Giardini-Naxos: Where the Locals Go in Sicily

Giardini Naxos and Bay of Giardini - View from Taormina photo by Margie MiklasThe small seaside Sicilian town of Giardini-Naxos is not well-known but it is situated on the Ionian Sea, just below the very popular resort city of Taormina. It is a beautiful stretch of beach and has lots of great reasonably priced restaurants, so it is not surprising that this where the locals hang out.

History
Originally called Naxos, this village was discovered in the year 735 B.C. as a Greek colony by the Chalcidensians. Eventually it was destroyed and in the Middle Ages the name was changed to Al Kusus during the Arab invasion. Afterwards the Normans came and the name changed again, this time to Kisoi and then Schiso.

Due to the numerous citrus orchards surrounding this village, it finally became known as “Giardini” and was then actually a part of Taormina.

In 1846 King Ferdinand II was responsible for making it an independent commune with the name Giardini-Naxos. Almost 25 years later after the Messina-Catania Railway opened the economy of Giardini-Naxos began to develop more than simply a fishing port.

Today this once small maritime village has become one of the hotspots for tourism in Sicily.

Port and Cruises

Giardini-Naxos has a port where private boats as well as cruise ships depart. Since neighboring Taormina does not have its own port, the port at Giardini-Naxos is also considered to be the port of Taormina.

With 140 boat slips the port offers all nautical services including assistance at sea. Cruise lines anchor in the Bay of Giardini and tender in to the port here as well. Oceania Cruise Lines sails in the summertime to various ports in Italy and surrounding locations and can frequently be seen docked in the bay. From the beach and docking area, you can look up and to the north and see Taormina up on the hill.

Lungomare
I love the road along the seashore, appropriately called Lungomare which means along the sea, because on one side I can see the ocean, one of my favorite places, and on the other side are all the restaurants, shops and endless possibilities for nightlife and fun.

A few years ago my Sicilian friends Angela, Teresa and Angelica introduced me to a great friendly casual restaurant here called La Bussola.

Pizza makers in SicilyIt is a casual place serving pizza, pasta, and a varied selection of authentic Sicilian fare.  The pizza with sea urchin was an unusual choice for me to see, but not to the Sicilians.

October was a little cool for outdoors so we ate inside, but I have also been there in May and the outside patio was delightful. La Bussola Sicily Photo by Margie MiklasNot only were the prices very reasonable and so much less than what I had found in mainland Italy, but the food was fantastic, from pizza to pasta and anything in between. The best thing about La Bussola  was the feeling of belonging thanks to the owners who were very friendly and made us feel at home. I liked this place so much that I have returned again and again whenever I have been to Sicily. It pays to know where the locals go for an experience so much better than the average tourist!

I’ll be headed back to Taormina this October on my Sicily road trip with my friend and fellow travel blogger, Victoria De Maio. Watch for our posts as #2SicilianGals as we tool around the roads of Sicily!

Ciao and Grazie

For more of my stories in Sicily you might enjoy reading My Love Affair with Sicily.

My Love Affair with Sicily Photo by Margie MiklasAvailable on Amazon

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Posted in Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Do You Need an International Travel Plan?

Electronics Photo by Margie Miklas iPhone iPadDo I need an international travel plan? Whenever I travel internationally one of my key concerns is communication. How can I communicate with friends and family back home? How can I communicate with friends or businesses in Italy?

Every time I have gone to Italy I have spent hours researching the most reliable and efficient way to do this.  The past few years I have taken my iPhone to use as a camera and to communicate via Skype or Whats App.

apple iphone6These are okay but   Wi-Fi is needed and in some places of Italy, it can be sketchy or nonexistent.

Wi fiIn addition, I took an old Blackberry (and I mean old) which I would use for calling local numbers in Italy. For this Blackberry phone I would purchase an Italian SIM card and was able to make and receive calls in Italy. Several problems occurred with this habit. One, I had to take two phones and two chargers. Two, whenever I had a voice message or text from the Italian provider like Vodafone or TIM on the Blackberry, it was in Italian and molto frustante. And to make matters worse, the red END button didn’t work on the Blackberry, so to hang up I always had to insert the phone into its case.

blackberry Photo by Margie MiklasI am thrilled to report that just recently I have discovered a new plan that makes life much simpler. Actually, Victoria De Maio, my friend and travel companion on my upcoming Sicily trip with #2SicilianGals, gave me the heads up about Verizon’s new International Travel Plan.  She shared the number ( 908) 559-4899 with me and when I called them, I was excited to learn that yes, their plan was exactly as how she had described!

The pleasant and efficient Brandi from Verizon’s International Roaming Department explained it all and set me up in about 15 minutes. She informed me that this has only been in effect since the beginning of 2015.

Basically here is the plan I selected. Since I will be in Italy for a month this works perfectly. For $40 I am covered for 30 days, beginning with the day I arrive in Italy. This allows me to use my iPhone to make 100 minutes’ worth of calls from Italy to the USA or anywhere else. In addition I can send 100 text messages and receive unlimited amounts, since it is free to receive text messages. I also have 100 mb of data, and if I need to, I can increase for an extra $25. Other travel plans are available as well, depending on what works best for you.

verizon-pricing-plansMostly I am interested in using the plan for the phone and text messages, but it is nice to have it for data in case I absolutely have to look something up or check email when I do not have Wi-Fi. Even if I needed to use Google Maps it could come in handy, but I have learned the hard way that the  Google Maps app definitely uses up a lot of data plus battery power on an iPhone.

Brandi even took me through the settings program on my phone, specifying what I needed to enable or turn off, and then she sent an email, detailing all this information again.

So I am ready to go. I leave for Italy in a week and I am psyched! Follow my travels on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, where I will be posting sooner than on my blog.

Photo by Emirates Airline

Photo by Emirates Airline

An international travel plan is a key component when traveling overseas. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A little research can make a world of difference.

Have you experienced frustration in figuring out how to stay connected while traveling internationally? I’d love to hear your stories, so please leave a comment.

Ciao and Grazie.

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Posted in Italy Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

An Afternoon in Little Italy

Maxi's in Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasBack in my home town of Cleveland, I met up with Elise, my best friend from high school and we spent an afternoon in Little Italy.

Litttle Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasWalking up Murray Hill Road approaching Mayfield, the main streets that comprise this original Italian-American community, I heard Italian music through the open door of a small shop, La Bella Vita.

La Bella Vita shop Cleveland - Photo by Margie MiklasBeautiful hand-painted ceramic pieces enticed us from the windows and Elise said, “Let’s go in.”

La Bella Vita shop Photo by Margie MiklasAs soon as I stepped inside I knew this shop was special. Immediately I noticed hand-made items with the familiar Trinacria design from Sicilia and knew these were authentic “Made in Italy” items.

La Bella Vita shop Photo by Margie MiklasThe very friendly owner introduced himself as Pete and welcomed us into his shop with a warm smile.

with Pete, La Bella Vita owner Photo by Margie Miklas
La Bella Vita which translates to a Beautiful Life, has been a fixture in Little Italy for the past sixteen years. A second shop is located in another part of Cleveland as well.

The atmosphere is so Italian here that even a beautiful fresco graces the ceiling above the entrance.

little-italy-2-elsie-and-meI could have spent all day in here but since we had just a few hours and we planned on eating lunch in Little Italy, I had to be content to browse for less than a half hour. I immediately recognized the hand-painted ceramic plates from Vietri by their design. They are the same ones I had purchased in Italy and later ordered from Romeo Cuomo, from Italian Decorative Art

Vietri Ceramics Romeo Cuomo Photo by Margie MiklasPete explained how everything here is hand selected by himself and his wife, whose father is from Italia. They travel to Italy yearly to choose and purchase their items and visit the places where they manufacture the products.

I left there with three vintage posters which I will soon be hanging in my home.

Before we left I asked Pete for his recommendation for a light lunch. I mentioned I was in the mood for a caprese salad and he didn’t hesitate when he told us we had to go to Maxi’s. “They have the best,” he said. It’s the restaurant with the black awning. You can’t miss it.”

 

little-italy-3-caprese-saladWhen asked, he also happily recommended the historic family-owned Corbo’s Bakery for gelato and the well-known (and family-owned since 1903) Presti’s for a cappuccino or caffè if we wanted to sit down.

The caprese salad at Maxi’s was the best I have tasted outside of Italy and the prosecco  was wonderful too! At Presti’s I needed a double shot of espresso to perk me up after the prosecco! Elise enjoyed the pistachio gelato from Corbo’s.

Corbo's Bakery Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie Miklas

little-italy-5-prestis-img_6104 little-italy-6-gelato-corbosWe even lucked out to see a wedding party taking photographs. Amore!

little-italy-wedding-guys little-italy-weddingGrazie Pete for wonderful suggestions! We followed your advice and weren’t disappointed!

I have found that a recommendation from a local is always the best.

What about you? When you travel, do you seek out local advice? I’d love to hear your feedback so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao

If you aren’t already following me on Instagram please stop by to see many more images from Italy and all things Italian, and much more.

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Posted in Italian History, Italian lifestyle and culture, Italian-American, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Italy Photo of the Day

Sicily truck with produce in Riposto Photo by Margie MiklasI am always drawn to these trucks in Italy with produce for sale. These mobile fruit and vegetable stations are especially convenient in small towns.

This one is in Riposto, a small commune on the eastern coast of Sicily. This little Sicilian coastal town is located between Taormina and Catania, about 15 miles from both cities, and touches the Ionian Sea.

Have you seen these trucks filled with produce in Italy or elsewhere? I’d love to hear about your experiences, so please leave a comment.

Ciao and Grazie

If you haven’t been to my Instagram page lately, please stop by and check it out. Grazie.

My Love Affair with Sicily Photo by Margie MiklasAvailable on Amazon

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Going to Italy to Write

Writing _ Photo by Margie MiklasI will be leaving for Italy in less than a month and my main purpose in going this time is to spend time in a beautiful peaceful setting to relax and to write. The Amalfi Coast, and specifically, Positano is that place where I feel most relaxed and inspired. For me this special place on the Tyrhhenian Sea is magical and like a Paradise. When I am there I wish I could stay forever.

So this trip I am indulging my dreams and am staying in a beach side hotel where I have a balcony that opens to the sea and I can hear the sound of the waves as they roll against the shore a few hundred feet away.

Fornillo Beach in Positano Photo by Margie MiklasI am not going here to play tourist or to run around sightseeing every day. Instead I am going here to write, to be inspired to work on my novel that I began two years ago and hope to complete and publish in early 2017.

Stairway in Positano - Photo by Margie MiklasWhile I am dedicating most of my time there to writing, I am not going to be a hermit and never leave the hotel. I plan on walking every day, and staircases like this one are the only way to reach the center of town. So I will be sure to get my daily dose of Italian exercise.

I do plan on a few things while I am  there, so stay tuned. I am intent on hiking the Path of the Gods, an activity that I never would have even considered a few years ago. I am a little more fit and in better shape now, so I am eager to experience this walk high above the town. In case you missed my post about it, you can read more about this here. I will definitely be posting photos on Facebook from that hike, even though I may not have time  to write about it until after I return home.

I’m interested in your thoughts, so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.

If you aren’t already following me on my Facebook page, please check it out. Lots going on there.

 

 

 

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Posted in Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL, Writing | 41 Comments

Headed to Sicily – Travel Plans

Passport pic photo by Margie MiklasI’ll be headed to Sicily soon and I’m flying into Palermo from Naples on  Volotea, one of the economy airlines in Europe. I’ve flown them before and had a good experience. You just have to be careful of the weight restrictions on both checked bags as well as carry-on, since they are less than what I’m used to with American carriers like Delta.

VoloteaI’m meeting  my good friend, Victoria De Maio from PostcardZ from Victoria and we will be driving around Sicily together. Yes #2SicilianGals on a Sicilian road trip!

In case you missed the story of how this came about, you can read it here.

PHOTO by Lubos HouskaTrapani

For the first part of our Sicilian road trip we will be on Sicily’s western coast checking out places I have not yet visited. High on my list were Trapani, Erice, Selinunte, Marsala, and Castelvetrano. and the good thing about a road trip is that we can stop wherever we we want along the way. Out itinerary is far from set in stone.

Sicily is known for many things but the dolci and pastry are on top of the list. And anyone who visits Sicily  simply must sample these delicious treats.

Sicilian Cannoli photo by Margie MiklasCannoli, cassata cake, pistacchio cookies, almond biscotti, and genovesi are just a few examples.

One of the first places I’m anxious to check out is in Erice, the medieval village situated high about Trapani. I have heard so much about this well-known-pastry place,  Pasticceria Maria Grammatico, and finally am going to experience it for myself.

I have heard that this is where the best cannoli in Sicily are, but I will let you know along the way as Victoria and I sample cannoli everywhere we go. Keep your eye out for #2SicilianGals on a #CannoliQuest.

Famous for its genovesi, pastries filled with ricotta cream or a milky custard cream, I will definitely have to try these, which supposedly are best if eaten warm.

Genovesi photo by Maria Grammatico websiteStay tuned in October for more photos and updates from Sicily!

“If you haven’t seen Sicily you haven’t seen Italy. Sicily is where the soul of Sicily is.” – Goethe

Have you been to Sicily? Most first-time visitors to Italy never venture this far south and don’t know what they are missing. I’d love to hear your experiences and your thoughts, so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.

If you liked this post and want to read more about Sicily, you might enjoy:
Travel Tips for Visiting Sicily.

You can stay updated on my travels on FaceBook  Instagram and Twitter .

 

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Road Trip, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Terremoto in Italia~How to Help the Italy Earthquake Victims

Photo by ABC NewsI’ve been so saddened and torn about the recent earthquake in Italy, and I wanted to post something here. When I read this post by Cristina on Un po’ di pepe~ I think she expressed everything I have been feeling.  She also included helpful resources to check out for anyone interested in finding ways to help.

Enjoy. Please be sure to check out Cristina’s blog, as she also has a passion for Italy.

Un po' di pepe

Vigili del Fuoco in Amatrice-Winnipeg Free Press Vigili del Fuoco in Amatrice-Winnipeg Free Press

Una preghiera per le vittime del terremoto.  A few days ago, a devastating terremoto-earthquake struck central Italia.  Today aftershocks continue to damage buildings and roads. The ancient villages of Amatrice, Accumuli, Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto now look like part of Dante’s Inferno.  Pescara del Tronto has been totally destroyed, with only 5 buildings left standing.  The death toll is 267 and rising, countless others are still missing, and thousands left displaced and homeless.  Since the Unification of Italia in 1861, there have been 35 major terremoti, and 86 smaller ones.

What can you do to help:

The Croce Rosse Italiana-Italian Red Cross has a page set up (in Italian) for the earthquake rescue efforts.  To donate in international currencies a fund has been set up by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) has…

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Posted in Italy News, Italy Travel, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Road Trip with #2SicilianGals

Savoca in Sicily View of Coastline Photo by Margie Miklas A brief account of how the upcoming road trip in Sicily with my friend, Victoria came about…

Victoria and Margie in Venice Photo by Victoria De MaioI remember growing up feeling that being Sicilian was something special. My maternal grandparents were born in Cesarò, a small village in the Messina region of Sicily, and all the traditions they maintained in their new home in America in the 1920s and beyond were borne out of their Sicilian roots.

My Grandparents' village in Sicily - Cesarò Photo by Margie MiklasThe first time I went to Sicily was less than 10 years ago and it had such a familiar feel for me.  It was like I was home. Walking on the same streets where my grandparents grew up was truly an emotional experience. I felt really close to them even though they been gone for many years. I’ve been to Sicily five times, and each time the magic captures my heart.

Isola Bella in Taormina Photo by Margie MikalsMy first connection with Victoria was on social media. I liked her writing style on her blog and was delighted when she contacted Italian Talks  inquiring about becoming a contributing writer. I was managing their blog and Twitter account, and after sending some details about the writing criteria to her, was happy to accept her initial post. Not only has she maintained her role as an author on Italian Talks, but we have become close friends. Initially as long-distance, virtual friends, we discovered that we had much in common including our Sicilian roots and love of travel to Italy.

Margie in Italy Photo by Margie MiklasI have been in the habit of traveling solo to Italy, yet Victoria’s small group experience in Puglia intrigued me. I decided to sign up, and join her tour  and in May of 2015, we met in person along with several other travel bloggers for the first time in Venice.

Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy ~ photo by Margie Miklas

Margie and Victoria in Polignano a Mare Photo by Margie MiklasAfter 12 days in Puglia, we continued our travels to other areas of Italy for another week and found that we had a lot of fun and travel well together.

Margie and Victoria in Puglia Photo by Victoria De MaioVictoria wanted to return to Sicily one day and felt it had to be with someone who has the same passion about it and would want to travel together, so she asked me if I’d consider someday going with her. My answer was yes and…someday is this October.

Sicily winding roads Photo by Margie MiklasTogether we agreed on 10 days in Sicily at the end of individual trips to Italy this fall. We’ve finalized our “itinerary” and we’ve booked our accommodations. Unlike us though, we’re staying footloose and flexible! We both agree that this will be a very personal and low-key girlfriend journey including a little bit of everything— archaeological and historical sites, sightseeing, exploring Sicily’s beautiful seaside towns, wine tasting, luscious local cuisine, meeting locals—and lots of cannoli!

Victoria and Margie in Puglia w wine Photo by Victoria De MaioWe’re meeting in Palermo, picking up our rental car (thank you Auto Europe!) and off we go! And these #2SicilianGals are beyond excited.

For me it will be particularly meaningful because I will be visiting my cousins in Taormina, as well as sharing places, familiar and unfamiliar with someone who has the same passion for Sicily as I do.

You’ll be hearing more, no doubt. We’ll be sharing along the way but we also hope to inspire you to put a fire under those travel dreams.

Watch for us, #2SicilianGals, on our blogs, social media, and maybe in the news! After all, anything can happen in Italy!

My traveling companion PostcardZ from Victoria
Auto-Europe
My Love Affair with Sicily

You can stay updated on my travels on FaceBook  Instagram  Twitter , and Pinterest,

 

 

 

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Posted in Italy Travel | 42 Comments

Little Italy Cleveland Celebrates the Feast of the Assumption

Photo by Margie MiklasEver since 1898 the annual celebration of the Feast of the Assumption has been  the highlight of the Italian-American community in Cleveland’s Little Italy. Occurring in August to coincide with Aug 15,  the Catholic feast day of the  Assumption of Mary into heaven, the celebration continues for a four-day weekend. In Italy it’s known as Ferragosto..in Little Italy it’s known as The Feast.

Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasHow fortunate for me that I happened to be in Cleveland this very weekend! Don’t ask me how, but I have never been to Little Italy before, even though I grew up in Cleveland.

Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasSince 1879 people of Italian descent settled in an area of Cleveland’s East Side known as Little Italy. Holy Rosary Church has been the heart of Little Italy for many generations.

Holy Rosary Church Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasAlthough the  procession venerating the Blessed Virgin through the streets following a solemn Mass at Holy Rosary Church wasn’t going to occur until Monday, the actual feast day, I went to Little Italy on Saturday night with my brother to experience the myriad of street vendors selling everything from pizza, sausage, pasta, Italian ice, pastries, and steamed clams.

Live music was also a major attraction at the Feast. And despite the rain, we had a great time!

Little Italy ClevelandMusic  filled the air as Italian-Americans entertained us with song and accordions.

The atmosphere was festive with Italian flags and outdoor food of all kinds.

Little Italy Cleveland Photo by MARGIE MIKLAS
Some of the best Italian bakeries and restaurants line Mayfield Avenue, and we had to go inside Presti’s and Corbo’s to whet our appetites with the smells of dolci!

Corbo's Bakery Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasLittle Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie Miklas
Presti's Bakery Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasIt took a lot of self-control to resist these cannoli, biscotti, and gelato choices!

Cannoli Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie Miklas

Biscotti in Little Italy Cleveland photo by Margie MiklasLittle Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasThe hand-painted murals on the wall tell a story in pictures of this community where my ancestors originally lived after their immigration into this country from Italy in the early years of the 20th century.

Little Italy Mural Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasLittle Italy Mural Cleveland Photo by Margie Miklas
We finally decided on Trattoria on the Hill and went inside for dinner.

Trattoria on the Hill Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasTrattoria on the Hill Little Italy Cleveland Photo by Margie MiklasBoth our choices of veal cutlet and Italian sausage with peppers and onions hit the spot. I loved the atmosphere and the delicious taste of authentic Italian-American food!

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I wish I had more time here but I know I’ll be back. The sense of community is strong here and I loved being able to experience it!

Have you been to Little Italy in Cleveland? I’d love to hear about your experience so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.

In case you haven’t been to my Instagram page lately, please stop by and check it out for more images from Italy and other exciting places.

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Posted in Italian History, Italian lifestyle and culture, Italian-American, Italy Travel, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Italy Travel Planning – Milan’s La Scala Opera

La Scala Photo by klik2travel (Flickr) https://www.flickr.com/photos/klik2travel/I’ll be headed to Italy soon and I’m flying into Milan mainly because I found such a great airfare on Emirates  back in February. I’m flying non-stop from JFK in New York to Malpensa in Milan for less than $600 round trip. How can you beat that?

Photo by Emirates Airline

Photo by Emirates Airline

I really hadn’t planned on an agenda in Milan, but decided to stay for two days before flying to the south of Italy. I’ve often dreamed of going to an opera at La Scala, the world’s most prestigious opera house.  Inaugurated 238 years ago, La Scala holds 2000 people and I’ve  heard that it is difficult to obtain tickets, and also that they are expensive.

La Scala Photo by IK's World Trip (Flickr) https://www.flickr.com/photos/ikkoskinen/

Teatro alla Scala Photo by IK’s World Trip (Flickr)

I decided to check on the dates I’m in Milan to see  if any performances were scheduled. Imagine my excitement when I saw that indeed an opera was on the schedule for one of the evenings. I went to the Teatro alla Scala website and actually found it to be in English and easy to navigate.  I checked prices and was able to easily see which seating corresponded to the pricing.

La Scala Photo by Ana and Michal (Flickr) https://www.flickr.com/photos/michalo/

La Scala Photo by Ana and Michal (Flickr)

I had hoped for a seat in one of the boxes, since I knew the stalls on the floor would be too expensive, plus I like the boxes. From my first opera experience in Palermo, I felt like a VIP in one of those boxes.

And I definitely knew I didn’t want to sit in the top two tiers known as the gallery, or loggione. Apparently at this theatre, the patrons who buy these cheap seats  have a reputation for booing the opera singers. They are known as the loggionisti, and are merciless in their judgment of the performers. They even booed Luciano Pavarotti  in his 1992  performance of Verdi’s Don Carlo.

I also have heard that many of the seats in the boxes have limited vision of the stage, and the website conveniently allows you to click on the seat before purchasing it, so you can actually see what your view would be from there. I found this very helpful and was able to decide on a seat in one of the boxes and purchase a ticket.

So I am going to the opera in Milan for less than €100.   Stay tuned!

Have you been to La Scala or attended an opera in Italy? I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.

If you haven’t stopped by my Instagram page lately, please check it out. Lots of images from Italy there.

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Posted in Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments