Taking it slow

Last month, I wrote a bit about Impact Travel and my own experience with the emerging trend.  Another emerging trend in travel in Slow Travel.  This type of adventure engages the traveler in an experience that revolves around not only immersing one’s self in the cultural aspects of a destination, but that idea is reinforced and made possible by the ACT of traveling slowly.  Examples of slow travel include rail vacations, river cruising (all over the world) and the American favorite – the road trip!  Traditional ocean/sea cruising can also take the form of slow travel, but the idea would be staying overnight or multiple nights in one port before moving on.

I think this concept was brought about by the fact that we desire to slow the revolution of the earth.  Time is fleeting and the older we get, the faster it seems to go!  We are so busy; we have so little vacation time; we realize our kids grow so fast and our parents are aging before our eyes.  Our family trips to Disney are wonderful and anything BUT a vacation and hopping from spot to spot on a cruise ship is not only filled with constant entertainment, but endless stimulation options that busy the mind and exercise the spirit.  People are realizing the beauty in slowing down, stopping to smell the roses, and the knowledge gained by personal interactions in culture and with people who are different than we are.

Every vacation can contain some aspects of slow travel – whether you are traveling abroad or to another part of your own country.  For example, instead of aiming to visit four destinations in a week-long trip, choose two and dive in – eat where the locals eat.  Shop where locals shop.  Ask a local about the hidden treasures of their city – they want to brag about THEIR place on this big blue ball and they are the EXPERTS!  Try a new mode of transportation!  When my daughter and I were in Paris earlier this year, we not only did a bike tour but also “rented” Lime scooters (the kind you stand on like a big kid) and scooted around everywhere!  Find a quiet place and reflect.  This single act allows me to inhale a place.  Become a people watcher and learn through observation.  Basically, slow it down.

Don’t get me wrong – there is a time and a place for the hurried vacation – I am planning a group cruise to Hawaii in 2021 for my son’s graduation (wanna go?) and know that we may never go to Hawaii again – especially as a family – so we are seeing as much as possible!!!  In the meantime, I plan on enjoying a few slow travel experiences in my near future – a river cruise in November and our weekly long camping trip coming up later in July – it doesn’t get much slower than camping!!!  The world is big and time is flying by….take it slow!

Here are some ways we have experienced aspects of slow travel on our adventures.

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Amtrak Downeaster on a gorgeous summer’s day in New Hampshire! Old school slow travel.

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Anyone need a hat?

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Harbour Island – ACTUAL pink sand!!!

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Cadiz, Spain. Churros and chocolate and a little bit of people watching.

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Try a new form of transportation….Char and Sable on a Segway tour of the city – in Europe, kids can do many things they aren’t “allowed” to do in the US.

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Try to blend in. Zurich, Switzerland – these are our “Polish faces” – my sister in law is Polish, and she said Americans smile too big in pictures – so this is how we imagine the Poles smile!

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June 2018. Shortly after sunrise over Vatican City. I ache for another opportunity like this one….we were high tailing it to our private Vatican Tour so we could barely stop to smell the roses, but man, I wish I could’ve frozen time in this very spot. It was so peaceful and serene.

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Well, I am not generally a wine drinker but I was in PARIS!!! A glass of wine was a requirement. Eat and drink like the locals.

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The Eiffel Tower was closed due to the weather, but we scooted all the way there to take in the rare sight!

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Eating like the locals in Quebec….this place was off the beaten path and we were rewarded with an amazing dinner. Everyone got a platter of thinly sliced beef, then there was shrimp and chicken to fondue as well!

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Our appetizer..bread dipped in cheese!

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Taking it easy at the Siberian Spa outside of Quebec. A family trip to remember.

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It isn’t hard to eat like a local in Italy. Lemon risotto – the most amazing risotto ever!

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Scooter pick up! Try a new form of transportation….the best way to see the Amalfi Coast!

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Limoncello to end the evening! Drink like the locals! This is the restaurant near the Vatican – halfway through our meal about 20 priests walked into the restaurant….a good beginning to a joke!

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Eat where the locals eat. Giuseppe and his biggest fans!

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So much Caprese!

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Our greatest find! Just hop off the highway to find your treasure!

The Doors

I always want to bring home a ton of things when I travel to a new place.  I find so many things that are cool, unusual, and signify an experience I never want to forget. My son “collects” key chains and my daughter “collects” snow globes from our travels.  My husband “collects” shot glasses and I always bring back a Christmas ornament for my tree.  Recently, I started collecting Nativity Scenes unique to the place I am visiting.

Another ritual I have is taking pictures of doors.  I love how doors are so culturally significant and really indicative of personally, class and background.  I love the variation of size, color, materials and purpose.  I imagine what is on the other side of the doors, how old they are and what stories they would tell if they could talk.  I enjoy making simple blank greeting cards out of many of the pictures I take during my travels and sending those to clients.  The door pictures are some of my favorites.  Here are some I took last year in Italy and last month in Mexico.

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Sorrento, Italy

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Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy – the most stunning place I have EVER been!!!

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Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

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Pompeii, Italy

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Pompeii, Italy

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

 

TBT…The Best Cruise Ever, Part II – my husband’s pictures!!

Last week I shared with you a photo journal of our dream cruise of the Mediterranean in May 2015.  Here are some other pictures of that fabulous journey and the stories behind them!

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On a 15 night cruise, one collects A LOT of towel creatures!

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Cadiz, Spain. Churros and chocolate!!!! AMAZING!

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Like a garden of Eden – Malaga, Spain

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I *think* this was in Marseilles, France…but I could be wrong!

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Scooting in Cinque Terre, Italy.

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The Roman Colosseum

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Villa-France-sur-Mer, France – this is where we moored and was the port for Nice and Monaco. The town of Villa-France itself is stunning and quintessential Mediterranean. I am itching to go back!

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On board the Anthem of the Seas, moored off the coast of Nice, France.

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Barcelona, Spain – On one of the main promenades. I love how Kelton is fussing with his sister’s hair!

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We always find critters – Barcelona, Spain

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The construction continues at Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

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La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

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Anthem after dark

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Gibraltar – long lost cousins? Oh and behind Kelton in the distance? AFRICA!!!!!

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In the mountains of Gibraltar

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ME! Flying in the iFLY – aboard the Anthem of the Seas

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Suspended in the North Star – a fabulous way to see the Anthem!

 

 

Throw Back Thursday…the best cruise EVER!

When I turned 40, I said to my husband that I would love to go on a Mediterranean cruise.  At that point in my life, I had been to northern and central France, England and Scotland and really had the Europe bug (I still do!)!  I wanted to see more and the best way to do that, is on a cruise!!!  Think about it – you only have to unpack once, your hotel goes with you, your meals are already set and you can see multiple countries in a short period of time.  It was SPECTACULAR!!!!

We chose Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas – this was in 2015 and she was brand new!!!  This was her first REAL voyage (not the quick, work-out-the-kinks 3 or 4 night turn around) and we were beside yourselves with joy.  This was my kids’ first cruise and it was a 16 night out of Southampton, England.  We departed in early May and hit Gibraltar, Barcelona, Malaga, Cadiz, Villa-France-sur-Mer (Nice/Monaco), Marseilles, La Spezia (Cinque Terre), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Lisbon.

Words cannot describe how awesome this cruise was, so I picked SOME of my favorite pictures to share so you get the idea.  The Mediterranean in spring is something wonderful to behold and I hope you get a chance to see it someday, too!!!  Wanna go next spring?

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Barcelona cathedral rooftop. Spain

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Sagrada Familia – needs no introduction!

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Kelton posing in Barcelona.

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We rented scooters in La Spezia, Italy and toured Cinque Terre. It was absolutely incredible!!!

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Cinque Terre

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Cinque Terre

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Malaga, Spain is one of the most gorgeous cities we have ever seen!

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Malaga – breathtaking!

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Malaga

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View of the Med from Alcazaba fortress, Malaga

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Gardens in Malaga

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Char and Sable on a Segway tour of the city – in Europe, kids can do many things they aren’t “allowed” to do in the US.

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View of the Anthem of the Seas from Alcazaba

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Moor doorway at Alcazaba – the architecture was stunning!

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Marseilles Cathedral! Marseilles, France

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Plaza in Marseilles

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Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseilles

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Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal

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Atop the battlements of Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George Castle)

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Outside of Jeronimos Monastery

 

We made so many memories on this trip and talk about it today!  These times with my kids were and are priceless!  I wouldn’t trade them for the world!

 

Throw Back Thursday – Italy 2016

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Sunset in Sorrento, Italy reflected in Aperol Spritz.

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Looking down…..Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

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San Gimignano towers through the window of our tower bedroom.

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Countryside view from Volterra, Italy

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Photo from the top of one of the towers – San Gimignano, Italy

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Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

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San Gimignano in rain

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Zurich, Switzerland – these are our “Polish faces” – my sister in law is Polish, and she said Americans smile too big in pictures – so this is how we imagine the Poles smile!

In April 2016, my husband and I took our first week long vacation without our children!  They went to visit their grandparents on the West Coast (their first time traveling unaccompanied) and we took a long week to Italy!  Let me start off by saying it was everything I thought it would be and I loved every minute.

In a nut shell, we flew into Zurich, picked up a rental and drove to Rimini on the eastern coast of Italy, sitting nicely on the Adriatic Sea.  We spent our first night there and had the most wonderful seafood dinner ever!  The next morning, we headed towards Sorrento – but first we visited the micro country of San Marino and took time to stick our toes in the Adriatic.

We spent four nights in Sorrento and toured the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Naples.  We had our most expensive meal ever (the kind of place that doesn’t have prices on the LADIES’ menu!!) and also the best pizza in Naples!

We drove to Tuscany and spent another four nights in San Gimignano and toured that lovely hill town, Volterra, a winery, Florence and ate WAY too much!!!!

Finally, we spent a night in Zurich before we left the next day to return home, just ahead of our kids.  It was amazing and filled with wonderful surprises, character building struggles and joyful experiences that deepened the bond I have with my hubby.  Traveling does all those things for you and it is the main reason we enjoy traveling….it brings us together and challenges us!

Above are some of my favorite pictures from this fabulous journey!

 

Sunrises and Sunsets…iconic views of travel.

I have a thing for sunrises and sunsets.  They signify the beginning and the end.  They are an invitation to start anew and force us to put things behind us.  I have found great joy in witnessing these celestial spectacles and even though some of them happened years and years ago, they recall memories that I may have otherwise forgotten.

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November 2018. A sunrise in my backyard with freshly fallen snow.

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March 2013. Argenton-sur-Creuse. This was sunrise out the window of our charming 16 century townhouse at the end of the bridge.

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Summer 2018. Naples, Maine. Sunset on Long Lake.

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Summer 2016. Naples, Maine. Tubing at sunset on Long Lake.

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November 2015. Sunset over Monterey Bay, California.

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Fall 2012. Sunset on the amazing island of Eleuthera, Bahamas.

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Unknown date. Sunrise on my street.

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December 2013. Sunrise over Mount Baker, Washington State.

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Sunset. Eleuthera, Bahamas.

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Sunset. Eleuthera, Bahamas.

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Summer 2017. Sunset over Balch Lake, Maine.

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February 2019 aboard the Symphony of the Seas. Sunset while docked off the coast of St. Marteen.

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February 2019. Man-made sunset on the Savanna in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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February 2019. Sunset over the lake from our room in Bay Lake Towers, Disney World.

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June 2018. Sorrento, Italy. Sunset over Vesuvius.

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June 2018. Shortly after sunrise over Vatican City.

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September 2014. Sunset in Eleuthera, Bahamas.

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April 2016. Sunset in Sorrento, Italy reflected in Aperol Spritz.

 

Italy…Bits and Pieces (of my heart) Part II -Aperol for the win and travel gurus!

Aperol Spritz is my husband’s Italian (and summer) beverage of choice.  We first experienced this beauty on our first road trip in Italy when we arrived in Sorrento at our lovely Agriturismo, Antico Casal.  Our host made us this famous and refreshing drink to enjoy at sunset – and you, too, can make it here at home.  Aperol is a bitter Italian spirit (available at most liquor stores) but when combined with prosseco, orange juice and soda water, the flavors open up and it becomes a lively Italian sunset in a glass!  While recipes vary regionally, the original is the best and can be found on the Aperol bottle!  I was amazed to find PRE-MADE Aperol Spritz in Italy when I was there in June and may or may not have enjoyed a few bottles (alone)!

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A VERY expensive Aperol Spritz in Venice – 15 Euros – about $18USD, but it WAS a beautiful setting!

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Ok this is an exaggeration – but check out that gorgeous veranda at our Air BnB!

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Pre-Mixed Aperol Spritz!!!

Rick Steves – As a travel enthusiast and vacation planner, I recognize quality and an outstanding product and I think Rick Steves puts out amazing tools for any type of traveler.  I have used and planned many of my own vacations with the help of Rick’s travel guides and keep a small library of his tour books to lend out to clients and friends.  His expertise really lends itself to the adventurous traveler – experienced or novice – and provides resources that enhance a pre-organized vacation, educate the traveler and help the do-it-yourselfer plan effectively to get the most out of their experience.

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For my most recent Italian adventure, my mom, sisters and I used Rick’s mobile App for some pre-trip planning (he has GREAT radio interviews and cultural “lectures” available on the App for your pleasure) as well as using Rick’s guided audio walking tours.  While I will say there were a few hiccups with this method (people pressing “play” at different times and having to catch up or go back from time to time), we thoroughly enjoyed using these audio walking tours we had downloaded onto our phones before we left – we loved the history, the authentic tidbits and the feeling like Rick was our tour guide – well, I guess he WAS!!!  We used his walking tour of Florence, Rome, and Pompeii and really gained a lot of insider information.  Check it out!!!

I love all these tidbits –  They truly ARE bits and pieces of my heart.  I treasure them as sweet memories of adventures, interactions and integrations I will never have again.  I hope you find them helpful, useful and enjoyable and I hope you hold your own bits and pieces of treasured memories.

Italy…bits and pieces (of my heart) Part I – Dinner, Breakfast, Dessert!

Bits and pieces…..here are some observations made while traveling in Italy!  I wanted to break it up into two parts to stretch out your enjoyment:)  Let me tell you about my regional food favorites, my gelato adventure in pictures in this first part, and some touring tips to help make your DIY Italy experience the best.  Oh, and let’s not forget Aperol Spritz!!

Tuscany is known for its cured meats, particularly boar meat.  It is also well known for its pecorino cheese.  Their tomato sauce is simple and savory – made with crushed tomatoes, loads of garlic, even more olive oil and whole, dried pep(p)eroncini peppers placed in a tea strainer and marinated in the sauce while it boils on low (you know these peppers – we call them crushed red pepper and you find them at every house of pizza in the north east!) Tuscans do not shy away from slabs of steak, red wine and the joy that comes with experiencing a meal with friends and family.  This is probably one of the BEST reasons to visit Italy and a part of the culture that is so endearing!  Here is my sister-in-law’s aunt’s authentic Tuscan “gravy” recipe – this is EXACTLY like the one we made in our cooking class at our agriturismo.  Also, what to do with leftover sauce!!!

 

Gelato – I take this business seriously and there is nothing more serious than Italian Gelato!!!!  I haven’t met a gelato flavor I didn’t like but I do like some more than others – my favorites are chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, salted caramel and nutella!  I always have my gelato in a cup to minimize loss due to melting, and a new flavor every time – how can you go wrong?  Here is a picture diary of Italy through the eyes of a gelato aficionado!  There’s no better way to sight-see!

 

 

What fun themes do you use when you travel?  My gelato tour gave me a free pass to eat as much gelato as I wanted!  Like one would NEED a reason!!  When my son was little,  he was FAR more interested in all the fountains at Disney than he was anything else – so I feel like it was a fountain tour of Disney!

In Part II of Bits and Pieces, learn to make the quintessential Italian refresher and learn who my favorite traveling companion is….hint: it’s not my husband – SSSHHHHH!

 

The Great Italian Food Tour, Part II

Last time, I shared with you the amazing start to our Italian adventure – culinary style!  I covered our first night’s cooking class, gelato and pizza in San Gimignano, our most expensive meal in Venice, and how we happened upon the BEST taverna in Italy – and met Guiseppe!!!  Here we are for part two, which kicks off in Rome!

Our first night in Rome we arrived around 4pm and immediately hit the streets for an audio walking tour that we enjoyed via our free downloaded Rick Steves App!  I highly recommend this option for the adventurous traveler and will delve into this great traveling tool in another blog!!!

This evening we enjoyed some street food (and gelato) while we roamed the streets of ancient Rome, beginning at Fiore del Campo (the field of flowers) and ending at the Spanish Steps.  I won’t give too many details as I intend to do that another time, but let me just say there was a wonderful surprise around every corner and our hot paninis, espressos and slices of pizza did not disappoint!!!

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Our second day in Rome was a walking extravaganza!  We started off with egg sandwiches at home (the beauty of staying at an AirBnB is that you can make a few things at your home base and save money for the bigger meals) and hit the road for our Vatican Tour.  For lunch we stopped en-route to the Colosseum at a street side taverna and enjoyed wine (duh), pizza, caprese and more.  We had gelato at least once😊 and walked about 12 miles this day and it was HOT!!!!  But one of the best experiences of this day was our dinner….

Being Americans, we tend to eat earlier than most Europeans.  We were toast from a LONG day of touring and walking and headed to dinner near our accommodations around 6pm.  We picked a lovely taverna we had passed on the way to the Vatican (our “home” was about 3 blocks from the Vatican) and settled in for an amazing meal.  Our server was fabulous and the food was great – but what made THIS particular meal so memorable was the fact that near the end of our meal (when most Italians are thinking about going out to dinner) 20+ priests walked into the taverna to have dinner – it was like the set up for a joke, “Twenty priests walk into a bar….”!  It was so ROME – next door to the Vatican – and they just settled in to a great meal – now, we might have been a bit punchy with wine, too much walking and a gorgeous limoncello toast, but this rounded out our Roman experience like no other!!!!

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We departed Rome and headed for Sorrento.  On the way, we stopped at an Italian Autostrada rest stop – these cool inventions are fantastic and a cultural experience on their own and deserve to be highlighted.  These traditionally stretch OVER the highway and are pretty monstrous buildings.  They have restrooms, cool gift shops and WONDERFUL fresh cuisine that is not what you would expect at a rest area.  If you ever road trip in Italy, I highly encourage you to stop and check these out even if you don’t NEED to – it is an Italian experience!

Our arrival in Sorrento was thankfully, uneventful – aside from arriving early and having to wait on meeting our AirBnB host at our apartment – which, by the way, was lovely – more on that in another post.  We had been eating out a lot so this evening, my sister, Kelly, decided to cook for us, so we ventured down the street to the local Carrefour (European grocers that we have found in Italy, France and England and I am sure they are elsewhere – but you know what you will find there so that is nice once you are able to recognize some chains) and picked up some staples – eggs, wine, cured meats, cheese, pasta, bread, basil, coffee and chicken breast – and my sister made us an incredible homemade Italian meal!  It was great to eat at home, relax on the balcony and soak in the Sorrento charm.  That evening, we picked up our scooter rentals for our next day of touring (don’t miss THAT blog for sure!) and we walked off our dinner enjoying the winding ancient streets of Sorrento.  And we had gelato!!

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The next day was our self-touring scooter extravaganza – and memories we will never forget – especially the picnic lunch we enjoyed at Villa Cimbrone in the cliff-side Amalfi Coast town of Ravello.  We had planned a lovely picnic for this day of adventure including our meats, cheeses, bread and sweet treats and had the most delightful picnic in the most amazing setting on the Amalfi!  Picnicking is one of my favorite ways to really experience the joy and simplicity of Italian food, so don’t miss out on this classic culinary gem.  Here are a few pictures…

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Our final full day in Italy was anchored by a train ride to Pompeii and Rick Steves audio tour of this ancient delight.  I have, for a long time, been a connoisseur of history, culture, languages and people.  Pompeii is an iconic destination for people like me and in my book, only second to visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza (someday!!)  We had our customary breakfast at home, picked up some panini on the road, enjoyed some gelato in Pompeii, then had a lovely sunset dinner at a hotel across the street from our apartment.  Our last meal in Italy was a feast for the senses and as we had done so many times before, we each got a different dish and shared – and no one was disappointed.  This meal really highlighted the­­­­­­­­­­ unique and fresh cuisine of Sorrento – with daily caught fish, lemon risotto (let me tell you – there is NOTHING like a Sorrento lemon), gnocci with red sauce and wine!  It was a bittersweet meal that put the icing on an amazing culinary journey taken by four women, ready to taste Italy!!!

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I don’t know if you have noticed the theme aside from food, but it’s the people, the sights and the senses that are awakened by experiencing something different.  Travel is a story that unfolds through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the mouth and through touch.  It is one of our only activities that engages us on so many levels, and I believe that is why travel is something we desire so greatly.  There are so many adventures to have, people to meet and experiences to have.  Happy Travels!!

Indulge me a bit and enjoy this short time lapse video of us scooting our way up, up, up to the cliff side town of Ravello!

The Great Italian Food Tour, Part 1

Italian Food.  I feel like I could just drop the mic right there and walk away from this post…but I would leave so much out!  So here is a run down of the amazing food and beverages I experienced in Italy this past June!

When we think of Italian food, many of us go right to pasta and pizza, and while those are VERY good in Italy (regionally amazing), food in Italy is so much more!  The first things that come to mind for me, having traveled there three times, is fresh, authentic, regional, simplistic, divine!  When I traveled to Italy with my sisters and step mom this past summer, we sought out authentic Italian dining experiences and were rewarded beyond measure.

Let me start with a bit of our family history with food – as it can’t be ignored that one’s previous experiences with any of the five senses shapes their perceptions about new things.  One thing can go without saying – we ALL love food!  Our family gathers around wonderful meals when we come together and delight in trying new recipes, cooking with fresh and healthy ingredients and sometimes over indulging….well, maybe not only sometimes😊  My dad’s most famous line when you join our family for a meals is, “If you go away hungry, it’s your own fault!”  And believe me, everyone is welcome at our table and there is always enough food – thankfully!

My step mom is a great cook – we always enjoyed hearty home cooking growing up.  Her stuffed shells are to die for and I remember traveling back to college after Christmas break with a huge pan of them in my back seat!  I have never been very fond of raw onions, a culinary topic still entertaining to this day, but overall, if you put it in front of me, I will eat it!  My sister, Kelly, is amazing in the kitchen!  She is always trying new recipes and I don’t ever think she has made something that wasn’t outstanding!  She inspires me to try new things all the time!  My other sister, Becky, was most definitely the pickiest of us all.  Growing up, Becky ate Eggo waffles, peanut butter and fluff (for those of you not in New England, this is the most amazing culinary invention EVER and you should try it!) and pizza with the sauce scraped off.  I seriously think that’s all she ate for about 12 years!!!  But I have to give Becky props – she has grown to be super adventurous and daring in her culinary experiences and makes a mean taco dip!!!

With that bit of back story out of the way, let me proceed….

Our first night in San Gimignano (Tuscan region) was a bit of a blur; having just flown overnight from Boston, we arrived at our fantastic Agriturismo (check out my blog about them) and were greeted with warm Italian hospitality and some amazing house wine in preparation for a cooking class we arranged ahead of time!  That evening, we prepared pasta (using only three ingredients!), an authentic spicy tomato sauce perfect for pasta, pizza, focaccia and the following morning’s breakfast (this is actually top secret but something I will share later)!  We also prepared dough for the focaccia, a summer version of tiramisu featuring strawberries, using limoncello instead of coffee, and enjoyed the fantastic company of our chef and interpreter (our host at the Agriturismo acted as our interpreter when she didn’t have other duties to attend to….and when she did, we figured it out!)

Needless to say – the food was amazing, plentiful and made with love, laughter and joy!  A funny story – while we were making the tiramisu, our chef was explaining the biscuits used…we called them “lady fingers” and the chef and his assistant thought that was the weirdest thing they had ever heard!  Here are some photos from before our cooking experience and our arrival day in San Gimignano (you will notice a LOT of wine toasts!  Italians know how to celebrate la Bella Vita!)

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Other meals we enjoyed on this leg of our trip were gelato (I ate gelato with vigor and abandon everywhere we went in Italy), espresso and panini, and the most expensive meal on our journey – a lunch canal-side in Venice!  Here’s a picture diary of these experiences.

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Our next culinary adventure worth mentioning specifically was the late lunch we had while traveling from Tuscany to Rome.  It was a long drive – about 3.5 hours, and we were getting a bit hungry around 1pm.  We didn’t have any specific plans – and that’s when the MAGIC happens!!!  We decided to get off the autostrada (Italian highway system) at a random town and found a jewel of a taverna!

Our lovely host, Giuseppe – of course – was a fabulous man who endeared us and stole our hearts!  Meals in Italy don’t get more authentic than this and Giuseppe made this out of the way stop so memorable.  Here is a photo diary of that amazing meal!!!

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Part 2 of this wonderful culinary adventure to follow, but here are some random food pictures of our trip thus far.  Hang tight for the rest!  ‘Tis the season for enjoying food, family and friends!

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