Planning a vacation

Two Important Large Cities of Italy

Two great large cities in Italy are Rome and Florence. This doesn’t mean Naples, Bologna and Milan are not great or important. Italy has four categories of city that we love:

  1. Large cities – These are Milan, Bolgna, Florence, Rome and Naples
  2. Famous smaller cities – Venice, Verona, Capri, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Salerno, Palermo
  3. Mountain Towns – There are so many of these from good size cities to very small towns that we could not begin to list them.
  4. Seaside Towns – Again way too many of these as well. These are towns that are on the sea and not in any other category above.

Today we look at two of the large cities in Italy that we have VLOGGED on:

Rome

Roma is the capitol of Italy and is a very cosmopolitan city. Roma has subways (the Metro), busses, and taxis. Driving in the historic central is difficult and illegal without a pass. If you are staying at a hotel in the center you can get a pass. Streets are crazy. One ways going against where you want to go. We once mapped walking to a place in Roma but had the GPS on driving by mistake. It took much longer to drive it than walk it.

Roma has everything a tourists needs:

  • Great restaurants (Bars, Ristorante, and Trattorias)
  • Museums
  • Architecture – Roma is one big outdoor museum
  • Parks
  • Shopping

Walk with us in our video below and see the famous sites of Roma. Walk the small narrow streets and see the wide large avenues. Roma is to be studied slowly with a glass or two of wine. Study it, observe its people, enjoy its sites, marvel at its museums and pay attention to its fashion. Place your hand into the mouth of truth if you dare (Bocca della Verità).

Florence

Firenze is another very modern cosmopolitan city with all the forms of transportation as Roma. The museums are unreal (the renaissance started here). A visit to Firenze is incomplete without a visit to the Uffizi museum. Learn about how the Medici leaders travelled in secret from their offices (Uffizi Museum today) to their palace (Palazzo Medici Riccardi). Climb the stairs to a vista overlooking the city central and walk across the Ponte Vecchio bridge. See Saint Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City (An independent country not part of Italy where the Pope is President). Come walk with us and see all of this and more in the video below.

Be Romantic! Visit Italy!

– George

Categories: Bars, Beach Resorts, BLOG, Bocca della Verità, Bologna, Capri, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Metro Travel, Milan, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Planning a vacation, Ponte Vecchio, Positano, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, sea, Shopping, Small Towns, Sorrento, Spanish Steps, Taxi, Towns, Trains, Traveling without a tour, Uffizi, Vatican City, Venice, Verona, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Florence, Italy

Florence is truly a city of art, beauty and intellect located in the Tuscany region of Italy. The Banking family, the Medici’s, Brought Florence, Italy and the rest of Europe out of the dark ages and into the Renaissance (14-17 century). This was the enlightened period of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Brunelleschi (architect), Raphael and many more. Humanitarianism, science, business and art prospered during this period.

Today you can see the architecture and art of Florence from that period. The beautiful Duomo with its baptistry and the famous Bronze doors created by Andrea Pisano. The works preserved in the Uffizi Museum are a must see.  The works of Michelangelo, including the beautiful statue of David, in the Galleria dell’Accademia is a must see as well. No visit to Florence is complete without a walk over the Ponte Vecchio.

This is a city with wonderful food, huge markets, more museums than you can visit and wonderful views. Come walk around Florence with us in our YouTube VLOG below. Click on the Play button below and visit Florence. See its wonders and plan a trip to Italy.

Be romantic and enjoy happy travels…

-George

 

Categories: Brunelleschi, Church, Cooking, David, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Galleria dell'Accademia, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci, Medici, Michelangelo, Museums, Planning a vacation, Ponte Vecchio, Raphael, Romance, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Positano, Italy

It is true that I left my heart in Positano! It is a city of much beauty. There is something special about this wonderful place. Every time I return, I feel I am returning home again. When you see it first from an overlook on the Amalfi Coast Road or from the sea on a ferry, you realize it is a city built on the side of a steep cliff. How could they have done this? There are two roads and one is the Amalfi coast Road that skirts the town. The other is a one way road that starts high up on the cliffs at the Amalfi Coast Road and winds its way down into the city and then out to the Amalfi Coast Road again.

This is a seaside city of great shops and restaurants. It has views at every turn. There are two beaches (the small and the large). The large beach has ferries to Naples, Capri and to many towns along the Amalfi Coast. This is a relaxing town designed to spend time in and enjoy. Shop the small stores, eat in the wonderful restaurants, spend time at the beaches. The most important thing is to be romantic and enjoy yourself. Buon viaggio…

– George

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Church, Europe, Ferries, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Lemoncello, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Planning a vacation, Positano, Ristorante, Romance, Shopping, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour, Trottoria, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Magnificent Views of Italy

It doesn’t matter where you are in Italy. There are views and eye-catching sights everywhere. You can be in a big city looking at a famous monument, on a small street, looking at a small city high up on a mountain, at the beach, climbing stairs or sitting at a small trattoria. Italy is all about its architecture. It has a personality all to itself. Here you stand on ancient roads, some dating pre-Roman. You feel and see its history. At the same time there is a modern culture all around you. iPhones, iPad and computers are everywhere. Most bars have free wi-fi service.

We come to Italy for the food, the people and these views. I love the feeling of being in an ancient place. Thinking about those ancient people and what they did, what they felt. Was their life that different from ours? These views can talk to you! Just listen and hear what they are saying. This is not a country to be rushed. Stop, relax and take in these views. Listen to them. Imaging yourself back in those times. Soon your modern problems give way to an appreciation of this great history.

My wish to all my readers is to be able to travel. experience another culture. Enjoy life more. There is so much to experience and learn. Pick a place you are passionate about and visit it. Put it on your bucket list. life is short but memories are forever.

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My passion is Italy, what is yours?

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino Marina, Coliseum, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Perugia, Planning a vacation, Ravello, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Siena, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Tulli, Tuscany, Umbria, Velina, Venice, Villa Brunella, WiFi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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.

Pisciotta D-Positano aea D-Positano fg San Marino bari_seaview Beaches near Rome 2 IMG_1839 IMG_3211

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

Walking Rome

When Jo Anne and I were in Rome (Jo’s first trip to Italy but I had been there many times), we wanted to really experience the city. There is no better way than walking! Rome has excellent metro and bus services that will get you anywhere you want but walking lets you be a Roman. You experience this great city first hand. All the important sites are walkable if you can walk a few miles.

We stayed centrally at Hotel Trevi just around the corner from the Trevi fountain. This is a hard hotel to find even with some cab drivers but worth a stay. It has been getting more popular and the price is going up. From Trevi fountain you can easily see:

  • Spanish Steps and shopping by the steps
  • Villa Borghese
  • Pantheon
  • Trastevere
  • Vatican City
  • Castel San Angelo
  • Forum
  • Old Rome
  • Coliseum
  • Piazza Navona
  • Basilica San Clemente

As you walk to these wonderful tourist attractions, take in the buildings, architecture, streets and people around you. Stop in a bar for a coffee or glass of wine. Hear the motorcycles and scooters all around you. Listen to the music of the Italian language. This is Rome! This is Italy! It must be enjoyed on the streets with the people.

Never stop in a tourist restaurant (any place very close to one of the above attractions). Seek out small family run trattoria that are full of locals enjoying their meal. People eat later in Italy than in the states (except large cities like New York).

Breakfast is usually at a bar on the run. You have a coffee and sweet roll or cake as you catch up on gossip and sports with friends. Lunch is at a pizzeria or trattoria and is taken around 1 or 2 pm. Dinner is much later around 8 or 9 in Rome. Farther south dinner can be as late as 11 pm. Restaurants will open for tourists around 7 or 7:30 pm. The terrible tourist only places stay open all day.

I love strolling these ancient streets, meeting modern-day Romans and partaking in their ancient customs. Let Rome take you away. Enjoy it fully. Don;t be afraid of it. There are pick-pockets everywhere but violent crime is very rare. As you return to your hotel, review what you did that day. Relive each important moment. These are memories you will enjoy for the rest of your life.

Be Romantic …

 

George

 

Categories: Bars, Coffee, Coliseum, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian language, Italy, Metro Travel, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Romance, Rome, Shopping, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Some of Our Best Memories

We have assembled pictures of some of our best memories in Italy. Italy is always romantic and it is always memorable. There are so many special little moments. The architecture, the sites, the history, the people, the food, the wine, … and so much more.

Enjoy your trip to see relatives, sites, museums or to just be Italian for a short while.

Dolce far niente!

George & Jo

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Assisi, Beaches, Blue Flag Beaches, Casal Velino Marina, Cilento, Coliseum, cornetto, Dolce, Dolce far niente, Duomo, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Marina Casal Velino, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Owning a home in Italy, Paestum, Panini, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Positano, Ravello, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Siena, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

How to Plan a Trip to Italy – Part 13

OK you are in Italy, have a great room and know where to eat. What do you want to do? In the big cities there are Dumo (Cathedral) and museums that are a must see. Even if you are not a museum person, some museums are a must see. The Duomo and museums get VERY crowded so plan ahead and go early in day or later just before closing. Most cities have city tour tickets that get you into the museums fast and free. These tickets are usually very expensive and have a time date expiration. They are worth it only if you will visit most of the attractions they get you into within the expiration period. This is seeing many museums and churches in a day or two. This is not our choice of hope to see Italy. Some cities like Florence have a reservation system that gets you into major attractions with no line for a small fee (in addition to the entrance fee).

Italian Flag

By now as a reader of this BLOG, you know that we are in favor of being like Italians while in Italy. Take it slow and enjoy your visit and time there. Don’t try to do too many cities in a week or two. It is better and more memorable to see one or two places well than ten cities in a rush. We also do not believe in organized large tour groups. The food you get is not real Italian food but fast prepared for a large group. Get on a tour that gives you free days to do your own thing. Take small tour groups of 10-12 people in a small van. These can get to interesting mountain cities that the larger busses can not get to. The best way to see Italy is to plan your trip and go by yourself or with friends. We do this all the time and have had the most memorable trips.

Sit and have a coffee, gelato or a drink and watch Italian life around you. Engage the Italians around you. If you are speaking English, speak very slowly and clearly. Avoid idioms and contractions or slang. You will be amazed how interesting it is to speak with the locals. They are as interested in speaking to you as you are to them.

Tomorrow we will talk about leaving Italy. Yes it is unfortunate but all vacations do come to and end but the memories created do not!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Duomo, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Museums, Planning a vacation, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Plan a Trip to Italy-Part 9

Planning for your trip is important. We have two parts to our planning:

  1. What are we bringing
  2. What needs to be done before we leave

American Airlines

What are we bringing

What to take is a very important part pf planning a vacation. You want to have the correct clothes but you want to keep that suitcase under 50 lbs. Is this impossible? not really but it does take some planning. You should buy a suitcase scale. They are a hand held scale with a hook that goes under the suitcase handle. As you lift the scale (and the suitcase) the scale measures the weight.

You need to look at weather for each city in your trip. The hardest planning is if some cities will be cold while others will be warm. Usually a trip in the same area will not have this condition. Pack clothes that you can reuse in combinations. This will give you many outfits out of a small number of items.

Shoes are heavy so pack carefully, sorry girls. If you will need a jacket for evenings, take it onboard with you. They are heavy and will add too much weight to your suitcase.

Don’t forget cameras (if you use one), computers and medications. We take two suitcases that we check and a computer bag for laptop, iPad and some extra clothes. Having a change of clothes onboard with you will help if a suitcase is lost.

If you forget anything, don’t worry, you can buy anything you forgot in Italy. Don’t let it ruin your vacation. If you are going for an extended trip you can do laundry in Italy so you don’t have to carry too many sets of clothing.

What needs to be done before we leave

We make a list of things we have to do before we leave for the airport:

ToDo before Leaving House

  1. Turn Main water off
  2. Light on
  3. Water Plants
  4. Adjust Thermostat 

Take along on Trip

  1. Passports
  2. Car Charger for iPhone
  3. Euros (bills & coins) 200+ Euros
  4. Drivers License & International License
  5. Sun Glasses
  6. IPhone Charger
  7. IPhone headphones
  8. Jacket (light) or sweater – wear 
  9. Sun tan lotion

To Do On Airplane

  1. Reset Phone usage
  2. Turn cellular off – Settings – Cellular – Cellular data
  3. Airplane Mode on

The only thing you really can not forget is your passports! Now you are on your way to the airport and a vacation in romantic Italy. Enjoy and don’t look back!

Airport

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, Italy, Planning a vacation, Romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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