The Bread in Italy

Bread has a bad name in America. It is fattening and for the most part has no taste. We became the white bread generation. Soft bread with no real crust or taste. Rye and wheats are not any better. Then you go to Italy (or most of Europe) and you get real bread. It is soft inside but crusty outside. It is always fresh baked. This is the real thing. No preservatives, no Monsanto wheat (at least not yet) and a taste to die for.

Bread in Italy is broken by hand never by a knife. You break a small piece by hand and eat it. You begin to wonder where has this delicious morsel been all your life. Italians eat it plain or in a little olive oil or as a spoon to pick up the left over gravy. In America, we load it with butter because it has no taste. When you try it in Italy try a piece without butter or oil. This is how you taste the bread. It is wonderful.

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You can find this wonderful food everywhere. Restaurants serve it, local supermarkets and small stores sell it. Delis have it as well. It is not hard to find and it is cheap. Enjoy it on your vacation. It will cause you to think of Italy each time you remember the bread.

There is usually a charge for bread even though it is brought out to your table. The charge is not much and worth it. This charge is called a Coperta (blanket or cover charge) on your bill.

Enjoy …

George

 

Categories: Bread, Coperta, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Streets of Italy

Big cities or small, Italy has interesting streets. I love walking the small streets as they wind through a city. Some are pedestrian only which means people and scooters, Scooters are everywhere in Italy. It is a way of life. As you walk along a small street, especially in a small town, you see other small streets off to the left or right. Some curve and disappear out of sight. Others are steep or turn into a set of stairs. You don’t have to be in Positano to find stairs. Italians love them. It is what keeps them in shape as they walk their cities (passeggiata).

It appeals to my sense of adventure to follow these small streets. I love to find out where they go. I also love just getting lost on my small adventures. Don’t worry, we have modern technology in our pockets that can GPS us back to our cars or hotels. I think getting lost is a primordial need we all have. Just give in an do it. You know you want to find out where that street goes to.

I have been in small towns where most of the streets are stairs. You climb and climb until you get to the top. There you usually find a church or a castle. No matter how small a town you are in, you will always find a bar. You can stop for a cafè, drink or sandwich. This is Italy. This is how life is lived. Enjoy it!

Along your adventure look at the doors, the windows and the laundry. It is colorful and photogenic. There is always a new surprise just around the next bend. Discover it.

George

 

Categories: Christmas Lights, Europe, General Travel, GPS, Italy, Mountain Towns, Passegiata, Romance, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Italian Bucket List

I have been very lucky in my travels to Italy. I did a lot of work there and got to see a lot of the country and have lived both in the north and now in the south. I love everything about Italy. In so many ways it has figured out how to live happily. It is no wonder so many people want to go there. There is so much to see.

I have enjoyed its big cities:

  • Milan
  • Verona
  • Venice
  • Bologna
  • Florence
  • Rome
  • Naples

I have also enjoyed its diverse areas:

  • The lakes in the north
  • Tuscany
  • The Adriatic Coast
  • The Tyrrhenian Coast
  • The Amalfi Coast

There are still some places I want to see so this is my current Bucket List:

  • Cinque Terra (north) – These five small towns were once very remote and unseen by most tourists. Then the train came and brought many tourists to this region. There is a walking path connecting each of the five villages. You can also take a boat, Life here is simple and enjoyable.
  • Portofino (north) – This Italian fishing community and high-end vacation resort is famous the world over. The cove here is very picturesque. When I think of Portofino I can hear Andrea Bocelli singing here.
  • Lucca (Central) – A city in tuscany near the sea. It is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls.
  • The Tulli Homes of Alberobello (south) – These unique homes are round with pointy roofs. This is a very unique architecture that is strongly enforced in this city.

trulli italy

  • Matera – Italy’s cave town (south) – Originated in the Paleolithic Period. The cave dwellings here were once slums and have been transformed into luxury housing and rentals. This is one of the most un pique cities in Italy and maybe the world.
  • Sicily (south) – This unique island has so much to offer. From the volcano to its magnificent towns to its Greek ruins. Sicily is easily reached by ferry, train or car. All three methods of travel cross to the island on the ferry.

What is your bucket list for Italy?

George

 

Categories: Alberobello, Amalfi Coast, Bologna, Caves, Cinque Terra, Cinque Terre, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Matera, Milan, Naples, Portofino, Rome, Sicily, Tulli, Venice, Verona | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Vasarian Corridor Florence Italy

Many people go to Florence for the sites, the museums and the food. Most tourists end up on Ponte Vecchio (the old bridge). Few realize that there is an ancient passage above the bridge. It is 1 km long going from  the Medici offices in the Uffizi Museum to their palace home (Palazzo Pitti) on the other side of the bridge. These were bankers and business men that needed to be able to pass safely from home to their offices and back again.

If you look at the Ponte Vecchio on the Uffizi side of the river, you can see a passage go from the museum over the street and then along the river to the bridge. Looking at the top of the bridge you can see the windows of the passage. On the other side of the bridge you can see this ancient passage go inland to the palace.

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Ponte Vecchio

It is still possible to walk it as the Medici once did but you will need a reservation. You have to book it in advance of your trip to Florence. It includes an English-speaking guide and admission to the Uffizi Museum. The price is 89 euros per person. You can book it at this site.

George

Categories: Architecture, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Medici, Museums, Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi, Vasarian Corridor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Italy and Health

Italy has one of the world’s most efficient healthcare systems. The World Health Organization  rates countries on their over all health. Italy’s healthcare system focuses on exercise, happiness and healthy food rather than drugs. The people of this country eat well and eat fresh organic produce that is grown or farmed near their own home. Fruit is seldom shipped but picked locally at the height of freshness and nutrients. It tastes better and is healthier for you.

The Healthiest Countries in the World

1. Singapore
2. Italy
3. Australia
4. Switzerland
5. Japan
6. Israel
7. Spain
8. Netherlands
9. Sweden
10. Germany

The Least Healthiest Countries in the World
1. Swaziland
2. Lesotho
3. Democratic Republic of Congo
4. Chad
5. Mozambique
6. Burundi
7. Malawi
8. Angola
9. Uganda
10. Cameroon

The USA was rated 33 on the least healthiest countries in the world.

We should take a lesson on this from Italy. Not only is it a country on everyone bucket list but it gives us a great example how to live a happy and healthy life.

George

 

Categories: Cafè, Cooking, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Fruit, General Travel, Health, Healthcare, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Ristorante, Traveling without a tour, Trottoria, Vegetables, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 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

Italy Loves Wine

One of my favorite things about Italy is their love of wine. Everyone drinks it. Even the children have a little. The entire country has an appreciation for good wine but you seldom see drunks. If you do see them, they are usually tourists. Red wine is their preferred drink but good whites show up as well. Places like Orvieto produce great white wines.

orvieto

Orvieto, Italy

Most countries serve wine by the bottle in restaurants. In Italy and Spain you can also get it by the liter or half liter in a glass or ceramic pitcher. These restaurants by local wine in bulk and can sell it to you cheaply because there is no bottle, cork, label or cap. The wine is excellent and can be dry, sweet, red or white.

We found a place in our town that sells wine in bulk. There are several huge wooden casks full of various kinds of wine. You can taste them and then choose. They will fill your vessel of choice such as an empty water bottle, a pitcher, a jar, etc. They charge by the liter and wine is about 2 euros per liter or about $2.20 for a bottle and a third of good wine.

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Wine Served in a Picture at a Local Restaurant

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We serve it at our home in Italy in a pitcher

The other way to taste different wines in Italy is to visit a local Enoteca. These are stores that sell wine and allow you to taste them as well. They exist all over Italy. Some serve small plates of food as well. Italians don’t like to drink without having water and food available. An Enoteca is a great way to taste the local wines around you. You can then decide what you like and buy some. The wines here are usually sold in bottles.

Bar in Italy IMG_1755

Enoteca

However you drink wine in Italy, enjoy it! Sit outside at a bar or a trattoria and sip it slowly, Taste the complex flavors of Italy. Observe the people around you and enjoy it. This is experiencing Italy. You do not do it fast, you do not eat fast food, you do not rush from city to city or museum to museum, and you do not have an unchangeable schedule. In Italy you make time to slow down and enjoy your life. Dolce Far Niente! (The sweetness of do nothing). When you finally understand this simple phrase, you understand Italy and can enjoy it. Buon Viaggio.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Ceramics, Dolce far niente, Eating Italian, Europe, Fast Food, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Museums, Orvieto, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is it Time for you to Take a Trip to Italy?

Have you longed for a trip to romantic Italy? Have you dreamed about eating real Italian food? Do you long to see the museums or architecture? Maybe you have relatives there and just want to reunite old ties. What ever your reasons are, Italy is a great place to spend a vacation. After a week you are feeling relaxed and enjoying life. After two weeks you are totally relaxed, speaking some Italian words and loving the food. Longer periods in Italy will make you an Italian for life!

The northern lake Area offers beautiful scenery overlooking the Alps or maybe Tuscany with its wines and romantic scenery. The large cities of Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome or Naples are great places to see Italians being themselves. They also are great for seeing living history. Look at the buildings the architecture and envision the people that built these great cities. Maybe southern Italy with its Amalfi coast and Capri or farther south into the Cilento National Park. Beauty unspoiled by man and pristine beaches. What is stopping you?

If it’s being afraid of big tours or doing it on your own, we offer an alternative for the selective traveler to see what they want to see and spend as much time as the want. If you find a great Italian spot, the last thing you want is to be taken away by a tour bus. It would be wonderful to change your plans and just stay in your new found location. Italy is all about love, romance, beauty and spontanaeity.

Italy creates many wonderful memories and experiences but you have to touch it! Get away from the crowded tourists areas and meet real Italians. See places that will change you forever. Don’t eat in tourists restaurants. These will be memories you will never forget.

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Anacapri, Architecture, Beaches, Benvenuto al Sud, Blue Flag Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Castellabate, Cortona, Eating, Eating Italian, Fish, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Maratea, Matera, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Naples, Paestum, Pantheon, Pasta, Pastry, Perugia, Pizza, Pompeii, Positano, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Tuscany, Umbria, Vatican City, Venice, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why you really want to spend a night in Capri

Most tourists take a ferry from Naples, Sorrento or Positano to the Isle of Capri. They spend a day mostly waiting to get into the Blue Grotto and then return by ferry in the evening. This is a big mistake! After all these tourists leave, the natives of Capri come out. The streets of Capri City are much less crowded. You can enjoy your stroll without being knocked about by tourists. The island and the city become magical. The lighting is perfect for photographers. Restaurants gear up for the evening meal. Bars await customers looking for a drink.

B-Capri de B-Capri ad B-Capri df

We had found a few small (alley like) streets off the main piazza. They had stores and restaurants. One store made custom sandals. You are measured one day and can pick up your shoes the next day. There were also small grocery stores. We decided to spend one evening eating at our hotel. We were able to get a bottle of wine, cheese, bread, olives and chocolate at one such shop. Our hotel with the fabulous view became a romantic restaurant for the evening. We dined on our private balcony overlooking Capri and the sea.

We tend not to like places were a lot of tourists gather. But these small streets were a real find. They are cooler in the summer, have fewer people on them and offer small cheaper shops that normally do not cater to the tourists. It would seem that tourists like to stick to the main piazza and streets. They shy away from small streets. Their loss!

Go to Capri and be romantic. Stay an evening or more. Make the island your island. If it is a special occasion, spend the extra money and stay at Villa Brunella. You pay once but will remember it for the rest of your life.

B-Capri ad B-Capri de

George

 

Categories: Bars, Blue Grotto, Bread, Campania, Capri, Cheese, Chocolate, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Ferries, Food, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Naples, Positano, Romance, Sorrento, Traveling without a tour, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Isle of Capri’s Anacapri

Anacapri is the other city on Capri Isle. It is smaller, quieter and less hustle bustle. You can drive, hire a car or taxi or take the bus from Capri. We chose the bus. Near the top of the funicular is a bus station with busses to various attractions on the isle. The bus to Anacapri leaves from here and winds up a mountain to reach this city. Along the way are many wonderful vistas. You can sea the sea, the large marina far below and in the distant Mount Vesuvious. You get off in the center where you can catch a bus back to Capri.

B-Capri do

Anacapri

Walk the small streets and look at the restaurants and bars. Try to decide what to have for lunch in an hour or two. Look into the ceramic shops. We bought a very large spaghetti dish and they packed it for travel. We placed it in our suitcase and hoped for the best. It survived perfectly. The ceramics are made in this town and hand painted. They are all unique and beautiful.

One of the streets from the center leads down through these stores and restaurants to a small piazza with a church. Walking here is like mediating. It is quiet and peaceful. Enjoy this time before returning to the hustle bustle of massive tourists in Capri. This street has many tourists but beyond the piazza with the church are mostly locals.

B-Capri dr B-Capri dt

Someone house and the center of town at bus stop

On the way back to the center, we decided to eat lunch. We had seen a small restaurant/bar on the way that served food out a window to you on the street. We got two panini, a drink and a fabulous desert. The owners talk with you at the window. Everything is made in front of you and is very delicious.

Finally we were on the bus back to Capri with our dish in hand. The ride down is less dramatic as you are mostly on the mountain side of the road and not the cliff side. We arrived back at the bus station and began our stroll through the beautiful city of Capri once again. You could hear many different languages being spoken, Music, laughter and the clang of dishes at the restaurants and bars. This is what I love about Italy. It is always alive and full of life and fun. All you have to do is place yourself in it and enjoy it.

This is an Isle that is easy to be romantic. You feel it everywhere. You see couples in love all around you. Hold hands with your partner and enjoy your life.

Next BLOG will talk about why you want to spend the night in Capri.

George

 

Categories: Anacapri, Bars, Cafè, Campania, Capri, Ceramics, Eating, Eating Italian, Food, Funicular, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Panini, Romance, Shopping, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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