Posts under Tag: italy
Sorrento: Equidistant from Everywhere You’d Rather Be

Sorrento is a turnstile town, a gateway to other, far more interesting places. It’s the place to catch ferries to Capri, trains to Pompeii and Naples, buses down the Amalfi Coast. It’s a stopover to pick up your rental cars to get to your rental villa further out on the Sorrentine Peninsula, or hop the orange-topped launch back to your […]

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The Road to Sorrento

Delta did exactly zero things to impress me on my trip from JFK to Rome. The total waiting time from getting out of the car to striding up to my gate was 90 minutes, including 18 minutes shuffling up the sidewalk jut to get up to the front entrance. Then, they stuck me in seat 42E, the very back row […]

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Enzo and His Hot Love Liqueur

Seven years ago, I immensely enjoyed a dinner at U Bossu, and accordingly gave Enzo’s seven-table restaurant on a forgotten Taormina side-street a star rating in the Frommer’s guide I was researching at the time. Enzo was gregarious, friendly, jocular, and overall a genuine impresario for his little trattoria—and the food was fantastic, especially for a moderately cheap joint. At […]

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Jane Eyre, Forbidden Love, and the British Dukedom in Sicily

The old inland SS 120 used to be the only road from Sicily’s east coast to Palermo until the Autostrada from Messina was built along the island’s north shore. It wraps around the north side of Mt. Etna, passing the bushy grapevines that thrive in the volcanic soils and a number of small towns whose crumbling castles and thriving little […]

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All Wet

I am staring at the reflection of my passport photo in the windshield. I’m on a road winding through the forested northwest slopes of Mt. Etna, and every time I pass from the treeshade to the sunlight on a curve, there it is: my face, with a silly grin; my signature, in Sharpie; the bold words USA (in frills), PHILADELPHIA […]

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Breaking the Rules and Wasting a Morning in Taormina

I must be seriously out of shape, mentally. This trip started with me breaking a trio of travel rules right off the bat: (1) I picked up a rental car at the airport (which always incurs an extra fee), (2) merely to drive it into downtown Palermo (never drive in a city–especially not an Italian city; and especially not a […]

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Three Kinds of Martyrdom

The year was 1545. It was late in November, and the German preacher, frozen to the bone, had barely made it over the last mountain pass on his journey south. He stopped at a crossroads, and before him he saw a pretty Tyrolean city called Trent nestled in the valley at his feet. He stood there for a few moments, […]

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The Heights of Monte Bianco, the Girth of Entreves

An older British couple shared my four-seater gondola for the long, dangling ride back from Mont Blanc’s Aiguille du Midi to Punta Helbrunner. This is the world’s longest cable car without any supporting pilons. Instead, an impressive set of cables stretches horizontally between two rocky peaks about halfway along intersect the main cables and help keep us from plummeting to […]

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The Melandris & The Mud Angels

I had dinner tonight at the apartment of Massimo and Vittoria Melandri in Florence. Their place was beautiful, a 14th-century building restructured in the 19th century, which is when they frescoed all the ceilings and the walls. Gorgeous. The ceiling paintings in the main salon where we dined were a bit obscured by soot, since (as explained Massmimo’s 86-year-old mother, […]

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The Madonna of Tears

This is the story of the Madonna della Lacrime, the Madonna of Tears. A Siracusan family buys a little factory-made plaster plaque-relief of the Madonna back in 1953. They hang it on the wall. The next morning the husband goes off to work, after which the gypsum Madonna image starts crying, at 8:30 a.m. on Aug 29, 1953. Wife calls […]

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