Consider strolling through the streets of Venice (which are seemingly maliciously designed to befuddle tourists) being personally guided by offline mobile apps that provide a mapped route, substantial cultural information and insider recommendations written by locals or expats living in the area. I frequently curl up with a cup of tea and travel vicariously around… Read More An Offline Tour Guide in Your Pocket, and Free Things!
It’s very tempting to use meaningless superlatives to describe places in Italy: Venice is surreal, Tuscany is charming, Sicily’s beaches are stunning, Rome’s architecture is magnificent. I think one of the greatest challenges in travel writing is to describe Venice in an original manner, and I haven’t read many pieces that succeed in capturing its… Read More The Most Enchanting Place in Italy?
In ‘City of Falling Angels’, Berendt writes about a period of La Serenissima when she was in her last golden moments. The ornate palazzi of the Canale Grande were either thrown open for dazzling parties where guests arrived in gondole and light spilled from the windows onto the dark water outside; or were beginning their inevitable decline… Read More Hidden Venice: How to be an (Almost) Exclusive Guest at a Palazzo on the Grand Canal
A flicker of yellow light from a lantern down an obscure alley, an illuminated painted name board reflecting in the still black water, a vibrant noisy crowd squeezed in a pokey dim interior with a low ceiling of wooden beams – this is the Venetian aperitivo in the traditional bacaro. Most travellers to Italy will… Read More Hidden Venice: Have an Aperitivo like a Venetian
Vipiteno / Sterzing, Trentino-Alto Adige This is one of the most attractive towns in the region trapped in the ‘wrong’ country, i.e. South-Tyrol. This region has a complex and moving history (see A Nationality Trapped in the Wrong Country?) and was once part of a larger German-speaking area. After the war one half was annexed… Read More The Town Left Over the Wrong Border
Scooters whipping past, lilting 50s songs, restaurant serenades, archeological treasures, the home of pizza… pickpockets, stinking rubbish, stifling heat: these are the good, the bad and the ugly that are all associated with Naples. A sprawling metropolis seemingly stuck in the 50s, it can be an intimidating, exhilarating and exhausting place to visit, as described… Read More Hidden Naples: Tile Heaven in Santa Chiara
Amalfi is a jewel on the coast: glittering turquoise sea and pastel houses hugging the cliff-face in vertiginous beauty. But in summer it is also a claustrophobic tourist magnet which, in its desperate attempt to fulfil the filmic fantasy of Italia, conceals real life beneath a shiny facade of artistically arranged tat in souvenir shops… Read More 6 Ways to Experience the OTHER Amalfi
Castell’ Arquato, Emilia-Romagna – ideal day getaway from Milan. A hilltop wonder, you approach the town through a grand archway, looking up at the towers and spires that define the skyline. Just inside the gateway we witnessed a scene worthy of a Fellini film. A window banged open above us and grandmother’s head popped out. ‘Filippo!’,… Read More An Italian Medieval Village Untouched by Modernity
In one of the oldest, most intriguing areas of Napoli lies a dim workshop clustered with disembodied limbs, eyes missing their partner and organs ready for transplant. No, not a horror film in real life, rather one of the best hospitals in Naples, which gives its patients a new breath of life allowing them to… Read More The 200 year-old Hospital for Dolls in Naples
Arquà Petrarca: The pearl of the Colli Euganei, Veneto This could more accurately be nicknamed ‘the city of flowers’, as all residents seem to have taken it upon themselves to adorn their window ledges with boxes of blooming, brightly coloured displays.