Italy has 20 regions. Each one could qualify as its own country. They have their geography, customs, cuisine, history and dialect. I’ve been to 19 of them. If you’re dreaming of an Italian vacation but don’t know where to go, use this as a guide. This is the first 10 regions in alphabetical order. I’ll post the other 10 next week.
Calabria is Italy’s least-developed region, its most rural, but Tropea is its pearl. It was awarded the Most Beautiful Village in Italy in 2021. I spent a week there working on a book and loved my sea view and the relatively empty beaches. The food was great and the people friendly. And easy to reach from Rome.
I’ve only been an A.S. Roma fan for only 21 of the club’s 96 years of existence but Wednesday night I may witness its highest achievement on the European stage. We play Sevilla in Budapest for the Europa League title. The implications are huge. It not only moves our 2022-23 year from oblivion to the Champions League next season, but it also may have an effect on whether manager Jose Mourinho stays for the last year of his contract. A city is on edge.
I’ve been to my share of Italian weddings but Saturday’s in the lakeside ville of Anguillara Sabazia was different. Short and sweet, heavy on scenery, food and reception. Marina shot the wedding and I tagged along for support and a slice of true Italian culture.
If you have Italian heritage and would like to move to Italy, you can obtain Italian citizenship. But it’s complicated. It’s difficult. It’s time consuming. It’s confusing. Annamaria Borelli came to Italy from New Jersey and managed to obtain citizenship. This is her story and advice.
Anyone see “Eat, Pray, Love”? It’s the movie where Julia Roberts plays a lost divorcee who travels to Italy, India and Bali to “find herself.” My favorite scenes were shot in Rome, particularly when she’s ordering lunch. The dishes being cooked appear on screen as she orders them. I ate at that Ristorante Santa Lucia Saturday night and talked to the owners about the “chaos” during filming.
When people travel to Venice, they should stop in Ferrara, a thriving former Renaissance cultural power between Venice and Bologna. It sports a 14th century castle complete with a moat and drawbridge and numerous museums showing off art from its glory days during the Renaissance. The town is rich and hopping, thanks to a progressive mayor and a citizenry with pride in its past.
The Pudding Shop: Istanbul’s famed hippie hangout still has place in the heart of “Midnight Express” writer Billy Hayes
The Pudding Shop is an Istanbul institution that played a role in “Midnight Express,” the international bestseller and Oscar-nominated movie. It is where Billy Hayes met the cab driver who took him to his first hashish deal. The Pudding Shop was the nerve center for backpackers following the Hippy Trail that blossomed at the time. Today it’s a tourist trap but it still has a soft spot in Billy Hayes’ heart. I visited the Pudding Shop last month and talked to Hayes last week.
Istanbul’s estimated 125,000 stray cats have become almost as big a tourist attraction as its mosques and Grand Bazaar. Documentaries have been made of them and endless articles have been written. But behind all the fat, happy tabbies eating handouts and sleeping in cat shelters are thousands of others being abused and killed. I sat down with one of Istanbul’s leading cat safety advocates to get the other side.
Everyone knows kabobs. Every town has a kabob shop. Turkey is the birthplace of kabobs and I had my fill during a four-day stay over my birthday two weeks ago. But there is more to Turkish cuisine than long roasted meat rolls. Turkey has the best baklava I’ve ever had (Psst! Greece! Add more syrup!) and an appropriately named snack called Turkish Delight.
I went to Istanbul last week to celebrate my birthday. It was my first trip back in 30 years. What I found was a city all cleaned up with a depressed population beaten down by runaway inflation and devalued money. Many expressed their frustrations while still welcoming me to their city which is remarkably more beautiful than I remembered. Even the Grand Bazaar got a makeover. This is the first of a four-part blog.
Walk Across Rome Part II: From Termini station home I pass 2,000 years of history with good food and wine as fuel
What I love about Rome is you can walk all over town without ever walking down a busy street. Thanks to all the piazzas and the maze of narrow, cobblestone streets, it’s easy to lose yourself in the quiet parts of this chaotic city. And you always stumble onto historic sites, beautiful piazzas and interesting shops. For the second time, I traversed the city while avoiding traffic. I walked from Termini train station to my home in the Monteverde neighborhood. I zigzagged eight miles for 5 1/2 hours. Here’s my report.