Saint Peter’s Basilica

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

Which of these Italian Cities are your Favorites?

For everyone that has been to Italy and wants to return, is planning a first trip to Italy or is just dreaming about a trip, These videos are for you. There are ten (10) videos below of 9 cities and a very interesting cave restaurant. Some cities are large others are small beach towns or mountain towns. Each Monday a new town is added. I explain things you need to know about Italy as well as taking you on a walk through each city. I hope you enjoy these vlogs. If you do, please share with your friends and like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. We will not have a new VLOG on January 2, 2017 but will continue each Monday starting January 9, 2017.

Introduction to my Channel

Cities in Italy

 1. Cisterninio (Puglia)

2.Ostuni (Puglia)

 3. Alberobello (Puglia)

 4. Grotta Palazzese ( in Polignano a Mare – Puglia)

 5. Rome (Rome)

6. Positano (Campania)

 7. Castellabate (Campania)

 8. Florence (Tuscany)

 9. Perugia (Umbria)

 10. Marina di Casal Velino (Campania)

11. Assisi

12. Marina di Camerota

13. Cortona

You can see the entire playlist on my YouTube Channel.

Happy travels & may you one day be in Italy…

– George

Categories: Alberobello, Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Benvenuto al Sud, Campania, Casal Velino Marina, Castellabate, Cave Restaurant, Cisternino, Coliseum, cornetto, David, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Florence, Food, Galleria dell'Accademia, Gelato, General Travel, Grotta Palazzese, Italian, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci, Marina Casal Velino, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Ostuni, Perugia, Polignano a Mare, Positano, Puglia, Regions of Italy, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Tulli, Tuscany, Umbria, Vatican City, Villa Borghese, Walking, WiFi, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rome, Italy

The eternal city! Ancient Romans believed that no matter how many wars or new civilizations came about, Rome would go on forever. Rome is the capital of Italy. It is both a modern and an ancient city. Although Rome is a large city, it feels like a small one with its small narrow streets. There are large streets as well that are 5-6 lanes wide. Walking around Rome is amazing. You can not help but marvel at its architecture. You know immediately that you are in an old and special place.

Whenever they dig for a new building, they run into ancient ruins that have to be preserved. Usually the ruins become a part of the new structure.  A sunken area that can be viewed by visitors. Rome protects its ruins and its history. Roman is an amazing city but it is also a living museum.

Rome is to be enjoyed. Sit at a bar or a trattoria and enjoy the life around you. Come walk Rome with us in our YouTube video VLOG below.

– George

 

Categories: Coliseum, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Lazio, Metro Travel, Museums, Pantheon, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Shopping, Spanish Steps, Traveling without a tour, Villa Borghese, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Churches of Italy

Italy is famous for many things but its churches are old and magnificent. They are not just churches but art galleries, studies in architecture and beautiful places to visit. They provide a cool atmosphere from the hot sun. The frescoes are wonderful to study, telling of story of days long gone. Every city has at least one church. They may be called Chiesa, Catterdrale, Basilica or Duomo.

Do not pass up a chance to visit one of these marvels. Look at the floors, the splendor of its height, the walls and stained glass windows. Look for frescoes and tapestries. The alters are magnificent. The organs are fantastic and even the pulpits can be ornate.

Below is just a sampling of churches from some big and small cities around Italy:

 

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Duomo Florence

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Duomo Cortona

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Duomo Siena

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Assisi Cathedral (in Assisi)

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Church in Assisi

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Saint Francis (Outside Assisi)

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Pantheon Rome

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Church in Castelnuovo Cilento (Campania)

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Saint Peter’s Basillica – Vatican City

Post your pictures of your favorite Italian churches in the comments below.

George

Categories: Assisi, Campania, Castelnuovo Cilento, Church, Cilento, Cortona, Duomo, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Vatican City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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

Rome Tour – Day 3

We have already seen a lot of Rome but there is so much more to do and see. Put your walking shoes back on because we will be walking more today. As usual we start our tour at the Trevi Fountain. Today we are headed to Vatican City. We normally do not take tours but the Vatican is a good place to take a tour. You can sign up at your hotel. Then just walk or take the Metro to the Vatican and join your tour.

On our walk to the vatican we will first visit and cross the Bridge of Angels and then enter Castel di Angelo. GPS your way to the Bridge of Angels and the Castle of Angeles. You will see the Tiber River and the Bridge of Angels. As you cross the river look at each statue of an angel. The castle is directly on the other side of the bridge.

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Bridge and Castle

Inside the castle climb to the top and be rewarded with views of Rome and Saint Peters. As you leave the castle turn right onto Via della Conciliation into Piazza San Pietro. There are many shops and restaurants along this road. The cathedral is right in front of you. If you have tickets for Vatican City tour, Go there first and you can exit the Sistine Chapel into Saint Peters Cathedral. Getting to the Vatican City Tour Entrance is about a mile from the castle. GPS it or take a taxi. Inside the entrance is a ticket office where you can join a tour or buy a ticket and tour on your own. You will see many things here and the tour ends in the Sistine Chapel. You have a choice there to exit back the way you came or exit directly into Saint Peters Cathedral. Once in Saint Peters you can not go back. You will exit the church normally and be in Piazza San Pietro. The Castle of Angels is directly ahead on Via della Conciliation. Information on tours can be found here.

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Saint Peters viewed from the Castle

From the Castle cross back over the bridge to go to Mouth of truth (Bocca della Verità). Set your GPS from the Castle to the Bocca della Verità. It is a about a mile and a half walk. It is outside a small church, Santa Maria in Comedian. The legend has it that if you place your hand in the mouth and it comes out OK, you tell the truth. If you lose your hand you are a liar. We saw many Italian women place their hands in and withdraw them successfully but most of the men would not do it.

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Line waiting to place hand in the Mouth of Truth

As always GPS your walk on you smart phone, take a taxi or the Metro. Roman is easy to get around. Always have your hotel name and address programmed in your smart phone. You can show a taxi driver the name or use the address to GPS your way back.

George

Categories: Bocca della Verità, Castel Sant'Angelo, General Travel, GPS, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Taxi, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rome Architecture … Continued

Rome is both a modern and an ancient city. You can have all the conveniences of a modern city at your disposal while you walk the same cobblestones as the Roman army walked. Go to old Rome next to the Colosseum and imagine life back then. They watched tournaments in the Colosseum then went off to the baths. Old Rome is a ruin but you can see the pillars and the outline of buildings that were part of old Rome. Imagine, as you walk these streets, the Romans that walked here before you.

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Old Rome

As you walk the different areas of Rome, you can see the most beautiful architecture. The Vatican, which is a separate country from Italy is within walking distance of the most popular Rome sites.

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St Peter’s and the Popes Balcony

Castel Saint’Angelo is a short walk from the Vatican. It has a beautiful bridge with angels on it that leads you over the Tiber River.

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Castel Sant’Angelo

Not far from this beautiful bridge is the Pantheon. On the way you pass one of our favorite Gelato stores.

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Pantheon

No tour of Rome is complete without a climb of the famous Spanish Steps.

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Spanish Steps

Here you can see my wife, Jo Anne coming off the steps and heading to the nearby fountain. In front of the Spanish Steps is Roman’s shopping district. It has many wonderful but expensive stores. Stroll up and down each street and get a feel for Roman fashion.

Not far away is the famous Trevi Fountain. It has just been restored to its original glory. This fountain can get very crowded. Watch for pickpockets! Try different times of the day and night. The fountain in the dark is totally different from the fountain in the daytime.

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Trevi Fountain

All of this architecture and the people, food and wine! How can you not go?

George

 

Categories: Architecture, Castel Sant'Angelo, Coliseum, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rome Pictorial

There is no city like Rome. It has such great ancient architecture. Everywhere you turn they are discovering new archeological sites. In old Rome you can walk the same cobblestones as the Romans. It also is a modern city with modern people.

The city of Rome is in the Lazio region of Italy. It is Italy’s capital city. It has a population of 2.8 million and the area around Rome has a population over 4 million.

Many people think of Rome as home to the Pope and the vatican but the vatican is its own city, Vatican City and country. It is not part of Italy, The pope is its president.

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Trevi Fountain

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Spanish Steps

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Roman Street at Christmas time

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The Pantheon

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Ponte San’Angelo (Bridge of angels) and Castel Sant’Anagelo

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Victor Emmanuel II Monument (The Wedding Cake)

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Old Rome

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St. Peters Bascilica

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The Window the Pope talks from

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Galleria Borghese

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Piazza Novona

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New Years Eve

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New Years Morning

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The Coliseum

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Vatican City

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Bocca della Verità

This is the mouth of truth! Legend has it if an honest person puts their hand in the mouth, it comes out OK but a dishonest person will lose their hand.

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Trastevere (the old ghetto) – An Artist Area

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Roman Artichokes – A wonderful Delight

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Italians have beautiful designs for whatever they do

Rome is an adventure. It is romantic it is old it is new. It has something for everyone. See the monuments and museums but meet the people. Sit in a bar and enjoy the Italians around you. Sit in a restaurant and enjoy the food and the people. This is Rome! This is Italy!

Ciao!

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Bars, Coliseum, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Spanish Steps, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Villa Borghese | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roman Holiday

When you plan a trip to Rome, there are certain things you must see. Rome is an ancient city and a modern city of architecture. People have apartments with modern convinces in ancient buildings. The cobble stoned roads make you think of ancient roman with an army of Roman soldiers riding into the city on horseback.

Rome has many museums and attractions as does any big city. The attractions we love are:

  • Trevi Fountain – This fountain has been undergoing restoration but is a beautiful work of art. It is not that old by Roman standards. It was constructed in 1732.

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  • Pantheon – Originally commissioned during reign of Augustus (27 BC to 14 AD). The current structure was built 118AD to 128 AD. It is a modern structure with a floating roof like modern sports arenas. They actually built a wooden roof structure then used blocks and cement to create the actual roof. Finally they tore down the wooden structure. It has a hole in the center that is open to the sky.

Pantheon

  • Old Roman & Coliseum – The Coliseum was commissioned 70-72 AD. although most of old Rome is ruins, the coliseum is still seen in its full glory. There are stone roads in old Rome that make you fill the Roman legions are marching through. This is what Roman Citizens would see during the Roman period. It is a very unique and interesting place preserved for all time.

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  • Vatican City & Saint Peters Basilica – Vatican City is a separate country from Italy. It’s president is the Pope and its army is the Swiss Guard. At one end touching upon Rome is Saint Peter’s Basilica. The courtyard is massive and the church is impressive by any standard. You can usually enter any time and see this magnificent structure. The vatican and Sistine Chapel is on the other side behind well guarded walls. You will need a reservation to enter. After you go through the Sistine Chapel, there are two exits: 1) to Saint Peter’s (but you can not return and 2) back to the vatican city.

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  • Castel Sant’Angelo – Construction began 135 AD. This beautiful castle is just down the street from Saint Peter’s. The bridge nearby leads back over the Tiber River to the main part of Rome. The bridge has beautiful angels on it.

Castello Sant'Angelo

  • Villa Borghese – This is a huge park behind the Spanish Steps. It has restaurants, walks, rides for the kids and the Borghese Gallery which is a wonderful museum worth seeing. You will need advance reservations.

Villa Borghese

  • Spanish Steps – Was first opened in 1725. A set of a 135 steps lead up a steep rise in Rome. Climb them to see Trinità dei Monti church at the top. You can then continue into Villa Borghese park.

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We started at Trevi Fountain and circled around and ended up at the Spanish Steps. There is much more to see in Rome but we love these sites.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Castel Sant'Angelo, Coliseum, Europe, Italy, Pantheon, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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