Italian Facts

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

Perugia, Italy

Perugia is in the Umbria region near the Tuscany border. This is Italy’s famous chocolate town. Home to Perugina (Back) chocolates. These are one of the best chocolates in the world. As you walk around the old section, each store sells these wonderful chocolates. How great to walk an old city, see beautiful vistas, be on small streets, see old architecture and eat wonderful chocolates.

The old section has very tight small streets. You may not want to drive into it. Park in the central parking lot outside the old section. See the video VLOG below for more details.

Perugia was one of the most important Etruscan cities. Etruscans were an ingenious people who ruled cities around Italy during pre-Roman times. This city has history and the architecture to prove it. This is a city to walk and explore its wonders. Many streets are narrow alley ways that twist and turn. As you enter a piazza the space and number of people increases. Piazzas have many outdoor restaurants were you can sit on the piazza under an umbrella and enjoy a drink or something to eat. These are great places to sit, relax, watch and become part of Italian life.

Please watch my video VLOG below and if you enjoy it, please LIKE it and Subscribe on YouTube. Thank you.

– George

Categories: Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mountain Towns, Museums, Parking Garage, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Ristorante, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Trottoria, Umbria, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

An EXPATs Banking Nightmare in Italy

My wife Jo Anne and I bought a home in Italy in 2013 and went through the experience of opening a bank account, transferring money into the account, dealing with the difference in the exchange rates and finally the closing meeting. When you’re buying something expensive like a property, exchange rates can quickly add up. An extra 10% or $10,000 on each hundred thousand dollars can significantly add to the cost of the property. Finding a way of exchanging dollars to euros inexpensively was a must.

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We chose a British firm that has offices in the United States, World First USA Inc. You can wire dollars to them and they then transfer them to euros and wire the euros to your Italian bank account. You can get a contract that states if the money arrives in a certain number of days this is how many euros you’ll get. We did this and received close to the world bank rate which is the cheapest you’re ever going to get.

Now we had euros to purchase our new home in our British temporary account.  We now needed to open an Italian bank account and then transfer those euros into it. We found a problem for US citizens that our homeland security requires foreign banks to not open an account for an US citizen unless they are present so passports and IDs can be checked to make sure it’s you. This was a real problem for us because we would have had to fly over to Italy to open an account and then fly back to the US to wire the money because in those days our bank would not allow international wires that were initiated remotely. This would have cost an extra $2,000 – $3,000 in airfare and hotels which was ridiculous!

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We then flew to Italy, opened the Italian bank account and then had the money wired into it just worked perfect for us. Opening this Italian account was no easy task. Our real estate broker had a meeting with an Italian bank, Banco di Napoli, set up to open an account while we were in Positano. When we got there we found the bank manager, Paolo. He told us that he had never opened a bank account for anyone that lived outside of the Positano area and we were two hours south of Positano.

Luckily on Wednesday, we were going to go see our new home with our real estate broker, but that would only be three days before closing. We went another branch of that bank about 20 minutes from our new home. Finally, we had an Italian bank account. I then texted the transfer company and ask them to wire the euros into the new account and they told us in Italy this can take anywhere from 2 to 3 days even though the wire goes in immediately.

On Thursday we check the account and see no money. Friday was the last day we would be able to get the money needed for settlement. We checked the account again on Friday and luckily, there it was. Now we went back to the bank that wouldn’t let us open an account in Positano to get two cashiers checks, one for the closing company and one for the owners that we were buying the property from.

On Saturday we drove up to Rome and checked into our hotel room for the evening. Our closing was later that afternoon. Closing went relatively easily. Everything is done written on a long piece of paper and translated from Italian to English. We were told that the Italian document is the official one if there’s a difference. Once the closing was over we celebrated it with a picture taken, see below, and everybody was happy. The owners of the condominium made their money and we got a new Italian condominium.

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One thing to remember is that things in Italy can take time and not everything happens on your schedule, so relax, try to get things accomplished but when they don’t happen, don’t get upset – just find another way.

– George

 

Categories: Banking, Europe, EXPAT, Italian Banks, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Grotta Palazzese Cave Restaurant in Italy

Grotta Palazzesse is a famous cave restaurant in Polignano a Mare on the Adriatic sea. This is the most romantic place in the world to have a meal with someone you love. The views are magnificent. You will remember this for the rest of your life.

The restaurant is:

  • Expensive
  • The views are spectacular
  • The experience is a once in a life time moment
  • It is a very romantic place

We spent a morning touring the old center of Polignano a Mare and then had lunch in this fabulous restaurant. We were so lucky to get a table at the edge overlooking the sea. You feel fabulous as you sit at your table sipping a glass of good wine. As you enjoy your wine, you look down to the sea and see boats below you entering and exiting the cave.

Come join us in this great restaurant and see the views we saw. If you are lucky enough to be in this area of Puglia, make a reservation here and experience it yourself.

– George

Categories: Adriatic Sea, Cave, Cave Restaurant, Caves, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Fish, Food, General Travel, Grotta Palazzese, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Mezzogiorno, Pasta, Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Regions of Italy, Ristorante, Romance, Southern Italy, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Italy and Health

Italy has one of the world’s most efficient healthcare systems. The World Health Organization  rates countries on their over all health. Italy’s healthcare system focuses on exercise, happiness and healthy food rather than drugs. The people of this country eat well and eat fresh organic produce that is grown or farmed near their own home. Fruit is seldom shipped but picked locally at the height of freshness and nutrients. It tastes better and is healthier for you.

The Healthiest Countries in the World

1. Singapore
2. Italy
3. Australia
4. Switzerland
5. Japan
6. Israel
7. Spain
8. Netherlands
9. Sweden
10. Germany

The Least Healthiest Countries in the World
1. Swaziland
2. Lesotho
3. Democratic Republic of Congo
4. Chad
5. Mozambique
6. Burundi
7. Malawi
8. Angola
9. Uganda
10. Cameroon

The USA was rated 33 on the least healthiest countries in the world.

We should take a lesson on this from Italy. Not only is it a country on everyone bucket list but it gives us a great example how to live a happy and healthy life.

George

 

Categories: Cafè, Cooking, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Fruit, General Travel, Health, Healthcare, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Ristorante, Traveling without a tour, Trottoria, Vegetables, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Italy Loves Wine

One of my favorite things about Italy is their love of wine. Everyone drinks it. Even the children have a little. The entire country has an appreciation for good wine but you seldom see drunks. If you do see them, they are usually tourists. Red wine is their preferred drink but good whites show up as well. Places like Orvieto produce great white wines.

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Orvieto, Italy

Most countries serve wine by the bottle in restaurants. In Italy and Spain you can also get it by the liter or half liter in a glass or ceramic pitcher. These restaurants by local wine in bulk and can sell it to you cheaply because there is no bottle, cork, label or cap. The wine is excellent and can be dry, sweet, red or white.

We found a place in our town that sells wine in bulk. There are several huge wooden casks full of various kinds of wine. You can taste them and then choose. They will fill your vessel of choice such as an empty water bottle, a pitcher, a jar, etc. They charge by the liter and wine is about 2 euros per liter or about $2.20 for a bottle and a third of good wine.

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Wine Served in a Picture at a Local Restaurant

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We serve it at our home in Italy in a pitcher

The other way to taste different wines in Italy is to visit a local Enoteca. These are stores that sell wine and allow you to taste them as well. They exist all over Italy. Some serve small plates of food as well. Italians don’t like to drink without having water and food available. An Enoteca is a great way to taste the local wines around you. You can then decide what you like and buy some. The wines here are usually sold in bottles.

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Enoteca

However you drink wine in Italy, enjoy it! Sit outside at a bar or a trattoria and sip it slowly, Taste the complex flavors of Italy. Observe the people around you and enjoy it. This is experiencing Italy. You do not do it fast, you do not eat fast food, you do not rush from city to city or museum to museum, and you do not have an unchangeable schedule. In Italy you make time to slow down and enjoy your life. Dolce Far Niente! (The sweetness of do nothing). When you finally understand this simple phrase, you understand Italy and can enjoy it. Buon Viaggio.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Ceramics, Dolce far niente, Eating Italian, Europe, Fast Food, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Museums, Orvieto, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 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

Pompeii Italy

Pompeii in central Campania, was founded in the 6th to 7th century BC by a group known as the Oscans. The Etruscans lived there and it was a main Roman city until that fateful day in  79 AD when Mount Vesuvius blew its top. The mountain provided a fertile soil that allowed people to this day grow wonderful crops.

The early mountain was much larger than what we see today. The entire center vaporized and was blown out leaving what looks like two smaller mountains. Vesuvius is impressive from wherever you see it. It dominates the Naples landscape. You can clearly see it from parts of Sorrento and Capri.

We pass right by it on the A3 Autostrada as we pass by on the way south to our condo. We always feel humbled by its presence. Nature is  awesome. Today you can climb Mount Vesuvius and walk up to the rim.

Beaches as far away as Positano have lava rock on them. The soil in the entire central Campania is fertile because of this mountain. It was a fantastic destructive power but it also gave back tasty crops and a soil that made farming easy.

As we walk Pompeii we feel the ancient civilizations pulling on us. Imagine you are on streets that they walked in their daily lives. You can enter businesses where they ate or bought bread. You can enter hotels and bars and even homes that showed the beauty of life before 79 AD.

These people had a great civilization. They were sophisticated and life was fun. It was a rich city in culture and money. They didn’t even have a word for volcano. It must have been horrible on that day when the huge mountain nearby suddenly exploded. People were caught and killed in their daily routines. The nearby harbor was filled in. Suddenly so many were dead and the landscape changed forever. This is very revered grounds.

If you find yourself in Rome, Naples or the Amalfi Coast take a side trip to Pompeii. You will be glad you saw this wonderful city fully preserved by the ash that covered it. When modern man found it there was only a field of hardened ash. As they dug they began to find the remains of Pompeii. Soon whole buildings were uncovered. Except for missing roofs, which were probably wooden, everything was preserved as it was on that day in 79 AD. A large part of the city was soon uncovered.  Today they are still uncovering Pompeii. This is history and this is Italy!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Campania, Capri, Etruscan, Europe, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Mount Vesuvious, Naples, Rome, Vesuvius | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Related BLOGs

As most of you know Jo Anne has been working on a much need BLOG about Southern Italy and in particular southern Campania called Mezzogiorno Living. My BLOG, Travel in Italy BLOG, is still about traveling in Europe and in particular Italy. These both BLOGs together will give you a high level view, in my BLOG, and a drilled down detail view of southern Italy, in Jo’s BLOG.

I will be discussing all the places in Europe we travel with emphasis on Italy. Italy is special to both of us. Jo will be discussing what to do in southern Italy. Her BLOG is both a website and a BLOG. Her home page is a regular BLOG with her last BLOG on the top. The sidebar on the right side has a SEARCH box to find anything you are looking for. It searches all BLOGs as well as all her menu pages.

Her menus look at stores, restaurants, beaches, towns etc in Southern Italy. On a smart phone the menu is gotten to by clicking the bars in the upper left hand corner. Each menu may have sub-menus that will take you to pages of information. You will find addresses, phone numbers, links to websites and Trip Advisor links.

When we bought in this area, we had a hard time find local restaurants, supermarkets, stores and interesting towns to visit. I wish we had this site when we were first visiting this area. I hope both sites help you with information and travel in Europe and in Italy. Buon Viaggio!

George

 

Categories: Campania, Customs, Dolce far niente, Europe, Ferries, Festivals, Food, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mezzogiorno, Mountain Towns, Owning a home in Italy, Planning a vacation, Regions of Italy, Renting a place in Europe, Romance, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Southern Italy, Supermercato, Traveling without a tour, Xpats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pisciotta Pictorial

Pisciotta is in the province of Salerno, region of Campania. It is at the southern part of Campania. It is built-in the ancient way with a seaport and a mountain walled town. The mountain town is the subject of our pictorial today. The population is only about 2,700 people.

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You can get here by car or a train from Rome, Naples or Salerno to Marina di Pisciotta.

This small mountain town has many stairs but can easily be explored. On one edge of town overlooking the marina far below, is the restaurant Tre Gufi (three owls).

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Tre Gufi

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Can you imagine sitting here with this view?

Here are the small streets of this wonderful village.

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Just close your eyes and imagine yourself walking these ancient streets and climbing the steps. If it is a hot day, stop at Tre Gufi for something to eat and drink. Take in the magnificent views. This is romantic, this is Italy in its best. Buon Viaggio.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Campania, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Mountain Towns, Pisciotta, Romance, Small Towns, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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