Pasta

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

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How to properly see Italy

I get asked all the time how to see Italy so you don’t miss anything? What should I see on my first trip? How is the food? Is it safe? So this BLOG is to answer these questions and state some rules:

  1. There are no rules
  2. I don’t believe in tours. They take you to the worst restaurants in Italy and move you along from site to site too fast. Most people take tours because they are afraid of getting lost, Can’t speak the language or don’t want to miss anything. Use your smart phones GPS to get around. Search on top things to see.
  3. The big cities are a must but the real Italy is in the small cities. Don’t miss these.
  4. Italy can’t be seen in one trip. Plan several trips and enjoy it more.
  5. If you are seeing 10 cities in 7 days, you have not visited or seen Italy.
  6. The food, outside touristy places is fantastic. Eat with the Italians in small Trattoria.
  7. Museums are important but the art in Italy is all around you everywhere you go.
  8. Stay in small hotels not big American ones. Don’t worry about your points, you are in Italy.
  9. Learn a few key phrases in Italian and use them.

OK you are on your first trip and don’t know where to go. Plan Naples and Rome or Florence and Venice. Spend time in each city. You win nothing by running from site to site and then moving to the next city. In fact you lose a lot! Italy is a country that moves slowly. Sit and observe it. Walk with the Italians at lunch time (la passeggiata). It is not enough to see the famous art and buildings but the people who live here. Communicate as best you can. Use simple 2-year old talk or charades.

Tours normally work against these goals. They force you to eat where they make the most money. They rush you from one site to the next. You see Italy through a bus window. This is not much better than seeing it on TV. If you must take a tour, find a small walking or biking tour. Find something in a van not a huge bus. Make sure you have a few days on your own to explore as you want to. Don’t be afraid to take trains between cities. They go almost everywhere. Within cities the metro is clean and efficient.

Rome is a city of architecture and history unlike any other in the world. Naples is old and many Americans came from this area of Italy. Florence is the capital of art and the Renaissance, Here you will find unbelievable art and the beginnings of modern thinking. Venice is the most unusual city in the world. Here you will explore a large city made up of sidewalks and canals. There are no roads or cars. Enjoy these cities but take time to understand the history, the people and the food.

Plan more trips to visit places like Verona, Bologna, Capri, Amalfi Coast and the millions of small wonderful sea port and mountain towns. We love driving south from Rome on the A1 to our home. We see an interesting town high up on a mountain side in the distance. We use our iPhones to identify it and plot a course to it. After exploring the town we have a café at a bar or lunch in a small local restaurant. This is enjoying Italy and getting to know it.

Food and wine are a national pastime in Italy. Everyone is an expert. The truth is most food comes from farms in the vicinity, wines and olive oil are made locally.  The food is made from ancient recipes handed down over time. No-one cooks pasta as good as an Italians mom!

Hotels are for sleeping after a long day touring. You don’t need a resort type hotel. Pick local small hotels. We always prefer a room with its own bath (not all come this way). These small hotels are often family run. You get to know them as friends if you take the time.

Learn how to say some Italian phrases like Buon Giorno (Good day), Buona Sera (Good Evening – at sunset and beyond). Arrivederci (Good Bye) and Ciao (Hello and Good Bye). You might also want to ask How much? (Quanta Costa?). Jo Anne’s favorite is Quanta costa le Scarpe? (How much are the shoes?). Simply saying Buon Giorno to someone you pass will bring a smile and a Buon Giorno in return. Italy is a friendly place.

This brings us to How safe is Italy? Italy is very safe. There is almost no violent crime. There are pick pockets in large cities. Beware of you purses and wallets. Italians drive very fast so beware of cars speeding by you. We are never fearful walking around large cities like Rome. You are in Italy to learn and enjoy life. Just do it and enjoy a gelato.

Italy is the most romantic place on Earth!

Ciao,

George

 

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, BLOG, Bologna, Cafè, Capri, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, GPS, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Metro Travel, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Pasta, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Towns, Trains, Traveling without a tour, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Naples, Italy

Naples is one of Italy’s main cities. Many Italian-Americans came from Naples or the surrounding areas. Naples is famous for pizza and tomato sauce on pasta. It has an old section, castles, a Pantheon and a sea port. It also has a dangerous view of Mount Vesuvius. It is an old city with a vibrant life and style. Come to walk the old part of the city or to stop and have a pizza. This VLOG is based on a one day stop in Naples on our way to Pompeii. This is NOT enough time to spend in this great city. We will do a future VLOG on exploring the old section and sites.

From Naples you can easily travel by ferry to Capri or Sorrento. If you have a car, drive the fantastic Amalfi Coast from Sorrento to Salerno with stops at Positano and Amalfi. You can get to Naples by car on the A1 Autostrada from Rome or on a high-speed train from Rome or Salerno. This is a very beautiful part of Italy.

-George

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Driving in Italy, Eating, Europe, Ferries, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mount Vesuvious, Naples, Pantheon, Pasta, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Pompeii, Positano, Romance, Salerno, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tyrrhenian Sea, VLOG, Walking, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Is it Time for you to Take a Trip to Italy?

Have you longed for a trip to romantic Italy? Have you dreamed about eating real Italian food? Do you long to see the museums or architecture? Maybe you have relatives there and just want to reunite old ties. What ever your reasons are, Italy is a great place to spend a vacation. After a week you are feeling relaxed and enjoying life. After two weeks you are totally relaxed, speaking some Italian words and loving the food. Longer periods in Italy will make you an Italian for life!

The northern lake Area offers beautiful scenery overlooking the Alps or maybe Tuscany with its wines and romantic scenery. The large 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 that built these great cities. Maybe southern Italy with its Amalfi coast and Capri or farther south into the Cilento National Park. Beauty unspoiled by man and pristine beaches. What is stopping you?

If it’s being afraid of 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 is all about love, romance, beauty and spontanaeity.

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. Don’t eat in tourists restaurants. These will be memories you will never forget.

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Anacapri, Architecture, Beaches, Benvenuto al Sud, Blue Flag Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Castellabate, Cortona, Eating, Eating Italian, Fish, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Maratea, Matera, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Naples, Paestum, Pantheon, Pasta, Pastry, Perugia, Pizza, Pompeii, Positano, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Tuscany, Umbria, Vatican City, Venice, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fast Food when you Travel? Really?

International Cuisine is not fast food!. Many travelers look for McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and other American fast food chains when they travel. I have news for you, Fast Food is NOT cuisine! If you go to a foreign country and eat American Fast Food, you are missing out on the true gems of that country. Countries like Italy have unbelievably good food. It is NOT the same as Italian food in America. It is soooo much better. Go, see, experience and enjoy the food and wine.

American Fast Food

Fruits & vegetables in these countries are so fresh and ripe. You can smell them and the taste is so delicious. Fish is wild caught and meats are raised and fed properly. Everything tastes great the way it was intended to taste.

In addition to the raw ingredients, the recipes are old and delicious. In Italy you don’t find heavy sauces or a dish with 17 different ingredients. Dishes are simple and stand on the taste of the one or two main ingredients.

I suggest that you try different things when traveling in Italy. Even if you don’t think you like it. This is how you expand your taste buds. There is no better place in the world to do this than Italy.

My memories are of the bread, coffee, gelato, pasta, pastries, pizza, fish, truffles, buffalo mozzarella and wine of Italy.

Mangia … Mangia!

George

 

Categories: Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Coffee, Espresso, Europe, Fast Food, Fish, Food, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Sweets, Truffles, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fish in Southern Italy

Southern Italy is known for its fish. Where we are in Campania there is always great fish. Off the coast and to the south is a major swordfish area. The fish is always fresh. You can get many kinds of fish plus shellfish. Shrimp, calamari and octopus is great. We eat fresh fish in the local restaurants or buy it in a fish market to prepare at home. As we shop for fish, we often see a local fisherman with his catch in the store.

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Fresh Fish

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Local Fisherman with his catch

It is so different eating fish caught that day for dinner. The taste is fresh and delicious. Italians don’t even have a word for fishy. Often the fish is over pasta but you can also have it on a plate as a steak.

One difference is the fish all have heads on when served. The Italians look at the eyes to determine freshness of the fish. They are experts at cleaning the fish with a fork and knife. The clams are tiny and so tasty. If you don’t like clams because they are chewy, you will like these because they taste so good. Fish is never over cooked. It is never covered in sauces. It is served with a little salt and you taste the freshness of the fish.

When in southern Italy, try the local fish. Enjoy fish at its very best. Life here is rally Dolce far ninete!

George

 

Categories: Campania, Dolce far niente, Eating Italian, Europe, Fish, Food, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Typical Day in Italy

We typically get up and spend time on our balcony looking at the sea and mountains. Monte Stella is a beautiful cone-shaped mountain that protrudes through the clouds. Some days it is hidden by clouds and others it is right there. Our little town is below us on the hill. A train runs by often taking people from Naples to Sicily and back. Jo Anne takes a hundred pictures of this exquisite beauty.

We eventually get ourselves out and drive down to Casal Velino Marina for Breakfast. We have two favorite places: 1) Franco’s and 2) Isola Verde. Isola Verde has free WiFi so we can connect to the world and see what is happening. I order a Cafè (espresso) and Cornetto and Jo Anne orders a Cafè Americano and a piece of Torta (cake) for a few Euros.

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Cornetto

At Franco’s the selection is more exquisite. One of our favorite is sfogliatella.

sfogliatella

sfogliatella

As we sit and finish up with the internet, we plan our day. What city will we visit today? We then drive to our destination and start our tour/walk. At lunchtime we look for a small restaurant or a bar. Bars have great sandwiches and you can have a beer or wine. Small restaurants let you order a local dish and local wine.

After lunch we are back to touring, walking and climbing steps (lots of steps). We typically walk 5 to 8 miles a day and can climb as many flights of steps as 50. This helps work off lunch and maybe that afternoon gelato we can’t resist.

Sometimes we eat dinner locally or we may head back home and eat in one of our favorite local restaurants. Pasta, fish, pizza and other specialties are all prepared fresh and wonderfully. We get to talk with local people and maybe have dinner with friends.

Finally we head home to sit on our balcony with a glass of wine and reflect on Italy’s beauty and prepare for another day of the same encantment. We are blessed and lucky to have such a romantic place to call home!

George

 

Categories: Bars, Beer, Cafè, Casal Velino Marina, Coffee, cornetto, Dolce, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Exercise, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Romance, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Feelings of Living in Italy

Many people ask us, what it is like to live in Italy? A foreign country intrigues some and scares the hell out of others. We love our area of Italy it is in the Campania region south of both Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Our hamlet is called Velina, which is part of the city of Castelnuovo Cilento. To be even more confusing the whole area is referred to as part of Casal Velino. Velina is a small town that has stores for food, clothing and miscellaneous items. It has a post office, church and cell phone store.

When I am there it is all about the friendliness of the people, the sounds, the smells, the tastes and the visuals. Lets look at each of these and how I feel about them:

 

  • People – We are known to be foreigners by our look and dress but if you greet someone with Buon Giorno (good Day), you will get a smile and a Buon Giorno in return. These are people who enjoy life, family and their way of living.
  • Sounds – I go to sleep and wake up at our condo to the wonderful sounds of a rooster, birds and an occasional dog bark. There are also church bells early in the morning. You can hear the train go by below us. These have become sounds I look forward to and expect when I am there. They gently rock me to sleep at night and slowly wake me in the morning.
  • Smells – Italy has wonderful food smells. As we walk through our small village and enter stores we are aroused by the smells of bread, cheeses, sweet rolls, chocolate and of course Cafè. We have grown accustomed to these smells and look forward to them. They bring on a level of awareness and hunger. What a great way to start a day. Buon Giorno a tutti (good morning to all).
  • Tastes – Now that we are awake we head to one of the local bars for a Cafè and cornetto (Croissant like pastry). Now the coffee awakens us more and hits our sense of taste. It is strong and has a wonderful flavor. The cornetto is softer than a croissant but is delicious. You can get it plain, filled with a light cream, filled with chocolate or filled with jelly. They are tasty and never over sweet. The fillings are small for flavor never over filled.
  • Visuals – Now fully awake we can take in and enjoy the visuals all around us. We have the wonderful sea, the huge mountains, the towns, the architecture and the people. On market day we get an added visual of all the stalls selling clothes and foods. This adds more to our sense of smell and sometimes we taste a sample.

Yes we love Italy a country that really gets it.

George

Categories: Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Chocolate, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Traveling without a tour, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

International Cuisine … Really?

I once saw a show on Cyprus last night that was talking about all the international visitors that went there. It then said it had an international cuisine and showed McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and several other American fast food chains. I have news for you, Fast Food is NOT cuisine! If you go to a foreign country and eat American Fast Food, you are missing out on the true gems of that country. Countries like Italy have unbelievably good food. It is NOT the same as Italian food in America. It is soooo much better. Go, see, experience and enjoy the food and wine.

American Fast Food

I know burgers are important to you but give them up for one vacation and give your taste buds a break. Taste real food made from fresh organic ingredients and prepared perfectly. Caution: DO NOT EAT IN TOURISTY PLACES! Instead seek out real local restaurants that have locals eating in them and enjoy a meal. Here are some food from Italy that will delight your taste buds.

George

 

Categories: Buffalo Mozzarella, Cooking, cornetto, Dolce, Europe, Fast Food, Food, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Risotto, Sweets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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