Civita Bagnoregio, the dying city

Civita Bagnoregio is a delightful ancient hamlet, noted for its striking position atop a plateau of friable volcanic tuff overlooking the Tiber river valley.

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Perched on top of a tufa hill among a desolated valley made up of calanchi, Civita Bagnoregio is an Etruscan town with over 2500 years of history. The continuous erosion makes the soft tufa rock becoming thinner and thinner: the hills edges fall off, leaving the buildings built on the plateau to crumble. Civita Bagnoreggio is slowly dying.

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Cremona, home of stradivari


Cremona, it is located on the border between Lombardy and Emilia Romagna and lies on the left bank of the Po. It’s a charming town rich of history and art, and the wonderful piazza del Duomo is a blend of Roman and Renaissance jewels.

But on top of its monuments, Cremona is home to the families of the world’s most famous luthiers: Amati, Stradivari, Guarneri. A visit to the Stradivari museum is an experience not to be missed (click here for more info).

Cremona is perfect for a day trip from Milan (roughly one hour by train)


Ostia Antica, a convenient alternative to Pompei


Visiting Rome and no time to go to Pompei? Well, Ostia Antica archeological site could well satisfy your ambitions of visiting the remains of an old Roman city.

Ostia Antica has been for centuries Rome seaport, until the change of the Tiber river course left it high and dry. The town was then abandoned and buried by centuries of sediment until the 19th century excavations.

Ostia Antica site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics, and is conveniently located less than one hour train from Roma Termini station.

To go to Ostia Antica web site, click here.


Bergamo: Lombardy’s hidden jewell


Bergamo Alta is a fascinating medieval town perched on a hill, surrounded by 16th-century cyclopic defensive walls. Its old city center hides real treasures, such as the piazza vecchia, the Duomo and the cappella Corleoni, an amazing renaissance master piece.

Bergamo lies just 40 km east of Milan and is a perfect day trip destination. Click here to go to the complete post.


Twenty top things to do in Venice, beyond the obvious

Top things to do in Venice - visit St Mark square at night

The best twenty top things to do in Venice (plus two seasonal opportunities): my personal unmissable itineraries, activities and experiences in Venice

I often receive questions such as “what are Venice highlights?” and “how long should we stay?” So I put together the things I like to do when I’m in Venice, to share them with you. Whenever it made sense, I tried to make suggestions “beyond the obvious”, in order to make your Venice stay a really unique and memorable experience. Continue reading “Twenty top things to do in Venice, beyond the obvious”

Capri souvenirs: discover what to shop in posh Capri island

Capri souvenirs
Lovely Capri and Amalfi coast magnets, sold in a stall close to Capri’s harbour.

Charming Capri souvenirs may be found everywhere in Capri, as well as fashionable clothes, shoes and handicrafts. Here are the three unmissable ones: Canfora sandals, Limoncello Liquor and Capri’s bells.

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Rome in 5 days: how to get the most out of your Rome stay

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Rome must sees, such as Colosseum, Spanish steps and Vatican, and off the beaten path sights such as Appian way and the catacombs: easy 5 days itinerary.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you will definitely need more than 24 hours to discover it! Actually, even though two or three rushy days may be sufficient to get a glimpse of the main sights, ideally you should try to dedicate not less than five days to the visit of the eternal city.

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Fabulous Venice Carnival


What to see, do and enjoy during Venice carnival, an unmissable Italian event.

Venice Carnival is much more than costumed chaos: parades, processions, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties… well Venice Carnival will offer you everything you need to live a really unique and rewarding experience (especially if you manage to avoid week ends, when the town gets really crowded).

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How to visit a Balsamic Vinegar maker in Modena

Discover the making of traditional balsamic vinegar in Modena and learn how to visit a  Modena Balsamic Vinegar maker. This is a very easy half day tour from Bologna or day tour from Milan.

If you have a taste for “slow food”, you can’t ignore Balsamic Vinegar (“Aceto Balsamico”), which needs not less than 12 years of aging (but usually as much as 25!) before being savored!

This is still a family handmade product, and you can visit an “Acetaia” (litterally: the “vinegar place”). This is a fantastic experience to discover a century old tradition, and one of the most exclusive Italian food products.

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Naples nativity scenes market: San Gregorio Armeno

San Gregorio Armeno Market and the nativity scenes museum at La certosa di San Martino

Discover the liveliest Christmas market in central-south Italy, and one of the finest Italian Nativity Scenes museums.

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Setting up a nativity scene—Presepe in Italian —is a strong tradition in Naples, started as early as the 11th century. Still today, the Presepe is a Must for every true Neapolitan, and the unmissable place to buy your Presepe is the San Gregorio Armeno market.

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Climbing on top of Pisa leaning tower

Tips to climb on top of Pisa leaning tower and to visit awesome Piazza dei MiracoliPisa leaning Tower is one of the most iconic places in Italy and climbing on top of it is a not to be missed experience.

However, if you plan to climb on top of Pisa tower you should reserve well in advance your ticket and be prepared to share the monuments with a massive quantity of tourists. So here are some tips to get the most out of your Pisa leaning tower experience.

Pisa leaning tower and Pisa cathedral

The first sight not to be missed is Piazza dei Miracoli (“Square of Miracles”), the huge square hosting the tower, the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the monumental graveyard. The square is surrounded by a beautiful green lawn, and the contrast between the green grass and the dazzling white monuments has always struck me.

Santa Maria Assunta, the awsome Cathedral, dominates the square with its beautiful Romanesque architecture. It hosts many important works of art, such as the great mosaic of St. John the Evangelist in the apse (1302) by Cimabue, or the Pulpit, a masterpiece by Giovanni Pisano.

But the main attraction is of course the leaning Tower of Pisa (actually, it’s the cathedral bell tower!) and climbing on it is an absolute must!

Since the massive restoration at the end of past century aimed at increasing the tower stability, the once opened archways have been blocked, making the climb fairly secure.  The Leaning Tower is 55 meters high and is inclined 5° southward. One has to climb up 294 steps to reach the top,Therefore, be prepared to a rather steep and strange climb due to the sense of imbalance that comes from climbing the spiral stairs of a seriously tilting edifice!

That said, the view from the top of the tower is definitely worth the climb!

Visit tips

Campo dei Miracoli entrance is free, and if you have time you can easily spend hours laying on the grass and enjoying the amazing setting (and the funny efforts of the many tourists trying to avoid the tower to fall down, click here for a bunch of funny pictures…).

All the other monuments require an admission ticket and a reservation, even though the only real restriction is for climbing Pisa tower. The chances of you getting tickets by just wandering up and slim at any time of year are non-existent if you visit Pisa Tower in high season.

You only get 30 minutes to climb the tower, take in the view form the top, and climb back down—but that’s pretty much enough time. Note that you must pick up your tickets to the tower 30 minutes before your entry time—so, all told, a visit here takes at least an hour.

The official site offers all the explanation and the convenient opportunity to purchase your ticket voucher on line

If you would like to know how to visit Pisa and the leaning tower in a day trip, have a look at my post: How to travel from Florence to Pisa in a day.

In case you prefer to join an escorted tour, here is a good one, here is a convenient and fairly priced half day Pisa tour from Florence.

Enjoy your visit to Pisa!

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One day in Lucca: best things to do including city walls biking

One day in Lucca

Best things to do if you manage to spend one day in Lucca, Italy. A walking and biking itinerary to discover Lucca in one day (even though spending 2 days in Lucca would give you a much better opportunity to enjoy this lovely town). Use the enclosed Lucca Map to optimize your Lucca in one day tour.

Lucca is an unmissable destination in Tuscany and one day is the minimum amount of time you should dedicate to its visit. Despite is relatively small site, its city center hosts amazing monuments and sights, dating from Roman age to renaissance. But what makes Lucca really unique are its  Renaissance-era city walls that have remained intact while so many other Tuscan towns saw theirs destroyed in past centuries.

Since Lucca isn’t a hilltop village, it is ideal for anyone with mobility issues as well as for families with kids.

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Gallipoli, the “beautiful town” of Salento: an easy one day tour

Gallipoli, in the Salento, is one of the most beautiful destinations in Puglia. Discover how to visit Gallipoli in one day and why you shouldn’t miss it.


When viewed from the sea, Gallipoli white skyline reveals itself in all of its oriental beauty, resembling a village of the Cyclades islands.

Gallipoli is a fishing town named from the Greek Kallipolis, meaning beautiful city. It’s located on the southeastern coast of Puglia, the heel of Italy. Gallipoli is celebrated for its crystal clear blue sea and the sandy beaches that make its territory one of the most cherished natural attractions of Salento.

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Summer night in Lecce

A walking tour to enjoy a magical summer night in Lecce, the Florence of the South. What to see, where to eat and where to stay.

Lecce is the Apulia region jewel, and one of the most fascinating southern Italian town.

Capital of the Salento (the southernmost part of the Italian heel), Lecce is nicknamed “The Florence of the South” because of its awesome Baroque monuments. Wandering in a summer night in its century old, stone paved streets is simply magic. Discover with me its main square, piazza del Duomo, after the crowds are gone and the full moon lights up its golden limestone monuments.

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Gubbio, medieval perfection in Umbria

The Roman Theater and the old town of Gubbio

Discover Gubbio, a medieval jewel in the heart of beautiful Umbria

Are you looking for the perfect medieval town? Cobblestone streets, Gothic palaces and churches, centuries of history behind every corner? Oh, and you want it in a beautiful natural setting, but far from the mainstream tourist flows?

Well, don’t look any further, and get a ticket to Gubbio!

Gubbio is the oldest town in Umbria, and one of its most beautiful destinations. It’s relatively small, and its main attractions, such as the magnificent Palazzo dei Consoli (Consular Palace),  the renaissance The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) and the cathedral can be easily visited in half a day and are a perfect day trip from Perugia or Assisi.


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Enjoy your trip to Gubbio!


__________________________________________________________________________________________________ Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow and get free up.

Cycling on history: discover Rome Appian Way and its catacombs

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 A bike itinerary to discover the Appian Way (“Appia Antica”) and its catacombs, one of the most fascinating destinations in Rome

The via Appia Antica is the old Roman Appian Way, which ran from Rome down to Brindisi, three hundred kilometers to the south. The stretch close to Rome is now part of a nature and archaeological park which includes early Christian catacombs, original Roman causeways, monuments and mausoleums, the remains of seven Roman aqueducts dating back to the Republican and Imperial age, and large, untouched rural landscapes dotted with cypress and maritime pines.

Walking or riding a bike along the Via Appia Antica is a refreshing change from the city, particularly on Sundays when the area is closed to traffic. The road is attractive and atmospheric, with plenty of grassy spots where to relax and to picnic. You could easily spend a whole day here (the complete itinerary is more than 30 Km long!), but with so much else to see in Rome most visitors spend there just two hours or less.

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