Category Archive: Italy

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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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 favorites, 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 see art. Relax in […]

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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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Visiting the Ruins of Pompeii: From Tragedy to Tourism

The ruins of Pompeii have become one of Italy’s most visited sites. On August 24th, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted in a violent two-day display that destroyed the city of Pompeii, Italy, and the surrounding area. It is one of history’s largest recorded volcanic eruptions, and a tragedy by any measure. The city was buried under ash and pumice for nearly 1700 years and was presumed lost until its accidental rediscovery in the mid-1700s.   The subsequent excavation of the ruins of Pompeii provided a peek at what life was like during the height of the Roman Empire. Rising out of the ash and lava over a thousand years later, the ruins of Pompeii turned a horrible tragedy into a tourism opportunity. Millions of visitors a year now visit this UNESCO World Heritage site located not far from Naples, along with […]

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Visiting the Ruins of Pompeii: From Tragedy to Tourism

On August 24th, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted in a violent two day display that destroyed the city of Pompeii, Italy, and the surrounding area. It is one of history’s largest recorded volcanic eruptions, and a tragedy any measure. The city was buried under ash and pumice for nearly 1700 years, and was presumed lost until its accidental re-discovery in the mid-1700s.   The subsequent excavation of the site provided a peek at what life was like during the height of the Roman Empire. Rising out of the ash and lava over a thousand years later, Pompeii turned a horrible tragedy into a tourism opportunity. Millions of visitors a year now visit this UNESCO World Heritage site located not far from Naples, along with its sister city Herculaneum. The site is stable and safe to visit, but there have been some […]

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Talking About Tuscany on the Amateur Traveler

I’ve written here many times about how much I enjoy the small towns and villages in Tuscany, predominantly the southern part of the area. From staying at La Montalla in Contignano, to wine tasting in Montalcino, to shopping and dining in Pienza, to exploring in Montepulciano, it’s all part of how I love to see the Italy. This past week I had a chance to discuss some of my favorite places with Chris Christensen of the Amateur Traveler. You can listen here, or head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the Amateur Traveler. Tip:  Download the past episodes and catch up on all of them when you have a chance. There’s some great stories, tips, and information to be discovered there. Travel to The Hill Towns of Southern Tuscany – Episode 350

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Photo Friday: Art of St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice

No matter where you are in Venice, it seems like there’s an arrow pointing you to San Marco Piazza.  And why not?  Along with the gondolas on the Grand Canal, the piazza is one of the most popular spots in a city that’s full of popular spots.  The Piazza fronts Saint Mark’s Basilica, a Catholic Cathedral and the most famous church in the city.  It’s Byzantine architecture and grand design has been a symbol of the power and wealth of Venice for over 10 centuries. This photo is of the lower lower level of the Basilica, and is one of the arched portals that is surrounded by columns.  The arch is above a set of bronze doors than open into the interior of the cathedral, where even more awe inducing art and architecture is found.  The interior is probably best […]

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Photo Friday: Wisteria on Capri

From Sorrento, a visit to the island of Capri is a short boat ride away, making it an easy day trip.  In high season, reservations may be important, but otherwise just head down to Marina Grande, figure out your timing, and buy a ticket.  The ticket will depend on the time of boat service and the current Euro exchange rate, but figure about $15-17 and allow 20-30 minutes transport time. Before you go to the island, though, learn how to correctly.  It’s pronounced CAH-pree.  The often heard cuh-PREE is a pair of pants.  Locals will know what you’re talking about if you say it incorrectly, but what not try for a little authenticity. Once on the island, visitors typically either head off for a tour of the famous Blue Grotto, or take the funicular up to Capri Town.  The town […]

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Remembering Tuscany: Opening Wine Sent Home From Italy

You know how there are those moments when you get to re-live your travel experiences all over again?  Well tonight is one of those nights for me. For the last few years that we’ve been in Italy, we’ve made a point to send a case (or two) of wine home.  The process isn’t difficult, we head off to Montepulciano where we have a favorite wine shop, do a little tasting, select a nice combination of favorites and new discoveries, and let the shop take care of the packing, shipping, and customs part of things.  We look for a combination of wines that we love, wines we cannot get at home, and choices that represent good value.  It’s not a precise science or art, but I choose wines I like and that’s most important to me. Tonight I opened a bottle […]

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