Postcards from Italy

Staying Fit while Traveling in Italy

We've all been there: the New Year's resolution to get into shape, followed by a few months of serious commitment, healthy eating, a fitness routine, and the first gratifying results. Then, of course, comes that spring or summer vacation that throws you completely off track and ends with a few extra pounds and a feeling of having to start back at square one.

a way to a healthy life(Photo by Dr. Abdullah Naser via Flickr)

Italy is a country that can easily lead you off course if you're not careful. The food here is divine, and the pace slow. Weeks of long, leisurely meals followed by an afternoon siesta, and you are bound to come back with both suitcases and waistband straining at the excess weight. If you would like to limit the damage during your trip, here are a few tips to staying fit and (reasonably) trim while visiting the Bel Paese.

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Christo's “Floating Piers” Installation

One of Italy's most interesting and discussed cultural events in 2016 is Bulgarian-born artist Christo's new massive installation, “Floating Piers”, on Lake Iseo in Lombardy.

alternative text(Photo: André Grossmann © 2014 Christo)

This conceptual artist, along with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, is famous for his large-scale environmental pieces. His best known installations were his wrappings of Berlin's Reichstag, Paris' Pont-Neuf bridge, and the coast of Little Bay in Sydney, Australia, which was the largest single artwork in history.
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Florence with Kids: A Family Friendly Tour

Florence is Italy's most family-friendly major city. The historic center is very compact, and virtually all of the city's major squares, museums, and sights are within walking distance from each other and from the main train station. You can spend days exploring and never have to use public transportation or taxis - something that is not really possible in Rome or Milan. In addition, the large areas of downtown closed to cars and mopeds give kids a longer tether to run around in the piazzas and main streets without parents worrying about them running into traffic or taking an accidental dip, which is a nagging worry when visiting Venice.

Kids enjoying art(Photo by Michael via Flickr)

The vast artistic treasures of this Renaissance capital can be a bit over the top for younger kids, however. As in Rome, many of the most iconic museums and monuments in Florence are best appreciated with a guide who knows how to cherry-pick the works so visits are engaging rather than discouraging. Other sights in the city are fun to explore independently and can be enjoyed by travelers of all ages.
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Arts and Crafts Lessons in Italy

Everyone loves to bring home a unique souvenir from a memorable trip, and travelers to Italy are no exception. Shopping is one of the joys of visiting this country dominated by small, family-run businesses. Everything from food and wine to traditional artisan wares and custom tailored clothing make excellent gifts for loved ones or mementos for yourself.

There is no better souvenir from Italy, however, than the memories of authentic experiences with welcoming locals. We love to arrange personalized tours and visits with local experts and artisans so travelers to Italy can come home with a true understanding of this country's culture and people.

arts-crafts-florence-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

With an arts and crafts lesson, these two aspects are perfectly combined: under the patient guidance of a traditional artisan, you have the opportunity to learn a new skill in its historical and cultural context...and you leave with the most unique souvenir possible: a unique handcrafted item or piece of artwork that you have made yourself!

Arts and crafts lessons and courses have become increasingly popular among travelers to Italy over the past few years for this precise reason, and there are a variety of private lessons and group courses available across Italy to suit a range of interests and skill levels. Here are a few of the most interesting:

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Italy's Beef from Ranch to Restaurant

As far as national identity goes, Italy is more associated with pork than beef. From prosciutto to lardo di colonnata, the lion's share of Italy's most recognized charcuterie and grilled cuts are made from its domestic pigs. Pigs are less expensive to raise and butcher than beef, and pork is one of the pillars of the country's historic “cucina povera”, or rural cuisine, tradition.

IMG_0388(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The postwar boom brought both wealth and urbanization to Italy, and average Italians began sitting down to a large steak for the first time in the country's history. Even Dario Cecchini, Italy's celebrity butcher and proselytizer of the famous Fiorentina, ate his first steak at age 18 to celebrate his birthday. As a modest family of butchers and laborers, the Cecchinis' diet was based on the cheapest cuts of pork and beef, offal, and charcuterie, which Dario remembers fondly and continues to prepare in his shop and restaurant.

beef-pienza-cr-brian-dore (Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though the more prestigious cuts of beef have not been a historical mainstay of the Italian diet, the beef raised in Italy today is among the world's finest, using heirloom breeds, open grazing, and limited and strictly regulated pharmaceuticals. If you are hankering for an excellent cutlet or tartare the next time you're in Italy, here are a few facts about Italian beef to help you choose the most mouth-watering cut.

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