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Affordable Italy

The Orofinos are a tourism family, and their company’s mission is to give guests the best experience by letting them enjoy an Italian vacation as the Italians do. Because it is one of the largest family-owned hotel/resort chains in Italy, it’s able to organize its "Affordable Italy Tours" at reasonable prices that allow customers to stay at one four-star hotel and take day trips from there.

The seven-day "Sorrento, Capri, Ischia, Amalfi Coast (Bay of Naples)" tour, for example, starts from a hotel in Ischia. Tours include a mini-cruise to the island of Capri, coach tour of Ischia, cruise to Sorrento and a trip to the Amalfi Coast with two-hour stops in Amalfi and Positano.

The cost varies, depending on the season. Per person, double occupancy, the price is $499 in February, March, November and December; $699 in April and October; and $899 in May, June, July and September. It includes accommodations, 11 buffet-style meals (including house wine and water) and tour itinerary.

The company also organizes longer and more specialized tours that are generally more expensive.

Find more details at

Irish roots

If you know someone who has Irish roots or is environmentally conscious, you can buy him or her a piece of Ireland as a gift: a memorial oak tree in County Armagh.

"Rooted in Ireland" is a project developed in Drumconwell, outside the city of Armagh. According to the project’s Web site, Ireland is now the most treeless land in Europe, with County Armagh the worst affected. But it is well worth protecting: The area has a long history, with people first arriving in 4500 B.C. It was the center of St. Patrick’s congregation, former stomping grounds of English military and political leader Oliver Cromwell, and the burial place of Irish king and legendary hero Brian Boru. Today Drumconwell is an active city with a cathedral.

The project’s directors came up with the idea to help the area’s environment and to establish the tree site on nine acres of farmland overlooking the city. They hope to expand it to a total of 10,000 trees.

A memorial tree costs $99. A sapling will be planted in the name of the recipient, whose name and inscription is entered into a tree ledger, along with the tree’s number. The recipient receives a certificate of authenticity, photo of the site and personalized letter. When the site is finished, the tree can be visited.

For details on buying a tree and on the area, go to

Best betsCzech Republic: The city of Plzen and Plzensky Prazfroj, the leading brewing company in Central Europe, are throwing a party this weekend featuring Pilsner beer, food and music. The main ingredients will be the premium lager Pilsner Urquell, which will also be served in its unfiltered version, plus a special semi-dark master beer and, for drivers, the non-alcoholic Radegast Birell. A Gastrofest will highlight the dishes of the best-known Pilsner restaurants. There will be music on two stages, an art fair, brewery tours and a night program at the Brewery Museum.

Get more details at

France: Claiming to be the most visited and widely covered show in the world, Paris’ Mondial de l’Automobile runs Saturday through Oct. 19 at the Paris Porte de Versailles fairgrounds. More than 300 car brands from 23 countries will fill the halls, from Alpha Romeros to Volvos. Preview the newest models in the car world and dream about owning one of the luxury cars in the Prestige Centre’s section of haute couture vehicles. View a special exhibition, "Taxis from Around the World," which will display 40 of the world’s taxis from 1912 until today; test the latest four-wheel-drive innovations on an indoor track; and go go-carting on an electric track. The show is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday to Monday. Tickets at the door cost 12 euros for adults 18 and older, 6 euros for ages 10 to 18; those younger than 10 years get in free.

More details at

Germany: Getting short on sewing materials? Head to Mannheim’s city center Sunday and stock up at the Holland Stoffmarkt. More than 140 Dutch stands will be offering a large selection of material for clothes, curtains, textiles, quilts, upholstery and patchwork. Sewing accessories and patterns also will be on sale. The market is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The market also will be at Frankfurt’s Festplatz am Ratsweg fairgrounds on Oct. 12.

More details at

Italy: Arts and crafts lovers will want to visit Rome’s annual hobby show in the city’s Salone delle Fontane, which runs Friday through the weekend. Exhibitors will offer a variety of craft ideas and novelties, as well as hundreds of courses and workshops in decoupage, scrapbooking, country painting, creative sewing, jewelry making, patchworking, ceramics and embroidery. The show is open 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost 9 euros for adults and 3 euros for children 12 and younger. The show also will be Milan Oct. 17-19.

Details at

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