Flights

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

How is your attitude for traveling?

I have met some able-bodied souls that just don’t want to leave their area, their comfort zone. As they age it gets worse. Soon they don’t want to leave their homes. They could be enjoying life so much more. This was brought home to us on our return trip from Rome to Philadelphia on American Airlines.

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We noticed the two seats in front of us were open. These flights never have open seats. Soon, just before the doors closed, two Italian workers carried a man in his wheelchair up the stairs and into the plane. The man and his wife were our seat neighbors. He couldn’t even move himself into the seat from the wheelchair. The two men lifted him and arranged him in his seat.

As they prepared to close the plane door, Jo Anne jokingly said “Can I get off, I want to stay here in Italy.” The handicapped man said “Me too.” Later we found out they travel each year. Many of their trips were to Italy. The wife admitted that the trips were getting harder and harder but he loved them so much. Here was a man who had every reason to stay at home but decided to live life instead. Are you living your life?

Everyone has hardships, some harder than others but they don’t have to stop you from living. If seeing Italy is a dream of yours, DO IT!

– George

 

Categories: Europe, Flights, Italy, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to enjoy Italy Fully

Italy is a place most people love. They may like the big cities, the smaller villages, the towns their ancestors came from, the museums, the food, the wine or the people. I love it all. Italy is a special place. This is why I BLOG about it.

Italian Wine Regions

For my wife, Jo Anne, and I; we don’t believe in tours. We enjoy getting out with the Italians and seeing and tasting the real Italy. We plan trips to big cities so that we see all the important things but the smaller villages are often a spontaneous choice. We may be driving on the autostrada and see an interesting town high on a cliff side. We get off, use our GPS to locate the town and go explore it. We usually stop at a bar first for a coffee and maybe a pastry. These small villages are not hard to navigate but many do have a lot of stairs. Remember where you parked your car or use one of the many apps to find it.

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We also enjoy small European hotels but do pay for a private bath. These hotels are often run by a family that is friendly and helpful. We never stay at the large American resort hotels. They are expensive and the food is not real Italian. We try to eat where the Italians eat. We get local recommendations or find places on our walks. We never eat in touristy places. The food there is horrible. Most larger cities have discount tickets for the major museums and sites. If you are spending a few days, this can save you money but more importantly bypasses the long lines waiting to get in.

Lastly, explore your flight options to Italy carefully. Some flights with several stops appear to be very cheap. Each stop adds time to an already long trip and wears heavily on your body. Some of these flights go way out of your way adding double the flight time. One I saw was from Philadelphia to Rome. It went to Chicago and then to Moscow and finally back to Rome. Why?

American Airlines

George

 

Categories: Air Fares, Bars, City Passes, Coffee, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Flights, Food, General Travel, GPS, Italian, Italy, Mountain Towns, Planning a vacation, Regions of Italy, Romance, Small Towns, Stairs, Tour Groups, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Plan a Trip to Italy – Part 11

Your big day has finally come. You are going to Italy! Get to the airport early. We like to stop at Vino Volo after we get through security. We have a flight of wine (4 different glasses with about an ounce of wine each or one regular glass of wine). We also order some appetizers to go with the wine. For us this is the official start of our vacation.

Vino Volo

Vino Volo

We board the airplane early to ensure we get overhead space. The flight from Philadelphia to Rome is always full. We normally took US Airlines but they merged with American and they are one airline under the American name now. The planes are all newly painted with the new American logos. The plane is an airbus A330-300 – wide body. The non-stop flight is American 718 going to Rome and 719 returning. The 718 flight leaves Philadelphia at 6:25 pm and arrives in Rome the next day at 9:10 am. Coming home we leave Rome at 11:55 am and arrive in Philadelphia at 3:45 pm the same day.

American Airlines

The overnight flight going is mostly in darkness. After the meal service they turn off the cabin lights and you can sleep. If you don’t sleep onboard, you can watch movies or play games on your personal monitor in the back of the seat in front of you. You can also read. The flight goes fast if you can catch 2-3 hours sleep. Before landing you see the sun rise over Europe and a small breakfast service is given. The return flight has a lunch service and a snack before landing in Philly. It is in sun-light all the way so you can easily stay awake. We watch 3 movies to pass the time.

Arriving in Italy you are tired and your body is confused. After all it is 3:10 am back in Philly. We rent a car and drive to our first destination. We will stop on the Autostrada for a Panini (sandwich). This helps adjust your body to the new time zone. It is VERY important to not nap during the day! If you do you will wake-up in the middle of the night and be starving. Force yourself to stay awake and tour. Find something interesting to do. Have dinner and don’t go to bed before 8 pm. You will crash and sleep like a baby. When you wake up the next day you will be fully on Italy time.

Returning is easier since it is in daylight all the way. You arrive at 3:45 pm and by the time you get home it is after 5 pm (11 pm Italy time). Have some dinner to help adjust the time zone and go to bed around 8 pm. You will again wake-up on the correct time zone.

Arriving in Italy you have your adrenaline going, you are excited to start your vacation. Italy is a safe country. Violent crime is very low (even in the big cities). There are pickpockets so beware of who is around you. George puts his wallet and phone in front pockets. Jo Anne puts her purse straps over her head. Don’t stress about it! You are here to enjoy yourself and be romantic.

Italian Flag

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Airplanes, Auto Grills, Autostrada, Europe, Flights, General Travel, Italy, Panini, Romance, Rome, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting to the famous Amalfi Coast

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: jimmyharris)

The Amalfi Coast in Italy is a famous place to the well-travelled tourist. It is just south of Naples and Pompeii. It includes Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Salerno. Capri is an Island off the coast of Sorrento. There are also many smaller towns worth seeing like Ravello. How does one get to this area that is sandwiched between a very high mountain and the sea? There are no trains here (except the end towns of Sorrento and Salerno). There is one road, the Amalfi Coast Highway. It is not a highway but a two lane road that on some curves goes down to 1-1/2 lanes. Busses always have the right of way. If you can not get by a bus, you must back up to allow the bus passage.

Getting to the Amalfi Coast can be confusing and difficult. Here are several ways and comments on each:

  1. Plane – Fly into Naples and take one of the transportations below. You can also fly into Rome and take a train or private car to Naples.
  2. Car – Driving is easy but when you get to places like Positano a car is useless. It is expensive to just park it for a week or longer. It is great to visit some of the smaller towns along this coast.
  3. Taxi or Car Service – Taxis are very expensive but there are private reliable car services that will take you in a nice car to your destination. You have a private driver and get door to door service. These services also leave from Rome. They can be expensive but are very convenient.
  4. Shuttle Bus – There is a shuttle bus from Naples airport that can take you to cities along the Amalfi Coast. Shuttle service one way each to Positano is about 35 Euros from Positano Shuttle Service.
  5. Ferry ServiceThere are numerous slow & fast ferries (hydrofoils) from Naples port to Capri, Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi. The ferry is the best option, in our opinion, to move from town to town along this coast.
  6. Trains – You can take a train from Rome to Naples, Sorrento or Salerno. There are NO trains that reach the Amalfi Coast directly. The mountains prevent easy access.
  7. Bus – There is a bus that runs from Sorrento to Salerno and back. It stops at each town along the way. In the summer this bus is crowded and can take a long time because of traffic. It is the cheapest way to move around this coast. There is another bus that runs from Amalfi up the mountain to Ravello and back. You can also take a taxi.

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                                         Capri                                                          Sorrento

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                          View of Positano                                                         Amalfi

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View from Ravello

If you are going to Positano there is a great hotel on the main road through Positano called Villa Delle Palme. All rooms have a sea view. Enjoy your trip however you get there. Once at a city on the Amalfi Coast, you can take bus or ferries between the various cities. They tend to get very crowded in the summer especially August. These cities are small and are perfect for walking. around. There can be a lot of hills or stairs (as in Positano). Wear comfortable walking shoes. If you get tired stop in a bar for a drink and refreshments. Move slowly, be romantic and enjoy this part of Italy. Be Italian!

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Bars, Campania, Capri, Driving in Italy, Europe, Ferries, Flights, General Travel, Italy, Naples, Pompeii, Positano, Ravello, Romance, Rome, Salerno, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Trains, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to Handle Long Flights

Visiting Europe means long flight times. Italy is one of the longest. How do you pass the time on a long flight to Europe? Rome is about 8 hours going and 9.5 returning. At first it seems way too long to be seated. The new rules don’t let you stand around so most of the time you are in your seat on your butt! Going to Europe is almost always an overnight flight. I try to get some sleep. It may not be the best sleep but at least it is a little. It is dark outside and they dim the cabin lights so it is not too difficult to sleep. If you are a person that can not sleep on a plane then watch movies, play games or read to help pass the time.

Once you arrive you are tired, after all you are starting a brand new day with little or no sleep. Don’t make the common mistake of taking a nap at the hotel. It is very important to force yourself to stay awake. You can crash early in the evening but make it to at least 7 or 8. If you nap your body never switches time zones. You will wake up in the middle of the night starving because it’s food time back home. If you had forced yourself to stay awake until evening, you will sleep sound and wake up on the new time zone ready for a new day. Your adrenaline should help keep you awake that first day. After all you are in a new country and a new city. Stay busy and see interesting things. It will help keep you awake and moving.

The flight home is a little depressing. It’s longer, you are going home and your vacation is over. There is no adrenaline to help. I find most flights back to the states from Europe are in the late morning arriving mid afternoon. The sun is out the whole way. The cabin is well-lit. When you land it’s 9 pm or earlier in your European time zone. It’s not hard to stay awake. Watch movies or read. Keep busy and the time will pass. When you finally get home its late afternoon or early evening. Stay awake until around 7 or 8 pm again. Now you can sleep, its midnight to 2 am in your European time zone. Wake up the next day back on your USA time zone.

Traveling can have its hardships but following these few simple rules will help make your trip more enjoyable.

Enjoy your trip and travel smart!

George & Jo

Categories: Europe, Flights, Food, Italy | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Drive to Rome and Home

At the end of each of our trips to Italy, we drive to Rome Fiumicino Airport the day before our flight. This allows us to get rid of the car and have a good night sleep in a hotel at the airport. The drive from Velina to Rome is about 4 hours.

As we leave Velina, we drive north past the train station to the entrance of the SP 430 highway. This takes us north-west to Agropoli and then onto the A 3 Autostrada at Battipaglia. There is a spot on the SP 430 that is damaged and we have to detour onto a mountain road. It is just past one of the tunnels.

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This rout passes Paestum and follows the Mediterranean coast. Once on the A 3 we head north-west to Salerno. At this point we leave the sea behind and head inland to the mountains. Soon we are passing Vesuvius. This is a very daunting volcano. You feel small and helpless near this huge volcano. Soon we are at the A 1 Autostrada (Italy’s main Highway). We are just north of Naples heading North-West to Rome. Along this stretch we usually stop at one of the many Auto Grills. They have bathrooms, gas, food and tourist items. As in most bars in Italy, you pay first and then with your ticket in hand get your food.

At Rome we head West around the loop on the A 90 that circles Rome and onto the A 91 to the airport. Fiumicino is near the sea again. We typically stay at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport. You can drop your luggage at the hotel, check-in and gas up the car. Then drop it off at the airport and catch a shuttle bus to long-term parking and the Hilton Garden Inn. Now we relax with a drink and wait for dinner at 7:30 pm.

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Soon it’s dinner time and the food is pretty good here. The free WiFi allows you to catch up with your Facebook and emails. The next morning we have breakfast and take the shuttle back to the airport.  Soon we are onboard and leaving our beloved Italy behind.

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Nine and a half hours later we are landing in Philadelphia. The trip was awesome, the people friendly and warm and the food & wine the best. Until our next trip!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agropoli, Auto Grills, Autostrada, Bars, Driving in Italy, Europe, Flights, General Travel, Italy, Naples, Paestum, Rome, Velina, Vesuvius, WiFi, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Airfares

Do you fly non-stop or do you try to save a little on a stop or two? We get airfare deals in email all the time. Most are scams. You see the sucker price and say to yourself, “WOW what a great price to Italy!” Then you click on the price and all the listed airfares are higher. You have been suckered! We fly non stop Philadelphia to Rome. Many flights with stops have extremely long layovers. The last thing we want to do after an 8 to 10 hour flight is wait in some airport for another 8 hours to catch a connecting flight.

Our non stop gets us to Rome and then we have a 4.5 hour drive to our home in Italy. Yes we could fly into Naples or Salerno and be much closer but again we are sitting in an airport for longer than the drive time. Besides getting off the plane and renting a car starts your adventure. Driving and looking at the sea and mountains is exhilarating. We can see many small towns on the mountain sides around us.

We usually stop at an Auto Grille on the Autostrada to get something to eat and stretch our legs. All in all, the time goes by quickly and we are in Italy. Soon we are taking the exit for our all town and our anticipation heightens.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Air Fares, Auto Grills, Autostrada, Car Rentals, Driving in Italy, Europe, Flights, General Travel, Italy, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Amalfi Coast

Everyone has heard of this famous piece of Italian coastline in the Provence of Campania. Many Americans and Europeans visit it each year. The mountains along this coastline are high and rugged. There are no roads that transcend them. The only way in and out is at Sorrento on the west side and Salerno on the east side. This one road is called the Amalfi Coast Highway and is very famous. It has been used in many movies including Under the Tuscan Sun. The Sorrento side is just south of Naples and Pompeii. There are autostradas from Rome south to Naples that then go north of the mountains mentioned above to Salerno. You can easily get to Sorrento or Salerno and start your Amalfi coast vacation.

The cities most visited here are:

  1. Capri – An island off the coast of Sorrento – This beautiful island is the playground of the rich and famous. It can only be gotten to be boat.
  2. Sorrento – A city on the western end of the Amalfi coast highway.
  3. Positano – A city of a million steps that is very beautiful about 1/3 of the way in from Sorrento.
  4. Amalfi – A beautiful seaport town long the Amalfi coast. The cathedral here is magnificent.
  5. Ravello – An old resort town high up in the mountains above Amalfi. The rich and famous used to go to the resorts here to escape the press.
  6. Small Towns – There are many small towns on the cliffs along the Amalfi coast highway. You can stop if you are driving or have a car service. The local buses also stop along this highway at each town.

We will BLOG about each of these towns in our next few posts. Getting to this area is not always easy but there are several ways:

  1. Rental Car – From Rome, Naples or the Naples airport – The drive is south along Autostrada A1 to Naples then the A3 then follow signs to Sorrento.
  2. Airplane to Naples – After landing in Naples you can rent a car, hire a car or take a bus.
  3. Car Service – From Rome or Naples. It is expensive but a great luxury to enjoy – These are large comfortable cars or vans that can be shared or rented privately.
  4. Bus – From Naples or Naples airport – These smaller shuttle buses run to Sorrento then along the Amalfi coast highway to Salerno. They stop at all the small towns along the way.
  5. Ferry Boats – There are two types of ferries: slow speed and fast (hydrofoils). They run from Naples to Sorrento or Capri. Then to Positano, Amalfi and Salerno. Some stop at smaller towns as well. The hydrofoils are more expensive but take about half the time.

There are no trains along the Amalfi coast. You can take fast trains from anywhere in Europe to Naples. Slower trains also run from Naples to Sorrento. After arriving in these towns, cars are not needed. Park them and forget about them until you have to leave. Ferries run like shuttle buses along the coast here. They are the easiest way of going to another town for  a day or several days. The beaches are rocky but the water is beautiful and warm. Enjoy your trip and make it a romantic one.

George & Joanne

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Autostrada, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Europe, Flights, General Travel, Mountain Towns, Naples, Parking Garage, Pompeii, Positano, Rome, Salerno | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Paris – The City of Lights

Why is Paris called the City of lights? There are actually two reasons:

  1. It was the hub of education and the “lights” refers to enlightenment. Paris is certainly a cultural and artistic hub of enlightenment.
  2. It is a city which is literally “lit-up” with lights everywhere. Paris is aglow!

Paris is Paris a must see on anyones bucket list. It is a romantic town that is home to so many proposals of marriage from people who live all over the globe. Why are we attracted to this city? Are we like moths attracted to the flame? I think Paris represents what all of us want in life. We want romance, good food, good wine, interesting sites, a city afire with lights and quaint small streets and shops to keep us busy a lifetime. Then there are the  museums. They are so plentiful, you can not hope to visit them all.

For those of you that have been there for more than a stop over, you know its magical draw. For those that have never been there … GO GO!! It is a must. Many large American cities have direct flights to Paris. There are two airports Orly and Charles de Gaulle. Flights from America usually land at Charles de Gaulle. From the airport you can take a bus or taxi or the train (subway in Paris). The taxi and bus options can get stuck in rush hour traffic taking time. The train starts at the airport and stops at many Metro stops in Paris including at Notre Dame.

Enjoy your stay in Paris!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, Flights, France, French Foods, General Travel, Paris, Romance, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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