Your Italian Travel Tips – It’s Ferragosto! Let’s Party Like the Romans

Ferragosto on the beach from "Take Me Home Italy" blog
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! For August I would like to share a blog from “Take Me Home Italy,” written by Marilyn Ricci, a friend who has recently moved to Italy and has been sharing her experiences with us through her writing.

About once a month, I have been re-blogging a post about lesser-known sites or places to visit in Italy under the title “Your Italian Travel Tips.”

And, what better way to explore Italy and provide travel tips than to live there?  Marilyn has been able to experience first hand the important August celebration of Ferragosto.  To Italians, Ferragosto is a very important family and religious celebration, with roots that date back to Roman times.  Over the years,  the meaning  of Ferragosto has changed, but its importance has not diminished, and to Italians, it is still a very special holiday family get-together and summer fun, which brings the same excitement as the Christmas season later in the winter months.

Maryiln writes:

Have you heard of Ferragosto? Ferragosto is officially a holiday on 15 August. Yet, for Italians, it is typically more than one day of celebration.

What IS Ferragosto? Where did it come from and why is it such a huge national holiday?

Back when Augustus was the Roman Emperor, in the year 18 B.C.E., he instituted the Feriai Augusti, a day of rest for the Emperor and his people. The day was dedicated to the Roman god of fertility and of the harvest. It was a time to celebrate and be fruitful as only the Romans could do.

Click on this link to read the full blog: It’s Ferragosto! Let’s Party Like the Romans

 

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.

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Your Italian Travel Tips – Matera: European Capital of Culture 2019

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Once again, here is a blog with unique travel tips that I would like to share.

About once a month, I have been re-blogging a post about lesser-known sites or places to visit in Italy under the title “Your Italian Travel Tips.”

The post for June 2019 was written by Orna O’Reilly, in her blog “Travelling Italy.”  O’Reilly is a former interior designer from Ireland, who also worked for many years in South Africa and Mozambique. Now living in Puglia in the south of Italy, Orna is writing full time and her award winning blog covers all things Italian.  Orna regularly writes for popular Italy Magazine and for glossy Irish magazine Anthology. Word on the street is that Orna will have a new novel out soon, set in modern day Venice and Dublin… Hope to be able to share more about this novel soon!

Orna writes this about Matera:

Dating back over 7000 years, the Sassi are said to be the oldest human habitation in Italy. After the inhabitants were rehoused in the 1950s, many of the caves were restored and, since the 1980s, many of them are now used as hotels, restaurants and homes for those original Sassi dwellers who wished to return.

Having an ancient biblical appearance, in most people’s imagination, over the years Matera has been the setting for at least twenty major movies. These include the obvious candidates, Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ’ and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew’, though other less likely movies have been filmed there, such as last year’s ‘Wonder Woman.’

In the blog to follow, Orna tells us in detail not only about the history of Matera, but what it is like to visit the city today.  After reading her blog, I felt like visiting myself, and hope to do so one day soon.  All of the highlights of the town are mentioned, with beautiful photos so that one feels they are actually waking down the city streets of Matera with a friend. And, of course, it is important to read to the end of the blog to come to the recommendations for hotels and dining!

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.

Orna O'Reilly: Travelling Italy

Four hundred metres above sea level, among the rolling hills of Basilicata in southern Italy, lies the haunting city of Matera.

It is bisected by a deep ravine through which the River Gravina flows.

The sides of this deep gorge are studded by ancient cave dwellings known as Sassi, where families lived from Palaeolithic times, right up to the 1950s when the inhabitants were rehoused by the Italian government with the aid of UNESCO.

In 1993, the Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was on the basis that it is the ‘most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem.’ The UNESCO website goes on to say that the ‘first inhabited zone dates from the Palaeolithic, while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history.’

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Your Italian Travel Tips – Weird Italy Laws by Margie for Pesce d’Aprile

Margie Miklas blog Weird Italian Laws
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 April 2019, I am featuring Margie Miklas, an author and travel blogger who writes the blog Margie in Italy.

When I first read a recent blog of Margie’s entitled “Weird Italian Laws,” I loved the insider’s perspective and touch of humor that she used to describe these unusual Italian laws.  It came to mind that many of these laws were surreal – almost too fantastic to be true!  And yet, they are all still a part of Italian law!

In short, I am posting a blog about unusual laws in Italy on April Fools Day, but this is no April Fool! By the way, Italians celebrate April Fools Day on April 1st, as we do here.  In Italy, the holiday is called, “Il Pesce d’Aprile,” which is a reference to the many jokes that people play on one another involving… fish. (Has anyone experienced this?  Leave a comment below if you have!) The origin of April Fools Day is unknown, but according to Wikipedia may have started with ancient Roman holidays called l’Hilaria or  l’Holi induista, both connected to the spring equinox.

Margie Miklas is also the author of several popular travel books that describe her experiences while traveling in Sicily and Italy.  I truly enjoyed reading her book, My Love Affair with Sicily prior to visiting Sicily for the first time myself.  If you’d like to learn more about her books, visit her Amazon author page.

In her own words, the author says about her books and her blog about Italy:

You’ll read about the good and bad in Italy but always with a special love for the Italian people. This isn’t your typical guide about what to see in Italy. It’s experiential, informative, and hopefully entertaining.

You’ll feel my  my passion and also my frustration at  times about how things are in the Bel Paese. You’ll see my photos, but they won’t be the same ones you’ve seen a hundred times on other sites or in guidebooks. I share a glimpse into the heartbeat of Italy and a sense of its people.

 

To read the full blog, click on the title: Weird Italy Laws

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 – The Seven Secrets of Bologna – True or False?

La Brutta Figura photo of a canal in Bologna
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 January 2019, I am featuring a blogger who lives in the Veneto region, who writes the blog La Brutta Figura (Unlocking Italy).

The author does not share her name with us in her blog, but I immediately took to her personable writing for its honesty and humor about what it is like for a Scottish expat to to live in Italy.  Plus, I love the name she chose for the blog, which translates into something like, “to make a bad impression” and has overtones of the strength and tenacity it took for her to adapt to the Italian way of life. This title is, of course, is the exact opposite of the well-known Italian saying that most Italians desperately strive to live by, which is “fare una bella figura.”

In her own words, the authors say about herself:

Initially this blog was a way of sharing my expat story, which naturally involved daily episodes of ‘la brutta figura’, but as I got to grips with participating in local traditions (mainly alcoholic as we are in the Veneto), began to travel the length and breadth of the boot, and learnt enough Italian to feel really at home in this mad country, I decided instead that I wanted to share these cultural experiences I have and non-touristy places I visit, that come from living in Italy, not just holidaying here… I am a travel writer with an incurable addiction to writing about Italy. It might be one of the easiest countries to be a writer in – Italians live like they’re in poetry, theatre, ballet. Us writers just need to record what we see. I contribute to several publications where I’ve written about a wine festival on Isola del Giglio, about surprising Italian inventions, abouthow to live la dolce vita, and about the so-called ‘most beautiful room in the world’.

I have never visited Bologna, although I’ve passed through on the train from one larger city to the next many times.  Each time, I vow to return and stay for at least a day or two to enjoy the unique architecture, visit Università di Bologna (founded in 1088 and the oldest continuously operating university in the world) and, of course, sample the rich Italian food with its generous use of butter and cream that has earned her the nickname “La Grassa” (literally “the fat one”) .

After reading this blog, I felt a bit closer to the spirit of the city of Bologna and I am even more intrigued about what I may find there when I finally do get a chance to visit.  I hope you are too!

To read the full blog, click on the title: The Seven Secrets of Bologna: True or False?

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 – Christmas Guide for Northern Italy from “Rossi Writes”

Italy Christmas 2018
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 November, I am featuring a blogger who lives in Vicenza Italy, whose name is Rossi, from the blog, Rossi Writes.  She has so kindly created a list of wonderful things to do in Northern Italy during the Christmas season in Italy under the title: “Christmas Guide 2018 for Northern Italy – The Complete List of Christmas Markets, Events and Happenings.”

Visiting Italy during Christmas time has been on my bucket list for years.  I always go during the spring or summer, and yet from the photos I’ve seen, Italy is just as magical – or maybe even more so – during the Christmas season, with towns sparkling with lights and shops and churches decked out in their special holiday displays.  When I read Rossi’s list of holiday concerts and events, I can almost feel the mounting excitement of the Christmas season.

In her own words, Rossi says about herself:

Hello! I am Rossi – a Bulgarian currently living in Italy after a 14-year stint in England. This is my blog about my life in these three countries, travels around Europe and opinions about the world we live in.

My blog Rossi Writes was started in November 2014 and currently has over 350 articles on several topics: from what to do and how to settle in Vicenza, in particular, and Italy, in general, to travel diaries and personal thoughts on a variety of themes – expat life, food, travelling with a baby/toddler, dealing with life as it is to name but a few.

I hope some of you get to visit Italy during this Christmas season.  And, if you go to Northern Italy, hopefully you can experience the sights and sounds graciously listed in Rossi’s blog for us all to enjoy.

To read the full blog, click on the title: Christmas Guide 2018 for Northern Italy from Rossi Writes

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.

Fra Noi Magazine – Read and become “a little bit” Italian today!

Conversational Italian in Fra Noi 2018
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti!  Fra Noi Magazine, a gorgeous, glossy magazine, featuring Italian-Americans, is the subject of my blog today because…

This already wonderful magazine has just undergone a “make-over”, and the first  “new” edition has just come just out this week!

Fra Noi is the only magazine I receive that I actually wait for with great anticipation each month! It’s pages are filled with interesting interviews about the Italian-Americans who are making a difference in our world today and informative articles about the community here in Chicagoland and in our Italian homeland.

If you want to see for yourself, click on the link for the Fra Noi Magazine November 2018 issue  that Fra Noi has generously provided to promote their magazine this month.

Along with the timely Italian-American news Fra Noi provides, their reviews of music and movies keep me up-to-date, and their travel section features great travel tips and beautiful photographs of a different region and city each month.  I also love to turn to my favorite columnists: Zia Maria, who has a witty Italian saying for every situation, and Mary Ann Esposito,  whose recipes are perfect for the home cook, whether making dinner for her family or a for a special occasion.

I am also honored to report that…

I have been included in the Fra Noi Magazine’s expansion of  coverage for Italian language!  

Fra Noi magazine now features five pages written entirely in Italian!  Check out pages 93-97 in this month’s magazine. This is a wonderful opportunity for those learning Italian to increase their knowledge of the Italian spoken today, while at the same time reading timely and entertaining material about Italy.  The Italian articles feature Italian movies, Italian history,  Italian artists, and Italian sports.

On page 85 of  Fra Noi magazine, I am introduced as a website columnist for Fra Noi. Each month on the Fra Noi website – FraNoi.com Language Tab – I will provide a blog from my popular series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”

 

Take a look at the Fra Noi website, and you will find even more reasons to love this magazine!

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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.

Just the Important Phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)

Your Italian Travel Tips – Grotta del Vento in Bagni di Lucca, Italy

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Today I am featuring a blogger who lives in a little known area of small towns nestled in the mountains of northern of Tuscany called  “Bagni di Lucca”.

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.” The post for October was written by Debra Kolkka,  who writes the blog “Bella Bagni di Lucca.”

Although no longer a tourist “hot spot,” the area of Bagni di Lucca has been known for its thermal springs since the Etruscan and Roman times according to Debra.  The name means, “Baths of Lucca,” and it  was known as oasis for the super-rich since Countess Matilda had a bridge built to the region in 1101 and especially in the early 1800’s, when Napoleon’s sister Elisa Baciocchi, princess of Lucca at the time, had a road built into the region and spent summers there.

I have to say it is well worth a visit to her blog just to take a look at the photos  of these quintessentially picturesque towns set along the Lima River in the crevices of the lush, green Alps of northern Tuscany.  I can’t resist adding a link to her photos here.

In her own words, Debra says about herself:

I am an Australian who spends half of the year in Bagni di Lucca. I started the blog to share our lovely village with the world. Bagni di Lucca is a collection of about 25 villages dotted along the Lima and  in the mountains on either side. I have visited all of them and you can find a list of the villages and posts about them in “The Villages”.

In the post to follow, Debra describes a tour  of the Grotta del Vento, a wind cave (read on to find out just what this is, as I did!) in the Apuan Alps  in northern Tuscany, about 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca.  How’s that for an interesting Italian adventure tell your friends about the next time you visit Tuscany!

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.

Bella Bagni di Lucca

The Grotta del Vento, wind cave, is a cave in a mountain in Garfagnana, an area in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. It is near the towns of Fornovalasco and Vergemoli. (About 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca) The cave has 2 entrances, one at 642 metres above sea level and another on the other side of the mountain at 1400 metres.

It is a wind cave because air is able to blow through the cave from one entrance to the other. The direction of the wind depends on the temperature outside the cave. In summer, when the air outside is warmer, the air is drawn through the higher entrance and out of the lower entrance. In winter the reverse happens and the air flows upwards. If the temperature outside is the same as inside there is no wind. The temperature inside the cave stays at around 10.7degrees…

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Ferragosto – Italian Holiday Time

Ferragosto in Italy, on Lido Beach in Venice, Italy

 

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

August means Ferragosto in Italy and Ferragosto means a much-anticipated family vacation on the beaches or in the mountains.

My introduction to Ferragosto was in 2013, when I stayed with my cousin who was living in Vicenza, a small town west of Venice.  The town had an eerie feeling, as most of the shops were closed and the hoards of tourists I had become used to encountering  during the summer months in Italy were nowhere to be found.  Some of the locals frequented the two coffee shops, which remained open.  But, most restaurants and non-essential shops in their small piazza were closed.  I could only take my cousin and his family to dinner right before I left, at the end of August, when their favorite restaurant had finally re-opened.

If you’ve never heard of Ferragosto, read on to learn more about this ancient Roman holiday and why it is still celebrated  in Italy today, with anticipation and excitement for Italian families that is second only to that found during the Christmas season.

The following blog was just published on the Learn Italian! blog on August  12, 2018 for Stella Lucente, LLC and www.learntravelitalian.com. Below is an excerpt. Click on the link to read the entire blog!

I’d love to hear if you’ve ever been in Italy during the Ferragosto holiday!

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.

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.

 

Ferragosto – just what is this ancient holiday that still becomes the focus of every Italian during August? While Italy is known as a destination for world travelers seeking to enjoy the Italian landscape, art and food, it is less well-known how Italians enjoy their summertime vacation.

In our story, Caterina, an Italian-American girl,  is a guest in Milan at the house of her Italian cousin Pietro and his wife Francesca.  She arrives in Italy just before the start of the important Italian summer holiday called “Ferragosto”.  The holiday is officially one day – August 15 – and is a holiday celebrated by the Catholic church.  But, most Italians take off at least a week and often two or even three weeks, as people in the cities and even smaller towns escape from the to summer heat to the mountains or beach to enjoy time with their families.

If you want to feel like an insider during the Ferragosto holiday this year, first click on the link from Conversational Italian for Travelers  – Chapter 14 – “On the Beach at Last.”  Listen to the free audio of a the conversation between Caterina and a new friend who meet on the beach during her family’s Ferragosto holiday.

Then, read the Cultural Note below, adapted from the  same textbook also found on Amazon.com, “Conversational Italian for Travelers,”  which describes the history of Ferragosto – how the holiday came to be during Roman times and the different celebrations that take place  around Italy today.  —Kathryn Occhipinti 

To read the Cultural Note about Ferragosto, CLICK HERE