Tag Archives: travel

Happy New Year – Buon Anno!

31 Dec

A warm thank you to all who have found and followed Blogginginitaly.com, which had over 10,000 views from 83 countries in 2013. When I began writing in 2011, little did I realize the joy this blog would bring me. It is such fun for me to share my thoughts and experiences and know others enjoy reading about them as well.

A few things in store for Blogginginitaly 2014…

A winter visit to Rome… (haven’t done that since I was a student!)


as well as Cortona, which I’ve never been to in winter!


Much more about Alex and his travels to Italy


and a summer journey for Len and me to Alex’s birthplace, Pietrabbondante.


Pietrabbondante (Photo credit: diffendale)

As we anticipate our summer return to Cortona, we know it will be filled with wonderful new and familiar experiences, great food and wine, the tranquillity of piazza life, and so many roads less travelled to discover and share with you. But best of all, we know we will be spending time with dear friends we have made through our travels.

May your new year be filled with health and time spent with loved ones, and may you find  time to enjoy a sunset, wherever your roads lead you.


Happy New Year and Buon Anno 2014!



15,000+ Views!

31 Aug

I am delighted to report that this week, Blogginginitaly.com surpassed 15,000 views! Pretty amazing, especially as it began as a fun way for me to share our travels with family members and a few friends.

IMG_1809Over the last two years, my blog has been my journal, giving me a place to record my thoughts, experiences and pictures as we travel around Italy.


To my surprise and delight, its reach has broadened and now includes viewers from over 80 countries.

IMG_0020 2

Many thanks for all your thoughtful comments and encouragement. Writing my blog is an endless learning curriculum for me – one that is filled with never-ending yet truly satisfying homework.


It’s a joy to share my reflections about Italy with others who love it so, and a privilege to share it with those who can only dream of going.



I can think of no better way to say thanks than by sharing some of my very favorite views.




And of course, let’s not forget the food!









Finally, to Len, with whom I have seen all of these views,

a little something we saw on a hillside…


Ciao, Judy

Judy in window


14 Aug

One of the joys of international travel is exactly that…the international experience. In Italy, of course, we seek to absorb everything we can about the Italian culture – the people, the food, the language, the customs, the traditions. But sometimes, “locals” expand that experience for us in ways unexpected.

This summer, we had the good fortune to meet Vera, a recent “Cortona local” but non-Italian native. Born in Brazil, living in Australia and now also in Cortona, she is an interesting blend of many cultures, traditions, and languages, which I have fondly dubbed Veranese.

On a lovely summer evening, Vera invited us to her home to enjoy the national dish of Brazil, feijoada. Of course, I had never heard of this, let alone tasted it before, so I was curious.

But first things first. One of the added pleasures of being invited to someone’s home is the opportunity to learn about its history, as every home in Cortona has a story. Since most of the ancient palazzos and villas have been subdivided, Vera’s entrance was, at one time, the stable of this palazzo.


Fortunately, when renovations occur, antiquities are preserved so the horse trough still exists, although modified with plumbing at some point.


Adding to the charm is the old well, still visible behind the grate on the left, both outside her front door

and inside her home.IMG_0005

Enough history and on to the dinner. Feijoada (fay-ZHWA-dah) is considered one of Brazil’s national treasures and one that Vera wanted to share with us. It is a hearty, slow-cooked dish, meant to serve a group. Shopping for ingredients begins the day before, as several kinds of smoked meats, ribs, and beef jerky are needed. These are then slowly simmered the night before with black beans.


Needless to say the aroma was amazing when we entered the house, and even better as the feijoada was served over rice.


Although each cook may have his or her own family recipe, Brazilian Feijoada almost always has black beans and always has a mixture of salted, smoked and fresh meats. Some can be a little spicy; ours was not. Either way it’s traditional to serve this stew with white rice and maybe some sautéed vegetables.

Just before dessert was served, it started to rain, then hail heavily, and the ground turned white. Unpredictable July, and a good excuse to open more vino!


You can see just how bothered we were by the weather…





Before we left, Vera showed us her newest piece of art, a painted antique terra cotta tile.  Beautiful! IMG_0005

Vera, many thanks for inviting us into your lovely home,  introducing us to one of Brazil’s national treasures, expanding our international palate, and teaching each of us to speak a bit of Veranese!



Italy Info Worth Reading

10 May

Whether or not you have travel plans for Italy, reading and learning about the country and planned events can be great fun. Several people have asked what sites I follow, so I thought I’d share a few.

If looking for Cortona specific information, check out www.cortonaweb.net. This site provides information on everything from weather to local events, podcasts, restaurants, accommodations, history of Cortona, maps, wedding planners, tours, wine shops, etc. While not all-inclusive, it certainly covers a broad spectrum of interesting and useful information about Cortona.

The website was started in 1999 by a few locals just for fun, and with sponsorship, has grown over the years. It is well-written and informative. The following picture and caption from the site’s front page describe Cortona’s amazing Etruscan Museum, or MAEC, which is definitely worth visiting:

“A journey back 2700 years Restoring History. Dawn of the Etruscan Princes.”


Un viaggio a ritroso di 2700 Anni Restaurando La Storia. L’Alba dei Principi etruschi

I’ve been in touch with the authors of cortonaweb.net and look forward to meeting them this summer!

For reading about Italy in general, a site I enjoy is an online magazine called Italy Magazine: http://www.italymagazine.com

Its byline reads: “Since 1999, the n.1 magazine for lovers of all things Italian.” Like me! Included in the magazine are Italian current and cultural events, travel tips, accommodations, properties for sale, festivals and recipes such as the one below on how to make limoncello.  Hey, something fun to try on Mother’s Day, which by the way, is also celebrated on the second Sunday in May in Italy…
Tanti Auguri Mamma!




So sit back, relax, and take some time to explore these wonderful, ever-changing and totally free sources about Italy.

Happy Reading and Enjoy –  Buon divertimento!



A Simple Life

2 Jul

In Cortona, shopping for one’s daily needs is simple…no megastores, no supermarkets, and no chain stores. What does exist are merchants who tend to specialize, thus offer great quality at reasonable prices. Meat and poultry are generally purchased at the macelleria, or butcher shop, and there are a few in town. Fish and seafood is less easily available, but the fish monger comes to town once a week and fish is available at the Saturday market.         Bread can be purchased directly from the panettiere, or baker, as well as local venues he supplies early in the morning. His shop is directly behind our house, so just about every night we fall asleep to the scent of fresh bread baking in the ovens.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at a few locations…two stores and one pop-up market only open in the morning, spread out in an area that becomes a restaurant later in the day.


Dry goods, canned goods, deli meats and cheeses, paper and cleaning products, frozen and dairy items, etc., can be found at one of the two markets in town: Molessini and the Mini-Market.

Pharmaceuticals, baby products, healthcare items, etc. are available at the local Pharmacia, and they are easily identifiable as they have a green cross in front.

The Tabacchi or tobacco shops sell newspapers, magazines, bus and train tickets, maps, gum, candy, and an assortment of tourist items and toys.


Bars, cafés, and enotecas offer everything from morning coffee and pastry to light lunch and dinner with full bar, and I mean full.  You can sit in or out.


The best part is that you buy only what you can carry as you walk everywhere. That of course means that everything you eat is fresh, and so delicious. Makes grocery shopping fun!

Not to be left out is the gelato. Ice cream is available at two gelaterias in town…a great way to stroll and end the evening.

How I am dreading “super” markets back home. Super is definitely not always better, just big, big, bigger! Is there a future for “Simplemarkets” in the US? Probably not, but a good reason to travel!



Leaving on a Jet Plane

23 May

“All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go”…

These lyrics bring back such fond memories…a picture forever burned in my memory. A large group of very hippie (not hip!) looking kids, mostly 21, were at Rome FCO airport waiting to board planes bound for the USA after having spent our junior year at Loyola’s Rome Center. We Campers, as we had fondly dubbed ourselves, were exhausted, sad to be leaving but anxious to reunite with family and friends stateside.

Sitting in a large group on the floor, a few people pulled out their guitars and we started singing Leaving on a Jet Plane, a song written by John Denver and made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary.

“Don’t know when I’ll be back again” was a sad lyric too true for many of us. Personally, it took 25 years before I returned but since then, I’ve had the great fortune of being in Italy many times.

To paraphrase a few of the lyrics, as I sit here, my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. The taxi driver’s not blowing his horn yet, but will be soon. And unlike the song, I’m excited to be leaving on a jet plane and returning to Cortona for our next adventure. So, till I resume blogging again, which should be in a few days, arriverderci!

For those of you humming, here’s the link…




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