Duomo

Why I love Italy

This is a different VLOG for me. In this one I talk about the reasons I love Italy and give tips to both first time travelers to Italy well as experienced Italian travelers.

The video covers several sections:

  • Why I love Italy
  • Top Reasons I love Italy
  • Museums
  • What to do in Italy
  • Finding Places to Eat
  • The Metro (Subway)
  • Time to go
  • Hotels
  • Currency (Euros)
  • Airfares
  • Hopper App
  • Driving in Italy
  • Put Italy on your Bucket List

If Italy is not on your bucket list, it should be. Watch the video below and see why so many people love and go to Italy.

– George

Categories: Air Fares, Autostrada, Beach Resorts, Beaches, BLOG, Church, Cooking, Dolce, Dolce far niente, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Exchange Rates, Ferries, Flights, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italian language, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Metro Travel, Money, Museums, Parking Garage, Parking Meters, Passegiata, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Romance, Shopping, Small Towns, Towns, Trains, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour, VLOG, Walking, Weather in Europe, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto is a small city in Umbria Italy on top of a butte of volcanic tuff. It is a wonderful city to walk around. If you drive or take the train, you arrive below at ground level and must take a funicular up to the city. Once in the city you at an old fort that is worth investigating. There are small streets, wonderful restaurants and a marvelous Duomo (Cathedral).

We spent a day here. We arrived by train from Rome in the morning. We walked around the entire city. The shops were wonderful and had unique items to buy. Jo bought a purse from a woman who actually made it. We then had lunch and relaxed. We love taking in the Italian life all around us and talking with locals. After lunch we visited the huge Duomo. There are bible stories painted on the outside and throughout the inside if this unbelievable church.

After Duomo we walked more and saw the back edge of the city (opposite the funicular). From this edge, we could see down over the vast countryside below. This is a city to be enjoyed slowly.

Come walk with us around Orvieto in our YouTube video below.

Ciao,

– George

Categories: Church, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Funicular, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mountain Towns, Orvieto, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Shopping, Small Towns, Umbria, VLOG, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Firenze (Florence) Italy

We love Firenze! It is a big and beautiful city. It is Italy. It is the capital of art and architecture in Italy. From the duomo to the ponte vecchio to the views this is an interesting city.

Stop at a bar or small restaurant and enjoy life as it passes by you. Have a cafè, panini, gelato or a glass of wine as you observe life.

Come and walk with us in Firenze in our video below and see this wonderful city…

– George

Categories: Church, Cooking, David, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Museums, Panini, Ponte Vecchio, Ristorante, Romance, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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

Assisi, Italy

Assisi was the home town of Saint Francis of Assisi. He started his religious sect in a very small church outside of the city. Today that church still exists inside a Cathedral called Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels.

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If you go to Assisi, a stop here is a must. Inside the town, at one end, is the Papal Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. This is two churches on top of each other and a crypt below them. In the crypt is the body of Saint Francis.

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As you walk the streets of Assisi, you see many touristy shops selling memorabilia of Saint Francis. It is a big business here. Assisi is also a typical Italian small city. It has lots of small narrow streets and stairs. Parking is in lots on the outside of the city. The lots are numbered so remember where you park.

Assisi is in Umbria near the Tuscan border. The popular cities of Orvieto, Perugia and Cortona (Under the Tuscan Sun) are not far away. A visit to this area of Tuscany or Umbria should include a stop at Assisi. You can walk the town and visit both Basilicas in several hours.

Watch the YouTube Video Above

– George

Categories: Assisi, Church, Cortona, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Mountain Towns, Orvieto, Parking Garage, Perugia, Saint Francis, Small Towns, Tuscany, Umbria, Under the Tuscan Sun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Florence, Italy

Florence is truly a city of art, beauty and intellect located in the Tuscany region of Italy. The Banking family, the Medici’s, Brought Florence, Italy and the rest of Europe out of the dark ages and into the Renaissance (14-17 century). This was the enlightened period of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Brunelleschi (architect), Raphael and many more. Humanitarianism, science, business and art prospered during this period.

Today you can see the architecture and art of Florence from that period. The beautiful Duomo with its baptistry and the famous Bronze doors created by Andrea Pisano. The works preserved in the Uffizi Museum are a must see.  The works of Michelangelo, including the beautiful statue of David, in the Galleria dell’Accademia is a must see as well. No visit to Florence is complete without a walk over the Ponte Vecchio.

This is a city with wonderful food, huge markets, more museums than you can visit and wonderful views. Come walk around Florence with us in our YouTube VLOG below. Click on the Play button below and visit Florence. See its wonders and plan a trip to Italy.

Be romantic and enjoy happy travels…

-George

 

Categories: Brunelleschi, Church, Cooking, David, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Galleria dell'Accademia, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci, Medici, Michelangelo, Museums, Planning a vacation, Ponte Vecchio, Raphael, Romance, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Magnificent Views of Italy

It doesn’t matter where you are in Italy. There are views and eye-catching sights everywhere. You can be in a big city looking at a famous monument, on a small street, looking at a small city high up on a mountain, at the beach, climbing stairs or sitting at a small trattoria. Italy is all about its architecture. It has a personality all to itself. Here you stand on ancient roads, some dating pre-Roman. You feel and see its history. At the same time there is a modern culture all around you. iPhones, iPad and computers are everywhere. Most bars have free wi-fi service.

We come to Italy for the food, the people and these views. I love the feeling of being in an ancient place. Thinking about those ancient people and what they did, what they felt. Was their life that different from ours? These views can talk to you! Just listen and hear what they are saying. This is not a country to be rushed. Stop, relax and take in these views. Listen to them. Imaging yourself back in those times. Soon your modern problems give way to an appreciation of this great history.

My wish to all my readers is to be able to travel. experience another culture. Enjoy life more. There is so much to experience and learn. Pick a place you are passionate about and visit it. Put it on your bucket list. life is short but memories are forever.

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My passion is Italy, what is yours?

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino Marina, Coliseum, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Perugia, Planning a vacation, Ravello, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Siena, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Tulli, Tuscany, Umbria, Velina, Venice, Villa Brunella, WiFi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Churches of Italy

Italy is famous for many things but its churches are old and magnificent. They are not just churches but art galleries, studies in architecture and beautiful places to visit. They provide a cool atmosphere from the hot sun. The frescoes are wonderful to study, telling of story of days long gone. Every city has at least one church. They may be called Chiesa, Catterdrale, Basilica or Duomo.

Do not pass up a chance to visit one of these marvels. Look at the floors, the splendor of its height, the walls and stained glass windows. Look for frescoes and tapestries. The alters are magnificent. The organs are fantastic and even the pulpits can be ornate.

Below is just a sampling of churches from some big and small cities around Italy:

 

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Duomo Florence

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Duomo Cortona

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Duomo Siena

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Assisi Cathedral (in Assisi)

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Church in Assisi

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Saint Francis (Outside Assisi)

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Pantheon Rome

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Church in Castelnuovo Cilento (Campania)

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Saint Peter’s Basillica – Vatican City

Post your pictures of your favorite Italian churches in the comments below.

George

Categories: Assisi, Campania, Castelnuovo Cilento, Church, Cilento, Cortona, Duomo, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Vatican City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

8 Reasons to Travel to Italy

I never feel I need a reason to go to Italy but for those that have never been there here are some reason to plan a vacation there:

  1. Food – I speak a lot about the food in Italy but it is truly amazing. It is mostly organic, healthy, tasty and delicious. Italians do not like to mix a lot of different flavors together. The flavors are subtle and make you want more. It is NOT the same as Italian food in other countries. We think of spaghetti and meatballs as Italian but it is NOT! You can find it in tourist areas but not in real Italian restaurants. Rule: Do not eat in tourist areas. It will not be the real thing and will be more expensive. Get out of these areas and discover the real food of Italy.
  2. Wine – Again, I speak a lot about the wines of Italy. Try them! Other a carafe or 1/2 carafe of the local red or white wine. They are light and delicious. Go to an Enoteca and taste several wines while enjoying some small plates of food. Bars serve local wines as well. Rule: Order by the carafe not by the bottle.
  3. Museums – Italy has more museums than anyone could possibly visit. While in the major cities, see the well know museums. In smaller cities seek out their museums. I was once in a small town that was famous for its mushrooms. They discovered that the people who died and were buried did not decompose. There was a museum with real bodies you could see and touch if you wanted to. Rule: See the important museums but don’t miss the small ones.
  4. Churches – Italy has so many churches and bars. Each city usually has one dominant church usually a Duomo (Cathedral) and several smaller churches. Go inside the churches and look at the walls, ceilings and floors. That are true works of art. Go into the basements and crypts, If you can go onto the roof (Duomo in Milan) do it! Rule: Do not pass by churches! They are often the best museums around.
  5. History – Italy is for you if you are a history buff. Many battles were fought here. Before Italy was united into a country it was many warring cities. Don’t be afraid to visit the small cities you see from the road. Stop into the local bar for a coffee and paster or a sandwich. Walk the streets and see the church. The Romans had a major influence on our world. Were better to study this than Italy. Rule: Get out of the major cities to see the real Italy.
  6. Shopping – This is Jo Anne’s favorite part of Italy. There are small mom & pop shops everywhere that still sell quality items for a fair price. The chains are coming but not that prevalent yet. Rule: Give your business to the small shop owners.
  7. People – Italians are very friendly and want to communicate with you. If you don’t know any Italian say Buon Giorno when you pass people on the street during the day. From sunset on you say Buona Sera. Buona Notte is only used for the last time when you are retiring for the night. When you reach out to Italians they will respond back to you. Rule: Try to communicate to people and they will try to communicate back.
  8. The Countryside – Italy is truly beautiful. Its mountains, volcanos and seaports are majestic. You will see small villages built high up on a mountain or on a great beach. No visit should be done without a visit to the countryside. If you are going mostly to Italy’s major cities, take a train, bus or car out into the countryside. Rule: Get out into the countryside and explore. There are treasures here.

Italy is to be enjoyed. You will love it if you go there knowing you are visiting a foreign country that does things different from elsewhere. Don’t compare your country to Italy. They are different. Don’t look for food from home. Eat Italian. Be polite and Courteous. You will enjoy your visit so much better.

Buon Viaggio …

George

 

 

Categories: Bars, Beaches, Duomo, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Mountain Towns, Museums, Ristorante, Shopping, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How I Fell in Love with Italy

I had a company that did programming and consulting in IT for large corporations. We were hired by a subdivision of Olivetti in Italy. I can remember my first trip with my business partner. It was my first trip to Italy. It was exciting and a little scary. What would we find? Would doing consulting there be the same as in the states? As we landed and cleared customs we were met by the President of the Olivetti subdivision that hired us. He was a real Renaissance man. I knew right away that this was going to be a fun engagement.

We were in Milan and the city was marvelous. The fashion was exquisit. We worked hard each day and partied harder each evening. Sleep didn’t exist. I could sleep all I wanted when I got home. Everyone we met was friendly and as interested in us and USA as we were in them and Italy. It was like being in a crash course on Italy. Each dinner brought new culinary experiences. The food and wines were perfect. I had never tasted anything like this. My idea of Italian food was being re-written!

They took us to do the mandatory touristic things like Duomo, La Scala (the Opera House), the Galleria and Sforza Castle. Milan was both a modern and ancient city. We soon learned and enjoyed the customs of Italian cafè and light tasty breakfasts at a stand or a bar. I was introduced to the biggest secret of all … the Italian white truffle! OMG my taste buds were on fire. I wanted more. Even the price did not deter me from my truffle quest. To this day I try to visit Italy during truffle season and order truffles flown in overnight.

We were there for several weeks and the time went fast. As we left we shed a tear. We had totally fallen in love with Italy, Italians and Milan. This romantic place had its teeth into me forever. I would have 50+ more trips to this beloved country. It would shape who I was and what I did in my life. Even this BLOG is a result of those early trips.

We all need to lower stress, live happier and acquaint ourselves with taste. Italians do this better than anyone I have ever met.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Duomo, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Milan, Pastry, Romance, Traveling without a tour, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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