Posts Tagged With: Italian language

Italy – Travel the right way

Traveling to Italy is important. It is the dream of millions of people. It doesn’t have to be just a dream. It can be a reality. Save each month for a vacation to Italy. When you have enough, make reservations. See this beautiful and romantic country. Airfare is the most expensive part of the trip. Traveling off-season can drastically reduce airfares. Stay in small European hotels not big name American hotels. Make sure you have a private bath. Eat in bars or a trattoria. Never travel in August! It is hot and very crowded.

Tour groups can be expensive as well. They are run like cruises. The initial expense doesn’t seem bad but then they always have side-trips you want that can run up on the bill. They guide you to their restaurants and shops that give them a kickback. These are not always the best places for a memorable vacation. Be a smart traveller! Do your homework. Buy a guide-book or study the Internet. Here is a checklist:

  1. List the cities you ant to visit. Don’t try to do all of Europe or even all of Italy in one trip.
  2. List the top things you want to see in each city.
  3. If museums are your thing, list the top things in each museum that you want to see. Don’t try to do all of a large museum.
  4. Research Italian hotels. Look at location, price, amenities and other travelers reviews. Don’t worry if breakfast is included. Breakfast in Italy at a bar is cheap and delicious.
  5. Estimate the time you need in days in each city. Then estimate travel time between cities. You can fly, drive or take a train. Flying gives you the most time in your cities if they are a distance from each other. Trains are romantic and you can see the country side.
  6. List entrance costs and local transportation (metro) to get to each attraction. Many cities can be walked if you are in shape.
  7. Now estimate your trip. List days in each place and when you should go. Airfares are often cheaper on Tuesday through Thursday than weekends.
  8. Now you have an itinerary and an estimate on cost. Add in spending money and extras that you will find spur-of-the-moment.
  9. Now you are ready for a wonderful trip. Sit back and enjoy it.

We love taking people around Italy. We enjoy seeing the amazement in their eyes and the joy they feel. When we take a group it is always small and we don’t try to do everything in a single trip. It is important to end your vacation feeling happy and full of memories, Our rules are:

  1. Visit the main cities first. See the top ten things in each city. Experience the city as an Italian. Meet and talk with people. Most Italians speak some English as it is the national second language.
  2. Visit small mountain and sea-side towns next. Some of these are so small that the large tour busses can’t get to them.
  3. Never go to touristy restaurants or shops. Be spontaneous and see what you find during your walks.
  4. Have a general itinerary but be spontaneous and be able to change it.
  5. Experience not just the monuments but the people, food and wine.

Italy is a passionate and romantic country. Experience all of its emotions.

George & Jo Anne



Categories: Bars, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Money, Mountain Towns, Museums, Romance, Small Towns, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italian Coffee

We have all heard of espresso, even had in the USA. Most major metropolitan areas and restaurants serve it here. It is good but not what you get in Italy. How did Italy become such a nation of coffee Aficionados. Italy is a nation of coffee lovers. From the major cities to the smallest mountain towns, you find bars at every corner. Bars do serve alcohol but they serve a much more important purpose … coffee! Many Italians will not order a coffee at a restaurant only to go to their favorite bar and have one. The bars have wonderful machines like La Pavoni.

pavoni Pavoni 2

                                                    Home or small bar Pavoni                Bar Pavoni

These bars are crowded in morning and at lunch. Coffee is always in the forefront of Italian life.

Bar in Italy

Italian Bar

George had a business meeting in Italy many years ago. The meeting started as setting an agenda for the week. After the Director said, “Let’s go to the bar!”. George wondered because it was just 9am. But a trip to the bar was for coffee. Really great tasting coffee.

When we closed on our home in Italy, after it was finished, we all went to the bar for coffees. It is a tradition in Italy. Life seems to revolve around bars and coffees. We typically go to a local bar at the beach in Marina Casal Velino. It is directly across the street from the beach and Palm Trees. We have a pastry and coffee each morning. They have free WiFi so we can stay connected to the outside world.

Coffee came from Africa to Venice where it was introduced to Europeans. It quickly became popular. It was originally a luxury item and very expensive. When you visit Italy, order an espresso or a doppio (double). There is a Cafè Americano but it is stronger (but flavorful) than most American coffees. It is basically an espresso with extra water. Stay away from the Starbucks and be an Italian.

George & Jo Anne


Categories: Bars, Coffee, Espresso, Europe, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Italy is a country that stretches from France, Switzerland and Austria in the north to almost Africa in the south. It is bounded on three sides by seas. The country is very mountainous and can be rugged in some places. Italy has a great system of roads called autostradas. They link all major cities and the north to the south. The train system works! Trains usually run on schedule. You have very fast trains that link major Italian cities with the rest of Europe and local trains that go to many smaller cities.

Italian Flag Italy Map

The currency is the Euro and the Capital of Italy is Rome. The language is Italian but many areas speak a dialect.

Escape Here lists 10 interesting facts about Italy. Some are very interesting like:

  1. It is the fourth most populated country in Europe because of high birth rates and low death rates. Italians must be doing something right!
  2. Italy has some of the highest mountains in Europe (the Alps).
  3. More than 50 million tourists visit each year. Most of them only see the major cities. Italy has so much more to offer the educated tourists.
  4. Pasta with tomato sauce wasn’t eaten here until the 1600’s. The food we mostly associate with Italy is relatively new to Italians.

Of course We would add:

  1. Great food & wine
  2. Gelato
  3. Chocolate
  4. Bread
  5. White Truffles – our all time favorite Italian food
  6. Mountain and seaport towns
  7. The language itself is so musical
  8. Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s

Whatever your taste, there is something in Italy for you. Get off the couch and go! Enjoy life the way it was meant to be lived.

George & Jo Anne


Categories: Autostrada, Bread, Chocolate, Dolce, Eating Italian, Euro, Europe, Gelato, Italian Facts, Italian language, Italy, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Trains, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Go to Italy?

We were pondering this question and determining if we might go for Christmas (this year or next). There are many reasons we go to Italy and they are all positive. in fact we have no negative reasons for not going.

Reasons to go to Italy:

  1. The country is beautiful. The beaches are among the best in the world and the mountains are spectacular.
  2. The food is fantastic. Italian food in Italy is nothing like Italian food here in the US. It is so much better. Fresh ingredients cooked to perfection. Forget Fettuccine Alfredo and chicken or shrimp parmesan. They don’t exist in Italy except in tourist places (and you don’t want to eat there). The bread is to die for! Don’t forget gelato, chocolate or the famous Italian white truffles.
  3. The wine is top-notch. Italy produces some of the best wines in the world. Everyone in Italy drinks wine and understands it. From the greats like Chianti to Barolo and Brunello. Even the local wines are fantastic. Try them!
  4. The people are friendly. Italians love Americans and are very friendly. You find great people from small cities to the largest cities.
  5. There is little crime in Italy. You do find pick pockets in the larger cities but violent crime is almost nonexistent. We felt safe walking small streets in Rome at midnight.
  6. Tradition exists here. Everyone was brought up on Italian tradition and pass it on to their children.
  7. Art exists everywhere. We describe Italy as an open air museum. The art and architecture are everywhere you look. Yes the museums are still important to see but Italy is a huge museum.
  8. The language is beautiful to hear. It is like hearing a song when they speak.
  9. Italy is about relaxing, family, friends, food and wine. Enjoy it!
  10. Italy is romance. Get reacquainted with the one you love and be romantic.

Take your pen out right now and add Italy to your bucket list. Don’t just add it, VAI (GO)! When you go don’t be an American or think like one. This is not America. Be an Italian and enjoy your vacation like no other you have taken. The long trip home on the airplane will find you with a smile and many good memories.

George & Jo Anne


Categories: Beaches, Bread, Europe, Gelato, Italian language, Italy, Museums, Small Towns, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Italian Language says that the Italian language is from the Romance group of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. It is a direct offspring of latin. There are many differences from English (which also has its roots in Latin):

  1. Nouns are singular or plural just like in English but they also have gender (masculine or Feminine). This gender has nothing to do with a man or woman. It is a definition all nouns have. You must memorize it.
  2. Italian verbs indicate which person they represent (first, second or third, singular or plural – I, You, He; she; it, we, you, they). In English we need the pronouns to indicate what we are talking about but in Italian it is implied usually in the verb itself.
  3. English is not pronounced as it is written but Italian is always pronounced as written.
  4. Italian is a musical language (which is why most words and syllables end in a vowel. You can feel a rhythm as you speak it or listen to it. Just listen to Andrea Bocelli sing an Italian love song.
  5. Italy has many dialects that can sound like whole other languages. Italy was made up of a bunch of independent states that were unified. After the unification, Italian became the formal language of Italy.
  6. Word order is different between English and Italian. In English we say “I have a red house” but in Italian they say “Ho una casa rossa” – literally I have a house red.
  7. Some English and Italian words are very similar in look and meaning. Others are totally different. Take the Italian word “ape”. It looks like ape in english but it means bee (like bumble bee) in Italian.
  8. Italian has both formal and informal ways of saying things. Formal is for strangers, people in authority and older people. Informal is for children and friends. In english we say How are you. In Italian Come stai (literally how are you) is informal and would be an insult to a stranger. You would say Come sta (how are he). In the south they get even more formal and say Come state (literally how are you [plural]). It sounds strange in English but it is a basic practice in Italian. Ciao is informal for hello or goodbye but buon giorno and arrivederci are formal for hello and goodbye.

Try to learn some basic Italian when going to Italy. Even the basics will impress your Italian acquaintances. A great book that explains the Italian language is Rick Zullo’s Talk like an Italian. Jo Anne says the most important sentence to learn in Italian is “Quanto costano le scarpe?” or How much are the shoes?

George & Jo Anne


Categories: Europe, Italian Facts, Italian language, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling to Italy?

The official Italian Travel Website is a great place to get started. Do your homework and get all the information on the region and cities you plan to visit. Leave some wiggle room so you can discover new cities and have time to explore them. If you are going to drive, get a AAA international drivers license. It does NOT replace your American drivers license but explains things about it in different languages. If you are stopped you will need both. Driving is ease. They drive on the same side of the street as we do. Traffic signs are either the same or similar. We are starting to use more of the international driving signs here in the US. Autostradas are fast and Italians don’t always keep in their lanes. The left lane has the highest speed limit, the center the next highest and the right is for slower moving vehicles.

When you have the regions and main towns you want to see, look on a google map and see what other towns are near by. Look them up and see what they have to offer. You might just find a gem. We use our iPhone maps to get around and a European Tom Tom app for GPS directions. WE once stood on a hill-top and saw a city across the valley up on a higher mountain. We looked at our map, saw where we were and determined the name of the other city. We then placed it into the Tom Tom app and got driving directions to get there. We do this a lot to find interesting small towns. They are off the beaten track, have few or no tourists and have small winding roads that would not allow tour busses access.

Food & wine are a gifts from the Italians to all visitors. Seek out local small trattorias and try local dishes and the local wines (usually come in 1/2 liter and full litter carats – not bottles). Food prepared well TAKES TIME! Do not be in a rush for lunch or dinner. Enjoy the people around you. If you are dinning al fresco, enjoy the people passing by. As you food is served, eat slowly and enjoy the flavors. Sip some wine and enjoy who you are with. Romance doesn’t get any better. If you are in large cities like Rome, seek out trattorias off the tourist paths. These will tend to be cheaper, have better food and have less tourists. Remember for dessert there is always a gealateria near by. Gelato is so much better than ice cream.

If you discover any great small towns or great trattorias let us know.

George & Jo Anne


Categories: Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, GPS, Italy, Rome, Small Towns, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dolce Far Niente

il dolce far niente

il dolce far niente (Photo credit: Divemaster Vivi!)

Remember “Dolce Far Niente” from Eat, Pray Love? It means the sweetness of doing nothing. Italians love to live life. They have a great culture, better and healthier food than we do and great wine. Most of their cities have little crime (pick pockets). A BLOG, “The sweetness of Doing Nothing” explains what this is from the BLOGgers point of view.


If we Americans want to truly understand this, we have to live it! When you go to Italy, don’t look to be waited on. Be a tourists but be a local as well. When having a glass of wine or something to eat, sit back and observe Italian life all around you. Do not be afraid to partake in it. Stop locals and try to talk with them. This will change your vacation in a very positive way.

George & Jo Anne


Categories: Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Rome | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Our Upcoming Amalfi Coast Trip

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast (Photo credit: The Consortium)

Yesterday I spoke about the trip to Velina to setup our new apartment. We will fly into Rome because we can get direct flights on US Air from Philly to Rome. We will rent a car and drive down the autostrada (A-1) towards Naples. Passing Naples we will see Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. Continuing south toward Sorrento. From Sorrento we climb over the mountain and take the Amalfi Coast Highway to Positano. We will spend a night in this wonderful city on the hill. We have a room at Hotel Villa delle Palme on Via Pasitea, number 252. This is the city of a million steps and one road. Of course we will have lunch (pizza) at our favorite place, Lo Guarracino in Positano on the walkway between the big and small beaches.The next day we will continue on the Amalfi Coast Highway past many small wonderful Italian towns including Amalfi itself. Finally reaching Salerno where we will stop at the IKEA and then get on the Autostrada south again. Exiting the autostrada and going to the larger city of Agropoli and then onto Velina. Getting there takes us right through Italy’s largest national park, Cilento.

Categories: Cilento, General Travel, Italy, Positano, Rome, Velina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

What to Buy?

Continental italian bread

Continental italian bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have bought an apartment in southern Italy and are planning our first trip of 10 days. We had a kitchen and bed installed so we can live there short term. On the drive from Rome to Velina we will spend a night in Positano. Yes it’s beautiful but this stop is practical! We are going to buy ceramic dishes for the new apartment. Then a stop at IKEA in Salerno to get sheets, pillows and what not. We also need to find small local stores for things like a toilette seat, towels, and of course the important first night staple of crusty Italian bread, cheese and a bottle of local vino. Hopefully we can do all this and make it to our place before the sun goes down. Using your Italian keys for the first time can be a daunting task. Which key does what? Will the clicker open the automatic gate that guards the property?

Once inside we can sit on our deck, eat some bread and cheese and sip vino while watching the Mediterranean Sea and the huge mountains all around us. Yes life is good. Then we have a week to explore our new home. Make some friends and find great new restaurants.

Categories: Amalfi Coast, General Travel, Italy, Velina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to find great restaurants in Italy


Italy (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_IN_SEPTEMBER)

Italy is an easy place to find great local food. It is always fresh and usually organic. Italians love their country, their food and their wine. It shows when you eat in one of their restaurants. I have a few rules about food in Italy:

  1. Do not eat at tourist places – they are usually close to the monuments tourists go to see. The food is not real Italian. You can find hamburgers, poorly prepared pasta and cheesy pizza.
  2. Restaurante are top of the line restaurants – They serve excellent food but are expensive.
  3. Trottoria’s are local food for a moderate price – This is where I like to eat. They are everywhere and have fresh local food prepared correctly.
  4. Enotecca’s – these are wine bars that allow you to buy and sample different wines. You can usually eat small dishes as well.

Choose wisely and enjoy the food. You don’t need to speak Italian. Just read the menu. Most items are listed the same as in nice Italian restaurants in the states. Point to what you want. Ordering the house wine is usually a treat in Italy. It is very good and inexpensive.

Breakfast is easy! Go to a local bar … that’s right a bar. They serve coffee (espresso or American or Cappuccino) and pastries. The pastries are magnificent. Crispy and light. Normally you pick what you want and eat and then go to cash register and say what you had and pay. Some bars require you to pay in advance and take the ticket to the bar and order your food. Enjoy

George & Jo Anne


Categories: General Travel, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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