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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

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

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

Why I love the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is a cliff side road that winds from Sorrento on the western side to Salerno on the eastern side. It is located in southern Italy in Campania south of Naples. As you drive this ancient Greet horse road, you feel exhilarated. Some places you are high up overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and other places you are close to the sea. The road is never empty but in the summer it can be a parking lot. Busses have a hard time navigating its tight curves. If you encounter a bus coming towards you on a turn, you must back up giving the bus room to make the turn. Busses always have the right of way.

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As you leave Sorrento you travel over the cliffs heading south and then east. as you turn east you can look out to your right a clear day and see the beautiful Island of Capri. As you head east you will twist and turn in and out of coves until you arrive high above the wonderful town of Positano. It is said this is a town of one road and a million steps. Bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to climb. The one road winds from the Amalfi Coast Highway (one way) down to the town and beach of Positano. It then climbs slightly and ends up again at the Amalfi Coast Highway.

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Positano is very romantic. Enjoy a week here if you can. There are wonderful restaurants and two beaches. At the large beach you can catch ferries to Amalfi, Salerno, Capri, Sorrento, Naples and many small towns. You can arrive by ferry but you will have missed that wonderful road. Parking can be a problem but there are two large parking garages on the one way road. Most hotels will take your car to one of these. Once you rid yourself of the car, you will not need it until you leave. Positano is a city you walk in or take the Ferry to nearby towns.

D-Positano ai D-Positano aea D-Positano drD-Positano hnAs you leave Positano you head farther east on the Amalfi Coast Highway through tunnels and many small coves. You can see many lemon groves and wine bushes high on the hills. Try the famous limoncello in this area. You will pass many small fishing towns that are worth a stop. Eventually you arrive in the town of Amalfi. There is parking at the port and you walk into the town arriving at the main piazza. Here you can have lunch or a drink and view the magnificent cathedral in front of you.

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Now we head farther east on the highway (not really a highway but a small two lane road) to Salerno. You will pass ceramic stores worth a stop. They can wrap things well for travel or ship them for you. Salerno is a major shipping port with cruise ships. High above the city is an ancient castle. Salerno is a large major city. Here you can find great high-speed trains with service back to Naples or Rome. You can also head south to Sicily.

This is a road trip you will never forget. Enjoy the many cities it has to offer and the people, food and wine. Be romantic and spontaneous. You are an adventurer in Italy.

 

George

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Campania, Ceramics, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Ferries, General Travel, Italy, Lemoncello, Mountain Towns, Naples, Parking Garage, Positano, Romance, Rome, Salerno, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Trains, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to Plan a Trip to Italy – Part 14

All good things come to an end. It is your last day in Italy. Most large cities have several ways to get to the airport. Listed in order from least expensive to most:

  1. Hotel shuttle – Many hotels have a shuttle bus to the airport.
  2. Train – You can usually find a train to the airport. In Rome for example you can take a Metro (subway) or taxi from your hotel to the train station. Then there is a special train to the airport. In Rome it takes you right into the parking structure where the rental cars are. It is a short walk to the terminals.
  3. Driver and Car service – Hire a driver to take you from your hotel to the airport. In Rome there are several of these services.
  4. Taxi – Take a taxi from your hotel to the airport.

Trains Italy

We did not include a car since you really don’t want a car in most Italian large cities. The streets are crazy, you need a special permit to enter the old town areas and it is expensive to park.

At the airport you have time and look at all the stores. These are usually very expensive stores but fun to look at. Then you see Duty Free Shopping. I am amazed at how many people get duped into duty-free buying. Duty free doesn’t mean cheapest it just means no duty (tax). We find that wines and liquor at duty-free is 20-30% higher than our tax-free store, Total Wines, in Delaware. Duty on these products is nowhere near that high.

Airport

Buy your gifts in town at small inexpensive non tourist places and wait to buy your alcohol at home. The only exception is if you find something you can not get at home or if it is a local product and much cheaper than home. Never buy it at duty-free.

Remember if there is any possibility of a trip back to Europe, DO NOT EXCHANGE YOUR EUROS BACK TO DOLLARS! Save your money for the next trip.

Board your plane and relax. You are on your way home! Yes it is depressing to leave Italy but you will be back. Italy has a pull on us. It makes us want to return. It forces us to eat well and be romantic. It slows us down … If we allow it.

American Airlines

Tomorrow is the last in this series. We will talk about cultural shock of coming home!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Airplanes, Duty-Free, Euro, Europe, Italy, Metro Travel, Parking Garage, Taxi, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to Plan a Trip in Italy – Part 6

So we have our itinerary and know where we are staying, Know we need transportation while in Italy. We have a few choices:

  1. Tour – This is our least favorite and we never do this. Tours tend to be big, slow moving and they choose restaurants that give them a kick-back (not ones with great Italian food). Tours have had complaints for a long time. Some are giving Free Days where you are on your own to explore. They do handle the issues of language, getting lost and easy of touring but at an expense. In our opinion a great expense.
  2. Rental Car – This is our favorite to go to small towns and hilltop cities. In large cities we park for the duration of our stay and walk or take local transportation. Car rentals are easiest at the airport. You get your car and drive out and are on an autostrada quickly. In the south where we have our home, it is critical to have a car. It is the country and you need a car to get around. Italy’s roads are easy to navigate and GPS works great. You have a choice of American car rentals like Hertz, Avis and Budget as well as European (usually cheaper) like Eurocar. The Autostrada has great Auto Grille (rest Areas) with good bathrooms, great food and gifts. Take a break from driving and enjoy.
  3. Cruises – This is an option we do not like. Cruise tours are short and not enough time to really see a city. A few hours in Rome is not enough to see it. It certainly is not enough time to sit at a bar and experience Italian life. You go to Italy not just for the sites but to experience the Italian people and customs.
  4. Ferries – In beside areas like the Amalfi coast, take a ferry to visit other local towns. This is a fast and sonic way to travel an area. Ferries are usually not expensive.
  5. Train – An in between option is to take the train. Most airports have easy access to trains that take you into the nearby city. From any of Italy’s big cities you can board high-speed trains (Trenitalia) to any other big city in Europe. Trains are fast and efficient. Remember that your ticket must be validated before boarding the train unless you have an e-Ticket that says no validation necessary. Validation is sticking your ticket into a yellow validating machine at the end of tracks and getting it time stamped. From a large city you can transfer to local trains that go to almost all local towns. You can get to your destination or a nearby town easily.

Trains Italy

However you get around Italy, enjoy the ride. Look at Italy’s vast rugged countryside. The mountains are large and very rugged. Italy was formed by very violent volcano and earthquake events. It literally rose out of the sea. What was left is a very beautiful countryside. Italy is one of the most visited countries on Earth. Go and see why! Explore Italy and be romantic.

Tomorrow we ill look at booking your airfare and pricing.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Auto Grills, Autostrada, Car Rentals, Cruises, Driving in Italy, Europe, Ferries, General Travel, Italy, Parking Garage, Romance, Small Towns, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Gimignano Pictorial

San Gimignano is our favorite town in the world. It is old and untouched by modern times until very recently. It used to be a major stop on the trade routes to Florence until Florence changed the routes and basically put this small town out of business. It is in the region of Tuscany and Province of Siena. Its population is just under 8,000 people.

This is a walled medieval town that restricts traffic inside the walls to local residents only. There are many parking areas outside the walls and you walk in. The city is not that big and easily walkable. The architecture is beautiful.

During the medieval period there were 72 tall slender towers. This is one of the towns most distinguishing features. They represented wealth. The taller the tower the more your wealth. The tallest was 230 feet tall. Today there are only 14 towers left and preserved.

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Streets of San Gimignano

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Old small church in back of town

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4 of the towers

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Small street

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Narrow street

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A tower

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Main street in town with many tourists

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One of the gates through the Medieval Wall

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Main piazza with water well

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Main church in center of town

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Having a prosecco overlooking the wall

San Gimignano is a very romantic and ancient city. Don’t miss this city. It is just off the autostrada from Siena to Florence. Spend a day walking this city and being back in time.

You will see old towers and homes with the entrance on the second floor. In medieval times they would lower a letter to let people in and out and raise it at night to prevent invaders from getting in. Time runs much slower here so stop, take a breath and enjoy your life.

When George was first here in 1980 it was unknown to tourists. There were few tourist shops and no-one spoke English. The streets were empty. Today tour busses line up outside the walls and there are many shops along the main street. Most tourist never wonder beyond the main street and the piazza. Wonder down the side streets and see the real city. There is a restaurant with outdoor seating up on the wall. This is a city to wonder through and escape the tourist crowds.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Europe, Florence, Italy, Parking Garage, San Gimignano, Siena, Small Towns, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Montepulciano Pictorial

Montepulciano is another mountain town known for its wine and grape named the same. It is a medieval and Renaissance hill town in the province of Siena, region of Tuscany. It has a population of only 14,000 people. The montepulciano grape is well-known worldwide. It produces one of Italy’s best wines.

This is a town of small streets and stairs like all of Italy’s hill towns. You can find many enoteca to taste its great wines.The word enoteca means wine repository.It is a type of wine store that originated in Italy. You can buy wines but also taste them. Some  even have small plates of food.

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Wonderful small streets

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Enoteca

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Inside enoteca at a tasting

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Unfinished church (no facade) in piazza

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Lunch outside at a small trattoria

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Ancient gate in original wall

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Small street

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Stairs

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Some of that famous wine

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Famous Tuscan crostini

Like all the small hill towns we have visited, Montepulciano is wonderful and very romantic. There are several parking lots outside the town that are numbered. Get lost and ask the way to your parking area number. Montepulciano is very near to Siena, our next stop.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Parking Garage, Siena, Small Towns, Trottoria, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Assisi Pictorial

Our second day took us from Perugia to Assisi to spend a day in this wonderful town. This was a trip of hill towns in Tuscany and Umbria.

Assisi is named after the popular Saint Francis. He was the son of a rich silk merchant that gave up his riches to live a life of poverty. Assisi is in the region of Umbria, province of Perugia. There are about 27,600 people living there. This is a mountain town with beautiful small streets, a fort and several churches including the Basilica of St. Francis.

Outside of Assisi is a wonderful large cathedral. Inside this church is the small original church of St. Francis. This is well worth a stop on your way to Assisi.

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Contains the original church of St. Francis

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First view of Assisi on a hill – On the left you can just make out the very large church of St. Francis in Assisi where he is buried

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Fun in Assisi on a Merry-go-round

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Another church in Assisi

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Stairs in Assisi

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Streets in Assisi

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Piazza in Assisi

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More stairs

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Streets lead through an ancient wall

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The Basilica of St. Francis opened 1253

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A wedding in Assisi

Assisi is a place of St. Francis but it is also a great hill town in Umbria. It is fun to walk the streets, eat in the piazza and watch life and sometimes a wedding go on around you. This is a romantic town worth a visit.

In the afternoon we reluctantly left Assisi and drove to Cortona for the night. More on Cortona tomorrow. Parking in Assisi is in a lot outside the city walls. There are stairs up to the streets of Assisi.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Assisi, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Parking Garage, Romance, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I left my Heart in Positano

Positano is heaven on Earth! I have written often of this enchanting place. The town is in the Campania region of Italy and the views, the people, the food and the wine are excellent. It is located south of Naples and South-East of Sorrento. There are no trains to here. You will need a car, bus or private car for hire to get here.

This should be a destination on everyone’s Bucket List. You do need to be some what able to walk and climb stairs. Positano is a city built on the side of a very steep mountain. It starts at its two beaches and rapidly climbs up on millions of steps. From the top of this city to the beach can be 1,000 or more steps. There are two roads only in this small town. Ones skirts the edges of the town and is the famous Amalfi Coast Highway (it runs from Sorrento in the West to Salerno in the East). This can be walked, we did it but the traffic can be heavy and cars move by very fast. The other road starts high up on the mountain at the Amalfi Highway and winds down to just above the beach and then part of the way back up to meet the Amalfi Highway at the other end of town. It is a one way road down. You can walk it and it will wind up or down bypassing many steps. Walking back up is steep but doable. There are many shops and restaurants along this road as well as fantastic views. There are hotels along the road as well.

At the bottom of the road (in the center of Positano) just before it climbs back up to the Amalfi Highway is a pedestrian walkway to the church and beach. At the start of this walkway is the local bus stop. You can take this in a loop up the Amalfi Highway and back down the road again. After a long day of walking this may be a great option for getting back up the mountain. You will rapidly fall in love with Positano. If you drive here there are several parking garages along the small one-way road. They are about 1/4 of the way down on a sharp turn.

From the large beach at the church you walk a pathway over to the small beach. You can also catch a ferry to many cities along the Amalfi Coast including Naples, Sorrento, the Isle of Capri, Amalfi and Salerno. If you are driving the Amalfi Coast Highway goes from Sorrento through Positano and Amalfi to Salerno. It is narrow and tight. It is also very crowded in the summer. At the small beach side of the walkway, just before the end, is a great restaurant/pizzeria. It has indoor and outdoor seating and great views of the sea.

The beaches here are not sand but small lava stones. Never the less they can be very crowded. The water is calm in the summer but wild in the winter. The small beach has a hotel and several restaurants on the beach. The large beach has many stores and restaurants on the beach.

Watch the video below as the author arrives in Positano on a ferry, walks around and then departs on a ferry. This, after all, is a very romantic place. We rented a private home 110 steps up from the small one-way road. It had a deck with the best views in the world.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Parking Garage, Pizza, Positano, Romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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