Happy New Year from Florence!

Crazy wonderful sunset

Even though Bobby and I have visited Piazzale Michelangelo probably ten times since moving to Italy, the view never ceases to amaze us.  Perched on a hill looking over the valley of Florence, the piazza is a place for lovers, musicians, the young and old, and both tourists and Florentines alike to gather throughout the year.  On the first day of 2014, we wanted to take our friends Caroline and Ryan to see this breathtaking place.  The weather was absolutely perfect and we were rewarded with a pretty spectacular sunset. … [Read More]

Christmas in Florence 2013

I liked the laterns from last year more, but this was also quite pretty.

The Christmas season in Florence kicks off every year with street decorations and a small German Christmas market near Santa Croce.  We visited the market both our first and second holiday seasons here in Florence, so we figured we should go 3 for 3.  Although the offerings don’t change much from year to year, it is still nice to have the first glühwein of the year, just steps from our house.  We will certainly miss this next year!  … [Read More]

Trentino – Alto Adige Christmas Markets

Christmas market under clear skies

Sometimes I find it hard to “get in the Christmas spirit” here in Italy.  Christmas isn’t overly commercialized like it is in the States, which is a good thing, but without the constant television ads, Christmas music in all the shops and on the radio, and pressure to buy everyone and their neighbor a gift, sometimes it’s hard to get in the spirit.  I know, it’s strange.  Also, in Firenze, the weather is really mild – in the 50s everyday so far this December – so when I remind myself that Christmas is only nine days away, I have a hard time comprehending the situation.  To prepare our warm-natured bodies for our upcoming holiday trip to Budapest, and to prepare ourselves mentally for Christmas, we decided to travel to Northern Italy last weekend to the Trentio-Alto Adige region for some Christmas market fun.  … [Read More]

Naples, the Second Time Around

Cloister of Santa Chiara

I have to admit, the first time Bobby and I visited Naples, we did not fall in love with the city.  We thought it was dirty (well, it is) and the people were aggressive (read: mafia).  Although these prejudices still exist, we decided to give the city a second chance and travel there last weekend.  We chose Ferrari’s high-speed train called “Italo” from Firenze SMN station to Napoli Centrale.  The trip, on the world’s fastest train, took a little under two and a half hours.  Not bad!  We met Bobby’s sister Eva and her husband Geremia, who is a sort of Napoli-guru, on Saturday morning.  Geremia lived in Napoli for years and travels there often for work, so he was a fantastic tour guide, showing us the best museums, churches, and restaurants the town has to offer.

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Touring Torino

River Po

We spent two days in Torino (Turin) and we could have stayed a few more because there is a lot to see.  In 1861, the town was named Italy’s first capital city and although most of its political importance has been lost since WWII, it still serves as one of Italy’s major industrial cities, along with Genova and Milano.  Because it is a principle European crossroad for trade and commerce, you would think that Torino lacks some of the finer cultural highlights.  This would be a false presumption.  The city has a rich culture and history and is known for its numerous art galleries, top restaurants, beautiful architecture (palaces, opera houses, castles), large piazzas and parks, world-renowned theaters, and many, many museums. With near one-million inhabitants in the city limits, Torino feels much larger than a lot of Italy’s other “cities.”

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Piemonte Food and Wine Tour [Part 2]

I can see it....

We continued our Piemonte food and wine tour by stopping in the famous wine town of Barolo, tasting some wines at the architecturally-stunning Ceretto winery, seeing a very unique twist on an Italian church, and visiting the 14th-century castle in Serralunga d’Alba.  What we sacrificed in food in our final two days in the Langhe region, we made up for in wine!  … [Read More]

Piemonte Food and Wine Tour [Part 1]

The fields surrounding Grinzane Cavour

It’s crazy to admit, but this is the first trip we’ve taken to the Piemonte region to enjoy all of its culinary delights.  This region, in northwestern Italy, is known for its wines – Barbaresco, Barolo, Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbera d’Alba, and Asti – as well as its food – tartufo (truffle), grissini (breadsticks), tajarin (a type of flat noodle, similar to tagliatelle but smaller width), agnolotti (a type of pasta similar to ravioli), farinata (chickpea “pankcake,” which was adopted from Genoa), baci di dama (“lady kisses” or small cookies filled with chocolate), and zabaglione (similar to an eggnog type custard).  We tried our best to make the rounds in the region, trying every type of food or wine we could get our hands on.  Having already visited Asti in a previous trip, we stuck to the Langhe valley of the Piemonte region, which is the famous truffle and nebbiolo grape zone.  … [Read More]

Port of Genoa

One of the prettiest fish I have ever seen

Almost two years ago, Bobby and I traveled to Genoa to attend the national soccer match between Italy and the USA.  It was a landmark game because it was the first time the Americans ever beat the Italians.  Last week, we returned to the city, famous for its focaccia bread, pesto, and enormous port, to take in several seaside attractions: the Galata Maritime Museum, Genoa’s Aquarium, and a galleon ship called “Neptune”.  Of course, we made a pit stop on the way to the port to eat some “focaccia Genovese;” I had the standard butter and salted version (you can’t ruin a classic) and Bobby chose the pesto.  Neither disappointed!… [Read More]

World Cycling Championships 2013

America!

When we found out that the World Cycling Championships would be taking place in Tuscany this year, we made sure we would be in town.  It’s not every day you can step out your door, walk two blocks, and see some of the world’s best athletes compete (and watch for free!) Bobby and I have been following cycling a lot this year, starting with the Giro d’Italia back in May and then the Tour de France this summer.  We made a mental list of cyclists we wanted to follow, which were mainly Americans and Italians, with the occasional Brit (Bradley Wiggins) and Australian (Cadel Evans).  Vicenzo Nibali, an Italian, was one of the favorites going into the World Cycling Championships after winning the Giro d’Italia.  I had a chance to see him ride through Florence in the Giro and was hopeful of him winning again in front of his home crowd.

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Our 2nd Italian Anniversary

First night on the water

I know I’m a little late, but September 6th marked our 2nd Italian anniversary.  This means we have passed well over the halfway point of Bobby’s Olmsted experience.  Wow!  I’d like to highlight some of our favorite travel spots we were fortunate enough to see this year (see our first year favorites here). First though, we’d like to reiterate to the Olmsted Foundation how incredibly grateful we are for this amazing opportunity.  We never thought we’d get travel like this as a couple, nor have the chance to learn a second language while experiencing the culture first-hand.  We can’t express our gratitude enough – thank you, thank you, thank you!… [Read More]