We are moving on to the magical island of Sardinia. On my first visit there, I stayed in Cagliari, just in time for their amazing celebration that begins every May–the Feast of Sant’ Efisio. It’s one of the grandest and most colorful religious celebrations in the world–There was a 3 hour parade… gorgeous Sardinians in traditional costumes accented with gold jewelry, riding in carriages bedecked with flowers, pulled by bulls, accompanied by soulful music… a breathtaking experience.
In the meantime, here is Lexa with her advivice for A Golden Day in Cagliari, City of the sun on the ‘Unknown Island’ of Sardinia.
My golden day would see me heading off to Piazza Arsenale to see the National Museum of Archaeology (070684000) which houses some of the wonderfully crafted bronzetti from the bronze age of the Nuraghic people.
For the early birds the market at San Benedetto is wonderful to get the freshest fruit, veggies, and meat!
The dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria(Piazza Palazzo 4, 070663837)
Take the lift down again to Viale Regina Margherita to find Antico Caffe (Piazza Costituzione 10, 070658206) which was opened in 1855 and was a favourite of Cagliari’s literati in the 19th and 20th century including D H Lawrence and Grazia Deledda.
The food is excellent and it is wonderful to just sit and soak up the atmosphere. It seems to be open all hours, so a visit for coffee in the morning or a final one late at night is a must.
The Botanical Gardens(Via Sant’Ignazio da Laconia) are great if you want a gentle stroll in the cool after lunch or a rest on a bench.
Of course a walk in Sardinia would not be complete without a gelato and wherever you find yourself in the city you are bound to find one to satisfy your taste
Cremeria Ritz (Via Sassari 70,3295409601) is known to serve the creamiest, the freshest, and in a word, the finest ice-cream in town! Or there is L’Isola del Gelato(Piazza Yenne 35, 070 65 98 24). This is more than just an ice-cream parlour and has become a point of reference for locals and tourists
You could also take a bus with ‘P’on it and go to Poetto where you can enjoy the beach with its white sand and amazing little huts and kiosks where coffee or soft drinks can be bought. You can hire an umbrella and chair to enjoy the gentle sea breezes from crystal waters; this is a great favourite with the locals.
The evening meal is something special in Sardinia and there are many restaurants throughout the city that serve traditional Sardinian food.
Il Buongustaio(Via Concezione 7, 070668124, Open 12:30 – 15:00, 20:00 – 23:00 Mon, Tue 12:30 – 15:00)This establishment specializes in anything fresh coming from the Mediterranean Sea and has a great list of local recipes. Their culurgiones(Sardinian dumplings, filled with potatoes and cheese, served with tomato sauce), fregola con arselle (a type of local pasta in the shape of small balls, served in a clam soup) and sebadas (two fried disks of pastry filled with cheese and topped with honey) are all home-made.
Opera Prima(Via Campidano 9, 070684619, Open 12:45 – 15:00, 19:30 – 23:00, Sun 12:45 – 15:00. Closed Mon.) A bright and spacious environment to enjoy typical Sardinian specialities but also innovative dishes presented with imagination. The atmosphere is elegant but at the same time it gives you a homely feeling and the staff is always ready to satisfy your every need.
If you want to stay in a hotel, then the Hotel Regina Margherita(Viale Regina Margherita 44) in the street of the same name is the place to be. It is in the centre of Cagliari and the top rooms have a wonderful view of the city. Breakfast is as big or small as you want it and just about all you could wish for.
Sometimes I stay in a Bed and Breakfast up in the Casteddu’e Susu area. With a voucher for breakfast you can share your morning coffee with the locals.
Grazie Mille Lexa!
I’ve been intrigued by Rimini ever since I saw the Federico Fellini Oscar Award Winning Masterpiece, Amarcord, which was inspired by his childhood here. The town has named their airport in his honor!
Rimini is known worldwide as a seaside resort and as the hometown of the movie director Federico Fellini, but it is also a very ancient town, founded by the Romans in 268 b.C., boasting beautiful and interesting monuments, dating back to different times.
There are many good cafés to choose from. In the center is Caffe Cavour (Piazza Cavour 12), or if you are close to the beach, go to Caffé Pascucci, in Marina Centro (Via Circonvallazione 16/A), that serves a lot of different coffee combinations.
See the town: The Malatesta Temple (Via Quattro Novembre), now the Cathedral of Rimini, is an outstanding example of Renaissance architecture. It was commissioned by Sigismondo Malatesta, the magnificent and powerful Lord of Rimini from 1432 to 1468, who brought on the architect Leon Battista Alberti to wrap the 13th century Gothic church into a new shell of white marble, so it would become a mausoleum for him and his lover and later his wife, Isotta degli Atti. Though the work was never entirely completed, it’s still a beautiful place to see. Inside is a wooden Crucifix by Giotto, a fresco by Piero della Francesca and bas-reliefs and sculptures by Agostino di Duccio.
The Tiberius’ bridge-Ponte di Tiberio (Via Aemilia), is an imposing structure from the days of Ancient Rome, built between the years 14 and 21 AD. In 2014, we’re celebrating the 2000 Year Anniversary of this bridge!
Other treasures from the Roman period include The Arch of Augustus,the ancient Roman city gate..
And the “Domus del chirurgo” (the surgeon’s house), a complex where archaeologists found the largest set of ancient Roman surgical instruments, dating from about 250 AD.
In the central Piazza Cavour, you’ll find medieval buildings and the fish market, that’s been around since 1747.
A favorite place for gelato there is Gelateria il Castello(Via Dario Campana 1 and Piazza Cavour 11) where flavours of the month vary depending on the season.
For aperitivo, I would suggest Antica Drogheria Spazi (5, p. Cavour, 054123439), a place frequented by locals and tourists. Of if you are by the beachfront, a popular bar/restaurant for aperitivo, with a friendly atmosphere, is Barrumba(Lungomare Murri 79, 3297275812 )
There are lots of great restaurants in Rimini.
When I feel like eating meat, I go to Osteria Tiresia, a typical country restaurant where of corse you can eat tasty homemade pasta, but I always have a piada, plain grilled Tagliata di Manzo (finely-cut beef fillet) with grilled vegetables and piadina, our typical flat unleavened bread.
If you’re looking for fresh fish, caught off the coast, you can choose Osteria Il Pescato del Canevone. There is no regular menu here: you can read the daily specials, completely based on the catch of the day, written on a black board! Even the place is unusual: the building was a medieval two-story house, changed into a proper warehouse (canevone!) in the XV century.
Stay at I-Suite(Viale Regina Elena 28) the first all-suite design hotel of the Rimini Riviera.
Grazie Mille Monia, I look forward to you showing me around Rimini soon!
Coming in October…A New Book!
Following the critically acclaimed 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Susan Van Allen adds new gems to her selection of the best spots for female travelers in Italy’s most popular cities, (Rome, Florence, and Venice), along with enticing Golden Day itineraries to make vacation dreams come true.
Like a savvy traveler girlfriend whispering in your ear, she guides readers to masterpieces where women are glorified — from Rome’s Pieta to Florence’s Birth of Venus, best spots for wine tasting, chocolate, and gelato, artisan shopping experiences to meet leather craftsmen or glass blowers, and places for adventures — from rolling pasta to rowing like a gondolier. Plus, there are fresh, practical tips, giving readers insider’s secrets for what to pack, the best places to get their hair styled, and how to bargain for souvenirs.
Whatever your mood or budget, whether it’s your first or 21st visit to Italy, 50 Places in Rome, Florence, and Venice Every Woman Should Go opens the door to extraordinary experiences that fully immerse travelers in the beautiful, fascinating, and delicious pleasures of the Bel Paese.
Click here to read an Excerpt and Pre-Order Now!
Travel Journal Workshop with Susan Van Allen
Saturday, September 6, 10am-1pm
Glendale Community College
Click HERE for Information and Registration
A blank travel journal can become the most treasured souvenir of your trip. You can fill it with emotional snapshots–from expectations, to first impressions, to surprising discoveries. When you pick it up years later, this journal transports you back years and across miles. It reveals the truth of your experience, with all its twists, turns, and intimate details.
This fun, interactive, workshop includes:
*Guidance to create a journal that suits your trip and unique style
*Writing exercises to get creative juices flowing
*Inspiration to focus your journal, so your trip becomes more personally fulfilling
*AND, if you want to travel write for publications, this is an essential first step
Writers and Travelers of all levels are welcome
August 15 is a Big Beautiful Holiday in Italy, that goes way back to the days of the Roman Empire, when it was the Festival Holidays of the Emperor Augustus. The Goddess Diana was at the center of the revels, symbolizing the cycle of fertility, and all were grateful for the summer days of sunshine and ripening…Here’s Diana in a Villa D’Este fountain…
Along came Catholocism, and the holiday switched to center around the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, a triumphant event that inspired masterpieces…
Titian’s in the Frari in Venice is my favorite, with Mary dancing skyward…
I also love Correggio’s in the ceiling of Parma’s cathedral...
As Mary is Star of the Sea, Ferragosto celebrations at Italy’s beaches are spectacular. Such as in Positano, a village on the Amalfi Coast, where festivities begin on August 14, and the statue from the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta is paraded along the winding stairways…
The grand finale on the night of August 15 is a fabulous fireworks display…
My Jersey shore memories of August 15: This was the day when my mother would say, “All the waters are blessed!” So we’d be sure to take a swim in the ocean, bring bottles with us to the beach, fill them up with the blessed water, and carry them back to my Nana and Aunts, who would take their breaks from making eggplant parmesan and pour that water on their swelled up feet…
Wherever you are, we wish you Happy Celebrations of this Abundant, Ripe Summertime — Buon Ferragosto!
Laura Silvagni brings a new interpretation of traditional Faenza designs to her work, that’s been praised internationally. Her hand painted ceramics have become part of prized private collections–including that of Pope John Paul II. She is well known for her hand painted Raffallesco pieces…
You can find creations of Laura’s and other Faenza artisans at La Vecchia Faenza (Via S. Ippolito 23/a), where there is an attached laboratory and tours are offered for free. And in the center of Faenza is the Laura Silvagni shop (Corso Garibaldi 12/A), where you can also see artisans at work, including Laura, painting ceramics.
Faenza has a beautiful historical city center, so the best thing to start with is a nice sightseeing walk. As it’s largely pedestrian only, walking is pleasant, or you may wish to rent a bike, which most of the hotels provide. The historical part of the town within the city walls includes many medieval, renaissance, neoclassical and art nouveau buildings and monuments: Piazza del Popolo, the Cathedral, the Monumental Fountain, the Theater, the Chiesa della Commenda.
If you like the neoclassical style and architecture you should not miss the Palazzo Milzetti National Museum of Neoclassical Art (Via Tonducci 15 48018,054626493) with its beautiful frescoes.
Certainly, Faenza’s most important museum is the International Museum of Ceramics(Viale Alfredo Baccarini 19,0546697311) with its huge collection of works of art from all ages and from all continents. It also hosts many important temporary exhibitions. As you enjoy your morning in Faenza, you have lots of choices of caffes in the cente, including Nove 100 (Corso Mazzini 69,054668704), which has a pretty outdoor patio… My favorite places for gelato are Puro& Bio (Viale Roberto Valturio 39, 3299331476) or Linus Jazz (Corso Aurelio Saffi 42,054621576)
When aperitivo time comes, a short walk from the Ceramics Museum there is Clan Destino (Viale Baccarini, 21/A, 0546681327, Open 3:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. daily), where you’re also likely to find live music. For a delicious lunch or dinner, in the city center, not far from the main square is Trattoria Marianaza (Via E.Torricelli 21,0546681461) where you should order tortelloni (stuffed pasta) or grilled steaks. Or you may enjoy La Baita (Via Naviglio 25c, 054621584) where you can find a good selection of typical products and wines.
A great place to stay is Hotel Vittoria (Corso Garibaldi 23), a historical hotel near the main square. It has beautiful art nouveau frescoes and furniture which create a unique atmospheare. The bar and restaurant are also very nice! The hotel also exhibits a selection of works from many ceramists from Faenza. And be sure to stop by the Pro Loco Faenza; a Tourist Information Center(Voltone della Molinella 2, 054625231) located in the main square, where they will give you all the needed information and tips, and tell you about events while you’re there.
Grazie mille Laura! I look forward to visiting beautiful Faenza this fall…
Meanwhile, you can buy ceramics from La Vecchia Faenza online, CLICK HERE…
Click here for author Laura Morelli’s WEBSITE
I’m so grateful Pierpaolo Zoffoli of the DiRavenna project is back to give us more of his advice for exploring the Ravenna coast. Here’s his insider’s tips for a Golden Day on the Seaside of Ravenna…
Start out with an adventure! Take a boat trip to Spinaroni Island. This is an amazing tour in the Pialassa, the lagoon outside Ravenna, including a World War II itinerary, where you’ll learn about Partisan Brigades, those brave ones who formed an underground Italian resistance group, fighting Nazis and fascists. Click here for more info. (2 hour trip, 15 euros).
Or, if you’d prefer to bike in the area, you can explore Ravenna’s wonderful Pine Forest=Classe di Pineta that’s also a paradise for birdwatching (flamingos, herons, shelducks, and many more!) Click here for guided bike tours…For more info (Length:2-1/2 hours, 10 euro for bike rental and guide).
Spend the rest of the day in Marina di Ravenna, that has a harbor and lots of beach clubs…
A great place for lunch is Molo Tre Zero — with creative cuisine by Chef Luca, featuring the local seafood!
Relax on a beach in the afternoon… …
For aperitivo and/or dinner, go to Mowa (Viale delle Nazioni 177, 0544530234 ), for great cocktails, pizza, and fresh seafood platters..
Taverna Bukowski for good music and a lively atmosphere…
and they have great concerts, (outdoors May to September), featuring indie rock and experimental music.
Here are some good places to stay, back in the historical center of Ravenna:
Hotel Diana,(Via Girolamo Rossi 47), where you’ll find airy, modern décor, a great staff, and wonderful breakfast buffet.
B&B Capannetti (Vicolo Capannetti 19), a charming place with a garden.
Grazie Pierapolo! Looks like a great place for a lively summer beach scene…
It was a delight to discover the DiRavenna project, created by a group of passionate bloggers, photographers, and videographers who tell stories about the amazing Emilia Romgna town that they live in. Ravenna is a stunning spot, that was capital of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, and then a center of the Byzantine Empire in Italy from the 6th to the 8th centuries. What remains from that glorious time are beautiful mosaics, in 8 buildings that have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ravenna historic center is largely pedestrian only, and a wonder to explore.
The DiRavenna project shows off the many treasures of Ravenna, beyond the major sites, with fascinating stories, such as a recent one called Storia di Un Menu di Pesce, telling in photos and videos how a fish dinner comes from the sea to the table.
I’m grateful to two DiRavenna project creators, Davide Bertozzi and Pierpaolo Zoffoli have joined in to give us advice for a Golden Day in Ravenna’s Historic Center:
Or the Pasticceria Ferrari (Via M. Gordoni 11/13), for extraordinary sweets…
You’ll find the most impressive display of mosaics in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (Via Giuliano Argentario 22), which looks plain on the outside,
and will dazzle you when you walk inside!
Right next to it is the amazing Basilica di San Vitale…
And you can also enjoy the Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra–House of the Stone Carpets (Via Barbiani). It was a palace, discovered under the Church of Sant Euphemia, and opened to the public after renovation in 2002, where you’ll discover Roman mosaics.
For a traditional lunch, go to Ristorante La Gardela (Via Ponte Marino 3, 05442171470, closed Thursdays, reservations recommended for outside tables). Here you can order Ravenna’s signature pasta: Cappelletti or Passatelli in brodo – during winter….
Or for excellent fish, including crudo, go to L’Acciuga Osteria (Viale Francesco Baracca,0544212713).
Keep wandering around the Centro Storico, perhaps stopping at the Provincia Palace, from the early 20th century, that mixes Neoclassical style with touches of Byzantine, in its Rasponi Crypt, where you’ll find MORE beautiful mosaics!
And while you’re there enjoy the Giardini Pensili–Gardens on the Roof..
Take a gelato break, right near the lively Piazza del Popolo, at Sorbetteria degli Esarchi (Via IV Novembre 11).
Or for the chic, all-natural-ingredients-gelato-experience, have something wonderful, (Pierpaolo recommends the Bianco con Zenzero), at Milk:
Don’t miss the Tomba di Dante (Via Dante Alighieri 9, free admission), where Italy’s beloved Renaissance poet is buried.
When aperitivo time comes, slip into the cozy Alex & Paul wine bar (Via Alcide de Gasperi 11, 054434713)…
Or the Tazza d’Oro that’s great for people watching–right in the Piazza del Popolo.
Or check out the scene at the hip, intimate, Fargo (Vicolo Padenna,3332097141), named after the Coen brother’s movie, that has nice outside tables…
Here are some great options for dinner:
Osteria del Tempo Perso, (Via Gamba 12, 0544215393, reservations essential), a small, romantic place, that serves excellent fish and has a great wine list…
Or the traditional Ca’ de Ven (Via Corrado Ricci 24, 054430163, reservations recommended) where you can also enjoy local wines at the bar…
Then at night enjoy a stroll in the Rocca Brancaleone (Via Rocca Brancaleone).
Stay over at Albergo Cappello (Via IV Novembre 41,0544219813) , a gorgeous former 16th century palace…
Grazie mille Davide and Pierpaolo for this beautiful advice! And I look forward to exploring Ravenna beyond the centro storico with your recommendations in our next post…