Visitors to Venice don’t give a thought to the paving stones beneath their feet, yet they are very special and deserve investigation.
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Insider travel tips
For many people Sardinia is mostly known for its stunning beaches and coastlines, invariably linked to the image of luxurious seaside resorts and plushy yachts. Yet the island, and its wild and pristine nature, are ready to amaze those willing to go deeper – and often inner – when visiting the region.
I’ll never forget my first time walking through Ballarò. The red-domed churches, low-hanging curtains and street art cast an immediate impression on me. And it’s an impression that has remained to this day. This is the real Sicily: uniquely, unmistakably and unashamedly Palermitan. The produce at Ballarò is exquisite.
Fabulous foodie guides
Etruscans were the most recent civilisation in Italy to empower women with broad roles in society, and then they were wiped out by the Romans in the 3rd century BC! Since then, powerful roles for women have been somewhat of a rarity, not least of all in the world of wine.
Bologna is often touted as the food capital of Italy and is home to some of the country’s most famous delicacies, such as tortellini, tagliatelle al ragù and mortadella. Perhaps, as a result, the Bolognesi developed something of a reputation as food snobs, with a dismissive attitude towards anything foreign. However, this parochial attitude is no more.
Along the Tuscan border sits Lake Trasimeno, situated in a north-west pocket of Umbria and just a stone’s throw away from some of the most prominent Sangiovese producers in the world.
Italian Language lessons
The first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about Italy is typically food. The rich gastronomic tradition is a huge part of the Italian heritage and undoubtedly one of the most pleasant experiences. But what about food for your soul? The contribution of Italy to the world’s artistic legacy is priceless, and the number of museums in this little country is impressive.
The choice to learn Italian usually comes from a sense of romance or passion for the country and its people. Yet, those who stick with their studies often lose the sense of romance to periods of utter frustration and confusion. Italian grammar, as grammar in general, is not always logical, and the list of exceptions to the rules seems to be longer than the list of rules itself.
Jewish people have been living in Rome continuously since the 2nd century B.C. and today Rome’s Jewish community is Italy 's largest. Over the years the city has evolved many classic Jewish Roman savory dishes like carciofi alla giudia, Jewish-style deep fried artichokes, as well as many sweets.
Whenever I’m planning a trip to Rome, I try to do my due diligence, which is to say, I hit up friends and check my favorite travel blogs for restaurant recommendations, and then make a list of places I’d like to visit for lunch or dinner. But I always leave room for serendipity.
A yeasty roll, filled with just the right amount of vanilla pastry cream, this not-too-sweet brioche is a classic Italian breakfast treat. Despite its Venetian name, this treat is actually from Milan in the Lombardy region.
Culture Vulture deep dives
There’s an exhibition currently in Vicenza to celebrate 250 years of the Tiepolos’ - father and son’s - association with the great city of Vicenza, but why Vicenza? The city is best known for the works of Palladio who designed many of its great civic buildings as well as villas in the countryside nearby.
Architecture fans with a love for mountains can combine their two passions in Italy when they visit a number of ‘high-altitude' museums with incredible designs.
It’s been a half-millennium since Leonardo da Vinci set out to paint the now-famous portrait we call Mona Lisa. Scholars have penned millions of words over several generations about this single portrait.
Artisan shopping secrets
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.
Since ancient times, residents of the Italian peninsula have pulled coral and seashells from the waters of the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic, using the bounty of the seas to make some of Italy’s most beautiful adornments.
The breathtaking beauty of Venice ranges from the dazzling Piazza San Marco to the delicate traditions of its artisans. It’s a pleasure to slow down and wander into a shop to watch a signora making lace or stringing glass beads. The artisans you meet are happy to share their passions with travelers, and a souvenir from the experience will bring back happy memories for a lifetime.
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