25 Favorite Photos of Tuscany

Photo by Margie MiklasTuscany is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, and these photos easily explain why. Located in central Italy, Tuscany  stretches from the Apennine Mountains to the Tyrrhenian Sea. From the rolling hills with scenes of serene countryside dotted with wineries, to vibrant cities famous for art, architecture, and food,  and to the pristine seashore, Tuscany has it all.

Please enjoy 25 of my favorite photos of Tuscany.

San Gimignano ~ Photo by Margie MiklasThe medieval walled Tuscan town of San Gimignano

The Renaissance Church of San Biagio in Montepulciano

Florence’s Campanile, also known as  Giotto’s Bell Tower

Fiesole Photo by Margie MiklasFiesole, a town high above Florence

Tuscany Siena Photo by Margie MiklasA view of Siena

Church of Saint Agostino in Montepulciano Photo by Margie MiklasChurch of Saint Agostino in Montepulciano

Siena campo Photo by Margie MiklasThe Campo in Siena, a great  place to congregate and people-watch

The incredible marble quarries in Carrara, where the marble for Michelangelo’s David was acquired.

Piazza Santa Maria Novella in Florence Photo by Margie MiklasPiazza Santa Maria Novella in Florence

View of Siena Photo by Margie MiklasView of Siena

Monteriggioni Photo by Margie MiklasThe walled, medieval castle of Monteriggioni, a town located between Siena and Florence

Duomo in Florence Photo by Margie MiklasThe stunning facade of the Duomo in Florence

Lucca wall Photo by Margie MiklasPart of the ancient wall surrounding Lucca

Photo by Margie Miklas Staue of David at Accademia in FlorenceThe incredible sculpture of David in the Accademia Gallery in Florence

The beach at Massa di Carrara Photo by Margie MiklasThe beach at Massa di Carrara

 

Carousel in Florence Photo by Margie MiklasThe iconic carousel belonging to the Picci family on the Piazza della Republica in Florence

Ponte a Serraglio in Bagni di Lucca Photo by Margie MiklasFog over the mountains in Ponte a Serraglio, one of the villages of Bagni di Lucca.

A view of Florence and the Arno River from Piazzale Michelangelo Photo by Margie MiklasA view of Florence and the Arno River from Piazzale Michelangelo

View from the top of the Leaning Tower of PisaPhoto by Margie MiklasThe view from the top of the  Tower of Pisa, well worth the climb

Ponte Vecchio in Florence Photo by Margie MiklasThe Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence

Fonte Gaia in Siena Photo by Margie MiklasThe Fountain of Joy in Siena

View from San Gimignano Rocca Photo by Margie MiklasRocca e Parco Montestaffoli  is the highest point in San Gimignano and well worth the walk up the hill to reach this peaceful setting.

Siena Cathedral Post by Margie MiklasThe Cathedral of Siena

San Michele in Foro Church in Lucca Photo by Margi MiklasSan Michele in Foro Church in Lucca, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture

If you’d like to read more about Tuscany, you might enjoy traveling along with me in Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy, currently available on Amazon and Amazon UK.Memoirs of a Solo Traveler - My Love Affair with Italy

Have you been to Tuscany? What was your experience? I’d love to hear about it, so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao

Follow me on my Facebook Author page to stay updated on all things Italy.

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

Surviving an Airport Strike in Italy

airport-1051800_1920Last week Italy travelers were affected by an airport strike. So what’s new, right? Strikes in Italy are commonplace, part of the lifestyle. They can occur with all modes of transportation, and they do, on a regular basis.

Rome Termini Train Station Photo by Margie MiklasDuring my travels to Italy, I have personally been affected by taxi, bus, and train strikes.  And in Venice, even a vaporetto strike.

Vaporetto in Venice Photo by Margie MiklasIn Italy these limited work stoppages usually last from 4-24 hours, and are generally posted in advance. They can be a nuisance, but it pays to be flexible.

SITA bus in Amalfi Photo by Margie MiklasThese scheduled strikes, called scioperi in Italian, are publicized in advance so if you’re planning to travel  to Italy, it would be wise to google Italy transportation strikes and check whether any of your travel plans may be affected. This is the  official page in Italian. To make things easier, this is the best site in English: Easy Travel Report. Just click on “Italian strikes” to get to the Italy section. It;s pretty easy.

I have also learned that usually, on days when strikes are held, Trenitalia will guarantee minimum transport services. Many times, if you ask a local, they will know.

This recent article posted on  Euronews   includes some great information and details on how to survive Italian airport strikes. And social media usually is the frst place to find updated information. The Twitter sites of the major carriers usually post the latest updates so during a strike, they can be a good source of information.

I didn’t realize that you may be entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed. According to this recent article in The Telegraph, “if you are departing from an EU airport on any airline, or arriving at an EU airport on an EU carrier (this includes Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) you are entitled to care and compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004 for a delayed arrival time of more than two hours.”

Sometimes, though, the train station personnel are not  updated so quickly on small regional train strikes, so it can be chaotic. And one time, I just arrived in Salerno by train in the evening.

 Roma Sciopero trasporti sciopero fermata autobus metro trasporti (EIDON) (Agenzia: EIDON) (NomeArchivio: PHPIMrf4.JPG)

Photo by Wanted in Rome

My plan was to take the bus to Amalfi. When I approached the bus area, the bus was there, but it was dark. I walked into the train station and found a travel information office. While waiting my turn, I was anticipating having to take a taxi, which would likely have cost around 80 to 100 euros.

Luck was  on my side because the kind woman at the information desk told me that the bus was just getting ready to leave. The strike was over. So sometimes things do work out. Don’t let a strike ruin all your plans. You never know in Italy. Flexibility is the name of the game, and it is always good to have a back-up plan.

Santa Maria Maggiore Church in Rome Photo by Margie MiklasHave you been affected by a strike in Italy? I’d love to her your feedback, so please share your story in the comments.

Grazie and Ciao

You may want to read about some of my personal experiences with transportation strikes in Italy in my first book, Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy.

Memoirs of a Solo Traveler
My Love Affair with Italy

Winner of the 2014 Royal Palm Literary Award
by the Florida Writers Association

Memoirs of a Solo Traveler- My Love Affair with ItalyAvailable on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. Click on book to purchase. Also available on Amazon UK. Click here to purchase.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy News, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Travel Tips for Italy – What I Learned from Experience

Milan, Italy photo by Margie MiklasYou know, you can do the same thing ten times and still learn from your experience. And this certainly holds true for travel. No matter how many times I travel to Italy I learn something new, sometimes through challenging experiences.

On my most recent trip, I flew into Milan, before heading south to Positano and Sicily. So, like any traveler, I wanted to make the most of my time in Milan. On my agenda was to try to get tickets to visit The Last Supper. Highly recommended but always requiring reservations, I decided to see what I could accomplish.

Milan, Italy photo by Margie MiklasFinally, after hours and days of research, I managed to find a tour that was offered during the tight window of  date and time I had available. Since The Last Supper can only be experienced in a group and usually combined with a tour, I was happy with whatever I found. So even though this tour began at 3:30pm, and included a walking tour of Milan, I decided to book it, figuring I could see The Last Supper, and then just leave the tour whenever I felt like it, in order to make another meetup I had arranged for  an aperitivo with a friend in the center of Milan.

First mistake – Making  arrangements which included specific times for the day of arrival in Italy. After traveling all night on a nine-hour flight (sometimes much more, depending on the departure airport in the States), the stress of making a timed event can be overwhelming.

Photo by Emirates Airline

While my flight arrived at Malpensa at noon, I had failed to take into consideration the delays at baggage claim, and also at the Milano Express train station inside the airport. It quickly became apparent to me that I would not have enough time to check into my hotel and freshen up. So I decided to opt to leave my bag at the Left Luggage area inside Milano Centrale station, and take a taxi to Piazza del Duomo, where I was to meet the tour.

Milano Centrale Milan, Italy - Photo by Margie MiklasBetween locating the luggage deposit area inside the station, waiting in line, and then hailing a taxi, the time was quickly disappearing, and I was feeling the stress of being late and missing my tour.  I also hadn’t planned on the traffic in the city, and why not? Milan is the capital of Italy, the country’s most populated city. As of  2016  the urban area of Milan boasts a population of 3.1 million in 2016, and the city proper is lists a population of around 1.7 million.

Milan photo by Margie MiklasSo naturally the 10-minute taxi ride turned into a 30-minute ride.  I don’t normally stress about too much, but being late or missing an event because of  a time constraint, definitely pushes my patience.

Milan photo by Margie MikasAt 3:29pm we  were stopped at a light at one of the corners of the piazza, and I spotted the meeting location,  told the taxi driver I was getting out, paid him and literally ran across the street, just in time to see a tour guide with a group surrounding her.

Like a crazy tourist, I was out of breath as I reached the group and announced my presence, grateful that I had made it. Forget what I must have looked like. It was a hot day, so my Italian hair was definitely not going to do what I would like. But that’s okay because I was in Piazza del Duomo and I was also finally going to see The Last Supper.

Piazza del Duomo MIlan Photo by Margie Miklas

I have no idea why I expected The Last Supper to be the first stop, but soon I realized from the tour guide’s instructions, that not only was it not going to be first, but that the tour would last 3 hours, and at 6:00 or 6:15 we would be able to view The Last Supper for exactly 15 minutes.

Milan Galleria Photo by Margie Miklas

So, on top of being tired, stressed, and exasperated, I worried about having time afterwards, to get back to the Milan train station, retrieve my bag, and check into my hotel, and freshen up, all before meeting my friend at 7:30 for our arranged aperitivo. But what else could I do? I had prepaid for the tour, and if I didn’t go, who knows when I’d get to see The Last Supper?

So now I’m on a 3-hour walking tour of Milano to sites that I have already seen more than once. Did I mention that the temperature was over 80 degrees?

tram in Milan photo by Margie MiklasTo be fair, I did learn some things I didn’t know on this city tour.

castle-sforzesco-milan Photo by Margie MiklasBut my main interest was The Last Supper, and  eventually it was time. At 6:00pm  we  finally arrived at Santa Maria delle Grazie, the church which contains the mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

Santa Maria delle Grazie Milan Photo by Margie Miklas

santa-maria-delle-grazie-dome Photo by Margie MiklasOur group had to wait until our assigned time of 6:15, where only 30 people are allowed at a time to view the masterpiece.  At exactly 6:15pm, we filed into the space, where we could experience this incredible fresco painted on the wall inside the convent.

last-supper-fresco Photo by Margie MiklasThe wait was worth it, and I will follow up with another blog post detailing my experience inside this special place.

Because of the rush and the stress,  I know that I coudn’t fully appreciate this opportunity as much as I would have liked.

After I said goodbye to the group,  I walked several  blocks to the metro station, bought a ticket, and and rode to the train station, where I retrieved my bag.

metro Milan photo by margie MiklasAfterward, I took another taxi to the hotel. In the meantime I had texted my friend, who was very understanding, and we delayed the aperitivo meet until 8:30. (That’s for another blog post as well.)

baglioni-hotel-carlton photo by Margie MiklasI had just enough time to shower, and freshen up before then, and finally was able to unwind and enjoy the evening in Milan.

Margie in Milan at night photo by Margie MiklasSo the moral of the story…Although I got plenty of exercise today (walked 6 miles), I’d advise not to plan to do too much in one day, and especially on the day of travel. And for sure don’t make  plans which include specific times or deadlines on the day you arrive in Italy.

Aperitivo in Milan photo by Margie MiklasYou can be sure I won’t make this mistake again.

And for many more travel tips based on real experiences, don’t miss this 5-star travel tip guide by Victoria de Maio, available on Amazon.  Victoria’s Travel TipZ Italian Style

Photo by Victoria De MaioHave you made mistakes while traveling that you’d like to share? I’d  love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

The Faraglioni Rocks of Capri

faraglioni-rockEmerging out of the depths of the Tyrrhenian Sea are mammoth rock formations.

I experience a magical moment when I first see the towering “sea stacks” located at the southern end of the island of Capri. They cause me to pause and to wonder about their splendor.

Fraglioni Rocks at Capri Photo by Margie MiklasA result of forceful winds and raging seas, these three Faraglioni rocks inspire countless photographers who attempt to capture their beauty. Translated, Faraglioni means “ones of the light,” and reflections of light from the azure sea create a constantly changing vision just off the Amalfi Coast and Sorrentine peninsula.

Amalfi Coast - view from Monte Solaro Chairlift in Capri Photo by Margie MiklasI am mesmerized as my ferry approaches Capri and all three Faraglioni come into a clear view. The largest and closest to Capri is attached to land by a short isthmus. Known as Stella, or Faraglioni di terra, the dramatic pinnacle reaches a height of 365 feet, or 110 meters.

The middle stone formation, called Faraglioni di Mezzo, is recognized by its natural archway, which delights photographers who might be able to perfectly frame a passing boat within its walls.

The shortest of the three rocks, Faraglioni di Fuori, peaks at 265 feet or 80 meters. Also known as Scopolo, it is the home to the blue lizard, which is found nowhere else in the world.

Approaching Capri - Photo by Margie MiklasThese iconic symbols associated with the isle of Capri welcome me with grandeur.

~Excerpt from my latest book,  Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie MiklasIf you like this post, you may be interested in my book, available either on Amazon.com, or directly through me. I’d be happy to send you an autographed copy for the same price ($24.99) plus shipping ($5.01).  International shipping costs are higher. Contact me at margieeee@comcast.net

Have you taken a ferry to Capri and passed by these  Faraglioni rocks?  I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Thank you Diana for leaving a comment with a link to the Dolce and Gabbana commercial filmed here. (I’ve added it to my post).

Ciao and grazie.

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Posted in Italian History, Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Views of Italy – Photo of the Day

 

View from Hotel Villa Schuler in Taormina Photo by Margie MiklasItaly is a photographer’s dream, with views to die for everywhere I go. So to choose one place where the view is a favorite is impossible…Enjoy just a few of my most memorable scenes from my travels to Bella Italia. Can you guess where they are? If you scroll to the end, I’ll share the locations.

View from the Top of St Peter's

View of St Mark's Square from aboveVerona Photo by Margie Miklas
Perugia Photo by Margie Mikls

Teatro Greco in Taormina View of Ionian coast Photo by Margie MiklasThe ebach in San Remo Photo by Margie MiklasView from Anacapri Photo by Margie Miklas
Sunset at Hotel Pupetto in Positano Photo by Margie Miklas

Sicilian countryside outside Caltagirone Photo by Margie Miklas

Okay, here are the locations. How many did you get right?  What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment. Grazie and ciao.

Photo 1. View from Hotel Villa Schuler in Taormina, Sicily

Photo 2. View from the Top of St Peter’s  Basilica at the Vatican, Rome

Photo 3. View of St Mark’s Square in Venice from the top of the campanile

Photo 4. View of Verona from Piazzale Castel San Pietro, the highest point in Verona

Photo 5. View of Perugia

Photo 6. View of the Ionian coast off  Taormina, Sicily from the ancient Greek Theatre

Photo 7. View of the beach in San Remo  ‘

Photo 8. View of the marina at Capri from Anacapri

Photo 9. View of the Tyrhennian Sea at sunset in Positano from Hotel Pupetto

Photo 10. View of the Sicilian countryside outside Caltagirone

If you enjoyed these photos, you may like my photo book about Naples and the Amalfi Coast, available on Amazon.

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie Miklas

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Road Trip, Italy Travel, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Travel to Italy – Images from Lucca

Lucca window Photo by Margie MiklasWhenever I travel to Italy, my camera is a necessity, to capture the memories of a place and its photographic images forever.  The images are from Lucca, a delightful city in Tuscany not far from Pisa or Florence.

If you want to spend a day off the beaten path in Italy, make time to enjoy the quiet Tuscan town of Lucca. Lucca is easily accessible by train from Florence or Pisa, and once you arrive at the train station in Lucca, it is less than a 10-minute walk to the town.

lucca-train-station-photo-by-margie-miklasLucca’s uniqueness lies in the fact that this historic center is completely encircled within intact medieval walls. These walls, which date back to the Renaissance measure four kilometers in distance, are 40 feet high and 100 feet wide at their base.

Lucca walls photo by Margier MiklasYou can’t miss seeing the wall, and walking or bicycling along it is the best way to begin your experience in Lucca. On top of this promenade are trees and grass and the area has a park-like appearance, with plenty of spaces to walk, ride, or sit and enjoy the scenery. The views are phenomenal, and at various points along the walkway, you will find entrances that lead down into the town inside the walls.

Lucca wall Photo by Margie MiklasInside the walls the streets are basically pedestrian except for those who live here. A few hours in the lovely town of Lucca left me wanting more. I’ve only visited twice, but know I will return. We take what we can get. Enjoy these images of Lucca.

Outdoor restaurant in Lucca, Italy Photo by Margier MiklasOne of the  many outdoor restaurants in Lucca

20141016-224429.jpgI love these smart car postal vehicles, perfect for maneuvering the narrow streets.

Lucca pet sign Photo by Margie MiklasThe town of Lucca is exceptionally clean, and you will even find that the residents take responsibility for cleaning up after their dogs. By installing reminder signs (Fido Lindo) with bag dispensers, at intervals along the walls, Lucca encourages pet owners to clean up after their animals.

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The Cathedral of San Martino is located in Piazza San Martino, a main square in Lucca. Founded by San Frediano in the 6th century, the church was rebuilt  in 1060, and rebuilt again between the 12th and 13th century.

20141016-224737.jpgInside the walls of the city of Lucca, the homes, buildings and 100 churches date back to the 16th century, and no modern or new construction exists here. You truly feel as if you have been transported to another time, especially as you see gelato vendors on bicycles, Lucchese men playing chess outside, and Italian women dressed in long skirts, pushing bambini in their strollers.

Gelato vendor in Lucca Photo by Margie MiklasLucca is an easy town to navigate either on foot or by bicycle, and you can rent bicycles at various locations within the city. The only automobiles that you will see in Lucca are registered to the residents, but there are some areas of the town that are closed to automobiles completely

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Sights not to miss

*Guinigi Tower
You can climb the stairs to the top of Torre Guinigi for a breathtaking view of the entire city and Tuscan countryside. The tower is 44 meters high, with oak trees growing on top of it.

*Casa di Pucini
For anyone who is a lover of opera, you will be thrilled to visit the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, famous composer of the well-known La Boheme and Madame Butterfly.  His 15th century home is now a museum, where you can view his Steinway piano, which he used while composing his last works.

*Piazza San Michele
This is the city center and it is situated in the area of the ancient Roman forum. This is also the home to the financial and trade meetings of local Italian businesses. If you are an architecture lover, you will easily be able to spend many hours in this piazza alone.  The 15th and 16th century banks in the piazza are former palaces, and the Church of San Michele is a 12th century cathedral which dominates the piazza.

Lucca Photo by Margie Miklas

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You can easily spend a few hours or a few days in this Tuscan city of 85,000 inhabitants, but you will undoubtedly treasure the experience for a much longer period of time. I know I’ll return to Lucca, since a few hours is simply not enough…

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

Grazie and Ciao

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more about my love affair with Italy, please check out my books, available on  Amazon

Memoirs of a solo traeler cover Photo by Margie Miklas

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Why I Love Italy

Vietri sul Mare on Amalfi Coast Photo by Margie MiklasWhen someone asks me why I love Italy, I can’t believe they even have to ask. All you have to do is see a few photos and your heart will melt at the sheer beauty of this amazing country.

But it’s not just the beauty, the rugged coastlines, the verdant green hillsides in Tuscany, the diverse architectural styles, the delicious food, or  its many iconic monuments. No, it’s the people that really make this country special, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet many special Italians during my eight trips to Italy these past ten years. A smile from an elderly gentleman, a wave from a cyclist, a handshake from a vendor, and an invitation to join them for lunch are just a few memories I have from my visits to Italy.

So sit back and enjoy these photographic memories and travel vicariously  back to Italy with me.

Now the destinations are impressive too, like these…

 Photo by Margie Miklas

Portofino harbor

Photo by Margie Miklas

Carrara Marble Quarries

Pescallo on Lake Como Photo by Margie Miklas

Pescallo on Lake Como

Photo by Margie Miklas

Varenna on Lake Como

St Peter's Basilica Photo by Margie Miklas

St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican

Photo by Margie Miklas

The beach at Cefalu`

Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal Photo by Margie Miklas

Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal

Temples at Selinunte Photo by Margie Miklas

Temples at Selinunte

These are just a sampling of reasons why I love Italy.  Check out my previous blog posts for more stories and photos all over Italy.

Why do you love Italy? I’d love to know, and you don’t have to choose just one reason. So please leave a comment and share your own reasons for loving Italy.

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more about my love affair with Italy, please check out my books, available on  Amazon and Amazon UK.

Memoirs of a Solo Traveler - My Love Affair with ItalyMy Love Affair with Sicily Photo by Margie Miklas

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Made in Italy, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Sailing in Sicily Around Taormina

Sailing in Taormina, Sicily photo by Margie MiklasWho hasn’t dreamed of sailing around Sicily? A few months ago, at the end of my Sicilian road trip with Victoria De Maio as #2SicilianGals,  I had the opportunity to enjoy the scenic coast of  Taormina from the Ionian Sea on a beautiful 42-foot sailboat.

Victoria De Maio and Margie Miklas Taormina Photo by Margie MiklasMargie and Victoria (#2SicilianGals)

Thanks to the  generosity of Simona Ferro from Tripping Sicily,  this day of sailing around Taormina was a highlight of my trip in Sicily.

Simona Ferro from Tripping Sicily Photo by Margie MiklasSimona Ferro, Owner of  Tripping Sicily

Simona’s company provides personal custom luxurious cruises on yachts and sailboats, Jeep expeditions to Etna, wine tastings and cooking classes, and much more. It was after reading about this excursion on the blog, White Almond  Sicily, by Sarah Kearney, that prompted me to dream about experiencing Taormina from the vantage point of the Ionian Sea.

Victoria and I  were ready for some R&R after driving through Sicily on a fun  whirlwind 10-day road trip. Having only interacted with Sarah and Simona online, this day we would finally meet in person in Sicilia!

The very accommodating and friendly Sarah offered to arrange a car and very attractive driver to “collect” us (as Sarah says – she’s British) at our hotel in Taormina and whisk us off to the nearby port of Giardini-Naxos.

TGiardini-Naxos group at port. Photo by Margie MiklasAt the port in Giardini-Naxos ~
Margie,  Don Nunzio, Vincenzo, Victoria, Simona, and Sarah

We thought this was great, as we had navigated enough narrow streets by this time, and our car was safely tucked away in the hotel parking garage. Thank you, Sarah.

When Sarah arrived, her smile immediately created  a sense of friendship, as if we had already known each other. Did I mention that the driver from Franco Group was a drop-dead gorgeous guy named Vincenzo? He  looked as if he walked straight out of GQ magazine!

Vincenzi and Sarah - Photo by Sarah Kearney

Photo by Sarah Kearney

Once on the sailboat, I also met Adriana Bosurgi from Kimi Sicilian Gourmet. Little did I know that she would treat us to her very own specialty “Sicilian comfort food in a jar.”

Kimi Sicilian Gourmet Photo by Kimi Sicilian GourmetAlong with some delicious prosecco, we enjoyed a variety of these delights like pate di caponata, pistacchio, and sundried tomatao served on bread, bruschetta!  Absolutely delicious!

Adriana Bosurgi photo by Margie MiklasAlthough I have had few sailing experiences, I love being on the open water and feeling the wind against my face. This fabulous sailboat was a 42-foot Sun Odyssey, Carolina,  owned by Maria Letizia and Giovanni Musmeci, and they were both there as well. What nice people!

Maria Letizia pouring prosecco while sailing in Taormina Photo by Margie MiklasMaria Letizia pouring prosecco…This is the luxury lifestyle!

photo by Margie MiklasWe had such a wonderful time listening to stories and learning about the history  of Taormina from Simona and Adriana, who have both lived here for most of their lives.

Sailing in Taormina Photo by Margie MiklasSailing in Taormina Photo by Margie MiklasSimona, Adriana, Margie, and Giuseppe

Photo by Margie MiklasAdriana serving her specialty gourmet food for us

Photo by Margie MiklasAlthough it was cloudy, it was a great day on the sea.

Photo by Margie MiklasMargie, Victoria, and Sarah

And if this wasn’t enough, the next day, Simona picked us up and drove us to Villa Britannia, a boutique, historic, restored B&B, where we met the owners, Louisa Vittorio and her partner Marco.  Here we had more food of course and toured the lovely property where Louisa hosts cooking classes and wine tastings.

Photo by Margie MiklasAdriana, Louisa, and Simona

Photo by Margie MiklasAdriana, Louisa, Margie, and Simona

The property is beautiful, and the location and view are amazing.

Photo by Villa Britannia

Photo by Villa Britannia

hoto by Villa Britannia

Photo by Villa Britannia

I’ll never forget these wonderful friends I made those two days in Sicily. They made me feel at home, and that’s what Sicilians are all about. Grazie mille for a wonderful time that I will always remember! I hope to return soon!

Photo by Margie Miklas

I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao

If you enjoyed this, you may like My Love Affair with Sicily, available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon and AmazonUK

My Love Affair with Sicily Photo by Margie Miklas

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Road Trip, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, Made in Italy, Photography, TRAVEL, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Airfare Travel Deals to Italy

PlaneAirline deals to Italy are making news. Have you heard that now is a good time to fly to Italy? It’s true. The airfare travel deals are amazing, since the airfares are among the lowest they have been in some time. Some are less than $400 round trip to Rome. I wanted to see for myself, and so I did some checking, just plugging in random dates and departure cities.

Alitalia plane Photo by Kayak.comAlthough the flight prices are of course, subject to change, this is what I found today.   Alitalia has roundtrip  nonstop flights from Miami to Rome for less than $600.

alitalia-miami-to-romeEmirates will fly you nonstop from JFK in NYC to Milan for $518 roundtrip.

jfk-to-milan-emiratesIf you are traveling from the West Coast, British Airlines has you covered for the unbelievable price of $494 from LAX to Rome with a stop in London on the outgoing itinerary and a stop in Chicago on the return flight.

If you can be flexible with dates, you can get to Italy and back  this year for less than you think. Again, on Alitalia, a roundtrip flight from Miami to Florence is only a little over $500. I have no connection with Alitalia. It’s just that right now they have a sale that ends Jan. 23, 2017. But I have found flights on KLM and Air France from LAX to Rome round trip for under $500. You just have to keep researching and be flexible with travel dates.

aliatalia-all-flights-florence

Update Feb 21, 2017. Airfares are still low and today the euro is 1.05 to the USD. The deals are still out there. For example, today I found deals for as low as $400 RT from Miami to Rome and $500 from JFK to Rome. It pays to check prices…so make it happen.

Stop dreaming about going to Italy. Check the airfares for yourselves and make  it happen.

I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Have you visited my Instagram page lately? Please stop by and check out some of my images from Italy.

Grazie and Ciao. 

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Posted in Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

What Have I Learned From the Italian People

Venice Hotel owner photo by Margie MiklasEvery time I visit Italy I learn something new from the Italian people.  Certain aspects of  life in Italy  have made an indelible mark in my mind, changing my perspective on life in many ways.

Maybe more than anything else, I have been inspired by the hardiness of the older Italian men and women. No wonder Italians average lifespan is longer than that of  Americans.  According to the 2015 statistics compiled by the World Health Organization, Italians rank #6 in the world with life expectancy at age 82.7 years for both sexes.

An Italian woman in Colle d'Anchise, Italy Photo by Margie MiklasItalian people know what hard work is and are not afraid or unwilling to do whatever it takes to function in their everyday lives. In many places of  Italy, their houses are built into hillsides, which might offer great views, but also necessitates walking up hundreds of uneven stone steps every time they go anywhere.

Staircase in Matera - Photo by Margie MiklasIn some small villages, even if they own a car, they may have to park it on a street, 200 feet below their house, and walk the rest of the way.

Woman walking uphill in Dolceacqua, in Liguria - photo by Margie MiklasThis means that they do this every day, in all kinds of weather, and carrying anything they have bought, or needed to bring when they left their homes. In other places, their homes may be along the street, but the street could be on a 30 degree incline or more, as well as the ten other streets they must maneuver to reach a bus line, the chiesa ( church) or small alimentari (grocery).

Perugia Centro storico photo by Margie MiklasThis has always been their way of life though, so they know nothing else and do it without complaining or asking for help. Spending time in Italy and observing these older Italians has definitely made me think twice before complaining over trivial inconveniences, such as not having a close parking spot at the supermarket.

Woman in Longano Photo by Margie MiklasAnd the other thing I’ve noticed after talking with them, is that they are very proud of their age. When I saw an elderly woman dragging a grocery cart up the steps behind her in La Pigna, the historic center of San Remo. I stopped to talk to her. “Quanti anni hai?” I asked her. “How old are you?” With a smile, she proudly answered, “Ottant’anni,” “Eighty years old.”

San Remo in La Pigna photo by Margie MiklasI love learning about the Italian people, and whenever I visit Italy, I have to say that aside from Italy’s natural beauty, its historic monuments, the amazing food, and the authentic “made in Italy” articles, for me, the main attraction are the people.

What about you? What have you learned from the Italian people? Has it changed your life? I’d love to hear your feedback, so please share your own experience and leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.

If you like this, you may be interested in more stories about the Italian people in my books about my travels to Italy. Check them out on Amazon. Grazie.

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Made in Italy, TRAVEL, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments