Travel on the Side

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Venice is, of course, a classic Italy “must do.” As it should be! However, if you have more time in the area, I recommend taking a tour of the nearby islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is known for glass blowing and Burano for intricate lace. If you arrive to Venice via the Santa Lucia railway station, you can easily get boat transportation to both islands. Since we were with a group,… Read More

Rome, the eternal city. Can it be done in a day? Of course you won’t be able to take a deep dive, but you can devote yourself to a couple major sites and do quick walk-bys through others. Tip #1: Plan ahead! Map out your itinerary and get any tourist attraction tickets ahead of time. Even with that, unexpected things will happen. More on that in a bit. During our Italy travels,… Read More

For those picture perfect postcard views of Florence, you need to go up! There are two vistas and two (wait, make that three!) towers/domes you will want to climb. So put on your sneakers and do some calf exercises, because you are about to feel the burn! 1. Piazzale Michelangelo Those famous shots of Florence, with the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio? Those are usually taken from Piazzale Michelangelo. What is a… Read More

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