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Experts Share Tips About Italy With Journeywoman


Enjoying Assisi...

I run an agriturismo B&B and cooking school in the Umbrian hills a place I believe women travellers will love.

Assisi is a town in Italy in the province of Perugia in the Umbria region. The Assisi area is divided into two villages - Assisi proper and Santa Maria degli Angeli 3 km away. I find both are interesting for visitors. Santa Maria degli Angeli generally offers cheaper shopping, that's where the locals go. Assisi is a splendid medieval town and if time allows it's worth exploring the surroundings.

I suggest that you go to the Subasio Mountain and picnic at Eremo delle Carceri, a Franciscan hermitage reachable on foot or by taxi. This is a timeless place far from the crowds (except on big holidays) and very lovely. When you're done you can go back to town and watch the magnificent sunsets from the hexagonal tower of the fortress, Rocca Maggiore. The views are breathtaking!

To buy delicious picnic ingredients in Santa Maria degli Angeli go to Terra Umbra Antica in Via Patrono d’Italia. The cheese and prosciutto are the best in the area. In Assisi I suggest Baccanale in Via del Comune vecchio for great wines and interesting preserves.

For good simple restaurant food in Santa Maria degli Angeli I suggest Ristorante Basilica, Via Protomartiri Francescani 11 and in Assisi I like Trattoria degli Umbri, Piazza del comune 40. These are both local family run places offering good quality and reliable fare at honest prices.

Letizia Mattiacci blogs and offers travel tips plus mouthwatering recipes at: Website: Twitter:


Female-friendly in Pisa and Siena...

I am an Italian woman who manages two vacation rentals in Tuscany, Behind the Tower in Pisa and Casina di Rosa in a village between Siena and the coast of the Maremma. Here are my suggestions for women travelling to my part of Italy.

For spa lovers Southern Tuscany offers many opportunities to spa lovers. If you are looking for a spa center and some luxury and comfort, my recommendations are Bagni San Filippo, Petriolo Spa and Resort, Terme di Saturnia. If you are looking for something simpler, you should look into La Melosa near the village of Roccastrada in the Upper Maremma, or Podere Santa Maria near Paganico in the Maremma. They have a fabulous underground hot pool. Further north towards Pisa, Il Calidario in Campiglia Marittima is a lovely place. If you like gardens as well, then the beautiful Grotta Giusti in Monsummano Terme is what you are looking for. For something less expensive, the Thermal Park in Uliveto Terme and the Spas in Montecatini Terme are a nice alternative.

If you love music, you might be interested in Lucca Jazz Donna, a jazz festival dedicated to women and female jazz players organized in Lucca every year in February. Some hotels in the city offer special rates to women who visit Lucca for the event. In Arezzo, “notte rosa”, the pink night, is held every year with events organized by and dedicated to women: plays, concerts, dinners and other events. This year the 'notte rosa' is on July 24 and the main event is a cooking exhibition with cooks from all over the country.

The winery of Donatella Cinelli Colombini in Trequanda, near Siena is a unique example in Italy because the owner and all the oenologists working there are women. Mrs. Cinelli Colombini chose to challenge the system which had always relegated women wine experts to the margins of the wine industry. She has had much success and has set an important precedent. It is possible to lodge at the winery and visit the cellars and vineyards. The guides are all women of course! Another “unusual” women-only enterprise is the “Grapperia Nannoni”, near Civitella Marittima (Grosseto) in Maremma. Three women produce some of the best and most appreciated grappe in Italy.

This is a shopping tip for those women, who like me, like nice clothes but can’t easily find their size in most Italian boutiques. In Pisa, I would like to recommend the very reasonably-priced Coin Department Store and the more expensive Elena Mirò boutique in Corso Italia (right next to the Furla store by the way!). Also, the high-scale boutique Califfa in Borgo Stretto and my favourite, Più Donna in Borgo Largo (Via Oberdan 54) with really nice clothes in all different price ranges. My favourite shoe shops are Charlot in Corso Italia and Samarcanda in Via Oberdan. In Navacchio, by the “I Borghi” shopping mall, Scarpe & Scarpe has an amazing selection.

If you visit Pisa and you like ceramics and houseware, you should not miss the 2nd floor of the Upim department store in Corso Italia, the two Pasqualetti stores (Via Oberdan and Via Pascoli), I Mercanti in Via San Lorenzo and a fabulous store on the corner of Via Benedetto Croce and Via Turati. If you take a trip to Lucca, go to Mamma Rò store in Piazza Anfiteatro. Amazing!

Women, especially those travelling alone, should avoid hotels in the area of the Pisa Centrale train station. At night it’s quite rough. I would recommend Hotel Royal Victoria for its excellent location: right in the heart of the city, with a bus stop on the line to and from the airport right opposite the main entrance. Another nice hotel is Hotel Verdi near the theatre in a safe and popular area in the centre. Of course if you are looking for a nice apartment in the center, there’s Behind the Tower which I manage.

Need a hairdresser or a beautician in Pisa? A drycleaner? A tailor? Just a few steps away from Piazza dei Miracoli, in Via Galli Tassi there are a good hairdresser and a beauty center. Another excellent hairdresser is in Via Crispi, Maurizio Serretti. If you are looking for a laundromat there is one in Via Cameo, just outside the Porta Nuova city gate. It works with special coins obtainable from a machine located in the laundry itself. If you need a proper drycleaner there is one on the same street right before the entrance of the parking La Torre (they might not be able to give you back your clothes in an hour or two). Otherwise, near Corso Italia, there is a good drycleaner in Piazza Chiara Gambacorti. If you need a tailor, you should go to Carnet, in Via Consoli del Mare 13, for custom made clothes. For small jobs, you can ask at the haberdashery Fantoccino in Via del Castelletto 12.

If knitting is your passion, you should know that it’s also a good way to make friends in Pisa. There is a group called Knittable which organizes regular meetings and has international members.

Gloria writes a blog called At Home in Tuscany Twitter:

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