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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

Capri, Italy

The Isle of Capri is a true place of beauty. This is why it became the playground of the rich and famous. Many people are confused by the isle’s name of Capri and the city of Capri on the Isle. The Isle has two main cities: Capri and Anacapri. This island is rugged with cliffs and a huge mountain near Anacapri. It has two beaches, the large and small beaches. The ferries drop you off at the large beach. There is a large marina there and porters will take your bags to your hotel. This is a great idea since you will be walking.

Once at the marina at the large beach you can take a bus up a windy road or a funicular up the hill to the center of Capri city.Take the funicular. it is fast and fun. At the top is the main piazza with its clock tower. In this area are many restaurants, bars, gelaterias and stores. Many of the small streets are alley like but take them and you will discover many interesting stores and shops.

So many tourists opt to come on a ferry in the morning and leave in the evening. This is the biggest mistake you can make! Stay at least one night. After the tourists have left, the locals come out. Be a local and enjoy life. This is what being an Italian in Italy is all about. Remember Italy is not a quest to visit as many places as you can in a week. It is about the food, the people, the life, the museums and the cities. You can not fully enjoy or understand Italy without sitting back in each city and being part of the life. Running through a city causes you to miss the life all together reducing Italy to just another tourist destination. Believe me, Italy is not just another tourist attraction!

Come walk with us through the cities of Capri and Anacapri and join us on a boat ride around the Isle. Be romantic in one of the most romantic places on Earth…

– George

Categories: Anacapri, Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, Blue Flag Beaches, Blue Grotto, Cafè, Campania, Capri, Cave, Cooking, Cruises, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Ferries, Food, Funicular, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mount Vesuvious, Museums, Naples, Passegiata, Planning a vacation, resorts, Ristorante, Romance, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Stairs, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tyrrhenian Sea, Villa Brunella, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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

Firenze (Florence) Italy

We love Firenze! It is a big and beautiful city. It is Italy. It is the capital of art and architecture in Italy. From the duomo to the ponte vecchio to the views this is an interesting city.

Stop at a bar or small restaurant and enjoy life as it passes by you. Have a cafè, panini, gelato or a glass of wine as you observe life.

Come and walk with us in Firenze in our video below and see this wonderful city…

– George

Categories: Church, Cooking, David, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Museums, Panini, Ponte Vecchio, Ristorante, Romance, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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

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

Palinuro, Italy

Palinuro is a beach town in southern Campania. This town is on a curve in the land with views of the sea and nearby mountains. The sea water here is green close to shore and dark blue farther out. It is crystal clear. The beaches are small but sandy. Come walk this wonderful small beach resort and see why Italians come here for their summer vacations.

Walk the streets, meet the people, stop for something to drink and eat and have a gelato. There is really only one main street that runs parallel to the sea. Make a short visit and encounter this small town or stay a few days and relax on the beach. Watch the video below and visit Palinuro. Be an Italian…

– George

Categories: Beaches, Campania, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Palinuro, resorts, Romance, sea, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Towns, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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