Italian Cities in Review: Torino (Turin)

San Lorenzo Turin

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n an attempt to spread our travel net ever further afield, we grabbed our camera and boarded a three-hour train to Torino, the first capital of unified Italy and home to its once Royal family, the House of Savoy. This city has been given two strikingly dissimilar mottos: “the Detroit of Italy” and “little Paris.” While car manufacture is one of its most important industries, I think you’ll agree from the photos below that the French influence dominates in this mini Paris on the Po.
 
Torino_streets Continue reading…

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Highlights From Our Final Trip: Venice & Verona

Venice_ItalyThere is no combination of cities that screams romance more than Venice and Verona. Verona, the city where Romeo and Juliet supposedly once lived, and Venice, the city where, if they had really lived, they would have spent their honeymoon. It’s nothing like anywhere else in Italy and there is no use trying to describe it in words, it simply must be seen to be believed. It’s always a favorite so we always leave it for last. With three days in this enchanting city we have plenty of time to see the sites, get lost in the winding streets, watch a glass blowing demonstration, ride a gondola, and take a special trip out to one of the smaller islands off of Venice that many people visiting for the first time never manage to see. This summer we ventured to the stunning and surreal Island of Burano. Enjoy!

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Photo of the Week: Fiesole Walk

Photo of the Week: Fiesole Walk

Looking for a picturesque and doable walk into the hills around Florence, through some beautiful back roads, and with some award winning views? We’ve got you covered. In fact, thanks to our recent move out of the city center we’ve found the perfect 1-hour walk out of the clogged centro and up into the quiet and charming Tuscan hills. The walk leaves from Piazza delle Cure and takes you through some magical winding roads (with several fun stops on the way) to the main piazza of the gorgeous hilltop town of Fiesole. For those of you who are not interested in an uphill climb (which for the last 20 minutes can get a bit steep), but would still like to enjoy this lovely town, jump on Bus #7 (picks up in Piazza San Marco and drops you in Piazza Mino da Fiesole). For those of you who don’t mind the burn or are looking for an excuse to eat more pasta tonight, read on. Continue reading…

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Photo of the Week: Chianti Countryside

Photo of the Week: Chianti Countryside

This is the breathtaking view looking out over the Tuscan hillside from the town of Panzano, located in the municipality of Greve, halfway between Florence and Siena. This quaint hilltop town is situated along the Chiantigiana, the famous road that runs through the heart of the Chianti Classico region. This particular image shows a rather unusual geological feature for this region: a wide, low valley, rather than what are more typically narrow and deep valleys. This particular example is the biggest and most famous of these features, known as the Conca d’Oro (The Golden Bowl). Aside from being maybe the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, the particular combination of soil, altitude, and temperature on these slopes are ideal for chianti grapes, making the Golden Bowl highly coveted wine territory.

Aside from its amazing wine and incredible views, Panzano has also been put on the map thanks to a certain local butcher. Yes, I said butcher. The Butcher of Panzano, Dario Cecchini. Think I’m joking? Ask Anthony Bourdain. I recently was lucky enough to take part in the weekly Sunday lunch at one of his three (yes, three) restaurants in Panzano. It was an unspeakable three-hour feast of all the most delicious cuts of meat you have ever tasted. Not to worry, I plan on blogging about that soon enough. I just have not recovered enough to talk about it yet.

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Buon Natale! Happy Holidays, Italian Style

The holidays are by far my favorite time of year; the fresh smell of pine needles, the sweet sounds of carolers, and the blatant overuse of lighted decorations leading to temporary blindness. It doesn’t get much better than when Santa comes to town.

But what’s it like in Italy? Do they have pumpkin spice lattes and peppermint infused…well…everything? Do they celebrate Black Friday with discounts on their discounts? Are there therapy groups for Italians who get overwhelmed with shopping or depressed by the thought of 48 hours spent with close family? What are these magical days like for our European friends?

Sadly, I have never spent an actual Christmas day in Italy. The holidays always seemed to call me back home. I was however in Florence once very late into December (the 22nd…) due to some very poor planning. It was two years ago and Florence had one of its worst snowstorms ever. Ok…”storm” may be an exaggeration. Being from the east coast originally, a little white powder on the ground has never deterred me from my daily activities. However, I woke up that morning to a city that was literally shutdown. After walking down to my favorite coffee spot, I knew I was in trouble when I saw that almost every museum in town was closed. There was not a lost tourist or frantic Florentine to be seen. Continue reading…

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