FCI 021 – Visiting Levanto with Silvia Moggia

silvia's trips to levantoEvery year I like to visit at least one area of Italy that I’ve never seen before. Last year it was Verona/Lake Garda, and this year it is Liguria.

Actually, I should make a disclaimer. I’ve been to Liguria once before: but it was nine years ago and it was only for a day trip. I whizzed in and out of the Cinque Terre in about seven or eight hours, attempting to set foot on all five “terre” during my whirlwind (For the record, I accomplished only three, missing Corniglia and Vernazza).

Last month, I was contacted by Silvia Moggia who is working with the Visit Levanto consortium to help raise awareness of this wonderful coastal town within the Cinque Terre National Park. However, unlike its five next-door neighbors made famous by Rick Steves (the “other” Rick in Italy travel…I wish he’d stop using my name) this town has maintained its original Riviera feel, relatively uncorrupted by the tourist masses.

As a travel blogger, I’m beginning to encounter this more frequently; local businesses joining forces to do the job that official tourist boards are not doing…or at least not doing very well.

Listen to today’s podcast to get the whole scoop. [Read More…]

The Daily Scavenger Hunt that is Life in Rome

sciopero a romaIl Dolce Far Niente! A favorite slogan of dreamy-eyed foreigners as they contemplate a long, slow vacation—or an expat experience—in that mythical land known as Italia. Yes, for those of us coming from the rat race of the U.S., the frozen tundra of Canada, or the proper stodginess of the U.K., the “sweetness of doing nothing” in sunny Italy certainly has its romantic appeal.

Stop right there. Before you give away all your possessions and buy a one-way ticket for a permanent Roman Holiday or a lifetime of Tuscan Sun, let’s examine this “sweetness” a little closer. For now, I’m happy to grant you the “doing nothing” portion of this popular phrase, but as we’ll soon see, there’s another way to read it, which has more basis in reality.

As is often the case, a story will illustrate this point better than a list of facts and information. I submit for your consideration “A Day in the Life in Rome.” [Read More…]

Rick’s Italy Blog Tour 2015

golden age of travel

Photo Credit: New York Times. “Fiesta Lounge on a Panagra DC-6 bound for South America in the early ’50s.”

Once upon a time, just traveling cross-country was a labor-intensive task and a logistical challenge, to say the least. It required months of planning, tons of equipment, and several strong horses, mules, oxen, or camels. The traveler him/herself needed to be in excellent physical condition, and arriving alive at the destination was not a foregone conclusion. One could expect to encounter illnesses, violent weather, and hostile natives on any given journey.

Then about a half-century ago, commercial aviation ushered in the Golden Age of Travel, where folks “dressed to the nines” and sipped champagne at 35,000 feet on their way from New York to Buenos Aires. Travel itself was exciting and glamorous, and the destination was almost unimportant, as long as it was far, far away.

Travel agents were like magicians, conjuring up epic voyages from a cozy office space lined with posters from exotic locations. Tell them your dreams and they could make them come true. Luxury travel was the new “it” item of conspicuous consumption in the 50s and 60s. A passport stamp from Milan was more prestigious than the designer handbag brought back from the “quadrilatero della moda.” [Read More…]

FCI 020 – Funny Things about Living in Italy with Marsha De Salvatore

marsha de salvatoreWhat are the essential tools for surviving the expat experience in Italy? Well, learning to speak Italian is a good place to start. Some defensive driving skills wouldn’t hurt either. How about a lesson in everyday fashion?

All great ideas, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a healthy sense of humor is your best defense against the forces allied against you as you attempt to adapt and assimilate to life in Rome. As if.

Here’s the deal: as delightful as it is to live in Rome, there are implausible cultural quirks that exist nowhere else in the world. Sure, every place has its unique features, but the ones in Italy seem to spit in the very face of all logic and reason, causing newly arrived expats to question their own sanity. I think the Italians actually enjoy this on some level, as if each citizen is harboring national security secrets that can only be obtained by birthright. I’m sure it’s great fun to watch us stranieri struggle through our lives in this land of wonder and chaos. [Read More…]

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