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Try an Italian Agriturismo for Lodging with a Personal TouchIt warms the heart to know that at the end of a long drive, a savory home- cooked dinner will soon be prepared just for you. No, we’re not talking about a visit to Grandma’s house, but rather a stay at one of Italy’s agriturismos.
When in Italy, there is no need to stay in a humdrum hotel when there are so many other options, from working farms, vineyards, artisan attics to even a castle or two. Click here to read more...
Cremona, Italy, Gave Birth to Stradivari and His ViolinThe sounds shimmering off the strings of the 280-year-old Stradivarius violin held each member of the audience in rapt attention.
I sat among them, clutching a 1.50-Euro ticket that had admitted me to the Saletta dei Violini in Cremona — the former home of Antonio Stradivari — for this rare listening experience.
There are three main reasons for visiting Cremona, Italy, a picturesque medieval town on the banks of the Po River about an hour from Milan. It is the birthplace of Antonio Stradivari and the violin, it has the tallest bell tower in Italy and it is believed to be where the white nougat candy with nuts called torrone originated. Click here to read more...
GPS: Sometimes, It Saves You; Sometimes, It Throws You for a Wrong TurnA global positioning system unit can give you confidence driving in an unfamiliar area one minute and a nervous breakdown the next.
I recently took several trips with two different GPS units, and while I enjoyed using them I have a word of advice: Don’t throw away your road map just yet.
GPS units for the car offer a slew of features that can reduce the stress of navigating new terrain. Click here to read more...
Italy’s Sesto Dolomites Put Hikers on a Jagged EdgeNow I know how Frodo felt hiking across the steep, barren landscape of Mordor wondering if he would survive.
For I was trekking through a similar scene: the craggy, jagged limestone rock faces of the Sesto Dolomites as they rose up to pierce the sky.
The mountains are a challenge to hikers — but one many accept. A series of trails dotted with rifugio (rustic guest houses that offer food and lodging) crisscross this incredible terrain in northern Italy. People, like ants marching in single file, spread across them in all directions, trekking along the trails that rise toward their destinations, then disappear. Click here to read more...
Finding a Little Elbow Room in Florence
With the heat and hordes of tourists pounding the cobblestone streets of the Italian city in the summer and fall, it’s important to know how to avoid the crowds and stay cool when visiting this world-class city of art.
Most important sights are within walking distance of the train station. Although Florence’s old town center is pedestrian-friendly, strolling around it can be brutal, with slow-moving mobs and little shade from the Tuscan sun.
With a little planning, however, you can experience the best Florence has to offer and skip the worst of the heat and crowds. Click here to read more...
Bringing a Bit of Florence’s Artistic Flair HomeFlorence is credited with being the birthplace of the Renaissance and the center for art and culture in Italy. Some 500 years later, the city is still known for its artists, producing objects that are both fine art and souvenirs.
Many of these modern-day artists gather in the courtyard outside the Uffizi Gallery, offering on-the-spot portraits and cartoon sketches, along with Tuscan landscapes and other original works of art.
These artists have a lot in common with their predecessors because they, too, struggle to make a living in Florence as an artist. But are they, like those greats, also capable of producing art that can make your heart sing? Walk through the Uffizi courtyard, look at the art and decide for yourself.
When traveling, I enjoy seeing what kind of work artists on the street are doing. In Rome, the Piazza Navona has its collection of street artists, and Paris has artists offering to do portraits near the Eiffel Tower and other locations. Click here to read more...
With 4,631 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder that Italy boasts scenic stretches that attract visitors from around the world.
Western Italy’s Craggy Coastline Lures Travelers Off Beaten Path
The names Cinque Terre, Capri and Amalfi Coast conjure visions of la dolce vita at its very best. They are part of the siren’s song drawing travelers in search of the perfect seaside getaway.
However, if you’re looking for miles of white sandy beaches, you may be in for a letdown when you hit Italy’s western coast. Instead of sand for sand castles, you may find stones that are better suited for skipping across the water.
Or you may need to learn to follow the natives to find the best place to enjoy the sea. This is particularly true of the five fishing villages known as Cinque Terre that cling to the coastal cliffs northwest of La Spezia. Here the siren calls to visitors to leave their cares, and their cars, at the edge of town and explore the coast on foot.
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