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Readers Tell Readers About Italy


Evelyn Hannon

In one of our newsletters we announced that we welcome members' female-friendly tips for our latest online cyberguide, GIRLTALK Italy. Your response was immediate and it was huge.

We now know that, without a doubt, Italy is one of your favorite destinations. Those who've been there enjoyed it so much that they can't wait to go again. Many other women wrote in to tell us that they are right in the midst of planning their dream Mediterranean holiday and can't wait to read other womens' tips.

Here is a sampling of the countless, helpful bits of advice we received. Don't fret if your contribution isn't here yet. These Journeywoman GIRLTALK guides are ever expanding -- works in progress -- we keep adding all the time.

Feel free to send your special tip -- tell us about your favorite Italian sightseeing secrets, restaurants, hotels, books, movies, safety tips, things that kiddies will enjoy, etc. Don't forget to include contact information for this advice so that others can easily make plans based on the data you provide. Also let us know your first name and the city you are writing from. We'd love to hear!

Roman architecture...

Everyone will probably tell you this. You must go to the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It's fabulous to see the carvings of those rearing sea horses! And although I am not a church going person, we went to see Saint Peter's Basilica. Oh my goodness! It was breathtaking! The workmanship on everything in all those buildings is unbelievable.
Brenda Mento, Hebron, New Hampshire

Ed. note: Before I left for a one-month stay in Italy, I took an art history course that covered the paintings, sculpture and historical architectural sites of the country. Later in Italy (armed with my notes), I sought out all the treasures that I had only viewed before on slides in the classroom. Seeing the "real thing" was absolutely incredible and best of all I didn't need anyone to explain the art to me.

I also packed "The Agony and the Ecstasy," Irving Stone's biographical novel of Michelangelo and read it as I travelled through the country. It helped me to understand the man, the artist, his work and the history of Italy.

Convents offer accommodation in Italy...

I'd like women travelling to Rome to know that along with welcoming pilgrims, many convents are now opening their doors to international tourists. Some convents offer regular hotel-type accommodations while others remain very basic -- no TV, bar or telephone. Breakfasts are often included and some convents even serve lovely budget dinners cooked and served by the nuns. Chances are you'll be meeting very interesting travellers from around the world. Of course safety, spirituality and reasonable curfew reign supreme at all of these establishments. For further information see: (1) (2)
Evelyn, Toronto, Canada

Lago Maggiore & a seaside village...

A place in Italy that is very beautiful is Lake Maggiore, bordering the Swiss Alps. I stayed at the Hotel Splendid in Baveno and it was true to its name, right on the edge of the lake with stunning views of the snow-tipped (even in the middle of summer) mountains. The hotel runs a boat to the middle of the lake to the historical Borromee Palace. This is a beautiful building on it's own island with stunning gardens and views from every aspect. The architecture and interior designs are a sight to behold. Graceful pure white peacocks parade around the gardens. It's well worth a visit!

I also went, by bus from Rome through the beautiful Appenine Mountains to the east coast and the seaside village of Pescara. This is not a touristy village but a beautiful spot to soak up some sun and do some sightseeing. I truly would love to return to this spot one day!
Gillian, an Australian citizen and midwife working in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Two trips from Florence...

We took a bus trip out into the countryside - highly recommended - to Siena (our favourite) and San Gimignano, a beautiful little Medieval village (where part of the movie Tea with Mussolini was filmed). When planning your Italian itinerary, be sure to include these two gems.
Judy, Ottawa, Canada

Ed. Note: And, of course, before leaving on your travels immerse yourself in a little Italian ambiance. Rent the video, Tea With Mussolini starring Cher, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Lily Tomlin. Open a bottle of red wine, order a pizza, watch the film and dream.

A tip about coffee...

Coffee in Italy is wonderfully strong, delicious espresso. Be aware, it costs much more to have a coffee sitting at a table rather than standing at the counter. I've learned, however, that IF the restaurant isn't busy, you can ask if you may sit AFTER you have ordered and paid. In my case, usually, the waiters said 'yes' to my request.
Heather, New Zealand

Ed. note: Thought you'd be interested in knowing a bit more about how to order your coffee in Italy...
Cafe coretto:
espresso with a dash of spirit (often grappa).
espresso with a little milk.
Cafe Americano:
weaker (than espresso) black coffee served in a large cup.
Latte macchiato: hot milk with a dash of espresso.
Cafe freddo:
cold, black, sweetened coffee served in a long glass.
(Source: Fast facts, MetroToday)

Know before you go...

If you have the time or the inclination to click, click, click, please remember that every banner in this GirlTalk Italy Guide leads to a different woman-centered Italian adventure. There's walking tours in Rome, solo holidays to study Italian, cooking classes, biking and hiking trips, wine tasting excursions, trail riding in Tuscany, women's books, interesting travel products and lots more. As you visit each new page of our guide, glance up at the banner and if it interests you, we suggest you take a little side trip. It could be the first step to a wonderful journey!

Bonus tip ...

Looking for moderately priced Italian underwear in Rome? The cheapest underwear, believe it or not, is bought on the street at vendor's stalls -- an especially popular shopping place for this is Viale Trastevere. It's also available in the Sunday flea market at Porta Portese. Fun underwear tends to be expensive in stores. But there's a limitless number of underwear shops in Rome. Someone once told me that the only thing Rome has more of than churches is underwear stores. I guess we could say that there's underwear on every corner.
(Source: Laura Flusche, offering exciting women-friendly tour itineraries in Rome)




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