Goodbye Budapest: A Magical Evening on the Danube

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Walking from the Castle Hill

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Shoes on the Danube: A sad reminder of the Jews who died during WWII

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Tranquility

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Did you know the Danube river flows through 10 countries

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The magic begins at 7 p.m.

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Breathtaking!

Sunset vibes in Budapest.

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Goodbye Budapest!

Budapest, you are so wonderful!😍🙌

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And it’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed reading the Budapest series this whole month as much as I enjoyed posting about it 🙂

See you soon!

Ci vediamo presto!

Where to Eat in Budapest

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I don’t usually do food posts, this is my first. I just eat and don’t have the patience to click every thing on my plate. So you might have to imagine certain things because I don’t have pictures for them 😛 Nevertheless, here are some good spots for coffee, gelato, drinks and food in general:

California Coffee Company: I saw it everywhere in Budapest. It was like Cafe Coffee Day of India. But only better. Coffee was real nice even though it was super crowded and in one of the busiest square of the city. The smoothies were delicious and the views didn’t disappoint me. This coffee shop is dog friendly so that’s a big plus.

Type: Budget and Medium

Goa Mama Coffee: This is the cutest cafe in Budapest and I stopped here only because of the name (Goa is a place in India). Goa Mama has very pretty exteriors and interiors along with great iced coffee, shakes and home made cakes! It’s really worth visiting.

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Type: Budget

Ruin Pubs: I have to admit I only went to two ruin pubs in Budapest. Once with a Free Walking Tour in the day and once alone at night. I wish I had company to enjoy because it really did feel unfair sitting alone and sipping my negroni. But I love the concept of shady ruined dumped furniture and equipment being used to create these cool places. Szimpla and Instant are my recommendations for ruin pubs.

Type: Medium and Splurge

Vaci Utca: This is a shopping street laden with cafes, restaurants and stores. There are a ton of options to eat and contrary to what I thought they aren’t as expensive as it would be in other parts of Europe. Just pick one!

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Type: Medium and Splurge

Gelarto Rosa: A famous Hungarian gelato parlour that gives rose shaped gelato. Not only is the packaging dainty and pretty but its delicious too. There are gelato types for vegans and lactose intolerant as well.

Type: Super budget

Prettiness in a cone at Gelarto Rosa🍦😍

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The people at 'My Little Melbourne Brew Bar' are doing a great job promoting filter coffee. #welovebudapest

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My Little Melbourne Brew Bar: There are two bars by this name adjacent to each other, one is the espresso bar and the other is the brew bar. I had a filter coffee at the espresso bar- a very cool hipster cafe. The service wasn’t very friendly then but I loved the coffee. Couldn’t believe how cheap everything in Budapest was compared to other cities of Europe.

Type: Budget

Frohlich Bakery: The Jewish quarter in the city has so many food joints that it seemed like a city within a city. What I specially liked was the fact that it was so traditional. Try the Apple and Poppy seed cake at the Frohlich- a modest bakery with a very happy looking owner. The cake is very heavy but worth it. Also Free Wi-Fi!!

Type: Budget

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A Hungarian wrap with lots of vegetables, cheese and mint. It was delicious and perfectly hot! #traveltoeat

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Pizza Eataliano: Good Italian food only 5 steps away from the Andrassay tram stop.  It has a beautiful terrace to relax after a long day. Loved their selection of Italian wines though I only enjoyed a quick pizza here.

Type: Medium

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Callas Cafe: Callas is a very Parisian feel cafe in Budapest. Slightly expensive as its on the main street next to the Opera but its worth a visit. Try their gelato and coffee or if in the mood to splurge anything you don’t understand which could be very Hungarian.

Type: Splurge

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Bamba Marha Burger Bar: At the corner of the Andrassay Avenue is this cool place serving delicious burgers. The place is full at night and it definitely seems like a very popular spot for locals. I tried their Elvis burger and loved it! The only problem here is that there are only a few options for drinks except for some canned juices.

Type: Budget

TOP TIP: If you are not from around Hungary, please check what you are paying. I mean the currency is a bit confusing and a couple of times I ended up paying more Forints than what I had to. I was lucky that both times I was returned the correct amount back. (Bless those people)

The Bookstores of Budapest

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Since my last post was on the Szabo Ervin Library, I thought I’d continue the geekdom and write on the bookstores I visited in Budapest. However, I must apologise in advance because I don’t have amazing pictures of these stores as obviously I was busy skimming through interesting titles. But I still think you will get the drift of it and maybe bookmark this post for future travels 🙂

Atlantis Book Island: My first bookstore find after visiting the Castle Hill was the Atlantis Book Island. I was surprised by the number of English titles here. The store has a lot of variety in fiction and non fiction from Central Europe. As a reader, it opened a new world for me.

Best part was the owner knew English so I could ask him for recommendations. Even though he was slightly shy, I managed finding few titles of my interest. I only wish he didn’t stand on my head while I was browsing 😉 The double storied bookstore also has a cute stationary corner with gorgeous bookmarks (all made in Hungary) and wrapping paper.

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Massolit Book & Cafe: A quaint bookshop in the heart of the Jewish quarter, Massolit is my absolute favorite! You can sit here and read all day inside or in the garden, use the free Wifi and order a tea and homemade cake! The owner has an amazing collection of historic books and even helped me pick 3 titles. The store wasn’t as crowded and has a good selection of travel related books. There is a rack with second hand books in Hungarian.

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"It's a bizarre but wonderful feeling, to arrive dead center of a target you didn't even know you were aiming for.”

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Bestsellers: Right next to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral is this gem! The huge selection of books in English pulled me there twice! Even the choice of Hungarian literature is massive. I settled for a Romanian author and a bag from Penguin Books. Befriending the lady at the counter was fun because she told me there was always something going on at the shop whether it was book signings, author interviews or poetry sessions 🙂 The only downside of this shop is that since it is close to all the major landmarks it is usually full.

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Alexandra: Formerly the Paris Department Store, Alexandra was a huge bookstore at the Andrassy Avenue. I visited in September 2016 and although the English section wasn’t very impressive, it has a lot of classics. The piano playing in the baroque cafe above was a reason I could go back and sit in the store. Alexandra was the biggest bookstore chain in Hungary sadly I was informed by a dear reader that this chain of stores is now closed in Hungary.

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Did you enjoy this post?? Do you visit bookstores when you travel to new countries??

SzabĂł Ervin Library: Every Reader’s Dream

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As travellers we must respect fellow travellers’ advice but never imitate it. For instance if you are in Vienna and your friend recommends you to visit museums, you can’t force yourself to see them because you don’t like visiting museums in the first place. Every person’s style of traveling is different and we must respect that. Last year in Budapest the same happened with me. I got recommendations to see museum X, Y and Z in the city but not being a big museum freak I chose to do something of my own taste. I visited a library.

But not just any library.

The Szabo Ervin Library is a baroque treat and reader’s paradise in the heart of Budapest. Only a 10 minutes walk from the tram stop, the admission to this royal library is free of charge. (Go there before you have to pay forints to see it) Named after a Hungarian librarian and social scientist, the library is beautiful inside out. My love for it started when I saw a picture of it on Instagram and instantly felt the need to visit. I was so blown away by its interiors that I just wanted to see them with my own eyes.

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The library is divided into floors and contains thousands of books in Hungarian and other languages. The part of the library I am showing you here is the antique one housed in the Wenckheim Palace.

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It has several rooms in ornate and antique furniture, huge chandeliers and gold fireplaces. Students go about their day as normally as you could imagine. I on the other hand was walking and gawking in the hallways. Seriously would you look here!! It doesn’t feel like a library at all.

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Isn’t the last picture right out of the Harry Potter library??!! lovestruck

Imagine this place in the wee hours or probably on a rainy day…. I would love to keep coming back and sit and read to my heart’s content. If you are a book lover and are visiting Budapest, this is something you surely don’t want to miss!

Timings:

10:00 to 20:00 on all weekdays. Saturday 10:00 to 16:00.

The library is closed on Sundays.

Visiting the Castle Hill in Budapest

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Did I say how much I loved Budapest?? Okay I probably did but here’s another post to prove my point 😉

On my second day I went to Fisherman’s Bastion at the Buda side of the city. Situated on Castle Hill, it is a unique monument whose name comes from the fishermen who defended the walls in the Middle Ages. The entire area on Castle Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Buda Castle sits on the other side and houses the National Gallery of Hungary along with a Library and Museum of History. Completed in the 13th century, the castle is one of the most imposing structures of Budapest. Also at the Fisherman’s Bastion is the Mathhias Church made in a gothic style with 7 bells!

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Fisherman’s Bastion from the Chain Bridge

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Chain Bridge

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Saving a few euros and hiking the hill

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The Parliament is visible from so many places. WOW!

Reaching the Castle Hill is very easy as there is the option of walking, taking a bus (No 16) or a funicular. I chose the first one as it was only a 5-10 minute walk. Along the way I could see amazing views of the city. It was surreal!!

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The statue of King Mathhias

Best part of visiting the Castle Hill is really the location. One can spend as much time as one wants and see the vast vistas of the city! The entire area is like a small town with an old part and a Palace. There is also a five star hotel and a Starbucks which shows how commercial it is now becoming.

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Mathhias Church

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Fisherman’s Bastion

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The Danube separating the city in two

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The view of the Parliament gets better as you walk towards Pest

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Many expensive shops in the area sell “Hungarian” goods but I didn’t know the authenticity of them so chose to ignore. Walking back to Pest I noticed how quiet the Buda side of the city is compared to the hustle and bustle of the Pest side.

It was an intriguing experience to see both sides of the city. More so because I had no idea about the history of Hungary and just got curious to know more. After my visit, I stopped at a bookshop to read more on Budapest. I’ll be posting about them later but for now I hope you enjoyed the hike to the Buda Castle?? Tell me if you are enjoying the Budapest series 🙂

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An Opulent Breakfast in Budapest’s New York Cafe

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A touch of splendor and air of grandeur- that is how I can explain my time in the most beautiful cafe of the world! Say hello to the New York Cafe in Budapest!

It is a complete baroque treat thanks to the work of the Boscolo group of Hotels- an Italian chain.  With its Venetian chandeliers and gold paintings, marble tiles and silk cushions, hand painted walls and velvet upholstery, it oozed charm and class and reminded me of a time long gone by.

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From afar

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Ornate detailing

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Beauty!

I had breakfast there on my first morning in the city and was so impressed. Taking a seat on the ground floor by the window, I was smitten with its interiors. No photograph can explain the beauty of it.

Coming to the food, I would say I had little expectations from it which is why I chose slightly less riskier options. However, I was impressed in that department too. It was fresh and tasty. I ordered fresh juice, coffee, toast and Hungarian sausages with horse raddish and salad. Later I also had a pastry which wasn’t photographed. Did I say I was having breakfast?? Well …No… it was definitely lunch for me 😉

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Sitting and marvelling at the interiors was a great experience. I was mostly ogling at the ceiling and met two girls from China doing the same. I clicked at least 25 pictures for them and returned to my table as my coffee was getting cold.

But fun day 🙂 Had I been in a more touristy place such as Vienna or Venice I would have definitely spent a bomb but thanks to the comparatively cheaper prices in Eastern Europe it wasn’t even half of what I expected! Next time I definitely want to go there late at night because the place is open till 3 a.m. Cocktail time!

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Budapest: An Unexpectedly Remarkable City

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Few talk of Budapest as they talk of Rome, Paris or London. Even I wouldn’t have been aware had I not visited it, but it feels nice to know of a not-so-famous city that turned out to be so good!

On my Ryanair flight from Milan Bergamo to Budapest, I had no idea what to expect. For starters I was in a bit of a panic as neither the ATM or the credit card I had worked at the airport. I had no local currency (Forints in this case) and was carrying only some change of euros. This was also a useful lesson for me to be more prepared during travel. Luckily,  a young lady helped me in reaching the city centre without taking any money for the ride. She herself was taking a flight to Africa but her parents who had come to drop her gave me a ride in their car and also got me a tram ticket.  I am now connected with her through Facebook and hope to visit her someday in her home in Africa and/or Romania 🙂 Bless her and her folks!

Once I reached the city and settled in my room, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw around me. Not only is Budapest a gem of a city filled with wonderful things to do but is also home to stunning Neoclassical and Gothic architecture. Having been through a lot of destruction during the World War II, I was amazed how the city has fought back to keep itself on the high. It definitely shows the resilience and power of its people.

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The Parliament

For those who don’t know, Budapest is divided into parts – one is the Buda side and the other is the Pest side. The former is laid back, residential and quieter while the latter more happening with all the pubs and places to see/eat. As a famous city of Eastern Europe, Budapest is a financial centre and is ranked as one of the 7th most liveable city of the continent. Budapest deserves attention, a lot of attention and you will see the “why” in the posts to follow. For all the 5 nights I was there, I felt this every single day. that more people should visit Budapest!

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Quintessential taxi alert!

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The Chain Bridge

What did I do there all those days? I walked and walked around the city, ventured into different bookstores and cafes, pranced upon a historic library and food festival and drank lots of beer and wine 😀 Sometimes when I felt tired and lazy after all the walking I sat in a cafe and read a book that I had bought from the nearby store. Sunsets on the Danube were just surreal and the magic of Budapest comes alive in the night. I clicked several pictures from my phone camera and was wondering what the effects would have been if I had had a DSLR. So if you are there this year don’t miss the opportunity to get some great shots with a good camera. I got 2 of mine printed for my room 🙂

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The Danube

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So many Japanese food outlets here!

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Great tram system in the city

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#NotInParis

I will be writing more about Budapest in the coming posts. For those who are traveling in the summer it will be easy to refer to the posts, while for others- why don’t you take a trip to Budapest?? 🙂

What is Travel?? 

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The word “travel” is used in everyday conversations more often than before. The strange part is that it’s different to everyone I speak to and is changing with each passing day. 

What is Travel to you??

For most of the people around me it’s only about clicking pictures and posting on social media telling the world that they were there. If you haven’t tagged yourself on Facebook you clearly didn’t visit that place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against it at all because I myself am part of it (not the tagging but otherwise), however all said and seen that is surely not my “ultimate motive” of travel.

I travel to experience, relax and also make new friends. Sometimes I travel to get away from regular life. Many times actually 🙂 so clicking pretty pictures is not my main aim of travel.

Last year in Buda castle I saw tourists who started clicking selfies as soon as they reached. I swear they didn’t even see the building in front of them!! All of this makes me wonder about what travel is.

The Effort behind Travel

I am also sometimes surprised when people overlook or forget the effort it takes to actually plan a trip. It takes weeks and sometimes months for a trip to come together. Figuring logistics whether traveling solo or in a group is a Herculean task. There is so much hard work that goes behind it to make it happen. Sometimes one has to let go of current comforts to make it succeed. It could be as small as eating out less or as big as working extra hours to earn more money. (These are only some of the reasons that I think travel becomes possible apart from the need to travel of course.)

Sadly people have assumed that a particular person travels because of family wealth or because of a sponsored trip. Passion and hardwork are the foremost but they seem to be out of the picture. I truly hope that it changes in the years to come and people not only respect everyone traveling but also understand what it means to travel. I respect everyone’s style but just think this post was needed 🙂 

So what is travel to you??

Learning Italian with Cinema- II

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Its fun to share different ways to learn a new language and I am happy to say that watching movies has really helped improve my listening skills. Also, the last post on Cinema was useful to so many of you so here are some more movies to your kitty to practice language skills 🙂

Habemus Papam (2011): Another Nanni Moretti movie thanks to my Italian teacher. The movie is a story of a cardinal who doesn’t want to be elected Pope. He secretly escapes the chambers of the Vatican and the story follows thus. Nanni Moretti plays the role of the Pope’s psychoanalyst in the movie while Margherita Buy plays his wife. She has a very warm role towards the Pope.

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Venuto al Mondo (2012): I regret not reading the book earlier before watching the movie but am pretty sure all the Italophilies have heard of either the book or seen the movie. Based on Margaret Mazzantini’s Twice Born, Venuto al Mondo is not for weak hearted. It is a story revolving on motherhood in the backdrop of war in Sarajevo. Watch it on a day when you feel most strong.

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La Pazza Gioia (2016): Movies on female friendships are special and more so when they are shown beautifully. La Pazza Gioia follows the story of two women at a mental clinic who are from different backgrounds. When unpredictable circumstances arise, they come closer and the story follows. Nice change from the regular drama. 

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Viaggio Sola (2013): Imagine a life where you get to stay in five star hotels and critique them! From Puglia to Tuscany to Paris and Gstaad, that is the life of the 40 something actress Margherita Buy. It is a rare story line with lot of drama but one that makes the film one of my favorites for this year so far 🙂

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Il Gioiellino (2011): This movie is based on the fraud of Italian company Parmalat during the early 90s. The facts and names have been changed throughout but the film shows more than corrpution at a multinational. Toni Servillo’s performance is outstanding. I would implore you to watch the movie only for him.

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Missing Italy Troppo

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Today is just one of those days when I am terribly terribly missing Italy. Troppo 😦

You might think and say, “when do you not”?? Well…okay.. you could be almost right there but today is not that daily “I wish I were in Italy sipping a glass of vino in my favorite piazza” feeling that is lost in the humdrum of life and its drama. So yes this one is different.

I just want to be there right now, to listen to the sounds of the Italian language, to gorge on the delicious food (not just pizza and pasta), to enjoy the warmth of its people, to savour the varieties of wine…. Its such an ache, a longing to be amongst the familiar yet unknown territories.

Most of you who have been to Italy or probably lived there can probably understand the pain even better. It is so surreal how faraway lands can tempt us so much. No?? Hoping the universe (ME) conspires something for me to be there soon ❤ For everyone who is dreaming for their special place, I feel ya!!

Thank you for reading.

Un grande abbraccio!

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Learning Italian with Cinema- I

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The past few months have been so great for me in terms of imbibing Italian language and the culture. I saw a lot of Italian movies too so thought of making a post about the ones I really enjoyed.

Though I am still shy and under confident to speak Italian, I immersed myself completely to listen and read more. Listening to a new language helps a lot and one can pick up small words and habits unconsciously. Here are 5 movies with great storylines that I think anyone can watch (thanks to English subtitles):

Perfetti Sconosciuti (2016): This is a story of 7 friends and how their lives fall apart after they agree to play a game of making their texts, WhatsApp and Phone calls public. What is great about this movie is the symbolism because it has been set up on a night of an eclipse so it shows two sides of a person as well as the moon. The movie is a perfect take on modern technology and how it has hampers our personal lives and of those around us. It revolves around normal couples but shows deception, dishonesty and cheating.

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Mine Vaganti (2010): I love when movies highlight day to day issues. Mine Vaganti is another one as it speaks boldly the issue of homosexuality. It is a story about two brothers who are gay but are yet to divulge the same to their families. Shot in Lecce, the Florence of the South, the film shows many sides of the Italian culture and also a family obsessed with pasta. Even though the film is shown in the category of a Comedy on Wikipedia, I think it is far from that. The sexually frustrated brothers and dramatic overbearing father tells us much more.

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Loro Chi? (2015): Did you like Catch Me If You Can?? Oceans Eleven?? Well I bet you will love this one then. I won’t divulge much except that the comic timings and script of this movie is far from perfect. It is impossible not to have fun in this movie. I recommended it to several of my friends from the Italian class and they too loved it. Being a fan of both the actors in the movie and having now seen plenty of their work, I can safely tell you to watch this first as it is one of their best!

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Mia Madre (2015): My Italian teacher recommended Nani Moretti’s movies last year and there has been no stopping me since. Not only is the language slower and simplified, the scripts of his movies are unique and touching. For instance Mia Madre tells the story of the relationship between a mother and daughter when the mother is about to die. There are plot lines  and memories from the past as well as the present that the protagonist handles beautifully. It leaves you teary eyed.

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Io Sono l’amore (2010): This is a slow film set in the chic urban space of Milan and is about a wealthy family. The mother, a typical doting on the son variety, falls in love with her son’s friend. The story unravels slowly nevertheless with a lot of passion. This movie shows the elegant side of an industrial Italian family and their problems. The ending is very unpredictable.

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Did you like the list?? I’d love recommendations from you too but anything except the usual La Grande Belezza, Il Postino, La Vita è Bella, Pane e Tulipani, Cinema Paradiso or Mediterraneo will do 😉

Five Favorite Books on Italy

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In November last year I wrote a post about 10 favorite books on Italy. Whether it was Four Seasons in Rome for the love of Caput Mundi or Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words for the love of Italian language, each one was unique (more here). Today I am adding a few more for your acquired Italian reading taste. Hope you enjoy:

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster:

I think this is a novel loved by many with a setup of two differently cultured countries – Italy and England. The book is not a comedy for me as it is from the time of Forster, early 20th century and therefore explores the issues of caste, wealth, war and society. Forster does it very well and pokes fun at the Edwardian society in the backdrop of the charming town of Florence.

Region: Tuscany

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Venice by Jan Morris: 

I love Jan Morris and her style of writing. She goes very deeply in the history of a city but doesn’t make it boring. In fact she makes it alive with her words and descriptions. In Venice, you would probably feel her melancholy of the city as she takes you to different calle or streets of one of the greatest cities of the world. Even though it is not nearly a travel book, it falls under that category and I somehow like that because the reader travels and gets lost in the piazzas and campi with the author. It is a chaotic trip through the city’s past but one that ends with a delight.

Region: Veneto

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The Stone Boudoir by Theresa Maggio:

Anyone who is fascinated with little villages of Italy will be surprised by this one. Not because there are too many in this book but because you might have not heard of any names of the villages mentioned in this book. Yes. I was quite surprised by my lack of knowledge of small provinces and towns of Sicily that I had never known to exist until last month. The Stone Boudoir is a biographical account of the author’s travels to her ancestors in Sicily. Maggio takes you to her Sicilian family, her roots.. the Mafia, food, men, superstitions etc. This book will make you yearn to visit the Sicily you know little about and inspire you to visit and get in the off the beaten track just like the author. Her descriptions of the Sicilian villages and people are just to the point.

Region: Sicily

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Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes:

Don’t judge this book by the glossier movie on the same name as they are completely different. The book is well written and describes local Italian life quite well. This was incidentally also my first Italy reads in life, therefore I have a soft corner for it. Once you pick it up, you will find yourself longing for that glass of Chianti Classico and day dreaming about perfectly lined Cypress trees, long stretches of vineyards and sumptuous plates of local pasta. The book is a perfect read for a long travel or a break from heavy reads and will remind you of summer and wine and lemons..and Tuscany!

Region: Tuscany

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A Literary Tour of Italy by Tim Parks:

When I pre-ordered this book, I assumed from the title that the author would take me to various places of literary importance in Italy. However, it turned out to be quite different and even better. This book is perfect for those in love with Italian literature and who want to know more about Italian geniuses from Collodi to Dante to Bassani and Tabucchi. There are 23 essays of many great Italian authors and intellectuals that were originally written for magazines/newspapers. Tim Parks has given his thoughts, reflections and ideas about the authors and the stories they have produced. It is a very impressive collection all come together in one book and is a must read.

Region: Italy

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Have you read any of these?? I’d love to know your Italy specific recommendations for future posts and reading 🙂

Cuteness Overload with Fiat 500

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A vintage car exhibit in Polignano a mare made my day. Or probably my entire trip last year. I just love these beauties!!

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I want more!! 😉

10 Photos to Inspire A Visit to Mantova

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A walk in Piazza Sordello: heart of the town

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The spectacular Teatro Bibiena where Mozart played a concert

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Breathtaking Basilica di Sant’Andrea which took more than 300 years to build

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Everything vintage and pretty

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The constant part of the town’s skyline

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Risotto alla Pilota: the signature dish of Mantova

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Chiesa di San Sebastiano: one of the many pretty churches

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Empty back alleys like these

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Bar Caravatti from 19th century for a feel of the old world.

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Castello di San Giorgio from the 14th century

These are only a few reasons to venture to Mantova which happens to be only 2.5 hours away from Milan. For art lovers, this town is paradise because of places such as Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo Te. The latter is counted as one of the most beautiful villas in Italy and is worth a visit for sure. Read more on it here.

Mantova is also famous for great food (as is everywhere in Italy) with lots on the sweet front such as the sbrisolona– a crumbly cake famous of the city. If you want to be a little off the tourist trail, Mantova is the place for you! The city is known Mantua in English but if you search on Trentialia.com it is Mantova. (The Italian name)

Lots More Charming Italian Words I Love

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No matter what social media brings to us whether its picture sharing through Instagram, 140 character thoughts through Tweets or pinning favorite photos through Pinterest, there is nothing that can replace the joy of blogging. For that I am particularly grateful because I have made a lovely circle of friends here, some of whom I have met in real life and some that I hope to meet in future. I am lucky to have friends who continuously encourage me to share and post which keeps my motivation level a tad higher than I expected. Though one thing that I don’t appreciate is idea copying. So let’s keep blogging clean and special and alive by sharing a little of our respective worlds but by respecting each other’s creativity.

Today I am continuing my favorite series from the blog with a list of charming Italian words that I love.

Comunque: Anyway, though.

Pettegolezzo: Gossip

Affolata: Overcrowded

Antichissimo: Very ancient

Giornaliero: Daily

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Pranzetto: a small little lunch

Oppure: Or, Otherwise, else..

Qua/Qui: Here

Incantare: To charm

Brillo: Tipsy

Nulla: Nothing

Piuttosto: Rather, instead

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Prelibatezza: Delicacy

Soggiornare: To stay

Casetta: Small house or a lodge.

Do tell me your favorites in the comments 🙂

An Ode to Sicily’s Andrea Camilleri

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I have been reading since I was a little girl and have had many favorite authors over time. An author to me is only a magician of words, a story teller, an inspiration.. I am a through and through book nerd and I rarely delve into the author’s personal lives.

Well, until now.

I recently saw Montalbano and Me: a documentary on Andrea Camilleri– the creator of the famous series of books based on Inspector Montalbano.

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The one hour documentary covers many aspects of the author from his Sicilian upbringing to his daily habits, family, lifestyle, popularity etc. It is a treat knowing more about the enigma who is a celebrity in Italy and has touched the lives of many.

Camilleri, who now lives in Rome, is originally from Porto Empedocle in Sicily. He loves James Joyce and Luigi Pirandello. His favorite book is The King of Girgenti which he took 5 years to write.

He mentions how he was brought up by women and was very close to his grandmother. Even his mother and mother in law lived with him in the same house after he was married! Camilleri’s world is very family-centric as is in most homes in Italy. He speaks of many aspects of his life such as his father dying in front of him and the closeness he shared with him.

One can see his published in different languages in his small studio covered with books from top to bottom. Camilleri believes that writing is not a difficult task as many point out, and is certainly easier than unloading crates. I am amazed to know this man who is so sorted and intelligent and witty, who is never seen without a cigarette in his hand..I am even more amazed to find out that the final Montalbano book has already been written when he feared Alzheimer’s at 80.

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Every year one of the Montalbano books is published in English and I am waiting to get my hands on Voice in the Night -the latest that I saw on the Amazon site. What would I do without Stephen Sartarelli– the translator who is often forgotten in bringing the literate world from the Sicilian language to the English.

Without him I would have never know the descriptions of Sicilian life amongst a backdrop of crime, fine food and beautiful views as Camilleri rightly describes. Camiller’s dry humour as depicted rightly by Sartarelli it is to be savoured slowly as you would savour cannoli.

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“Without translation, I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The translator is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world.”- Italo Calvino

Italy Travel: Things to Know

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Traveling a new country brings along its share of ups and downs which is why it is imperial  to understand certain things beforehand that makes travel easier and enjoyable.

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Italy as a country is full of wonderful people who will go out of the way to help you. I have so many instances small or big where I was helped by a random stranger and I am so grateful for that. But just to add a bit of extra help from my end, here are some tips that I’d love to share with you to ease for your Italian travels:

Know your Accommodation: It is essential to choose the best accommodation for yourself wherever you are in the country but also one that fits your budget. There are so many options of stay in Italy from a monastery, Airbnb, hostel to a agriturismo. Of course you can go for the safest hotel option but let’s make it more interesting with a home in an Italian countryside that gives you a local experience 🙂 Sounds good no?? Go for it! Make sure you choose a different one this time and don’t forget to keep copies of your passports with you for added safety.

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Know the Culture: In Italy cover yourself when you visit a church, carry a scarf at all times just in case. Respecting the culture is important everywhere and the Italians take their dressing quite seriously so generally dress well when in Italy. I know this isn’t for everyone but I love it personally. I love looking good in a crowd of already well dressed Italians. It makes me feel more confident and it is fun to be looked at in a nice way than be stared at 😉

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Know Where You Are: Italy is a unified country since 1861 and earlier it was only just different regions and kingdoms which is why you see how much pride Italians take in their regional products. So remember where you are! Don’t order a food/wine in the wrong region. For instance, Chianti is in Tuscany and if you are in Sicily, don’t ask for a Chianti Classico, instead ask for their local wines and try new things. Similarly for food, try the local Umbrian delicacies when you are in Perugia and don’t ask for Roman treats such as Cacio a pepe 🙂

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Know the Language: This is not a mandatory tip but it pays to know small words of the country’s language you are traveling in. If you are in Italy a Grazie (Thank You), Salve (Formal Hello), Per Favore (Please) are basic words to know. Though Ciao is used for hello and bye both, it is informal greeting so don’t go saying it to everyone 😉

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Know your Comfort: As a solo traveler, you sometimes feel shy and don’t want to move out of your comfort zone to chat with locals or make new friends. But I’d say take the first step. Go to the local bar for an authentic experience and have an aperitvo in the evening or  visit the trattoria (family run eatery) to see the culture and food style. You never know you might meet someone to chat with. When I am in Italy, I love to observe the locals and catch a few extra words for my Italian vocabulary. I also love talking to the barista if the bar isn’t very crowded. Italians are a friendly bunch always making you comfortable.

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5 More Charming Small Towns in Italy

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A couple of months back I wrote this post on 10 Charming Small Towns in Italy. I loved all your suggestions and comments on it and would like to add a few more to the ever expanding list today.

Murano:

The glass making island Murano is often overshadowed by its colourful neighbor Burano as per me. Murano is equally quaint and charming with its beautiful bridges, towers and museums not to forget the glass shops selling chandeliers, souvenirs and jewellery. Everything is so exquisite and expensive but who charges to window shop 🙂

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Fiesole:

The noise of the busy cities sometimes gets to me and Fiesole has a lot of quietude that one might want during their Italian travels. Only 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Florence is a typical small Italian town with narrow alleys, beautiful piazzas and cafes.

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Monopoli:

Only a 5 minutes train ride from Polignano a mare is the town of Monopoli with a very authentic local feel and an important port. Even though the historic centre finishes as soon as one reaches, the town is molto tranquillo (very peaceful) for a day trip. There is a stunning cathedral and a recently restored castle as well.

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Gallipoli:

Another beautiful town in Puglia, Gallipoli is relaxing day trip from Lecce. Pugliese produce such as sandals, wine and olive oil are neatly stacked in shops for tourists like me. The homes of locals smell of freshly baked cookies or pasta and the sea is warm and inviting.

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Orvieto:

One of my favorite towns in Umbria and such an easy day trip from Rome too, Orvieto is a gem. It is famous for its magnificent Duomo and Orvieto Classico wine. It has a small bell tower you can get sweeping views of the Umbrian countryside and an underground city which you can take tours of. Need more reasons??

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2017 Italy Travel: A Wishlist

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Buon Anno a tutti! Happy New Year everyone! 🙂

I hope you had a fun filled New Year’s Eve with family and friends. Wishing that  2017 turn out to be the best for everyone in all possible ways ❤

Grazie mille tantissimo per "Best 9 of 2016"!!💞🙌🍸😄🙏

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I am starting 2017 with a HUGE ambition, a list (small) of places I’d love to visit in Italy this year.

I have only added a few of them here because I know I could go on and on. Also, these places are from different regions of the country so it is not possible to visit them all together. Just a wishlist 😉 Hope you enjoy reading through them:

Rome, Lazio: I can’t get enough of this city, there is always so much to do or see here. I want to spend a week in Rome and just do nothing but wander the streets or stay in Trastevere or Monti. Also, I’d love to this Tea Room near the Spanish Steps. Have you been here?

2017 Italy travel goals: to visit this beautiful tea room in Rome 😍👆 Grazie per la tua foto @jpdamen70

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Numana, Le Marche: Having heard so much about Italy’s eastern coastline and seen most of it in Puglia, I’d now like to venture to the lesser known Le Marche and its and unexplored beaches. The entire region is also filled with little hamlets that are so alluring.

Torino, Piedmont: Oh Torino! How could I not visit this elegant city. The perfect cups of bicerin implore me to book a ticket right away. I can’t wait to see this city in 2017! Long due!

Verona, Veneto: Another timeless city that has been on my list since 2 years. There is a 1st Century amphitheater and tons of medieval architecture to get you interested. Hope to be there this year.

Verona😍 Photo by: @matteorighiphotography . . . #Verona #Italia #italy #buonasera

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Positano, Campania: Not a solo destination for me personally but I’d love to visit it. If not this year then maybe the next year. And yes, not alone. I can wait for Positano but definitely not alone.

2017 Italy travel goals- to get to Positano…and soon!😍👆 grazie @kellyinitaly per la tua foto!

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Padova, Veneto: Another place that has been doomed since my past two trips is Padova. After reading several posts about the city’s Scrovegni Chapel, I have a longing to be there. Hope 2017 is the year to sit in its historic cafes.

Cappella degli Scrovegni | Giotto | Padova

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Naples, Campania: The outbreak of #FerranteFever has had an inkling on me to see the streets from the viewpoint of Elena Ferrante. Other than that who doesn’t want to eat the famous Pizza Margherita from where it was born?

Genoa, Liguria: Last but not the least I would love to visit Genoa a city with a lot of history and one that is missed by travelers. It is after all the land of focaccia and pesto.

So tell me where you are planning to visit this year in Italy or beyond??

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Buone Feste!! See You in 2017!!

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Ciao a tutti! Hello everyone!

How quickly the year flew by! Or maybe we say that every year 😉

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I just want to say THANK YOU so much for being part of this blogging journey called Italophilia. It means a lot to have each and every one on board.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! ❤ Have a wonderful time!

Here’s to more love, good vibes, peace and lots of travel for everyone in 2017!!

A presto!!

Virtuale Abbracci,

Ishita

Discovering Imperial Vienna with Context Travel

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Oh Vienna, you are so charming, so gorgeous and so so elegant. It is hard to aptly describe the city that took me by its very lady like charm. Contrary to several people’s notion that the city boring and dull, I found Vienna to be just the opposite and thank the Central European team at Context Travel to acquaint me with the city. Context Travel organises city tours/walks globally with local historians in small groups (max of 6 people). They also offer individual tours offering in depth experience and information which is perfect base if you are in a new city!

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While I was in Vienna, Piroska Meyer-Sebastian of Context Travel showed me around the 1st District which happens to be the most legendary areas of the charismatic city.

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Outside the Hofburg Palace

I was the only person for that morning’s tour so everything was done at my pace. I could ask a million questions (sometimes even unrelated to history) and linger around for longer intervals. For instance I totally bored Piroska about buying the best Viennese chocolates or visiting the city’s favorite spots. It was a blessing to be with a her, a local, who was really helpful. She took me to her favorite store after the walk, even recommended a bunch of goodies which I ended up buying for home 🙂

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Door goals

What is the 1st District??

Our walk was part of the 1st District which constitutes the ancient part of Vienna that was developed by the Romans (oh yes they were everywhere). It includes many of the sights that a tourist would normally not know on their first visit to the city. We started with the city’s oldest church- Ruprechtskirche.  The ivy laden Gothic church is dedicated to the patron saint of Salzburg- St. Rupert.

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The area around the church is very compact and charming. Just at the corner is one of the oldest synagogues from the 12th century where the first Jews of the city started living. The Jews have had a tumultuous history from the 13th century and the big Jewish community in the city is testament to that. There are Jewish clubs, schools, museums and newspapers even now in the city. A big memorial to the Austrian Holocaust Victims is right in the middle of the historic centre which was also part of the walk.

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A Memorial for the Austrian Holocaust Victims

Apart from the synagogue, there were small cafes and shops around the area worth visiting. One that I especially returned to later was the Shakespeare & Company book shop offering a huge selection of books in English.

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Old World Charm

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral

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Prince Eugen of Savoy

We walked around the quiet area of the 1st Distict crossing what must be regular sightings in Vienna- horse driven carriages. I squealed in delight! Moving onwards to the Parliament, Hofburg Palace and the St. Stephen’s cathedral I could only see more of the imperial charm and elegance of the city. I was suggested a list of museums to see depending on my mood and interest. I had no idea that there was a Globe Museum in Vienna. Also the Peace Museum. Did you know??

My mind was full of information and several new names. We visited several small and quaint streets of Vienna that I do not remember but there was always something which led to something more. It was intriguing. The three hour walk wasn’t just boring and historic, if you may. Even modern Vienna was discussed and talked about and I think that really kept my interest because I could understand the layers of the city by knowing from now to then or vice versa.

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Another antique colomm

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Elegant Vienna

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Hofburg Palace

My favorite part of the walk include the grounds of the Hofburg Palace which I returned to the next day. There was a different atmosphere around that area. It was as if I went back in the 60s.

Disclaimer: My walk in Vienna was made possible thanks to Context Travel but the views here are completely my own.

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie Miklas

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The month to be grateful continues. One person who I am most thankful for and who instantly comes to my mind for my Italian sojourns is Margie Miklas. A fellow Italophilie and author of 2 novels and a coffee table book, Margie is my confidante and guide. I chanced upon Margie’s blog about 2.5 years back while browsing Twitter! I am so grateful for this connection ever since as there has been no looking back.

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Photo Credits: Margie

Margie and I became friends and connected virtually. We then started talking about meeting in Italy and made it happen in May 2015. It was incredible and very movie like! I felt as if we knew each other since forever 🙂

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Margie signing her book for me

Today I will give you all a little sneak peek of Margie’s newest book “Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast”. A sleek coffee table book which is perfect to adorn your library, this book shows you that there is so much more to Italy than just tall cypress trees and hot Italian men.

It is filled with beautiful pictures of the Naples (on the cover) and Amalfi Coast. Although I haven’t visited Naples or Amalfi yet myself, I love this picture and can imagine myself being there. Of course the #FerranteFever has caught on me too and I know that this book will be my guide for many more things in the future.

Now what is the best part of the hard back you might ask??

It is her own pictures intermingled with lovely words of everyday life. Margie has described even the simplest of things in the city of Naples and Amalfi Coast so beautifully. One can see and observe her passion and love for the Southern Italians.

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Hello Margie!

I love how she has added everyday pictures of food that the Italians eat whether it is cornetto or a huge tray of cannoli. Many other things caught my eye in the book such as a picture of an Ape`, photo of Limoncello bottles, Castlel of Egg, rocks around Capri, gelato gelato gelato, street lined with vespas....So much more!

This book will make you dream of clear crisp evenings in the Italian sunshine amongst delicious plates of pasta and vino then again of women chatting together and men having a coffee.

Thanks Margie for this lovely book which is a reminder of your Italian travels. It is special to have it with me in my library. I hope we meet in Italy someday soon again! ❤

Check out Amazon for Margie’s books and her blog for more details.

Ciao Ciao!

Waking Up in 25Hours Hotel, Vienna

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In my previous post I mentioned that it is the month to be grateful. One such place that highlights my gratitude is the 25Hours Hotel in Vienna.

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I had an extra hour here 😉

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Located in the 7th District of the elegant city, 25Hours Hotel is a circus themed hotel in the heart of Vienna. It is definitely a hotel with a strange name and an ugly building from outside. But stepping inside changes your impression because it has the most quirky interiors making it a very offbeat travel experience. Being a circus themed hotel doesn’t make it kiddish and disappointing; instead it is fun, vibrant and pleasing to the eye.

The hotel has eccentrically designed rooms with circus based illustrations, fancy upholstery and peculiar objects. My bathroom toiletries read “Stop wasting the water when using me” 🙂 The dustbin was a steel bucket!

The hotel has a lot of space and hence a lot of rooms but they are average sized. However for a single traveler like myself there was enough space. I loved the writing/reading desk in the room along with a window and balcony (depending on the type of room you book) to see Vienna go by.

My room was exceptional with an interesting illustration, a fully stocked mini bar and a lovely view! I especially enjoyed it at night.

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How quirky is this?

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I was very impressed of the location of the hotel as there was a tram stop right below the hotel. The famous MuseumsQuartier as well as the longest shopping street in the city was only a 10 minute walk. And and and.. only 2 metro stations away was Vienna’s iconic structure- the St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

What more could one ask for??

The 25 Hours Hotel, which is also in the cities of Hamburg, Berlin and Frankfurt, is perfect for a short stay especially for those looking to be in Vienna’s centre. I was impressed with its rooftop bar and a buzzing restaurant which makes it the place to be with some company.

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Food truck

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Lounging

Their service both inside the restaurant and at the reception was exceptional whether for local queries or food. I had to catch an early morning flight and the hotel was kind enough to arrange me a driver at 5 a.m. Since I was skipping breakfast, they packed a fresh ham and cheese sandwich with fruits for me, which saved me from the horrible flight food later on. That was a very nice touch. Thanks to Mr. Roland Eggenhofer who was most kind to be connected with me during the stay. He even left me a goodies bag and a warm welcome note. Thank you for a great stay! I hope to be back again.

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Room with a View

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Tram stop

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Picture Courtesy: Wien Info

My Audrey Hepburn Moment with Bici & Baci

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December is a month for GRATITUDE. We are blessed with countless small and big things but we hardly or almost never take a moment to be grateful. Today I am thankful about a wonderful April afternoon that I spent in Rome with Bici & Baci Tours. (It means Bicycles and Kisses) A rental company that helps you see Rome in the best way, Bici & Baci is one of the oldest vespa companies in the eternal city. It offers a hoard of options for rentals from the quintessential Fiat 500 to scooters to Piaggio Ape that helps one see more of Rome than usual. I went for Bici & Baci after a recommendation from Diana of  Italy Translated  and I am so pleased I did because it made my short trip of Rome worthwhile.

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Needs no introduction

My tour started around 2 in the afternoon with Alexander, my tour guide and motorist. There was also another couple who joined in on another vespa and together we started the tour from the Colosseum. Alexander was very passionate about his culture and heritage and it showed from the moment he shared his insights about the city’s history. I learnt so much from him in those few hours, it was pure joy to see his enthusiasm for the city. Might I mention that the way he drove in that Roman traffic was commendable!

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Say Hello to Alexander!

After learning the history of Colosseum we crossed the Baths of Caracalla which were founded around 212 A.D. He mentioned how parts of the baths are now used in the summer by the Rome Opera company.

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Couldn’t get a great picture of the Baths of Caracalla

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Aventine Hill

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Oh, sweet Rome

Afterwards crossing swanky Roman villas and apartments, we reached the Aventine Hill which was a special treat. It was my first time at the Aventine and the view from there was exceptional.

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But first coffee!

Our next stop was the Circus Maximus– a huge playground which also turns out to be the largest stadium from ancient Rome. Currently it is used for many things such as a concert for Rolling Stones 😉

After the Circus Maximus we had to stop for a caffe` so Alexander took us visited the neighbourhood of Testaccio at a quaint place called Trentare3. We passed by Protestant cemetery to see a Pyramid jotting out of nowhere (YES you read that right). The Pyamid of Cestius is one of the most best preserved buildings of Rome as you can see in the picture below. It is extraordinary what all Rome is made up of.

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Testaccio neighborhood

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Pyramid of Cestius

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View from Gianicolo Hill

We then stopped in Ancient Rome to see familiar sights of Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and Fontana di Trevi. It was such a beautiful moment to be there again, remembering my earlier travels with my red vespa gleaming in the sunshine, wind blowing on my face. Whatever more could I have wished for??

Before crossing the Ponte Sant’Angelo and reaching Trastevere, I wished we would cross Fontana dell’Acqua Paola which I had seen in movies. It turned out that was the route to the Gianicolo Hill– our last stop.

It was such a fun day and I may have missed so many more spots in between but the best part of Bici & Baci tours is that you wouldn’t see these sights if you came to Rome as a first time visitor. These are hidden areas and places that locals would know. Being on a vespa with a guide definitely helped me know more about Rome. I was so pleased when Alexander told me twice that he was happy that I already knew so much about Rome and its history. It made me feel proud of myself.

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San Pietro in Montorio

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My Audrey Hepburn Moment *drumrolls*

Bici & Baci was kind enough to host me for the 4 hours of my ride for no cost. Thanks guys, your tours are already high on my recommendation list for all my Indian friends who visit Rome.

Meanwhile, tell me have you ever seen Rome on a vespa??

Taking Stock for November

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Ciao a tutti! Hello everyone!

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I am taking inspiration from this post on Taking Stock and making blogging a bit more fun 🙂 Thank you so much Sudha for putting together a blog post that made me smile and also ponder after a long long time.

I hope this is a fun read, you guys. Here’s my version of Taking Stock:

Drinking: A strong cup of coffee in my favorite place.

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Buying: A bottle of Nutella.

Deciding: Whether to go out tonight or save up on money.

Thinking: When I would go to Italy next.

Wearing: My favorite blue pyjamas and a tee shirt that I got from Salzburg.

Noticing: How petty some people are on social media.

Marvelling: How small we are in our solar system. (After a recent visit to the Planetarium)

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Reading: Cosi Fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin which is loosely based on an opera by the same name!

Giggling: With my girlfriends about my Italian teacher 😉

Disliking: How people judge so quickly.

Worrying: How learning Italian is making me forget basic words of English.

Pretending: To ignore someone I really can’t. It is molto difficile.

Loving: How a home cooked meal brings a smile.

Cooking: Thai Curry.

Watching: Lost Season 2 (yet again)

Smelling: The new Kiko Milano bright day face lift cream. It is oddly pleasing.

Bookmarking: This useful link for books to help me with my Italian.

Hearing: The sound of water in the filter.

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Embracing: The new 2k notes in India.

Hating: Reading challenges and numbers.

Feeling: Very moody…very distant

Wondering: Of my identity crisis. Here or there. My soul is Italian but I am Indian at heart.

Hoping: To get more exciting work soon.

Enjoying: Being on my own.

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Wanting: This set of postcards. swoon

Celebrating: My weekend when I feel fully Italian.

Knowing: A little more about my family each day. Just like today.

Admiring: How mothers balance everything so well.

Some More Charming Italian Words that I Love

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I dedicate this post to Stacy of Prayers and Piazza who always inspires me to study, understand and read more Italian through her posts and experiences. Grazie mille, cara. Un bacio a te da India 🙂

Continuing the series of Charming Italian Words I Love, here is a brand new list that you might fall in love with.

Buona Lettura a tutti!

Innamorata/o: to be in love with someone ❤

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Dai: One of my favorite words that I have been using often. It means “Come On” or just “Do it” “Please” etc.

Sognare: To dream…

Tenero: It means cute or tender.

Palloncino: Balloon 🙂

Amenamente: Pleasantly, agreeably.

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Nessuno: Nobody, none…

Agnello: Lamb

Ciecamente: Blindly

Peggio: Worse

Merendine: Snacks

Qualcuno: Someone, Anyone…

Pettine: A comb 🙂

Teiera: Teapot

Pigro: Easy to remember as it reminds me of a pig and it means lazy.

Some words just stay with you don’t they? My favorites from the list are Pigro, Innamorato (SIGH) and Merendine. Yours??

An Instagram Hello Again!

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Ciao a tutti! Hello everyone!

Hope you enjoy a selection of pictures from my Instagram account in the past few months.

Also, I’d love to hear in the comment below as to what post you would like to see next?? A few options include: More Favorite Italian Words, More Favorite Italy Books, Picture Post of a city/town or any Travel related post.

I’ll decide as per the maximum responses I get. Grazie mille! Thank you so much!!

…and just like that its a new month!💕 #hellonovember

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"No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention."

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"No matter where you go, there you are". #theshootingstar

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Vintage scenes from Budapest 😍🚗

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10 Charming Small Towns in Italy

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Who doesn’t love quaint towns?? If you are in Italy or traveling there anytime soon, this list is a keeper. You will feel blessed to be in a country with so many varied choices of charming towns. Although this list is not exhaustive, it certainly includes many of my favorites. I will keep adding more to this list as and when I can. If you have any favorites, feel free to share 🙂

Perugia:

With an annual chocolate and jazz festival to its kitty, Perugia is quite a catch. It is still quite unknown to a first time Italy traveler so take a chance next time you are in Italy. Visit this medieval town before it gets run down by mass tourism and selfie sellers.

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Piazza IV Novembre

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Umbrian Views

Montegiove:

Deep in the green heart of Italy and quite close to Perugia is another small town with an ancient castle, a single yet fabulous Bar and the historic convent of La Scarzuola. Need I say more? For more details check this.

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La Scarzuola

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Montegiove’s only Bar

Gubbio:

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Ancient homes

Gubbio is Gothic, strange and charming at the same time. It belongs to the Pre Roman era and has a beautifully preserved Roman theatre at the entrance. Although slightly difficult to access, there are regular buses to reach Gubbio from Perugia and the region of Marche.

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Piazza Grande

Monteriggioni:

Tuscany has a special magic to it and there are countless towns in the region with something special. Monteriggioni is one such town, off the beaten track from the usual towns of Pisa, Siena, Montepulciano, Volterra that most travelers visit. This Tuscan town is walled and has an old world feel with its small piazza.

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Where am I?

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Tuscan charm

Portovenere:

Liguria is filled with colored houses and expanse of the Ligurian sea. Popular because of the Cinque Terre too, travelers overlook the little gem of Portovenere. The town is close to the main city of La Spezia hence easy to reach. It has a stupendous sea view, an old castle and history from Lord Byron’s times. Check here to know more.

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Church of St. Peter

Muggia:

This town deserves attention. Only 30 minutes from the under appreciated Trieste, Muggia is precious. It is well known for sea food and has small yatches and boats clung to the sea giving an inkling of an Enid Blyton adventure.

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View of Muggia habour

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Red roofed Muggia

Modica:

A town every chocolate lover must visit even though there are so many in Italy that its hard to keep track. Modica is special because its a town in Sicily- a region so diverse that it puts the rest of the country’s diversity into perspective for me. The locals are usually home by 8 p.m. and its fun to wander the streets by yourself.

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Modica in spring

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Church of San Giorgio

Scicli:

Another Sicilian town that needs attention from foreign visitors is Scicli. It is so quaint and forlorn that you will feel slightly biased for it once you are back. It has ancient cave dwellings and crude cliffs. You might probably see men at the piazza more as women stay confined to their homes and probably gossip or cook.

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Church of San Bartolomeo

Burano:

Probably everyone’s favorite because of its colorful vibe, Burano is only half an hour from Venice. It is famous for handmade lace and bussola which is a kind of a biscuit. According to legend, the island was colored so that the fishermen could find their way in the fog.

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Where the locals go

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Vivid Burano

Locorotondo:

Perched on a hill top and filled with white lanes and maze like streets, Locorotondo will outsmart every other town you visit in Puglia. Make sure you have its local wine and visit the nearby olive groves and trulli homes in Alberobello.

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Delightful alleys

Things I Love About Travel

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-Discovering new places, cuisines, history, culture and things in general.

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-Breaking mundane routines and making your own.

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-Challenging yourself to things you never imagined.

-Sharing travel stories with strangers.

-Making check lists and ticking each one as it’s achieved.

-Learning words of the local language.

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-Knowing others’ point of view for a new vision

-Enjoying a cake twice a day. Just because…

dsc04877-Planning a new trip as soon as you are back from one.

-Receiving your Visa papers.

-Packing a picnic basket for a trip with family.

-Having Coffee/Tea more than you require.

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-Glimpsing towns from the sky.

-Feeling WOW on being at thirty thousand feet.

-Sleeping till late.

-Reading in a foreign land about that foreign land.

-Partying at a hostel with random people.

-Appreciating life is general.

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-Celebrating festivals with locals.

-Having friends from across the world.

-Finding new things about yourself each day.

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“If not now, when?”

Wine Tasting in Castello di Poppiano

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Castello di Poppiano is perched on the cascading hills of Tuscany. Only a short drive from Florence, it is located in Montespertoli and belongs to the Guicciardini family. A very powerful name in Tuscany, Guicciardini housed many Florentine masterpieces in this castle during the difficult times of World War II.

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A beautiful day at Castello di Poppiano

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Spot the Pool!

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Castello di Poppiano from afar

Poppiano is not very big but perfect for a day to just relax and enjoy wine or go for a bike ride in the Tuscan hills. The castle has a production of olive oil and wine going on since the 15th century. There were also several varieties to taste and purchase in a shop at the entrance. Make sure you climb the tower of the castle and pass through old barrels of wine stored in the cellar to see those lush green views!

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Salute!

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Beautiful isn’t it?

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I would recommend visiting this quaint fortress for breathtaking views of the Chianti region especially those tall gorgeous cypress trees that we always associate Tuscany with. I could stay there for hours! Of course with a glass of wine in my hand!😉

How to Reach– Best way to reach this castle is to hire a car to make the most of the Tuscan countryside.

Have you been for a wine tasting in Tuscany?