Your Italian Travel Tips – Productive Relaxation, Italian Style in Panicale

Blogging in Italy Panicale in Umbria
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! About once a month (or so), I have been re-blogging posts that describe the lesser known places in Italy – or the more well-known viewed in a unique way – under the heading, “Your Italian Travel Tips.”

For May 2019, I am featuring Judy and Len, a retired couple who now live part time in the town of Cortona in the Umbria region of Italy, and write the blog Blogging in Italy.

I was intrigued when I read Judy and Len’s latest blog to see that they had visited a town so small it is not easily found on the map and is definitely off the radar for most tourists. The town is called Panicale, and I had never heard of it before.  I found Panicale on my map of Italy by locating Florence in Tuscany and then heading steadily southward through the towns of  Arezzo and Cortona.  Finally, I crossed into the region of Umbria, where Lago Trasimeno (Lake Trasimeno) came into view. Along the southern fringe of the mountain range that borders Lago Trasimeno, I finally found the town of Panicale, which is the topic of their blog.

The blog “Productive Relaxation Italian Style” is a charming description of how the couple Judy and Len spent a typical day in Italy enjoying the people, food and scenery, and includes many photos of Panicale –  which, as it turns out, is a hidden gem of a town that has a history dating back to the Romans.  Included in the visuals is a beautiful ancient map of the town. Oh – and you will also find the secret of how to grow a hearty crop of your own zucchini this summer, as the couple are avid gardeners.  What better way to spend a part of your day Italian style – even if for now, it is only to read about it?

Judy and Len’s philosophy can be found in this excerpt from their blog “Productive Relaxation, Italian Style”:

In Italy, there is a sight commonly found in smaller towns – men sitting on benches, or standing in small groups, discussing everything from local politics to international sports events. Meanwhile, their wives are shopping, visiting, cooking, cleaning, etc.  What they all have in common is the phrase: Siamo in pensione, or, we are retired. 

We, too, take this retirement thing seriously. Take productive relaxation for example, not an oxymoron but instead an art.

To read the full blog, click on the title: Productive Relaxation Italian Style

And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, lightweight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip to Italy! Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

 

Your Italian Travel Tips… UNESCO Site in Sicily, Cefalù: When Yellow and Blue Don’t Make Green

Cefalù, Sicily, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Here is another of my favorite blogs with unique travel tips that I would like to share.

About once a month, I will reblog a post about lesser-known sites or places to visit in Italy under the title “Your Italian Travel Tips.” The post for April was written by Donna Fenice, a travel blogger who writes the blog Loving Italy’s Gardens, in which she shares stories about her Italian adventures, which all start with her desire to visit Italy’s gardens. Her tagline is, “Exploring the regions of Italy, one garden at a time,” which gives her articles a truly unique perspective.

In her own words, Donna says:

Gardens and Italy are my favourite things.  My love of gardening came first.  As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved puttering around with plants and dirt.  My love of Italy came much later and was totally unanticipated.  Years ago, OK, decades ago, as a student at the University of Toronto, I signed up for the ‘Third Year Abroad’ program.  My subjects were French and German so the plan was to spend the 1st semester in France and the 2nd in Germany.  I had a wonderful time in France, but…

I decided to get as far as I could from the bone-chilling dampness of December in France. Geography and my meagre resources dictated Italy.  I made it as far as Umbria in Central Italy, where in the town of Perugia it was possible to enrol at the Università per Stranieri (University for Foreigners) for 40,000 lire ($40 Canadian) on a month-to-month basis.  That first month stretched into a few more and then to a move to Florence, where I lived for almost five years.

Now I live in Toronto, Canada and visit Italy, and occasionally France, as often as I can, seeking out the gardens and lesser known places, as well as the famous ones.  I prefer to stay in B&B’s and agriturismi and have found that a stay of three days gives me time for lots of fascinating and enjoyable conversations with the owners and staff, who often speak very little English and are curious and eager to talk to la signora canadese in their language.  Over the years they have also given me countless tips about memorable places I would never have found or been able to get into on my own. And finally, I travel solo, something which invariably horrifies foreign travellers and delights the locals.

 

In the post to follow, Donna relates a wonderful adventure she had when she visited the Sicilian town of Cefalù. I love how she crafts her tale of this visit to Sicily, as she describes experiences getting to know the “ins and outs” of Sicilian daily life intertwined with her descriptions of the people and the beauty of the town. Sicily is the Region of Honor for 2018, and Cefalù is a UNESCO city. Read on, and I’m sure you will enjoy her amazing insights and beautiful photos of this unique city in Sicily.

And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, lightweight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip! Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

Loving Italy's Gardens

For a long time I wasn’t a fan of the ‘golden hour’, photographese for the brief period before sunset and after sunrise when everything is tinged with a warm, soft golden hue.  As far as I could tell, the only thing those golden rays did was dull the light and turn gardens into sickly yellows.  Then I went to a small fishing village on the north-east coast of Sicily and saw what all the fuss was about.

Cefalù (chay-fah-loo) is the site of the third cathedral in the UNESCO  triumvirate of Arab-Norman cathedrals.   (The other two are in Monreale and Palermo). It was only 120 k west of Tindari (post to come), but the coastal road was a lot more coastal than I’d expected and while it wasn’t ‘eternal’, which is how one commentator on Trip Advisor described it, it took a lot longer than I’d anticipated.

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