Caves of Italy

Italy is so mountainous that it has many caves. Do you like caves? I love big open caves that show the spectacular results of nature at work. Italy has some fantastic caves you can visit. ABOUT.COM lists the caves open for visitors to see. Caves are beautiful to experience. If you are planning a trip to Italy and will be near one of these caves, go see it!  The caves of Frasassi (Grotte di Frasassi) have stalactite and stalagmite formations so large that Milan’s Duomo (the world’s largest gothic cathedral can fit inside it. Some of these caves require reservations. Be sure to look up the cave of interest for cost and reservation requirements. Enjoy your underground experience.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Caves, Europe, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paris in the Spring Time

It is not Spring time yet but Paris is a beautiful city even in the rain. The architecture is magnificent, the food is great and the wine is memorable. We took a couple on a tour of Paris last spring time. It was their first trip so we hit the top tourist attractions:

  1. Musée du Louvre
  2. Musée d’Orsay
  3. Eiffel Tower
  4. Notre-Dame
  5. Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre
  6. Arc de Triomphe
  7. Sainte-Chapelle
  8. Hotel des Invalides
  9. Pantheon
  10. Versailles

Eifell Tower Base

We also walked neighborhoods like the left bank, right bank, Champs-Elysées, and Montmartre. We stayed near my favorite street in Paris, Montorgueil. This pedestrian walk way has many small cafes, fish stores, fruit stands, fresh vegetable stands, etc. There is even a Starbucks but we prefer a French espresso in the mooring with a flakey croissant. Only the French and only in Paris is the croissant done correctly. George often tells people, if after eating one there is not a mess of crumbs on you, it is not a good croissant.

We also be made two side trips outside of Paris (in addition to Versailles which is in a suburb of Paris).

  1. Reims (Champagne Region) – No trip to France should be done without a trip to Champagne for a tasting of real French Champagne. We  toured the Tattinger cellars in Reims. Reims is a beautiful city with its own Notre Dame (Our Lady). Many French cities have one commemorating the Blessed Mary. We took a high-speed train (200 MPH) from Paris (Gare Est – East Train Station) to Reims. It was a 45 minute trip on the high-speed train (one and a half hours on the normal train).
  2. Gilverny – Monet’s house. Gilverny is another beautiful small french city. It can be reached by train from Paris (Gare St-Lazare – St. Lazare train station).

Paris in the Spring will be beautiful and memorable. Every bucket list should include a romantic stop in Paris!

Sacre Couer

Sacre-Couer

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cafè, Champagne, Europe, Food, France, French Foods, Gelato, General Travel, Pantheon, Paris, Romance, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I left my Heart in Positano

Positano is heaven on Earth! I have written often of this enchanting place. The town is in the Campania region of Italy and the views, the people, the food and the wine are excellent. It is located south of Naples and South-East of Sorrento. There are no trains to here. You will need a car, bus or private car for hire to get here.

This should be a destination on everyone’s Bucket List. You do need to be some what able to walk and climb stairs. Positano is a city built on the side of a very steep mountain. It starts at its two beaches and rapidly climbs up on millions of steps. From the top of this city to the beach can be 1,000 or more steps. There are two roads only in this small town. Ones skirts the edges of the town and is the famous Amalfi Coast Highway (it runs from Sorrento in the West to Salerno in the East). This can be walked, we did it but the traffic can be heavy and cars move by very fast. The other road starts high up on the mountain at the Amalfi Highway and winds down to just above the beach and then part of the way back up to meet the Amalfi Highway at the other end of town. It is a one way road down. You can walk it and it will wind up or down bypassing many steps. Walking back up is steep but doable. There are many shops and restaurants along this road as well as fantastic views. There are hotels along the road as well.

At the bottom of the road (in the center of Positano) just before it climbs back up to the Amalfi Highway is a pedestrian walkway to the church and beach. At the start of this walkway is the local bus stop. You can take this in a loop up the Amalfi Highway and back down the road again. After a long day of walking this may be a great option for getting back up the mountain. You will rapidly fall in love with Positano. If you drive here there are several parking garages along the small one-way road. They are about 1/4 of the way down on a sharp turn.

From the large beach at the church you walk a pathway over to the small beach. You can also catch a ferry to many cities along the Amalfi Coast including Naples, Sorrento, the Isle of Capri, Amalfi and Salerno. If you are driving the Amalfi Coast Highway goes from Sorrento through Positano and Amalfi to Salerno. It is narrow and tight. It is also very crowded in the summer. At the small beach side of the walkway, just before the end, is a great restaurant/pizzeria. It has indoor and outdoor seating and great views of the sea.

The beaches here are not sand but small lava stones. Never the less they can be very crowded. The water is calm in the summer but wild in the winter. The small beach has a hotel and several restaurants on the beach. The large beach has many stores and restaurants on the beach.

Watch the video below as the author arrives in Positano on a ferry, walks around and then departs on a ferry. This, after all, is a very romantic place. We rented a private home 110 steps up from the small one-way road. It had a deck with the best views in the world.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Parking Garage, Pizza, Positano, Romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Handle Long Flights

Visiting Europe means long flight times. Italy is one of the longest. How do you pass the time on a long flight to Europe? Rome is about 8 hours going and 9.5 returning. At first it seems way too long to be seated. The new rules don’t let you stand around so most of the time you are in your seat on your butt! Going to Europe is almost always an overnight flight. I try to get some sleep. It may not be the best sleep but at least it is a little. It is dark outside and they dim the cabin lights so it is not too difficult to sleep. If you are a person that can not sleep on a plane then watch movies, play games or read to help pass the time.

Once you arrive you are tired, after all you are starting a brand new day with little or no sleep. Don’t make the common mistake of taking a nap at the hotel. It is very important to force yourself to stay awake. You can crash early in the evening but make it to at least 7 or 8. If you nap your body never switches time zones. You will wake up in the middle of the night starving because it’s food time back home. If you had forced yourself to stay awake until evening, you will sleep sound and wake up on the new time zone ready for a new day. Your adrenaline should help keep you awake that first day. After all you are in a new country and a new city. Stay busy and see interesting things. It will help keep you awake and moving.

The flight home is a little depressing. It’s longer, you are going home and your vacation is over. There is no adrenaline to help. I find most flights back to the states from Europe are in the late morning arriving mid afternoon. The sun is out the whole way. The cabin is well-lit. When you land it’s 9 pm or earlier in your European time zone. It’s not hard to stay awake. Watch movies or read. Keep busy and the time will pass. When you finally get home its late afternoon or early evening. Stay awake until around 7 or 8 pm again. Now you can sleep, its midnight to 2 am in your European time zone. Wake up the next day back on your USA time zone.

Traveling can have its hardships but following these few simple rules will help make your trip more enjoyable.

Enjoy your trip and travel smart!

George & Jo

Categories: Europe, Flights, Food, Italy | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Stay in Shape in Italy

So you are traveling to Italy. You will be eating a lot of good food, drinking wine or beer. How can you stop gaining weight?

Sure in Italy it is all good, the wine, gelato, pastries, pizza and great Italian food. How do we enjoy all of these and not put on weight? It’s easy! First Italian wheat has no GMOs. GMOs are associated with weight gain. Their food is still pure and fresh. Second you exercise a lot when you travel in Italy, or you should. I am not talking about a gym. You don’t need a gym. Just walk and take the stairs.

  • Hotels – have very small elevators. Use the stairs to your room and to breakfast.
  • Around Town – Walk to the tourist sites and restaurants you want to visit. There are great Metros (subways) in Italy but most cities have a small old city areas and it can be walked.
  • Steep Cities on Mountains – Cities like Positano are full of stairs and a steep road. Take stairs and if you tired take the road (it is still exercise since it is so steep). We stayed at a place in Positano that was 104 steps above the nearest road.
  • Monuments – Museums, churches and galleries have steps. Some do have elevators but take the stairs.
  • After Lunch Walk – Italians close businesses after lunch so they can be with family and walk together. Enjoy a slow walk around town. Meet people and greet them.

You will find you can eat like the Italians and keep a trim waist like them as well. You are in Italy so be Italian!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Beer, Eating Italian, Europe, Exercise, Food, Gelato, Italy, Pastries, Pastry, Pizza, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thinking of Better Weather

As we deal with heat waves all around the world, my thoughts are of Spring or Fall. Here in the North-East we have had very hot and muggy temperatures. In Velina, southern Italy, it has been hotter than anyone remembers. We were in Paris last Spring and at our house in Velina Italy in late August and early September. I can feel the sun and smell the beach at Casal Velino Marina, Italy. I am tired of the high heat! Bring on Europe in the Spring and fall.

Where do you want to be now? We all survive by thinking of those happy moments in our lives. They energize us. Go out, plan and take a trip to someplace new. Create some new moments for yourself. You deserve it! Wherever you go, take time to relax, watch the locals, be romantic. Life is short. Enjoy it!

Eifell Tower Basecilento

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Campania, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Europe, France, Italy, Paris, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Velina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cilento National Park, Italy

Nationalpark Cilento

Nationalpark Cilento (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our small condo is in the Cilento National Park, Campania Italy. The park is huge and  well-preserved. The Italian government stopped most new construction. This stops big resort type hotels from building on the sea. It preserves the beauty of this area for a long time. Here is a BLOG on this park as well as near by Diano National Park. If you like hiking, camping, horseback riding or just a day at a perfect beach, this is the area for you.

Cilento Nat Park

The beach towns here have all won the coveted Blue Flag award for clean beaches. These beaches are soft sand, gentle surf and family oriented. They have free areas were you can bring your own chairs and umbrella or you can pay to enter a private club area. These will give you chairs, table and umbrella. They also sell food, wine, beer and liquor. Most have free WiFi and music. This is how to do beach on steroids!

Explore the nearby mountain towns, tan yourself on the beaches and enjoy the National Park. It is all nearby your hotel.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Beaches, Cilento, Europe, Food, Italy, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, WiFi, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Campania, Italy

(English version) Category:Maps of Campania Ca...

(English version) Category:Maps of Campania Campania Campania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Campania, Italy is a beautiful area including Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi. It also includes so much more. You know how much we love this area of Italy. We bought a house there.

The Province of Campania includes the regions of:

  1. Caserta
  2. Benevento
  3. Naples
  4. Avellino
  5. Salerno

Cilento is in the Salerno region.

It has some of the most beautiful mountains and some of the best beaches in all of Europe. Cilento is one of the largest national parks in Italy. It has a building code to prevent new building of condos, hotels, etc that will ruin the sea views and beaches. If this type of living interests you, visit Campania.

You can visit ancient Greek ruins in Paestum, large cities like Salerno and Agropoli and visit the famous Amalfi Coast. All of southern Italy is within a several hour drive. Sicily is just a ferry ride across the boot from mainland Italy.

 

There is a rainy season in November and December that can have rain almost every day or mild sunny days. The rain can be heavy and have strong thunder storms. This too is a beautiful side of nature but can ruin a trip if you are unaware. Choose your season and enjoy Italy. I would also avoid August as all of Europe is in vacation and beaches and towns are very crowded.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Agropoli, Amalfi Coast, Campania, Cilento, Europe, Ferries, Greek Ruins, Italy, Paestum, Salerno, Sicily, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South-Eastern Italy

Bari, Italy is located in provence of Bari, southern Italy on the Adriatic Sea. It is at the ankle just above the heel of the boot. Bari is 2 Hr and 45 min south-east of Naples. From Bari you can visit many interesting areas:

  • Alberobello – Is a UNESCO site. The Trulli homes are whitewashed conical shaped homes. This beautiful city is about an hour south of Bari.

Trulli Homes

  • Matera – Is the capital of the region of Basilicata. It is located in a small canyon. Homes were built out of the rock on the hillside. It is known as la Città Sotterranea (the subterranean city). The historical center, known as Sassi, is another UNESCO site. Originally built in the Palaeolithic period (The son age – 2.6 million years ago to about 10,000 BC). This is truly a unique place to visit.

sassi

  • Taranto – Inside the heel of the boot. This on the Ionian Sea. Located in region of Apulia. Known for its beaches. Taranto is 1.5 hours south of Bari and about the same from Matera or about 1 hour 10 min from Alberobello.

Taranto 1 Taranto 2

It is about 3 hours and 30 minutes back to Naples. Or you can continue 4.5 hours south-west to the toe of the boot, Messina. This is where you get the ferry to Sicily.

Pictures of Palazzo Fizzarotti in Bari in Puglia region of southern Italy.  Watch this interesting set of pictures taken in Bari. Italy has so many diverse settings from its glorious mountains to its majestic seas. Bari is a beach you don’t want to miss. The video below takes you through the area of Bari. Enjoy and visit Bari soon.

Don’t forget to stop at a trattoria order some local food and wine and as you are enjoying it, watch the people go by.

Bari dal Chiringuito

Bari dal Chiringuito (Photo credit: Andrea Giudiceandrea)

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Adriatic Sea, Alberobello, Bari, Driving in Italy, Europe, Ionian Sea, Italy, Matera, Messina, Naples, Small Towns, Taranto | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lombard Region Cooking

The Lombardy region of Italy is in the north and contains Milan, Largo Guarda and Largo Como. It contains the most people and has a diverse cooking style. Some of the foods known in this region are:

  1. Veal
  2. Risotto
  3. Polenta
  4. Cow’s milk cheeses
  5. White Truffles

Most American’s think of this area as heavy creamy sauces but those are for the tourists. Milano has great pizzas, meat dishes, vegetables and cheeses. During the end of the year is truffle season and you can get fantastic pasta or veal with white truffles. These are expensive but worth a try. Milan is often overlooked as a tourist destination but I think it’s a great city. It is the fashion capital f the world. It has well dressed people and fashion is everywhere. Sit and try a pizza or a pasta. Visit the Duomo (cathedral), Galleria, and Opera House. Become a Milanese and enjoy life with a glass of wine.

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba - Italy....

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba – Italy. photo by Simone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The north & south go Italy are very different cultures and people. Both have a lot to offer. Enjoy your visit.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cooking, Duomo, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Lombardy, Milan, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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