Czechs drink more beer per capita than any nation in the world. Their beer culture dates back to the 10th century. But I was fairly underwhelmed by Czech beer. It’s about 80 percent lager (Dark beer is considered a girlie drink.) and the lack of variety got old. However, beer is everywhere and so are Czechs enjoying one of the liveliest night lives in Europe.
Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party wins election and my adopted country descends into the far right
Giorgia Meloni, a 45-year-old Roman, has led her neophyte Brothers of Italy party from the ground floor of Italian politics to the country’s most powerful position. She won Sunday’s prime minister election, and her right-wing coalition is set to take over the Parliament. What does Italy’s first right-wing government since Mussolini mean for immigrants like me? I’m not worried, but I am cautious.
Salento is the peninsula that is the heel of Italy’s boot. It’s one of the most isolated places in Italy but easy access from Bari, Puglia’s capital. Guest blogger Annamaria Borelli rented a car and rekindled old childhood memories by hanging out at the beaches. A car is a must but so is relaxation.
The New York Times does a wonderful feature in its Sunday travel section called 36 Hours in … It picks a city around the globe and give readers places to go at appropriate times of the day. I did the same for Rome. I don’t include the major attractions such as the Colosseum and Vatican. You know those. I wrote about the places I would go as a Rome resident of 8 1/2 years. Hope it gives you some ideas next time you come to town, especially for the second time.
Michigan State Q&A: Lessons from an ink-stained wretch and world-weary travel writer to bright J students
Every summer a group of Michigan State journalism students comes to Rome and I talk to them about my life as a sportswriter in the U.S. and my transformation to a travel writer in Rome. This year they asked some remarkably insightful questions. Here are some of them and how I answered them.
Via Francigena: Ancient pilgrimage from France to Rome an enlightening journey for this American wanderer
Kevin McAllister doesn’t just go places. He walks there. And he experiences every inch of culture along the way. The 66-year-old retired software salesman just finished walking 900 miles over 70 days, the vast majority over the historic Via Francigena pilgrimmage route that stretches from Canterbury, England, to Southern Italy. I met him during my stay in Cinque Terre last month and told him to look me up when he finished his pilgrimage in Rome. He did. We sat for drinks and he told me his story.
Normally, the phrase Italy’s government collapses wouldn’t be cause for alarm here in Italy. After all, we’ve gone through 14 prime ministers and 19 governments in the last 30 years. But now what’s waiting in the wings, what is favored to win the snap Sept. 25 elections, is a right-wing coalition led by the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy.
Monti: Rome’s historical and hippest neighborhood (and once my favorite) is a slow victim of gentrification
Monti has been a prominent Roman neighborhood since Ancient Rome but has changed its face over the centuries. Once Rome’s most teeming ghetto, it became a place to be for the rich in the Middle Ages and later the hippest place in Rome and now has gentrified into just another touristy neighborhood. It was my goal to live there. Not anymore.
Overtourism in Italy: Some hot spots are cutting back but pretty and crowded Cinque Terre isn’t one of them
Cinque Terre is a UNESCO Heritage Site consisting of five pastel-colored villages on the Ligurian Sea. It gets 2.5 million visitors a year and when we visited over the weekend it felt like they were all there with us. The village of Vernazza was packed. As Italy recovers from Covid, tourism is back in full and some places are laying down limitations. Cinque Terre is not.
Elba: Napoleon Bonaparte’s island of exile still an Italian beach paradise — but you’d better bring your car
Elba sits an hour’s ferry ride off the coast of Tuscany and for half a century has been one of the most popular summer destinations for Italians and Europeans alike. But you’d better bring a car. Marina and I were two of the few who didn’t and learned the hard way that island transportation isn’t reliable. Still, it was worth it to have a beautiful hotel with a pool in the countryside and we still made it to two relaxing beaches. We did not, however, beat the crowds. Elba is filling up fast.
I’m often reminded of why I live in Italy and last week’s Texas massacre gave me another reason. An 18-year-old walked into a gunstore and legally bought two semi-automatic weapons to blow away 19 children, aged 9-11, and two adults. You can’t buy semi-automatic weapons in Italy. You need certificates from doctors in Italy. You need safety courses in Italy. Five years after the Las Vegas massacre moved me to compare the gun laws in my two countries, I’m forced to do an update.
A.S. Roma on verge of its first official European trophy has this Romanista on edge of his red and yellow couch
Since trading my sports writer’s hat for a fan’s banner upon retiring to Rome eight years ago, I’ve waited patiently for my adopted team, A.S. Roma, to achieve greatness. Wednesday night it can earn its first official European trophy in its 95-year history. I attended last week’s media day in preparation for Wednesday Conference League final in Tirana, Albana, against Feyenoord of Holland.