Archive of ‘Uncategorized’ category

GOLDEN DAYS IN SIRMIONE

Oh, how glorious it was to spend October days in Sirmione…a magical destination on the tip of Lake Garda, Lombardy…

sirmione-area-map

So many pleasures are contained in the historic center of this tiny treasure-of-a-peninsula, surrounded by the lake. It’s pedestrian only, and you can actually leisurely stroll from top to bottom in about 20 minutes…

The best way to arrive is by ferry from Desenzano del Garda…another charming lakeside town that has a lot of major train connections–that is, you can train from there to Venice in 1.5 hours. Then you cab to the port, catch the Sirmione ferry...CLICK FOR SCHEDULE…

20171004_092024952_iOS

 

 

 

Dominating the whole pretty scene is the 13th century Scaliger Castle, that inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle at Disneyworld…
SIRMIONE CASTLE

 

 

 

I loved my stay at Hotel Sirmione, with this view from my room at sunrise…
20171004_083650824_iOS

And to make me feel like a true principessa, there are thermal springs in this part of the lake, pumped into the hotel’s lakeside pool…
20171002_150249404_iOS

OR for the complete Sirmione spa experience, a short walk away is AQUARIA, with indoor/outdoor pools, treatment rooms, saunas, relaxing rooms, where you bliss out with views of the lake…
Susan Van Allen, Women's Tours Italy, For Women Only Tours, Small Group Tours Italy, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

Sirmione gets filled with tourists during the day, mostly European. It’s a great place for family fun…You can stroll in the center amidst antique shops and caffes…
20171003_093822463_iOSFurther on is a lovely park, where you’re serenaded by birdsongs…
20171003_100240162_iOS

Of course, I always have my antenna up for the HERSTORY angle...Maria Callas had a villa here, and is fondly remembered…
20171002_092413133_iOS

AND  there’s a church of Santa Maria della Neve where one evening there was a Free Concert: a soprano singing Puccini arias…totally magical. It’s fun to take a 25-minute circle ride around the peninsula for 12 euros, that takes you under the Castle drawbridge…
20171003_092713472_iOS

And then stop at one of the many gelaterias, for special Sirmione-style giant cones…
Susan Van Allen, Women's Tours Italy, Small Group Tours for Women, Women's Travel, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

AND to take you back to Roman Imperial days (1st century AD), you can discover the ruins of the Grotte of Catullo at the tip of the peninsula. It’s strangely named, as this isn’t a grotto, and the pleasure-loving Roman poet Catullus did not live here–though he was from Verona, and his family had a villa in Sirmione. Now you’ll find the most extensive site of northern Italian Roman ruins here…When I visited, there were few tourists, and what a joy to wander amidst those ancient walls and olive trees one morning…
20171004_072800743_iOSAs for dining, we loved the half-board option at Hotel Sirmione, where every night there was fresh fish, delicious pasta, Veneto wines.
And for a splurge, we had an extraordinary dinner at  La Rucola, beloved for sophisticated twists on the classics…such as this seafood-spinach risotto…

20171003_191937977_iOS

Wishing you Happy Travels in Italy, and I do hope you get to SIrmione…

CLICK HERE for more SIRMIONE Info

 

 

 

 

GOLDEN DAYS ON THE ISLAND OF PONZA

These beautiful summer days have me dreaming back to days on the island of Ponza, aka The Roman Capri…The 7km squiggle off the coast of Lazio may look minor on the map,…

Susan Van Allen, Ponza, Italy Travel, Women's Travel, Solo Travel, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

but Ponza has long been a major summertime paradise for pleasure-seeking Romans. Its port is one of the most enchanting in the Mediterranean, where travelers can hop on boats for rides around a dramatic rocky coastline, stopping to sun and swim at dreamy beach coves and indulge in fresh seafood at rustic eateries.

Ponza, Italy Travel, Solo Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

Unlike Capri and so many other popular Italian summertime destinations, Ponza remains truly Italian, folksy, and budget-friendly. Spicy history adds to its allure: Homer wrote that Circe lived here and seduced Odysseus to stay for a year, Pontius Pilot bred moray eels in the island’s caves, and it was a place of exile for naughty empresses and Fascists, including Mussolini.

We reached it by ferry boat from the Lazio port town of Formia, (www.laziomar.it — Slow boat takes 2-1/2 hours, fast boat = 1 hour 20 minutes), arrived, and checked into the nearby Piccolo Hotel Luisa…

Ponza, Susan Van Allen, Italy Travel, Women's Travel

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

Where Luisa, her mamma and bambina were a delight…

Ponza, Susan Van Allen, Italy Travel, Women's Travel, Italy, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

And breakfasts delizioso…

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

The best way to explore is by boat…We hopped one for the closest beach, Frontone…

Susan Van Allen, Ponza, Italy Travel, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

Where Enzo served us the most fantastic grilled tuna…

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

An easy bus ride along a winding road took us to Piscine Naturali…

Ponza, Italy Travel, Women's Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

where it was glorious to swim in natural pools formed by the rocks…

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

The most amazing/blissful experience was boating around the island, thanks to Barcaioli Ponza, gasping at the rock formations…Pilates Grottos…

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

The ever-changing colors of the sea…

Ponza, Susan Van Allen, Italy Travel, Women's Travel, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

with a stop on the beach of nearby Palmarola island…

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

While we were swimming, the boat’s captain made pasta, to eat on board in the shade of a cove, a natural cathedral…

Susan Van Allen, Italy Travel, Ponza, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

There were perfect evenings at the harbor for sunset cocktails…

Ponza, ITaly Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

AND the most extraordinary dinner by starlight at Ristorante Eea…

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, Women's Travel, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

Ponza, Italy Travel, Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

I hope you get to this Paradise soon…

Susan Van Allen, Italy Travel, Ponza, Women's Travel, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO: PRO LOCO PONZA 

AND more extraordinary places to visit in 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go…

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on GOLDEN DAYS ON THE ISLAND OF PONZA

GOLDEN E-MAIL FROM VENICE

Each of us have special things in our lives that rock our worlds. For me, it’s when I meet my readers in person or get an email like this one, telling me how my advice brought joy to their trip to Italy.
Katy and Mark are travelers I met at the New York Times Travel Show in January. They bought 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, followed my Golden Day advice on their recent trip to Venice…and had an extraordinary, personal experience–even at the height of tourist season!
Here’s what they wrote…
We took your suggestions and visited Santa Maria Della Salute, taking us to the Dorsoduro section, an area we hadn’t explored but loved because it was so less crowded.
Santa Maria Salute, VeniceSalute Altar
And we also went on the hunt for the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, again taking us to a neighborhood we hadn’t been to. As you described, it was an absolute treasure and a bit of a miracle that we found it!
Santa Maria Miracoli, Venice
We admired it from the outside and then soaked up every inch inside as we shared the church with just one other couple.
Santa Maria Miracoli, Venice
Ceiling Detail

Ceiling Detail

Santa Maria Miracoli, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go
By the time we left the church we were ready for lunch. Following your Golden Day suggestion we set out to find Fiaschetteria Toscana. If this was Marcella Hazan’s favorite Venice restaurant we knew we would be in for a real treat. And it did not disappoint! We ate outside in the little square across from the restaurant, enjoying a delicious lunch.
VENICE - FIASCHETTERIA TOSCANA
At the end of our meal I went inside the restaurant to use the restroom and mentioned to the waiter how we happened upon the restaurant and showed them the paragraph in your book. The waiter suggested that I repeat the story to the owner, which I did. The owner thanked me and told me that his wife was friends with Marcella and with that she appeared at his side. Her husband then repeated the story to her and she confirmed that Marcella was her friend and she thanked me profusely for coming to the restaurant. 
I returned to my table and shared the story with my husband as we finished up our wine. A few minutes later, the owners wife appeared at our table with an envelope of photos with her & Marcella. She then proceeded to tell me that she and Marcella had been friends since they were little girls. She told me that she was a treasured friend and that she missed her dearly. She then showed me a copy of Marcella’s first cookbook, which Marcella had autographed for her. She thanked me again for coming to the restaurant and sharing the piece in your book with her. She said that I had brought back her friend, in doing so. At that point I had to hold back my tears. It was such a wonderful, heart-warming experience, that all happened because of your Golden Day tip. This happened, a week ago Friday, and was the highlight of our time back in Venice. 
I just had to share this with you!!!
Many thanks,
Katy & Mark  Petrochko
***************************
Grazie Mille to you, Katy and Mark, and to all you readers out there who’ve shared with me your Golden Day experiences!  You are an inspiration as I return and discover more and more of Italy’s boundless treasures and wonderful natives.
CLICK HERE for the latest edition of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go…
Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel
Buon Viaggio!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on GOLDEN E-MAIL FROM VENICE

APRIL: Sacred Month of Venus, Goddess of Love and Beauty

Buona Primavera = Happy Spring!

The Romans considered April the Sacred Month of Venus, Goddess of Love, Beauty, Fertility, and Sex…

Her presence is eternal…you see her all over Italy, in sculptures, paintings. You feel her spirit beckoning you to lighten up, enjoy all the flavors and pleasures…Here in the Uffizi in Florence is the Botticelli painting of her being born from the sea…Botticelli's Birth of Venus at the Uffizi, Florence

The Romans believed they were the chosen descendants of this beauty. As Virgil wrote in the Aeneid, it was Venus who seduced a Greek mortal and thus became the grandmother of Romulus and Remus, those twins suckled by a she-wolf on Rome’s Palatine Hill, who founded the Eternal City. Here she is in Rome’s Capitoline Museum, in her own private niche..

Italy Travel, Women's Travel, Women's Tours to Italy,Here she is in the Naples Archaeological Museum, as Venus of the Beautiful Buttocks…

Susan Van Allen, Women's Tours to Italy, Italy Travel, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should GoHere she is in The House of Venus, Pompeii — FINALLY opened after restoration, a Must-See!

Susan Van Allen, Women's Tours to Italy, Italy Travel, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should GoIt’s no wonder Italy brings us such happiness, with this Goddess in charge!

For more places where Venus, her sister Goddesses, Madonnas, and heroines are adored…check out 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go…

Susan Van Allen, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Women's Travel

 

 

 

 

BUDGET TIPS FROM NEW YORK TIMES TRAVEL SHOW…DISCOVER ITALY 2017

Ciao Amici!
Happy to tell you that the 6th year of the Discover Italy panel at the New York Times Travel Show was a huge success. We: me, Kathy McCabe of Dream of Italy, Beth Rubin of Select Italy, Brandon Shaw (The Roman Guy), and Kenny Dunn (Eating Europe Tours)–loved sharing our experience and travel advice with the packed house of Italy enthusiasts….
Susan Van Allen, Italy Travel, Women's Tours to Italy, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

It was such a fun, informative session, full of laughs, and great questions from the audience, that ended with us sharing some tips on how to save money. We’re all ears when it comes to that!

*Book your train tickets early (for the big city to big city routes). Like plane fares, prices go up the closer you purchase to departure. And go ahead and ride 2nd class–there’s not such a big difference between 1st & 2nd on Italian trains. Check out http://www.trenitalia.it or http://www.italotreno.it to reserve.
*Rent a manual car–automatics are so much more expensive! Go to http://www.autoeurope.com for sales…
*Stay at an agriturismo  (working farm), which immerses you in Italian rural life…with prices that may start around 30euros, including meals! Here’s a great way to start searching: http://www.agriturismo.it
*Get in on the Aperitivo tradition. Many bars and restaurants in Italian towns and cities offer a “Appy Hour” where a free buffet (salamis, cheeses, etc) can be enjoyed for the price of one cocktail. You’ll notice signs for them as you wander around…
*Go South! Excluding the Amalfi Coast, hotels and restaurants in southern Italy, places like Naples, Puglia, Calabria, and Sicily are much lower priced than northern Italy.

AND, lucky for us, as of today 1euro = $1.07 — the lowest it’s been in years!
Time to book your trip…
Wishing you all Happy 2017 Italy travels, and hope to meet you next year at The Show!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BUDGET TIPS FROM NEW YORK TIMES TRAVEL SHOW…DISCOVER ITALY 2017

GOLDEN DAY 133: Matera, Part Two…The Prehistoric Side

As amazing as it is to see the side of Matera that has been continuously inhabited and is being revitalized…on the other side of the ravine is the chance to see the Prehistoric Caves of Matera…

matera-italy-2Especially with Michelantelo Camardo, who lives in the Sassi and is passionate about the exploration of this natural treasure…

Michelangelo Camardo

Along with us was Antonella and expert guide Cesare, who opened the door to this church built into the rock, Cristo La Selva..where musical concerts are held during the summer season…

MATERA-PREHISTORIC WITH CESARE

CRISTO LA SELVAAnd further along was this fantastic grotto…and place for a picnic…20160526_142858508_iOS

AND if you’re looking for a great B&B in Matera, my fabulous friend, Travel and Destination Wedding Photographer Johanna Jacobson of Ambient Image, has this advice for La Corte dei Pastori:

Susan Van Allen, Women's Travel, Basilicata, Italy, Italy Travel

I loved this little gem carved into a cave.  It’s located in the Sassi, next to some great restaurants, but nevertheless super quiet and private.  Zero humidity issues even though you are sleeping in a cave.  You would never know one of the top tourist attractions is a church “rupestre” located just above your heads. It’s well worth upgrading to the larger suite and calling them directly to book – they upgraded us for very little with a better price than online booking sites.  The location is quiet and stunning.  The owners are “real” Italians – in fact if you don’t speak any Italian it could be a bit difficult to communicate regarding parking or locating the B&B, but it’s worth it.  Parking is a bit tricky – you can park for a few hours nearby in the actual Sassi to unload your things and then you’ll likely have to park about 10 minutes away in a lot.

Grazie always to all of you who lead me to hidden treasures of bell’Italia!

P.S.–If you’re planning a destination wedding in Italy, check out http://www.ambientimage.com

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on GOLDEN DAY 133: Matera, Part Two…The Prehistoric Side

Buona Befana!

Buona Befana!
befanaTonight’s the night this dear signora rides through the night sky, sweeping away last year’s troubles with her broom, bringing in a Bright Happy New Year to All!

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Letters from Italy, that tells my story of celebrating the holiday in Rome…
Postcard from Rome: The Legend of La Befana*

“There is no Santa Claus in Italy,” my Nana told me when I was a kid. I had nightmares of how awful Christmas must be over there. Nana said she had to wait until January 6, The Feast of the Epiphany, to get gifts. The presents came from an old crone with a hairy mole on her chin who rode around on a broom. She was called La Befana.

Many years later, I’m in Rome’s Piazza Navona, at the Epiphany Fair. It’s two weeks after Christmas, but the holiday celebration is still in full swing. Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers is surrounded by stands covered in twinkling white lights, selling sweets, ornaments, and roasted pork sandwiches.

Nowadays, there is Santa Claus in Italy. They call him Babbo Natale. Figures of him (skinnier than our version) hang off the booths. But he’s far outnumbered by La Befanas—that witch of my childhood nightmares. There’s no escaping her in the piazza—she appears in the form of thimble-sized clay totems, stuffed dolls with scary grins, and there’s even a signora in costume, cackling and waving her broom at Italian bambini who look up at her in awe.
befana-4Tonight, January 5, I tell my husband, is La Befana’s special night.

“The HORROR,” he whispers.

Actually, once you get to know the Legend of La Befana, you might warm up to her.

La Befana, like my Nana, was famous for spending her days in the kitchen, cooking and sweeping. On the first Christmas, the Magi stopped by her house, asking directions to Bethlehem. She made them dinner and they told her, “We’re going to see the Christ child, want to come along?”  “Impossible,” she replied. “There are all these dishes to wash and the kitchen to sweep!” So the kings went on their way. Then, as the old woman was sweeping, it hit her: Did those guys say they were going to see Jesus?
befana_category
She ran out of her cottage with her broom to follow them, but… no kings in sight. She kept running, until her broom lifted her into the air. Ever since, La Befana has flown through the night sky on the Eve of the Epiphany, delivering goodies to children, hoping one of them is the Christ child.

Anticipation is in the Piazza Navona air, as kids hurry home to hang stockings and set out a glass of wine for La Befana. She knows no child has been perfect all year, so tomorrow morning they’ll find their stockings filled with a mix of treats: coal (actually delicious black rock candy), maybe onions, olive oil… and finally they’ll dig to the bottom and find chocolates and caramels.

Who could not adore this ordinary woman, caught in the midst of her ordinary world, suddenly struck by The Epiphany, dropping everything to run and be a part of it?

I flash on my friends in Los Angeles, who have already hauled their trees out to the curb and are back at work, feeling guilty about weight they’ve gained from holiday partying.

We don’t feel guilty at all. We’re in Rome and we do as the Romans do. We slip into Tre Scalini, and order tartufo–-crunchy chocolate ice cream encrusted in hard chocolate.

The nightmares Nana gave me so long ago are gone. We buy our Los Angeles friends Befanas, wanting to share with them the spirit of this Christmastime bonus; wanting them to believe as Italians believe, as we believe: that La Befana will fly through the sky tonight, sweeping away last year’s troubles with her broom, bringing us the hope of a sweeter, brighter new year. Anything is possible….

************************

AUGURI!!
WISHING YOU ALL A JOYOUS 2016!

*Excerpted from Letters from Italy: Confessions, Adventures, and Advice 

Letters-from-Italy-coverLGAvailable on Amazon and Audible

 

Golden Day 128: Pietro Navarra in Porto Cervo, Sardinia

Pietros italyA few year’s back, I had the pleasure of meeting Pietro Navarra in Los Angeles. He’d been in a bookstore, found 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, and liked it so much (I love that Men enjoy it too!), that he wrote to me and said we should meet so I could sign his copy. A delicious dinner at Terroni followed, where I found out about Pietro’s Italy — his wonderful Italian travel company that combines his passions for Italy and the USA. Having grown up in Bologna and traveled in Italy extensively, Pietro creates customized itineraries for travelers, bringing to each one his unique personal touch. His fans call him Mr. Italy, and have come to rely on Pietro’s Italy for their exclusive business trips, personal journeys, or honeymoons, which are unanimously praised as luxurious experiences that immerse travelers in the Wonders of Italy.

I’m so grateful Pietro has joined in to give advice for a Golden Day in Porto Cervo, one of the most exquixite places on the Costa Smerelda (northern Emerald Coast) of Sardinia:

One of the best beaches in Porto Cervo is Romazzino Beach, located towards the north-east of Sardinia’s Emerald Coast. If you want to relax or engage in water activities like diving and snorkeling, you can do it here. Like most of the coastline, the sand here is fine and white, and the water is green and blue. The beach is quite safe, so even families with children can enjoy this beach. For a perfect beach picnic, get some cheese, bread and a delightful bottle of Sardinian wine, and simply relax in these beautiful surroundings.

c4de3ca81cd6992e0622df886154073cOne of the must-visits in the area is the small town of Santa Teresa di Gallura. This is a small town and quiet spot, perfect for those who want to get away from the crowds of Porto Cervo. Most of the town’s attractions can be reached on foot. The beaches are beautiful and ideal for swimming. A short walk will bring visitors to Capo Testa, where there are beaches full of beautiful rock formations. For a more spectacular view, visitors should walk to the edge of Santa Teresa di Gallura, which overlooks the sea and town.c8baa3347480d00193e84f5cdaf0bc57For those who want a fun night out, partying at the Phi Beach is a must! Located in front of Porto Cervo’s 18th century naval fortress, this is one of the best places to enjoy great music, refreshing drinks and delicious food. This is an open-air club that has outdoor bars, making it unique and exciting. During the day, the space is used as a beach club for the hotel nearby. But when the sun sets, it is turns into a free form dance floor where some of the best DJs spin their tracks. Phi Beach Club also has a restaurant that serves Mediterranean dishes and grilled seafood.imagesAn important landmark in Porto Cervo is Capo Ferro. This is a high section of rocky terrain that projects from the sea. It also has a lighthouse on top, ensuring that the rocks are visible during the day or night. Capo Ferro is the first indication that visitors are reaching the town, and this makes it a must-visit attraction in Porto Cervo. Visitors should hire a boat and take it to Capo Ferro. Capo Ferro provides a wonderful view of the sea, along with a glorious view of the town and surrounding areas.ec65e571a5c3324a02bb0b3243ca7b39Stop by Stella Maris Church, This is one of the few historical and architectural sites in Porto Cervo. The church is built in a panoramic area, and is an excellent example of Porto Cervo’s architecture. The interior and exterior of the Stella Maris Church capture the best spirit of Mediterranean art. The church plays host to many classical music concerts, which visitors should experience if they get the chance.Porto-Cervo_Church
If you love dining in an open space with a superb view and excellent food, go to Aqua Bar and Restaurant (Porto Cervo Marina, 07891832033). It’s popular among locals for its magnificent location, where you can admire the Porto Cervo harbor. Customers love to sit by the terrace while sipping their favorite drinks. The beauituful interiors of the restaurant complement the natural background of the sea. It is open daily until 2:00a.m.

CaptureAnother delightful place to eat, a stone’s throw from Porto Cervo, is the Spinnaker Restaurant (07021 Liscia di Vacca, 0789 91226). For thirty years the Spinnaker is a historic meeting place for the Costa Smeralda. You’ll find a convivial place in the restaurant area, where you can sit in the garden terrace or in the cozy dining room overlooking the sea. Here you can enjoy fresh seafood, meats of the best cuts, homemade pasta of Emilian tradition and delicious pizzas cooked in a wood oven. The caffe is a also a popular meeting point, and here you will find the most famous breakfast of the coast.y9e0314-editA wonderful place to stay is Hotel Pitrizza,  an intimate luxurious property, overlooking yet another beautiful view of white sand beaches and turquoise water.Hotel-Pitrizza-Sardinia

 

 GRAZIE MILLE, Mr. Italy! As these cold winter days approach, Porto Cervo is a beautiful place to be dreaming about…and planning to visit!

Golden Day 127: Gennargentu Park, Lunch with a Shepherd, Sardinia

Gennargentu6Memories of a Golden Day at Gennargentu Park, Sardinia…The park is on the eastern edge of the island, home to the region’s largest mountain range, that stretches out in breath-taking silence.

SARDINIAJEEPOur gang got escorted up in jeeps on a rocky path above a gorge to reach a shepherd’s hut.

SHEPHERDANDRICOTTOThere, shepherd Giovanni, who’s been tending his flocks for 50 of his 67 years, roasted meats, spooned fresh ricotta out of a big metal pot onto thin, crisp Sardinian bread (Carasau), and topped it off with a drizzle of honey from hives kept near the spring below. I could have stayed there just eating that ricotta for the rest of my happy life.

Then out came some surprise desserts…

Sardinia, Susan Van Allen, Golden Days in Italy

We sat on picnic benches, over the gorge, listening to birdsongs and savoring the air, the flavors, the quiet, the view.

The whole adventure was the perfect combo of simple/delicious/spectacular.

Click here for more info re how to have such a Golden Day Experience.

Buon Viaggio!

Golden Day 125: Ogliastra with Alexandra Redmond of Yoga in Sardinia

alexandraredmond_1391250971_43We’re grateful to have Alexandra Redmond join us to give her expert advice about Ogliastra in eastern Sardinia.  Alexandra is a lover of nature, a vegan, and a yoga  teacher, who moved to the paradise of Sardinia from Brighton, UK. In 2009 she blended her love for the island with her longtime practice of yoga and meditation, and created Yoga in Sardinia, a non-profit organization that offers travelers Yoga and Mediation classes and retreats in Sardinia and an online Stress Management Course for those that can’t attend in person.

We’re grateful she’s joining in with us to share her advice for a Golden Day in Ogliastra:

unnamed

Here are a few great sights within driving distance of Ogliastra for you to choose from…

 Nuraghe Serbissi – wonderful Nuraghe with caves that run underneath the site and English speaking guides. You need a car to reach it or you can book an excursion as it is a little out of the way and off the beaten track, but it is a stunning site to visit in the heart of the Tacchi D’Oglisatra.
Serbissi 1
 Grotta su Marmuri(Piazzale Grotte sui Marmuri,08040,0782 79859)– spectacular caves and there is usually an English speaking guide. Bring warm shoes and a jacket, it’s 10 degrees in the caves and that is cold when you’ve been in the 30 degree heat of the Sardinian sun!
5
 Baia Cea(Localita Marina di Cea, 08042 Bari Sardo) A stunning beach with red rock formations jutting from the water. The sea is clear and warm, the beach is fine white sand. It is well serviced with bars and easy to reach by car. Best to visit May, June or September as it gets really busy in August.
cea.ht19
11667850_10153934251787656_442792550_n
Cascate di Coccorrocci(Viale Mons. Virgilio n. 91, 0782221070)
If you are looking for total peace and quiet, take a lovely short walk here to some really pretty, gentle waterfalls and pools. It’s a great place for some silent meditation and contemplation away from all the crowds. You can park at the Campsite and take a walk from there (about 3km on fairly flat terrain) or you can drive directly to within 400m of the waterfalls, however the road is a little terrifying if you are not used to single track lanes with a steep drop!
11696751_10153934210192656_1501152793_n (1)
For refreshment, go to Baia Cea Bar(Via Alessandro Manzoni, 18, Girasole Provincia dell’Ogliastra,3396337171) behind the palm leaf umbrellas you’ll discover a cool, shaded oasis where the breeze from the sea and views of the red rocks is amazing. Here you can get coffee, apertivo, bar snack, gelato and a wonderful, healing massage with a stunning sea view! Order a refreshing Aperol Spritz or a cool Sardinian Ichnusa and book an aromatherapy massage with a Reiki Master to iron out those tension spasms and tired, achy muscles.
11652191_10153934228642656_1381060267_n
You can enjoy a great meal and stay at the 4-star Abatasar Hotel(Via Porto Frailis, 11)- where they have vegetarian and vegan menus, as well as coeliac options. As always in Sardinia, (as long as you are not vegan), order the Curlugiones which are pasta parcels filled with mint, potato and pecorino cheese, drizzled with tomato sauce and for dessert order the Sebadas (gluten free versions are usually available if you ask)…two local and traditional Sardinian specialities. Vegans visiting Sardinia generally should try to let any restaurants know in advance, they will be able to offer you something lovely, fresh and vibrant, but Sardinians are not generally well versed with the vegan diet and may need a bit of time to think about it!
hotel-arbatasar-arbatax_ristorante-veranda-51
Or check into the Galanias Hotel and Retreat(Via Belvedere 08042, 78229972) – a lovely hotel 4km from Bari Sardo town, within half a kilometre of the beach of Bari Sardo, which has a Saracen Tower and is the start of a stretch of beach that spans down past Cardedu to Perda Pera, about 8km of beach. They have a fantastic restaurant with seating by the gently lit pool, and the views from the terraces towards the beach and tower are stunning.
11655402_10153934210157656_425059156_n 11696813_10153934210107656_2009752482_n
 Grazie Alexandra, for your beautiful advice for this amazing destination!
 

1 2