Italy is bursting at the seams with charming hilltop towns and languishing seaside villages. Lesser-known and often overlooked, foothill towns spill down the lower slopes of some of the country’s most dramatic mountain ranges, offering sweeping vistas as far as the eye can see. (And many times, without the crowds such vistas tend to attract.)
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Insider travel tips
Nestled in the Campanian seaside cliffs between astonishing Amalfi and sensational Salerno lies the little-known town of Maiori. Home to the longest stretch of beach on the Amalfi Coast, centuries’ worth of religious and cultural history and a gorgeous waterfront promenade, Maiori is the perfect place for a relaxing, romantic getaway.
As you walk from Pavia’s train station towards its historical center, you'll spot a 26-foot-tall woman holding a shield in one hand and a spear in the other, presiding over a traffic circle.
Fabulous foodie guides
by: Jared Ranahan
The rolling hills of Tuscany have drawn hordes of people over the centuries – promising peace of mind, grand art, sumptuous meals, and fine wines. Part of the allure is that the region defies the march of time, somehow merging the blissful comfort of pastoral lands and ancient stories of love and intrigue with the satisfying pleasures of modernity.
Italian Language lessons
Many Italian learners, even those who consider themselves fairly fluent, confess that they still struggle when trying to talk like native speakers. Indeed, sometimes no amount of sophisticated vocabulary can help if you haven’t yet gotten a handle on widespread colloquial adverbs like anzi, mica, and so forth.
Going back to work after summer holidays is not always a pleasant experience, to say the least, but it can be especially traumatic if you’re Italian! People who get to know Italy and its culture well enough usually aren’t surprised when they learn that life slows down quite a bit during July and August.
In a perfect world, vacation would always be relaxing and everything would go as smoothly as possible. But reality doesn’t always line up with dolce vita expectations, and you may encounter some frustrating things to deal with when plans veer off course. Thankfully, command of the language can help you stay calm.
There’s a charming saying about melons in Emilia-Romagna: Gli uomini sono come i meloni — molti cattivi e pochi buoni (People are like melons — there are lots of bad ones and only a few good ones). Recognizing a “good melon” can indeed take some trial and error!
Full disclosure: rigaglie, a word that comes from the Latin for “royal gift,” means “chicken giblets” in Italian. The sauce, even though made of oft-discarded poultry parts, is actually a very refined delicacy with deep, rich flavor. Be brave and add cock’s combs, too! They not only have a nice texture and lovely flavor, but are very pretty on the plate.
Culture Vulture deep dives
When you step into the cavernous Venetian basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, it takes a minute or two for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
After nearly three years of decreased tourist traffic, Venice is back to its usual saturation point this summer, in part due to the Biennale Arte currently underway.
To many people, cooking is considered an art. To others, comparing the two realms of human skill and imagination is more of an outrage. And in Italy, until not so long ago, the second opinion seemed to prevail in that most places that feature art only carried the bare minimum when offering refreshments.
Artisan shopping secrets
Milan is one of the world’s design capitals. Brands like Prada and Versace are headquartered in the northern Italian city and the Salone del Mobile (Furniture Fair) attracts thousands of well-heeled visitors from across the globe each year.
The Italian footwear industry is one in which craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology combine to create a product with a distinct style that has no equal in the world. This mastery is especially true in a little town on the Romagna Riviera.
In Florence, city of masterpieces, artisan traditions have flourished for centuries. It’s a joy to discover the abundance of shops where talented workers dedicate themselves to techniques handed down through generations and also bring new ideas to this city where creativity has long been nurtured.