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Top Tuscan Day Trips From Florence by Train

The long, winding country roads, fields and fields of grapes separated only by cypresses and the nearly deserted hill towns in Tuscany lend themselves perfectly to a classic road trip. But it’s not the only way to see the Tuscan hills. Though the smallest towns are difficult to reach by public transportation, some of Tuscany’s most famous… Read more »

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Day Trips from Palermo, Sicily

Ideally, you’d have at least a week to visit Palermo and the west coast of Sicily. Or if you’ve already seen Palermo you could fly directly in to Trapani to tour around the area – maybe with a few extra days tacked on to visit the Egadi Islands! But I also know that that’s not always… Read more »

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Your Sicily Starter-Kit: What to Know Before You Go

Sicily is a big island with a big history and a big personality. It deserves some planning and it deserves some time, but it won’t be offended if you don’t have either. Here time runs slower and the days longer. And though the stereotypes of carefree islanders doesn’t always work here – unemployment and corruption… Read more »

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What to See in Palermo, Sicily

Palermo has long had a bad reputation. Ground zero for the mafia, they say. Dirty. A port city only good to take you elsewhere. Gone are those days. Now Palermo is a favorite for hipsters throughout Italy. Curious Italians are giving it a second chance and international travelers choose it as an introduction to Southern Italy – the… Read more »

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What to See in Perugia, Umbria

Perugia is small, so you can easily tour it like any small town: Start in the main piazza, see the duomo, take a walk and eat some food. But this time, you’d be missing out.  It seems like all roads lead to Piazza IV Novembre and from there you can see most of Perugia by walking down its… Read more »

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Why You Should Visit Perugia

If Umbria is the green-heart of Italy, Perugia is the bullseye at the heart of Umbria. An ancient Etruscan settlement, the fortified city center sits atop a hill with a spiderweb of streets, an inviting central piazza and sweeping views across the valley. The city’s university – one of the oldest in the region –… Read more »

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How to Tour a Small Italian Town

Lately my travels in Italy have been small. I mean really small. Not only are the trips brief, maybe a day, at most a weekend, but we tend to hit villages, towns, at most a very compact city. Marco and I have seen most of the big sights in central and northern Italy. What really charms… Read more »

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The Best Artisanal Gifts from Italy and Where to Buy Them

Italy’s culture of artisanal, quality craftsmanship is unlike any in the world.  One of the best things you can do while in Italy is buy local, handmade items. Not only do they support the local economy, but they’re sure to be higher quality than the knick-knacks and souvenirs from who-knows-where. Whether leather or mosaics, glass… Read more »

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The Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

If you only see one thing in Ravenna, make it the Basilica di San Vitale. On the outside it’s an unassuming brick structure. On the inside it’s a jaw-dropping work of genius. In a country awash in churches, it’s easy to get church-fatigue. The cross-shaped naves, dark paintings, tiny windows and ceiling frescos begin to blur… Read more »

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The Mosaics of Ravenna

We had one long weekend, a bad weather forecast and a demanding toddler, but I planned a trip anyway. A popular holiday weekend in Italy, flights were prohibitive, trains nearly as much so and long-distance car trips with a car-sick prone baby less than attractive. So I knew we had to stay close to home. We’ve… Read more »