Travel on the Side

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No, I’m not saying that Florence is in a intermediate state. This past June, Limbo was the area where we resided–Piazza del Limbo to be more specific. What I love about Florence is the history. And yes, there is a story about limbo. The piazza is built over an old cemetery where Florence’s unbaptized babies were buried during medieval times – hence, Piazza del Limbo. The square also features one of Florence’s… Read More

Whether you’re visiting Florence in the heat of summer or the coolness of winter, a daily break (or two or three!) for gelato is a must do. But don’t just head to the nearest gelato place. Last year, I gave some advice on the topic: Gelato: Avoid places where you can see the gelato from the store front window. Especially if the gelato is molded into a mountain-like form. Although eye-appealing, it’s usually… Read More

The weather in Wisconsin took a sudden turn this past week. It is definitely fall now! This morning, I woke up to 33F. Although everything has taken an autumnal look and feel, I’m thinking back to this summer. June was a highlight. I spent 23 days in Italy chaperoning for a college class where I work. I did the same thing last year. The itinerary was much the same, but there were… Read More

After three weeks of touring Italy, I decided to jot some notes down on the things I learned. Some of these are tips, some are surprises. I’ve broken it down into daily life, transport, food/dining, and comments about the U.S. that we heard from Italian friends and co-workers. Daily Life How many things can the word “prego” mean? It’s so much more than just “you’re welcome.” The acceptance that daily Italian life… Read More

We had some great day trips from Florence with Venice and Chianti country being two of the best. But how could I neglect Siena? I need to add it to the top of my list of favorite places. Its lovely traffic-free center is filled with quaint shops, good restaurants, stunning architecture, and friendly folks. Just over an hour by car from Florence, it makes a nice day trip. Our shuttle bus dropped us… Read More

A short 35 minute train ride from Florence and we were in Bologna. I think tourists are just starting to discover the charms of Bologna. Of all the well-known places we visited, this was the most low-key and we liked it. No tour guides with their flags leading hordes of tourists. Just every day Italians going to work or university. In Piazza Maggiore, we met up with a local actress dressed as… Read More

OK, maybe the title of this post is a bit over the top, but it fully encapsulates my view on Pisa. I had a free afternoon in Florence, so I decided to take the 50 minute train ride over to Pisa to explore. Hopping off the train at Pisa Centrale, I followed the tourist markers to the torre. And there they were, loads of tourists trying to get that classic holding-up-the-leaning-tower pose…. Read More

To me, Milan is a bit like the Chicago of Italy. It has the skyscrapers, wide streets, and industry. It’s underrated, or maybe understated? I dunno. Sometimes in Florence I felt hemmed in by the buildings and the medieval alleyways–and of course, the hordes of tourists. In Milan, I had space and it was welcomed change. Milan can be done as a day trip, although overnight would be OK too. We had… Read More

You can’t go to Italy without sampling some wine, right? On our second day trip from Florence, we boarded a tour bus to escort us to up to the hills of Chianti country. Our destination: Castello del Trebbio, about a 40 minute drive from Florence. Here we toured a beautiful old castle – home to the wealthy Pazzi family during Renaissance Florence times. The Pazzi family were rivals to the well-known Medici… Read More

On our first day trip from Florence, we ventured off to enchanting Venice. Chaperoning students can be a bit like herding cats, but by hook or by crook we all made it to the Firenze S.M.N. station in time to catch our train. And this is one of the (many) things I loved about Italy: high-speed train service. We were whisked away from Florence to Venice, going around 200km/hr. Travel time is around… Read More