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How to properly see Italy

I get asked all the time how to see Italy so you don’t miss anything? What should I see on my first trip? How is the food? Is it safe? So this BLOG is to answer these questions and state some rules:

  1. There are no rules
  2. I don’t believe in tours. They take you to the worst restaurants in Italy and move you along from site to site too fast. Most people take tours because they are afraid of getting lost, Can’t speak the language or don’t want to miss anything. Use your smart phones GPS to get around. Search on top things to see.
  3. The big cities are a must but the real Italy is in the small cities. Don’t miss these.
  4. Italy can’t be seen in one trip. Plan several trips and enjoy it more.
  5. If you are seeing 10 cities in 7 days, you have not visited or seen Italy.
  6. The food, outside touristy places is fantastic. Eat with the Italians in small Trattoria.
  7. Museums are important but the art in Italy is all around you everywhere you go.
  8. Stay in small hotels not big American ones. Don’t worry about your points, you are in Italy.
  9. Learn a few key phrases in Italian and use them.

OK you are on your first trip and don’t know where to go. Plan Naples and Rome or Florence and Venice. Spend time in each city. You win nothing by running from site to site and then moving to the next city. In fact you lose a lot! Italy is a country that moves slowly. Sit and observe it. Walk with the Italians at lunch time (la passeggiata). It is not enough to see the famous art and buildings but the people who live here. Communicate as best you can. Use simple 2-year old talk or charades.

Tours normally work against these goals. They force you to eat where they make the most money. They rush you from one site to the next. You see Italy through a bus window. This is not much better than seeing it on TV. If you must take a tour, find a small walking or biking tour. Find something in a van not a huge bus. Make sure you have a few days on your own to explore as you want to. Don’t be afraid to take trains between cities. They go almost everywhere. Within cities the metro is clean and efficient.

Rome is a city of architecture and history unlike any other in the world. Naples is old and many Americans came from this area of Italy. Florence is the capital of art and the Renaissance, Here you will find unbelievable art and the beginnings of modern thinking. Venice is the most unusual city in the world. Here you will explore a large city made up of sidewalks and canals. There are no roads or cars. Enjoy these cities but take time to understand the history, the people and the food.

Plan more trips to visit places like Verona, Bologna, Capri, Amalfi Coast and the millions of small wonderful sea port and mountain towns. We love driving south from Rome on the A1 to our home. We see an interesting town high up on a mountain side in the distance. We use our iPhones to identify it and plot a course to it. After exploring the town we have a café at a bar or lunch in a small local restaurant. This is enjoying Italy and getting to know it.

Food and wine are a national pastime in Italy. Everyone is an expert. The truth is most food comes from farms in the vicinity, wines and olive oil are made locally.  The food is made from ancient recipes handed down over time. No-one cooks pasta as good as an Italians mom!

Hotels are for sleeping after a long day touring. You don’t need a resort type hotel. Pick local small hotels. We always prefer a room with its own bath (not all come this way). These small hotels are often family run. You get to know them as friends if you take the time.

Learn how to say some Italian phrases like Buon Giorno (Good day), Buona Sera (Good Evening – at sunset and beyond). Arrivederci (Good Bye) and Ciao (Hello and Good Bye). You might also want to ask How much? (Quanta Costa?). Jo Anne’s favorite is Quanta costa le Scarpe? (How much are the shoes?). Simply saying Buon Giorno to someone you pass will bring a smile and a Buon Giorno in return. Italy is a friendly place.

This brings us to How safe is Italy? Italy is very safe. There is almost no violent crime. There are pick pockets in large cities. Beware of you purses and wallets. Italians drive very fast so beware of cars speeding by you. We are never fearful walking around large cities like Rome. You are in Italy to learn and enjoy life. Just do it and enjoy a gelato.

Italy is the most romantic place on Earth!

Ciao,

George

 

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, BLOG, Bologna, Cafè, Capri, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, GPS, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Metro Travel, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Pasta, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Towns, Trains, Traveling without a tour, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Casal Velino, Italy

Casal Velino is the sister mountain town of Casal Velino Marina. It is a very small town high up on a mountain. There are some very good restaurants there and a bar with a view of the sea and Casal Velino Marina below. This town has only a few roads and then walkways that are narrow and steep sometimes leading to stairs. The people here have lived here all their lives. This town is in the Cliento National Forest.

Come walk with us in the YouTube video below.

– George

Categories: Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, Campania, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Driving in Italy, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Marina Casal Velino, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Towns, VLOG | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pisciotta, Italy

Pisciotta is a small mountain town in southern Campania. It is high above its marina on the sea. This town is very small but beautiful with only about 3,000 people living there. The views of the sea are amazing.We walked around this town from the main piazza up the many stairs to see the views. We were rewarded by discovering a wonderful restaurant with the most amazing views. The owner allowed us to come out on their balcony and photograph the sea. Later we returned for a magnificent romantic lunch. The people at the restaurant, I Tre Gufi (the three owls), were so friendly and the food and wine was delicious.

As we entered the town we found a parking garage but there were no ticket machines to pay for parking. We had to leave the garage and go to the main piazza to find a bar that sold parking tickets (biglietto). After placing the biglietto in the car we were free to explore. At lunch we realized our parking tickets were about to expire. As I prepared to go buy another ticket, a man told me not to worry, the police were eating lunch as well and would not be issuing parking tickets. Italy is all about basic human needs like food. We love it.

Click on the YouTube video below and walk around Pisciotta with us. If you enjoy it, LIKE and SUBSCRIBE on YouTube. Thank you…

– George

Categories: Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, BLOG, Campania, Driving in Italy, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Parking Garage, Parking Meters, Passegiata, Pisciotta, Ristorante, Romance, Small Towns, Tyrrhenian Sea, VLOG, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capri, Italy

The Isle of Capri is a true place of beauty. This is why it became the playground of the rich and famous. Many people are confused by the isle’s name of Capri and the city of Capri on the Isle. The Isle has two main cities: Capri and Anacapri. This island is rugged with cliffs and a huge mountain near Anacapri. It has two beaches, the large and small beaches. The ferries drop you off at the large beach. There is a large marina there and porters will take your bags to your hotel. This is a great idea since you will be walking.

Once at the marina at the large beach you can take a bus up a windy road or a funicular up the hill to the center of Capri city.Take the funicular. it is fast and fun. At the top is the main piazza with its clock tower. In this area are many restaurants, bars, gelaterias and stores. Many of the small streets are alley like but take them and you will discover many interesting stores and shops.

So many tourists opt to come on a ferry in the morning and leave in the evening. This is the biggest mistake you can make! Stay at least one night. After the tourists have left, the locals come out. Be a local and enjoy life. This is what being an Italian in Italy is all about. Remember Italy is not a quest to visit as many places as you can in a week. It is about the food, the people, the life, the museums and the cities. You can not fully enjoy or understand Italy without sitting back in each city and being part of the life. Running through a city causes you to miss the life all together reducing Italy to just another tourist destination. Believe me, Italy is not just another tourist attraction!

Come walk with us through the cities of Capri and Anacapri and join us on a boat ride around the Isle. Be romantic in one of the most romantic places on Earth…

– George

Categories: Anacapri, Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, Blue Flag Beaches, Blue Grotto, Cafè, Campania, Capri, Cave, Cooking, Cruises, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Ferries, Food, Funicular, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mount Vesuvious, Museums, Naples, Passegiata, Planning a vacation, resorts, Ristorante, Romance, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Stairs, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tyrrhenian Sea, Villa Brunella, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Locorotondo, Italy

Locorotondo is a wonderful white city in Puglia, Italy. It is located down near the heel of the boot on the Adriatic Sea. In this entire area you can see Trulli homes (dome-shaped homes). Most people think of Alberobello for Trulli homes but they are located all over this area of Puglia. Other great cities in this area are Cisternino, Ostuni and Polignano a Mare (home of the Cave restaurant).

These cities are mostly white walls with beautiful flowers to add colors. They are unique places to visit. Each town is small and can be seen in a half to full day. Stop in bars and restaurants and enjoy the local flavors.

Come walk with us around Locorotondo in the video below. This is Dolce far niente!

 


– George

Categories: Adriatic Sea, Alberobello, Bars, Cave, Cave Restaurant, Cisternino, Dolce far niente, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Grotta Palazzese, Italy, Locorotondo, Ostuni, Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Romance, sea, Small Towns, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Siena, Italy

Siena is a medium size town in the Tuscan region. It has a great piazza in the center and several beautiful churches. The piazza is where Italians and tourists meet to sit and talk or have a gelato. There are restaurants and bars around the edge of this piazza. It is a large piazza.

On July 2 and August 16 the famous horse race is run (il Palio), There are 13 Contrade or city wards that compete but only 10 of the 13 get to race. Ten horses and ten men race bareback around the piazza’s edge three times. The winner holds the honor for a year. The edge of the piazza is transformed into a dirt horse track. The center has areas for people of each Contrade to stand and watch as horses race around them.


– George

Categories: Bars, BLOG, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Ristorante, Romance, Shopping, Siena, Small Towns, Tuscany, VLOG, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Two Important Large Cities of Italy

Two great large cities in Italy are Rome and Florence. This doesn’t mean Naples, Bologna and Milan are not great or important. Italy has four categories of city that we love:

  1. Large cities – These are Milan, Bolgna, Florence, Rome and Naples
  2. Famous smaller cities – Venice, Verona, Capri, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Salerno, Palermo
  3. Mountain Towns – There are so many of these from good size cities to very small towns that we could not begin to list them.
  4. Seaside Towns – Again way too many of these as well. These are towns that are on the sea and not in any other category above.

Today we look at two of the large cities in Italy that we have VLOGGED on:

Rome

Roma is the capitol of Italy and is a very cosmopolitan city. Roma has subways (the Metro), busses, and taxis. Driving in the historic central is difficult and illegal without a pass. If you are staying at a hotel in the center you can get a pass. Streets are crazy. One ways going against where you want to go. We once mapped walking to a place in Roma but had the GPS on driving by mistake. It took much longer to drive it than walk it.

Roma has everything a tourists needs:

  • Great restaurants (Bars, Ristorante, and Trattorias)
  • Museums
  • Architecture – Roma is one big outdoor museum
  • Parks
  • Shopping

Walk with us in our video below and see the famous sites of Roma. Walk the small narrow streets and see the wide large avenues. Roma is to be studied slowly with a glass or two of wine. Study it, observe its people, enjoy its sites, marvel at its museums and pay attention to its fashion. Place your hand into the mouth of truth if you dare (Bocca della Verità).

Florence

Firenze is another very modern cosmopolitan city with all the forms of transportation as Roma. The museums are unreal (the renaissance started here). A visit to Firenze is incomplete without a visit to the Uffizi museum. Learn about how the Medici leaders travelled in secret from their offices (Uffizi Museum today) to their palace (Palazzo Medici Riccardi). Climb the stairs to a vista overlooking the city central and walk across the Ponte Vecchio bridge. See Saint Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City (An independent country not part of Italy where the Pope is President). Come walk with us and see all of this and more in the video below.

Be Romantic! Visit Italy!

– George

Categories: Bars, Beach Resorts, BLOG, Bocca della Verità, Bologna, Capri, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Metro Travel, Milan, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Planning a vacation, Ponte Vecchio, Positano, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, sea, Shopping, Small Towns, Sorrento, Spanish Steps, Taxi, Towns, Trains, Traveling without a tour, Uffizi, Vatican City, Venice, Verona, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tuscany & Umbria Fun

In 2015 we took a week-long trip through some interesting cities of Tuscany and Umbria. This is a hilly area of Italy and the cities are hill towns with narrow streets and lots of stairs. It is Italy and the friendliness of the people and quality of the food and wine comes through.

The video below is an introduction to my Italian city videos.

 

Our trip was several weeks long but the first week was in Tuscany/Umbria and the rest was at our home in southern Campania. We flew into the Rome airport, Fiumicino, and rented a car.  Our itinerary was:

  1. Perugia – Chocolates – See are YouTube Video below
  2. Assisi – Home of Saint Francis – See are YouTube Video below
  3. Cortona – Home of Under the Tuscan Sun – See are YouTube Video below
  4. Montepulciano – The famous wine city – See are YouTube Video below
  5. Siena – Home of the famous Horse Race Il Palio – YouTube video coming soon
  6. San Gimignano – My favorite city anywhere – YouTube video coming soon
  7. Florence – Home of Italian art – See are YouTube Video below

There are so many more cities in this area worth seeing but we were limited to a week and wanted to spend time in Florence.

Perugia

This is home to the famous Italian chocolate Perugina. It is owned by Nestle now but in Italy it is made the original way with not as much sugar. The American version is sold with much more sugar. This small town has an old city center with very narrow streets that barely fit a car. See the video below for how narrow these streets actually are. As in most Italian towns, life takes place outside. Piazzas are places to sit at a bar or restaurant outside and enjoy and observe life around you.

Assisi

Assisi is a small hill town in Umbria that was home to Saint Francis and the Franciscan Monks. It is above all else an Italian city. The food and wine are great. Eating is done outside in piazzas and narrow streets. In our video we caught an Italian wedding as we were seated outside at a restaurant. You never know what will happen next but it will be fun and interesting.

Cortona

OK, we all know Cortona from the book and movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances Mayes made this small town popular to tourists from all over the world. The city is high on a hill in Tuscany overlooking Lake Trasimeno. Frances Mayes has her real home here as well as Bramasole, the home used in the movie. Walk with us through this wonderful city in our YouTube video.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a famous Italian red wine city (by the same name). Here you can walk a wonderful hill-top city and drink this and other great Tuscan wines. We stayed at a great hotel outside the city called Borgo San Pietro Hotel Cortona. You can see this city and the hotel in the YouTube video.

Siena

This video will be available on YouTube on Monday January 30th. This is a larger city with a great old center that has a huge piazza that is used twice a year (on July 2 and August 16)  run a famous Italian horse race, il palio. People crowd into the center of the piazza and horses race around them. Mud flies and everyone has a fun time. Outside race times the piazza is a place to meet friends and family and sit and relax in the sun. The border of this piazza is loaded with bars and restaurants. The food is good but they are very touristy which means high prices.

San Gimignano

This video will be available on YouTube on a Monday two weeks after the above Siena video. San Gimignano is by far my favorite city anywhere. It is a walled hill city with two main gates. It has been preserved in time from its medieval beginnings. You will notice The famous town homes that help protect families from invaders. In medieval times there were 72 of these homes measuring as tall as 70 meters (230 feet). Today there are only 14 surviving towers. Tourists have found this city and with tourists came tourists stores like Gucci but it is a great town to walk. Get off the main two streets and see the real town.

Florence

Florence was the center of the renaissance and brought art, style, architecture and culture to medieval Italy. Books have been written about Florence. It is a very large city and one of Italy’s main cities. You come here for food, wine, views and art. In our YouTube video we walk around Florence and show you great museums like the Uffizi. Florence has something for everyone. Spend some time here and get to know the city and the people.

Enjoy your travels and enjoy your life…

– George

Categories: Architecture, Assisi, Bars, Cortona, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Hotels, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Lakes of Italy, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Ristorante, Romance, Saint Francis, Saint Peter's Basilica, San Gimignano, Siena, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, Uffizi, Umbria, Under the Tuscan Sun, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Southern Campania’s Beach Resorts

Everyone knows about the Amalfi Coast. Positano, Sorrento and Capri are world-famous. The beaches at Positano are lava rock not sand. The beaches farther south in Campania are pure sand. The sea is very calm and gentle in the summer but violent with large waves in the winter. Jo Anne and I chose a second home in this area for both the beautiful beaches and high gorgeous mountains. Imagine laying on the beach feeling the sand, sun and water as you look at the mountains around you. There are four branches near us.

Marina di Casalvelino

This is a beach resort in every sense of the word. There are plenty of restaurants in walking distances as well as some great bars. There is a supermercato across from the sea. The main road at the beach has restaurants and stores on one side and the beach with palm trees on the other.

 

YouTube VLOG on Marina Casalvelino

The beach is large and beautiful. You can choose free beaches and take your own chairs and umbrella or a club that charges a fee, around 20 Euros/day (Discounts for larger time periods), for two chairs, and umbrella with a small table, free WiFi and music. These clubs also have restaurants that serve wine, prosecco, beer and food. We love this option as it is relaxing with no worries or hassles. There is a great market just off the beach each Friday.

There is a large marina here where you can rent boats or hire someone to take you out, There is a good train with connections to Salerno, Naples and the rest of Europe.

Ascea

Ascea is just south of Marina di Casalvelino and is another great beach. It has less foreign tourists and more Italians on vacation than does Marina di Casalvelino. This beach has similar free beaches and club options. There is a great market by the beach each Thursday.

This city is larger than Marina di Casalvelino and has many interesting small shops. We have not yet done a YouTube VLOG on this beach resort but it is coming soon. There is a good train with connections to Salerno, Naples and the rest of Europe.

Marina di Camerota

Marina di Camerota is a small beautiful city. This beach town is about a half hour drive south of Marina di Casalvelino. The beach areas are very small but the water is crystal clear with tints of green and blue colors. There is a large marina here where you can rent boats or hire someone to take you out, Take time to walk around this small town.

YouTube VLOG on Marina di Camerota

Palinuro

Palinuro is another small beach town just north of Marina di Camerota. You can easily walk this town. There are good restaurants, bars and gelaterias. The beaches are small like in Marina di Camerota but worth a visit. Our VLOG on this town will be published Monday January 9th.

Italy has some of the greatest beaches in the world and the water at these beaches consistently win a Blue Flag Award for cleanliness.

Be romantic at the beach …

– George

 

Categories: Ascea, Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, BLOG, Blue Flag Beaches, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Marina Casal Velino, Marina di Camerota, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Naples, Palinuro, Positano, Prosecco, Romance, Salerno, Small Towns, Trains, Traveling without a tour, VLOG, WiFi, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Marina Casalvelino, Italy – Beach Resort

We own a condo a few kilometers from this beautiful beach resort town. It is located in southern Campania south of Naples, south of the Amalfi Coast and south of Salerno. The town is small with a beautiful sandy beach. The water is calm in the summer but very violent in the winter. There are free beach areas and paid clubs.

The clubs give you lounge chairs, umbrella, table, music and free wi-fi. They also have bars or restaurant to order drinks and food. There is nothing like sipping a cool prosecco on the beach in a glass champagne flute. This is beach life in Italy.

This area is very popular with Italians from Rome south and Germans. The British and Americans have not found it yet. The beaches are better than the lava beaches of the Amalfi Coast. Come and really relax in Marina Casalvelino.

Rent a boat or have someone take you out in one. Go to a private beach or just tour this beautiful coast line. From the coast you can see huge mountains everywhere. This is some of the prettiest coastlines in Italy. All of the beaches here have been awarded the coveted Blue Flag Award for cleanliness.

There are many beach resorts in this area and tons of beautiful small mountain towns waiting to be explored. Driving is easy with a highway that connects this area to the A3 autostrada. There is also a great train system with some high-speed trains from Salerno, Naples and Rome. Parking is easy right at the beach with pay-for-parking meters. This is a very romantic area to relax at the beach or explore small local cities. There are bars and restaurants around town and hotels and B&Bs. Enjoy …

-George

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Bars, Beaches, Cafè, Casal Velino Marina, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Marina Casal Velino, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Naples, Prosecco, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Salerno, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour, Trottoria, WiFi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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