Tips for Happy Travel in Italy

So, some members of the COSI’ group got together and decided to share some words of wisdom on travel to Italy.  Who better to give the inside scoop than those who’ve been on the receiving side of the summer stranieri (foreigner) takeover year after year?

I kept it short and sweet with mine:

1. Cross the street with confidence: Roman drivers can smell fear.

2. Embrace the bidet (yes, you heard me).

3. Dress the part – but don’t overdo it, for god’s sake.

4. Take advantage of the free, fresh water flowing out of Roman fountains.

5. Good wine and great food makes it all even more beautiful – so eat and drink as much as possible!

Check out the details of these, plus more great advice from Rick’s Rome, Surviving in Italy, and Girl in Florence in the video below (it’s our first time, so cut us a break):

Buon viaggio!

SL&N

Una passeggiata a Napoli…

 

Travel highlight: Giardino di Ninfa

Travel Highlight: Giardino di Ninfa

*click photos to enlarge

These beautiful gardens were the perfect Saturday afternoon getaway with friends. Classified as a natural historic monument, they’re located about an hour and half from Rome in the province of Latina. An oasis of exotic plant life, these English-style gardens are home to the remains of the ancient city of Ninfa, which was a rich community on the Appian Way during the Middle Ages.

The nearby town of Sermoneta is the definition of classic medieval charm and well worth a walk-through, regardless of whether a visit the gardens is on the agenda. We’ll certainly be back when we have more time than just for a quick lunch. And apparently it’s not all that well kept of a secret, judging from the generous amount of fancy Nikons snapping away… As usual in Italy, there’s always another unique town around the corner worth discovering.

Travel Highlight: Monte Argentario, Tuscany

*click photos to enlarge


Ah, Tuscany… Land of picturesque hilltop towns, rolling landscapes, romantic vineyards – and a surprising coastline that hardly gets the attention it deserves.

What most tourists don’t know about Italy’s arguably most famous region is that in addition to its fabulous countryside, it’s home to a notable and particularly beautiful Costa d’Argento, or Silver Coast. The touristic section is called Monte Argentario, a mountainous area surrounded by quaint seaside towns.

In Italy, the quality of the water determines the popularity of coastal locales. Monte Argentario may not be at the level of Sardinia or Puglia in terms of crystal clarity, but it’s certainly above average and attracts its fair share of Italian vacationers. It boasts a bandiera blu, or blue flag, which is the national beach/ocean ranking system that signals the cleanest, least polluted water around the boot.

The charming town of Porto Santo Stefano is the main attraction, with its countless restaurants lining the waterfront, where the fresh fish is caught and practically delivered directly to your plate. There are also some shops, scuba rentals, a marina and an aquarium, but the overall vibe is still remarkably tranquil and very local.

This area made international news last year when the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank off the coast of Isola del Giglio, a small isle accessed directly from Monte Argentario by boat. More than a year later, the Concordia still sits just off the island’s coast, toppled on its side in the distance, an ever-present reminder of Captain (coglione) Schettino and one of the biggest fails in maritime history.

So next time you think Tuscany, remember: there’s more to offer than just stereotypes. Head toward the coast for the best of both worlds. Doesn’t wine taste better with an ocean view anyway?