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Famous sunbathers like Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Clark Gable have graced the beach at Fontelina, which has seen its share of owners and reconstruction since 1949.

Daily Escapes!

On this week’s episode of Hotel Impossible, host Anthony Melchiorri is in picturesque Palermo, Italy, located on the island of Sicily, to help the Hotel Solunto Mare  and its owners from losing their piece of prime real estate overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

After his initial walkthrough of the Solunto Mare, Anthony can’t seem to understand why the hotel is struggling; that is, until he comes across the banquet room. Anthony feels that the banquet room is ugly and outdated, and fails to feature its best assets. To help give the Solunto Mare a fighting chance, Anthony enlists the help of designer Casey Noble to revamp the room so that it plays up the hotel’s exquisite views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Will Casey and her team be able to impress Anthony, and reawaken the general manager’s passion for the hotel before its too late? Or, will Anthony’s Italian gusto not be enough to save this diamond in the rough? Find out tonight on an all-new episode of Hotel Impossible at 10|9c.

Check out exclusive before and after photos of this season’s renovated hotels.

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Travel to the romantic port of Cefalù, located on Sicily’s northern coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Unplugging from the real world is the only requirement when visiting this town, known for its beaches and seafood. Hotel fixer Anthony Melchorri travels to Palermo, Sicily, to revive the Solunto Mare Hotel, on Hotel Impossible.

Daily Escapes!

Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images

Last January, the Costa Concordia cruise liner sank off the Italian island of Giglio, leaving 32 people dead and several unanswered questions. This week, an $800-million massive salvage effort by a 500-person crew — the largest of its kind — righted the 114,000-ton vessel. Three things we’ve wondered in the year since the tragedy took place.

Who was responsible for capsizing the cruise liner? The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, still faces multiple manslaughter and causing a shipwreck charges and is due back in court on September 23. Lying low since his house arrest was lifted, Schettino claims he’s been made a convenient scapegoat for the tragedy, according to The Guardian. Five employees of the Costa Cruise company have already been convicted of multiple manslaughter and negligence charges.

What happened to the 2 lost victims? So far authorities have found no sign of cruise waiter Russel Rebello and passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi’s remains. Rebello was last seen helping passengers off the ship. Trecarichi was celebrating her 50th birthday with her 17-year-old daughter, who survived.

What’s still inside the wrecked ship? Divers worried a “toxic stew” of rotting food, spilled oil, paint thinners, insecticides and liters of carbon dioxide would be leaked if something had gone wrong and broken the ship apart, CNN reports. Costa Cruises still hopes to return passengers’ possessions found amongst the abandoned tableware, shoes and mattresses.

This was only the first step in removing and scrapping the 952-foot ship, and soon, all eyes will turn to Schettino’s trial. For now, we’ll leave you with time-lapse footage of the Costa Concordia being righted. The 19-hour, Monday-into-Tuesday operation has been condensed into roughly 30 seconds by BBC.

Trip of a Lifetime

$100,000. You and 3 friends. An Adriatic adventure. The stakes are high and today is your last chance to win the Trip of a Lifetime. What are you waiting for?

You have until midnight tonight to customize your dream itinerary or choose a host’s trip and enter it to win the ultimate getaway to the beautiful coasts of Italy and Croatia.

Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or tomorrow you’ll be kicking yourself whilst daydreaming of snorkeling off Dubrovnik’s hidden beaches and sipping wine at the famous Villa Sandi. Enter to win now!

Trip of a Lifetime

By now you’ve probably pictured yourself on the Trip of a Lifetime. You’ve imagined drinking in the unbelievable views and indulging in the dishes at the 5-star restaurants. You’ve seen yourself staying in the lap of luxury at the 5-star Hotel Danieli (yes, where Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie filmed The Tourist). Or you’ve dreamed of sailing around the Dalmatian Islands on your own private yacht.

But if you haven’t entered our Trip of a Lifetime sweepstakes yet, you may never have any of these experiences. Lucky for you, you have until tomorrow to customize your dream itinerary or choose a host’s trip and enter it to win the $100,000 dream vacation.

Trip of a Lifetime Venice Canal

Wish you were here? Yeah, we thought so. Turn your fantasy into a reality by entering to win a $100,000 trip (with 3 of your favorite people!) to the Adriatic.

First, check out the full list of possible prizes – including a shopping spree in Venice, a hot air balloon ride over the city’s famous canals, and palatial accommodations at Hotel Vestibul Palace. Then, design a custom trip or pick from one of our hosts’ hand-picked itineraries. But hurry – voting ends at the stroke of midnight on Sunday, March 24. You can enter once everyday, so you’ve got 3 chances left! Vote now!

Beyond the storied cities of Northern Italy, such as Venice, Florence or Milan, lie intriguing novelettes of Italy’s culture. These hidden gems bring a nuanced feeling of richness and culture that are emblematic of living life as an Italian. Travelers who are fortunate enough to venture into these smaller Northern Italian towns will be pleasantly rewarded with beautiful scenes and activities that enhance Northern Italy’s pastoral pleasures

Belluno
Cinema Tradizionale

Belluno is a small town in the Veneto region. It sits near the Eastern Dolomite region that includes part of theSouthern Alps, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this regionally influential town is a tradition that spans 4 generations. Just a few feet away from Belluno’s center you can witness the way that films have been shown there since World War II at Cinema Italiano. The cinema’s manager, Manuele Sangalli, learned the art of being a projectionist through a tradition passed down from his great-great grandfather. He’ll take you behind the scenesand show you the fascinating process of how giant spools of celluloid film are transformed to make on-screenmovie magic!

Cortina
A Mountain of Fun

If you’re already in Belluno, why not head 45 minutes north to Cortina for some fun on the slopes? That doesn’t necessarily mean skiing. Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of Italy’s premier ski areas also in the Dolomites (There’s acommon comparison between Colorado’s Aspen). There are numerous shops, restaurants and art galleries where local proprietors will chat about politics and — of course — Italy’s wonderful cuisine. Throughout the year you can attend numerous events including an “Evening Under the Stars” where you can visit the planetarium and enjoy a celestial dinner!

Longare
Triumph and Disaster

The Longare flooding disaster marks a moment in Italy’s history when the community’s successes put it at the top of the world in civil engineering. But a freak natural accident changed the town and the surrounding region forever. In the early 60s, Vajont, Italy’s dam, channeled water away from neighboring small towns but it wasn’t large enough to save thousands from a major flood when a mountaintop crumbled into a nearby reservoir. About 2,500 people in Longare lost their lives. 2013 marks the tragedy’s 50th anniversary and Italy’s government is investing more than a million dollars to commemorate the anniversary.

Conegliano
Sip and Skate

In Conegliano, you can lighten the mood a little with a perfect mix of family and fun. This town is known for its prosecco and a castle formerly inhabited by the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto. But during the colder months, Conegliano becomes a winter wonderland. The charming mixture of lighting and scenescapes at one of Conegliano’s public areas gives the effect of being in a mini Christmas festival. In one of the most exciting seasonal transformations in the community, a mini-carnival is accompanied by a family-fun ice skating rink. Anyone daring enough to step onto the ice can rent skates for about $10.

- Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell is a multimedia journalist and a graduate of Columbia University. He currently works as a DC-based correspondent for international networks reporting on US public and foreign policy matters. When he’s away from Washington he loves traveling and learning about different cultures to make the world seem a little smaller.

With all eyes focused on Vatican City (and a certain seagull) for most of the day, it’s hard not to be a little curious about the world’s smallest independent state, tucked inside the cultural hub of Rome and packed with history and intrigue.

Today’s election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope Francis I ushers in not only a new era in the Catholic Church but also renewed interest in travel to the always-intriguing Vatican City. This walled enclave — its own sovereign city-state since 1929 — is home to some of the world’s most famous artwork, from the Sistine Chapel to Michelangelo’s Pieta. You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the sheer splendor of Vatican City, but with so much history to take in, where can travelers begin a sightseeing journey?

Skip the lines, and check out these agencies that partner with the Vatican Museum to offer numerous tours.

Presto Tours: Vatican Tours
Another officially recognized partner of the Vatican Museums, this tour company will lead you on a journey through Vatican City. The best part? The sightseeing group is small — 16 guests or fewer are allowed on a tour.

Italy With Us
Daily tours, offered in English, begin at 8 a.m. Each tour covers the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and, when possible, Nicholas V chapel. Bring a friend or significant other — you’ll need a minimum of 2 people to book a tour.

Vatican Museums: Guided Tours
Take a 2-hour guided tour of the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel — but keep in mind the dress code: No sleeveless blouses, no miniskirts, no shorts and no hats allowed.

Vatican Guided Tour
Among the intriguing tours offered by this company is a journey through the Vatican’s catacombs. Also tour the Vatican Grottoes below the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica where many popes were laid to rest.

Fun fact: Vatican City is 1 of 3 independent city-states in the world — the other 2 are Monaco and Singapore.

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By Lisa Singh and Amanda DiGiondomenico

Trip of a Lifetime

Who hasn’t dreamed of an ultimate vacation with enchanting beaches, 5-star hotels, and blissful meals? Now you have the chance to experience it all on Travel Channel’s Trip of a Lifetime! Enter daily for a chance to win a $100,000 vacation to the Adriatic coasts of Italy and Croatia.

Can’t wait to start planning? Our Trip of a Lifetime travel guides for Italy and Croatia include everything you need to know for your once-in-a-lifetime getaway. Stay in luxury, visit the hot spots of the rich and famous, and dine at culinary havens. With itineraries chosen by our experts — Samantha Brown, Bert Kreischer, Adam Richman and Anthony Melchiorri — you can’t go wrong.

Bert Kreischer

In Italy, be treated like royalty at the luxurious Hotel Cipriani, complete with a butler and private boat. Take a helicopter ride or rent a Ferrari to tour the coast in style, and much more! Check out the complete Italy travel guide.

Croatia Wreck Diving

Be adventurous in Croatia and go wreck diving in Hvar or rock climbing in Pula! Then, treat yourself to some melt-in-your-mouth truffle dishes at Konoba before retiring to your suite at the Aman Sveti Stefan Hotel located on its own private island. Find out more on our complete Croatia travel guide.

The sweepstakes ends March 24, so what are you waiting for? Customize your dream itinerary and enter it for the chance to win the Trip of a Lifetime.

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