Postcards from Italy

A Halloween Homage to Italy's Tasty Bones

Sure, we could celebrate Halloween by mentioning the spooky or downright horrific sights there are to see in Italy. But given that the holiday calls for the rattling of bones, we decided to bring up two of the tastiest “bony” dishes that you can sample on traditional Italian menus during the chilly autumn season.
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Pizza: The Dos and Don'ts

Last week we all gave homage to our favorite Italian staple during World Pasta Day. Today we are going to celebrate the second most recognized and beloved dish from the Bel Paese: pizza.

Pizza Napolitana(Photo by Edsel Little via Flickr)

Pizza lore is rich in history and myth. Though the first mention of pizza by name dates to the first millennium AD, the practice of adding toppings to flavor flat breads has been around since humans began leavening and baking bread in the Neolithic age. It was in southern Italy, however, that pizza as we know it today evolved: first as simply a plain flat bread, then flavored with olive oil and tomatoes, imported after the discovery of the New World, and finally as a crust supporting an infinite number of toppings.
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What To Do In Italy When It Rains

There's no denying that Italy is most enchanting when the weather is balmy. We especially love the spring and fall, when the air is so crisp that every view looks like a vintage postcard, you can comfortably tour even through the warmest hours of the afternoon, and the days are long enough to explore until evening.

umbrellas at yellow house
(Photo by Steve Hardy via Flickr)

Unfortunately, these are the same months in which the weather can be unpredictable and sudden showers can disrupt your carefully laid plans. One of the keys to a successful trip is being a bit flexible when the weather throws you for a loop, and finding a “Plan B” which will fill those wet hours or days with activities and experiences which keep you engaged...and dry! As Brian observed, “We were in Pienza the other day in the rain and saw a couple getting their bikes OFF their cars and setting out to ride around the countryside in pretty heavy rain. They didn't look very happy. A better idea - park the car and go have a leisurely lunch and a glass of wine.”

Here are a few ideas for those unforeseen stormy days when your plans of walking tours or countryside bike rides are better postponed:
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Everything You Need to Know about Venice's Gondolas

It's not often that we recommend indulging in a “touristy” activity; we love the more hidden and authentic side of Italy, and personalized, local experiences that often aren't accessible to mass tourism. There is one important exception to this bias, however: a ride in one of Venice's iconic gondolas.

Gondolas - Venice(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

As we said in our 48 Hours in Venice guide, “You wouldn’t visit Paris and skip the Eiffel Tower. You wouldn’t visit India and neglect the Taj Mahal. So how could you possibly not indulge in the most iconic of activities in Venice?” Part of this recommendation is based on the pure joy of floating down Venice's picturesque canals in your private luxury sedan of the sea, but part of it is also because the gondola may have become primarily a tourist attraction over the past century, but for most of the last millennium, it was a fundamental part of Venice's culture and daily life.
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Fall Art Exhibits in Italy

Autumn is one of the best periods of the year to visit Italy: the dense summer crowds thin considerably with the beginning of the school year, the torrid temperatures become more humane, some of the county's best culinary products are in season, and in some destinations, accommodations and airlines start offering their shoulder or low season rates. Perhaps one of the only disadvantages to traveling from October to December is the tricky weather, which can often turn on a dime and makes it challenging to foresee what to wear or what to plan from day to day.

This is why it's always wise to have a Plan B in mind for your daily itinerary, just in case the skies open and that stroll through the Forum or Boboli Gardens has to be postponed a few hours. Local museums are good alternatives, especially temporary exhibits that offer something new and engaging to see, even if you've visited and toured the museum itself on previous days or trips.

Palazzo Strozzi(Photo by Federico Pelloni via Flickr)

Fortunately, Italy is thick with excellent art exhibitions running through the fall months in major and minor cities from north to south over the next three months, perfect for a B-list (or even A-list) itinerary, rain or shine.

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