Posts tagged Italy
Sicily, Italy: What’s not on the itinerary is as important as what is

It happens all the time with Overseas Adventure Travel. I start out expecting to write about the trip itself – in this case, Sicily's Ancient Landscapes & Timeless Traditions -- and I end up writing about all the things that are not on the itinerary – what OAT refers to as Learning and Discovery. Sure, I wanted to focus on the extensive ruins of the Greeks and Romans from the 8th century BC; the city market initiated by the Arabs in 900 A.D. which still operates today almost as it did then.  The Norman Church built in 1174 which was proclaimed by one of the trip participants as “The most magnificent cathedral ever!” and a boat ride to a Phoenician island dating back 2700 years. But that’s where the story veered into trouble… I found myself being equally surprised and delighted by all the little extra things we were seeing and doing -- and yes, often eating -- that were NOT on the itinerary, the L&D moments that reflect the culture and deepen the immersive experience already embodied within the OAT itinerary.

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The Past Comes Alive In Sicily

“You can steal my money but not my food.” “If lunch or dinner doesn’t have at least five courses, it’s just a snack.” “If you want things to go exactly as planned, don’t come here.” These words, spoken by my Overseas Adventure Travel tour guide in Sicily who actually loves his homeland, tell a lot about Sicily. Yes food is important, plentiful and held in a place of near reverence.   Plans don’t always work out as they’re intended, and the locals have learned to go with the flow.   And residents of the triangular-shaped island just off the toe of Italy’s boot exhibit a warmth, friendliness and self-deprecating humor that make them a reason to visit there.

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In Search of the Perfect Arancini

Everyone on the bus was dressed for the heat—shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops predominated. We were in Sicily departing from Taormina en route to Mt. Aetna.

“This is a lucky group,” announced our English-speaking guide. Outside the bus the sky was blue, palm trees swayed gently. “Today the weather is perfect. Often, it is not; and we are forced to cancel the climb. We don’t take chances with Mt. Aetna. ”

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Venice: Beyond the Most Famous Waterway

In the fifth century AD, Attila the Hun and other invaders descended upon the northeastern area of what today is Italy.   A number of people who were living in the region fled to a group of nearby islands for safety and, over time, established small villages. The towns they founded eventually joined together and that was the birth of Venice.

From that humble beginning grew one of the wealthiest, most refined cities in the then-known world.   Those who travel to Venice today see it much as it has looked over centuries.

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Glamorous Transport in Venice

Channeling our inner George and Amal Clooney, my wife and I glide over Venice's lagoon in a sleek private water taxi. As we pass the mouth of the Grand Canal, the domes of the resplendent Basilica in the pigeon-filled, cafe-lined San Marco Piazza come into view. The crowd is thick mid-morning on the Riva Degli Schiavoni, the floating city's main waterfront promenade. However, we avoid the throng by slipping into the Rio del Vin and under the stone Ponte del Vin with its ornate balustrade.

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Exploring Lost and Found Treasures of Venice

Walking home to our apartment in Venice, we share a wave through the window with the owner of Baba, our local osteria. Leaving for a day of sightseeing, a cup of my favorite pistachio gelato awaits me despite the early hour. At the Bar Dugole, we relax after a day of sightseeing and order the regular: vodka for my husband and Amaretto for me. And we sit and watch everyone else in Venice try to figure out where the hell they are! But more on that later.

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