Italy's Most Beautiful Gardens

Though it may seem that summer is the season to visit Italy’s many splendid gardens, in this country’s hot and arid Mediterranean climate, the best times of year to enjoy most of these magnificent grounds are actually the spring and fall. It is during the cooler, damper months that these public and private parks, many of which could be considered works of art rivaling those in Italy’s museums, reach the height of their lushness and color.

villa-lante-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)
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La Trattoria di Famiglia: An Italian Icon

There are many ways in which Italy is, sadly, losing a bit of that “italianità” that has made it such a beloved destination for travelers for centuries. Village centers are struggling as shoppers flock to big discount box stores. Packaged convenience foods are becoming more common and long, home-cooked lunches at home less.

Trattoria(Photo by Damien Oz via Flickr)

One tradition that seems to be stronger than ever is the small, family-owned trattoria. These (often historic) eateries line quiet side streets and piazzas everywhere from the smallest country hamlets to the bustling cities of Rome and Florence, and thrive despite the menacing growth of fast food chains and kebob shops. Read More...

Pasta Primer for Italy

Italy means many different things to many different people. For some, it is the land of their ancestors, a vaguely legendary departure point from which great-great grandparents left for more prosperous shores. For others, it is a cultural paradise, where the highest concentration of the world’s art, architecture, and archaeological sites beckon. For others, it’s the hotbed of chic contemporary design, birthplace of sleek cars and stiletto heels.

Trapani(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

But no matter what your personal iconography may be, there is one symbol of Italy that unites the world: pasta. Read More...

Ravenna

Most stop-overs are more a question of logistics than context: there happens to be a delightful town or quirky museum along your route between one destination and the next, so you break up the long ride, stretch your legs, and explore awhile.

mosaics-ravenna-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Ravenna is a bit different, in that a pause here is not just a question of travel itineraries. Whether you are coming from or headed to Venice, a stop in Ravenna, famous for its stunning 5th and 6th century Byzantine mosaics, will help you put the sumptuous mosaics in San Marco (created some five to seven centuries later) into the larger context of the evolution of early Christian art. Read More...

Italy's Street Food: Porchetta

Italy is not a street food sort of culture. Here, meals are strictly sit-down affairs, with families gathering around the table twice a day to enjoy long, multiple-course lunches and dinners steeped in local culinary history and culture.

porchetta-umbria-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

In central Italy, however (especially Tuscany and Umbria), the king of all street food is porchetta. Read More...