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 – 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 – Artworks You Don’t Want to Miss in Sicily

Sicily, City of Siracusa

 

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 February 2019, I am featuring the blogger Rochelle Del Borrello, who lives in Sicily, and who writes the blog Sicily Inside and Out.

So many Italian-Americans are of Sicilian descent, as I am.  But many of us know very little of the treasures that can be found on a visit to Sicily – the largest island in the Mediterranean with a history of art, architecture and culture that dates back to antiquity, even before the island was conquered by the Romans. In particular, Sicily is known for the beautifully preserved ancient ruins in Agrigento, the ancient historical cities of Siracusa and Palermo, the natural wonders of Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands, and dazzling Arab-Norman and Baroque  architecture, with no less than 7 sites in Sicily designated as World Heritage Sites.

This series of two blogs “Artwork You Don’t Want to Miss in Sicily” was published on the website for Italy Magazine, an online publication that features Italian travel, language and culture. The link to the articles in Rochelle’s blog will also introduce you to this Italian gem of a magazine. Thank you, Rochelle, for providing us with a guide to some of the richness that is truly Sicilian.

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.

Sicily Inside & Out

Remember to follow my advice on how to avoid Stendhal Syndrome on your next visit to Sicily:

The best way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the beauty of art and history, especially in Sicily where art seems to grow ever more elaborate, is to space out your museum visits.
I have shared my own personal bucket list of artworks you don’t want to miss with Italy Magazine, who has published it on their webpage.

Click on the image below if you’d like to read my suggestions.
sicily art1
Part two in my series of artworks you simply must not miss on your next visit to Sicily has also been published.

Thanks to Italy Magazine for sharing my love of fine art.

Click on the image below if you’d like to read more suggestions.

sicily art 2
Sicily is a must visit place for art lovers, it is filled with priceless works…

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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 

 

 

Your Italian Travel Tips… Gone But Not Lost: The Bridges of Florence during World War II

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

Ciao a tutti! Today I am featuring one of my favorite bloggers and her unique insights about Florence.

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 August was written by Stacy di Anna Pollard,  who writes the blog Prayers and Piazzas, in which she shares her love of  Italy and the Italian language.

I was thrilled to return from my visit to Florence this past July to find that Stacy had just posted a blog about the history of the bridges of Florence.  So many visitors to Italy have walked across, photographed, and enjoyed the beauty of the bridges that cross the Arno River – as I was privileged to do again recently.  But until I read this article, I did not appreciate the sacrifices the Florentine people have undergone so we could enjoy their city today.  Luckily for us, Stacy loves to share her research!

In her own words, Stacy says about herself:

Wife, mom, friend, blogger, reader, Italiana-Americana, introvert. Here I write about the most important things in my life: my family (“prayers”) and my love of Italy and Italian (“piazzas”). I also enjoy writing about gratitude, joy, books and travel. Blogging from America with Italy on my heart. – Prayers and Piazzas: link to the site: http://www.prayersandpiazzas.com

 

In the post to follow, Stacy describes how most of the bridges and much of the city of Florence was destroyed during World War II.  Read on to find out how the city’s most famous bridge – the Ponte Vecchio – was saved so that our generation and future generations will always be able to wonder at its glory!

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.

Prayers and Piazzas

By late July of 1944, Allied forces were very close to liberating Florence from the Nazis, who had occupied the city for the past year.

“The Allied forces are advancing on Florence,” warned thousands of leaflets dropped by American planes. “The city’s liberation is at hand. Citizens of Florence, you must unite to preserve your city and to defeat our common enemies… Prevent the enemy from detonating mines which they may have placed under bridges…” ¹

But different directives were coming from the German high command to the citizens of Florence. On July 29, 1944, residents along the Arno — around 150,000 people — were warned to leave their homes by noon the next day. Ultimately, the whole area was blocked off, with German paratroops standing guard at various posts.

On August 3, another warning was issued from the German high command: Beginning from this moment, it is prohibited for…

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Your Italian Travel Tips… Liguria – Small Towns of Italy: Along the Gulf of Poets

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 was written by Orna O’Reilly,  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. Her first book, on home renovation, was written specifically with women in mind and is available on Amazon.com and on Lulu.com. It is called ‘Renovate & Redecorate without Breaking a Nail.’  Orna regularly writes for popular Italy Magazine and for glossy Irish magazine Anthology.

Orna comments about why she wrote this blog:

“I have always been a great fan of the Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century. At school, the nuns encouraged us to learn quite a lot of their poems off by heart and I can still remember large chunks of wonderful odes and sonnets. But the poem I loved most was ‘Ode to the West Wind’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley and I developed a great curiosity about his life and his early death by drowning off the coast of Liguria.”

“The Gulf of La Spezia, named after the main town on this deep bay in the Ligurian Sea, became widely known as the Gulf of Poets due to the incredible number of poets and artists who settled there over the centuries… And the Gulf of La Spezia is particularly beautiful, with a golden light all of its own. A special place.”

 

In the blog to follow, Orna tells us about many of the special towns along the Ligurian coast of Italy, along with their importance to many well-known poets through the centuries. Read on and I’m sure you will enjoy the unique insights and beautiful photos that she shares about this special part of the Italian coastline.

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

The storm that hit the Gulf of La Spezia on 8th July, 1822 was sudden and fateful. Percy Bysshe Shelley, en route from Livorno in his boat, Aerial, to his home in the village of San Terenzo, was tragically drowned.

I have always been a great fan of the Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century. At school, the nuns encouraged us to learn quite a lot of their poems off by heart and I can still remember large chunks of wonderful odes and sonnets. But the poem I loved most was ‘Ode to the West Wind’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley and I developed a great curiosity about his life and his early death by drowning off the coast of Liguria.

The Gulf of La Spezia, named after the main town on this deep bay in the Ligurian Sea, became widely known as the Gulf of Poets due to…

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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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