Postcards from Italy

Italy's Islands: The Tuscan Archipelago

The Tuscan landscape is known for its rolling countryside, dotted with hilltop villages and covered by a picturesque patchwork of thick oak woods, tidy vineyards, and rich farmland. Lesser known is the region's archipelago, a chain of seven islands including Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri, Gorgona, and Elba located just off the coast that are part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. Beloved for their pristine flora and crystalline waters, these beautiful islands are said to have divine origins: when the goddess Venus emerged from the sea, her necklace broke and seven pearls fell into the water, from which sprang these legendary islands.

Laconella(Photo by Maurizio Abbiateci via Flickr)

The Tuscan Archipelago was Italy's first major marine park and is the largest protected marine area in Europe. Though largely unknown to international tourists, these islands are a popular destination for Italians during the summer months who flock to the immaculate beaches, tiny resort towns, and excellent dive sites. To visit the islands, there is ferry service from the Tuscan coast or the main island of Elba, or you can book a private speedboat to island hop at your own pace.

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On Your Best Behavior: Dos and Don'ts While Traveling in Italy

Over the past few years in Italy, there seems to have been a spike in reported incidents of - to put it broadly - bad behavior among tourists. Damage to artistic treasures has been the worst consequence, of course, but the growing sense of entitled disrespect has cast a pall on the welcome that many of Italy's cities have extended to international visitors for centuries, and led local and national governments to pass a number of new ordinances and measures to protect both the dignity and decorum of Italy's elegant art capitals and their works of public art.

pantheon-rome-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though a few cases of the disrespectful or destructive behavior have been malicious vandalism, most incidents have been caused by a simple lack of awareness of the local rules and customs, or a bit too much focus on that perfect selfie. Here we'll brush up on some guidelines for enjoying Italy without damaging its priceless art or offending its friendly citizens, so Italy can continue to be the breathtakingly beautiful and warmly welcoming Bel Paese the world has grown to love.

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Shopping on the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is arguably the world's most famous stretch of coastline, the setting for Silver Screen romances and chic fashion shoots alongside vacationing celebrities, honeymooners, and everyone in between. If you are planning a visit to this stunning coast, be ready to take on the hairpin curves of the famously tortuous highway skirting the shoreline, explore the Instagram-ready towns of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello, and relax over a plate of fresh seafood at a seaside restaurant with sighs of delight as the sun dips into the Mediterranean.

amalfi-coast-boat-tour-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Be prepared to shop, as well. The coast doesn't offer the famed cultural landmarks of Rome or Florence - though Pompeii is a quick day trip away - but it does have majestic scenery, elegant dining, and some memorable shopping. From artisan workshops to luxury designer boutiques, there are ample opportunities to choose a special memento of your stay on Italy's iconic Costiera.

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“Master of None” and Delicious Modena

Italophiles are always thrilled when a movie or tv series is set in the Bel Paese, but most programs filmed against the backdrop of Italy are sappy romances or travel shows. If your pop culture tastes lie outside these genres, you aren't often treated to seeing American stars walking the cobblestone streets and sitting in the bustling bars of your favorite Italian city.

Modena, piazza grande(Photo by Cristina Sanvito via Flickr)

The Netflix comedy Master of None is an edgy outlier. This modern comedy/drama follows the adventures of a 30-year-old Indian-American actor Dev (played by the comedian and show's co-creator Aziz Ansari) in New York City, where he is trying to build a career, find love, and balance the expectations of his parents with his Millenial lifestyle. Since its debut in 2016, the show has been a critical success, received multiple awards, and was considered one of the best new programs last year. The newly-released second season begins with Dev getting over a failed romance in the small city of Modena in Emilia Romagna, where he has apprenticed at a local pasta shop making the region's iconic tortellini and discovered the joy of authentic Italian cuisine.

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