Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


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It was my first time exploring Tuscany by car and not only was it a welcome change from the usual way I traveled in Italy (train) but also more relaxing!! There are many ways to see a place, but if you have the option, hiring a car is the best one. Not only will you experience more but also see parts of the region that are not possible to visit otherwise by train. A road trip through Tuscany came to me at the right time and it was probably what had been on my wish list since long too!


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary

Day 1:

Radda in Chianti

While most people prefer to see Italy in all it’s glory in the summer, I feel Italy is equally pretty in Winter and I feel fortunate to have enjoyed the pleasures of the countryside in that time. One such place I enjoyed was Radda in Chianti.

A beautiful medieval town well placed between Florence and Siena, Radda in Chianti is a popular Summer destination for everyone but in Winter you could count the number of people on the street. The tiny hamlet is surrounded by distinctive walls. Only a few steps in front of you is it’s Palazzo del Podestà, now an office. However you can go inside and ask for a tour to it’s jail cells. It is worth it!

There is a lift that takes you to the lowest part of the Palazzo where you can see how the prisoners lived. It is quite eerie being in a cell where you could barely breathe but seeing the way people were held captive is an experience in itself. This was something completely out of my comfort zone and even though I did see it, I was so so glad to be out of there.


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary

Radda in Chainti is very charming but my highlight of the visit was not the prison but meeting a lady doing her embroidery. She was busy stitching when I arrived in her store and it was a pleasure to see her doing work ever so smilingly.  Go and buy something from her like I did and don’t miss that smile! This store is right next to Palazzo del Podestà so you can’t really miss it.

A few steps below this one is Ceramiche Rampini– a store + a modern art studio where the owners (a young couple) make pottery and hand paint them keeping the symbol of the black rooster (a symbol of Chianti) alive in all their designs. Another great find!

There is no shortage of place to eat in this little town and I settled at the very popular La Bottega di Giovannino to gorge on some traditional pici pasta with wine.


Day 2:

Pienza and Montepulciano

On the second day, I drove all along Val d’Orcia! An extremely popular Tuscan landscape dotted with the most prettiest scenery, Val d’Orcia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. It is one of the most stunning strips of land I have ever seen in my life and it was really a dream to be there and watch the green unfold in different ways.

Pienza sits on a corner of the Val d’Orcia and is known for it’s pecorino (cheese made from sheep) and romantic streets. The town’s jaw dropping Cathedral and views of the valley are enough to give you a high. Even on a winter day, it was full of tourists! Despite there being stacks of pecorino everywhere, there was no place available for lunch. Maybe it was due to it being a Sunday but in any case I opted for a cheese platter (because why not!) at the Bar by the Duomo.


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary

Of red wine and delicious meat and cheese platters #Pienza #Tuscany

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Wandering around the town of Pienza and it’s many stores was a lot of fun. You can spend as much time in it’s tiny streets but beware- it is a real touristy town. I want to go back again but all I want are those cheese boards! That smell was heavenly!


My next stop was to the town of Montepulciano. I was told that there was a one of a kind Torinese styled Cafe in the town with a view to die for! While it was exceptionally chilly that evening, I took a peek at the famous  Caffè Poliziano and it’s little balcony. What a place to sit and have your drink!!


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Other than that, Montepulciano is like stepping in a movie set where everything is about griffins and lions being the coat of arms. What a town!! Move along a little further from it’s historic centre (it is quite a climb) and visit the wine cellar of Cantina De’ Ricci to sample a few Tuscan specialties.

Sigore Ricci is a wonderful man and knows the land like no other. Book a tasting with him and his wife and you’ll surely come back with an appreciation for wine cellars and the Ricci family of Montepulciano!


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary



Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary

Day 3:


On my last in Tuscany, I had the pleasure of seeing Siena with Federica Fiscaletti from TouringSiena. She gave Barack Obama and Michelle Obama a tour in 2017 when they visited Siena. I’m not only honored but also grateful for the experience. It was an honor to be with yet another passionate individual and hear of things you wouldn’t know from a guide book! Federica takes tours across Tuscany and customizes them based on your time and interest. I only had a few hours in Siena, so she was most flexible and accommodating to ensure I saw something new. (I had visited Siena earlier in 2015).

Federica is extremely informative and told me about the Palio and the different examples of enmity between Siena’s contrades. She took me towards a side of Siena mostly missed by tour guides and one of the highlights was the mention of Bottini- an old system of tunnels which you can visit as a guided tour in spring and autumn. This historic system was even mentioned by Dante in his writings. For more information on this intriguing tunnel system, check La Diana, a voluntary organization giving tours of the Bottini.

My only concern with Federica’s tour was that she should have given more background to make the other person understand Siena, because an outsider would not know anything about the town. So there were times when she assumed I would know things and didn’t explain and I found myself feeling a bit lost.


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary

Nonetheless, a good time. I stopped for lunch bang in the centre of Siena at Osteria La Mossa and I was delighted to see more Tuscan wines and pappardelle for the day’s menu. Osteria La Mossa has a very old styled slow service but their food is exceptional!


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary


Exploring Tuscany: A 3 Day Itinerary

As you can probably see, I wasn’t in any hurry to rush since I wanted to enjoy my time in Tuscany. Usually, I traveled to these towns until early evening and left the rest of the evening for relaxation and eating more Tuscan specialties 😉

I hope this 3 day itinerary gives you a sense on some general ideas on places to see and eat in this part of Tuscany. If you have any specific questions or tips, let me know in the comments!

Where to Stay:

I stayed in Montestigliano and couldn’t have had a better base to be in the centre of it all yet a little far from city life. If you are looking for a place to stay in Siena, check these fabulous Airbnb apartments and Grand Hotel Siena.




I received a tour from Federica Fiscaletti, a wine package from Cantina De’ Ricci and a discount from Osteria La Mossa in exchange for an honest view on this post. However, as always, all opinions are my own.


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


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Tuscany is synonymous to wine tastings, hill top towns and cypress trees.

But there’s so much more…..

It’s the people and their hospitality that blows me away! In my humble 5 years of travel to Italy, in every region I have been to, I have been amazed by the kindness and love shown by the people. Tuscany was no exception.

I had done the usual tourist drill of Florence, Fiesole, Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni but not really spent enough time in the countryside. So it was difficult for me to describe the oomph factor that everyone raved about when it came to Tuscany. But it’s different now. I am dreaming of settling in it’s well preserved countryside.

The vineyards really soothe your eyes and the wine oozes poetry.

This is exactly how I felt on my recent trip to Montestigliano. I stayed there for 3 nights and also visited their adjoining luxury property, Villa Pipistrelli.

Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano

Montestigliano is DREAMY and SPECTACULAR! There are no words that could do justice to describe it. Even in the foggy winter, I felt there was a different charm to the property. But what makes it different is the family. The warmth of the service is exceptionally inviting and the food delicious! Thanks to Francesco and Luisa and her entire family, the Italian touch just moved steps higher than usual for me here.

Montestigliano has a private chapel, an olive oil brand by the same name and a soon to be launching vineyard in it’s kitty. The property is at a strategic location from Siena, Florence and Pienza and is therefore very popular …even for weddings!

Montestigliano is divided into different homes and apartments, each named after a family member. This hill top luxury farm also has swimming pools and recreation areas. It truly is a relaxing place away from the hustle and bustle of bigger towns and a perfect base for trips to Val d’Orcia and Siena!

Here are some spring shots from Montestigliano as well as Villa Pipistrelli to give you an idea of how the property looks.


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano

Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano


Tuscan Dreams of Montestigliano

Are you dreaming of Tuscany too?? Remember if you are looking for a place to stay in Tuscany, Montestigliano should be on your list as it is par excellence!!

You can directly email the owners and use my Promo Code “ItalophiliaTuscany” to get a 10% discount on your booking!

So tell me, what are your favorite places to stay in Tuscany?? 


Related Reading on Montestigliano:

Montestigliano Holiday Farm by Hole in the Doughnut

A Luxury Villa in Tuscany by Margie Miklas

Disclosure: I was a guest at Montestigliano but as always all opinions are my own.

5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche


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The whole of Le Marche is nothing short of a dream and if you are looking for unique experiences in Italy, Le Marche should be on your radar. I visited Central Marche in 2017 and Northern Marche in 2018 and some experiences stayed with me forever. I define them under the category of “unmissable things” so I hope you enjoy reading these unusual experiences from Italy’s Le Marche region:

1. Visit Antica Stamperia Carpegna:

Carpegna is a small town in Northern Marche surrounded by the Montefeltro mountains. In the heart of the small town is Emanuele Francioni’s studio where he does block printing on fabrics using vinegar, flour and rust!


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche: Visit Antica Stamperia Carpegna

Block printing is not new to me as India is a big hub for beautiful block printing designs on ethnic Indian wear and kitchen related products. However, I never thought I would find it in Italy, let alone in this small town of Marche.

Emanuele holds a legacy from the early 1900s that his grandfathers started a century ago. He was kind enough to show me the process of printing using different blocks. It was very intriguing! I also bought myself a few things from the studio where there is a section for visitors to purchase. Emanuele distributes his products in many towns in Italy and few other countries of Europe. For more information head to the official website for Antica Stamperia Carpegna.


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche: Visit Antica Stamperia Carpegna:

2. Explore Urbania’s Medieval Ceramic Store:

Imagine yourself in a characteristic town’s ceramic store, but not your usual ceramic store. This is one where the owners preserve ancient Renaissance designs from over centuries ago!! Gilberto Galavotti and Giuliano Smacchia are two passionate enthusiasts who have learnt the majolica technique and opened the world of art in an entirely different way!

The two cofounded L’Antica CastelDurante in 1995 with the aim of reproducing the classic period of Urbania’s art. Urbania was previously known as Casteldurante. For more information visit their website or their store in Urbania for some exceptional buys and designs!


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche: Explore Urbania


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche: Explore Urbania’s Medieval Ceramic Store

3. Eat with Locals at a River Mill:

Dining at a mill is an unusual experience with the sound of the river, lush green garden and warm winter food. Il Mulino della Ricavata was just what I wanted after a long day in the countryside. The kind owners Anna and Gianfranco reopened the mill after restoring it in 1998 and soon added a B&B here. Anna is a Masterchef and brings the simplest heartwarming local produce to the table. Both she and her husband Gianfranco work hard to give their guests the best of everything.


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche- Eat with locals at a river mill


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche- Eat with locals at a river mill

Dining at their home was very very special because I got to see Anna working and cooking in the kitchen as I had my glass of wine. If you are ever in this part of Le Marche, stay with them and consider booking here. I am grateful to Anna and Gianfranco for a warm and hospitable evening!

4. Dinner at Palazzo Mucci:

You would think, all I am imploring is for you to eat. Well you are right 😉 Drive on top of a hill top to a small village called “Palazzo Mucci”. Visit Agriturismo Hostaria and be blown away by the food and service!! There is fresh local produce and the owner is the most kind hearted soul I have ever met! His eyes speak so but in the kitchen he is a wizard and brings the best of regional cuisine for his guests. Apparently this place is a local’s secret and you can guess why! It is far away from everything and yet you would still feel like you are at home! For more information on booking and the restaurant visit their official website.


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche- Dinner at Palazzo Mucci


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche- Dinner at Palazzo Mucci

5. Have Aperitivo with the 9 Men

This is yet another unique experience that I had in the small town of Mercatello sul Metauro. Thanks to the Donati family I was able to have a great chat and aperitivo with 9 men that form “Academia del Padlot”. These 9 men commemorate their circle to the knowledge and commitment of food, wine and friendship. They have different days where they meet, cook and drink together. Apart from this, intelligent discussions are another aspect of their group. Very insightful!


5 Unmissable Experiences in Le Marche- Academia del Padlot

It was a special day when I got to spend time with these 9 men and had these amazing experiences. Special thanks to my friend Lanfranco Pagliardini for a great evening! For more information follow their journey here.

Thanks to the Donati family, I was able to experience Le Marche is such fabulous ways. These experiences are very close to my heart and I stand by my saying that it is the people who make my Italian travels so fascinating….Always!

If you want to book a stay at Palazzo Donati get a 10% off with my Promo Code “ITALOPHILIAMARCHE”




5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


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Sometimes I feel in this world of social media, where we are consuming information by the second, my Italian wishlist changes every day! I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but there are far too many small towns, too many places, too many things to experience in the Bel Paese. Small charming towns are actually my thing, I am known to hunt for favorites and visit them during my annual retreats in Italy. Sometimes I read a lot places before visiting while on other times, I like to be surprised! This past winter, I traveled to some gorgeous Italian towns that are really really worth the stop. Many more of these gorgeous charming small towns can be found here too.

5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


Right up in the northern region of Liguria, Savona is a town that is becoming popular with cruise ships that travel in the Mediterranean. You might get put off with it’s ugly modern side like I did, but move towards the centre and get ready to be charmed with it’s alleys as any other Italian city! Savona has a rich history with a 12th century tower, an art museum, a fortress or Priamar with amazing exhibits and a long line of restaurants and bars at the port side. It is a town trapped in the medieval time and definitely calls for a visit. Savona is a charming Italian town that is quite underrated in the region of Liguria as Cinque Terre and Genova take the cake. But do visit this port town and don’t forget to sample a delicious farinata bianca from my side!

Closest City: Genova

How to Reach: There are direct trains to reach Savona from Genova. If you are visiting from Turin, there could be a change of trains at Genova.


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


Another town in Liguria that caught my attention was Noli. With its pastel back streets and medieval lanes, Noli is a great catch. It faces the sea and is only 50 minutes from Genoa!! So if you want to spend a lazy day in Liguria, Noli should be on your list. The town still has a perfectly preserved castle on top of a hill and a Roman styled church. No time is less is in this very non touristy part of Liguria. (no foreign tourist except me!) Do visit Ines restaurant and try their delicious gnocchi and pasta alla vongole.

Closest City: Genova

How to Reach: There are no direct trains to reach Noli from Genova. The nearest train station is Finale Ligure Marina. If you are visiting from Turin, there might be a change of trains at Savona.


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


I wanted to stop in a town on the outskirts of Turin that might as well be called Turin itself, but it wasn’t. Moncalieri has a whole other vibe. Expensive boutiques, fashionable people and chic streets, Moncalieri is dreamy! It’s level upped a tad more in the foggy winter when I visited. The town’s historic centre is filled with cars but don’t miss the old styled meat shops and charming Bars. The small Italian town is gorgeously charming and also boasts a 12th century castle that was once the home of the King Victor Emmanuel II.

Closest City: Turin

How to Reach: There are direct trains to reach Moncalieri from Turin.

Adriana and I were at a bar in Moncalieri when I asked the barista where I could buy this Vergnano coffee cup. He told us they didn't sell it, but gladly offered a cup of this size to me! Proud owner of one☕ Don't I tell you it's always the people who make your trip worthwhile 😍 🇮🇹 . . . . #italophilia #coffeecoffeecoffee #buongiornomondo #colazioneitaliana  #bloggerlife #buonacolazione #tlpicks #mytinyatlas #coffeeislife #pausacaffe #caffinefix  #coffeegram #baristalife #espressobar #tazze #cappuccino #cappuccinolover #colazionealbar #italianbreakfast #learningitalian #ig_turin #moncalieri #igerspiemonte #vergnano #italylover #postcardfromitaly #iloveitaly #italiancoffee #centrostorico #winterinitaly

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5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


Urbania is situated in the region of Le Marche and is home to many things. It is known for ceramics, it’s historically imposing Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) and most of all it’s celebration of the festival La Befana that is telecast throughout Italy on the day of it’s celebration- January 6! The town is so so beautiful and has many streets to wander in. Palazzo Ducale is exceptional and might I add, very very cold in the winter!! Adjacent to Palazzo Ducale is a historic Library and Civic Museum. Few people stay in Urbania so you might see a lot of “Vendesi” signs which means that the house is up for sale. Would you want to buy??

Closest City: Pesaro

How to Reach: There are no trains to Urbania and the nearest train station is Pesaro.


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy

Sant’Angelo in Vado:

You might have heard of the International White Truffle Fair in Alba but have you heard of there being another one in Sant’Angelo in Vado, Le Marche?? This charming small little town in Italy holds the International fair in October which is as old as the one in Alba. The town proudly boasts of the earthly flavors of it’s truffles in it’s historic centre. Already on a pretty riverfront, Sant’Angelo in Vado just made it to my wishlist for a second visit- this time obviously during the Truffle Fair!

Closest City: Pesaro

How to Reach: There are no trains to Sant’Angelo in Vado and the nearest train station is Pesaro.


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy


5 Gorgeous Small Towns in Italy

If you made it to the end of this long post, THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading!!


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Experience Italia: Mercatello sul Metauro in Le Marche


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If you have read my previous post on Palazzo Donati, you know how much I loved living in Palazzo Donati. Continuing my experience, let me show you the town of Mercatello sul Metauro where Palazzo Donati is located.


The town of Mercatello sul Metauro, centered aroun Piazza Garibaldi, is in the northern part of Italy’s Le Marche. Mercatello, that goes as far as 12th century BC, is highly picturesque with a river running on the side and mountains around as company. The town has 3 supermarkets, many quaint stores, a few Bars and endless characteristic streets. Boasting a population of 1,500, it is definitely a very small town but despite it being so, there are plenty of churches to take a peek in. The town also has a theatre that is currently in restoration as it was destroyed during an earthquake many many years ago.

Visiting Mercatello is a great way to experience life in small town Italy.


Piazza Garibaldi: If you visit Mercatello for a short or a long stay, you can’t miss the main square i.e. Piazza Garibaldi. This is where everything begins and ends. Piazza Garibaldi is a gorgeous square with Franco’s Bar, a local butcher’s shop and plenty of stores for you to wander around in. You will see locals before 1 p.m and after 4 p.m. Piazza Garibaldi is the hub for everything and on the weekends there are markets where farmers get fresh produce from around the area.


Mercatello sul Metauro: Piazza Garibaldi

Pieve Collegiata: Your next stop should be Pieve Collegiata -a church with sacred objects and furnishing from the time of Romanesque-Byzantine. Pieve Collegiata is stunning inside out and is located on Piazza Garibaldi. The bell tower of this church was shattered in an earthquake and was made again later. The church is really worth a stop!


Mercatello sul Metauro: Pieve Collegiata

Chiesa e Museo di San Francesco: Built in 1235, the Church of San Francesco is another stop for you in Mercatello. This church was made both in Romanesque and Gothic styles and has sculpted interiors from sand stones. There are paintings from between the 14th-17th century. Inside the church is the museum of San Francesco that is opened only on request. Ask a local to get it opened if you are there, there are guides available in English, Italian and German.


Mercatello sul Metauro: Chiesa San Francesco

Centro Storico: How can you miss the streets of this lovely little town?? The centro storico is almost the entire town itself! It is just so quaint!! There are no dearth of pretty streets that will make you want to settle in Mercatello. The medieval village atmosphere is extremely charming and dreamy.


Mercatello sul Metauro


Mercatello sul Metauro


Mercatello sul Metauro: Metauro Bridge

Mercatello has many other places of interest such as the Church of Santa Croce, Stefani Palace, Ducal Palace etc. that you can see as per time at hand.


Mercatello sul Metauro

This tiny village is probably what your soul needs!!


Mercatello sul Metauro

Mercatello leaves a lasting impression on you and by the end of the trip, I am pretty sure you would have made friends with everyone in town!! All the people who came to Franco’s Bar knew who I was and after a while, I felt as if I was part of the town myself! If you go there, do pass my hello to everyone!


The best way to travel here is by car. The nearest train stations to Mercatello are Pesaro and Arezzo. There are buses from Urbino as well, but I suggest renting a car.

Use Promo Code “ITALOPHILIAMARCHE” to book your stay at Palazzo Donati.


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Experience Italia: Palazzo Donati in Le Marche


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Imagine yourself in a characteristic small Italian town surrounded by classy beautiful interiors, delicious food and friendly people. This was my experience staying at Palazzo Donati in the untouched region of Le Marche.

Where is Palazzo Donati??

Palazzo Donati is located in the town of Mercatello sul Metauro (the name is a handful but to put quite simply Mercatello is the name of the town and Metauro is the river). Owned by the Donati family since the 17th century, Palazzo Donati is a great holiday retreat in Le Marche.

Luisa Donati, one of the owners, very kindly hosted me for the 3 days I stayed here. She has a simple mantra- to provide exceptional quality services to her guests. And how well she does! Every year Luisa and her family host unusual retreats for guests to welcome them in her ancestor’s beautiful home. For instance, this year she is having a Creative Writing Week, Luxury Knitting Week and International Opera Experience. There are many more that can be found here. Apart from these, you can simply go to stay in the Palazzo any time of the year!


Palazzo Donati in Le Marche

StudioPicchio (14)

Palazzo Donati in Le Marche (Pic Credits: Palazzo Donati)

StudioPicchio (9)

Palazzo Donati in Le Marche (Pic Credits: Palazzo Donati)


Palazzo Donati in Le Marche (Pic Credits: Palazzo Donati)


Palazzo Donati in Le Marche (Pic Credits: Palazzo Donati)

StudioPicchio (19)

Palazzo Donati in Le Marche (Pic Credits: Palazzo Donati)

Why Palazzo Donati??

From the colorful wallpaper to the swanky modern kitchen to the exceptionally huge garden, Palazzo Donati is much more than small town Italy. The fresh food, location at the main piazza and accessibility to the best towns in the region are just some of the reasons why you should book Palazzo Donati!!

Palazzo Donati is the best way to experience slow travel.

Enjoy your morning coffee with an epic view from your bedroom as the bell tower chimes every hour. The local Bar is literally 15 steps away (yes I counted). Palazzo Donati is an ancient home that will enthrall you completely! Don’t miss the attention to detail in each part of the house. It is astounding that the house is so old yet so modern from the inside. This is what I love about Italian homes because you never know what you might find inside.


Palazzo Donati in Le Marche


Palazzo Donati in Le Marche

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Living away from the crowds was a treat at Palazzo Donati and I am fortunate to have spent time with Luisa and her family! There will be more on my experience on small town Italy with Palazzo Donati in the coming posts.

If you would like to book an individual or group experience with Luisa and her family, use my PromoCode “ITALOPHILIAMARCHE” and get 10% off on your booking at Palazzo Donati!! I would love for you to see and experience a great holiday in Le Marche like I did! Buon Viaggio!



Related Reading:

The Holy Town of Loreto

The Medieval Town of Fermo

10 Charming Small Towns in Italy

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5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


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I know most of you on Italophilia are regular travelers. And so many of you have requested to share more places from my past travel to Italy- a country that baffles me every time I visit. There are so many regions to choose from and each region more unique than the other. This past winter, I was traveling with my friends Adriana and Enzo in the region of Liguria. I had earlier visited the region of Liguria in 2013 but only seen the Cinque Terre and Portovenere. This time I explored much more than what I thought was Liguria. Honestly, this post is not written to criticize The Cinque Terre because I absolutely love those 5 villages even if they are VERY touristy. But all I want to highlight that there’s more to Liguria than the Cinque Terre! I hope this list of beautiful towns in Liguria gives you wanderlust for Italy and also more ideas for your upcoming travels!

Here are the 5 towns beyond the Cinque Terre:


Cervo is a living Ligurian dream and a place I would gladly return to! Located in the province of Imperia, Cervo is surrounded by pretty doors and pastel colored houses in tiny mysterious alleys that promise to lead you somewhere…..! It is filled with quaint little boutiques and cool bars that offer a fabulous view of the sea. But the highlight for anyone visiting Cervo is it’s church Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista that overlooks the sea and is gorgeous inside out. My friend Adriana aptly said, “I can’t imagine how it must be going to Sunday Mass and seeing that view every time.” Cervo is also part of “The Most Beautiful Villages of Italy” list.

Closest train station: Diano


Cervo: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Cervo: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Cervo: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Cervo: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)



Only a few kilometers from the sea is the ancient village of Dolceacqua. It has a humpback bridge, an alley filled with umbrellas, a medieval castle and a grape that is unique to the area! Dolceacqua’s bridge and castle (pic below) is from the 12th century and was painted by Monet in 1884. This characteristic old village had Monet smitten. What I most loved about it was that it was literally devoid of tourists! The famous grape that produces red wine in this town is called Rossese di Dolceacqua or quite simply Dolceacqua. It should be tasted when you are there!

Closest train station: Ventimiglia


Dolceacqua: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Dolceacqua: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Dolceacqua: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)



Yet another Ligurian town beyond the Cinque Terre is Finalborgo. It is part of the “The Most Beautiful Villages of Italy” list and rightly so. It’s elegant alleys and well maintained piazze speak of the class of its residents. Finalborgo has hiking trails all around it and turns out to be a popular town among hikers from Europe. Hence there are a lot of expensive stores selling mountain gear. There is also a castle and an Archelogical museum. Overall, the town is just stunning and I can’t imagine how pretty it would be in the summer!

Closest train station: Finale Ligure Marina


Finalborgo: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Finalborgo: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Finalborgo: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Finalborgo: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)



A very hard name to pronounce (Laee-guay-lia), Laigueglia is another of the villages that falls under “The Most Beautiful Villages of Italy” category. Laigueglia faces the sea and is perfect for a beach vacation. It also happens to be the shooting location of the movie Inkheart. (Have you seen it??) Laigueglia is a dream for all you lovers of the Italian Riviera and has the most spectacular views! Look beyond the Cinque Terre and you will find cheaper rates and less crowded towns like this one!

Closest train station: Laigueglia


Laigueglia: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Laigueglia: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Laigueglia: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)



Another classic beach location beyond the Cinque Terre is the tiny village of Varigotti. Seeing the pictures from this town just make me so happy! Varigotti is an expensive summer destination and I can only imagine why… Look at those houses facing the sea! But in the winter it was all to myself. Invite me over if you splurge and rent one of these homes, okay?? 😉

Closest train station: Finale Ligure Marina


Varigotti: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Varigotti: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


Varigotti: 5 Beautiful Towns in Liguria (Beyond Cinque Terre)


I unintentionally went to a lot of places listed under the “I Borghi più belli d’Italia” or “The Most Beautiful Villages of Italy” and am so thrilled about that because Liguria has so many little gems just waiting to be explored. I hope you know there is much more beyond the Cinque Terre. And if you need some ideas, start from this list!!


Related Reading:

How to Reach the Cinque Terre

Numana: A Jewel of the Adriatic



Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


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Our world revolves around Social Media nowadays and if you have read my post on Most Instagram-able Spots in Rome, you would know what I mean! While the whole of Italy is very Instagram-able, I think every city has certain spots where you can catch the best picture for the gram! The best Instagram Spots in Florence are a tad too many- whether from the rooftop of a famous hotel or from someone’s home or even a public library! But here are some of my Most Favorite Instagram spots in Florence only for you!


You know it already but isn’t anywhere at/around/near the gorgeous Duomo a.k.a Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the best?? I can’t get enough of it!! Any street especially close to it takes my breath away! It is undoubtedly one of the most popular Instagram spots of Florence.


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


A place off the beaten path but only a stone’s throw away from the Duomo is Biblioteca delle Oblate. This 13th century convent converted library is the perfect spot for some coffee+ reading + Duomo gramming! Enjoy the garden and climb to the top floor of the Oblate Caffeteria. You will be rewarded with a JAW DROPPING view of the Duomo!! Oblate is a neat find for all you book lovers because the English section has a great collection of books. There is even a Museum of Prehistory here!


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


No surprises on this one! If you Google Florence then Piazzale Michelangelo might be on the top result. When in Florence, take a map of the city and walk towards this picturesque point of the hill that overlooks the city of Florence. I have no words to describe this view! Piazzalle Michelangelo is spectacular any time of the day and is one of my favorite Instagram Spots in Florence. You can see the whole of central Florence from here and the Duomo shines through..As always!


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


Another place perfect for an Instagram Spot in Florence is the top floor of the department store of La Rinascente! You not only get a good peak into Piazza della Repubblica but also a priceless view of the Duomo! This is another to die for view that leaves you stunned yet wanting for more. La Rinascente is a department store that has a Bar on the top floor. You can sit down and relax with your book…or negroni or simply take a picture and come back quietly!


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


Ponte Vecchio is probably another of the most photographed and Instagram-able spot in Florence after the Duomo itself! If you visit in the early evening, the colors of the city come alive magically. Although it is usually run down by tourists, try going early morning at around 7 or late at night around 11 to have it all to yourself. That is the best way to up your Instagram game 😉


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence


Climbing to the top anywhere in Florence’s historic centre will pretty much give you mind blowing views of the city! Giotto’s Bell Tower is one such place that offers a close up of the Duomo and a breath-taking sight of the city!


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence

Duomo di Firenze- up and close 😍 #traveldudes #littlefirenze

A post shared by Ishita. Italy. India. (@italophilia) on


When in Florence, the Duomo never leaves you….And it seems to stare right back in your face at the very popular Via dei Servi. I can never get enough of this view of you, Florence! Find this street and thank me later 🙂

Tell me which ones are your favorite??


Most Instagram-able Spots in Florence

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever."

A post shared by Ishita. Italy. India. (@italophilia) on



Related reading for the city of Florence:

How to Spend 3 Days in Florence

Where to Stay in Florence

Disclosure: There are “affiliate links” on my blog. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting Italophilia!:)


Ispirazione: Sole Yoga Holidays Retreats


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Shari from SoleYogaHolidays is our guest for the Ispirazione Series today where she shares her experience of learning Italian! I met Shari in Florence this winter and we bonded over Italian coffee and fresh juice. Shari takes Yoga and Wellness retreats across the world and lives in Florence where she also takes Yoga Classes. She is THE woman driving Sole Yoga Holidays. It is not short of commendable and super inspiring!!

Whether you are an Italophile or not, you will love her style and spirit. And if you are planning to visit Italy this summer, she is offering a discount of 150 € to all Italophilia readers who book her Cinque Terre Retreat from June 17-23. All you have to do is use the CODE “IshitaCinque“.


Isn’t that amazing!! For now, let’s hear more from Shari!

Tell us a little about your decision to live in Italy and how it all started??

Like so many others before me (and many to follow), I came to Florence on a Semester abroad. The very first moment I stepped into Palazzo Vecchio with the glorious statues around me, I was hooked and I knew somehow someway I would return. Sure enough, the perfect time came years later when I found myself in search of something new in life. I was in San Francisco working long hours in Marketing. My pockets were full but my heart was empty. I decided it was now or never and made the move to my beloved Florence.

Did you know Italian beforehand??

Not really. I took two semesters in college, but it never really ‘stuck.’ I tried with Rosetta Stone and some workbooks before I had arrived, but it didn’t teach me more than just numbers and basic greetings.

How was your experience with Italian in the first few months?

In the first few months, it was incredibly challenging as well as frustrating!! There were so many moments that I knew the words, but they were somewhere hiding in the back of my brain and I couldn’t get them to come to my mouth fast enough! I do think some people are better than others in picking up foreign languages. My sister is one of them, for example. But, unfortunately I am not!


What tips would you give to readers who are learning Italian??

Mingle with the locals! Stay away from the center where most everyone speaks English. Go into a hardware store, or wine shop or shoe cobbler and chat with the owner. They love to help you with the language. Plus, you pick up phrases that you wouldn’t normally hear. Go to the movies. I love seeing English movies with Italian subtitles or vice versa. Finally, make the effort to make Italian friends. It is not easy, but it is so incredibly rewarding. I have a small group of Italian friends, that are now family to me. I took classes for one year at a language school. It was helpful for grammar and basics, but then I hired a tutor who is now my best friend!!

What an inspiring story, Shari! I am pumped to keep learning Italian this way.

Grazie per la tua inspirazione!

To Book her Cinque Terre Retreat head to this link.

SAMPLE for Ishita

Related Reading:

Ispirazione: Smitten with a Merry Feast

Ispirazione: Learning Italian through Instagram

Quick Tips to Learn a New Language


How to Spend 3 Days in Florence


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Visiting Florence for the first time but overwhelmed by the number of things to do?? I know the feeling! Florence is hard to leave your mind especially after seeing over a million pictures of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore a.k.a The Duomo. Every time you look at it, you are blown away! My first trip to Florence was a hotchpotch and I ended up doing many things I didn’t want to.

I don’t recommend spending only 3 days in Florence. I don’t….Because there is so much to see/do! But I also get how for most people it could be the ONLY trip to Florence. So I think this post on how to spend 3 days in Florence is necessary. If you have 3 days, it is a good enough time to get accustomed to this incredible city and be left wanting for more.. !

Please note that these are tips for first time travelers to Florence which can be increased or decreased depending on the length of the trip and resources.



Jaw dropping architecture, delectable Tuscan food and close proximity to the countryside makes Florence an ideal Italian city. There is something for everyone here! Honestly, I never had a soft spot for Florence until my recent trip. I fell in love with the city again because I gave it a second chance…..


BUDGET: The most important of all questions! If you are looking for a budget place to stay in the city, close your eyes and book Ostello Archi Rossi (Via Faenza, 94R). It is 2 steps away from the train station and 12 minutes walk from the Duomo. Everything you possibly want i.e. bars, restaurants, fast food, shopping street are around Archi Rossi. Plus private rooms and a very good WiFi helps! I have stayed here twice.

MEDIUM/SPLURGE: A super awesome stay in the centre of Florence is Asso’s Place (Via del Corso, 2) with a dreamy views of the DUOMO, free Wifi+ breakfast goodies. The price depends on the season but in the spring/summer it should be around EUR 220 a night. It is best to book Asso’s Place with a big group where you can easily split the cost.

More places in the same category include Palazzo Belfiore, Palazzo San Niccolò and Canto Degli Scali. I also recommend using AirBnb and seeing somewhere in the centre if it is your first time in Florence.

High priced options are not suggested here because I have yet to try one myself in Florence.


The Must Dos:
  1. Il Duomo: The stunning Dome that you see in all the pictures of Florence has to be seen from both inside and outside. It took 200 years to build this awe inspiring work of art. Do climb to the top of the Duomo for spectacular views and also visit the Gates of Paradise right in front of it afterwards.
  2. Galleria degli Uffizi: Everything related to Italian art is right here! Uffizi contains the most priceless works of art from the time of Italian Renaissance and houses works of artists such as Giotto, Vinci, Michelangelo, Piero della Francesco, Caravaggio etc. Uffizi is known to be the most visited museums of the world and it best seen on a guided tour or with an audio guide.
  3. Piazza della Signoria: An open air museum outside the Uffizi, this will probably leave you mind blown! Piazza della Signoria is the heart and soul of Florence and has been the political centre of the city since centuries. Take time to admire the tons of sculptors here.
  4. Palazzo Vecchio: A beautiful old palace in the heart of the city, Palazzo Vecchio is next to Uffizi Gallery so plan your day accordingly. Also, have you read Inferno?? This is where Dante’s mask is. 
  5. Ponte Vecchio: The picturesque medieval bridge where it is almost a crime not to take a picture, Ponte Vecchio is filled with expensive jewelry stores and selfie stick sellers. I always go past them and suggest you to cross the Ponte (bridge) and see it from the other side. This also also happens to be the only bridge that was not destroyed in WWII.
  6. Galleria dell’ Accademia: The museum that houses the most famous statue by Michelangelo! DAVID! Book an early morning visit and avoid the crowds but please don’t take a selfie with David!

Spend 3 days in Florence with the above architectural and cultural marvels as per your pace. Lots of wine and gelato should follow on the side;)


How to Spend 3 Days in Florence

If You Still Have Time:

  1. Piazzale Michelangelo: For spectacular views of Florence, walk towards Piazzela Michelangelo to see a fabulous view of the whole city. It is magical at night!
  2. Oltrarno: Visit the other side of the bridge (Ponte Vecchio) and see the quirky neighborhood of Oltrarno with it’s classy studios and art galleries.
  3. Palazzo Pitti: A Renaissance palace built in the 15th century, Palazzo Pitti also includes the stunning Baboli garden and is a fascinating palace from the times of the Medici.
  4. Basilica Santa Croce: Sixteen chapels together constitute the Basilica of Santa Croce, which was badly destroyed during the 1966 flood in Florence. This happens too be Michelangelo’s burial place.
  5. Fiesole: Take ATAF Bus 7 and visit the town of Fiesole. The journey is only 20 minutes and you can admire the a spectacular view of Florence from here.

How to Spend 3 Days in Florence


Although there are a TON of options for day trips from Florence, here are the top 3:

Pisa: If you want to cross off another UNESCO Heritage Site of Italy (there are 53!), definitely go see the tower that defies gravity a.k.a the Leaning Tower. Book your train tickets online on Trenitalia or buy at the station.

Siena: Head to the medieval town of Siena that is famous for Palio- a bi annual horse race. Journey time from Florence is about an hour and 15 minutes. Read more here.

San Gimignano: Another beautiful (but very touristy) town near Florence is San Gimignano. It is adorned with 14 towers that makes a beautiful skyline and also houses one of most popular gelateria of the world!

More options for day trips include Lucca, Monteriggioni and parts of Val d’Orcia.

I do not recommend taking a day trip to Rome because nothing about Rome can be seen in a day. If you want to know more on Rome, check my guide on spending 3 days in the city.


How to Spend 3 Days in Florence


In order to spend 3 days in Florence, you might want to try the best pizza or pasta in the city. Some recommends for a mix of everything:

Caffè Cibrèo: Dine with the locals in Cibreo which is famous for sourcing local products and making elegant dishes of them. The have a trendy vibe mixed with a little of old world. The owner is so fun to talk to and will enhance your dining experience up a notch. Cibreo’s aperitivo (evening snacks with a drink of your choice) is fantastic! They also have a formal restaurant and a smaller Trattoria (Closed Monday)

Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5R


La Ménagére: A pretty place for coffee that is also a flower shop + restaurant + bistrot. La Ménagére has a relaxed vibe and super friendly service. They also have free WiFi without password….! (makes life easier, no??)

Via Dè Ginori, 8/R

Trattoria Anita: A place where the locals frequent is Trattoria Anita with some of the best hand made pasta I’ve had in Florence! Their selection of wine is amazing as is the old world and no frills service. Easy on the pocket. (Closed Sunday)

Via del Parlascio, 2

SimBIOsi: A fantastic pizza place in Florence is SimBIOsi. They have pizzas that are organic, glutton free and vegan! It has a cozy vibe and is only 5 minutes walk from the Duomo. Very good choice!

Via de’ Ginori, 58/red

Mercato Centrale: This is the central market with a ton of food stands from international cuisines to fregional Italian cuisines. I love the counter with fresh pasta (Pasta Fresca) and the corner Il Tartufo (The Truffles) that gives dishes topped with fresh truffles on salads and sandwiches!

Via dell’Ariento

Carduccio: Bored of Italian food?? Try organic food, fresh juices, cakes, salads and smoothies at Carduccio. Thanks to Georgette from GirlinFlorence for recommending on her blog. I also loved their coffee.

Sdrucciolo de’ Pitti, 10/R

Gelateria dei Neri: What else but gelato?? Make that extra effort to find this place and go for any flavor here! You’ll probably burn those calories anyway with all that walking.

Via dei Neri 20/22R

All’Antico Vinaio: Be prepared to stand in longest queue to get the best panino ever! Antico Vinaio lives up to their fame.

Via dei Neri 65

Harry’s Bar: Super chic place for a quick negroni or spritz!

Via Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, 22/R

News Cafe: If you want a little shot of Duomo in your cup (YES!) go to News Cafe, just 5 minutes away from the main Duomo. They do the best coffee art! You will thank me later 😉

Via del Giglio, 59


How to Spend 3 Days in Florence


How to Spend 3 Days in Florence

Hope these tips on spending 3 days in Florence help…I’d love to hear what you think??

PS: Do you know the centre of Florence has almost been the same since the times of the Renaissance! Amazing, isn’t it??



Where to Stay in Florence with a View of the Duomo


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Looking for a place to stay in Florence with a view of the Duomo?? I got you covered!

A stone’s throw away from the Duomo, in one of the best streets of the city is Asso’s Place- a luxury apartment in the heart of Florence. This 2nd floor apartment was my find on a dull Monday morning in Delhi. And a stroke of luck available on the dates I wanted!

It is your answer on where to stay in Florence with a view of the Duomo!

If you rent one room in the apartment, the whole apartment is yours! So no sharing with anyone which means- 2 bedrooms + 2 baths + a fully stocked kitchen + a spacious living room + a balcony all yours!! Win win!
Where to Stay in Florence with a View of the Duomo: My bedroom at Asso’s Place

Where to Stay in Florence with a View of the Duomo: The “To Die For View” at Asso’s Place

Where to Stay in Florence with a View of the Duomo: View from the living area at Asso’s Place

….Imagine staying in Florence with a view of the Duomo

Florence’s Duomo is seriously the answer to sore eyes and heart. Waking to this view right in front of me was surreal. It was very comfortable being in the centre of everything yet being in a quiet apartment. When the bells chimed every hour, I had my own quiet moment..Just me and the Duomo.

Some places are extraordinary and dreamy..

The hospitality here was par excellence. I was left a bottle of prosecco along with milk, cake and biscuits for my breakfast. There was a couch in the living room where I could relax with hand picked books by Piero himself. And of course I could sneak a view of the Duomo of Florence from there!

Use my PROMO CODE “ITALOPHILIA ASSO” and directly book your stay at Asso’s Place. Get 10% off on your booking!!


x agenzie

Where to Stay in Florence with a View of the Duomo: From the library and desk at Asso’s Place

Where to Stay in Florence with a View of the Duomo: Second bedroom at Asso’s Place

Where to Stay in Florence with a View of the Duomo: Mornings at Asso’s Place

Where to Stay in Florence with a View of the Duomo: Living room at Asso’s Place

Locals to the rescue..

Piero Asso, a local from Florence, is extremely passionate about Florence. He volunteers to show Florence’s offbeat sites and neighborhoods to his guests and calls it “Walk with Piero“. I was privileged to be shown Florence in a new light!

This is what I love about Italy- the people and the connections that come at the right time almost just when you need it and promise to last for a lifetime. Hoping to see Piero and his family in India one day.

Related Reading:

An Evening in Florence with BonAppetour

Ascending 463 Steps to Florence’s Duomo

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster



Use my PROMO CODE “ITALOPHILIA ASSO” and directly book your stay at Asso’s Place. Get 10% off on your booking!!

Disclosure: I was hosted for the 2 nights at Asso’s Place but as always, all opinions here are my own. Thanks Piero for providing me these lovely pictures!

Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy


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It is not easy being a solo female traveler.…Especially in India. There are many cultural and societal issues attached to it which I don’t want to get into. But around me, there are women who travel alone, who want to travel alone and many who admire others for doing it. But often the women who want to travel alone either don’t find the courage to do it or don’t get the required support/approval from family. (I told you it’s tricky here!)

Hence, I know there are many women who would find this post on “Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy” necessary and befitting. I hope to give those women that push to travel alone!

My Story on Solo Travel in Italy

When I first thought of traveling to Italy alone, I was nervous and excited but I wasn’t under confident. I remember I really wanted to do it. I was told how safe Italy is compared to many other places such as Delhi (my current home) so I wanted to try myself and experience solo travel in the country.

Coming from a very open minded and supportive family, I most often than not faced the concern of safety more than the concern of approval. My family stood like a backbone, supporting me for my solo trips to Italy.  I was usually questioned on the “hows” of traveling solo more than the “whys”. So I agree, traveling solo in Italy was much easier for me than any of you.

But here’s how I help you…..!!

I strongly feel you should do what you want in life. And by that I don’t mean going against your parents wishes but standing up for what you believe in. If traveling solo is what you want, do not overthink. Just dive in! But first, YOU need to be convinced yourself! Once that is figured, prepare your family for it and read my tips on enjoying solo travel and keeping yourself safe! 😉

Ishita shoot edits (140 of 765)

Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy: Do you want to travel solo??

Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy

Honestly, my first solo trip in Italy was not only my first solo trip outside of my country but also MY VERY FIRST solo trip! I learnt many things on the road and wanted to pass them as a handy list of tips to anyone looking to travel alone in Italy or beyond:

  • Stay Vigilant Around Train Stations: First things first. You and your belongings! Keep them together because one look away from your bag might turn to be very expensive or dangerous to you. If there is anywhere I have felt unsafe in Italy, it has been those small town train stations where there is no soul in sight but that one stranger eyeing your bag.
  • Say Hello to Morning/Afternoon flights: Take flight that lands in morning or afternoon because when you are in a foreign land (where you also don’t speak the local language) you should be reaching your accommodation at a reasonable time and preferably before it’s too dark.
  • Never have all Cash and Card in One Place: I know you have read this countless times before but this is 100% true. Please don’t make this mistake! Spread your cash and cards in different pouches, bags, inside socks, packets etc. Don’t carry it all with you either!
  • Try a Group Tour: Feeling too lonely?? Book a cooking class or dine in a local’s home like I did. It not only helps in making more friends but also drives away that loneliness!

Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy: Italy: Pizza Making Class in Rome

  • Know the Cost of a Taxi: Stuck somewhere?? Too eager to get to your hotel?? Take a taxi from outside the airport/train stations and make sure you research online beforehand. Have the Trenit App downloaded on your phone to check cost of train in Italy.
  • Save Numbers of your Country’s Embassy: Keep numbers of your country’s Embassy handy. I have the number of the Indian Embassy in Rome saved in my phone. In case of an emergency, this is not only useful but also calms you down to see your people in a foreign land. Also, make sure you have copies of your Passport and Visa with you (just in case).

Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy: Strike a Conversation with locals

  • Strike Conversations with Locals but Be Aware: Even if it is just a Grazie (Thank you) or a Buongiorno (Good Morning) you will be surprised how friendly locals are in Italy. They can really go out of the way to help you and knowing Italian helps. Trust me, there is so much kindness in the world, and Italy reminds me that each time. If you feel there is catcalling or over friendliness on the street, just politely say, no grazie (no, thank you) and walk away swiftly!
  • Keep in Touch with Family: I know solo travel gets lonely at times, especially early evenings (for me). Staying in touch with family and friends always helps. Let them know where you are, send a picture of yourself, they are waiting to hear from you!
  • Look Confident: Give the impression that you know. This helps to avoid people to come near you in the first place.
  • Common sense and gut are my strongest suits when traveling alone!
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    Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy: Look Confident

  • Enjoy Eating Alone: Dining alone is awkward?? Do you feel nervous and think you are being judged?? Yes you probably are!! But why worry?? Carry a book or a pair of headphones. Never in Italy have I felt that I should be treated differently because I am alone. Of course the occasional stare will happen in ANY country, but I have ended up chatting with a lot of people because of this very reason!

Remember….. these are only a few tips to traveling solo…it’s baby steps to everything! You can’t be a pro at traveling alone after one trip. So give yourself time to get accustomed to it. Research research research. Read a lot of blogs before going anywhere. Even in Italy that’s what I do!


Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy: Are you ready??

While writing this post, I saw myself featured on Texas Mom In Torino’s Blog where she says “I don’t know anyone who is as brave as you are to travel solo“. I am deeply touched and also very flattered because I never thought I could be featured in a blog post concerning solo female travel. But there I was!! I know there are many of out there looking for that one ray of hope and inspiration to start it. Remember it’s not always Instagram pictures and coffee in the sunshine but there are many ups and downs with it, so be brave and embrace it!

Traveling alone in Italy has been the most exhilarating experiences of my life! I can’t wait to do it again!

Happy Traveling Ladies!!


Related Reading:

Things to Know before you Travel to Italy

Things I Love About Travel

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Street Art in Rome


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It was a cool crisp morning during #WinterInRome and our group was heading out to see Street Art in Rome with PersonalizedItaly.



Our first stop for Street Art in Rome tour was the neighborhood of Ostiense. The tour started with this 25th Anniversary Special Mural outside Cartoon Network’s office. I thought it was striking and super cute since cartoons capture expressions in the best way.


Street Art Rome: Cartoon Network Office, Ostiense

Then came the Wall of Fame….


Street Art Rome: Wall of Fame, Ostiense


Street Art Rome: Frida Kahlo and me


Street Art Rome: Wall of Fame, Ostiense


Street Art Rome: Wall of Fame, Ostiense

Another eye catching Street Art in Rome was this building below done by the artist BLU. It is on Ostiense’s Via del Porto Fluviale and is the most prominent street art I have ever seen!


Street Art Rome: Ostiense


Next stop for Street Art in Rome tour was the neighborhood of Pigneto where Italian Director and artist Pier Paolo Pasolini rules! He was in love with the neighborhood and artists have made sure to capture the visionary all along Via Fanfulla da Lodi.

For instance, Pasolini’s face is behind this superhero and symbolizes a very famous article Pasoli once wrote for a newspaper. The title of the article was “Io so i nomi” (I know the names) and hence on the mural as well.


Street Art Rome: Pasolini depicted as a superhero


Street Art Rome: Pasolini’s famous eye

This famous face below, of the actress Margherita Caruso, is another popular Street Art in Rome. She played the young Virgin Mary in Pier Pasolini’s film “Il vangelo secondo Matteo” (The gospel according to Matthew).


Street Art Rome: Margherita Caruso in Pigneto



Rome Street Art: Pasolini



Street Art Rome: Pigneto

All in all, it was very interesting to see Rome’s Street Art, definitely a fad and a great way to get off the tourist track. Special thanks to PersonalizedItaly and Linda from The Beehive who got this planned for our group.

What about you…. Do you like street art?? Do you enjoy this new “movement” of beautifying abandoned buildings and spaces to better a neighborhood??


Subscribe to my MONTHLY NEWSLETTER to know more on ROME!

5 Books on Italy to Read this Spring


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No matter how busy I am, I always have a book or two going on in the background. And one out of the two will be a book on Italy. Predictable much?? I also re-read a lot of my favorite books. Do you??

For instance, recently I re-read Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and loved it, finding newer meanings to Calvino’s eccentric tale and words. Anyway I thought of compiling a list of “5 Books on Italy to Read this Spring” for books written in English or translated from Italian. Hope you add more to your reading pile!

Related reading: Ten Favorite Books on Italy


Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano

If you are someone looking to read a book that exposes The Mafia, pick this one! The author, with his life like characters and gritty image, shows the dark side of Italy. It is not an ordinary book and needs courage to be picked up to read the raw, vivid and horrific details. The book shows a new style of prose too. Bravo to Saviano! That being said, I would prefer to read this book in Italian one day as a lot got lost in translation.

Buy the book by clicking on the link below:

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Are you looking for a sensual, passionate and powerful book?? Call Me By Your Name is exactly that…. plus a little more. I read it on recommendation by Jasmine and I am so happy I picked it up! The story, set in Northern Italy, is about the irresistible relationship of two men. (no spoiler zone) After reading the book, I saw the 80s nostalgia on screen and have to say I equally loved the movie too. It made me sad and giddy at the same time. Call Me By Your Name will get in your skin.

Buy the book by clicking on the link below:

Waking Isabella by Melissa Muldoon

If you are interested in Italian art and traditions and also want a little Tuscany on the side, Waking Isabella is the book to pick. Italy Book Tours was most kind to send me this book, a story of the past and present that moves back and forth. The author entwines it best with the richness of the town of Arezzo. Although the story is a tad predictable, I enjoyed it from the leading character’s point of view the most. Melissa’s blog is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn Italian and she had interviewed yours truly for her blog 2 years back.

Buy the book by clicking on the link below:

The Land Where Lemons Grow by Helena Attlee

I am amazed at how much Italy offers as a nation. It continues to surprise me daily. The Land Where Lemons Grow is Helena’s deep research and prose on the citrus fruit. Yes, it is a book on the citrus really. Although it originates from The Himalayas, it’s connection with Bella Italia is evident from the first page. The author travels all around Italy searching this exotic fruit and it’s varieties and hence the name. The book has recipes, maps and interviews in addition to it’s specialized subject, making it a perfect combination of food and travel. Next time, I would prefer to read it under the shade of a lemon tree in Liguria.

Buy the book by clicking on the link below:

Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau

Ending the list with Cheers! I saw this book on Instagram last year and later at a cafe where I browsed for hours. A gorgeously printed book with interesting stories and DIY recipes, Spritz instantly puts you in a better mood! It is the perfectly breezy yet informative coffee table (errr cocktail table??) book about modern Italian living. Don’t you think all of us Italophilies can write their own version of this very famous Italian drink?!

Buy the book by clicking on the link below:

Related Reading: #BooksonItaly Contemporary and Travel

Disclosure: There are “ affiliate links” on my blog. If you click on a picture and make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting my blog as always. Grazie tanto!



Chasing Raphael: Rome-Urbino-Delhi


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You know Raphael?? (Raffaello) Of course you do! One of the greatest Italian painters from the 15th century, Raphael is a name I associate from my 7th grade history book. Well it seemed I followed his footsteps this year…..Or he followed mine….

Chasing Raphael: Rome-Urbino-Delhi


Raphael (1483-1520)


I was in Rome where Raphael is buried. The Pantheon (which is one of my favorite monuments in the city) is his resting place where he supposedly asked to be buried. I visit The Pantheon every time I go to Rome and this time was no different….That was the first of seeing Raphael.


The Pantheon where Raphael is buried


After Rome, a week later I found myself in Raphael’s home town! Urbino is the town where he was born and it is wholly and solely his town. You cannot mistake it as you see postcards, stores and streets named after him. Below is Raphael’s house and that is how I met Raphael again.

I took a tour in town with Giovanna Luminati from Urbino who is extremely passionate about languages and her land. She enlightened me about her wonderful town completely. If you are ever in Urbino, drop her a message and take a tour. You won’t regret! She can be found on the official Tourism page of Pesaro Urbino.


House of Raphael in Urbino


Raphael is everywhere in Urbino


I returned back home to Delhi and found out that there was a digital exhibition of 35 of Raphael’s works! Unbelievable. My parents and I went to see it.

Some unedited pictures from the wonderful digital exhibit follow. These truly capture the painter’s life of less than 4 decade aptly. What a coincidence to get a chance to “meet” this extraordinary painter again and that too 3 times in 3 weeks!


Raphael in Delhi!


La Madonna di Foligno (Madonna of Foligno)

La Madonna di Foligno was painted first on wood and later on canvas. In 1797 the French took the painting to Paris. It was only returned to The Vatican in 1816.


Il Trionfo di Galatea (The Triumph of Galatea)

Il Trionfo di Galatea was commissioned to be made for Villa Farnesina in Rome. Dolphins and winged cupids! What’s not to like??


Madonna del Cardillino (Madonna and the Goldfinch)


Sposalizio della Vergine (The Wedding of the Virgin)

Sposalizio della Vergine was painted by Raphael when he was only 21! Simply mind blown! The original is now housed in Brera, Milan.

There were many other paintings of his that I wasn’t familiar with, some of them I saw for the first time. However, the gallery has all the information you need and is definitely worth visiting if you are an art lover.. Or maybe go there just to say hello to Raphael like I did.


Price: INR 20.

Address: National Gallery of Modern Art, Jaipur House, New Delhi.

The exhibit ends on March 4th, 2018.

Related Reading: Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Disclosure: There are affiliate links on my blog. If you click on a picture and purchase something through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting Italophilia! Grazie tanto@!

Winter in Rome: Where to Eat and Stay


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One of the most commonly asked questions from people traveling from India is, “Is there vegetarian food in Rome?”. Of course there is! I can’t begin to tell how much Italians love their vegetables (almost as much as us Indians).



There is so much to choose from!! Salads, pasta, bruschette to lightly cooked vegetables, soups, risotto, pizza and fried food (sweet or salted). And though I am a meat lover, I love my greens too. During Winter in Rome we explored places offering a healthy balance of both. Bookmark this post, people!

Winter in Rome: Where to Eat

Ristorante Santa Lucia: Summer or Winter this place is a dream! Do you remember the movie Eat Pray Love where Julia Roberts dined with a big group of locals in Rome??! Well that is Ristorante Santa Lucia! I love the minimalist decor and fabulous service. Usually when a big group arrives, the service is laid back and slow. However, the team of Ristorante Santa Lucia are super swift and kind. Even a simple plate of bruschette was so delicious!

Largo Febo, 12.


Winter in Rome: Ristorante Santa Lucia

Ristorante Regina: Just at the corner of The Beehive is Ristorante Regina. It is a family run restaurant with a no frills service and old school interiors. I loved the quantity of rgatoni they offered me and the three different types of artichokes. Buonissimi!! The tiramisu was one of the best I had in Italy so far! (Closed Sunday)

Via dei Mille, 46.

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Winter in Rome: Ristorante Regina

Trapizzino Trilussa: I know you have read about Trapizzino (small sandwich) on this post of mine so sparing all the love and showing you all my green trapizzino below. A light snack perfect with a glass of wine or two, go for the polpetta al sugo (meatballs). The Trapizzino chain is going strong and is now also in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, Mercato Centrale in Termini and Milan.

Piazza Trilussa, 46.


Winter in Rome: Trapizzino

Osteria Grappolo d’Oro: Contrary to popular belief, there are very good places to eat at Campo de’ Fiori. Are you looking to have a perfect plate of carbonara?? Wines from Lazio?? Roman Food?? Grappolo d’Oro is your answer! The kind hospitality of the team at Grappolo d’Oro won me! As is the case in most Italian restaurants, I am amazed at the exquisite presentation of the simplest of things! Very reasonable pricing.

Piazza della Cancelleria 80.


Winter in Rome: Grappolo d’Oro

Open Baladin Roma: Not a fan of wine?? Try a variety of craft beers at Open Baladin! Another one at the Campo de’ Fiori that should not be missed. I first tried Open in Turin. Great choice of Italian beer at reasonable prices.

Via degli specchi, 6


Winter in Rome: Open Baladin

Also don’t forget to try Maritozzo (a sweet bread filled with whipped cream) from Roscioli caffè!

Winter in Rome: Where to Stay

I am sold for another #WinterinRome and I know that many of you are too! It feels so good receiving messages on my Newsletter and social media to know that my travel in Rome has helped you see it in a new light. So there is a ……..


Book your “Winter In Rome” and consider staying at The Beehive (a stone’s throw away from the train station in Rome). The owners have happily offered a 10% discount to any of you if you use the code “ITALOPHILIAWIR” for your stay at The Beehive during Winter i.e. November- February.  (not including Dec 31st and Jan 1st) There is no expiration date to this deal so book it any time any year. Isn’t that a great offer and also a surprise!?!

The Beehive is a boutique hostel offering excellent services such as private rooms and dorms with a lavish breakfast spread. They have great breakfast options (vegan included) written on a blackboard that makes it so personal and warm. I stayed at The Beehive in 2015 as well and would happily recommend this place to anyone looking for a friendly atmosphere + a budget stay.

They also have a sister hotel called Hotel Urbe – on the adjacent street. It is where I stayed this time. Super cozy, comfortable and pretty with a great street view.


Winter in Rome: Hotel Urbe

PS: This post is not specific to eating and staying in Winter ONLY but since I explored these places during the time, I decided to name the post as such.


Related Reading:

Vespa Ride in Rome

Lunch opposite the Colloseum

Rome: Food Tour in Trastevere

Books based in Rome and Italy:

Disclosure: These are affiliate links. If you click on a picture and purchase something through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting Italophilia!:)