Posts Tagged ‘Women’s Travel’

NEW EDITION – 100 Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go

susan-van-allen-Italy-Florence-100-Places-Every-Woman-Should-GoCiao Amici!
I’m so grateful that 2016 included the release of the Third Edition of “100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go.” Wonderful surprises have come into my life since this book first hit the stands in 2009. It’s been thrilling to hear from travelers who enjoyed discovering new places and experiences through its pages, and that the book added so much fun to their Italian travels.

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

Here’s a Sneak Preview/Excerpt…
It’s the Perfect Gift for the Italophile in your life…
AVAILABLE at your Local Bookstore, AMAZON, and BARNES & NOBLE

PREFACE

I fell in love with Italy at a dining room table in Newark, New Jersey. It was Nana and Papa’s dining room, my maternal grandparents—immigrants from Southern Italy. The walls were painted in a pale-rose stenciled pattern, the table spread with an ivory-colored lace cloth. On the mahogany sideboard sat a soccer-ball-sized jar of wild cherries marinating in syrup, next to a Capodimonte lamp, with porcelain figures of fancy ladies in flouncy dresses fanning themselves under the shade. A soprano on the hi-fi sang “Un Bel Di Vedremo”—“One Beautiful Day We’ll See Each Other.”

Nana, with her apron tied up under her marshmallow-baggie arms, lit the candles. My mother and aunts carried in platters heavy with mozzarella, roasted peppers, shiny black olives, steaming bowls of macaroni. I sat propped up on a telephone book, clinking my tumbler of half-red wine/half-water along with the grown-ups toasting, “Salute!” By the time the feasts were finished, the candles had burnt to their bottoms, dripping onto the lace cloth. Papa poured Strega, a golden liqueur, into curvy glasses, and sliced a dome-shaped, slathered-with-whipped-cream rum cake.

This was my first Italy: a big, delicious, loving heart.

Every August Papa would get on a ship to visit his sisters who still lived near Naples. He’d send back postcards of statues and churches. He’d return after Labor Day with beads from Venice, rosaries blessed by the Pope, rocks from Mount Vesuvius.

Italy became magical and mysterious, beckoning me—a billowy cartoon finger wafting out of a pot of bubbling tomato sauce.

When I got there for the first time in 1976, I arrived in Roma Termini with a pack on my back and a bursting anticipation. The trip was a sweltering August blur of standing awestruck in the Sistine Chapel, tasting my first gelato, getting my bottom pinched. Naturally there was romance: on the train I’d met a bel ragazzo named Luciano who’d sat across from me in the compartment. We fell madly in love for forty-eight hours and rendezvoused in the Forum: moonlight, a Chianti bottle with a straw-covered bottom, two nineteen-year-olds singing Beatles songs to each other.

Feeling transformed into a woman of the world, I headed to my Roman cousins where I was embraced with smothering-lovering and seated at their dining room table, coming full circle to my childhood Italy.

The spell was cast. Italy grabbed hold of my heart forever. Over these many years it’s drawn me back, again and again.

Tonight as I’m sitting here in an apartment on Rome’s Piazza Paradiso, way past bedtime, even for Italy, I’m realizing there’s been absolutely no logic to my times here. The trips started off with visits to the major sights in the big cities, but then out went the plans, and instinct flung me to such spots as a classroom near Rome’s Colosseum where I struggled to tackle the subjunctive, a quiet farm road in Puglia surrounded by old olive trees, dancing at the Excelsior in Florence with my husband one New Year’s Eve.

I became the “girlfriend with the lists”—scribbling down places I’d loved visiting and passing them along to my traveling pals. If I was back in the States counting the days till my next trip, I lived in Italy vicariously—knowing that Babs was in Rome seeing all those provocative Bernini sculptures with my notes in hand, Sheila at a glove shop in Florence, Louise drinking wine at my favorite bacaro in Venice.

When the opportunity to write this book came along, so did elation, gratitude, and then a freezing panic. How could I choose 100 out of the infinite pleasures I’d experienced in Bell’Italia? So let’s just get the most obvious fact out of the way: there are more places than any one book could hold. I’ve even left out some of the most obvious—such as the Sistine Chapel, Pisa, and Michelangelo’s David—things well covered in other guidebooks.

In these pages, I’m sharing with you some places from my list of favorites, along with those my savvy Italian and American friends have raved to me about. I’ve put a spotlight on goddesses, the Madonna, female saints, beauties who’ve inspired masterpieces, women who’ve taken power. After all, isn’t the fact that women have been worshipped here for thousands of years one of the reasons we love Italy so much? Though in modern times females haven’t yet triumphed as far as business and political realms go, as Luigi Barzini in The Italians says: “Men run the country, but women run men.” Here where la famiglia is the power source, women are at the core of it.

What about your male traveling partners? They’re likely to enjoy a lot of these places, too, whether it’s a museum, beach, or spots for adventure and learning. Okay, the guys probably won’t be into buying lace in Rapallo, but they’ll certainly enjoy Venus of the Beautiful Buttocks in Naples!

Italy seduces both sexes, with irresistibly feminine appeals. Shaped like a boot we’d love to strut around in, she transforms herself as she transforms travelers. She’s the nurturing mama, the drop-dead-gorgeous vixen, the compassionate spirit. She’s even the unreliable girlfriend who exasperates you with travel snafus, but you forgive her because she’s so darn charming. She’s constantly coaxing, “Come on, lighten up and enjoy my beauties and flavors.”

Treat this book like a cookbook. What do you want a taste of? Botticelli’s Birth of Venus? The best chocolate in Rome? A ceramic painting class in Deruta? A wine therapy spa treatment in the Veneto? Allow your mood to be your guide, savoring the experience Italian style, letting it unfold with an unhurried Old World pace.

To make a full meal of it, I’ve included suggestions for Golden Days—matching a place to a nearby restaurant, just like I do when I send out lists to girlfriends. These are only suggestions, because each of us has our own deeply personal experience of encountering Italy.

But as unique as each encounter is, I’m amazed at always hearing, even from travelers without a drop of Italian blood in them, the same words: “It felt like home.” Home, in the sweeping sense of a place that brings peace and comfort, a place that stirs the soul.

For me, Italy brings back that childhood dining room table feeling. It sneaks up on me now, looking out the window of this apartment in late-night Rome. There’s a light shining on a little Madonna altar across the way, her robe the same rose as those dining room walls. Out of the shadows, from a nearby restaurant, comes a dark-haired signorina, walking as if she absolutely knows she’s a descendant of Venus, with her Adonis—a bel ragazzo in a leather jacket—linked to her side. They stop for a smooch under the Madonna, pressing up against each other as if this was their last night on earth.

Italy, once again, playing an endless beautiful song.

My wish for you is to enjoy her many places of pleasure, wherever your desires lead you to go.

—Susan Van Allen
Rome

 

 

Golden Day 130: Maratea, in Basilicata=My Fatherland!

We’ll continue our Golden Days in the southern region of Basilicata.

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My first visit to this beautiful under-touristed region was random. I had plans to visit my friend Tania of In Italy Tours in Calabria, and found I had a few days gap in my traveling schedule. Sitting with my laptop in Rome, musing over the train route,  inspiration came: Go To Your Pappa Land! My grandfather was born in Basilicata, on a farm in Vaglio, near Potenza, then worked in a pasticceria in Naples before boarding a ship for the American Dream. I have letters he wrote when he’d go back to visit, and a necklace from his sister, my great Aunt Teresa…

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I needed a place to relax, and wanted to be near a beach, so Maratea, Basilicata’s coastal town beckoned. I booked a room at B&B Laino ,set off on the train for Golden Days, and was kindly met at the station by Giovanni, who drove me through town to the enchanting spot…

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I loved breakfasts there under the blue umbrellas, looking out to the sea…

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Overlooking the village, set on a hilltop is a stunning marble statue of Christ, ala Rio de Janeiro…

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I strolled along the beach in the morning…

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And then followed a winding road and zig-zag paths for a walk–the village is oddly spread out, next time I’ll rent a scooter…
Maratea02After an hour, I landed in Maratea’s centro storico, an enchanting place, centered by the Fountain of Sirens…

FontanaSirenaMarateaI had pizza at Bussola, (Via Conte Stefano Rivetti 09 738 6863), which also serves great antipasti.
MARATEA - PIZZERIA BUSSOLABut the best meal of all, right in the central piazza, was at Marianna Pezzulo’s Antichi Sapori, (Via Alessandro Mandarini 29, 33 917 94102), where I met the charming chef in charge…

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Felt at home with faces at neighboring tables,  matches with kids I went to grade school with in New Jersey…

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AND the Sunday dinner was extraordinary, including homemade cavatelli…

20160216_053753651_iOSAfter the long walk back home, came this sunset view…

InfreschidamarateaI dream of returning before too long… AND though I loved B&B Laino, if you’re looking for a more luxurious accommodation, that’s right in line with my female-centric Italy focus, check out La Locanda delle Donne Monache

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Click Here for a story I wrote for Tastes of Italia Magazine about my Maratea experience, including recipes…I hope you get there to taste this delicious place!

Stay tuned for more Golden Days in Basilicata…

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New Book! September Travel Journal Writing Workshop

 Coming in October…A New Book!

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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!

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AND…

Travel Journal Workshop with Susan Van Allen

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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 107: Cosenza with LuLu Bianco of Calabrisella Mia

lu_calabrisellamiaI was immediately charmed when I found Lulu Bianco’s Calabrisella Mia blog. Lulu is a native of Toronto, Canada, and her dear father, who passed away five years ago, was Italian, instilling in her a love for the Bel Paese and its traditions. She picked up and moved to Cosenza a few years ago, and now writes a blog that’s a beautiful mix of her personal journey and a fascinating insider’s look at the town, including such fun things as the We Are Happy…from Cosenza You Tube video that was shot all over Cosenza and went viral!

We’re so glad she’s come along with us to spread the joys of her town, with advice for a Golden Day in Cosenza.

It doesn’t matter where you are in Italy; the best way to start any Golden Day in Italy is with a typical Italian “colazione” (breakfast) of caffé (coffee) and cornetto (croissant).  You not only get to have great coffee and a yummy sugar boost of energy to get you through the day, but you also get to participate in one of Italy’s oldest traditions.  The bar is where most Italians start their day and you will encounter all types of people there.

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I suggest heading to Gran Caffe Renzelli (Corso B. Telesio), in operation since 1805, located in the historical centre.  For a real treat, order a “Varchiglia alla monacale a sweet invented in the 1300s by nuns who at the time had their convent in Cosenza. It has since been handed down through the generations and is this café’s signature sweet.
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Now that we’ve got our sugar boost, let’s head for a walk starting with Piazza 15 Marzo.  In the centre of the Piazza stands a statue of Bernardino Telesio (Italian philosopher) and behind him you’ll find the beautiful Rendano Theatre, which was built in 1887 and named after Cosenza-born Alfonso Rendano, inventor of the “third pedal” on the piano.  Look familiar?  If you’re an Italophile it might because it was made to resemble the world famous La Scala in Milano.

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As you make your way back to the city centre, don’t forget to climb the steps of the Duomo, originally built in the 7th century and visit this remarkable building.  Here you will find a painting of Madonna Del Pilerio (patron saint of Cosenza).  It is believed that she freed Cosenza from the plague in 1576 by taking on the disease herself (which appeared as the stain on her cheek).  The amount of history in this building definitely makes it worth a visit.

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In Southern Italy “si mangia bene” (you eat well) and Cosenza is no exception.  For a traditional Cosentino plate of “lagane e ceci” (pasta with chick peas) go to “Al Vicoletto” (Traversa Francesco Gioia 9-11) a small restaurant tucked away in a side street.  It`s a place frequented by locals and a definite treat for tourists in the know. You can enjoy many local dishes without the inflated prices.

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After all that delicious food, it`s time to walk it off and what better way to do that then on Corso Mazzini.  It’s a large pedestrian area and the `meeting place` for the people of Cosenza.   It is also home to MAB -“Museo all’aperto Bilotti, an open-air museum.  As you walk along Corso Mazzini you can gaze upon the many beautiful art sculptures including “St. George and the Dragon” by Salvador Dali. 

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Usually shops close mid-day during lunch however you can find many shops on Corso Mazzini open if you’d like to do some shopping.  Don’t forget to “pop” into “POP Gelateria” for some delicious gelato.  You will always see people coming in and out of this long-standing establishment!

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 Cosenza is situated near the Sila Mountains, which is a perfect way to escape the heat and get some fresh air. A great place to visit in particular is Camigliatello Silano with its main hub located inside the Sila National Park.  You can take a ski lift up to the top of Monte Curcio for a spectacular view of the rolling mountains and Lake Cecita, a man-made lake.  This mountain resort village also has a wide range of small local craft shops where you can buy local products created by Calabrian artisans.  You can also purchase many of the Sila regions specialties like its cheeses, porcini mushrooms, potatoes and cold cuts.

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Head back to Cosenza for an evening stroll on Corso Mazzini to get a feel for what the traditional “passeggiata” (evening stroll) is all about before heading to Galliano Industrial Bistrot (Via Galliano, 8 tel: 0984 23894) for a light dinner, great wine and music.

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 Looking for a place to stay in Cosenza?  I would suggest Home Club Suite Hotel (Viale Giacomo Mancini, 28 tel: 0984 76833), situated close to the historic centre as well as the main city streets.

Grazie mille Lulu, I hope to meet you in Cosenza before too long!

 

 

 

ANNOUNCING: 2014 GOLDEN WEEK IN SOUTHERN ITALY: FOR WOMEN ONLY


JULY 30, 2014: THIS TRIP IS SOLD OUT! Sign on to the mailing list on Susan Van Allen’s website to get news about Golden Weeks in Italy in 2015!

 

How about joining author Susan Van Allen for a Beautiful Italian Adventure this fall?

2014 will be her Third Annual Golden Week in Italy...


Raves are in for the last two:

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“A wonderful Italian experience of a lifetime for all of us!!”–Gayle, from Chandler,
Arizona, Golden Week guest 2013

This year we’ll discover Southern Italy, aka The Mezzogiorno...

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“Susan’s humor, knowledge, and surprises really made this vacation one of my very favorites!”–Lynda, Boston

It will be an inspiring week, where the elegant soul of Bell’Italia bursts forth with stunning sights,

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delicious flavors,

IMG_2106and soulful songs.

IMG_7990Discover marvels of Capri,
capri (52)vibrant Naples,

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fascinating Pompeii,
POMPEIIand the blissful thermal springs of Ischia.

giardini-poseidon_TopShop for artisan treasures,
IMG_8196take a cooking class with a local nonna,

IMG_1415toast with robust local wine, and enjoy the world’s best pizza.

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“Italians really know how to enjoy life. I would love to do this once a year!”–Cynthia, Madison, Mississippi, Golden Week 2013 guest

The tour is based in the seaside town of Sorrento, at the legendary Imperial Hotel Tramontano, where the famous song, “Come Back to Sorrento” was composed.
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Each day Susan will lead you to discover treasures and pleasures of this region that has enchanted travelers for centuries, and was a Jackie Favorite!

CAPRI-JACKIEKENNEDYAndiamo! Join us!

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FOR DETAILED ITINERARY, etc… CLICK HERE

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For Inspiration, CLICK HERE…Come Back to Sorrento on You Tube..

Dates: October 11-18, 2014
Space is limited to 14

Prices: $3700 per person for double occupancy/$4150 single occupancy

In Collaboration with Perillo Tours, America’s leading tour operator to Italy