Life on the Amalfi Coast of Italy

Life in Italy - Maiori, Amalfi Coast Photo by Margie MiklasDaily life on the Amalfi Coast can be challenging, but this robust Italian smiles as he easily climbs more than three hundred steps to and from work every day. Seventy-three years young, Crescenzo is the caretaker of an abandoned castle high above the town of Maiori.

The ancient steps are uneven, built by hand with rocks of diverse shapes and sizes. In many places they are covered with grass and dirt, and in some instances, the staircase consists of tiers of dirt bolstered by stones. No handrail exists to aid in the uphill hike.

Crescenzo grins as he turns and gazes down to find me twenty stairs behind him while I pause to catch my breath. This lofty landscape is rugged, yet spectacular, and the panoramic view from the top is the ultimate reward.

The words here are from a page in Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, my recently published photo book.

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie Miklas

If 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 ever paid it forward? 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, like this one.

Bougainvillea in Capri on the Amalfi Coast Photo by Margie Miklas

 

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

Winter Storms Blanket Italy in Snow

Photo by @giovannicappuccino https://www.instagram.com/giovanninocappuccino/Snow at Greek Theatre in Taormina, Sicily by @giovannicappuccino

Winter has definitely arrived in Italy, and the frigid temperatures and yes, even nevicata, snowfall, has reached the mezzogiorno, as far south as Sicily, even at low altitudes, along the coast. The Amalfi Coast had snow and Lecce and other towns in the Salento of Puglia were snow covered.

Enjoy these photos posted on Instagram, and other social media venues, of the snow in Italy.

Photo by Giuseppe Famiani  https://www.facebook.com/giuseppe.famianiSnow-covered Cesaro, Sicily, by Giuseppe Famiani

Snow in Taormina Photo by @sciva89 https://www.instagram.com/sciva89/Snow in Taormina by @sciva89

Snow in Taormina Photo by @villabritannia https://www.instagram.com/villabritannia/Snow in Taormina by @Villabritannia

Snow in Posto Vecchio, Puglia Photo by Giulia VadacaSnow in Posto Vecchio, Puglia  by @giulia.vadacca

 Snow in Mottola Photo by @domenicodeliaSnow in Mottola, Puglia  Photo by @domenicodelia

Snow in Bari Photo by @bariailoviuSnow in Bari Photo by @bariailoviu

Snow on prickly pear in Sicily Photo by @logifranSnow on prickly pear in Sicily  by @logifran

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Snow in Giardini Naxos, Sicily Photo by @whitealmondsicilySnow in Giardini Naxos, Sicily  by @whitealmondsicily

Snow in Matera by Francesco Morelli https://twitter.com/teorema57mSnow in Matera by Francesco Morelli

Snow in Alberobello Photo by Solanda Tours https://www.instagram.com/solanda_tours_dmc/Snow in Alberobello, Puglia by @solanda_tours_dmc

Frozen fountain in Rome Photo by http://roma.repubblica.it/cronaca/2017/01/07/foto/roma_lo_spettacolo_delle_fontane_ghiacciate-155561536/1/#8Frozen  fountain in Rome at Piazza Barberini by Angelo Franceschi

Snow in Collesano by Cinzia Cirri https://www.instagram.com/cinziacirri/Snow in Collesano, Sicily by @cinziacirri

Snow in Cesaro` Photo by Giuseppe Famiani https://www.facebook.com/giuseppe.famianiSnow in Cesarò,   Sicily, (where my grandparents were born) by Giuseppe Famiani

Any thoughts? I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment, and if you have snow pics from Italy, feel free to share the link.

Grazie and Ciao.

I loved seeing these photos of snow from all parts of Italy. Check out my Instagram page for more photos from Italia like this one from Positano.

Positano Photo by Margie Miklas

 

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Posted in Italy News, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Happy New Year 2017 – Some Thoughts

Happy New Year As I look back on 2016, I feel blessed and thankful for so many reasons. First, and most important, I am thankful to have my health, as I realize that others battle with physical and mental health challenges daily. I am grateful for my wonderful family, amazing friends, and the opportunity to live my life to the fullest.

I particularly would like to mention a few friends who have made my travels in Italy very special. Each of them works hard to share their talents and love for Bella Italia in their various businesses. This list  just  barely scrapes the surface of all who have impacted my life and my Italy experiences.

If you are even considering travel to Italy in 2017, I highly recommend all of these.

In no particular order…

A few months ago I had the opportunity to relax on a 42-foot sailboat and enjoy the scenic coast of  Taormina, thanks to  the  generosity of Simona Ferro from Tripping Sicily.

Simona Ferro from Tripping Sicily Photo by Margie Miklas

Simona’s company provides personal custom luxurious cruises on yachts and sailboats, Jeep expeditions to Etna, wine tastings and cooking classes, and much more.

On one of the last days of my month-long trip to Italy, this day was  one of the  highlights of my trip. Victoria De Maio and I  were ready for some R&R after driving through Sicily on a fun  whirlwind 10-day road trip. I made several new friends this day, since Sarah Kearney from White Almond – Private Sicily arranged 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. Sarah rode along too. It was after reading her blog about an excursion with Tripping Sicily that prompted my dream to see Taormina from the vantage point of the Ionian Sea.

taormina-allOnce 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.”  Along 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!

img_5612The 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.

Monica Cesarato Photo by Monica CesaratoIn Venice, I  had the opportunity to meet  Monica Cesarato from Monicacesarato.com, and learned a  lot about the Venetian tradition and food, cicchetti.

cicchetti Photo by Margie MiklasWhen in Venice, eat like the locals, and Monica is a local. She is a food blogger, a culinary guide, and a cooking instructor, and has even been featured on TV shows!

Victoria De Maio and Margie Miklas TaorminaAs many of you know from reading my blog, I have recently traveled with my good friend, Victoria De Maio, from PostcardZ from Victoria  as part of #2SicilianGals. I also traveled to Puglia with Victoria on one of her small group tours, which more than matched my expectations. You can read about my experience here, and I highly recommend checking out her 2017 itineraries to Puglia and Liguria.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Terri Affanato, owner of  Italian Decorative Art by Affanato & Co. in Vietri sul Mare. I had ordered some hand-made ceramic plates this past year,  and thanks to Terri, I was actually able to enjoy a personal tour of the artisans’ studios in Vietri, where I met Anna Rita, the artist who painted my plates!

vietri-anna-rita Photo by MArgie Miklas

Artisans in Vietri Photo by Margie MiklasNothing can compare to a personal experience where you meet the locals and I remember that day fondly. Look for a blog post soon.

Of course you know I spent two glorious peaceful weeks in October in Positano on the Amalfi Coast  at Hotel Pupetto, where I enjoyed the serene surroundings to write and finish the first draft of my novel.

Writing in Positano Photo by Margie MiklasThis family-run 33-room hotel was perfect for me and the view of the sea from my balcony was priceless.  For more about my experience there, check out my blog post. Aside from some Wi-Fi issues, I recommend this pleasant accommodation in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Another place I will always remember because of the friendliness and warmth of its owners is Hotel Villa Schuler in Taormina.

Mr and Mrs Schuler at Villa Schuler in Taormina Mr and Mrs Schuler took time out to share their thoughts about Taormina  with us while were their guests for three days and nights. The special attention made me feel like  a VIP and the view from our balcony was breathtaking.

View from Hotel Villa Schuler in Taormina Photo by Margie MiklasMy special friend Marco Jovon from Eredi Jovon in Venice is truly one of a kind. He learned his talent as a jeweler from his father and grandfather and he creates personal tailor-made cameos by hand.

Marco Jovon - Photo by Margie MiklasPlease stop by his shop in Venice on the Rialto Bridge or check out his website before you go to Italy. You won’t be disappointed. Read more about my experience meeting Marco from my blog post.

And I must mention the family-run luxury hotel company, Baglioni Hotels. Most of you know that I manage the social media for the hotel, and I have had the honor of staying at two of their hotels in Italy.

Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venice Photo by Margie MiklasThey truly do treat every guest as a VIP and make sure you have an unforgettable stay.

2015-05-26-17-33-47They have a promotion right now that is a great deal. For a limited time, until January 6, 2017, you can purchase three of their il Regalo Baglioni options for 50% discount. And the good thing is that the voucher is good for a year. Check it out here.

Another huge thank you to all of you who have been such a source of support throughout the year by reading, commenting, and following my blog, purchasing, reading, and reviewing my books, and liking and sharing my posts and photos on social media.

Margie Miklas Dec 2016 photo by Margie MiklasYou are the best and I am forever grateful! Baci e abbracci!

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Happy New Year! Felice anno nuovo!

 

 

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Italy Travel – Milan – Photo of the Day

Milan, Italy photo by Margie MiklasI love wandering around the streets of Italy and taking in snippets of everyday life. On my recent stay in Milan, I stopped for a moment to capture this scene.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.

If you haven’t already followed my on Instagram please check it out for more images from Bella Italia.

 

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Italy Announces Paolo Gentiloni as New Prime Minister

Photo by Ansa.it Renzi and Gentiloni

Photo credit: Ansa.it

If you’ve been following Italian politics, you know that Matteo Renzi is out and Paolo Gentiloni is in. Changes in Italian government leaders happen faster than the blink of an eye sometimes, or so it seems. According to The Guardian,   Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, has appointed the former Italian foreign minister to replace Renzi as prime minister. His main task as requested by Mattarella, is to form a new Italian government.

 Photo credit International Business Times UK

Photo credit International Business Times UK

His position as prime minister will become official after he makes his cabinet selections parliament votes this week. It is also expected that his reign will  last only until new the Italian president calls for new elections sometime in 2017. Since Renzi remains as leader of the Democratic party, it is likely that Gentiloni will lean toward the policies of Renzi while he is power.

Photo credit JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

The 62-year-old  Gentiloni was first elected to  Parliament in 2001, served as Communications minister for a few years, and also worked as a magazine journalist. Mr. Gentiloni  accepted the Italian President’s mandate “with great honor and responsibility.” It will be interesting to see if anything changes in Italy with new leadership.

Photo credit International Business Times UK

Photo credit International Business Times UK

I’d love to hear your from you, so please share your thoughts and leave a comment.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more of my travel photos from Italy.

Ciao and Grazie

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Posted in Italian History, Italy News | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Will Italy Say Si or No to Matteo Renzi’s Referendum?

matteo-renzi-cbs-news-photo

CBS New Photo

Today is election day in Italy and in a few hours Italians will go to the polls to cast their votes.  Will they say si or no to Matteo Renzi’s referendum to  streamline the parliament?  Voting begins today at 07:00 Italy time and ends at 23:00, with results expected early on Monday.

The youngest Prime Minister in Italy’s history, the former mayor of Florence was only 39 years old when he was sworn as prime Minister in  22 February 2014. He is considered left of center and has been a controversial figure in Italy especially as of late.

The referendum is a Yes or No vote to reduce the size of government in Italy.  Currently the Italian legislature consists of 950 members, and under Renzi’s plan, would be cut by two-thirds. From the recent 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose :

Charlie Rose: U.S. has 435 members of the House, and 100 members of the Senate.

Matteo Renzi: In Italy, the number are 630 in the Chamber, and in the Senate 315.

A “yes” vote would reduce the Senate to 100 members who would be appointed and not elected. Renzi believes the change is needed because the Senate is the graveyard of legislation in Italy.”

Renzi has also  threatened to resign  if the referendum does not pass. Many believe that his future as Italy’s prime minister is doomed regardless of the vote.

What do you think of this? I’d love to hear  your opinion so please leave a comment. I am especially interested to hear the opinions from Italians who have the opportunity to vote on this referendum.

Ciao and Grazie

Addendum : Sunday night 2300 US time. The verdict is in. Italy voted no…read the story here. Italy votes no and Renzi resigns. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Italy News, Italy Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Italian Way of Life – Photo of the Day

Older Sicilian couple in Trapani, Sicily photo by Margie MiklasThis older Sicilian couple captured my heart as I walked behind them in Trapani one evening during passeggiata, the traditional evening stroll in Italy. They seem to understand what so many of us forget, that spending time together is one of the most important things in life.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment.

Grazie and ciao.

For more photos from Italy, please follow me on Instagram.

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Posted in Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Travel, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

My Adventure on the Path of the Gods

Path of the Gods Photo by Margie MiklasWalking the Path of the Gods has been in the back of my mind ever since I heard about the experience a few years ago. Since I am not a hiker, I initially dismissed the idea as being out of reach. But the more I read about it and saw photos of the incredible views from 2000 feet above sea level on the Amalfi Coast, I reconsidered and decided to go for it while I was in Positano to write. It would be only one of two excursions I did while spending two weeks relaxing and writing. So this past October, the idea became a reality and I am thrilled that I decided to undertake this challenge.

img_7325The so-called “path” in reality is a mountain path that consists of little more than dirt covered with numerous gnarled tree roots, and in quite a few areas, engages in rock-climbing.

Path of the Gods Photo by Margie MiklasI must caution though, that this hike is definitely not for the faint of heart or for those that aren’t somewhat fit.

I wondered why I saw a banner along the way, which said #Climbwithgods and the more I advanced on the trail I certainly understood.

Photo by Margie MiklasI started out alone in some light rain which let up after about fifteen minutes.

img_7342I enjoyed the quiet solitude as I walked along, listening to the chirping of the birds and feeling the cool fresh air on my face.

Path of the Gods Photo by Margie MiklasOccasionally  I would catch a whiff of mint or rosemary in the air and saw quite a few grape vines, most of which looked as if the harvest was already over.

Path of the Gods Photo by Margie MiklasI was on my own but every once in a while a group of serious hikers would pass me; some were Italian, others were German, and one group was from France.

Path of the Gods photo BY Margie MiklasAn American named Sarah was part of the French group and she graciously offered to take my photo at one of the best views, the place where you can choose to continue toward Nocelle and Positano, or toward Praiano.

Path of the Gods photo by Margie MiklasIt was nice to talk to an American for a few minutes. Most of the other hikers I met that  day were European.

A sign along the way with the words, Benvenuti sul sentiero degli Dei, was a welcome sight and encouraged me to continue along. The little green Ape next to it made me smile.

Photo by Margie MiklasI found it more than a coincidence that while I came to Positano to write, many famous writers also fell in love with the Path of the Gods,and  one of them was D.H. Lawrence.  He wrote, “Is this the view that from on high along the Path of the Gods, opens to our sight: it is the picture of the great loop of the Amalfi coastline that looks towards the west, towards the Island of Capri, that precipitous coast, steamy, hot, with the crystalline mountains where the gods of today are forsaken and you find a lost self again. Mediterranean, before you.”

img_7346The yellow wildflowers and  the terraced vineyards balanced the rugged rocky walls seen along throughout this adventure.  In some areas where the path was not so clear, a small red and white marker painted on a rock or a piece of wood, showed the way.

The most challenging part for me was the rocky areas where I literally had to climb on my hands and knees to traverse the trail. Also the steep dirt path made it difficult to walk without my feet twisting and slipping. I think I almost lost my footing a dozen times and was saying Hail Marys the more I progressed, particularly near the end. I had decent shoes but not hiking boots which may have made a difference. I hate to admit it but I actually did take a fall at one point and scraped up my arm pretty good but nothing major.

dscn7579When I could see Positano below I realized how much I enjoyed this walk and took my time to savor the moment and shoot some photos.

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positano-path-of-the-gods Photo by Margie MiklasThe 7.8 kilometer walk from Bomerano to Nocelle is supposed to take 3 hours and it took me 4 only because I enjoyed it and didn’t rush through. I took my time and would recommend everyone to do the same and be in the moment with nature.

img_6655I recognized the picnic table at a high point on the trail from a blog I had read, and decided to take a little break here and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounded me.

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I could see as far as Capri and it was incredible.

dscn7577Truly this day was a highlight for me and I feel so good that I decided to take on the challenge. It was totally worth it!

I’d love to hear your from you, so please share your thoughts and leave a comment.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more photos from Italy.

You may enjoy my hardback coffee table book featuring photos from the Amalfi Coast. Available on Amazon or directly from me  for the same price ($25) and no shipping if you’d like an autographed copy.

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie MiklasGrazie  and Ciao  

 

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Posted in Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | 39 Comments

A Writer’s Dream and the Writing Process

Amalfi Coast Photo by Margie MIklasWriters each each have their own preferences for writing.  Some write early in the morning, some write at night, and most of the good ones write every day.

Margie writing Photo by Margie MiklasI have to have silence when I write and I like to be alone so I have no distractions. I find that I like to write near the ocean, where the sounds of the waves drown out any other sounds. For me the water is  relaxing and soothing. I thought it would also be inspiring if I could spend a couple of weeks alone at the sea on the Amalfi Coast to finish writing my first novel, a work I had begun two years ago.

I am fortunate in that my dream became a reality and I have been able to spend two weeks last month in Positano on the beautiful Amalfi  Coast finishing up Critical Cover-Up, my first novel.

Writing in Positano Photo by Margie MiklasThis has been a work in progress for the past two years, during which time I had put it on the back burner so I could write and publish Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. I think it’s more than a coincidence that after I finished that book , I chose the Amalfi Coast as the place to find my inspiration to complete writing the first draft of  Critical Cover-Up.

Now I have started the rewriting process and finished the second draft. My manuscript is in the hands of four beta readers, whose feedback will be invaluable to me, as I review it and continue with the rewriting process and  the third draft. After that I will hand it over to my editor who will send it back to me to make more changes and start the fourth draft. A good editor and award-winning author once told me to expect to write at least five drafts before publishing a book. At first I though she was crazy  but I have since learned that she was right.

I’ll then be working on my cover, collaborating with an expert I know and trust. I plan to release  my book as an e-book as well as a paperback edition, and it will be available on Amazon.com  as well as in the UK and other countries.

If all goes well I am hoping  for a spring release date, so definitely stay tuned for more updates.

Enjoy a few more photos from my inspiring place in Italy. All I have to do is see these images and I feel completely relaxed.

How about you? What relaxes you? Where is your go-to place to feel inspired? I’m eager to hear your feedback so please leave a comment.

Check out my photos and follow me on Instagram if you haven’t  already been there.

Grazie and  Ciao

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Italy Travel, TRAVEL, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Sicily Road Trip #2SicilianGals Part 3

img_8515-edited-roadHere we are in Sicilia! These #2SicilianGals certainly made the most of our ten days in Sicily on our European road trip  in Sicily. (Thank you Auto Europe)

img_9132There is no way to write about all the places we saw and all the experiences we enjoyed in one blog post, so here are some of the highlights after we left Castelvetrano.

We headed to Sciacca, a seaside town  and working fishing port with a lovely upper town where we had a delicious lunch on the  outdoor terrace of  Miramare Ristorante.

img_8562We made a stop at the small town of Porto Empedocle, the home of writer Andrea Camilleri. This is the place on which   the fictional  town of  Montalbano’s  “Vigata” is based. 

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Next stop – Agrigento, best known for its nearby UNESCO World Heritage site of Valley of the Temples and although I have been there once before, I was blown away when that first  ancient Greek temple came into view.

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Driving our car up a winding hilltop road at night to find our agriturismo in San Michele Ganzaria proved challenging but the view in the morning was incredible. Kudos to Victoria for that drive!

Our next stop  was the non-touristy town of Nicosia and we definitely got our inclined walks exercise there once we parked our car. img_8713The locals were friendly and we found a delightful pasticceria, Bar Antica Gelateria, where we had some of the best cannoli ever!

cannoli-margie-nicosia cannoli-nicosia

So hard to decide which place is better than the other!

Much more on this later…

One of the great benefits of a road trip in Sicily is what you see along the way..like these sheep grazing in a field…or another one of the many hilltop towns in Sicily.

road-scenes sheepA stop at Piazza Amerina, another incredible UNESCO World Heritage site, and then the long drive to Siracusa,  our home for three nights.

That’s it for now…Next place is Siracusa, where we’ll also take a day trip to visit Donnalucata,  Scicli, Punta Secca,  Modica, Ragusa, Noto, and more. And the final destination will be Taormina, the pearl of the Ionian Sea. Stay tuned.

Watch for us, #2SicilianGals, on our blogs and social media where we will be continuing to post photos in the weeks to come.

Check for the latest updates from Victoria, my traveling companion, on
PostcardZ from Victoria

Auto-Europe

My Love Affair with Sicily

Where it all began…Road Trip with #2SicilianGals

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

I’m always eager for feedback, so please leave a comment or ask a question. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Grazie  Ciao

 

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Posted in Italian History, Italian lifestyle and culture, Italy Photo, Italy Road Trip, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments