Lakes of Italy

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

Lombard Cooking

All over Italy you can find good Italian food but the north and the south differ in styles and foods. In the south we have what we think of as Italian Cooking. Red sauces, meatballs, pizza and lots of fish. In the north you have veal, white sauces, pizza and more meat. The north also has white truffles! These are a favorite of ours. Black truffles (Italy and France) are good but can’t stand next to a white truffle. They are rare, hard to get and expensive. second in cost only to saffron. Like saffron, you use it as a seasoning. So a small truffle goes a long way.

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba - Italy....

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba – Italy. photo by Simone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lombardy region of Italy is in the north and contains Milan, Largo Guarda and Largo Como. It contains the most people and has a diverse cooking style. Some of the foods known in this region are:

  1. Veal
  2. Risotto
  3. Polenta
  4. Cow’s milk cheeses
  5. White Truffles
  6. The bars have the best Panini in all of Italy at lunch time. They also have great pastries and coffee for breakfast.
  7. Great crusty bread
  8. Great Wines
  9. Chocolate and
  10. GELATO!

Most American’s think of this area as heavy creamy sauces but those are for the tourists. Milano has great pizzas, meat dishes, vegetables and cheeses. During the end of the year is truffle season and you can get fantastic pasta or veal with white truffles. These are expensive but worth a try. Milan is often overlooked as a tourist destination but We think it’s a great city. It is the fashion capital f the world. It has well dressed people and fashion is everywhere. Sit and try a pizza or a pasta. Visit the Duomo (cathedral), Galleria, and Opera House. Become a Milanese and enjoy life with a glass of wine. See the sales first in Milan. Walk the stores and enjoy the fashion. This is Milan.

Milan is also home to a great Leonardo Da Vinci museum, Duomo, the Opera House, the Galleria and the original Da Vinci’s Last Supper in the small church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Don’t miss these great attractions.

Last Supper Leonardp da vinci

George & Jo Ann

 

Categories: Bars, Bread, Coffee, Cooking, Duomo, Espresso, Europe, Food, Italy, Lakes of Italy, Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci, Lombardy, Milan, Pastry, Risotto, Santa Maria delle Grazie, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking of Italy

Italy is on everyone’s bucket list. It is a romantic and beautiful place. Italy was created by very violent actions of nature. It was originally under the sea. It is a fault line with many active volcanos. As they erupted and slipped, a new land mass was formed. It cam up out of the sea. It continued up to form very impressive mountains. It still has some earthquakes but they are usually small and remove the fault line stresses. It does have two major active volcanos. Mt Vesuvius near Naples and Mt. Etna in Sicily.

Have you longed for a trip to romantic Italy? The northern lakes with their beauty overlooking the Alps or maybe Tuscany with its wines and romantic scenery. The cities of Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome or Naples are great places to see Italians being themselves. They also are great for seeing living history. Look at the buildings the architecture and envision the people who built these great cities. There is no architecture in the world like Rome.

Maybe you are seeking an adventure to southern Italy with its Amalfi coast and Capri or farther south into the Cilento National Park. The ancient Greek town of Paestum.  Beauty unspoiled by man. What is stopping you? Exchange rates are in your favor.

If it’s being afraid of the big tours or doing it on your own, we offer an alternative for the selective traveler to see what they want to see and spend as much time as the want. If you find a great Italian spot, the last thing you want is to be taken away by a tour bus. It would be wonderful to change your plans and just stay in your new-found location.

Italy creates many wonderful memories and experiences but you have to touch it! Get away from the crowded tourists areas and meet real Italians. See places that will change you forever. If this interest you, write me at georgefebish@yahoo.com

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Whatever you like, Italy has it. Explore, feed your romance, hunger and taste the wines of Italy.
George & Jo Anne
Categories: Amalfi Coast, Campania, Cilento, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Lakes of Italy, Milan, Naples, Romance, Rome, Southern Italy, Tuscany, Venice, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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