For two years I managed to avoid the long tentacles of Covid. I wore a mask everywhere. I got two vaccines and a booster. I practiced social distancing. I didn’t enter crowded places. Yet it still got me. Last week, I tested positive for Omicron. This is my story of Covid quarantine.
Underrated Italian Cities for 2022: Castelli Romani and Abruzzo dominate my annual list for new destinations
I didn’t travel much around Italy last year but in small places I uncovered some really unspoiled gems. Villages in Castelli Romani and Abruzzo dominated this year’s annual list of Underrated Italian Cities but I also dipped way down to Campania and up to Piedmont as well.
From the way my cappuccino tastes on my balcony every morning to the way the streetlights reflect off the Tiber River, I have so many reasons why I love Rome I list them every year on this date. It was Jan. 11, 2014 when I moved to Rome and today is my eight-year anniversary, time for another whimsical look at my love affair with the city.
Last year was the best and worst of both worlds. Covid travel restrictions continued our isolation from the world outside Italy. When the restrictions lifted, I raced to six countries in six months. But as time wore on, Covid returned and my patience did not. Traveling during a global pandemic is truly tiring. Here’s a month-by-month review of one of the strangest years of my life.
Italian opera: The little New Jersey girl fulfills lifelong dream as she sings in “La Boheme” in Rome this week
Annamaria Borelli began singing on her family’s porch in New Jersey at age 7. Since then she has trained as an opera singer and landed a role in the famous Italian opera La Boheme, which opens Tuesday at Rome’s Teatro Vittorio.
If you read my two recent blogs on Finland, you’ll know we had a great time and dove into the holiday spirit. But behind all the fun anecdotes was a lot of stress caused by the ever-changing rules of pandemic travel. We’re exhausted. We’re taking a break in 2022.
An American expat in Helsinki: A fellow happy European transplant a huge fan of Finland’s social democracy
Michael Hunt is an American expat in Helsinki. He also happens to be a fellow ex-sportswriter who threw himself in Finland’s culture as I did in Italy’s. We met in Helsinki and he told me his story and why Finland’s social democracy shouldn’t be such a filthy title.
I saw Santa in his hometown in Finland last week and he’s exhausted. I volunteered to sub and pass out presents to all those naughty and nice. The problem is, I’m tired, too. I sprinkled gifts on only the U.S. and Italy but there was plenty of naughty to go around. Donald Trump fans will enjoy his gift. But there were some nice as well. Mario Draghi, take a bow. Enjoy my annual Christmas gifts.
Rovaniemi: Finland’s winter wonderland on Arctic Circle is more than just Santa Claus’ expensive hometown
Rovaniemi, Finland, is a 75-minute flight from Helsinki and is the mythical home of Santa Claus. In 1985 the city built a Santa’s Village where it looks like a Currier and Ives painting with huge Christmas trees, sleigh rides and Christmas carols. Santa is around, too. But it’s more than a kid’s Christmas dream. It’s also a winter wonderland where we went dog sledding and saw the Northern Lights.
Thinking of going to Italy with the special someone? It’s always good to research before you go anywhere. Christmas is coming so what better gift than a book about Italy? You’ve already been? Read up more. You’ll want to go again. Here are 10 of my favorite books on Italy since moving to Rome in 2014.
Mallorca seeking more off-season visitors, slams door on summer binge drinking with numerous restrictions
Mallorca gets almost 12 million tourists a year but 60 percent of them come in the summer months. Many come just for the party beach atmosphere. The island wants to spread tourism to the off season and had to put tough restrictions on binge drinking to make it happen.
There’s more to Mallorca than beaches and bars. The countryside is packed with points of interest and activities. I took excursions to a winery, a forest rife with hiking trails and a small, historical village. It’s Mallorca off the beaten path.