Return to Rome

The Appian Way

Almost everyone who visits Italy for the first time includes Rome in their itinerary. We give ourselves three or four days to see the most important sights and we leave the city exhausted and overwhelmed by all of the history and art (and food) we’ve consumed in too short a time.

Hopefully you’ll have a chance to return to Rome. When you visit the eternal city again, you can move beyond the crowded and touristy areas and savor more of the smaller gems of this amazing city. Once you’ve gone where the guide books say to go, you can now choose your own path—hopefully, with a slower pace. We’ve been lucky enough to return to Rome four times and we still are amazed at what we discover. Next time you venture to Rome, you might consider these other venues.

Continue reading

Advertisements
Posted in Travel | 2 Comments

Hiking the Val Gardena

Val Gardena

Most Americans who travel to Italy don’t think about hiking here, but they should. Italy has more than 30 National Parks and even more regional parks — all with miles of hiking trails. Each time we visit this amazing country, we include an area with good hiking. We always try to explore a new region, but sometimes we just have to return to a favorite spot. For a wide variety of easy, medium or challenging hikes, it’s hard to beat the Val Gardena, in the Dolomite Mountains. Here are a few reasons to check out this amazing valley.

Beautifully maintained and well-marked hiking trails

Hiking Signage

The distances are marked in minutes and hours, which is quite helpful. They also include the time it will take to get to the next Hutte/Rifugio for a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.

Alpe di Suisi Valley

Get your free hiking map from the TI or at any of the Funicular Stations. Some trails are wide enough for mountain bikes—others are steep and narrow.

 

 

Continue reading

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lovely Cremona

Cathedral of Cremona

If are arriving in Italy by way of Milan, you might consider spending a few days in the delightful town of Cremona. I wrote a bit about Cremona awhile back, but that was only after a short day trip there. If you have the time, spend a few days to discover this quintessential Italian town.

CremonaViolin

Violin Museum

We found a lovely apartment in the town center, not far from the Museo del Violino, The Violin Museum. Cremona is famous for its violin makers and above all, the Stradivari Family, who first started making violins in the early 1600’s. Visit the museum to learn all about the history of the violin and see wonderful multimedia presentations about how violins are made. This is where you can see some of the famous violins of both the Stradivari and Guarneri masters. Most weekends you can catch a short concert in their beautiful auditorium. Check their website for the many special concerts of the Stradivari Festival or other musical events.

Continue reading

Posted in Italy, Lombardy, Travel | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Back to Blogging

A Courtyard in Arles, France

I’ve been on a bit of a break this past year, but there are more stories to tell. During my break from blogging, I pursued another passion—sketching with pen and ink and watercolors. I found some online courses through Sketchbook Skool and it really helped me stick to a practice of doing a bit of art each day. Keeping a sketchbook really adds another dimension to one’s travels. It helps to slow down and get a better sense of place. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting in a beautiful piazza and listening to the musical sounds of the Italian language while sketching.

A piazza in Reggio Emilia

Now that we are back in Italy, look for more posts about our adventures. We are slow travelers, so we stay in one place and make an effort to explore the roads less traveled.

We’ll also venture into northern Portugal at the end of our trip. Stay tuned.

Posted in Travel | 9 Comments

Travel Tips Part Two–Italy’s Food

HealthyPlate

Everyone expects to eat well in Italy—after all, it’s where the Slow Food Movement started. Most restaurants and other food venues have been providing “fresh and local” for generations. However, there are a few tips to avoid those who cut corners and may disappoint. 

 

ChalkBdMenu

The Daily Specials

Be Selective

Don’t settle for the restaurants that are close to a major tourist attraction. If you see a choice of menus in several different languages (English, German, etc), move on. Just a few blocks away you might discover where the locals go. Search for a chalkboard menu or something similar that lists the daily specials. If it’s all in Italian, don’t worry. Most waiters know enough English to explain their fabulous local dishes.

Ortygia Appetizers

A local helped us find this great spot in Sicily

Continue reading

Posted in Italy, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Tips for Travelers–Part 1

Families on a Sunday Afternoon
These tips are for travels in Italy, but they work for most any place you decide to travel.

Major Cities

Be An Early Bird-

St.Peter'sInterior

7:30 a.m. at  St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica opens at 7 a.m. most days. I’ve visited around 7:30 a.m. several times and I’ve never had to wait in line. Check the websites for your favorite churches and avoid the crowds.
Sometimes you wake up extra early on your first day of travel. This is a great time to walk the city streets, visit an uncrowded piazza or watch the shop owners opening up.

Visit Minor Churches for Major Artworks

CaravPainting

Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio

When in Rome and Florence, especially, don’t miss the minor churches. You can find a Michelangelo sculpture or the amazing works of Caravaggio in several small churches throughout Rome. Google your favorite Italian artist and there are many great tips on where to find their work.

Continue reading

Posted in Italy, Travel | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Return to Rome

Spruced up Trevi Fountain

Spruced up Trevi Fountain

Almost everyone who visits Italy for the first time includes Rome in their itinerary. We give ourselves three or four days to see the most important sights and we leave the city exhausted and overwhelmed by all of the history and art (and food) we’ve consumed in too short a time.

Steps to Quirinal Park

Steps to Quirinal Park

Hopefully you’ll have a chance to return to Rome. When you visit the eternal city again, you can move beyond the crowded and touristy areas and savor more of the smaller gems of this amazing city. Once you’ve gone where the guide books say to go, you can now choose your own path—hopefully, with a slower pace. We’ve been lucky enough to return to Rome several times and we still are amazed at what we discover. Next time you venture to Rome, you might consider these other options.

 

 

Walk The Via Appia—The Appian Way

Appian Road

Appian Road

Sunday is the best day to take a walk along the Appian Way and explore some of the ruined villas or the Catacombs. This amazing archeological park stretches south from Circus Maximus for several miles. We took a bus (#118) and got off at the Catacombs of San Callisto. From there it’s a pleasant walk to see the Tomb of Cecilia Metella and several ruins of villas. We found a small tourist information office at Capo di Bove, where we got a simple map of the area. You can also rent bikes, which will get you further, but the roads are quite bumpy in sections.

 

 

Continue reading

Posted in Lazio, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment