Although the villa was refurnished in modern décor, the atmosphere reflects the presence of the Caracciolo family’s historical roots. Harmoniously situated among a beautiful garden and tall trees within the cultural centre of Sorrento, the Villa Il Gioiella Sorrento provides an ideal relaxation retreat.
Guests can visit the Museo Correale, the famous Piazza Angelina Lauro, the main city square Piazza Tasso, and overlook the harbor and the ancient valley of Surrentum, all just a pleasant 500 meter stroll away.
The villa offers five guest rooms and can accommodate up to twelve adults. Standard guest room amenities include LCD plasma satellite television, radio alarm clock, air-conditioning, wireless internet, and personal safes. The villa provides a multi-lingual staff and also offers a continental breakfast served in the comfort room, a gym, solarium, and outdoor swimming pool with free sun loungers and towels.

Home away from home: Roccamare Resort, Tuscany

The concept behind the Tuscany’s Roccamare Resort is to surround guests with nature. Located a reserved and peaceful stretch of Castiglione della Pascaia’s beach, the Roccamare Resort is surrounded by the lush greenery of a secular pine grove. The resort lies just five kilometers from the Aragonese Castle and provides an ideal location for bike rides and horseback excursions. Local entertainment venues and events liven up the summer evenings with shows, celebrations, and concerts.
Roccamare is situated in the Le Rocchette district, between Punta Ala and Monte Argentario, along a section of coastline considered among the cleanest of the entire peninsula. Guests can enjoy the private swimming pool, private beach, American bar, mini market, piano bar with live music, mini golf, table tennis, soccer field, basketball and tennis courts and seaside bar, and dine at either of the resort’s two restaurants, “La Rocca” gazebo restaurant, and “La Piscina” restaurant and pizzeria. 
All fifty guest rooms offer views of either the ocean or pine grove and are decorated in traditional Tuscan style.

Incantato Impressions: Culinary Italy

Home away from home: Palazzo Niccolini Al Duomo, Florence

During the construction of Florence’s Cathedral, completed in 1400, most of the houses in the area of the Piazza del Duomo were demolished, with the exception of those in the north-eastern corner of the newly created square. It is in this portion of the plaza that the Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo was subsequently erected. The original buildings housed the workshops of some of the most celebrated Florentine artists, including the famous sculptor Donatello who’s legacy is commemorated by a bust and inscription on the façade of the Palazzo, facing the Cathedral.
The Palazzo was originally built by the Naldinis, a prestigious Florentine family of bankers, merchants, and valorous soldiers. Giovanni Naldini purchased houses in the area and began transforming them into the Palazzo in 1532. Architect Pierfrancesco Silvani was commissioned in the 17th century to construct the Palazzo’s monumental staircase, great windows, and gateway. Throughout the late 1760s, Domenico Andrea Naldini embellished the Palazzo’s interiors with still perfectly preserved frescoes by the best known Florentine artists of the time. The frescoes depict typical 18th century tastes, featuring allegories, landscapes, architectures, ruins, flowers, and animals.
When the last direct Naldini descendant, Cristina, married Marchese Eugenio Niccolini di Camugliano in 1891, the Palazzo was given to his family as part of her dowry.
The residence recently underwent extensive renovated, with careful precautions not to altar any of the building’s historical features. Present owners Filippo and Ginevra Niccolini di Camugliano oversee the residence in all details to ensure that guests receive the highest quality treatment.
All guest rooms offer air conditioning, direct telephones, wireless internet connection, hairdryer, combination safe, mini-bar, satellite LCD television, and DVD player. A beautician, masseur, and hairstylist are available upon request.