Category Archive: Europe

Getaway Guide: Exploring Elba, the Island of Napoleon’s Exile 

Elba is the largest island of the Tuscan archipelago and the third-largest in Italy (behind Sardinia and Sicily). With its beautiful beaches and clear blue water, it is a popular getaway for beach lovers, especially during the summer months, but Isola d’elba offers much more. From hiking, swimming, and watersports, to history and museums to great food and drink, you can find a great mix of experiences whether you’re looking to explore Elba, relax, or do both. Here’s what you need to know to plan a getaway to Elba. The History of Elba Island Understanding the island’s history is the first step in discovering Elba. Elba was first inhabited by Ligures Ilvates, a tribe that lived on the land that is modern-day Italy. Since the early tribes, Elba has been occupied by the Romans, Germans, Italians, Spain, British, and French. That’s […]

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Literary Dublin: Discover These Sites That Celebrate Dublin Writers

Dublin has been home to some of the most influential writers in history, many of whom have helped shape the literary world as we know it today.  Iconic novelists such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, and Bram Stoker once called this Irish capital home. Literary Dublin was also home to Samuel Beckett, known for his theatrical work, and poet William Butler Yates, one of the most prominent figures in 20th-century literature.  Dublin is, unsurprisingly, full of literary attractions, from world-renowned museums to former literary hangouts tucked away in the backstreets. Green with Envy On my recent trip to Dublin, part of a paid partnership with Globus Journeys, I had the opportunity to learn and experience literary Dublin as part of their Choice Touring program. Choice Touring has been designed to provide a general group framework, and within that, options […]

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101 Movies Set in Italy You’ll Love (or Hate)

Even if you can’t travel to Italy right now, you can get your Italian culture fix with these 101 movies set in Italy. This list represents films set in Italy, not necessarily filmed in Italy – we all know that set designers can make a studio backlot look like the meandering streets of Venice or a Tuscany hill town. While most of these movies are in English, no Italy movie list can ignore the many fine sub-titled Italian movies, so I’ve included some of those. I’ve tried to include the memorable, historical, and romantic movies set in Italy, while acknowledging there are a few that are, perhaps, better forgotten. And if you’re planning a first trip to Italy, this is a great list of movies to watch before you go. Any list is subjective. If your favorite movie set in […]

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Paris Pantheon: Finding Where the Bodies Are Buried

Paris is known for its charming architectural attractions, rich history, bold romantic overtones, exquisite food, and more. On my first visit to France, I visited the Paris Pantheon, a neoclassical church in the Latin Quarter of Paris, and it quickly became one of my favorite places in the city. The Pantheon in Paris was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome and has a domed top similar to the one on Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. Although the Pantheon was originally an abbey, it now primarily serves as a burial place for famous French heroes, leaders, artists, and writers. The imposing structure is made of stone and marble and supported by 22 Corinthian-inspired pillars. The building’s entrance is headlined by the inscription “AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE” (To great men, the grateful homeland). The interior of the building is decorated with […]

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Wine With MJ: Virtual Wine Tasting, Valdo Prosecco

We’re back with our virtual wine tasting this week we feature Penny Sadler, travel and wine writer, WSET student, and wine tasting host. Our wine selection was Prosecco – my favorite of the sparkling (spumante) options, and we tasted Valdo Marca Oro Prosecco DOC Brut.  Joining us at about the 30 minutes mark was Matteo Bolla, the third generation of the founding family of the Voldo vineyard, named for the town of Valdobbiadene. You might recognize the Bolla name – the family also founded this winery, although sold it and are no longer involved with the label. Penny started us off with some good background information about Prosecco, where it comes from, the different designations, and some ideas on visiting the area. She’s written a helpful article about it (here), so you can use it as a resource as you […]

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5 Tuscan Towns for a Perfect Day Trip

It’s been a while since we’ve traveled to Italy, and it’s time to start making plans for a return visit. Our travel preference is to travel with friends and rent a home in Italy to use as a home base. Having a home base lets us set up a combination of days at leisure to relax and soak up the Italian way of life along with busy days of day trips to see the countryside. There are many things that we love about Italy, especially the hill towns in Tuscany. Here are a few of our favorite Tuscan towns that are perfect as a home base, day trip, or weekend getaway. Castiglione d’Orcia Where it is: In the Siena province in Tuscany. Population around 3,000. What to do: Visit the Castle of Tentennano and the Santi Stefano and Degna to […]

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UNESCO Site: Visiting Malbork Castle, Poland

A visit to Malbork Castle Museum will feature both the historical and artistic aspects. There are also some archaeological activities and research, always looking for ways to add depth to the layers of history of the Teutonic Order and the Castle. The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, usually referred to as the Teutonic Order, is a Catholic religious order dating back to the 12th century. Although it was originally founded as a German military brotherhood, it’s purpose has changed over the years and since 1929 it has been strictly a religious order, although it harkens back to those early years with the conference of honorary knighthoods. Today the Catholic branch of the Order has about 1,000 members, and while originally no women were permitted, members today include a couple of hundred nuns. The Castle of […]

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Enjoy Barge Cruising in Burgundy with European Waterways

We are big cruise fans. We enjoy ocean cruising, river cruising, and earlier this summer we fell in love with barge cruising. We cruised the Burgundy canals, drank fabulous wines, met wonderful people, and enjoyed the history, culture, and cuisine of the area. Burgundy (Bourgogne in French) is located about three and a half hours southeast of Paris and is probably best known for its pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. This was a wine region we wanted to learn more about and the reason we selected the Classic Northern Burgundy itinerary. We were also familiar with the food from this region of France (delicious cheeses, beef bourguignon, coq au vin) and some of the history. This was a perfect itinerary for first-time barge cruisers who are food, wine, and history lovers! We’re excited to review our hotel barge, the itinerary, […]

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7 Places to Sip Wine in France

When I think about traveling in France, food and wine are at the top of my list of things to enjoy. From simple peasant fare to exquisite fine dining, my mouth waters thinking about the choices. It’s been awhile since I visited France for longer than making a connection at the airport, but I still have fond memories of delightful combinations of food and wine. You can enjoy this experience with minimal effort. Arm yourself with some basic wine information, hone in on a destination or two, maybe even limit your “research” to one or two types of grapes. For your consideration, I suggest seven places to sip wine while you’re in France: Toast a special occasion with champagne in Champagne. Champagne is not just a delicious sparkling wine, it’s a legal term that can only be used for wine made with […]

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You’ll Love These 9 Art Masterpieces in Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy, attracts millions of visitors each year and is well known for its art – art museums and galleries housing many of the world’s great art masterpieces. It has long been considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is just one of the many reasons that I love Italy. Since the 15th Century, Florence has been an economically prosperous city due to an Italian banking family known as the Medicis. Cosimo de’ Medici became a patron of art, science, philosophy, and architecture, which helped the city to become known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. The Historic Center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with significant architecture, monuments, and cultural history combined with its art history. Artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Botticelli, and Ghiberti created masterpieces thanks to his patronage. […]

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