Champagne

The Beaches of Campania, Italy

Everyone loves a good beach and Campania (southern Italy) has some of the best beaches in Italy. From Naples through the Amalfi Coast to the Cilento National Park in Southern Campania are great beaches. The Amalfi Coast is world renowned but the beaches are black lava stone. The Cilento National Park in cities like Marina Casal Velino and Ascea (both of these we have done YouTube VLOGs on) have white soft sand beaches.

These beaches have clubs and public beaches. The public beaches are free and you can bring a blanket or lounge chair and umbrella. The clubs give you two beach chairs and a table and umbrella for a fee. Some clubs provide music and free WiFi. They also usually have a restaurant that serves good food. You can order a wine, beer or prosecco in a glass on the beach.

The beaches of the Amalfi Coast are very touristy and people from all over the world go there. The beaches of the Cilento National Park are touristy for Germans and Italians. These are major summer beach resorts especially in August when most Europeans are off from work.

Come see these beaches with us in the YouTube video below:

– George Febish

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Beach Resorts, Beer, Bike Races, Blue Flag Beaches, Casal Velino Marina, Champagne, Eating, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Marina Casal Velino, Naples, Prosecco, resorts, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Tyrrhenian Sea, VLOG, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bella Roma

George took Jo Anne to Rome first in 2011 for New Years Eve. He knew she liked architecture and interesting cities. She had never been to Italy so this was the perfect place to visit first. Jo Anne was totally amazed by Rome as you will be if you haven’t yet seen it. It has everything about Italy that we talk about in this BLOG. The food, wine, people, sights and architecture.

IMG_5022d - Lunch Pantheon 2IMG_5022aIMG_5072 e 5 IMG_5134 - Colosseo

New Years Day we went to the coliseum, it was closed but walked empty streets and had rome to our selves. We saw the remnants of New Years Eve (champagne corks) in the streets.

IMG_5072 d

Rome is the eternal city. There is no other like it. To walk its streets and think of Roman soldiers walking the same streets millennia ago wow! We loved Rome. Its people, wine, food and buildings. Here is a simple tour of Rome and how to get around on your own. Rome is a walking city. If you can’t walk much take the metro or a taxi.

We love to stay near Trevi Fountain. We stay at Hotel Trevi. It’s central and easy to get to everything else.

  1. Pantheon, Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona – Standing facing the Trevi Fountain take the pedestrian walkway to your left. It winds through some small piazza and past some nice restaurants to the Pantheon. Piazza Campo de fiori is a short walk away. It has Rome’s flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables. Piazza Navona is a direct walk from here. It is a very large piazza with fountains and restaurants.
  2. Bocca della Veritá, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican – Bocca della Veritá is a mouth that you put your hand into and if you are truthful you get it back. It’s fun. Accross the Tiber river from the mouth is the Castle. Castel Sant’Angelo is an old fort seen in the movie “Angels and Demons”. It is very close to the Vatican.
  3. Spanish Steps and Shopping – Facing Trevi Fountain the road on the right going behind the fountain leads to Rome’s best shopping area, more restaurants and the Famous Spanish Steps.
  4. Borghese Gardens – These are beautiful cool gardens to walk around. The museum here is a must but usually requires reservations. In the museum are Bernini sculptures. The two most famous are “Apollo and Daphne” and “The Rape of Proserpina“. It is hard to believe you are looking at marble and not real skin.
  5. Central Train Station – You can catch a train to nearby towns like Naples, Pompeii or Orvietto. There is also a train that runs to Fiumicino Airport.

Enjoy your trip to Rome. Eat in non touristy restaurants and Trattorias. Meet the people they are fun and friendly. See Rome and imagine this great city during the Roman Empire. It is very romantic.

A 5x5 segment panorama taken by myself with a ...

A 5×5 segment panorama taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Stitched with rectilinear projection to keep lines straight. This view is about 100 degrees horizontally, close to the upper practical limit of rectilinear projection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have a pizza, eat the food, enjoy the local wine, stop in a bar for breakfast and have a cornetto and don’t forget the gelato.

cornetto

Cornetto

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Champagne, cornetto, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Romance, Rome, Spanish Steps, Traveling without a tour, Vatican City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Paris in the Spring Time

It is not Spring time yet but Paris is a beautiful city even in the rain. The architecture is magnificent, the food is great and the wine is memorable. We took a couple on a tour of Paris last spring time. It was their first trip so we hit the top tourist attractions:

  1. Musée du Louvre
  2. Musée d’Orsay
  3. Eiffel Tower
  4. Notre-Dame
  5. Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre
  6. Arc de Triomphe
  7. Sainte-Chapelle
  8. Hotel des Invalides
  9. Pantheon
  10. Versailles

Eifell Tower Base

We also walked neighborhoods like the left bank, right bank, Champs-Elysées, and Montmartre. We stayed near my favorite street in Paris, Montorgueil. This pedestrian walk way has many small cafes, fish stores, fruit stands, fresh vegetable stands, etc. There is even a Starbucks but we prefer a French espresso in the mooring with a flakey croissant. Only the French and only in Paris is the croissant done correctly. George often tells people, if after eating one there is not a mess of crumbs on you, it is not a good croissant.

We also be made two side trips outside of Paris (in addition to Versailles which is in a suburb of Paris).

  1. Reims (Champagne Region) – No trip to France should be done without a trip to Champagne for a tasting of real French Champagne. We  toured the Tattinger cellars in Reims. Reims is a beautiful city with its own Notre Dame (Our Lady). Many French cities have one commemorating the Blessed Mary. We took a high-speed train (200 MPH) from Paris (Gare Est – East Train Station) to Reims. It was a 45 minute trip on the high-speed train (one and a half hours on the normal train).
  2. Gilverny – Monet’s house. Gilverny is another beautiful small french city. It can be reached by train from Paris (Gare St-Lazare – St. Lazare train station).

Paris in the Spring will be beautiful and memorable. Every bucket list should include a romantic stop in Paris!

Sacre Couer

Sacre-Couer

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cafè, Champagne, Europe, Food, France, French Foods, Gelato, General Travel, Pantheon, Paris, Romance, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Staying in and getting around Rome

Rome is a magical city of old and new. It is modern new and Roman old. You can not walk the streets of Rome without seeing both worlds. As they dig to build a new building, they hit old Roman ruins. They are protected by Italian law. They may build the lobby of the building around the ruins. How cool is that? Rome is a city of architecture, narrow streets, shops, restaurants, bars and a lot of very modern people.

Rome has great public transportation. It has busses and subways (Metro) that you can take anywhere. It is a safe and easy to use system. We had wonderful weather in the end of December beginning of January. It was cool but not too cold so we walked everywhere. Try to stay central to what you wanted to see. We stayed at Hotel Trevi (around the corner from Trevi Fountain). It was the hub of a wheel that led out to all the sites we  wanted to see.

  • Trevi Fountain
  • Colosseum
  • Old Rome
  • Vatican City & Saint Peters
  • Castel d’Angelo
  • Spanish Steps
  • Villa Borghese
  • Pantheon
  • The many piazzas of Rome
  • Shops

The longest walk was to Saint Peters and Vatican City. Vatican city is a separate country from Italy. The Pope is the president and the Swiss Guard its army. Walk the streets of Rome and enjoy what you see. Stop for a gelato or a Prosecco (Italian Champagne) at a bar. Drop into small stores and enjoy the city and its people. The old history is important but the modern city and people are as well.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Champagne, Europe, Gelato, Italy, Prosecco, Rome | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Casal Velina Marina in Campania

I have written about this wonderful seaport before but it needs new mention as we start to think Spring and Summer and maybe a trip to Italy. This small city is the sea port side of a town that has another side high in the mountains. The sea port is beautiful. Palm tree-lined walks, white sand beaches, gentile rolling waves and the warm Tyrrhenian Sea (Mediterranean Sea separated by islands).  This wonderful town has many boat docks with beautiful boats, a tower that used to watch for pirates. The bars along the sea are wonderful. Have your coffee and sweet roll in the morning or a Panini for lunch. Try the local mozzarella (Mozzarella di Bufalo).

There are wonderful open markets each Friday on the street. Here you can browse local vendors to see their products. Clothing, food and small home appliances are some of the things sold here. There are many restaurants that serve wonderful food. On the beach are clubs that rent you  chairs, umbrellas and table on the beach. They include music and free WiFi. This is life the way it should be. Picture yourself on the sand looking out at the sea, listening to some music while sipping a prosecco (Italian champagne). And no trip here is complete without a stop at Franco’s Bakery. Here you can taste wonderful Italian pastries fresh made. Take some back with you to your hotel. Gaetano, the owner, will help you select the best he has.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Casal Velino, Champagne, Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, Italy, Marina Casal Velino, Mountain Towns | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Winter in Italy

Is winter a good time to go to Italy? It depends on what you want to do! Northern Italy gets snow but if you are a skier this is perfect. Picture yourself in a small hotel at the foot of the alps. You have T-Bars up the mountain and at the end of your day you return to a warm hotel with a blazing fire. Maybe a drink and some warm polenta. Northern Italy is all about snow and skiing.

As we move away from the mountains to Milan we still have winter snows but Christmas time in Milan is beautiful. Christmas lights everywhere, warm people and great food. Don’t forget the Milanese fashion. Milan does everything first class. If you enjoy the character of New York city in the USA, then you will love Milan, Italy.

As you travel south to Rome you can still get cold weather and some occasional snow but again Christmas time is a celebration. We were in Rome in 2011 for New Years Eve and New Years Day celebrations. We got to see the Christmas lights and walk the main streets at midnight (closed to car traffic) and drink champagne under the Christmas lights. At Victor Emanuel (The “birthday cake” building) they set off fireworks at midnight.

Victor Emanuel Building

Victor Emanuel Building Rome

Proceed farther south into Campania and beyond and winter is mostly in the mountain peaks. They can get an hour snow every so many years but it never lasts long as normal winter temperatures are in the 60’s. It is the rainy season in southern Italy. This can be heavy at times but is usually very tropical. Wherever you go, enjoy yourself and be Italian.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Champagne, Europe, Festivals, General Travel, Italy, Milan, Regions of Italy, Rome | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to buy a Place in Italy – Part 9

We have been talking about living in Italy, touring small towns, the beaches and eating great food. Now we have two topics that are near and dear to our hearts. Italian wine (especially locally made wines) and Gelato. Gelato is not ice cream! Ice cream is made with cream and gelato with milk. Therefore gelato has fewer fat and calories. Ice cream is also made with egg yolks but gelato uses fewer if any eggs. Gelato is always served cold but not frozen, similar to our soft ice creams. The taste is so much better especially better than bland store ice creams. The Italians chop up all kinds of things from fruit, nuts, chocolate to candy in the gelato. It is finely chopped so much you never get a piece in your mouth but every bite has full flavor. You can find gelato in every town big or small. It is a national pass time in Italy. You can get it in different size cones or cups even a waffle cone. The choices are usually vast. Undecided on which flavor to get? Ask for a taste. They will give you a small amount on a tiny spoon so you can decide. Try several then order. On a hot day, gelato is what is need to cool down and enjoy life again.

Wine is Italy. Italians all drink wine. They have reds, whites and sparkling. You can sweet (dolce) or dry (secco). Every area of Italy makes their own wines. I think to be a true Italian, you must have olive trees and grape vines on your property. There are stores that sell wine, Enotecca that let you taste different wines and serve small amounts of food. Every restaurant has a wine list. The best wines are often locally produced and don’t come in a bottle. They come in large casks or glass containers to be dispensed at the restaurants. You can order a glass, half liter or full litter carafe of these wines. They are much less expensive because there is no bottle, cork, labels, etc. They are just as delicious if not better than most of the commercial wines.

When you visit a new area seek out an enotecca. Ask to try the different local wines. Tell them your preference (white/red and sweet/dry). Make note of the ones you really like. Now at a restaurant ask what the local wine is. If it is one of the ones you liked, you will enjoy it. Wine is everywhere in Italy. It is served at lunch, dinner and in between. People take it to the beach and parks to enjoy with a panini (sandwich). Amazingly you do not see drunk Italians running around. I have seen a few drunks in Italy and almost always they were tourists visiting Italy.

We leave for our place in Velina, Italy tonight. Our next BLOG will be on Monday September 8th. We will discuss this trip in detail and the beaches we visited.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Campania, Champagne, Eating Italian, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Velina, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bubble up your vacation with some Champagne!

On our recent trip to Paris, we decided to take a small side trip to Reims. Reims is about 90 miles north-east of Paris and is one of the main champagne cities. We bought train tickets from Paris Est Station to Reims. It was a direct 200 mph train that took only 45 minutes. Once their Reims a beautiful city to walk around. It has its own Notre Dame Cathedral. It has great shopping and many restaurants and cafe’s. We walked around in the morning then stopped for lunch. After lunch we went to Tattinger Champagne house. It is the 3rd oldest champagne house in France. They have a huge area of caves that hold millions of bottles of champagne. they also have a modern facility that holds another 20  million bottles. Champagne is hand turned carefully to collect the sentiment in the bottle. It is then turned up-side-down and the neck is frozen. In this way the small ice wedge is extracted with the sediment. After a great tour we had some ice cream…yum!

We sat at cafe’s and had wine or beer and watched both the French and the tourists go by. This is a must trip if you like smaller cities than Paris. It is also a must if you enjoy real champagne. The train trip back to Paris was equally fast. All in all, it was an enjoyable day outside of Paris.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Champagne, Europe, France, Gelato, Paris, Reims, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pari

We just got back from a visit to Paris. We took two people who had never been to Europe before. It was great seeing this magnificent city through their eyes. They were amazed at the grandeur of the churches, friendliness of the people and the people watching along the small streets of Paris. Yes I did say friendliness of the French people. I have always found them to be friendly. It is like many people here in the states think of New Yorker’s as cold and not caring. This is totally wrong, they just don’t walk around saying hello how are you to everyone they pass. Parisians are the same. If you try a little of their language like Merci and Bon Jour, they respond with a smile.

We had lunch at a cafe in Reims (Champagne area) and joked with the owners. We all laughed and had a very enjoyable lunch. Hours later we were walking back from a champagne tasting to the center of Reims and a car beeped its horn at us and a woman waved. It was the owner of the restaurant saying hello! Smile, be kind and BE RESPECTFUL and you will be treated likewise. The rule I tell everyone we take around Europe is “You are in their country! don’t ask why they don’t do things like we do.” If you remember this simple rule, you will have a more enjoyable vacation.

More on our Paris, Reims and Versailles trip this week …

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Champagne, France, Paris, Reims | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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