I could write non-stop about all the things to do in Italy. Now that I’ve can safely say that I’m “settling in” living in Italy, I’ll be putting on my more adventure-worthy shoes and heading out to provide views and insights that hopefully are well off the beaten path.

An Unexpected Journey to Brighton

Brighton

Brighton Pavillion ©2017 Jed Smith

I’m just returning home, after an unexpected adventure. Mind you, initially I wanted to thrown an internal hissy fit, having been catapulted off the course of my well-laid plans and expectations. But, somehow (don’t ask how) something in me relaxed, and I ended up with a very nice, one-day diversion. And, I seized the opportunity as an unplanned photo assignment.

Here’s how my unexpected trip to Brighton unfolded…

Simone and I had been in London for a three-day mini vacation. What’s so awesome about living in northern Italy is the ease and economy of being able to hop around to other countries. My easyJet round trip ticket was less,than $100, and the flight a mere one-hour-forty-five minutes. London was great, especially the annual 2017 BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (my favorite museum in the world) and a jaw-dropping presentation of An American in Paris.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon when Simone headed off to two days of business while I took the train to Gatwick. I’ll try to make this short and as pain-free as possible. The skinny is there had been a runway “incident” involving an exploding tire. Tons of flights were cancelled, including mine. Here’s the fork in the road. Do I throw an adult temper tantrum (like many of my fellow passengers) or go with the flow?

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Sportoletti Cantina, in Umbria, Makes Amazing Wine

Sportoletti Cantina

Sportoletti excels at making beautifully rendered wines at great prices

Fair warning. I’m going to gush. But, for good reason. Just over eight years ago a bit of research and persistence turned up recommendations by other wine lovers to seek out the Sportoletti Cantina, which is south of Assisi, and just north of Spello. I had been making a list of wineries to visit in nearby Montefalco, home of the spectacular Sagrantino (a BIG wine that ages spectacularly), when I came across this one fellow’s article urging readers to visit Sportoletti. I’m one to follow advice to veer off the beaten path. Boy, am I glad I did.

Sportoletti Cantina has been around since the late seventies

The family started out, playing around with several varietals. Years later, they’d focused their efforts for five wines – two red, two whites, and a dessert wine. Yes, they wisely decided on perfecting fewer wines vs having a huge selection. Today, Sportoletti produces somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter-of-a-million bottles of wine. And, guess what? Many of them make their way to the United States. I hope, by the time you’ve watched my video about this winery 

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Viva gli Alpini! 2017 Party Time in Treviso!

Viva gli Alpini!, Treviso

Four days of happiness and revelry

 

Benvenuti to the 2017 Adunata Nazionale Alpini – the 2017 National Alpini Gathering

Just over a week ago, this HUGE national event wrapped up here in Treviso. It left me eager to join in the shouts of “Viva gli Alpini!” Each year, this massive gathering and celebration is held in a different city (next year it will be in Trento). I was forewarned that Treviso would be overrun with people. I laughed it off saying to myself, “Yeah, they’re just exaggerating.” Boy, was I wrong. In the video below,

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The Running Madonna – “La Madonna che scappa”

Running Madonna, Italywise

The big moment

The Running Madonna, The Madonna Who Runs, and The Runaway Madonna – this Easter event goes by several names.

This is a spectacular event, and one of the biggest events in Italy. It’s been acted out for centuries in Sulmona, a medieval city in Abruzzo. If you get the chance, I strongly urge you to experience The Running of the Madonna in person. You’ll find yourself swept along in the weekend’s highly charged emotional events, which all lead up to a singular, breathtaking moment in Piazza Garibaldi.

Book your travel and accommodations early for the Running of the Madonna!

My precious friends Novelia and Peppe (also residents and superb ambassadors of Sulmona) started enticing me to block out time on my calendar, and book accommodations, well over a year ago. Even securing a room at a B&B almost eight months prior to the event before was a challenge. I almost didn’t get a place.

So what exactly is The Running of the Madonna all about?

Much attention is given to the pivotal moment on Easter Sunday when the Madonna races across Piazza Girabaldi,

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Don’t Over Think It!

Over think, ItalyWise

This statue is me, on far too many occasions. Lost in my head, and not present enough to my amazing surroundings. This is what happens when I over think.

Recently I attended a special exhibition at the Ca’ Pesaro gallery in Venice to see a fascinating exhibition called Chanel, The Woman Who Reads. The museum has an incredible permanent collection, and the actual structure is a spectacular piece of architecture. On this particular day, I rounded the corner to see this giant Rodin sculpture – The Thinker. I snapped a photo, as a reminder to not over think my life.

A person can, far too easily, get stuck in thinking and planning one’s life…

True confessions here. I’m so guilty of this. When I was a mere child I began to rely, quite heavily, on thinking and analyzing as a way to control the world around me. Thankfully, the last several years have been wresting this conditioning from my life, but I keep reminding myself of the dangers and tendency towards spending too much time in my head.

Why am I choosing the write about his subject? I’ve been receiving a large number of inquiries into the vast number of logistics a person has to navigate in building a life in Italy – from applying for an Italian visa, to getting the permesso di soggiorno, to getting health care, etc. It’s a lot of stuff. Period. So much, in fact,

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Learning Italian? Manu is the #1 YouTube Resource!

Italy Made Easy

Manu explains how you can make the most of his incredible online resources.

This week I close out my interview with Manu of Italy Made Easy and the last interview question. If you’re intent on learning Italian I urge you to take advantage of his engaging teaching style.

Italy Made Easy has over 22,000 subscribers on YouTube

Yes, the public has spoken, with a huge thumbs up for Manu. After only watching a few of his videos I was hooked, and jumped into his large following. The more I’ve experienced his teaching style, the more I’m convinced he’s the best Italian language resource online. My spouse, who is Italian (Milanese), and a very tough critic,

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Speak Italian When You’re in Italy – It Opens Doors!!!

Italy Made Easy, ItalyWise

Invaluable advice on the importance of speaking Italian in Italy

After listening to this week’s interview segment with Manu of Italy Made Easy you’ll understand just why it is important to speak Italian when you are in Italy. In the style that has earned him accolades for being such a great teacher, Manu helps you see this from the perspective of Italians encountering foreigners visiting their country.

When you speak Italian in Italy, your experiences will expand!

My personal experience testifies to this again and again. So, taking the time to build a basic proficiency in Italian will pay off handsomely. Once Italians get to know you, they can be incredibly warm and generous, and you can find yourselves being invited into experiences that normally wouldn’t be available to you. Manu shares a wonderful story

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Manu, My Favorite Online Italian Teacher, Is Passionate about Teaching

speaking Italian, ItalyWise

Get to know Manu of Italy Made Easy

Today’s post is a second of several special installments about a powerful resource for learning Italian – Manu Venditti, the best online Italian teacher I’ve come across. And, I’m a pretty tough critic of teaching styles, so I hope you’ll follow my recommendation and get to know Manu.

Manu’s Italy Made Easy is loaded with free lessons

If you’re like me, you like to “kick the tires” if at all possible when choosing a teacher of any sort. Oh, how I wish I’d been able to sample some of the professors I had in college through a resource like YouTube, or the internet in general (I guess I’m dating myself, huh?). But back in those “dark ages” nothing like that existed, and I only had word of mouth, or personal recommendations to go on.

Once you sample Manu’s online Italian lessons, you’ll be hooked.

And, this is a very good thing. There’s nothing worse than the dread that often comes with learning and studying with a boring teacher. With Manu, you can’t help

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Valdobbiadene Will Deepen Your Love Affair with Prosecco

Prosecco, Valdobbiadene, ItalyWise

Prosecco wines of Valdobbiadene

It seems only fitting, with the holiday season, to devote a post to the standard-bearer of celebratory wines here in Italy – Prosecco. Until recently, I had been sloppy about my Prosecco knowledge. That is, until my partner and I took the forty-five minute drive from Treviso to Valdobbiadene. This town and area, my friends, is THE bullseye when it come to the gold standard for prosecco.

Prosecco continues to become all the rage outside of Italy.  But beware of what you’re buying!

I’ve been one of those people – you know, who gets excited just hearing the word prosecco, without really understanding the vast differences between what is being marketed as prosecco. I’ve learned there are plenty of differences, and a lot of the prosecco being exported is appealing to the general idea of prosecco, and not to the elegant subtleties. The good news is that most people really enjoy the prosecco they are buying at the local grocery or wine shop. But, come to Italy and spend a day in Valdobiaddene, and you might realize you’ve been short-changing yourself.

A day of tastings in Valdobiaddene will help you zero in on the style you like best.

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Three Magical Days in Budapest

Danube, Budapest

Cruising along the Danube in Budapest, Hungary.

Getting to Budapest from Italy is a piece of cake.

Our recent trip to Budapest is just one example of just how easy, and inexpensive it is to hop around Europe. Even better, since we live just north of Venice, we’re that much closer. The Venice airport continues to expand, and it offers multiple options for getting to destinations such as Budapest. We took easyJet for 60 euro a piece. That’s roundtrip, including one checked bag for the two of us (you don’t need much for three days). The flight there, from Venice, is a mere fifty minutes from takeoff to landing. Not bad, wouldn’t you say?

Get thee to Budapest before the old world charm is overrun with tourism.

I strongly urge you to make a beeline for Budapest. We all know what happens when a destination is “discovered”, don’t we?

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