Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Golden Times Driving in Val d’Orcia, Tuscany

View from our window in San Quirico d’Orcia…

Susan Van Allen's Italy, Val d'Orcia, Women's Tours ItalyOUR meaning me and my two sisters. We’d not traveled together since our days as Jersey Girls when Daddy would be at the wheel of the Country Squire Station Wagon and we’d go from West Long Branch, New Jersey to the beach at Cape May where the sand was LIKE AN ASHTRAY!
MANY years later, we rendezvoused at the Rome airport and picked up the keys to a gem-of-a- White Volkswagen from Auto Europe. What I love about this company is that they are partnered with the best car rental places all over Italy, so you get a range of choices for models, the best prices, and always great customer service. As we headed south to our home base of San Quirico Val d’Orcia, I started out driving–
20151013_103145190_iOSBut soon our roles became clear:
Older sister Pam, Driver. Younger Sister Patti, navigator, sometimes driver. Susan Van Allen, Auto EuropeAnd ME in back seat gasping and making sure we pulled over plenty to stop, get out, and take it all in.

Susan Van Allen, Auto EuropeSusan Van Allen, Auto Europe

Having a car is key to discovering the Val d’Orcia, an area so beautiful it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Close to our San Quirico base, was the spa town of Bagno Vignoni, beloved by Romans in Imperial Days–AND it is said Saint Catherine herself took the waters there…
Susan Van Allen, Auto EuropeWe soaked nearby the main square at the Hotel Posta Marcucci==PERFECT stop for a morning of bliss…
Susan Van Allen, Auto EuropeA half hour drive away, we had decliciousness at the revered Osteria La Porta in Montichiello, where Daria Capelli reigns over one of Italy’s best restaurants. The ravioli, garnished with black truffle shavings is legendary.
Susan Van Allen, Osteria Porta, Auto EuropeWe drove over to the hamlet of Montefollonico to take a delightful class at Tuscan Women Cook, where we learned the art of making traditional pici=thick spaghetti from a local signora.
20151012_104802760_iOSWe visited the award-winning Casato Prime Donne winery in Montalcino. It’s entirely run by women and besides the fabulous Brunello wine, there is stunning artwork in the vineyards.
Susan Van AllenOf the many highlights, there was hearing the monk’s chant at Sant’Antimo abbey
20151013_110543370_iOSBuying the best pecorino cheese in Pienza…
20151016_143638787_iOSAnd joining in on the sunset passeggiata along the edge of Pienza’s wall:
THE BALCONY OF VAL D’ORCIA! Where those roads below beckoned us…

20151016_145602379_iOS

For More…
Auto Europe, Susan Van Allen

 

 

 

 

New Book! September Travel Journal Writing Workshop

 Coming in October…A New Book!

50PlacesRomeFlorVen_PGW

Women’s Travel, Italy Travel, Rome, Florence, Venice

 
Following the critically acclaimed 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Susan Van Allen adds new gems to her selection of the best spots for female travelers in Italy’s most popular cities, (Rome, Florence, and Venice), along with enticing Golden Day itineraries to make vacation dreams come true.

Like a savvy traveler girlfriend whispering in your ear, she guides readers to masterpieces where women are glorified — from Rome’s Pieta to Florence’s Birth of Venus, best spots for wine tasting, chocolate, and gelato, artisan shopping experiences to meet leather craftsmen or glass blowers, and places for adventures — from rolling pasta to rowing like a gondolier. Plus, there are fresh, practical tips, giving readers insider’s secrets for what to pack, the best places to get their hair styled, and how to bargain for souvenirs.

Whatever your mood or budget, whether it’s your first or 21st visit to Italy, 50 Places in Rome, Florence, and Venice Every Woman Should Go opens the door to extraordinary experiences that fully immerse travelers in the beautiful, fascinating, and delicious pleasures of the Bel Paese.
Click here to read an Excerpt and Pre-Order Now!

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

AND…

Travel Journal Workshop with Susan Van Allen

VF1_1753

Saturday, September 6, 10am-1pm

Glendale Community College
$35
Click HERE for Information and Registration

A blank travel journal can become the most treasured souvenir of your trip. You can fill it with emotional snapshots–from expectations, to first impressions, to surprising discoveries. When you pick it up years later, this journal transports you back years and across miles. It reveals the truth of your experience, with all its twists, turns, and intimate details.

This fun, interactive, workshop includes:

*Guidance to create a journal that suits your trip and unique style
*Writing exercises to get creative juices flowing
*Inspiration to focus your journal, so your trip becomes more personally fulfilling
*AND, if you want to travel write for publications, this is an essential first step

Writers and Travelers of all levels are welcome 

Andiamo!

Golden Day 112: Bologna with Audrey Burke of Ciao Bologna

unnamedIt was delightful to discover Ciao Bologna, the blog of an American expat couple, Audrey and Luke, who have been living in Bologna for two years.  In Audrey’s words: “I left my corporate job in the networking industry to follow a handsome biomedical engineer to Italy, where he was sent for a work assignment.  Living in Italy has kindled my passion for good food and its power to build community and healthy food cultures.  In my free time, I volunteer with Slow Food Bologna, work on organic farms through WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), linger in Bologna’s farmers’ markets, and enjoy traveling Italy to try each region’s unique cuisine.  I’ve also been exploring my family’s Italian roots (my great-grandma is from Molise and my great-grandpa from Calabria) and I’m in the process of applying for Italian dual citizenship.

Ciao Bologna showcases Audrey’s passion for discovery, including beautiful photos and such great posts as Best Gelaterias in Bologna and a Day in Modena. I’m thrilled she’s joined in to share her advice for A Golden Day in Bologna:

I feel lucky to have landed in Bologna, often named as one of the most livable cities in Italy. Bologna is a medieval city, home to monumental dishes like tagliatelle al ragù, tortellini in brodo, and lasagna alla bolognese.

lasagne-alla-bolognese-HEM1Photo from http://www.myunox.com

It’s also a modern and progressive city with a gastronomic revolution in full swing. Here I offer up a Golden Day in Bologna that offers up a mix of old and new; one that includes options for lighter fare, takes you outdoors, and gives you a sense of Bologna’s fresh flair.

Start out at Fram Cafè (via Rialto, 22/c, 3334355545 – Closed Sat morning and Sun), a cozy cafe owned by mother-daughter duo Elena and Nicole.

604027_10152114672441236_1172851411_n

Next, walk to Piazza Santo Stefanomy favorite piazza in the city.  Find a sunny spot to sit along one of the ledges and take in the scene.

Piazza Santo Stefano

Check out the Basilica di Santo Stefano, also known as Sette Chiese (seven churches) because it was seven churches connected; four remain today.  Legend goes that Dante spent time here in 1287 and characters in his Divine Comedy were inspired by the capitals in the cloister courtyard.

unnamed

Next, stroll the city’s famous historic market quarter, the Quadrilatero, to oogle at fresh produce, prosciutto, and cheese.  Check out famous shops: Atti, Tamburini, and Simoni and the grocery and cookbook sections of Eataly.  Stock up on souvenirs: I like the 10 year-old slightly sweet balsamic from Gilberto (they do tastings on request).

img_7045

Here are some ideas for lunch:

La Baita (Via Pescherie Vecchie 3a – Closed Sun,051223940) where they serve meat and cheese plates by region: Emilia, Romagna, Toscana, and more.

La-Baita-Formaggi-007

Prima della Pioggia (Via de’ Falegnami, 14 ,051271296), a bright bistro where Mediterranean flavors meet modern English influences.

Primadellapioggia 2

After lunch, enjoy an outdoor spot, such as Giardini Margherita, just outside Porta Castiglione.  Walk the mile loop around the park, plant yourself in the grass, or grab a bench for some people watching.

unnamed

Or there is Parco Villa Ghighi, a tranquil park in the hills with a great view of Bologna’s city center.  Walk to Porta San Mamolo, cross the boulevard, continue to the second branch street called San Mamolo (you’ll see bus stop 29-Villa Ghigi; you can pick up the 29-B bus on Via Rizzoli).  The branch street takes you into the park.  Walk up hill until you find a good view.

untitled

If you’re in the mood for gelato, go to La Sorbetteria (Via Castiglione 44, Closed Monday, 051233257). Or try the Cavour, made with bits of pastry crust and Amalfi lemons, at Cremeria Funivia (Piazza Cavour, 1/d, Closed Monday,0516569365). Their pink grapefruit (pompelmo rosa) and almond (mandorla) granita are also excellent choices.

unnamed

If the afternoon is young, check out Bologna’s gorgeous history museum in Palazzo Pepoli (Via Castiglione 8, Closed Mon). The displays are in Italian but English audio guides are available. I recommend the second floor, which covers more recent history.

Museo_Palazzo_Pepoli_by_Peter_Zullo_04-592x393Photo by Peter Zullo http://www.nuok.it

Now you have a choice of wonderful places for aperitivo…

Camera a Sud (Via Valdonica 5, 051 0951448 ), a bar with a hipster-vintage vibe serving food and drink in the ex-Jewish Ghetto. Go early or reserve a table.

unnamed

or

Enoteca Italiana (Via Marsala 2b, 051 235989), a wine shop/bar where you can grab vino with a plate of meat and cheese. I recommend local favorites pignoletto frizzante (a sparkling white wine) or Sangiovese (red wine).

1-2-FULL

Here are some ideas for dinner:

For meat eaters and traditional Bolognese cuisine: Go to Vicolo Colombina (Vicolo Colombina 5/b, 051233919 ), just steps from the main piazza, Piazza Maggiore. People rave about their lasagne alla bolognese and torta di riso.

1

 

For seafood and vegetarian: Head to Sale Grosso (Vicolo De’ Facchini 4, 051 231721 -Closed Sun-Mon)

sale-grosso

 

Stay at Hotel Touring (Via De’ Mattuiani 1/2, 051 584305). They have a rooftop terrace with a 360° view of Bologna’s skyline of red roofs. In the spring and summer, you can have breakfast or aperitvo on the terrace; there’s also a jacuzzi!

hotel_bologna_rooftop_patio_jacuzzi2-1024x640

 

Here are some other tips:

From June 20 – August 14, there’s free outdoor movies at night in the city’s main piazza, Piazza Maggiore.

On weekends and holidays the city shuts down two perpendicular streets in the heart of the city center (via Rizzoli and via Indipendenza) allowing pedestrians to enjoy a leisurely stroll.

Don’t forget to take a gander at the Due Torri, Bologna’s twin towers–they are hard to miss!

Due%20Torri-2

 

Grazie mille Audrey! I hope to meet you when I return to Bologna….soon!

Click here for the Bologna Tourism Site

Share Your Golden Moment In Italy, Past or Future…And Win A Book!

As we approach Thanksgiving, there is much to be grateful for!
To Celebrate,  We’re Giving
To Commenters,  Selected in a RANDOM DRAWING  

TEN BOOKS ABOUT ITALY AND A
SUBSCRIPTION TO THE DREAM OF ITALY NEWSLETTER  


 TO PLAY:
Complete This Sentence In The Comment Section Below:
One Golden Moment in Italy for me was __________
OR
One Golden Moment in Italy for me will be _________

Write the first thing that comes to your mind,  for example:
–Tasting that panino–prosciutto and ripe fig–that morning in the Campo dei Fiori
or
–Seeing Titian’s Assumption for the first time
or
–Soaking in that outdoor thermal tub in Bormio, surrounded by the  snow-covered Dolomites, that my friend Sara keeps raving about!

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

ONE OF THESE
THANKSGIVING GIFTS
COULD BE YOURS…

(From Yours Truly and the  Wonderful Authors
Who’ve Shared their Golden Days In Italy On This Blog)

 


Marcus of Umbria:
What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl About Love,
   by Justine van der Leun,
(Golden Day 36: Todi and Surroundings) 

 

My Adventures In The Land of Tomatoes, by Meagan Brown,
(Golden Day 19: Florence)

 

Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen,
A Cookbook by Judy Witts-Francini,
(Golden Day 16: Florence) 

 

 Cafe Life Venice:
A Guide to the Cafes and Bacari of La Serenissima
,
by Joe Wolff, photographs by Roger Paperno were seen in
(Golden Day 22: Venice)

Dream of Italy, Newsletter Subscription for 2011,
edited by Kathy McCabe,
(Golden Day 31: Umbria)

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

They all make lovely gifts

 DEADLINE: MIDNIGHT, THANKSGIVING, NOVEMBER 25

Random Drawing and Winner Announcements will be on BLACK FRIDAY, November 26
You may win a book  to give to an  Italophile in your life
Or it may be your first present of the season!

We look forward to reading your Golden Moments In Italy—
 Grazie for playing!
 Open to commenters worldwide,
One comment per person, per favore
 
To Add Your Golden Moment, Look Below and Click on ##Comments…