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Our free Wandering Europe newsletter is sent whenever we have lots to say about Italy (and a little to say about the other places in Europe). We don’t stuff your mailbox; you can expect a version twice a month.
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The newsletter will be full of interesting articles on Italian attractions, cities and culture from Martha’s Italy, Wandering Italy, and occasionally one of our other “Wandering” sites like Wandering Sardinia
Towards the end of the year, Martha and I realized that we’d had some fine adventures in 2019 that seemed quite unique. So, like two-headed Janus, we keep an eye on the past and look forward to planning great trips for for the future with “perfect” 2020 vision.
So I zeroed in on my favorite discoveries, from a fantastic brew pub in the heart of Italy’s finest wine region to the year’s best museum and castle. You can read it here:
There were many of those little “wow” moments in 2019, as shown in this picture in a family cantina, where a truffle hunter explains that the full vat he’s leaning on provides a single family with olive oil for the year (remember that Italians live several years longer than Americans…)
Did you know that the Roman Guy has morphed into the tour guy and offers a 5% discount on his tours using this link? (Disclosure: we also get a small fee to keep the site and newsletter afloat.)
Tools for Planning Travel in 2020
Moving on to the future, we offer you tools to start planning your vacation adventure. Few people know the size of Italy, so we have a map to show you. Italy is very small for a country with so very much to see—but that makes travel distances manageable.
I give thanks for all these opportunities, and remind you that with the possible exception of the last experience, you can participate in these activities by clicking the links and finding out how to go about it. It’s what we do here.
Speaking of unique things you can do in Italy, here are some great suggestions from Martha on fun stuff in Venice you can do.
And I would add to Martha’s list by giving you a review of some well-make Venetian carnival masks you can buy online. Christmas is coming up you know!
Thanks for being a part of the Wandering Italy/Martha’s Italy clan. We hope to see you in Italy sometime.
Since this newsletter was written, we’ve been updating our Pinterest boards, just in case you plan your vacation from images of the places you want to go. And of course, you can click them to see information about the place. Check out these places we’ve been concentrating on:
As fall descends upon the boot I think of eating, especially when the rains come and there isn’t a whole lot to do at night.
Fall’s last stand isn’t a bleak time for me. I live for the time the kitchen fills with the perfume of long-roasted meats and vegetables al forno on those days.
Two standout autumn meals recently happen to fall on the opposite ends of the luxury scale. First, Martha and I joined our neighbor for a simple pasta e fagioli meal made entirely from scratch using beans from across the street with homemade whole wheat pasta that didn’t see a machine, just Alcide’s formidable matterello, a long Italian rolling pin for those giant sheets of pasta Italians make out of a pile of dough in just a few minutes. Cook that pasta, add the beans and some good, local olive oil and you have a feast we documented because we didn’t think anyone would believe such a simple dish could taste so good (or that people would put that much work into it): Pasta Fagioli with Alcide.
Then a PR person invited us to hunt and eat some truffles in Umbria. We’d be fools to pass that up, right? Hold on, I’ve been on four of these before and this is the only one I’d recommend. What we found was more than we’d bargained for. No fake truffle hunt for us, this was a real insight into the life of the truffle hunters and a shepherd of a mostly self-sufficient community whose property owners had to be descendants of the original owners in the 1400s, a real “work like a dog, live like a king” community. You can read Martha’s version of our stay, or my version of it by clicking the links below:
Fantastic in Florence: A Last Supper Painted By a Woman
Painting a “last supper” is pretty much something a painter might (be allowed to) do at the pinnacle of his career. No, the use of the word “his” isn’t a lapse into gender bias; women of the time weren’t allowed to formally study anatomy or painting back then. But formal study does not (always) make the artist.
Plautilla Nelli’s 21-foot canvas depicts 13 life-size male figures, the only known Last Supper by a female painter anywhere. It’s been restored and hung where it belongs in the basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. If you care about art and history, you must see it.
You’ve seen castle interiors, right? Generally you’d have to imagine what might have been inside, because it’s long gone. Bracciano Castle is different—and the compelling village overlooking the lake was easy to get to from Rome’s Trastevere Station.
If you’ve just hurried to the leaning tower from the train station and back again, you’ve missed more of a great city than you think. The newly opened museum is a stunner, and you’ll learn quite a bit about Pisa and the merchant boats that plied the Mediterranean from the ancient port.
It’s been a busy few weeks here in Italy. We’ve just spent a week in Rome and just before that I spent 4 very busy days in Sardinia. My favorite Italian big city and island together.
My Sardinia excursion explored the area around Alghero. Stay in this compelling city (where strolling we found some very interesting music) and you’ll have lots of options when you want to get away and see wonders scattered about the countryside. For example, the mysterious ziggurat north of Alghero near Porto Torres that was built 6000 years ago. And while we’re at it, what about that carved and cracked egg,eh? Neolithic omelet anyone?
Click the graphic below to find out more about Monte d’Accoddi.
And when you’re done visiting this ancient bit of architecture, you can go have a spectacular Sardinian lunch at nearby Tenuto Li Lioni. Don’t miss the video on the page in the link, which shows the Sardinian “ravioli” called culurgiones being fashioned by an expert in a mere 21 seconds.
And I’m happy to report that the New Testaccio Market has finally hit its stride, and you’ll find lots of good eats inside the sprawling market, making food shopping easy if you stay in this part of Rome.
Milano and Around
Milan is slowly working its way in travel planners’ minds. But what if you used the city as your base to explore the wonders in the vicinity? Martha has some tips for you in her latest article:
Finally, A Little Story About Maintaining an Italian Home
After learning of an expat moving to Italy and having problems with her pellet stove, I had to dredge up the story of ours, and how the guy who installed ours cheated us out of fame and fortune by going the extra mile and asking little. Ready for a little stereotype bashing?
Fall is amazing in Italy. Wine harvests have begun, the rain brings porcini mushrooms, and by the time it gets nippy, truffle hunters and their highly trained dogs seek white winter truffles from secret places. Then you can head to Piemonte to have a breakfast of champions as I like to call it.
Read more about the Delights of fall travel in Italy from Martha:
Fall is a great time to walk and get to know a place. We’ve recently teamed up with Walks of Italy to showcase some of their well-researched walking tours. Here are the top four tours in order of popularity.
Populonia is a medieval hill town in the part of southern Tuscany called Maremma and it’s also the site of one of Italy’s top ancient Etruscan cities, the only one by the sea, on the Gulf of Baratti. You can take scenic walks to see reminders of Etruscan iron working from the 6th to the third century BC as well as exploring different styles of Etruscan tombs in different locations.
That’s all for now. Tomorrow we board a plane to Nice and then on to Italy in our lease car. We’ll spend a week in Rome at the end of the month, staying in an apartment in the southern bit of Trastevere across from Testaccio, where one can feast on traditional Roman food. I hope we’re near some quiet places in Rome, and are always on the lookout for more.