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 .








Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Road Trip, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 23 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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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
My Love Affair with Sicily

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












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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!







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.
























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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Traveling to Positano

Fornillo Beach in Positano photo by MARGIE MIKLASAs I mentioned in a recent blog post I am returning to Italy this fall and of course am thrilled making travel plans and just thinking about it.  My destination is Positano, and for the first time, I will stay in one place for two weeks.

Hotel Pupetto in Positano Pghoto by Margie MiklasI am traveling solo and it has been a dream of mine to stay on the beach in Italy and write.

Positano Fornillo Beach Photo by Margie MiklasMany well-known writers have been inspired by the beauty of Italy and have kept homes in or near Positano for many years. Gore Vidal had a sparkling white mansion in Ravello that could be seen jutting out high on the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast and overlooking the azure Tyrrhenian Sea a thousand feet below. It recently was listed for sale for $21 million.

And I only recently found that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of  The Rolling Stones wrote “Midnight Rambler” while staying in Positano on a holiday. Since I am a big fan of The Stones I found this story fascinating.

By now you probably already know that I am always drawn to the beach. The image of water, especially the ocean with its gentle rolling waves, is soothing to me and inspires me to write.

Vero Beach Photo by Margie MiklasEven when others are around, the sounds of the waves drown out distracting conversations. I go often to the beach near my home in Florida.

I’m beyond excited just thinking about staring at the shimmering sea and listening to the gentle sounds of the waves as I pen my first novel.

Positano Photo by Margie MiklasI’ll be staying at the same beachfront hotel where I spent five days last summer and thought I was in Paradise.

Positano View from Room Photo by Margie Miklas

Hotel Pupetto Terrace and Ristorante - Photo by Margie MiklasI hope to find my inspiration there and complete the first draft of my current work in progress, my first novel, Critical Cover-Up.

View of Positano beach Photo by Margie MiklasDon’t look for me too much on my blog or social media while I am there, since I want to stay focused on the manuscript.  Stay tuned to see exactly how inspired I was.

A recent article in The Huffington Post  describes exactly why  “Positano is the destination of your wildest dreams.” Enjoy.

What do you think? Do you think this view is inspiration enough to write? I’d love to hear you  thoughts so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao



Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, Photography, TRAVEL, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Italy Traffic and Rules of the Road

Traffic in Rome photo by Margie MiklasItaly traffic can be crazy to be sure, and I never thought I’d drive in Italy, but I have and somehow lived to tell about it. You can read about some of my experiences in my older blog posts if you are interested.

Traffic in Rome Photo by Margie Miklas Traffic in Rome Photo by Margie MiklasAlthough there are rules of the road, such as no cell phone use while driving,  and hefty fines to be paid when you don’t follow them, Italy drivers also have their own unwritten rules that seem to work for them. Can you say “Everyone just go at once?” LOL

Palermo Italy Driving Photo by Margie Miklas Driving in Palermo, Sicily Italy Photo by Margie Miklas
These photos give you the idea when there are multiple lines (if you can call these disorganized groupings of cars lines) of traffic that seems to converge into a narrow space. Remarkably no accidents occur. Every time I have visited Italy, seven times now, I have rarely heard the shrieking siren of an ambulance. However take a look at the cars and you will see numerous dings and dents in almost all of them.

Traffic in Italy Photo by Margie MiklasWho has the right of way here? Who knows? Just say your prayers when you start to cross the street.

On the streets of Italy Photo by Margie MiklasThe  drivers in Italy  don’t worry about bumping into the cars when they have to squeeze into a parking spot. I have witnessed it first-hand.

Italy's Passenger CarsDriving in the countryside and the autostrada isn’t bad. Even the Amalfi Coast road was okay when I drove it. It’s the cities that drive me crazy and give me un mal di testa, a headache!

Driving and Parking in Sicily Photo by Margie MiklasI must say the drivers in Messina are some of the worst. They park their vehicles anywhere, including the driving lanes and crosswalks.

Italy Parking spot Photo by Margie MiklasI felt fortunate to have arrived in one piece when I drove all day from Rome to Sicily.

Driving in Positano Photo by Margie MiklasPositano is really more a pedestrian place, so to drive on these narrow winding streets you have to be experienced. I would not be one to try it. Drive Amalfi works for me!

The roads are for cars, Vespas, and pedestrians..Anything goes!

I have recently partnered with the highly rated car rental agency,  Auto Europe, and they have a fabulous contest going now. Enter for a chance to win a 7-night Italian Road Trip Escape valued at over $3,200! One lucky winner will receive 7 nights of accommodation at three prestigious Italian resorts, a food tour in one of Italy’s gastronomy capitals, travel accessories as well as expertly written Italian travel guides. Ciao and Good luck!

Contest ends at 11:59pm on Sat, Aug 6th, 2016.
Click on this link to enter.

Auto Europe Road trip escape

I’d love to hear your thoughts on driving in Italy. Please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.



Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Outdoor Shrines in Italy – Italian Culture

Outdoor shrine embedded in a wall in Venice Photo by Margie Miklas

Outdoor shrine embedded in a wall in Venice

I love noticing the differences in the Italian culture, and one that seems pronounced is the existence of outdoor shrines in almost every city and town in Italy. Despite the commonly-held perception that Italy is a Catholic country, the latest poll indicates that “only 50 percent of Italians consider themselves Catholic.” Nevertheless, they love to display their favorite saints and the Virgin Mary in outdoor shrines.

Shrine in wall in Caltagirone

My favorites are the ones embedded into walls. Usually someone has undoubtedly left a flower out of reverence.

Outdoor shrine in a wall in Venice photo by Margie Miklas

Outdoor shrine in a wall in Venice

These occurrences that happen so often in Italy are not so often seen in the United States. Such is the captivation and  charm of Italy and one of the things I find so endearing every time I visit.

Shrine in Lenno on Lake Como

They may be on a hillside, or in a yard, on the side of a road or very commonly embedded into a stone wall. I found these very interesting and most oftens  freshly cut flowers are left there anonymously by someone.

Outdoor shrine along the Amalfi Coast

Outdoor shrine to Augustine in Colle d'Anchise Photo by Margie Miklas

Outdoor shrine to Augustine in Colle d’Anchise

Shrine in wall in centro storico – Caltagirone

Have you seen these outdoor shrines in Italy?   I  love  feedback, so please leave a comment.

Ciao and grazie.

If you haven’t been to my Instagram page, please check it out…Lots of photos from Italy ther

Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Burano – A Colorful Gem in the Venice Lagoon

Burano boats Photo by Margie Miklas On your next trip to Venice, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the unique island of Burano. This community has charm of its own with its brightly painted small houses that  artists and photographers dream about.

Burano streets Photo by Margie MiklasLocated in the Venetian lagoon, Burano is just seven kilometers from Venice, or forty minutes by vaporetto, or water taxi.

Fondamente Nove, widebodied vaporetto-style boatsWide-bodied vaporetto-style boats run from the Fondamente Nove stop in Venice to the islands in the Venetian lagoon.

Burano wide vaporetto style boats Photo by Margie MiklasThe tiny island of Burano  consists of four individual islands connected together by bridges. Originally a fishing village, Burano became famous as a lacemaking community in the 16th century. Although there is a school of lacemaking, few women perform this craft today, as it is very tedious and expensive.

Burano photo by Margie MiklasAn estimated 4000 to 7000 people live on this tiny island today, and they live inside their houses as well as outside, sometimes frying their fish and ironing their clothes in the streets. You will not find any overnight accommodations here, and the only restaurants are small trattorias and bars with outdoor seating areas. Burano is definitely a place with lots of ambience, which is why I enjoy it so much.

Burano laundry photo by Margie MiklasAn easy place to explore on foot, Burano’s main attraction for me are the brightly painted houses with clothes hanging out to dry. Around each corner the scene is more interesting than the last. With its narrow streets, there is basically one main street, Calle Galuppi, which  is filled with shops and small cafes such as Bar Caffe Palmisano.

Burano Bar Palmisano photo by Margie MiklasYou know I had to stop in here to  enjoy a cappuccino along with some of the famous Italian S-shaped cookies, my favorite.

Burano cookies photo by Margie MiklasCalle Galuppi is also a favorite with locals for their evening stroll or passeggiata and everyday socializing. The shops here also are painted in bright colors, keeping with the same tradition as the houses.

Gasoline pumps appear at the end of a canal. No cars here but of course the boats need fuel.Burano gas pumps Photo by Margie MiklasThe colorful houses attract a lot of artists, and the famous French designer and artist Philippe Starck actually owns a home here.

Burano boats Photo by Margie MIklasI found it interesting that whenever a resident wishes to change the color of his home, he is required to submit the request to the government. A system is in place to insure that variety continues in the colors, and so different areas of Burano have different color combinations. This tiny island of Burano  truly is one of a kind, separating it from the other Venetian islands.

Burano Photo by Margie MiklasTradition attributes the story behind the colorful houses to the local fishermen. Supposedly, they painted their houses bright colors, different from one another, so that they could see them when returning from the sea in the fog. This seems like it might have origins in truth, but no matter the reason, the houses in Burano make visiting this island an unforgettable memory.

Burano photo by Margie MiklasA stay in Venice is wonderful and usually crowded, but a few hours on one of its Venetian islands made me feel like I was in another place altogether. Don’t miss this gem in the Veneto!

Have you ever been to Burano?  I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Ciao and grazie.

If you haven’t been to my Instagram page, please check it out…Lots of photos from Italy there.


Posted in Italian History, Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Summer in the City

Flowers in NYC Park Photo by Margie Miklas
It’s been a long time since I’ve visited NYC in the summertime and I can attest to the fact that July in the city is hot and humid. Of course I’m used to heat and humidity, living in Florida, so I’m not complaining.

What I really enjoyed were the summer flowers blooming in Heather Garden at Fort Tryon Park in the Washington Heights neighborhood in upper Manhattan.

Fort Tryon Park in NYC Photo by Margie Miklas
Part of the NYC  park system, this was a pleasant respite with its shaded walkways and paths. Every morning I walked the trails in the park for my daily exercise and I was rewarded with the fragrances of so many different varieties of flowers in Heather Garden,  the largest public garden with unrestricted access in New York City.

Here is a sampling of what I saw in the garden. Enjoy.
 Flowers in NYC Park Photo by Margie Miklas
 Flowers in NYC Park Photo by Margie MiklasFlowers in NYC PArk Photo by Margie MiklasFlowers in NYC PArk Photo by Margie MiklasFlowers in NYC PArk Photo by Margie MiklasFlowers in NYC PArk Photo by Margie MiklasFlowers in NYC PArk Photo by Margie MiklasFlowers in NYC PArk Photo by Margie MiklasFlowers in NYC PArk Photo by Margie Miklas
 Have you ever been to this park in NYC?  I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Ciao and grazie.

If you haven’t been to my Instagram page, please check it out…Lots of photos from Italy there.


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