Postcards from Italy

Italy from the Air

Just because we’re travel specialists (and, ahem, enthusiasts) doesn’t mean that even we don’t need a little trip inspiration from time to time.

One of our favorite sources for new ideas--or simply refreshers on beloved classics--is Wendy Perrin, one of the most respected and recognized names in travel today. She recently launched her new website, which is chock full of consumer tips, travel advice, and trip reports—all served up in her signature approachable yet no-nonsense style.

Our eye fell immediately on her recent trip report about flying a small Cessna to Fogo Island, Newfoundland—or, better, gifting the piloting experience to her husband—and we were reminded of what an unforgettable experience seeing Italy from the air can be.

MB Avio C-26(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)
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48 Hours: Portofino and the Cinque Terre

The Ligurian Coast—known primarily for glamorous Portofino, beloved by Hollywood celebrities and the world’s yachterati since the 1960s, and the fetching Cinque Terre, “discovered” in the 1980s and now one of Italy’s most visited spots—can delight just about any traveler.

Portofino in winter(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

With its breathtaking scenery of craggy coast dotted with colorfully stuccoed fishing villages, excellent cuisine dominated by the local specialties of pesto genovese and seafood, national parks and marine reserves best explored by foot or boat, and tony boutiques and cafés lining Portofino’s winding lanes, you will be wishing you had more than just two days to revel in this unforgettable stretch of Italian coastline.
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From Young to Aged: Italy’s Best Cheeses

There are many things visitors should do while in Italy, from taking in this country’s enormous wealth of art and architecture (did you know that Italy is home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites and roughly half the world’s artistic treasures?) to rubbing elbows with the locals at the morning markets to simply slowing their travel pace and adopting—at least temporarily—the joie de vivre that Italy does best.

DSC02509(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

There is one thing, however, that visitors should absolutely not do while in Italy, and that one thing is diet. Though touted as one of the world’s healthiest, the Mediterranean diet with its staples of pasta, olive oil, wine, and gelato is not friendly to anyone’s waistline after a couple of weeks of holiday over-indulging. That said, the quality that has made Italy’s cuisine one of the world’s most beloved more than makes up for the few extra pounds that enthusiastic sampling is likely to bring. Read More…

Gubbio’s Raucous and Saintly Festa dei Ceri

Umbria, the pretty, rural region in central Italy just south of Tuscany, is known for its sleepy Medieval hilltowns, which spend almost the entire year caught in a time capsule of languid days broken up by long family meals and gossip in the main square which has remained unchanged for centuries. I say almost the entire year, however, because this slow pace and pastoral atmosphere is brusquely interrupted once a year when each town holds its annual festival—most often celebrating the local patron saint’s feast day—and the citizens let their hair down for a few days of unfettered eating, drinking, dancing, and benignly chaotic partying.

Saint Ubaldo(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Nowhere is the contrast between the saint’s day celebrations and the remaining 364 days of the year as dramatic as in Gubbio, where this normally stoic and rather dour mountain fortress town descends into a day of delightful madness and celebratory anarchy each year on May 15th to celebrate their patron Saint Ubaldo with a symbolic race, La Corsa dei Ceri.
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Our Secret Florence

Shh! Can you keep a secret? We’re about to reveal some of our favorite hiding-in-plain-sight spots and highlights in Florence that are just too much fun to keep to ourselves. Read on to see what is getting us excited to be in Italy’s most beautiful Renaissance city this week...(but keep it between us!)

Florence twilight.(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)
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Rome's Monteverde Nuovo Food Market

Of all of life’s great questions, perhaps the most confounding is this: How does one choose a good artichoke? (hint: they feel heavy and compact)

Carciofi(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Luckily, there is a place in Rome to find an answer to that and many other cooking (and living) conundrums: the Monteverde Nuovo food market.
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