Il Viaggio – The Trip

I just returned from an 12 day trip to Italy. I visited Milan, Trento, Bolzano, Padova, Vincenza, Venice, Lake Garda and several small villages which our bike our took us through. It was an amazing trip, but I learned a lesson. DON’T BOOK YOURSELF SOLID.  I had set up so many things withs dates and times that I forgot to live the Italian lifestyle and not rush.  None the less, it was an amazing trip. But I will remember for the next visit. IMG 1186

Pasta with ragu in a small ristorante in Milano. Off the beaten path, not crowded and a great meal. 

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The The Osteria The Full Moon

This was my first dinner in Milano, and you might like to visit this quiet southern Italian ristorante if you have time. Here is the address.  Via Lazzaro Palazzi 9, 20124 Milan, Italy.  If you have not guessed, I am a big fan of Southern Italian cooking and Sicilian Cooking. IMG 1190IMG 1292

 

Bikes are a way of life in Milano and most of italy.  The bike share cycles area all over. It is not uncommon to see some in a dress and high heels, or a business suit riding down the street. In Desenzano del Garda a young man was riding in the rain with an umbrella held high above his head… Sujch is the life of those who commute on a bicci!

The next post will include the Cenaclo and the Canal District.

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Rome in 18 days

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Spending 18 days in Rome and traveling mostly on foot bright this city into a new light. Every time we left the apartment we got closer to the city and discovered new and exciting things. Our first visit was in the mid 80s. We did not return to Italy until 1998. Since then we have made several more trips to Rome if only for a few days. This was the chance for discovery and getting a feel for living somewhat like a local.

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Our Airbnb was close to Campo de Fiore. We walked just about everywhere. The market is picturesque but highly oriented to tourists.  Still many locals go each day, as did we. Fresh produce and fruit came back to our apartment. A small supermarket was also close by to supplement what the market did not have.  There were several salumerie  in the area, and well as several Macellerie for cold cuts and meat.  This became a daily ritual.

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During the next several blogs post, I will be describing the interesting happenings during our stay in Rome.

 

Caio for now.

At the beach La spiaggia 

Knowing that we would most likely be in an August heat wave, we have tried to stay  close to the water. 

We are about 50 feet above the sea and 50 feet away. The views are stunning. Temps have been in the upper 80s and the sun is intense. Really intense. Fa caldo.

This is the perfect spot for diving and snorkeling. When we were in the water yesterday small fish kept checking out our legs.

Access to the beach is free, but if you wish the comforts on a lounge chair, and umbrella you must pay. In this case it was 25 euro for the day, and well worth it. Today we will bring an umbrella from our apartment and give it a try on the cheap side. Means no fresh water shower and sitting on the rocky shore on a borrowed towel. We will see. The water is so clear you can see the bottom  in 6 ft depths.  Fish swim by and not plastic or pollution is in evidence. A note about the beach lounge chairs. They are far superior to the ones found in the US. If you wish to lean back, there is a line with a hook that releases the chair to find a comfortable position. What I really like is the folding sun screen to keep the sun our of your face. Wish they were available in Florida. 

Some scenes from last night as the sun set.

I love the middle photo my wife took took through the window last night.

Below shows where we are in relation to the town of Siracusa in Sicily. 

The money saving word of the day Ridotto

OK this is to all you seniors out there.  In the past senior discounts were restricted to EU residents.  Recently more places are extending the discounts to everyone.  It never hurts to ask, may not work in the Uffizi or other major attractions. Worked in Castelbuono, and in Tindari both in Sicily.   Text from my UltraLingua dictionary.

Saving Money On Car Rentals

Car rental rates have soared in the last several years.  Even using  sites like Kayak and Priceline you tend to get some high rates.  Some time ago I saw a reference in the New York Times to a site called Autoslash.com.   I tried it earlier this summer and was able to get a very reasonable rate for the July 4th week in Hartford, Connecticut.   previously my best rate for the week was about $400. I ended up paying $241 and got the car from Hertz. That was a substantial savings thanks to AutoSlash.

I have booked a 21 day rental in Sicily and did quite a bit of shopping.  I searched Hertz, Auto Europe, and Avis.  Each gave me rates that were in the  $800 range. AUTOSLASH 2 2017-08-11 at 4.04.39 PM.jpgAUTO SLASH SAVINGS.jpg Hertz got down to about $760 and it was looking better. I got a quote from AutoSlash and found that they could get me a $747 rate for the same period and they would continue to search for updates to the rate. Hertz is the provider.

Now  for the really good news! We leave on Tuesday and today I got an email saying they checked rates and it went from $765.51 to $305.89.  This is a substantial savings.  Note the original quote I got was $747 but Hertz raised it. When I brought this to the attention of AutoSlash they contacted Hertz and got the rate reduced.

Give AutoSlash a try and compare with other search engines. Hotwire, Hotels.com, Kayak have been helpful to me in the past, but not have reduced the rates after booking.

You do not pay up front!  Also keep in mind many credit card companies will cover your CDW which can save you several hundred dollars on a rental.

I have no affiliation with any site mentioned above. P1010826.jpg

Always good to have some tape. In Palermo a driver strayed into my land and hit the mirror. He then continued as if nothing had happened.  Luckily I had some tape and we survived.  I rented with Europcar and got it through InItaly.com.  They covered the damage  but still charged me $100.   That is why credit card CDW is better. BUT read your credit card agreement throughly.

 

Into the Heart of Sicily by Julien Zolli

Here is another video by Julien Zolli. He capture the sights, sounds and tastes of Sicily. From cities to tiny villages, Sicily never fails to charm a traveler. The beaches help one escape the heat that has plagued Europe this year.  If you visit, renting a car is the best way to get around. The roads are good and the views are amazing.

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The gentlemen of Ericie, Sicily.

 

Posting from my iPad.

The WordPress app for desktop computers does not like to work with my Apple Photos application.  I have found several workarounds for this, mainly by opening the Apple Mail app and starting a new message. I then open the media browser and select the album that has the photos for the post I am composing.  My photo library has over 30,000 images.   That is difficult to manage worth the media browser for mail.   But the WordPress app for IOS meshes nicely. I am able to choose from any of my albums. This is so much easier that the other method.

Some photos taken last year in Firenze.  Beautiful trip. Climbed up the campanelli and viewed the entire town. This year we are spending 51 days in Sicily and mainland Italy.  We will be visiting Cefalù, Castello Buono, Siracusa, Gange, Lago di Garda,  and almost three weeks in Roma.  Can not wait.  

TODAY IN THE WASHINTON POST: The Ape celebrates 70 years.

What you say is an APE, not an ape, but the ubiquitous little combination of a motorcycle and pickup truck that plugs along all of Italy’s roadways.

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Credit photo and text above from the Washington Post.

The Ape hauls almost anything, from buildng materials to fruit and fiish. fullsizeoutput_d66d.jpegA clasic Ape in Toscanafullsizeoutput_d66f.jpegNothing elegant about this baby, plain  and simple, it does the job.fullsizeoutput_d66a.jpegThis one was at an Airbnb in Montepulciano.

fullsizeoutput_d664.jpegfullsizeoutput_d665.jpegfullsizeoutput_d666.jpegNot only did he sell fruit and vegetable, he serenaded the streets with his words on the health of his produce.

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This fruit vendor was in Cefalù, Sicily.   (fruttivendolo)

Some info from  Wikipedia:

At the end of World War II, most Italians, badly affected by the war, lacked means of transport and, more importantly, the financial means to acquire and maintain full-sized four-wheeled vehicles. In 1947, the inventor of the Vespa, aircraft designer Corradino D’Ascanio, came up with the idea of building a light three-wheeled commercial vehicle to power Italy’s economical reconstruction, an idea which found favour with Enrico Piaggio, the son of the firm’s founder, Rinaldo. The very first Ape model and the mark immediately following it were mechanically a Vespa with two wheels added to the rear, with a flat-bed structure on top of the rear axle. The early sales brochures and adverts referred to the vehicle as the VespaCar or TriVespa. The first Apes featured 50 cc,[3]125 cc or 150 cc and more recently 175 cc engines.

It is hard to imagine a 125 CC engine pulling a big load.

La bella lingua Learning Italian

Our first trip to Italy was without the benefit of any knowledge on my part of Italian. My wife with he Sicilian parents had a knowledge of some words and phrases.  I realized this was a disadvantage but not the end of the world.  So much English is spoken in Italy most people can get along. Most restaurants in the tourist areas have dual or triple language menus. English, German, and Italian are  prevalent.

I want to go further and speak to people and know what the road signs say. Not having access to  an Italian teacher, I took another route.  Pimsleur had a CD course in Italian.  I bought the course and ripped the CD’s to my iPod. That was the beginning. It is a good way to learn conversational Italian. Eventually I  progressed from levels 1 through 5 which encompasses about 48 hours of  lessons. I did enjoy it as I was able to listen while driving or riding my bicycle.

Pimsleur Italian Levels 1-5 Unlimited Software

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As you can see, it is not cheap.  Try the audio only from Audible for a more reasonable price.

    • By Pimsleur
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Beyond this I also used  duoLingo. This is a free program with excellent content.
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Exercises progress from basic to upper intermediate.  It is easy and I have been using if for about 6 months now. You can progress at your own pace and go back to. From time to time you may be asked to donate, but this is minimal.  An excellent program for iPhone, tablets, and Android products. You must have WiFi or cellular data connected.

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There are many exercises to improve listening and writing skills.  Voice recognition is available for pronunciation practice.

Next there is Rosetta Stone. This is my least favorite method.  The program has five levels and retails for about $200-250 on Amazon.  It is available for PC and MAC.  It does a good job of teaching vocabulary and grammar, but I find it painful obtuse. In many cases you have to decipher a photograph and  answer questions based upon your interpretation of the picture. 

Some times the photos are not clear and you may give a wrong answer.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 10.59.37 AM.pngTOOLS.jpgnouns, of  places in nature.jpgIt is your choice on Rosetta Stone, I just find it slow. But the content is good.  It has voice recognition to help you with pronunciation.

.  There is also a subscription version. Te computer version is copy protected to one PC or Ma and can not be used on another until it is deactivated.

There are other programs out there. Transparent Language as a program for phones and tablets. It is subscription based.  Seems ok. They offer a free blog with the word of the day.   Michelle Thomas has CDs for many language and they are priced reasonably.

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Buona fortuna!   or as they say: In bocca al lupo

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