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.
–Antichissimo: Very ancient
–Pranzetto: a small little lunch
–Oppure: Or, Otherwise, else..
–Incantare: To charm
–Piuttosto: Rather, instead
–Soggiornare: To stay
–Casetta: Small house or a lodge.
Do tell me your favorites in the comments 🙂
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.
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.
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 😉
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 🙂
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 😉
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.
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 ❤
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?
–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!
Piazza Castello, Torino #torino BUON ULTIMO GIORNO DEL 2016…SALITE A BORDO PER VIVERE UN NUOVO ANNO 2017 RICCO DI AVVENTURE E CULTURA. #turindowntown #turin #torinoèlamiacittà #igersturin #igerstorino #ig_torino #ig_piemonte #ig_turin #ig_turin_ #lestradeditorino #torinodigitale #torinopics #turincity #instagram #instangood #igersita #igersitalia #ig_italia #volgoitalia #volgotorino #volgoitaly #loves_torino #ig_italia_borghiecitta #ig_italia #piazzacastello #seemyturin #ciauturin #vivatorino #vivotorino #placeofturin Photo by @lelepap
–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.
–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.
–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.
–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.
Piazza Raffaele de Ferrari, fountain and Palazzo della Nuova Borsa Valori, Genoa | Italy 🇮🇹 #italytravel#italia#genova#genoa#italy#italygram#ig_italy#about_italy#decoration#architecture#architektura#archdaily#architecturestudent#oldcity#oldtown#italiangirl#polishgirl#adventure#adventuretime#traveler#travelgram#travel#travelingram#instatravel#instaitalia
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.
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!
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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! ❤
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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??
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!!
Cosi Fan Tutte is an Italian opera by Mozart first performed in Vienna. This novel (changed from Tutte to Tutti) is loosely inspired from it. It is my first Michael Dibdin novel which revolves around an Italian inspector's crime chase in modern day Naples. The book includes star crossed lovers, mistaken identities, magicians and lots and lots of melodrama. And can you believe I got it for about a 100 rupees from a book sale!! (It's less than 2 euros) 😍 📚🔮💫
Hundertwasserhaus is one of the many popular sights in Vienna..Akin to Gaudi of Barcelona, the architect Hundertwasser, was criticized for his creations and termed insane in his times. But all he wanted was to achieve peace between humanity and nature. Check this strange grassroof colored apartment!👈👆
The clink of glasses in the morning, old world interiors and the smell of freshly ground coffee was enough to attract me here. For those of you seen and loved Before Sunrise movie this is Café Sperl- the place where part of the movie was shot. Like all Viennese coffee houses, Sperl is a big institution in itself. A little off the tourist attractions, Sperl is close to the famous Naschmarkt and is worth a detour. #foodtalkindia
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-Discovering new places, cuisines, history, culture and things in general.
-Breaking mundane routines and making your own.
-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.
-Knowing others’ point of view for a new vision
-Enjoying a cake twice a day. Just because…
-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.
-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.
-Celebrating festivals with locals.
-Having friends from across the world.
-Finding new things about yourself each day.
“If not now, when?”
Buon Novembre! Happy November! 🙂
I am starting the month on a bookish note after a big festive season in India. Many a times I am asked to suggest books on “Italy” and often find myself confused because it is impossible to mention just one book.
Seriously the choices are plenty (not to mention fantastic) which is why it is really tough to pick one good book out of the universe. There are several good books on travel, art many on culture and history and even more on the perfect house in Tuscany 😉
Taking the inspiration further, I have come up with a list of top 10 books that came to my mind first. These are my favorite Italy reads and I hope they set the pace for anyone wanting to know more on Italy.
1. Inspector Montalbano Series by Andrea Camilleri:
Crime, delicious food, fantastic scenery and hot Sicilian men, this book has it all. Camilleri’s books on Inspector Montalbano has made him one of the greatest Italian writers of the 21st century. I have already read a dozen of his translated works and hope that some day I can read the entire book in Italian Sicilian dialect. Needless to say, his books propelled me to visit Sicily in April this year. To know more about my travel read my post for The Local Italy here.
2. La Bella Lingua by Dianne Hales:
For those of you following my blog for a long time know that I am learning Italian since more than a year now. I regularly do a series on Charming Italian Words and many words come from this beautifully researched book by Dianne Hales. This isn’t just a language book but has stories, phrases and history of the Italian language. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is curious about Italian or to those who want to learn a new language. There is a great chapter on Dante too.
3. Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr:
I have already gushed a little about this book before here and for those who haven’t read this post please do. Four Seasons in Rome is lyrical and poetic and is the author’s personal account of his struggles in Rome. It made me fall in love with the eternal city all over again and whether one has been there or not, his writing weaves a certain magic.
Region: Rome, Lazio
4. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa:
This book was one of my first few reads on Sicily but it was nothing like I expected. The Leopard documents Italy during the period of its unification or risorgimento. There is class and traditions among the noblemen of Sicily followed by aristocracy and power. It is a must read to up your game in the Italian literature section and easily makes it one of the top 10 books on Italian Literature.
5. Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King:
Saw the latest movie Inferno?? Can’t stop thinking about this beautiful dome below? You are going for the right book. Ross King’s book on Filippo Brunelleschi’s beautifully created dome is intriguing and historical. Although there are a lot of engineering details, I still enjoyed the story of the paranoid Italian goldsmith who is one of the most famous names in the field of European architecture. The book highlights the hardships that he had to endure in the times of plagues and wars.
Region: Florence, Tuscany
6. Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere by Jan Morris:
I love Trieste. This book by Jan Morris was recommended to me by an Italian lady in a quaint bookcafe of Trieste. It talks of the city’s troubled past and its moods and changeability. Trieste is a great memoir by Morris with a lot of history but her humurous and nostalgic way of writing doesn’t make it boring. It would make perfect sense to visit the town of Trieste after you have read this book or even before like me because that is how I got attracted to the city’s “nowhereness”.
Region: Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia
7. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri:
This book surprised me with passion. I not only devoured the book but also recommended it to many who in turn loved it. Jhumpa Lahiri could be easily writing my story on learning Italian 🙂 In Other Words will open your world to the world of knowing a new language. As Ms. Lahiri rightly says “When you live without your own language you feel weightless and, at the same time, overloaded. Your breathe another type of air, at a different altitude”.
Region: Rome, Lazio.
8. The Neopolitan Series by Elena Ferrante:
You might have heard of this name in the news off late as privacy isn’t respected in the world any longer and that makes me very sad. Anyhow, I implore you to read The Neopolitan series but with an open mind. This isn’t the story such as a Tuscan Sun but a very gritty one of two friends. It highlights Italian crime, politics, history and complex relationships. Ferrante’s words are bold, effortless and brutal and one that made me cry. It is a must read for all you Italophiles out there.
Region: Naples, Campagnia; Pisa, Tuscany; Florence, Tuscany; Milan, Lombardia
9. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco:
One of my very first Italy reads, The Name of the Rose is both a fabulous book and a movie. A murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the hills of Piedmont, the story takes place in the Saint Michael’s Abbey which Umberto Eco had once visited. I’d suggest to pick this book first before starting anything else on Italy from this list.
10. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino:
How can one list books on Italy and not mention the genius Calvino? That would be blasphemy. Invisible Cities explores the travels and dialogues of Marco Polo and Kubail Khan. The cities are described with careful attention and magic that will capture your imagination. Quiet messages, ideas, city signs, images, prophetic warnings and human despair, this book is hypnotic. The only thing I would point out is that the prose is not like a usual book and is a little difficult to understand.
Have you read any of these books? I’d love to hear more “Italy specific” recommendations. Of course there are so many that didn’t make this list and maybe I can include them in a separate post.
If you visit Palermo and do not venture to see its historic markets you probably haven’t seen the city. Food is an important part of the Italian cuisine hence there are vegetable stands everywhere in the streets. They are actually very well organized with shelves full of fresh produce. At home, I often visit the vegetable market whenever I can as I love the chatter and noise that surrounds them. Palermo reminded me of just that 🙂
The city actually has four historic markets that were established by the Arabs. I visited only one however- Mercato di Capo. Located behind Palermo’s popular shopping street next to Teatro Massimo, Capo is easy reach from most of the major sights.
When I reached in the morning, it was already bustling with people and colorful produce. Also, so much of Italians around me and Italian (the language) around me, sometimes loud, sweet, sing song and sometimes rude.
The market was really a sight. There was a huge amount of seafood display, (something that I don’t usually enjoy) locals trying to get the best of the Sicilian fish for their pranzo/cena, people trying to get the best bargain, a gang of ladies having fresh fruit at the side…
It was fun being in the centre of it all, not buying anything but just observing 😉 Loved the hustle and bustle. A stall of vegetables with purple cabbages caught my eye because I don’t get to see them so commonly in India. Also, the Sicilian tomatoes. My Oh my!! They were gleaming from afar. I couldn’t take my eyes off them!
It was great to be there and I soon busied myself with a big piece of Sfincione which is focaccia with olive oil, tomatoes, onions and pepper. Delicious! After that I got a small cup of strawberries and peaches which I absolutely devoured. One of my best days in Palermo that I will fondly remember.
Via Porta Carini, Palermo.
Monday- Sat: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Sunday- 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
While watching the Sicilian TV show “Inspector Montalbano“, I learnt that one of the major towns that the show was shot in was Scicli. So in Sicily I made sure to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site town. (pronounced as Sheek-lee)
The first thing I noticed in the town was how old it was. Around me were low hills with crude cliffs and ancient cave dwellings. There were also old baroque buildings in different piazzas.
Scicli is actually very old as it goes as far as the Copper Age. Yes, there are proofs of settlements from that time. The town also has an interesting history as it was ruled by Arabs, Spanish and Normans, very similar to Palermo.
Scicli was very alluring despite being old. It was full of very strange figures in balconies, quite different from the ones in Modica because the ones in Scicli appeared to be more forlorn and wretched.
I went to several towns in Sicily but Scicli stayed with me. The town seems a little abandoned and on its own which made me feel sad for it. But that is also a charm. I hope you too can visit Scicli someday, maybe before it gets run down by mass tourism.
It is no secret that Italians prepare one of the best cuisines in the world. But few know that they also have one of the best street food options available!
Thanks to Italy Book Tours I can help share an excellent book on it. Written by Paola Bacchia of Italian origin, Italian Street Food shows hidden street food stalls behind the town squares, away from the touristy restaurants and down back streets of Italy The little-known gems offering up some of Italy’s tastiest and best-kept secret dishes that the locals prize are all in this book!
Italian Street Food is not just another Italian cookbook; it delves into truly authentic Italian fare—the kind of secret recipes that are passed down through generations.
Learn how to make authentic polpettine, arancini, stuffed cuttlefish, cannolis, and fritters, and perfect your gelato-making skills with original flavors such as lemon and basil or affogato and aperol. With beautiful stories and stunning photography throughout, ITALIAN STREET FOOD delivers an authentic, lesser known take on a much loved cuisine.
Buy the Book:
The author Paola Bacchia is one of Australia’s most popular Italian food bloggers. On her blog, Italy on My Mind, she shares family memories and their connections to food. It won awards for best food blog in 2013 and 2015 from ITALY Magazine. Paola returns to Italy every year to expand her knowledge of Italian food, its traditions, and innovations.
Everyone wants to visit Venice and experience its much talked about beauty. From Ernest Hemingway to Ezra Pound to Italo Calvino to Thomas Mann, several known writers and poets have raved about this unique city. But let’s face it, traveling to Venice can be expensive, overwhelming and crowded.
Taking this cue, I, along with some fellow bloggers, have compiled a list of travel tips for a trip to the City of Canals. We know Venice is touristy so we have tried to encapsulate whatever it is that will help you on your lovely Venetian Trip. It wouldn’t hurt to read and follow good advice 🙂
So let’s read what all the Bloggers have to say:
–Diana of Italy Translated says, “When you visit Venice, go with an open mind as its very touristy. But remember that there is no other place like that in the world. People don’t like it for these reasons but try to see beyond it”
Debra of Bagni di Lucca says, “If you want a local experience dine at Alla Vedova. Its a great place with delicious food and is not expensive.”
Monica of Cook in Venice says, “When you come to Venice don’t try to squash too many visits in a short time: you won’t savour the real feel of Venice. Pick maximum two visits/activities per day and then enjoy the pleasure of not having any cars around.”
Lyn of Traveling with Lyn says, “In Venice use the local transport- the Vaporetto, which is the water bus. It is a fun way to travel. Don’t forget to buy a day or multi day pass as it makes it so easy to hop on and hop off the vaporetti to get to different islands.”
Laura of My Corner of Italy says, “Get a detailed map as there aren’t many signs along the streets and they only indicate the path towards the major sights such as San Marco, Rialto, Accademia, Ferrovia (train station) and Piazzale Roma (bus station). So a map is indispensable to move around.”
Susan of Timeless Italy says, “When you visit Venice, do a pub crawl. Relish cicchetti with the locals, its fun.”
Margie of Margie in Italy says, “Get away from the main tourist areas by wandering around in the calli behind them. Don’t be afriad to lose yourself in the narrow paths. It’s there that you discover the magic of Venice”
Molly of Letter Arte Mente says, “Walk through the back streets of Dorsoduro towards Zattere and Santa Maria della Salute. It’s one of the most meditative walks especially early morning or during a foggy winter’s day”
Michelle of Il Bel Centro says, “Go in December when the tourists are so thin that there are more pigeons than people in San Marco. There aren’t lines for sights and there are several Christmas lights in every street that give an evocative and mysterious feeling. It is just magic. Plus Santas rowing gondolas, that’s just brilliant!”
My suggestion– Head to Caffe Florian and do some people watching (Italian style) It’s where Hemingway and Dickens frequented. Make sure you have a vino there, it is worth the money. It’s okay to splurge a little 😉
Thank you for reading through this post everyone! 🙂 I have such a fabulous circle of bloggers on Italy that I cannot be more grateful for. Grazie mille to all the lovely ladies who contributed to make it this post what it is.
I hope the next time you visit Italy, these tips help you. Till then Ciao 🙂