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Category Archives: Italy

Books About Italy, Italian Life, and the Italy Experience!

Being crazy about Italy it’s inevitable that we should be crazy about books about Italy. And lucky for all Italophiles there’s no shortage in that department. From historical fictions set in Ancient Rome to contemporary Italian life, books about Italy are sure to be flooding the bookshelves of your nearest bookshop. Before you head off on your trip to Italy, pick up a title or two. If you’re really serious you would start with Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But if you’re not into pedantry then skip to the dramas like Robert Graves’s I, Claudius or The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. These are rollicking accounts of the Emperors’ lives, which were as fascinating and as backstabbing as any character in a soap opera. There’s no shortage of historical fiction about Ancient Rome, whether you’re into steamy imperial romances or histories brought to life by super-believable characters. Moving [...]

Fantasy Itinerary to Italy: Trieste, Rome, Florence, Venice, Too?

This article about Trieste in last Sunday’s New York Times got me thinking about what my fantasy itinerary to Italy would be. (For the record, any mention of Italy triggers such fantasies!) I love to mix it up when I travel, get to the must-sees, the landmarks and famous sites, as well as meander and discover the nooks and crannies of a place, like the scarf shop in Bologna that was maddeningly closed when we strolled by. That’s right, a shop devoted exclusively to scarves. And after I discovered it was closed, it seemed that every woman walking down the street or whizzing by on a bicycle was sporting an exquisite scarf, wisps of silk and color floating through the languid Bolognese afternoon that reminded me I would not get back to that shop, at least not on this trip, as we were leaving the next day. These are the [...]

Beautiful Beaches in Italy

This winter felt longer, grayer and colder than most, and so far spring hasn’t been much better. This has me pining for the beautiful beaches in Italy. With nearly 5,000 miles of coastline, finding an Italian beach shouldn’t be hard to do, whether it’s on one if Italy’s islands, like Capri or Sicily, or along the coast, Liguria or Terracina. (Speaking of islands, check out this list of Italy’s islands HERE. Amazing!) I clicked around like the good desktop traveler that I am and came upon a slew of nods to Italy’s most beautiful beaches. Sardinia seemed to be on everyone’s list. No wonder. The above picture, of Ogliastra, explains it all. Imagine the excitement of returning from your Italian tour with a brand new tan and delicious stories of time spent on some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. Your friends and family will be envious and you’ll [...]

Urban Rafting on the Canals of Bologna

How cool is it that Bologna is restoring its canals? Did you even know that there are canals in Bologna? Not on the order of Venice — Bologna’s water comes from rivers, not the sea –but the effect is enchanting nonetheless. The canals were built between the 12th and 16th centuries, and five remain. The largest, the Navile, once had its own port (1) and linked Bologna with the Po River. As you can see in the above video, you can go rafting on them! The current plan, announced last year, is to expose one section of underground canal and part of a Roman bridge. More may come. This article details the restoration plans. Of course, Bologna is included in several Tour Italy Now itineraries, like the 8 Day Dolce Vita Tour.

Pompeii Graffiti: The Artistic Language of Ancient Pompeii

Pompeii, the Roman city near Naples, is one of the most amazing archeological sites in the world. Preserved by the molten lava when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., Pompeii is an accidental monument to daily life at the turn of the millennium. I only recently learned that in addition to buildings galore, another slice of ancient life exists in Pompeii. Pompeii Graffiti! Isn’t that cool? And it took the same form as contemporary bathroom wall scrawlings, with insults and proclamations of love and some get-down nasty. Check out some of these graffiti comments, from this cool website on Pompeiana.org. This one sums it up: O walls, you have held up so much tedious graffiti that I am amazed that you have not already collapsed in ruin. Last year, the Smithsonian Magazine’s website ran a fascinating article, by Kristin Ohlson, about an American scholar named Rebecca Benefiel researching the graffiti [...]

What’s Your Favorite Guidebook Style?

What’s your guidebook style? Do you have a few favorites, or do you buy lots of them, comparing and contrasting your heart away? I’m a total guidebook junkie. The last time I went to Italy, I purchased something like eight. Frommer’s Italy and a slew of city-specific titles, including Authentic Rome and Authentic Emilia-Romagna from the Touring Club of Italy. I also purchased several more in Bologna and in Rome. What I like to do is compare passages on my destinations in as many guidebooks as possible. I also do lots of online research and will be looking at apps big-time the next time I get to Italy. Do I have a favorite guidebook publisher? I honestly cannot say. I love DK Eyewitness Travel serious, for its design but also for the great content. For this trip, I got the one for Rome. But I read everything from Fodor’s to [...]

Basilica of St John Lateran – The Mother of all Catholic Churches

The Basilica of St John Lateran or the Arcibasilica Papale di San Giovanni in Laterano in Italian is the oldest and most significant Basilica in Rome. Being the first church of the eternal city of Rome, it holds enormous treasures of art and history which dates back to the 4th century. Aside from this, it also holds a special place in the hierarchy of Catholic Churches all over the world; it is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, more commonly known as the Pope. As such, it earned the distinction of being the “ecumenical mother church” or simply translated, it is the mother of all Catholic Churches all over the world. The complex of the Basilica of St John holds wonderful architectural structures, making it one of the must see places in Rome. And like any other historical landmark, it is a repository of fascinating stories and [...]

That Circular Castle – Castel Sant Angelo

If you have read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons or have seen its movie adaptation, you will be familiar with the majestic circular castle, known as Castel Sant Angelo. Yes, this same hide out of the Hassassin and said to be the last church of the Illuminati. Castel Sant Angelo or the Mausoleum of Hadrian is the magnificent circular castle along the banks of the Tiber River and is Rome’s famous landmarks. Built in the earlier years of the second century, it was commissioned to be the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian and his family. It is also the final resting place of the subsequent Roman emperors the last emperor interred was Caracalla in the third century. What we see today is the product of numerous renovations throughout the course of history. It was originally built as a beautifully decorated cylinder with a top garden and a golden quadriga. During the [...]

A Majestic Christmas From Milan, Italy

Towering as mighty as the Milan Cathedral is the 48-meter high, 100,000 led lighted Christmas tree. This year’s tree is sponsored by jeweler Tiffany and will illumine the piazza from December 4 to January 6. Milan is fully booked for the whole month of December and up until Epiphany with 90 musical performances, two concerts in the Piazza Duomo and about 70 shows to entertain the children.

An Italian Christmas in Naples – What makes it so Special?

Thinking of spending your Italian Christmas in Naples? An excellent idea if you’re planning a Christmas celebration with that extra special something. What makes Naples a wonderful place to spend Christmas? Well, for one thing there’s the Via San Gregorio Armeno, one of the world’s largest Christmas markets, it has long been known as the most wonderful place to buy your traditional nativity scene (known as “presepe”). Presepe Napolitano are a centuries old tradition, hand crafted by the city’s most skilled artisans, then lined up along the streets for sale. These wonderful pieces are an important part of every traditional Italian Christmas. Every presepe is unique, and those on display include an array of characters, animals and scenery. If you’re visiting Naples at other times of the year, look for other famous characters created by the same artisans. The best time to visit Via San Gregorio Armeno, is from December [...]