More than just a hotel in Piemonte, Italy!

Why hadn’t I returned to Piemonte? After my first year of university, I lived with an Italian Professor of Philology who was eager to perfect her English. It was a great trade-off. She received daily lessons and I lived with her in this magnificent part of the world. Claudia, her boyfriend and I would pop into her car to visit libraries all over the country from Ferrara to Bologna, even as far as Munich. Needless to say, not only did my Italian improve, but also I ate so well. Lucky for me, she was a brilliant home cook. How could she not be with the produce that was available right at her doorstep? […]

October 26th, 2017|Destinations, Italy, Piedmont|3 Comments

The Art of Seeing

“I don’t want to spend part of my holiday standing in front of a painting!” Having spent practically my entire college career studying art from the world’s great scholars, A little part of me died when my dinner partner uttered those words last week.

Then I took a deep breath and realized maybe he was right. Why stand in line at the Louvre, then fight the crowds to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa  – when you could see it stress free online?

Even David Sedaris, the humorist, author and New Yorker contributor, whom I adore, said: “(The Louvre) just doesn’t interest me. I mean, I think so many people come here, and they feel like they have to do certain things because somebody told them […]

May 12th, 2017|Destinations, Paris, Rome, Venice|2 Comments

Bite Sized Bits of Parma & Modena, Italy

A tour of the Italian region of Emilia Romagna is more than just a stop to eat in Bologna. Parma & Modena must be on the list as well! These two small towns have exactly what you want from a trip to Italy: a fabulous Duomo, a bit of history and did I mention the food yet??

Bed…The Grand Hotel de la Ville in Parma is the most luxurious pillow in town. Make it your home base, then rent a car and explore the surroundings. Although, it’s a good ten minute walk to centro città, loads of little local shops line the Strada della Repubblica. I bought the Cypriot a huge chunk of parmigiano from the divine Salumeria Rastelli on the way home while humming a bit […]

October 28th, 2016|Destinations, Italy, Parma|0 Comments

A Bit of Italy: Bologna (Rossa, Dotta & Grassa)

All American Generation-Xers or older can’t help but see the word Bologna and hum the Oscar Mayer theme tune dedicated to America’s favorite lunch meat. We enjoyed it with another Emilia Romagna-inspired treat, the sickly, sweet vino, better known by its commercial, Riunite on ice, that’s nice.

One taste of the real Mortadella, while sipping local, flavorful Lambrusco, in Piazza Maggiore, the heart of the Italian city of Bologna, and those latent 70’s memories will all be wiped away.

(We actually couldn’t taste real Mortadella in the USA until the year 2000 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that Emilia-Romagna was clear of swine vesicular disease and all its products were then allowed to enter the country. Hallelujah!)

Usually smaller Italy cities can be “described” in one magnet: Matera – […]

October 22nd, 2016|Bologna, Destinations, Italy|2 Comments

A Bit of Italy: the Verdi Festival in Emilia Romagna

Every trip needs a soundtrack – a few songs that evoke the spirit of the place: driving Route 66  with radio blaring Born to be Wild, New York wouldn’t be New York without New York, New York, Chicago has Chicago. The question is how do you choose which song will accompany you through Emilia Romagna – there are just too many and all by the same composer. Don’t worry, usually the choice is made for you, since the songs of her hometown son, Giuseppe Verdi, pour out of every window as you drive by.

This trip wasn’t just any romp through Emilia Romagna, but one with Verdi taking a seat in the back. I was there to trace his every step, from birth to boom, before […]

October 12th, 2016|Destinations, Italy, Parma|0 Comments

Bite-Sized Bits of Basilicata, Italy

Most people aren’t really quite sure where Basilicata is… usually I say, the instep of Italy between Puglia and Calabria. They start exploring further afield only after the greatest hits of Rome, Venice & Florence, but I see no reason why not to head down south first. I can understand that, in the past, you might have been put off from journeying below the mezzogiorno when even home-grown authors, such as Carlo Levi, describe Basilicata city Matera,“like a schoolboy’s idea of Dante’s Inferno…these dark holes…I have never in all my life seen such a picture of poverty.”

That was in the 40’s and, I am happy to report, the years have been good to Matera. The Sassi, or Caves, as they are known, that make Matera special, are one […]

July 8th, 2016|Basilicata, Destinations, Italy|2 Comments