After nine years living in Rome, I’ve been to every corner of Rome’s Lazio region. It’s time I brought these places closer to you, dear reader. I am starting a new blog this month. It’s called TraveLazio. Every other Friday I will focus on one place in Lazio, easily accessible from Rome. It will be short, with lists of things to do and information on where to eat and how to get there. Lots of Marina’s photos. Hope you enjoy it. We aim to launch it Jan. 13.
Underrated Italian Towns 2023: Great places to visit or use as base just outside Italy’s overcrowded famous sites
If you’re planning an Italian vacation next year, consider some lesser-known places I discovered this year. They’re wonderful bases to explore more notable sites but also worthwhile places to spend a couple days off the beaten path. I recommend all of them. They’re good for the soul and good for the budget. They are my top 10 list of Underrated Towns in Italy 2023.
Have your Christmas shopping done? I do. But my gifts go worldwide, garnered from my list of all that was mostly bad in the world. Yes, it’s time for my annual Christmas gift list. It comes at the end of a tumultuous year that saw war in Europe, women’s rights violated in the U.S. and Italy leaning heavily to the far right. There’s something for everyone, maybe even a few laughs.
Christmas is coming and it always brings back great memories of my Christmases in my hometown of Eugene, Ore. This month it has me thinking. What do I miss about the U.S? I struggled to come up with a list. It’s a short one. Christmas definitely tops it. Here’s a brief look at what I miss about the U.S. as an American expat in Rome.
Next month marks my 45th anniversary of my epic solo trip around the world. In 1978-79 upon graduation from college I spent nearly a year traveling through Europe, North Africa, Southeast Asia and East Asia, visiting 25 countries. It changed my life forever. But some things have changed. I travel differently. True, I do have more money than I did as a starving backpacker. But my attitude and outlook have changed. Here are 10 things I’ve noticed and not all of them are positive.
Picinisco: Italy’s pipeline to Scotland is a gastro, rural wonderland only D.H. Lawrence could describe
On a freelance assignment, we came to the village of Picinisco and discovered things we never read in guidebooks. It is the source of most of Scotland’s people of Italian heritage, it has some of the best cheese in Italy and has spectacular views with few tourists. We stayed in a charming B&B built in 1926 where we ate a five-course meal prepared by a gourmet chef. I also met a Scotsman who bought a nearby village. One of the best overnight trips of my nearly nine years in Italy.
Abortion: Americans vote today with rights in the balance, Italians wonder what will happen to theirs
With Republicans poised to take over Congress in today’s U.S. midterms and five months after the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, American women brace for what will happen to their abortion rights. Italy has had free, legal abortion since 1978. However, the September election of the far-right Brothers of Italy party threatens those rights. They may not change the law but the new leaders want to offer cash incentives for women to change their minds and also allow pro-life advocates inside abortion clinics. And they’re following the United States’ lead.
For more than 10 years living in Rome I’ve heard about the wonders of Lucca. The huge wall. The historical center. The great Tuscan cuisine. We stopped there for nights going and coming from Le Langhe last month and came away feeling we cheated ourselves on time. Lucca’s wall meets the hype and while it isn’t off Tuscany’s beaten path, the old town does have an ancient-modern charm to it.
Global warming and Italian wine: €2 billion loss and lower production of up to 30 percent has winemakers nervous
Global warming has cut wine production in my beloved Le Langhe zone by 30 percent as wine makers are harvesting their grapes earlier every year. I went to Le Langhe two weeks ago and the wine makers I interviewed are nervous. Global warming hasn’t affected the taste yet but they worry about the future. They’re taking drastic measures to preserve water and their wine industry.
What wine would you drink before you die? I ask the wine experts in Le Langhe and it’s not always expensive Barolo
At every wine tasting, I ask the local wine experts; Pretend you’ll be executed tomorrow morning. What wine in the world do you drink tonight? I asked this at all the wineries and wine shops I visited in Le Langhe last week. You’ll be surprised by the answers.
Ever since I fell in love with Barolo after my first taste in Rome in 1999 I’ve wanted to visit the town of Barolo. I finally did it last week and reality surpassed my dream. The zone of Le Langhe has nearly 700 wineries, nearly all carrying the Nebbiolo grape that makes Barolo and its cousin to the north, Barbaresco. I did tastings at four wineries and drank Barolo inbetween.
South Moravia is the Tuscany of Czech Republic. Ninety-six percent of Czech’s underrated wines comes from this tiny sliver of land barely larger than Palestine. It specializes in white wines but I had one of the best Pinot Noirs of my life in this area around Brno, Czech’s second-largest city. I took a boat ride up the scenic Brno Reservoir and found the wines even better than the beer.