Postcards from Italy

Visit Italy Without Leaving Home: How To Bring a Bit of the Bel Paese to You

Whether you had an Italy trip planned in the upcoming months or are just a dyed-in-the-wool Italophile, you may be feeling the need for a pinch of Italian flavor in your home-bound life right now. Just because you’re lying low at the moment doesn’t mean that you can’t travel virtually and savor a taste of Italy from your living room, be it an aperitivo or a full feast. Here are a few suggestions to satisfy your appetite for the Bel Paese for those who find themselves with a lot of time on their hands, as well as those working or schooling from home who need to make every moment count.

Venezia - Rialto(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

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The Art of the South: The Top Museums and Collections in Naples

With the eyes of the world fixed on Covid-19, now is the time for us to do what’s best for our communities and avoid unnecessary travel. That said, there’s nothing that gets us through hard times like dreaming of our next jaunt to Italy! We’ll continue posting travel ideas for the Bel Paese and Switzerland for future trips, and we all hope to be wheels up as soon as possible....

Rome and Florence may be considered the capitals of Italy’s art world, but the teeming city of Naples ( is home to a surprising number of world-class museums, collections, and other cultural treasures. Known more for the atmospheric, shop-lined streets of the Centro Storico and grandiose monuments like the Castel d’Ovo and Piazza del Plebescito, “Bella Napoli” was the seat of the House of Bourbon during their rule of the Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in the 18th and 19th centuries, and a number of royal collections scattered across the city are testimony to the wealth and power of their reign.

Naples Panorama. Nikon D3100. DSC_0109-0115.(Photo by Robert Pittman via Flickr)

Before heading further south to the blockbuster destinations of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, linger awhile in this vibrant port city to take in the masterpieces hidden in its museums, palaces, and churches.

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A Note from Maria Gabriella and Brian

We have been astounded by the number of caring messages and well-wishes from past clients, conveying their thoughts and concern for us, the guides, local hosts, drivers and other members of our team that they have encountered during their travels with us over the past 17 years. We also continue to be inspired by the generous spirit, understanding and support of our future travelers during this challenging period. Most of our clients with travel dates affected by the COVID-19 restrictions are postponing their visits to Italy and Switzerland rather than cancelling. Perhaps that is because so many have traveled with us before. This commitment to travel is a welcome show of solidarity for us and for the broader travel industry, a sector of the economy particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. We are happy to say that our team members in the United States, Italy and Switzerland are well, and look forward to delivering the outstanding authentic experiences to which our travelers have become accustomed when this crisis abates.

At the moment, we fully expect travel to Italy and Switzerland to return to normal for the summer season and are proceeding with itineraries accordingly. We are, of course, monitoring the situation very closely and will notify affected travelers of any recommended or necessary changes. We will continue to offer our clients the opportunity to reschedule any fully paid itinerary with full credit toward a future trip with no time restrictions, penalties or deductions. We are reaching out to our travelers with updates as their travel dates approach. Please understand that in the short term, our immediate attention must be devoted to those with travel dates within 60 days.

There is a lot of uncertainty now as the pandemic makes its way around the world, but as we are already seeing with the dwindling number of new cases in China and South Korea, this too shall pass. The world certainly will emerge changed. At CIU, we will be even stronger and as passionately focused as ever on fulfilling your lifelong travel dreams.

With our very best wishes for your health and happiness,

Brian and Maria Gabriella


CIU Travel | Concierge in Umbria | Contact Us

Wendy Perrin WOW List
2020 Wendy Perrin WOW ListTrusted Travel Expert for Italy and Switzerland

Condé Nast Traveler Magazine
Top Travel Specialist for Italy since 2006

A Blast in the Past: Tips for Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum

Pompeii and Herculaneum are two of the most spectacular ancient Roman sites in the world, both buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and frozen in time for the past 2,000 years by the ash, mud, and other debris that sealed and protected the ruins from the ravages of time. Excavations began during the 18th century, and still today new marvels are routinely uncovered at both sites, including colorful frescoes, intricate mosaics, and unique architectural details or artifacts that provide a window into the ancient world.

Pompei with Vesuvius(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Whether or not you’re a Roman history buff, these two archaeological sites offer a fascinating glimpse into western history and civilization. That said, with their vast size and wealth of artistic, archaeological, and anthropological treasures, Pompeii and Herculaneum can be daunting to explore on your own. Here are some tips for visiting these two ancient cities to ensure you get the most from your time there without succumbing to the heat, crowds, labyrinthine layout, and general information overload.

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Italy’s Most Famous Coffee Houses

What most of the English-speaking world knows as a coffee house, Italians know as “il bar”. This Italian institution is a fundamental part of the daily routine, from a quick stop in the morning for the standard Italian breakfast of a “cappuccino e cornetto” and a bracing espresso - known simply as “un caffè”, or a coffee - mid-afternoon, to a leisurely pre-dinner cocktail or glass of wine with finger food, or “un aperitivo”.

Caffé Espresso miscela Florian
(Photo by Richard, enjoy my life! via Flickr)

Generally, Italian bars are rather humble affairs, varying from a tiny space with a standing bar and a few scattered tables to a sprawling hybrid pastry shop/newspaper stand/tobacco shop that also serves as a neighborhood community center. That said, there are more august historic coffee shops scattered across the country that hark back to the age when artists and intellectuals would gather to exchange ideas and inspiration. If you’re looking to linger over an espresso and cappuccino in elegant, often frescoed, rooms, here are a few of the most famous landmark cafés in Italy.

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