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Experts Share Tips About Italy With Journeywoman

 

You'll enjoy Arezzo...

I'm an Italian-American who, after serving 81/2 years in the military and completing a BA at the University of Rochester, now lives in Italy. I'm ready for any questions on Italy (especially on Tuscany) that you can think of. Here are my women-centered tips for Arezzo.

Arezzo is a city in centra Italy; it's the capital of Arezzo province in Tuscany, located about 80 km/50 miles south-east of Florence.

If you're planning a trip to Tuscany, on your own or with girlfriends, and your budget and personal security are at the top of your priority list, I suggest making Arezzo your homebase while you explore the region. Arezzo is a beautiful, small, safe city where tourists haven't yet taken over (i.e. hotels don't cost an arm and a leg, and great restaurants are affordable!), and where you can feel truly immersed in Italian culture. Rich in art and history, it is also very well connected by both train and bus to all of the other places in Tuscany you want to visit, as well as to Rome, Napoli, Bologna, Padova/Venezia and Milano.

Twice a year, every year, Arezzo puts on a medieval joust in which the four quarters (quartiere) of the city compete for bragging rights. The week leading up to the joust is a great time to visit Arezzo and soak up the local culture. If you've never been to an Italian dinner for a couple of thousand people before, you will definitely want to make it to town in time for one of the quartiere's pre-joust dinners/celebrations. Go with a group of girlfriends or go alone and make friends over great Italian food and wine. Don't forget to buy your quartiere's flag and display it proudly like the real Aretini (people from Arezzo). Check out this website for more details: http://www.giostradelsaracino.arezzo.it/

There are three reasonable bed and breakfasts in Arezzo I'd like to recommend. Camera Caffe`, B&B La Chimera and La Terrazza.

I've personally stayed in La Terrazza and Camera Caffe`; girlfriends have stayed in La Chimera. Each are comfortable and clean, and each include a continental breakfast. (the best continental breakfast among the three is at La Chimera, but the best bang for your buck is at Camera Caffe`) The quality of the rooms is quite high; you would easily spend between 100 and 150 euro/night in a larger city like Firenze or Siena. Based on my experience and my nosy questions, noise is not a problem at any of these places. The nice part about these B&B's is that they are small, family owned and operated businesses, and those families take a lot of pride in their work, which means they do all they can to make your stay comfortable and positive.

When it comes to shopping, from personal experience I suggest Corso Italia, a street which boasts many designer names and popular Italian clothing and shoe stores. It's a must-see when staying in Arezzo. This area offers a great selection ranging from high-fashion and upscale (Sugar, featuring Italian designer duds on Corso Italia, 43) to trendy but affordable (Zara, Upim, and Pimkie). The serious shopper should also scour the side-streets to see the local - unforgettable - boutiques. Happy shopping, everybody!

Follow Natalie on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Natalie_Lupiani or visit her site: http://lupianitravel.webs.com

 

Milan is marvellous...


I am a business journalist and a travel guide-book editor who lives between Milan and Lake Lugano. Here are my bits of advice.

Milan is known for its high style fashion so I must give you at least one shopping tip. Especially if you're in town for only a short time, the Rinascente department store in Piazza Duomo offers a great way to peruse the best Milan has to offer in terms of designer apparel, without needing to trek from store to store, and without having to endure 'hovering' sales assistants. If you remember the Rinascente as a dowdy department store eschewing designer labels, that’s past history. Check out the fashion floors: all the top names are there.

If you want to check out Milan's boutiques anyway, grab a map and work out an itinerary that takes you through Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea, Via Verri, Corso di Porta Venezia, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

These days, not only is money tight, but so is time. A personal shopper may be a perfect investment. Yes, their fee adds to the cost of your shopping, but if you are pressed for time, they help you save – time and money -- by taking you straight to the best places for you. When in Milan, call upon Melanie Payge Anderson. A long-time resident of the city, this chic and friendly gal from New Mexico knows where it’s at – and will make sure you find it. See her site: www.planmilan.com

If you are getting just a little weary of seeing Milan’s major art galleries, take a break in one of the family mansions that have been donated to the city, and have become museums. For masterpieces on a more human scale, check out the Bagatti-Valsecchi Museum, the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, and the Casa-Museo Boschi di Stefano.

If you’ve flown into Milan’s Malpensa airport before, you may recall the lake you saw as the plane came in to land. That was Lake Maggiore. Just 20 minutes away by road. So, why not spend your last evening before your transatlantic flight at the magnificent lakeside Il Sole Hotel at Angera? The restaurant, too, is an experience to write home about. Enjoy!

For something more low-key, contact the Associazione B&B Varese. This agency will make a reservation for you at a bed&breakfast establishment within driving distance of Malpensa airport.

Although it is now several years old, 'Nan McElroy’s' Italy: instructions for use' remains one of the best and most useful guidebooks around. Not only does this slim volume cover the main elements of being in Italy, for the visitor and resident, but it conveys a powerful message: the best experience comes when you go with the flow, and try to understand and appreciate what seems unfamiliar, rather than comparing it (unfavorably) to what you know already.

Roberta Kedzierski writes as http://twitter.com/robertak on Twitter, where she reports from Italy, on Italy, and a lot more, besides.

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