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The Tuscan Islands: Escape to Pianosa Prison

The engine rumbled as the ship backed away from the dock slowly, as if trying to quietly escape. It aimed its bow away from Marina di Campo bay and toward a still invisible line on the horizon.    I was going to Pianosa Island, an isolated island just 14 km from Isola d’Elba, the largest and most popular of the Tuscan islands.   As the ship churned closer, the thin line of land grew more visible, if… Read more »

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How to Be An Ethical Traveler in Italy

Summer is coming and with it waves and waves of visitors to Italy. Understandably so. Italy is beautiful in summer and that’s when most of us have the chance to take some time off. Unfortunately, it also inevitably means news stories about tourists not living their best life. There’s the one that broke an ancient statue,… Read more »

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Tiny Tuscany: The Ancient Etruscan Town of Volterra

It was raining a steady but soft sprinkle when we got to the foot of a never-ending brick staircase. We were in tiny but mighty Volterra, a city carved by erosion among the Balze hills, between Florence, Siena and the sea. A part of a perfect trio of hill cities located close together – Volterra, Colle Val d’Elsa and San… Read more »

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6 Places On My Italy Travel Wish List

I was enamored with Italy even before I saw it. Then, I saw it. From my first jet-lagged lunch in a skeezy tourist joint in Rome I knew this was a place I wanted to dig deeper into. In the light, the speed, the scene, there was something here to learn. Since then I’ve traveled… Read more »

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Life Abroad: Do You Like Living in Italy?

An English woman, an Irish woman and two Midwestern Americans sat around the table, spritz’s in hand and classic Italian aperitivo snacks littering the table, each discussing the merits of their own country. The question asked by an Italian acquaintance was “do you like living in Italy?” So innocuous. So loaded. Eyes were immediately averted, smiles forcibly… Read more »

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Tuscany’s Hill Towns: Montalcino and Montepulciano

Both of these medieval Tuscan towns are perched on a hill. Both are most known for their red wines. Both are ridiculously tiny and ridiculously crowded in August. Strolling the streets there is most certainly a Duomo to visit, another church or two, maybe a famous civic building or even a small museum, but the… Read more »

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How to Shop at an Italian Market

One of the best ways to save money while traveling anywhere is to make your own meals. Luckily, a great way to get a feel for the local culture is visiting the town market. Go to see what’s for offer, what the prices are, what’s in season. Watch the locals to find out which stand is favored,… Read more »

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Wine Regions of Italy: Veneto

Italy is known for its wine, but Italian wine is more than just Chianti. It’s more than just Tuscan vineyards. It’s more than just a house red. And though the house wine is often delicious and well-made, and though the wine is cheap and sometimes does, yes, flow like rivers, Italian wine also comes with a… Read more »

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How I’m Able to Live in Italy’s Most Expensive Region on the Cheap

Lombardy, Italy is one of the most expensive regions in all of Europe. With about a sixth of Italy’s population producing about a fifth of Italy’s GDP, Lombardy is the most populous region in Italy and one of the richest regions in all of Europe. Yet even in expensive Lombardy, it’s possible to live very well… Read more »

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The Geographical Food of Veneto

It’s impossible to identify just one dish that personifies the food of Veneto. Though most only visit the region’s capital city, Venice, it actually spans from the mighty port town of Venice to the mountains up north, then inland to Verona and its cuisine reflects that, with each area enjoying its own local specialty.  Along the coast seafood is preferred,… Read more »