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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

Feel free to take a look at some recent editions:

So, Where Can You Eat With This View?

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Know where you can get this view of Rome's Vatican? Read the Newsletter!

(And the answer is: Castel Sant’Angelo.)

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About Our Free Newsletter originally appeared on on Oct 10, 2016, updated on Jun 15, 2019 © .

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It’s nearly August. It’s heating up in Italy. But there are plenty of things to do! Let Martha tell you about the best festivals, beaches and the August 15th holiday:

Italy in August

A lot has been said about over-tourism lately. Folks are cramming cities like Florence and Venice like never before—even in what we used to call the “off” season.

If it’s your first visit to Italy you’re going to have to suck it up and squeeze in with the hordes—but if you’ve been to at least two of the big three, and especially if you can no longer afford staying in those overcrowded cities, we have some great suggestions for you.

What if you were to go to the Abruzzo where you might plan to visit the Borgo Universo Festival in Aielli, a mountain village?

And what if you could stay in an ancient fortified monastery in the Abruzzo for about half what you’d pay for a budget hotel in Rome? Look at this:

abruzzo monastery picture
Monastero Fortezza di Santo Spirito in the spring

It’s Monastero Fortezza di Santo Spirito and if you go in the season they’ll feed you well. Drive anywhere and the scenery will be spectacular.

Monastero Fortezza di Santo Spirito

And if you have friends who want to travel with you, I have a suggestion that should rock your boat. Let’s talk about staying in 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath palazzo in the heart of a castle town called Mondavio in Le Marche. It’s big, it has a professional kitchen with a six burner stove. The ceiling of the living room is frescoed. The bathrooms are modern and stylish. Buy a drink at Al Giardino della Rocca in an evocative setting across the street and they’ll set out a good spread for you at no extra charge. The thing we worried about? Decide to wander about the house before dinner and maybe nobody would find you until morning. It’s big. At the time of writing the average price per night was—are you ready?—$97.

Apartment Mondavio

And one last suggestion. If you want to know where the study of the Mediterranean diet started and where many folks reach a grand old age and are still active, you might go to the Cilento coast, the (culturally) more interesting southern neighbor of the Amalfi Coast.

Cilento Coast Travel Guide

As if that wasn’t enough, here are five small Italian cities to think about visiting:

5 Small Italian Cities Travel Guide

Just in case you’ve had enough of olive oil, you might just try a place with the best butter in France and quite possibly in the world: Normandy.

More Newsletters

Italy's Small and Medium Size Cities

Sassoferrato, Salame and Chicken Skirts

Italy in August | Avoiding Over-Tourism originally appeared on , updated: Jul 17, 2019 © .

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Everyone knows the Italian Big Three, Rome, Florence, and Venice. Add the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast and you have the places everyone goes on their first trip to the boot.

If you’ve been to those places, perhaps it’s time to visit the inexhaustible number of small and medium sized cities of Italy, the places where urban sprawl is almost nonexistent and the living is easy(er).

Let’s start with the small ones. In the north there’s Aosta nestled into the little Aosta region, Italy’s smallest. It was a Roman town, so there are numerous sites to visit. Then there’s Bassano del Grappa, named after nearby Monte Grappa, not the booze—although there is a grappa distillery in town you can visit. The Abruzzo’s Sulmona is ringed by mountains, in a setting that is one of the most compelling in Italy. Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche is one of our very favorite towns. An evening in the town’s main square, one of the most evocative in all of Italy, will make you want to stay forever, especially with a plate of stuffed, deep-fried olives, olive ascolane and the beverage of your choice at hand. Don’t miss a special day trip to amazing Offida while you’re at it. Finally, there’s Lecce, a city filled with Baroque monuments in the popular Puglia region. Access information on visiting all of these places by clicking the button below.

5 Small Cities We Recommend

Did you know…

One of our favorite tour guys, The Roman Guy is now The Tour Guy. You can still get a 5% discount on most small group tours with promo code ITALYMARTHA when you book online. Book your tour in Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Venice, Milan, or Pompeii & Amalfi Coast:

Tour Guy Italian Tours

“Medium” Cities: 5 Of Our Favorites

Ever been to Ferrara? The amazing Romanesque Duomo and castle are close to each other (the historic center of Ferrara has been included on the list of World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO as a great example of a town planned in the Renaissance that has managed to keep the basic design of its historical center intact into the modern period). The landscape of Ferrara is flat and great for cycling—and when you need some energy they have perfected a type of salame that makes a sauce when you cook it, called Salama al Sugo.

Ferrara Travel Map and Guide

Perugia is where Martha and I went to language school at L’Università per Stranieri. That’s not a University for strange people, but for foreigners. The Umbrian capital remains one of our favorite cities.

Perugia Travel Guide

cremona italy
Cremona, view from above

Cremona is host to yet another amazing Romanesque Duomo and a bell tower you can climb up to get a great view of the city all the way to the river, as shown in the photo above. If you want, you can learn a lot about violins in Cremona.

Cremona Travel Guide

Ragusa in Sicily is a Baroque wonder you shouldn’t miss. Ragusa Ibla is the old town, and you’ll enjoy walking through it. The Duomo di San Giorgio in the heart of the old town is one of 13 Baroque monuments in Ragusa Ibla that are listed in the UNESCO inscription.

Ragusa Travel Guide

The walled city of Lucca is a favorite of ours in Tuscany. The town was founded by the Etruscans who called it Luca, and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The Renaissance era walls have kept out the industrial scourge, so wandering the city is quite a nice experience. You can rent a bike to circle the walls, or just walk.

Lucca Travel Guide

I hope you’ve enjoyed the contents of this newsletter. Please pass it on to folks you might think are interested in planning an independent trip to Italy.

Read More Newsletters

Italy in August | Avoiding Over-Tourism

Sassoferrato, Salame and Chicken Skirts

Italy's Small and Medium Size Cities originally appeared on , updated: Jul 01, 2019 © .

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wandering italy newsletter logo

In case this newsletter looks a little different, well, your eyes do not deceive you—we’re trying a new newsletter provider. I hope you enjoy this edition, which will concentrate on written content without so many pictures. If you like more pictures, let us know.

We’ve recently returned from a fantastic trip to Le Marche, where we stayed in a magnificently restored Palazzo in the Renaissance castle-town of Mondavio.

Imagine 2 couples trying to find each other inside a 3229 square foot apartment with 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, a big kitchen with 6 burner professional gas stove, a formal dining room, a sitting room, a living room with a fresco on the ceiling. Imagine the price, which averages…are you ready? $108 a night!

Apartment Mondavio

There is a great advantage to getting out to the incredible Italian countryside; the food is local and extraordinary, the prices modest, and the people friendly.

Mondavio has all the services you need, and several restaurants, two with magnificent views.The castle sits majestically in front of you when you have your morning coffee at the village bar. There are lots of places within a short drive that demand your attention, including our favorite, Sassoferrato, where chef Guido Mingarelli of Agriturismo Antico Muro once again fed us the seasonal stuff he likes to cook at our favorite table sitting atop a plexiglass sheet allowing you to see remnants of the Roman site Sentinum, where the Romans won a battle against all comers in 296 BC. You shouldn’t miss this experience if you find yourself in Le Marche.

Mondavio Travel Guide

See also: Finding the Hidden Italy in Sassoferrato.

The reason for our visit was to take in the new Museum of Folk Arts and Traditions, dedicated mostly to farming in Le Marche, a highly developed activity in the region. Yet another attraction for Sassoferrato, population 8000.

On our way back to Mondavio, we stopped at an amazing winery, Sbaffi, where they concentrate at making great sparkling wine as was made in this area 50 years before Dom Pérignon saw his stars. They’ve brought back a local grape thought to have gone extinct, and will be releasing a sparkler from this grape in a week or so. It’s tasting good right now, I can tell you.

Italian Word of the Day: stuzzichini.

Stuzzichini means appetizers, finger foods, the kinds of things you get with your drink order in some places in Italy, like the Lunigiana.

italian happy hour
The Italian "Happy Hour" in the Lunigiana

By the way, the drink in the foreground is an Americano. If you happen to be an Americano, you’ll likely get coffee with lots of water. Asking for a “cocktail Americano” seems to work. It’s Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda.

What’s up next month?

July in Italy

Le Marche | Stuzzicchini | July in Italy originally appeared on , updated: Jun 18, 2019 © .