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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 »

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A Guide to Ravenna, Mosaics and More

A small city in Emilia Romagna near the Adriatic coast, Ravenna glitters like a jewel. It’s richness isn’t jewels, however, but the glass and gold-plated stones used to create most of the city’s magnificent 5th-century mosaics. Once the capital of the Western Roman Empire and then of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century, today that period is visible in… Read more »

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November in Italy: What to Expect and What to Do

November is the worst month to travel to Italy. Let me preface that by saying: The best time to visit Italy is whenever you’re able to visit Italy. But.  If you do have a choice, Avoid Italy in November. There’s no festive holiday and the weather tends toward dismal. While much of America is cold… Read more »

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How to Visit the Isole Borromee

I’ve visited a lot of rich people’s gardens in Italy. And why wouldn’t I? They’re beautiful, abundant, easy to visit, a feast for the senses. I find them pleasant. I don’t love visiting old palaces, but the gardens attached to them, now that has my name all over it. It might seem like a strange way to spend time and… Read more »

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The Churches of Florence

There’s so much to see in Florence that it can be hard to know what you’re even looking at. While touring the small, packed city, you’ll stumble upon world class church after world class church. It’s easy to get church fatigue, but with a little bit of background knowledge you can choose which ones interest you… Read more »