Tag Archives: Italy

11 Activities to Consider While in Naples, Italy

“Blog Post Type: Planning a Trip to a City”

Naples is one of the oldest cities in Italy with its historic center as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Italy’s third largest city is home to fine art, exceptional architecture, and a world-class food scene serving pizza, pasta, and coffee that is worthy of being the best in the country. Her culture, streets, and buildings are old, but she welcomes traveler’s with open arms. Here are 11 activities and attractions to experience while in Naples.

Naples 1

Photo by Piccolo Lorenzo via Trover.com

1. If you are a pizza aficionado, plan your trip to Naples in September for Pizzafest. This famous pizza making contest is the world’s largest celebration of pizza. The dates change every year, so research the event while planning your trip.

2. Do Greek and Roman antiquities spark an interest? Visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli where you will see mosaics, sculptures, gems, Roman erotica from Pompeii, and more in this late 18th century museum established by King Charles II.

3. If your sweet tooth flares up while in Naples, you’re in luck. Naples is well-known for its pasticceria (pastries). Find a coffee shop and you’ll find fantastic pastries. Some of the more popular pastries are baba, jaka pastiera, sfogliatella, and zeppole.

 4. Summer in Naples gives travelers the opportunity to watch movies under the stars at accordi @ DISACCORDI Open Air Cinema Festival. Surrounded by an artificial lake, the amphitheater uses wide-screen projection and is a favorite summer activity of the locals. Don’t miss this outdoor cinema experience.

Naples 2

Photo by Kylie Mcintyre via Trover.com

5. Are you a lover of water and enjoy snorkeling and diving? Go to Centro Sub Campi Flegrei and explore the Gulf of Naples around the Phelgraean Islands and the Archeological Park of Baiae.

6. A lot of eye candy is on display at Castelnuovo (Maschio Angioino). This medieval castle is home to Naples main city museum. After feasting your eyes on 19th century Italian paintings, walk up to the roof and capture a view of Napoli.

7. Grab some chairs or blankets and join the locals on the Bay of Naples for a glorious sunset.

8. Spend an afternoon watching fishmongers in action at the Mercato di Porta Nolana street market. Fresh produce, cheese, and baked goods are also available along with contraband items including cigarettes and bootleg CDs.

9. Fans of opera can experience a show at the San Carlo Theater. This is Europe’s oldest working theater and Italy’s largest. Tours are available of the facility as well.

Naples 3

Photo by Piccolo Lorenzo via Trover.com

10. Naples is home to three castles. The 13th century Castel Nuovo, Castel Sant’Elmo, and the 12 century Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle). Each castle offers different views of Naples and tells a rich history of the city.

11. Drive along the coast. Start north of Naples and drive down to the Amalfi Coast and back. Relax, feel the open air, and live in the moment while traveling this waterside roadway.

There are plenty of budget hotels in Naples for the smart traveler who wants to spend more on experiences and less on material goods. Travel is a great form of education and Naples has plenty of history to learn from. Budget wisely, spend intelligently, and you’ll fee richer after exploring Napoli.

Feature photo by Matilde Civitillo via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Venezia: Rejuvenation After a Day of Exploration, Hipmunk City Love Style

Venice is one of the world’s most romantic cities. She’s made up of 117 islands connected by more than 400 bridges. Walking and traveling via the canals are the best ways to traverse this historic island city. Her centuries-old Venetian Gothic architecture and art scene are two reasons to slow down and soak in all of her history. St. Mark’s Square in the center of the city is a hub for people to eat, people watch, and relax before, during and after a day of roaming Venice. With your feet sore and body achy after a day of walking Venice, head back to your hotel for pampering and revitalization for the next day’s exploration. Here are 5 spa hotels that will complement and balance your visit to Venezia.

Venice 1

Photo By Lys Almonte via Trover.com 

1. End your day exploring Venice a little early and head back to the Palace Bonvecchiati hotel and recharge your body in their spa. Detox in a sauna, steam bath, or a whirlpool. Massages and beauty treatments are available upon request. The spa is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., so plan accordingly.

2. Wellness at The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice extends beyond a regular spa. Guests can receive an in-room spa where a soothing atmosphere is created, starting with a spa basket that includes aromatherapy oils, music, flowers, a bottle of water and a snack. Finish off the evening with signature Heavenly Bath and White Tea Aloe bath amenities.

3. The Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa is available to all Bauer hotel clients. The spa offers Spa Rituals for individuals and couples. The Ritual of Dreams, Hammam Ritual, and the “Me & You” Raspberry Wellness Treatment for couples offers various treatments, including Turkish baths, inhalation of balsamic essences, and a dip in the king size Jacuzzi. Individual treatments include massages, a detoxifying silk treatment, and application of volcanic clay. The spa menu is extensive and it has something for everyone.

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Photo by llaria, Wanderlust at Heart via Trover.com

4. The Boscolo Venezia Spa and Well-Being Center’s beauty treatments cater to the health, diet and esthetic medicine of its clients. A tranquil atmosphere allows guests to relax while receiving one of many massages offered including a tension-relieving, relaxing massage, a draining massage that encourages lymphatic circulation, and a Quirgolf massage—a deep tissue massage ideal for soothing pain and soreness. Guests can also receive facials, body rubs, a vitamin scrub, and a marine algae wrap. The Boscolo Venezia, Autograph Collection provides luxury from head-to-toe.

5. Located on the private island of San Clemente, The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace is an island retreat that caters to the relaxation and rejuvenation of the traveler’s mind, body, and soul. Guests can stroll through the linden, cypress, and elm trees in the six hectares of gardens after a busy day of walking Venice’s streets. This private retreat has a swimming pool, a centuries-old park, and a church to renew wedding vows. If you are seeking privacy and intimacy, St. Regis Venice Clemente Palace is yours for the taking.

Enjoy walking Venice. Let your feet get a little sore and your body exhausted. Your spa retreat will be waiting with the professional caretakers ready to relax and revitalize you to walk the streets another day.

Photo Feature by Barb via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

8 Hotel Rooftop Bars and Restaurant Terraces in Rome

“Blog Post Type: Best Of List”

A long fruitful day of exploring Rome has come to an end. Visiting the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and walking The Spanish Steps has left your feet sore, your body drained of energy, and your mind tired. The sun is a couple of hours away from setting. Hungry, thirsty, and unwilling to take your eyes off a Roman sunset? Then it’s time to relax, sip wine, feast on fruits, antipasto, and classic Italian entrée’s at some of Rome’s finest rooftop bars and terraces. With panoramic and unique views of Rome, there is no better way to end a day than from above. Here are 8 rooftop bars and terraces that offer some of the finest views of Rome at sunset.

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Photo by Diane Wong via Trover.com

1. The Bramante terrace atop the Hotel Raphael-Relais & Chateaux offers the finest organic and natural cuisine. With views of Chiesa Santa Maria della Pace, Castel Sant’Angelo, and Piazza Venezia, your meal, location, and service is the epitome of good Italian living.

2. Bella Vista at Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese is open from morning until night. Start your day with a morning pastry and coffee, but end it with a spectacular view of the Villa Borghese and surrounding area while enjoying original cocktails and fine Italian cuisine.

3. Enjoy the finest Mediterranean cuisine at the rooftop La Terrazza dell’Eden in Hotel Eden. With a 360 degree view of Rome, diners will enjoy views of St. Peter’s, Piazza Venezia, and the towers of the Trinita del Monti. After dinner, end the evening with a cocktail at La Terrazza piano bar.

4. The Minerva Roof Garden at the Grand Hotel De La Minerve offers wonderful views of Rome’s spires and domes. Whether you start your day with breakfast in the roof garden or finish it with a drink and a golden sunset, the Minerva will relax your tension from a day of Roman exploration.

Rome columns

Photo by Bill Dillard via Trover.com

5. With the Imperial Forum lit after an amazing Roman sunset, the Piazza Venezia across the way, and offering international cuisine using mostly organic ingredients produced in Italy, the Hotel Forum Restaurant atop Hotel Forum will help you unwind after a long day of fun and adventure.

6. Depending on your budget, you can splurge at the elegant and expensive Mirabelle Restaurant or settle for drinks at the American Bar at Hotel Splendide Royal. Whatever choice you make, you’ll have fantastic views of Pinciana hill, Palazzo Medici, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

7. La Pergola Restaurant in the Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria has a wine cellar with over 60,000 bottles, 29 choices of water and offers the best olive oils and balsamic vinegar from the top producers in Italy. Coupled with panoramic views, La Pergola provides culinary excellence unmatched in the eternal city.

Caesar

Photo by Jason Zite via Trover.com

8. Lovers of Champagne will enjoy Champagnerie ai Limoni Terrace at the Grand Hotel Plaza. Plan accordingly as this tiny terrace only offers champagne on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 6 p.m. to midnight.

A relaxing evening at any of these rooftop bars and restaurant terraces will find visitors engaged in conversations, dining on fine cuisine, and sipping on the finest cocktails. Most importantly, guests have unprecedented views of Rome at sunset where fears, stresses, and tension melt away.

Feature Photo by ChipSkippedTown via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Four Roman Neighborhoods to Experience Authentic Italian Life

“Blog Post Type: Cities Less Traveled”

The Eternal City of Rome is internationally recognized by millions. Known for tourist attractions such as Vatican City, The Colosseum, The Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Trevi Fountain, Rome always ranks high on travelers’ must-see destinations. What about the lesser-known attractions and local hot spots in the districts that make up Rome? Here are four districts/neighborhoods that answer the question: Where do the locals go?

Rome

Photo by Irene Wamala via Trover.com

Nomentano

Nomentano has many local businesses. This may not sound exciting, but it’s a wonderful opportunity for visitors to practice their Italian with the locals. Walk the well-known shopping streets of Via Nomentano, Via Salaria, and Via Regina Margherita and engage a local with a buongiorno (good morning/afternoon). This well-received gesture may lead to a local showing you the Villa Torlonia complex that was once home to Benito Mussolini. If turn-of-the-century nouveau architecture entices you, Quartiere Coppede is a small district nearby, home to eccentric buildings worthy of storytelling.

Trastevere

Once a working-class neighborhood populated by immigrants, Trastevere’s central part is now a hub for socializing and entertainment. Bars, wine houses, pubs, trattorias, and restaurants dominate the narrow streets. The northern part of the neighborhood has a lot of parkland and monuments depicting 19th-century Rome. The south section, rich with art, is quiet with old-style allure around every corner. The highlight for many visitors to Trastevere is touring the churches to see mosaics, with the Villa Farnesina and the Santa Cecilia being the most compelling.

Esquilino-San Giovanni

Named after Esquline Hill (Esquilino) and the Basilica (San Giovanni), these adjacent neighborhoods have an eclectic mix of native Italians and a sizeable Chinese and Indian immigrant community. Although there are many Chinese and Indian restaurants in the area, traditional trattorias serve authentic Italian seafood, pasta, and antipasto. These healthy dishes give plenty of fuel for touring the Museo della Liberazione — a museum dedicated to telling the story of liberating Rome from German occupying forces in WWII. The area also boasts a vast number of churches to explore that are rich in history.

Rome Sweet Rome

Photo by Artur Mantura via Trover.com

Testaccio

Testaccio is the southernmost neighborhood in the heart of Rome. A 20-minute walk from Trastevere along the Tiber River, Testaccio doesn’t have many high-traffic tourist attractions making it a traveler’s delight. Visitors will experience authentic Italian living, and it’s home to an impressive food scene. Testaccio Market is one of Rome’s oldest markets housing food stalls offering fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and bread. Generations of families have owned many stalls, and they take tremendous pride in their high-quality food. Immerse yourself in Testaccio and you won’t regret it.

Staying in the center of Rome allows for easy access to the Modern Center and surrounding neighborhoods by foot or public transportation. There are many hotels in Rome to choose from but The De La Ville Roma atop the Spanish Steps will start your historic visit in true Italian style. Like many monuments and buildings around Rome, The De La Ville Roma has a beautiful history and it’s a great place to start your Roman adventure.

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He is based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Feature Photo by Tom Cregan via Trover.com

A Taste of ‘Little Italy’

I pick up a triangular block of a light yellow colored cheese from the refrigeration floor case. I bring the cheese close to my nose to smell the pungent aroma that is the alluring scent of Tenuta’s extra sharp provolone.  I pull it away to see the familiar logo and tag line: Tenuta’s – A Kenosha Tradition.  I grin at the cheese and murmur, “you’re always my favorite.”

Tenuata’s is an unassuming one-story orange brick building whose shelves are densely packed from floor to ceiling with the bottles, cans and packages of the staples of Italian cooking.   While busy during the week, the weekends find the store bustling with customers rolling their carts through the narrow aisles, ordering the cheeses, meats and prepared salads that fill the air with their tantalizing smells and stocking up on their liquor & beer needs.

I ask second generation owner Ralph Tenuta about the variety of cheeses and the aging process.  I tell him I am really interested in hearing about the 325 pound chunk of cheese hanging from the ceiling.  Family ownership in Tenuta’s is tradition that started decades ago and continues to this day.

***

It was 1920 and John N. Tenuta left his native Italy to fulfill a dream of owning a business and seeking fortune in the United States.  After meeting and marrying his wife Lydia, his dream was realized when Tenuta’s Delicatessen opened in 1950 in a building that was not much larger than a two car garage.  Together they served sundaes, malts and deli meats along with other grocery and non-grocery items.  Through the years as the deli continued to expand, John’s son Ralph became the chief promoter of the store, eventually taking it over from his father.

Summertime at Tenuta’s – Enjoying a lunchtime fix!
Summertime at Tenuta’s – Enjoying a lunchtime fix!

My family has been traveling to Tenuta’s for three generations to savor the epicurean delight of fresh quality meats, cheeses and other Italian favorites.  Our favorites included garlic flavored genoa salami that may or may not be heartily crusted with black pepper, capicola (an Italian cold cut that is dry-cured from whole pork shoulder or neck) edged with crushed red pepper to shock your tongue, sharp or mild provolone cheese and jars of roasted red peppers.

Every year when I was a child my family hosted our annual Christmas Eve party.  We laid out plates of homemade lasagna, meatballs, hot Italian sausage, braciole, garlic bread, olives and antipasto, as well as Tenuta’s meats and cheeses and melon slices wrapped in prosciutto.  I was always excited knowing I was traveling to Tenuta’s with my Dad in anticipation not only of the upcoming party but the smell of the meats and cheeses that would make my mouth water and hair stand on end the instant we opened the door.

***

I drive east on 52nd St. with the front windows of my Nissan Altima rolled down halfway. The sun is shining as I pass businesses, restaurants and homes on both the north and south side of this suburban-to-urban route.  I cross through the intersection of 39th Ave. and look for Tenuta’s signature green, white and red sign that stands feet away from the curb with its digital display highlighting the specials of the day.

I turn right into the parking lot and slam on the brake pedal.  There are cars everywhere trying to find a parking space.  I knew Saturday lunch hour was a great time to shop for some groceries.  The outside grill is open and the staff is cooking Polish and Italian sausages, roast beef, chicken, Panini’s and other combo sandwiches for patrons.  I head to the back of the parking lot.  A driver in a giant SUV has a hard time deciding whether he could fit in, and gives up.  “Perfect,” I say.

I walk toward the sidewalk where I see a couple sitting on one of the concrete picnic tables.  I make my way past the window where the staff is grilling, round the corner and see more people sitting at the picnic tables in front of the store.  Everyone is engaged in light conversation as they eat their hot sandwiches while cars drive by on the other side of the iron fence.  I reach for the door and walk into a crowded front entrance where I immediately see Ralph Tenuta standing in front of a cigar case.

Ralph has probably seen me in the store before, but I walk up to him and reintroduce myself.

“I have been coming to your store for over thirty years,” I say, “and my family has been coming here for three generations.”

“Thank you,” Ralph says.

“I am curious to know, from your years of experience, how far away do people travel here to shop at your store?” I ask.

“Oh, they travel from as far away as thirty-five to forty miles.”

“Forty miles – I believe it.  I know your store delivers.  How far have you delivered your goods?”  I ask.

“We have delivered our products to people all over the world.”

“Do you mind if I ask you some questions about some of the cheeses?”

“Well it is a busy Saturday and I might get pulled away, but go ahead,” Ralph says.

A 325 pound chunk of Tenuta’s extra sharp provolone cheese. Aged for 18 months gives this cheese a distinct flavor unlike other provolone cheeses.
A 325 pound chunk of Tenuta’s extra sharp provolone cheese. Aged for 18 months gives this cheese a distinct flavor unlike other provolone cheeses.

 

“The balls of cheese that hang from the ceiling, is that Auricchio Provolone?”

“No,” Ralph says, “follow me, I will show you the Auricchio.”

Ralph pushes through a small gate behind a cash register and walks towards the refrigerated cases of cheese.  He leans down and grabs a wedge of the Auricchio.

“We keep the Auricchio provolone in here,” he says rubbing his finger across the name on the plastic covering the cheese.

A chubby guy dressed in black stands by the case. “Would you like to try a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano?” He says.

“Of course,” I say.

“This is Chef Steve,” Ralph says, “he is here offering samplings.”

“What do you think?”  Steve asks.

“I love it!” I say.

“I’m not a chef,” Steve grins, “but Ralph thinks I am.  I’m an Italian Culinary Specialist.  Not a chef.”

“Boss.” says a man standing next to us.

“Yes,” Ralph says.

“We need more…,”

“If you have any questions, please let me know,” Steve says, “I will be here for a while.”

“Thank you,” I say.

“I have to leave for now Tony,” Ralph says as he walks away.

“Go, go,” I say, “I’ll see you soon.”

I walk over to a liquor aisle and grab a small silver cart with a yellow handle.  “Time to do some shopping,” I say to myself.

I wheel my cart over the tiled floor to the last aisle on the opposite side of the liquor section.  Turning the corner I see Ralph’s cousin Tony Bonanno and immediately strike up a conversation.

“I have been coming to your family store for over thirty years and I just wanted to say thank you for the consistency in the quality of food and service you provide everyone.”

“Thank you!” Tony says.

“I remember as a kid when this store used to be divided with the grocery store on one side and there was a separate entrance to get to the liquor and beer.  Every time I walked in here the smell was amazing, then one day I walked in and could not smell it as much anymore because you guys opened up the wall between here and the liquor store; the deli counter used to be back over there.” I point towards the southwest corner of the store.  “The smell, I miss the smell.”

“Yeah, we heard that from a lot of people when we removed the wall and expanded,” Tony says, “we were growing and needed the space, what are you going to do?”

“I can understand the decision,” I say, “I’ll see you around.”

Where do you start? With over 100 varieties of meats, cheeses, salads, antipasto’s, olives, desserts and more, you will always find something that will suit your palate.
Where do you start? With over 100 varieties of meats, cheeses, salads, antipasto’s, olives, desserts and more, you will always find something that will suit your palate.

 

I wheel my cart over to the deli counter and set it flush against a liquor cabinet opposite the deli counter.

“Can I help you?” A woman with dark rimmed glasses asks.

“Yes, can I have four links of the Usinger Polish sausage?” I ask.

“I have to grab some from the cooler.”

I admire the 325 pound chunk of provolone cheese hanging off to my right.

“Anything else?” she asks.

“Yes, half a pound of genoa salami and a half a pound of mild provolone.”

After the salami and cheese are weighed, she hands me the packages.

“Thank you, I appreciate it,” I say, “have a good day.”

“Thanks, you too,” she says.

As I approach the cash register I see Tony again and stop him to ask about the 325 pound chunk of provolone hanging by the deli.

“Tony – that chunk of provolone, it ages for 20-24 months?” I ask.

“About 18 months,” Tony says, “we get it from Park cheese.”

“What kind of milk is used?”

“Cow’s milk.”

“Thanks,” I say and roll my cart to the counter to check out.

“You got everything you need Tony?” Ralph asks.

“Always!” I smile.