Sardinia is best known for its beautiful beaches and chic Italian summer clientele. But its capital of Cagliari has so much to offer. From a lively central piazza to a clifftop neighborhood overlooking the city to a cuisine unique to Italy, Cagliari is well worth a trip on its own. We went this past weekend to celebrate our seventh anniversary and it turns out the city was having its biggest celebration of the year: the Festa di Sant’Efisio.
I spent Rome’s birthday Thursday at two press conferences unveiling high-tech shows that seemed odd in such an ancient city. The Synesthesia is an 8-foot-high orb that is designed to help us understand our relationship with machines which are creeping ever too close to our daily lives. Rome’s Planetario reopened after an eight-year refit with “Return to the Stars,” an hour-long film and light show in the theater’s 300-square-meter screen on the round roof. The day was one part weird and two parts revealing.
Before I moved to Rome, Greece was my favorite country. Every island has its own history, terrain, vibe. So how does one choose which island to visit? Guest blogger James Ritter helps you decide which of the Greek Islands to choose with capsules of some of my favorites.
Rural Molise: The century-long exodus continues but three quaint villages retain their historic charm
Molise is the least-visited region in Italy. Now imagine going to rural Molise. We spent a day visiting three villages in the tiny mountainous region along the Adriatic Sea. All three have historical importance and one has a direct connection to one of the most famous American actors in movie history.
If you’ve never heard of Molise, don’t worry. Few have. It’s by far the least-touristed of Italy’s 20 regions, getting only 482,000 visitors in pre-Covid 2018. It’s 55 percent mountains and the rest is mostly rural. It’s not set up for tourists. But for the adventurous — and the hungry — it’s a terrific place to discover another side of Italy. The countryside is beautiful and the food and wine are unique and excellent. It was a great birthday present to myself.
Italy was on top of the world just eight months ago when it won the European Championships on its way to a world-record 37-game unbeaten streak. But ties in its last two games of the World Cup Qualifying group stage forced it into a four-team playoff for a World Cup berth. They start Thursday when Italy hosts North Macedonia and Portugal hosts Turkey.. The winners meet March 29.
I wrote a couple weeks about the return of wine tastings in Rome. I went to Io Vino’s Sunday which concentrated solely on wines from Le Marche and Campania regions. A total of 80 winemakers gathered in one room. Ever tried them? Le Marche and Campania wines are very underrated. Their headliners are the Verdicchio in Le Marche and Aglianico in Campania.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine Thursday, the 256,000 Ukrainians in Italy have been glued to the news. Olga, Didun, my housekeeper, has been in daily contact with her family back in the Ukraine. They’re safe but she’s worried. She took some time Tuesday to discuss her fears, their situation and her views of the political situation.
Besides mass death, one of Covid’s biggest casualties are wine tastings in Italy. They were one of the pleasant surprises upon my move to Rome. So many wine tastings came to town, I never had to rent a car and go winery hopping. Covid sidelined wine tastings for two years and now they’re slowly coming back. I went to my first two weeks ago at Renato e Luisa, my favorite restaurant in Rome, which had a wine tasting/lesson for Cornell University students. More wine tastings are coming.
Italy and Valentine’s Day just go together, don’t they? We went to Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast, romantic at any time but double it on Valentine’s Day. We took a room overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, drank Campania wine in lively piazzas and shopped for ceramics in one of the ceramic capitals of Italy. Vietri sul Mare doesn’t get the hype that Positano and Sorrento get but it’s worth a weekend, particularly on Valentine’s Day.
The most important part of visiting Rome isn’t what room you take but what neighborhood you take it in. After living here eight years, I’ve written a Rome neighborhood guide. It’s thumbnail sketches on 10 neighborhoods, from popular Centro Storico and working my way out.