Done the Big Five in Italy? Here’s Where to Go Next

Umbria. Umbria is where to go next. Most first-time visitors to Italy rightfully visit what I call the “big five” – that is, Naples, Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan – or a combination of some of them. Italy’s five “main” cities, they hold the vast majority of the country’s historical, political, artistic and religious wealth and… Read more »


Visiting the Gates of Heaven in Siena

Third times the charm. At least it was for me, on my third visit to Siena this past September. The first time I went I was studying abroad in Florence. We went by train with no preparation, climbed the Torre del Mangia, Italy’s second tallest tower, and otherwise just ambled around aimlessly with no idea of… Read more »


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 »


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 »


Aperitivo in Milan: What It Is and How to Have One

There’s no better way to soak in the atmosphere of Milan than an aperitivo. A Milanese rite of passage, an aperitivo is the surest way to adapt to the city, “do as the locals do” and enjoy a night out. The basic concept of an aperitivo (or apertif) is that of an American happy hour. The reality, however,… Read more »


How to Visit Milan on a Budget

Italy’s financial and fashion capital has long been considered the one of its priciest cities as well. With entire blocks dedicated to fashion designers, contemporary art scenes for the mega-rich to frequent and private courtyards closed to common folk, Milan can seem like a tough place to travel cheap. But it is possible to visit Milan on a budget…. Read more »


This Is The Best Town in The Italian Lake District….And It’s Not Como

One of the most luxurious way to appreciate the outdoors in Northern Italy is in the Italian Lake District. With a shimmering lake in front of you and the pre-Alps around you, visitors have all the beauty of the outdoors, with all the comforts of high-class Italy. Dotted by tiny towns along the banks, there’s no lack… Read more »

How to marry an Italian.

How to Marry an Italian

Finally, what you’re all coming to this blog to find out: How to 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 the smallest… Read more »


Elba Island: The Black Rock Beach

“Let’s go to the Black Rock Beach,” he said. “It’s a bit out of the way so there should be less people!” he said. In the summer of 2011 I came to stay with Marco for five weeks and we planned a five day vacation to Isola d’Elba, or Elba Island. I came to Elba knowing,… Read more »


Carnevale in Italy: The Battle of the Oranges

Everyone knows about carnevale in Venice, filled with masks, elaborate costumes and intrigue it’s one of the most famous carnival celebrations in the world. But carnevale in Italy is more than just Venice! Actually it’s celebrated in every little town and city throughout the boot. Last year we went to Venice for carnival, driving there and… 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 nondescript tourist joint in Rome I knew this was a place I wanted to know. In the light, the speed, the scene, there was something to learn here. Since then I’ve traveled all over Italy… 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 »

  • Across the vineyards to S. Pietro di Barbozza, Valdobiadene, Veneto. Photo by Maureen Barlin (flickr)

    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 »

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    8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Mantova

    Tiny overlooked Mantova (Mantua in English) in Lombardy has gotten a lot of air-time on this humble blog. I’ve written about my three-hour long lunch in a local osteria and talked  about a road trip from Milan to Venice with a stop in the cultured city on the Amateur Traveler’s podcast, but in case you have any doubts let me… Read more »