Buon San Valentino ~ Happy Valentine’s Day

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Ciao, I Miei Amori ~

It’s February already, and thoughts of love are circulating through my mind. Red hearts, candy kisses, chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting, and romantic cards seem to pop out at me everywhere I go. I love Valentine’s Day because, as a typical woman, I love romance. What could be more heart-pounding than to imagine yourself as Audrey Hepburn in ‘Roman Holiday,’ zipping around Rome on a Vespa behind Gregory Peck? Or embracing over a laugh at the Mouth of Truth? Then again, there’s the movie ‘Three Coins in the Fountain,’ about three young secretaries from America who meet in Rome and toss their coins in the Trevi Fountain, wishing for a return trip to Rome. Romance is in the air as each one is pursued by a handsome suitor.

William Shakespeare put the city of Verona on the map with his tragic love tale, Romeo and Juliet. Written in 1597, the story takes place in the 1300’s among two warring families who refused to live in peace together. Sadly, it took an ultimate sacrifice to create a bridge for reconciliation.

It is in Verona that you can visit the balcony where Romeo approached Juliet. In the story, with a sigh of adoration, he calls to her…

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east and Juliet is the sun!”

Lovelorn, he continues…

“See how she leans her cheek upon her hand

O that I were a glove upon that hand,

That I might touch that cheek!”

Words to swoon by!

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The city of Verona is famous for love. It is a medieval town built around the meandering Adige River just a few hours from Milan and Venice. Founded in the first century B.C., it is famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers in his play Romeo and Juliet. There is a 14th-century residence with a convincing balcony overlooking a courtyard which claims to be Juliet’s House. In fact, countless letters addressed simply to Juliet, Verona, Italy stream constantly into the city. Volunteers take it upon themselves to respond to these letters which are mostly from those troubled in love. Valentine’s Day in Verona is quite spectacular and guaranteed to leave you dreaming of your own thrilling romance.

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Verona is also known for its huge first-century Roman amphitheater which currently hosts concerts and opera performances. According to famous travel guru Rick Steves. “Over the centuries, crowds of up to 25,000 spectators have cheered Roman gladiator battles, medieval executions, and modern plays — including Verona’s popular summer opera festival, which takes advantage of the arena’s famous acoustics.” Read his enlightening article about Verona as the City of Romance.  

I hope you take some time for romance this month and pamper your sweetheart or if you are alone, pamper yourself. Love is in the air… L’amore è nell’aria

Have you been to Verona? Spent some time in Italy during Valentine’s Day? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below.

Discover the Beating Heart of Tuscany with KM Zero Tours

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I had the sneaking suspicion we were in the wrong parking lot. We had just arrived in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, a small town in Tuscany, to meet with Arianna and Alessio from KM Zero Tours. We were a few minutes late so I was alarmed when I didn’t see them. I texted Arianna and, sure enough, it was the wrong parking lot. She sweetly assured me that she and Alessio would be right over as they were very close. Before long, a van pulled up beside us and out hoped Arianna, all smiles and hugs. After a warm greeting, she instructed us to follow them to a nearby restaurant by the name of A Casa Mia.

We entered the small country trattoria with a table waiting for us. Read more

Explore the Sunsplashed Island of Ortigia in Sicily

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The sun-splashed lungomare d’Ortigia was a sensual delight on a gentle afternoon this last October. I had made the drive from Hotel Bosco Ciancio on the slopes of Mt. Etna, which had been my lodging for the past few nights, to meet with Marco Sanzaro, a local tour guide. My goal was to discover the wonders of the island of Ortigia, the historical heart of the ancient Greek city of Syracuse on Sicily’s eastern shore.

As I walked the footpath that followed the waterfront, I couldn’t help but notice the brilliant green waters of the Ionian sea Read more

What Are Your Travel Plans for 2018?

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A New Year is like a much-needed breath of fresh air. I get to feeling almost giddy with the possibilities that play through my mind. I think about areas where I want to improve myself, expand my horizons, learn to think outside the box of my everyday existence and firm up my travel plans. I feel empowered to steer my life course fueled by those important decisions that I make on a daily basis.

My travel plans get easily out of control as I write down everything I want to see and do. However, when I’m done, I scale it back one piece at a time until I’m looking at what is most significant and important. Then I begin to put my plans into motion.

What are your travel plans for 2018? Are you like me and have an endless list of places to explore? It’s time to hone in on your list and make a plan to expand your world with meaningful travel this year. If you are unable to get out, don’t let that stop you. Plan your travels and find ways to explore via your armchair.  Read more