Six 10 Second Decisions That Can Change the Course of How You See and Savor Italy

The endless possibilities of the day ahead. Travel is exciting, invigorating and in the best possible way unpredictable. Here are six 10 split-second decisions that I would not hesitate to make on your next trip to Italy.

Should I Stay or Should I Go  . . . Off the Tourist Flow?

If your destination is one of Italy’s Big Three (Rome, Florence or Venice) and you have an opportunity to travel outside the tourist flow – go. As spectacular as these cities are, the personal charm of Italy lies just beyond. Here is where the real magic begins.

Should I Visit an Italian Terme?

Terme is the Italian word for thermal waters. Popes, pilgrims, princes and everyday Italians have traveled to these natural hot springs seeking the beneficial virtues of the waters to regenerate the body and mind since ancient times. Bagno Vignoni, a small medieval town south of Siena is a perfect place to “get your feet wet” when it comes to the terme experience. You can check in to the local term or just walk down to a trickling hot spring to sooth your tried feet. Popular termes in the same region include Montecatini and Saturnia. I prefer Antica Querciolaia near the town of Rapolano Terme which is very accessible and family oriented.

Should I Do Some Outlet Shopping?

There are many outlet malls within driving distance from most major Italian cities with high end designs at outlet prices. Why would you not go?

Should I Forgo One Large Museum to Visit a Small Lesser Known One?

When you think of Italy you think of world class museums with an archival wealth of art and history. The Vatican Museum, the Uffizi, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice,
Pinacoteca di Brera and Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. Italy is an open air museum. But don’t forget to seek out some of the small, lesser known museums. A good local museum will add to your understanding of the region and as you won’t have to queue to view exhibits, you can be in and out in less than an hour.

Should I Include a UNESCO Italian World Heritage Site in My Travel Itinerary?

These have been identified by UNESCO as cultural and national heritage sites of significant importance and value to humanity that deserve the protection of our world community. A cultural endangered species that should not be missed.

Should I Order the Region’s Signature Dish?

There is nothing more evocative than eating the food or drinking the wine in its place of origin. Food immersion is the best way to experience the true Italian lifestyle. Eat locally to eat like an Italian. Be a little adventurous and try the speciality of the house, the advice of the chef consiglo dello chef.

Pappardelle con Lepre or a Ragu’ con cinghiale. Truffles in Tuscany or Piemonte. Sugo all’amatriciana in Rome. Spaghetti Bolgnese in Bologna and gelato everywhere.

21 Undeniably Signs You’ve Traveled in Italy (on more than a “show and tell” tour)

Are you part of the confraternity of Italian travelers who have truly seen and savored Italy? Off the tourist flow to see Italy’s iconic sights a little differently. Traveling le stradi dei vini e sapori to taste regional Italy food at the gastronomic epicenter of the world. Ready to return home boasting about the most wonderful food you ate, wine you drank and what you saw.

Traveling to Italy on more than a “show and tell” tour will take you down Roman roads, past castles with Celtic altars and Etruscan ruins, through medieval walled cities and alpine lakes, visiting Renaissance chapels and Gothic cathedrals, into kitchens, vineyards and orchards to experience the food of princes, popes, pilgrims and everyday Italians, developing a taste for Italy and wanting more.

Here are 21 undeniably signs you’ve seen and savored Italy.

1. You can’t drive by the Olive Garden without thinking or saying “THEY JUST DON”T GET IT”.

2. You’re on a universal quest to find the right olive oil like the one you had in Italy.

3. You find yourself wanting to take a mid-day break without regret just to rest and recharge.

4. You would never think of having a cappuccino after 12 noon.

5. You’re favorite pizza is Pizza Margherita with Bufala Mozzarella.

6. Each night after dinner you take a passeggiata.

7. You’ve seen the Palladian villas.

8. You’re favorite Italian cheese is something other than parmesan.

9. You’ve driven through the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany.

10. You’ve been to an Italian terme.

11. You’ve stared at the starry blue mosaic ceiling of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna.

12. You’ve stopped at a cicchetti bar in Venice for a nibble and nip.

13. You’ve eaten papparadelle con lepre or a ragu’ of wild boar.

14. You’ve visited the Museo di Tartufo in San Giovanni d’Asso for an addictive truffle experience.

15. On more than one occasion, you have cornered a totally uninterested stranger at a house party to rant about how America needs to learn how to make a proper pizza.

16. Supermarket cheese aisles depress you.

17. Chianti is not your favorite Italian wine.

18. You’ve window shopped Via Monte Napoleone in Milan.

19. Visited a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy.

20. You’ve breathed the air of the Renaissance at Santa Maria Novella Farmacia in Florence.

21. You find that you sometimes avoid talking about Italy or your time there, because you know how pretentious it sounds (but come on!! it’s a huge part of your life!!).