Sunday, April 27, 2014

Off the Beaten Path: Lake Garda

“Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon.” Rumi


Most tourists visiting Italy concentrate on Rome, Florence and Venice.  There are some other spectacular places that are worth visiting, one of them is Lake Garda.  The closest big cities are Verona and Trento, both amazing stops also.  Click here for information on how to reach Lake Garda.

On the way to Lake Garda all you see are mountains and valleys full of vineyards.  Needless to say, the area produces several types of wine, the most famous ones being the Chiaretto, Bardolino and Lugano.  Stop at one of the cantinas to do a wine tasting!

It takes one hour to drive the length of Lake Garda, and on its shores you will find one town after the other, all offering sailing lessons, small camping parks, restaurants and more.  We chose to stay at Riva del Garda, oh what a wonderful spot!

Riva del Garda, as many other towns in Norther Italy, is very organized and it attracts tourism from Germany, Austria a Switzerland.  The walking and biking trails along the river are all well marked and divided for pedestrians and bikers.  Most hotels provide free bicycles!  So set off to bike your way around town.  The old town area has enough charm to capture any traveler.  And the lake provides you with endless entertainment and amazing views.  The water of the lake is super clean and there are several pebble beaches and parks all around it.

A trip to Lake Garda offers fun for the entire family.  I was fortunate to visit it and wanted to share this great experience with you.  Arrivederci,


Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter!!

“When Good Friday comes, these are the moments in life when we feel there's no hope. But then, Easter comes.”  Coretta Scott King


This shot was taken in Taormina, a hilltop town in Sicily.  In its cathedral, this carving serves as the base of the altar.  I love finding the not so famous art all around this country.  (Read more about Sicily here)


 Happy Easter to all!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Day in Florence: Where to Go, What to Eat

" much intelligence Man once imposed upon the forms of the earth, when he set up the stones of Florence in the billowing expanse of the Tuscan olive-groves." Andre Malraux

Florence, the capital of the Tuscan region, is one of the most visited cities in Europe.  It is synonymous with works of art and good wine, and has inspired artists for centuries.  If you are a Renaissance enthusiast or just want to walk the streets of Michelangelo and Botticelli, Florence (in Italian: Firenze) will captivate you in no time!

Of course with more than one million works of Renaissance art housed in over 70 museums and countless churches, you will have to pick and choose what you want to see.  Depending on the time of the year, the museums can get very crowded so it's better to book your visit ahead of time.  Click here for the official reservations page.  Please note that state-run museums close on Mondays.  The famous David statue by Michelangelo is housed in the Galleria dell'Accademia museum, even though replicas of the David can be found all around town if you want to see the original you need to plan ahead and make a reservation.  The famous painting by Botticelli "The Birth of Venus" is housed in the Uffizi GalleryBooking your tickets in advance will help during high tourist season.

There is so much to see in Florence it's hard to narrow down the list of places to visit, however the following are landmarks of the city you cannot miss:

Il Duomo: Located in the heart of Florence, its colors differentiate it from other cathedrals in Italy.

Piazza della Signoria: The main square of Florence where you will find a replica of Michelangelo's David as well as Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's town hall.  You will also find the Loggia dei Lanzi a building with an open facade composed of arches that was originally design to hold public meetings.   The arches give the traveler a perfect shaded place to pause and view the statues with which it's adorned.  My children engaged in their own art/history discussion while contemplating the statue of Perseus holding Medusa's head.  The open spaces of the Piazza della Signoria make it a perfect spot to regroup while taking it all in.

Ponte Vecchio:  Crossing the Arno river, Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), is a symbol of the city.  The sidewalks of this pedestrian only bridge are occupied by jewelry stores and souvenir shops.  On the other side of the river you'll find good neighborhood restaurants with reasonable prices.  

Of course while in Florence don't pass the opportunity to try their most famous dish Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Steak, Florence-style).  My husband, a recurrent patron, recommends Perseus at Viale Don Minzoni 10.  It's a 20 minute walk from the historic center, but after eating a monster steak the walk is always welcomed.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Eating Healthy: Thai Beef Salad

“Tout est question d'équilibre” (It's all a matter of balance) Mireille Guiliano

I just made this recipe for a get together with friends.  I had a little bit left over and gave it to my teenage son, who loved it! And that is the toughest test a recipe can pass.  It came out so yummy I had to share the recipe here, with you!  I used ingredients that were easy to find in Rome (if you live here, you know how hard it can be to find international ingredients).

I started with regular salad greens and vegetables.  In order to make it Thai, I added mint from my terrace planter and chopped up peanuts.  I had to mention that the mint is from a pot on my terrace because I am terrible with plants and to be able to have a healthy growing herb under my care is something to celebrate (and brag about).

I then pan-fried two veal steaks seasoned with salt, pepper, minced garlic and minced ginger. Once the steaks had cooled down I chopped them in bite size pieces and added them to the salad.


one table spoons of soy sauce
two table spoons of lemon juice
two teaspoons of sugar
a couple of drops or hot peperoncini oil

And that was all, a perfect salad for the warmer weather and with enough protein to hold you until your next meal.  Enjoy!