Postcards from Italy

Italy's Homegrown Soft Drinks

Of all the possible beverages travelers can sample in Italy, the least local and most prone to invasion from international powerhouses like Coca-Cola is certainly soft drinks. Fiercely territorial about their regional wines and loyal to their domestic coffee roasters, Italians have no qualms guzzling Coke and Fanta and the increasing popularity of sugary drinks among children is one of the many factors behind a rise in childhood obesity in this historically healthy and fit country.

Noto: aperitivo(Photo by Stijn Nieuwendijk via Flickr)

But just because these familiar brands are ubiquitous doesn't mean that they don't have their scrappy local competitors. In fact, Italy has a number of homegrown soft drinks that are less well-known but definitely worth seeking out. Generally, Italians still don't serve sodas at meals to anyone over about 14 - with the exception of pizza - but the next time you stop at a bar or caffè for a respite from a hot afternoon of touring, instead of a beer or Coke to cool you down, try one of these truly Italian soft drinks.
Read More…

Three Unforgettable Sicily Food Experiences

We have always been in love with this unique island and its culture and cuisine. During a recent visit on the hunt for new experiences and accommodations for our travelers, we were reminded of a few of our favorites: granita, Donna Fugata wines, and a fish market lunch.

granita-pistacchio-limone(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)
Read More…

Italy's Gran Sasso National Park

If you tell any Italian that you are headed to the region of Abruzzo, the very first thing they will ask is, “Are you visiting Gran Sasso?” Gran Sasso is shorthand for Abruzzo’s sprawling Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga (Gran Sasso and Laga Mountain National Park), one of Italy’s largest national parks—indeed, covering almost 350,000 acres, one of the largest protected areas in all of Europe.

Gran Sasso da Rocca Calascio(Photo by Paolo Fefè via Flickr)

The park territory covers a wide swath of Abruzzo and includes parts of neighboring Lazio and Le Marche, as well. Inside its borders, visitors will find some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in all of Italy, including peaks from the Apennine and Monti della Laga mountain chains, pristine Alpine lakes and rivers, woodlands teeming with wildlife, and hundreds of kilometers of trails to explore by foot, bike, or horseback.

Read More…