Small Towns

Tuscany, Italy

Everyone wants to go to Tuscany, Italy. It is home to the greatest Italian wines, great food and majestic cities. Great cities like Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Cortona and Montepulciano are located here. The road system is a good one with Italy’s main Autostrada, the A1, cutting through its center. The A1 can take you out of Tuscany north to Milan or south to Rome and Naples.

A drive along the A1 reveals hill-top cities everywhere. I just want to exit the highway and find my way up to a new small city on a hill-top. Come walk with us through some of Tuscany’s major cities and some fun ones. What ever your plans  are: wine, food, old cities, museums, architecture or sheer beauty, it can be found here.

Click on the YouTube link below to visit Tuscany and some of its cities …

– George

Categories: BLOG, Chianti, Cortona, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, General Travel, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Museums, Regions of Italy, Romance, San Gimignano, Siena, Small Towns, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, VLOG, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto is a small city in Umbria Italy on top of a butte of volcanic tuff. It is a wonderful city to walk around. If you drive or take the train, you arrive below at ground level and must take a funicular up to the city. Once in the city you at an old fort that is worth investigating. There are small streets, wonderful restaurants and a marvelous Duomo (Cathedral).

We spent a day here. We arrived by train from Rome in the morning. We walked around the entire city. The shops were wonderful and had unique items to buy. Jo bought a purse from a woman who actually made it. We then had lunch and relaxed. We love taking in the Italian life all around us and talking with locals. After lunch we visited the huge Duomo. There are bible stories painted on the outside and throughout the inside if this unbelievable church.

After Duomo we walked more and saw the back edge of the city (opposite the funicular). From this edge, we could see down over the vast countryside below. This is a city to be enjoyed slowly.

Come walk with us around Orvieto in our YouTube video below.

Ciao,

– George

Categories: Church, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Funicular, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mountain Towns, Orvieto, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Shopping, Small Towns, Umbria, VLOG, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Casal Velino, Italy

Casal Velino is the sister mountain town of Casal Velino Marina. It is a very small town high up on a mountain. There are some very good restaurants there and a bar with a view of the sea and Casal Velino Marina below. This town has only a few roads and then walkways that are narrow and steep sometimes leading to stairs. The people here have lived here all their lives. This town is in the Cliento National Forest.

Come walk with us in the YouTube video below.

– George

Categories: Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, Campania, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Driving in Italy, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Marina Casal Velino, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Towns, VLOG | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maratea, Italy

Maratea is in Basilicata Italy. It is the only part of Basilicata that touches the Tyrrhenian Sea. The city is high on a mountain and has a peak above it with one of the largest Christ crosses in the world. The road up is twists and turns and hangs off the mountain in spots. This city is wonderful to walk around. It has a great main piazza with a beautiful old fountain. The shops and restaurants are fantastic.

Come walk with us around romantic Maratea Basilicata, Italy.

– George

Categories: Basilicata, BLOG, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Maratea, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Ristorante, Romance, sea, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Tyrrhenian Sea, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Locorotondo, Italy

Locorotondo is a wonderful white city in Puglia, Italy. It is located down near the heel of the boot on the Adriatic Sea. In this entire area you can see Trulli homes (dome-shaped homes). Most people think of Alberobello for Trulli homes but they are located all over this area of Puglia. Other great cities in this area are Cisternino, Ostuni and Polignano a Mare (home of the Cave restaurant).

These cities are mostly white walls with beautiful flowers to add colors. They are unique places to visit. Each town is small and can be seen in a half to full day. Stop in bars and restaurants and enjoy the local flavors.

Come walk with us around Locorotondo in the video below. This is Dolce far niente!

 


– George

Categories: Adriatic Sea, Alberobello, Bars, Cave, Cave Restaurant, Cisternino, Dolce far niente, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Grotta Palazzese, Italy, Locorotondo, Ostuni, Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Romance, sea, Small Towns, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Siena, Italy

Siena is a medium size town in the Tuscan region. It has a great piazza in the center and several beautiful churches. The piazza is where Italians and tourists meet to sit and talk or have a gelato. There are restaurants and bars around the edge of this piazza. It is a large piazza.

On July 2 and August 16 the famous horse race is run (il Palio), There are 13 Contrade or city wards that compete but only 10 of the 13 get to race. Ten horses and ten men race bareback around the piazza’s edge three times. The winner holds the honor for a year. The edge of the piazza is transformed into a dirt horse track. The center has areas for people of each Contrade to stand and watch as horses race around them.


– George

Categories: Bars, BLOG, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Ristorante, Romance, Shopping, Siena, Small Towns, Tuscany, VLOG, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pioppi, Italy

Pioppi is a very small town in southern Campania, Italy. Pioppi is south of Salerno and south of Agropoli in the Cilento National Park. It is a seaside town on the Tyrrhenian Sea. You can walk this town in under an hour. The sea views are fantastic. As you look out to sea and to the left, you can see Marina Casalvelino. There is a fantastic restaurant here called Suscettibile. The owner is Antonio and you can sit outside on a deck overlooking the sea.

Come and see Pioppi with us in the video below.

 

– George

Categories: Agropoli, Beaches, Campania, Casal Velino Marina, Cilento, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Marina Casal Velino, Pioppi, Ristorante, sea, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Towns, Tyrrhenian Sea, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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