Posts Tagged With: Travel Guides

The Wines of Italy

Italy is known for some of the best wines in the world. Wine in Italy is common. Everyone drinks it and most families make it. You have world-renowned wines like Chianti, Barolo and Brunello. You have Prosecco, Italy’s fantastic sparkling wine. But each region of Italy specializes in different wine grapes and wines. Most small towns make local wine and serve it in restaurants and trattorias by the liter or half litter. Wine is a way of life in Italy.

Come join us as we celebrate the different wines of Italy in this YouTube video:

– George Febish

Categories: Bars, Beaches, Chianti, Enoteca, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Regions of Italy, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, VLOG, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Why I love Italy

This is a different VLOG for me. In this one I talk about the reasons I love Italy and give tips to both first time travelers to Italy well as experienced Italian travelers.

The video covers several sections:

  • Why I love Italy
  • Top Reasons I love Italy
  • Museums
  • What to do in Italy
  • Finding Places to Eat
  • The Metro (Subway)
  • Time to go
  • Hotels
  • Currency (Euros)
  • Airfares
  • Hopper App
  • Driving in Italy
  • Put Italy on your Bucket List

If Italy is not on your bucket list, it should be. Watch the video below and see why so many people love and go to Italy.

– George

Categories: Air Fares, Autostrada, Beach Resorts, Beaches, BLOG, Church, Cooking, Dolce, Dolce far niente, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Exchange Rates, Ferries, Flights, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italian language, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Metro Travel, Money, Museums, Parking Garage, Parking Meters, Passegiata, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Romance, Shopping, Small Towns, Towns, Trains, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour, VLOG, Walking, Weather in Europe, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

Top Places to Visit in Southern Italy

Southern Italy has so much to offer. It is different from the north but has great places to see, great food to taste and wonderful people to meet. First let’s look at some of the differences:

  1. Fish – Is the main food in the south. There are meat dishes but great fresh fish is so prevalent.
  2. Language – Italy is barely 150 years old. It was formed by individual and warring states (small countries). As the Italian country was formed, Italian became the official language as it was spoken in Bologna. Each small state had their own languages and dialects. To this day the dialect is still spoken.
  3. Beaches – The south has many of its cities built on the coast. Beaches are important. Each seaport had a walled castle town in the mountains nearby. These would protect the people from pirates. These have become major resort areas for Italians and other Europeans.
  4. Wines – Wines and Olive Oil are a local made commodity throughout Italy. They differ by region and should be experienced as you travel. Always order the local wine.

The main places that should be on your bucket list are:

  1. Naples – Modern Naples is trying to clean up its act as a dangerous city. It is very old and poor but there is so much to see here. Most of what we think is Italian in America comes from the south and much of it from Naples. This is the birth place of Pizza and spaghetti with red sauce.
  2. Amalfi Coast – This very rich area is the vacation spot of the rich and famous. The island of Capri, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello are very beautiful. Each town is built on a mountain side and worth a visit. This is an area of ferries, steps and steep hills.
  3. Casal Velino Marina & Ascea – Two resort towns with beautiful sandy beaches. Ascea has a train station and Casal Velino Marina is very close to the north.
  4. Alberobello – A very unusual town with dome-shaped homes. You can not change the architecture of a building in this town. These homes are called Trulli.Alberobello
  5. Sicily – This is a beautiful island with many ruins, great cities and an active volcano. Many Italians argue it is not part of Italy.
  6. Ischia Island – This is a beautiful island off the coast of Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ischia is the name of the main port town on the island. The architecture is old and city is beautiful.
  7. Procida Island – Is another island between Ischia and Naples. The architecture is middle ages and a great place to explore.
  8. Matera – A town in the region of Basilicata southern Italy. The historical center is well-known and called the Sassi. Homes were built into the side of a mountain. This is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. It is dated from the Paleolithic Period.

There so many other small mountain and beach towns that are worth a mention but too numerous to list. Just get out and explore each region.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Alberobello, Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Beaches, Capri, Casal Velino Marina, Europe, Ferries, Food, General Travel, Italy, Matera, Mountain Towns, Naples, Pizza, Positano, Ravello, Sassi, Sicily, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Stairs, Trains, Traveling without a tour, Truilly, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Plan a Trip in Italy – Part 2

OK, you have decided to go to Italy, you have a date when you want to go and you know the region(s) of Italy you want to visit. What now? Now you have to gather information on those areas and what you want to see. The Internet and guide books are invaluable. Use sites like Trip Advisor to gather other people’s opinions but be aware that not everyone thinks like you or enjoys the same things as you do.

Now buy a guide-book in paperback or an eBook that will list the major attractions. We like DK’s Top 10 books.

DK top Ten Travel Books

They list the top ten things to see and then at each of the top ten places the top ten items to see in that place. The books are small so can easily be carried. Smartphones are important for GPS and finding places to eat near you. We love to walk and get lost and then turn on our GPS, set it to our hotel and put it in walk mode and walk back. What did we do before smartphones?

Read each recommended place to see and decide if this is something that you want to do. If it is written it down with its address. Then look at what is inside that you want to see. A good example is the Louvre in Paris. You can not possibly see everything. List those works of art you must see and where they are located. Then set a course to see each one.

Once you have all the places you want to see build a map where things are so you can hit several places located near each other at the same time. This will prevent walking back to an area you were in yesterday to see something else. Make note of recommended restaurants near major sites. Beware of tourists trap places as the cost is higher and food will not be as good.

Now you are ready to plan your hotel and Itinerary. Be excited! You are on your way to Italy. This part of planning is fun. Have a glass of wine and get into a romantic spirit.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, General Travel, GPS, Italy, Regions of Italy, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Smartphone Apps on Vacation

If you have a smart phone or are thinking of getting one and you are planning a trip to Europe, take it with you. We have an iPhone 6 Plus’ and call AT&T before going. AT&T offers reduced call costs in Europe, a data plan for Europe and texting for a fee and it costs only $30/month. The phones work fine. We have had no problems at all. If you are at a hotel with WiFi, you don’t need a data plan and can text other iPhones for free using the WiFi. Some apps that are useful are:

  • Tom-Tom GPS – This is a great GPS program that doesn’t use Internet (unless you are looking up a place by name). We bought the Western Europe version for $50. We have had it since our iPhone 4s and we both share it for the one cost.
  • Airline Apps – Most airlines have apps to check-in, check on flights and book new reservations. They also usually work with the iPhones Passport. You can show your phone at check-in and security instead of paper.
  • My TSA – Is an app that has the latest TSA rules and regulations.
  • Metro App – This is a handy app that allows you to download subway maps from many of the world’s cities
  • Expedia, Orbitz, Trip Advisor, etc. – These apps give you access to hotels, cars and flights from anywhere in the world.
  • GateGuru – Shows gates at many large airports and what stores and restaurants are nearby.
  • Language Apps – These allow you to translate languages in either direction. This can be handy in a country that you don’t speak the language. There are also apps that allow you to take a picture from your camera or the Internet and translate the foreign text.
  • Vino Volo – If your airport has a Vino Volo, it is a great place to start your vacation. Have a glass of wine and something to eat. The app gets you free membership which gives free sampling.

If you get lost just use your map app and plug-in your hotel address (get a card as you leave your hotel). Make sure you have it set to walk not drive (unless you are driving) and get instructions back to your hotel. You can use this to find museums, monuments and gardens as well or just an interesting restaurant.

The subway apps are fantastic. We used the Paris Metro App to find the nearest metro stop to where we were and then to plot a course on the metro to where we wanted to go. It tells you which direction to take train, how many stops to go, which trains to switch to and your final stop. The map app can then pick up from the metro stop to your destination.

Your smart phone becomes your European guide-book but so much more powerful than any book could be. Many apps offer a guided tour through a museum or monument. Make sure you bring your headphones.

What did we do before smart phones? Paper maps were so hard to use!

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Car Rentals, Driving in Italy, Europe, General Travel, GPS, Hotels, Metro Travel, Museums, Phones, Smart Phones | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What to see in Italy?

Italy has unending beauty and places to visit. Do your homework and pick places that have an interest to you. Rail Europe lists the top ten cities to visit in Italy in reverse order:

10. Ventimiglia

Many people hop between the neighboring border towns of Nice and Ventimiglia with a train ticket. A trip so close, and made even easier with a France-Italy Rail Pass. You’ll find both French and Italian regional lines service Ventimiglia. More than a train hub, Ventimiglia has a stunning, quintessentially Italian medieval city center. As it always has, its classic architecture stands guard on a hilltop over the Gulf of Genoa, but now with the new city between them. Make sure you visit Ventimiglia’s famous Friday Outdoor Market!

9. Bologna

Why not visit the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna, founded in 1088? Naturally, there’s plenty to study: from medieval, renaissance and baroque monuments to modern-day industrial marvels like Ducati, headquartered there. More high-speed thrills? Travel by train from Bologna to Verona in just under an hour.

8. Verona

What do you call a city dramatic enough to be the setting of three Shakespearean plays, and interesting enough to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site? This is Verona. Along the Adige River, this picture-perfect city of cobblestone streets lined with medieval buildings, Roman sites and churches is second to none for inspiration. Known for its pink buildings and Juliet balcony (yes, one of those plays was Romeo and Juliet), a visit to this city will immerse you in the classic Italian experience. Want more inspiration? Venice is one of the perfect destinations for it. Verona to Venice is about an hour by train.

7. La Spezia

Located on the Gulf of La Spezia, this port city is a bustling mix of old and new. This scenic waterfront is perfect for arrival by train from Verona (via Milan) with a Eurail Italy Pass. Today, this modern-day port stands in stunning contrast to the spectacle of its antiquity and charm. So much charm that many poets have found inspiration here, from Byron to Shelley to DH Lawrence. It is, in fact, referred to as “the Gulf of Poets.” What will it inspire in you?

6. Turin

Baroque architecture with the Alps as the ultimate photo backdrop. Site of the 2006 winter games. And, of course, the Shroud of Turin. The amazing city of Turin is one of contrasts that include a café society of truffles, wine and other extravagances, and Turin Cathedral, home to the Shroud of Turin. (Please note that while The Museum of the Holy Shroud is open daily, the shroud is only displayed once every ten years.) Next stop? Milan. Aboard Frecciarossa trains, Turin to Milan is just about an hour’s journey.

5. Milan

High style all around. The Italian center of finance, industry and commerce, as well as a global capital of fashion, industrial design and architecture. Milan is also the home of “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Don’t miss the spectacular Duomo, which took over 6 centuries to complete. (And don’t forget to get your Milano Card for easy transportation and discounts all over town.) Also, remember it’s just as easy to arrive from Paris to Milan by the high-speed TGV trains.

4. Naples

The birthplace of pizza has drawn many hungry visitors, including those hungry for culture: its historic center is the largest in Europe, covering over 4,000 acres and 27 centuries. It’s almost unreal how much this port city has to offer — including hydrofoils to the Isle of Capri and the Blue Grotto. Naples is a must-see for every history/arts/culinary/naval/political/cinema-buff. And so is Venice. Naples to Venice is about a 4 hours and 45 minutes journey by train.

3. Venice

Venice, the land of gondola-filled canals, ancient trades and water taxis. Enjoy a Grand Canal boat tour and views that have remained basically unchanged for centuries. See how Venetian glass and Venetian paper is made. Shop on the Rialto and along the waterways to roving (and rowing) tenors, as well as the occasional accordion. There is only one Venice, so how could it be #3?

2. Florence

Florence is Italian perfection: the Duomo, the Uffizi Museum Tour, crossing the Arno River on the Ponte Vecchio, the Pitti Palace… everything that makes Italy, Italy, is here in the appropriately titled “cradle of the Renaissance”– except you! You’re not here yet, and nothing makes it easier to get here than the train. On Italo trains, Venice to Florence is about a 2 hours trip, while Florence to Rome is an about 1 hour and 30 minutes of relaxing, stress-free enjoyment. Which is perfect since…

1. Rome

Well, the saying is “all roads lead to Rome”. Fortunately, so do the trains! Travel from Vienna, Innsbruck or Munich to Rome via direct overnight trains. All those “Roman ruins” around Europe, why not visit their birthplace? And where else can you see the Colosseum? Classical architecture buffs will enjoy researching the arch, the dome, and the vault—all developed here. Of course, a Vatican Sistine Chapel Tour is guaranteed to provide a most divine experience. This is it people. This is where the world changed. And when you visit, well, it can change your world too.

We also add:

  1. Capri
  2. Positano
  3. Paestum
  4. Cinque Terre (5 cities)
  5. Siena
  6. Assisi
  7. Perugia
  8. San Gimignano
  9. Matera
  10. Bari
  11. Agropoli (old city)
  12. Castellabate
  13. Amalfi
  14. Sorrento
  15. Orvieto
  16. Pompeii

There are so many interesting places in Italy to enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Bari, Campania, Capri, Castellabate, Europe, Italy, Milan, Mountain Towns, Naples, Orvieto, Paestum, Perugia, Pompeii, Positano, Regions of Italy, Rome, San Gimignano, Siena, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Venice, Verona | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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