Rome Architecture … Continued

Rome is both a modern and an ancient city. You can have all the conveniences of a modern city at your disposal while you walk the same cobblestones as the Roman army walked. Go to old Rome next to the Colosseum and imagine life back then. They watched tournaments in the Colosseum then went off to the baths. Old Rome is a ruin but you can see the pillars and the outline of buildings that were part of old Rome. Imagine, as you walk these streets, the Romans that walked here before you.

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Old Rome

As you walk the different areas of Rome, you can see the most beautiful architecture. The Vatican, which is a separate country from Italy is within walking distance of the most popular Rome sites.

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St Peter’s and the Popes Balcony

Castel Saint’Angelo is a short walk from the Vatican. It has a beautiful bridge with angels on it that leads you over the Tiber River.

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Castel Sant’Angelo

Not far from this beautiful bridge is the Pantheon. On the way you pass one of our favorite Gelato stores.

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Pantheon

No tour of Rome is complete without a climb of the famous Spanish Steps.

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Spanish Steps

Here you can see my wife, Jo Anne coming off the steps and heading to the nearby fountain. In front of the Spanish Steps is Roman’s shopping district. It has many wonderful but expensive stores. Stroll up and down each street and get a feel for Roman fashion.

Not far away is the famous Trevi Fountain. It has just been restored to its original glory. This fountain can get very crowded. Watch for pickpockets! Try different times of the day and night. The fountain in the dark is totally different from the fountain in the daytime.

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Trevi Fountain

All of this architecture and the people, food and wine! How can you not go?

George

 

Categories: Architecture, Castel Sant'Angelo, Coliseum, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rome Adventure

A few yeas ago I introduced Jo Ann, my wife, to Italy and Rome.I knew she would love the food, wine and people but she loves architecture. What better place to see great architecture than Rome. The Romans were masters at understanding nature and gravity. They had running water in toilettes and at sinks. The water came from mountains hundreds of miles away and travelled along an aqueduct built by them to Rome. The aqueduct had to be sloped down the whole way so the water would run towards Rome. Sometimes they had to build tunnels through mountains that were in the way.

Aqueduct 1 Aqueduct 2

Aqueducts

I love the look of the Rome aqueducts. They are such marvels of man.  You can see them in many places around Rome. The Romans loved their baths which had to be supplied with plenty of water and then heated. Their homes and public places all need running water. We don’t think a lot about our running water with our modern pumps and towers but the Romans did all this 2,000 years ago with no technology. All the Roman’s had was a good understanding of Physics.

Go to Italy and Rome for the museums, the people, the food, the wine, the sites but go to Rome also to see the great architecture.

 

Categories: Aqueducts, Architecture, Europe, Italy, Rome | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What is Southern Italy like in the Winter

Southern Italy, the Mezzogiorno, has a mediterranean climate but the weather is globally changing and can surprise you. Normally the winters are cooler than the summers but very enjoyable. Naples Italy ranges from 50’s (in the winter) to high 70’s (in the summer). It is a pleasant climate. Farther south from Naples gets warmer summers but never too hot because there are wonderful sea breezes. El Nino is causing temperature changes around the world. This winter has brought snow to Sicily for two years in a row. This was caused by El Nino. Southern Italy is not prepared for snow even when it lasts only several hours.

The sea is very calm in the summer months. It is like a sheet of glass.

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Summer Sea

In the winter it is a totally different sea. The waves are very violent. You would not want to be in it. It is still beautiful to walk along the beach but not too close to the sea.

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Winter Sea

Both seasons are very beautiful. We get to do everything we want in both Winter and Summer seasons. The beaches are very crowded in August (when most Europeans are off – this is from the days before air conditioners and has stuck as a custom). It is fun because you meet more people from everywhere and everything is open. In the winter months many restaurants near the beaches close on a weeknight and are open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. The winter allows you to meet more locals in a relaxed environment. Sit and talk with them as best you can. We use broken Italian, English with a vowel on the end, and charades. It is not hard to communicate with happy people like the Italians.

Buon Viaggio,

George

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Mezzogiorno, Regions of Italy, Sicily, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Weather in Europe | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Young in Florida 

I have been off my Blogs this week. We are moving from the Philly area to the Tampa Florida area. It is a huge change to sell all your furniture, your hone and move that far away. We are doing it becsuse 8 of the 15 grandkids moved south. You have to set your goals in life and never look back. We will miss very much the family and friends we leave behind.
People always ask us how can you do that. You just nake a decision to change your life and do it. The act of doing it is keeping us young and is very exciting. There are days that can be overwelming but just stay focused and move forward. Making appointments with vendors that show up late is frustrating but you know deep down everything will get done.
The funny white stuff down here is not snow but sand! More on our move and the changes it takes. Now we will have two choices of beaches: Italy or Florida. We have until August, our next trip to Italy, to get the bew place in shape.

George

Categories: Beaches, Europe, Italy | 6 Comments

American vs Italian Drivers

How does driving in Italy compare to driving in America? Well let’s look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of both. We are looking at American drivers being any nationality but a person who drives mostly in America and Italian drivers as being Italian citizens living in Italy and mostly driving there. Driving is a set of rules or laws but it is mostly customs that come about in an area. These customs can be confusing to others or down right scary.

American Drivers – In America the law of do not drive in the far left lane (reserved for passing only) has been abandoned. Many people don’t even know that it is illegal to drive in the left lane in most states. We speed and many municipalities set speed limits low to account for fast drivers. We are not friendly at all. If we see a driver pulling into our lane we speed up to block them. We do obey red lights for the most part. Some people believe two cars can pass on red and still be legal. Stop signs have become yield and yield means go as fast as you can and hope for the best.

Italian Drivers – In Italy all laws are basically just a suggestion! Italian drivers drive very very fast except when they don’t and then they drive really slow. Lanes are just a suggestion. A three lane road can easily become a 5 lane one. I was once told by a limo driver that a green light means Vai Vai (go go), a yellow (amber for us oldies) doesn’t exist and a red light is just a suggestion. Italians abide as if declared by the pope, the rule of left lanes are for passing and very high-speed drivers. You are expected to move to the right if someone is coming up behind you (unless you are in far right lane). Most Italians drivers abide by this rule. They are friendlier than we are on the road. If on a one lane road each way, someone wants to pass and moves into oncoming traffic, each driver moves to far right of their lanes creating a new lane for the driver passing. In America this driver and the other two would be dead!

So who wins as best driver? I have to say the Italians because they are more friendly to their fellow drivers. Both Americans and Italians are fast drivers and can drive in crazy ways. I have been driving in Italy both in the north and the south for a very long time now. I tend to drive like an American when in America and like an Italian when I am in Italy. It works for me. Let’s not even talk about parking in each country…

George

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, General Travel, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wines of Italy

Italy is well-known for its great wins as well as very good table wines. Italian wines are government controlled and the Italian wines are classified as:

  • DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) — controlled and guaranteed designation of origin
  • DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata) — controlled designation of origin
  • IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
  • Table Wine (Vino da Tavola)

Read the article, In Italy, vineyards worth traveling across half the world.

Italy has your wine, whatever your wine tastes are. Enjoy wine with your meals as the Italians do. Remember wine tasting is an arousal of your senses:

  1. Look at the color of the wine. Reds should have a deep color while whites should be clear.
  2. A dark almost brown edge around the wine indicates an aged wine. A very dark edge might indicate the wine is passed its time and bad.
  3. Swirl the wine in your glass to release its bouquet. A wine glass should never be filled to the top.
  4. Put your nose in the glass and smell the aromas. A full glass might drown you.
  5. Close your eyes and try to imagine the smells.
  6. Now sip the wine and swirl it in your mouth to get the odors into the back of your throat and nose.
  7. Swallow and complete the taste.

Did you enjoy the wine? Wine is one of the most complex substances on Earth. Enjoy it slowly and fully. An Enoteca in Italy is a place to test many different wines. They usually serve small dishes of food to clear your palate and better enjoy your wine tasting experience.

George

 

Categories: Enoteca, Europe, Italy, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feelings of Living in Italy

Many people ask us, what it is like to live in Italy? A foreign country intrigues some and scares the hell out of others. We love our area of Italy it is in the Campania region south of both Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Our hamlet is called Velina, which is part of the city of Castelnuovo Cilento. To be even more confusing the whole area is referred to as part of Casal Velino. Velina is a small town that has stores for food, clothing and miscellaneous items. It has a post office, church and cell phone store.

When I am there it is all about the friendliness of the people, the sounds, the smells, the tastes and the visuals. Lets look at each of these and how I feel about them:

 

  • People – We are known to be foreigners by our look and dress but if you greet someone with Buon Giorno (good Day), you will get a smile and a Buon Giorno in return. These are people who enjoy life, family and their way of living.
  • Sounds – I go to sleep and wake up at our condo to the wonderful sounds of a rooster, birds and an occasional dog bark. There are also church bells early in the morning. You can hear the train go by below us. These have become sounds I look forward to and expect when I am there. They gently rock me to sleep at night and slowly wake me in the morning.
  • Smells – Italy has wonderful food smells. As we walk through our small village and enter stores we are aroused by the smells of bread, cheeses, sweet rolls, chocolate and of course Cafè. We have grown accustomed to these smells and look forward to them. They bring on a level of awareness and hunger. What a great way to start a day. Buon Giorno a tutti (good morning to all).
  • Tastes – Now that we are awake we head to one of the local bars for a Cafè and cornetto (Croissant like pastry). Now the coffee awakens us more and hits our sense of taste. It is strong and has a wonderful flavor. The cornetto is softer than a croissant but is delicious. You can get it plain, filled with a light cream, filled with chocolate or filled with jelly. They are tasty and never over sweet. The fillings are small for flavor never over filled.
  • Visuals – Now fully awake we can take in and enjoy the visuals all around us. We have the wonderful sea, the huge mountains, the towns, the architecture and the people. On market day we get an added visual of all the stalls selling clothes and foods. This adds more to our sense of smell and sometimes we taste a sample.

Yes we love Italy a country that really gets it.

George

Categories: Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Chocolate, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Traveling without a tour, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

International Cuisine … Really?

I once saw a show on Cyprus last night that was talking about all the international visitors that went there. It then said it had an international cuisine and showed McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and several other American fast food chains. I have news for you, Fast Food is NOT cuisine! If you go to a foreign country and eat American Fast Food, you are missing out on the true gems of that country. Countries like Italy have unbelievably good food. It is NOT the same as Italian food in America. It is soooo much better. Go, see, experience and enjoy the food and wine.

American Fast Food

I know burgers are important to you but give them up for one vacation and give your taste buds a break. Taste real food made from fresh organic ingredients and prepared perfectly. Caution: DO NOT EAT IN TOURISTY PLACES! Instead seek out real local restaurants that have locals eating in them and enjoy a meal. Here are some food from Italy that will delight your taste buds.

George

 

Categories: Buffalo Mozzarella, Cooking, cornetto, Dolce, Europe, Fast Food, Food, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Risotto, Sweets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cafè and Vino

Vino or wine in Italy is special. Most Italians drink cafè and vino. They are universal drinks in Italy. Cafè is pretty much the same all over Italy. Coffee beans are fresh and roasted to perfection. The people making the cafè are highly trained individuals. You go to a bar to get your cafè and maybe something sweet to eat with it.

cornetto1 Pavoni 2

Vino is different in different parts of Italy. Italy  has many world-class wines like Brunello and Chianti. Their Brunello stands up to the top wines in France or California. It is expensive even in Italy so it is not consumed by most people at the dinner table. Italy has local wines by region. You can find both red and white, dry and sweet varieties. Some are bottled and others are only available in bulk to consumers. Bulk wines are poured from a large cask into what ever vessels the consumer has. They range from water bottles to glass or ceramic pitchers.

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Going to restaurants in Italy yields a large selection of wines in bottles and local wines that are served in 1 liter and 1/2 liter pitchers. These wines are usually very good. Italians pride themselves on their wines. The next time in Italy try a 1/2 liter of a local wine. These will vary greatly by region and city within Italy. You could spend a life time sampling all the different local wines throughout Italy. Enjoy …

George

 

Categories: Bars, Cafè, Ceramics, Europe, Italy, Sweets, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gelato

What can I say about Gelato? Yes it is Italian Ice Cream but it is so much better! Do you like soft ice cream? When you were a kid (and maybe as an adult), did you stir your ice cream to make it soft? Ice cream was never intended to be served frozen. Once ice crystals form the texture is changed. It is no longer creamy. Staring softens the crystals and allows the creamy texture to return. The best ice cream is one that has never been frozen. Ice cream is perishable and because of that we freeze it hard. My solution is to serve it at the proper temperature without ice crystals and eat it up so none is left to go bad. Do you agree?

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Gelato is a different recipe than ice cream. Ice cream legally has to be at least 10% fat but gelato is more milk to cream so the fat content is more like 5% to 7%. Gelato is also stirred less and at slower speeds. This causes less air to get into the mixture and creates a denser consistently. The real test is in tasting it. Everyone that goes to Italy and stops in a gelateria knows how delicious gelato is. That first taste in your mouth delivers a wonderful texture and great flavors. What a way to cool down on a hot day.

Gelato may not be enough of a justification to go to Italy but if you are there, you must try it! In any gelateria, they will give you tastes of several flavors on very small spoons. Then you can order what you want. You order it by how many scoops you want. Each can be the same flavor or different flavors. Remember in Italy most bars and gelaterias require you to pay first and take the receipt to the counter to order.

My favorite flavor is nocciola (Hazelnut). It is light brown in color and has a wonderful nutty flavor. What is your favorite flavor?

George

 

Categories: Bars, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, hazelnut, Italy, Nocciola, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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