Postcards from Italy
THE BLOG OF CIU TRAVEL

Trip Inspiration: The Via Emilia

Of the many innovations that allowed Roman civilization to expand so quickly and flourish for so long, perhaps the most important was their expansive network of roads that crisscrossed the Italian peninsula and connected to places as far-flung as Britain and Mesopotamia. Covering about 250,000 miles at the height of the Roman Empire, these routes were often paved, linear, and major arteries for moving troops, diplomats, and goods quickly and safely between Rome and its provinces.

via emilia
(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

A number of Roman highways still exist today, and one of the oldest and the most important is the Via Emilia (sometimes called the Aemilian Way), which runs northwest from Rimini to Piacenza across the region of Emilia-Romagna and recently celebrated 2,200 years since its foundation. A road trip along the ancient Via Emilia takes you past some of the most interesting small cities in the region, as well as its gourmet and automotive heart. Here are the highlights:

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Sicily’s Alcantara Gorge

By far the most striking natural feature along Sicily’s Ionian coast is the towering volcanic peak of Mt. Etna Which spews ash and steam more or less continuously from its crater. The mountain and its roughly 570,000 years of activity have left an indelible impression on the surrounding landscape, beginning with the mountain slopes and valleys blanketed with rich volcanic soil that today produce excellent wines, Sicily’s most prestigious pistachios, blood oranges, and a number of other specialties.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8b09(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

Another impressive consequence of Etna’s millennia of activity are the the Alcantara Gorges—or Gole dell’Alcantara in Italian—that sit at the foot of the mountain’s northern slope. This network of vertiginous gorges cutting through the volcanic rock were formed by the Alcantara River, which runs from the Nebrodi Mountains to the coast near Giardini Naxos. The rushing river waters follow the path of an ancient lava flow, carving dramatic open-air ravines and underground passages through the hardened lava stone along the way.

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The Artful Season: Exhibitions and Unveilings in Italy This Fall

With fewer crowds, lower temperatures, and some of the best foods of the year, the months from September to November are among our favorites for visiting Italy. That said, as the summer-like days of September wane and November approaches, the weather becomes increasingly unpredictable and can swing between clear skies and balmy temperatures and blustering winds and cold showers in minutes.

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Portrait of a Lady and her Daughter.png
By Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

This is the season in which you’ll want to have some indoor touring options up your sleeve so you can fill a few hours when the weather turns biting cold or uncomfortably wet. With luck, your autumn trip will be a mix of days temperate enough to enjoy meandering through the streets and sipping an espresso al fresco and the odd sudden shower driving you indoors to check out a museum or art gallery. For the latter case, here are some suggestions for art exhibits to check out across Italy this fall:
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A Papal Retreat: Castel Gandolfo

Rome is one of the world’s great cities: repository of stunning art and architecture; birthplace to iconic pasta dishes; and vibrant capital formed over almost three millennia of history. Despite its La Dolce Vita-tinged joie de vivre, the Eternal City can also be slightly overwhelming, with a relentless pace and urban bustle that is unsurprising for a metropolis of millions but not the relaxing atmosphere you may want on holiday.

Villa Barberini Pontifical Gardens, Castel Gandolfo(Photo by Sonse via Flickr)

If you find you need a break, there are a number of easy day trips that take you out of the city for a few hours of respite; one of the most delightful is Castel Gandolfo, where popes have retreated from the heat and politics of the capital during the summer months since the 17th century. Set just 14 miles (24 kilometers) outside the city limits, this sprawling estate is located deep in the hills of the Castelli Romani overlooking Lake Albano, an area known for its pretty towns, bucolic countryside, and respectable wines.
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Trip Inspiration: Venice to Zermatt in Ten Days

If you’ve been to Italy a few times and already visited the A-list destinations like Florence, Venice, and Rome—or if you are looking forward to your first jaunt but want to steer clear of the tour bus set—we have some delightfully quirky itineraries up our sleeve that offer all the photo ops, great food and wine, and cultural treasures for which the Bel Paese is known, with the added perk of fewer crowds, as well as that elusive sense of discovery that is sometime hard to come by in our heavily-traveled world.

DSC_0221(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

Here is the first of our Trip Inspiration series, meant to inspire your sense of curiosity and adventure, or simply to highlight the fact that Italy (and Switzerland) offer much more than the blockbuster sights. Check back in the future for more Trip Inspiration travelogues and photos to bookmark for future holidays!

IMG_9797Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

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