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Working Under The Table and Why Everyone Does it in Italy

It doesn’t take long to realize that things work … differently… in Italy. Or sometimes, they don’t work at all.  A large part of the Italian workforce gets paid in nero, meaning that all or some of their income is paid in cash, “under the table.” As far as the state knows, they’re not working at all. “Those… Read more »

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The 2,000 Year History of the Verona Arena

The Arena di Verona has been standing tall for nearly 2,000 years. Actually, our best guess is that it was built sometime around 30 AD, which would make the structure exactly 1,985 years old. In any case, it’s still been around about 50 years longer than Rome’s Colosseum and about 1,746 years longer than the United States has enjoyed independence…. Read more »

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Photo Essay: A Tuscan Road Trip in Val d’Orcia

Last April Marco and I went with two friends on a weekend road trip. The first road trip we went on together was from Milan to Umbria, in a weekend tour of just a small part of the region. This time, we decided to tour the Val d’Orcia region in the south of Tuscany. The region is characterized by… Read more »

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My Favorite Foods in Tuscany and Umbria

What’s your favorite Italian food?   Recently, Marco asked me the same question. Though it might seem simple enough, I knew that coming from him, the question wasn’t as simple as it sounded. “Food or dish?” I asked.  Dish. I thought about some of my favorites. I knew that risotto or pizza wouldn’t do. He’d want something… Read more »

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How to Marry an Italian

Finally, what you’re all coming to this blog to find out: How to find and marry an Italian. I did it. Here’s how you can, too! First, woo him with your exotic American ways When I first arrived in Italy I was wide-eyed, easily excited, and plastered with a big smile. I was bold, dazzled by… Read more »

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Winter in Northern Italy, a New Narrative

Annals of literature associate winter with hardship, depression and even fear. It’s a time to stock up, grit our teeth and hold out against the difficult season. It’s our melancholy spirit, muted like laughter against the snow. We see winter as something to be tolerated until that first burst of spring. (I’ve already written about my love of spring, it’s no secret.) Winter is an… Read more »

A 'Frecciarossa' one of the faster trains offered in Italia

I have two weeks in Italy, what should I see?

I get a version of this question often. It’s usually a rambling, excited facebook message, chaotic, happy and a little bit naive, like a puppy greeting you at the door. “So, me and [insert friend, lover, brother, family, stranger here] are heading to Italy this summer for 7 days and I wanted to ask you… Read more »

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Corso Como to Brera – A Walk in Milan

Tourists far too often skip over Milan. As Italy’s most industrial city, it doesn’t seem to have the history of Rome, the art of Florence or the allure of Venice. Non ha l’atmosfera. And I get it. I too once thought that Milan, though fun, doesn’t have much of a tourist factor. Perhaps it’s true. It’s landmarks… Read more »

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From Portofino to San Fruttuoso on Foot

I was sweating. I was sweating in jeans and I didn’t like it. Marco and I only had a day and a half to explore the Ligurian coast. We had dinner the night before in Santa Margherita and walked the forty minutes back to Rapallo, where we were based, afterward to enjoy the night and the sights…. Read more »

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Photo Essay: Climbing the Duomo of Milano

I have admired every angle of Milan’s Duomo. I’ve seen it in daylight and lit up by lamps at night, in hazy summer and crisp winter air, in peak season and off. I’ve even toured the inside, sat for mass, examined dark angles and detailed stained glass. Yet I had never climbed to the rooftop. A… Read more »

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    Le Marche: Finding The ‘Country’ in Italy’s Countryside

    I am not a city person.   I want to be. I’d love to be a person who thrives on cities. Who regularly takes trips to the biggest cities in the world, in size and hype – New York, Paris, London, Tokyo – and knows them, adores them. I’d love to be someone who can happily live in a… Read more »

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    Italian Palaces and Gardens Better Than Versailles

    Marco and I just got back from a lovely 8-day vacation in Paris. Of course with that amount of time we couldn’t skip the Château de Versailles, the opulent royal palace for generations of opulent French kings. We had heard it was the top of the top in Europe. The palace to end all palaces. Opulence and… Read more »

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    Orvieto: A City in The Sky, A City Underground

    Most Italian hill towns are so small the only thing to do is stroll the streets, take in the atmosphere and of course eat. I once spent two lovely days in Colle Val d’Elsa, a tiny town across from San Gimignano in Tuscany, but when you ask me what sights to see I’d be hard pressed… Read more »

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    Sirmione, Italy: The Pearl of Lake Garda

    Though most think of Como as the only lake worth visiting in Northern Italy, to the east is Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, housing lovely resort towns, incredible weather and food galore! Located between Brescia and Verona, Venice and Milan, the lake makes for an excellent day trip or a stop-over on a Venice to Milan road… Read more »

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    What Italians Eat to Beat the Heat

    After decades of Italo-American bastardization of southern Italian cooking, Americans view Italian food as loads of cheese smothered in tomato sauce – even better if it’s fried!  Italian food is so much more than that, but it’s true that Italian food isn’t known for being light. Even the non-fried dishes tend to be either heavy on… Read more »

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    Beyond the Beach: Three of Liguria’s Top Coastal Towns

    You don’t come to Northern Italy for the beaches.   It sounds wrong, but it’s oh-so-true. Italy has some spectacular beaches, but none as spectacular as white Caribbean sand and crystalline water. What’s more, Italy’s best beaches aren’t along the typical tourist trail. If you come to sail around the coast of Sardegna, or explore… Read more »

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    Lessons Learned From My Italian Nonna

    When I first met nonna she sat poised on an antique chair surrounded by her beautiful and very carefully curated antique furniture. Big and little paintings hung on the wall, each from a different century, each with a different story. The light was dim but just right on the deep green walls. “Sage,” she told me…. Read more »

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    Tips for Tourists: How to Do Italy Right

    We already have a very succinct, but very precise Manifesto for any and all travelers in Italy (Check it out here, it’s important) but I believe there’s more explanation needed for first-time travelers in Italy (and even repeat offenders!) Everyone wants to seem like a local when they travel,  here are some ways to help:… Read more »

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    The Nitty-Gritty Italy Travel Guide: How to Pack, Budget, Talk and Get Around

    Everyone has questions before their first trip to Italy. After you finally decide on your itinerary, it’s time to plan for the nitty-gritty of travel. That is, all those seemingly small questions that are oh-so-important for a smooth travel. Read on to find out what to pack, when to come and how to get around.   What should… Read more »

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    How to Plan Your Trip to Italy: A Step-By-Step Guide

    Italy has everything. It has the sea and the mountains, the hills and the plain. It has lakes and rivers and forests and national parks. It has incredible ancient borghi and larger cities that have managed to enter the modern age with a firm hold on their ancient pasts. It has Medieval castles, Renaissance art and even contemporary… Read more »