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Thoughts on ISIS threats in Rome

Ciao Everyone!

Carabinieri paramilitary car patrols in front of the Colosseum in Rome on Feb. 17.  (Max Rossi/Reuters)

Carabinieri paramilitary car patrols in front of the Colosseum in Rome on Feb. 17. (Max Rossi/Reuters)

I don’t know if you have heard but there have been rumors circulating on-line that ISIS has made Rome a target.  No one can say for sure if this is a true threat, an internet ploy or just another way to put fear into people and disrupt our lives.  My thoughts on this are that I refuse to let fear own me.  My first international adventure landed me in the epicenter of a 7.4 earthquake in Central America where I spent 5 days making my way back to the city.  I traveled almost immediately after 9/11.  ISIS honestly can raise it’s ugly head pretty much any where in this big beautiful world and no city, tourist destination or place where we live and breathe is immune.  I advise to travel with awareness.  Be conscious of your surroundings, your exits and listen to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.  And GO travel!  

I found this article I would like to share with you HERE.  What I love the most are the comments at the end.  Leave it to Italians!

A presto,

Wanderlust Wednesday |Santa in Venice

They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies
On his sleigh
And ev’ry mother’s
Child is gonna spy to see if
Reindeer really know how to fly

Photo credit unknown

Photo credit unknown

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Tender moments captured

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

The afternoon

knows what

the morning never


– Robert Frost

Wanderlust Wednesday |Siena streets

Siena.  Anyone that has ever had the chance to visit always seems to sigh wistfully when asked.

Alessio Grazi

Photo courtesy of Alessio Grazi


Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Finding the best flight | Travel with me to Italy

flights to italyAirline tickets.  Hands down the most agonizing, frustrating and stress inducing piece of planning a trip to Italy.  I wish I could lay out a specific formula that would guarantee the best rates for the perfect dates.  Sadly, nothing like this exists.  Not even close.  What I can offer are my go to sites, some proven and researched facts, how to balance cost versus risk, and my two cents.  This is a long post, stick with it to the end.

First, don’t become obsessed with finding the absolute cheapest fare.  Your goal is to find a balance between a good price and optimal travel dates.  It will do no good waiting endlessly for a fare price reduction as your favorite hotels book up their best and cheapest rooms.  I would rather pay a few hundred dollars more for my plane ticket knowing that I was able to get into my first choice accommodation and build an itinerary that I want.  Time is also money.  The perfect itinerary is priceless.

HOW and WHERE to Search

When I have my approximate dates I start by first doing a general search on a big site.  My favorite is Kayak. This gives me an idea of what is out there and what airlines are players.  Then I go directly to the airlines’ websites to compare prices but even more importantly compare length of flights and layovers.  On my most recent search, I found a great price on my ideal dates….with a 34 hour return flight.  No thanks.  But when I went to the carrier’s direct site I found more options for approximately the same price.  Another reason I like to buy direct from the carrier is the assistance that can be given for any issues that come up with missed flights or travel trouble.  I have experienced the unfortunate frustration of trying to get help from a big search site with zero results.

flight compare

DETAILS to Keep in Mind

Connections.  Those on the East Coast can board their planes with ease and enjoy direct flights to most locations.  I will try to contain my jealousy.  The rest of us have to worry about connections, and if you are like me and live in a rural area connections become a REALLY big deal.  The key here is timing and location.  Don’t be tempted by the siren’s call of a brief layover.  That 45 minutes will cost you an entire travel day if missed.  I make sure I have at least 90 minutes at my layovers.  More if possible when flying into Heathrow in London where you also have to go through customs.  My priority is getting to Europe as soon as I can.  Delays within the States can cost my flight across the ocean because those are more infrequent, whereas a delay in Europe isn’t the end of the world.

flight details

Cookies.  Be conscious of your searches.  Don’t think the industry isn’t above making a little more money on your specific needs.  I have witnessed first hand ‘sudden’ increases in prices on the same flights on repeat searches.  Erase your cookies or use a different source when you are ready to purchase.

WHEN to Book

Most of the experts report that tickets to Europe should be purchased between 5-10 months before departure.  I personally like to book 8-10 months ahead and I have found some decent prices between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Regardless of HOW far ahead you book, there are certain times of the week you should purchase.  Research shows Tuesday and Wednesday as the best days to buy.  I like Tuesday mornings.  Insiders claim that in addition to this, you should avoid the first few days, the very middle days and the last days of the month.  When looking at WHICK days of travel, try to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Be mindful of holidays in both countries.  57658381-blackboard-with-days-of-the-week-schedule-gettyimages

I plan on purchasing tickets this month, I’ve found several flights that are in my goal budget and my ideal dates.  According to the above information, I have to ideal days to purchase them (see image).  December 9-10 and 23-24.  Now, I’m not sure if Christmas will affect the pricing so I will take those dates with a grain of salt.



For anyone trying to use their reward points and miles, good luck.  All airlines have black out dates and limited seats on each flight.  I have heard that booking a year out is the best way to get the dates you want to fly.  I have found a wonderful resource called Book My Award where all they deal with is rewards travel.  They work nothing short of miracles here.

SET UP Travel Alerts

Every website has the ability to sign up for travel alerts.  I have several and I receive email notices when the fare drops or a special is posted.  I find this is a handy way to keep track of any price trends.

price alert


Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Christmas Biscotti Recipes

I love making biscotti at Christmas time, they make great gifts if you manage to not eat them all yourself.  Below are links to the recipes of some of my favorites.  Buon Appetito.

Peppermint Chocolate Chip

cookie baking christmas

Chocolate Candied Orange Peel

Candied orange chocolate

White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie


Bacon Chocolate Chip

Italy baking cooking

Triple Ginger


Red Velvet

Red Velvet Biscotti

Butterscotch Dipped Chocolate Chip

Italian recipe

Biscotti Toscani

biscotti recipe almonds

Pecan and Candied Orange Peel

pecan and candied orange peel biscotti

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin

Tastes even better served in my grandma's tea cup.

Copyright 2014   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Gotta Travel On

Gotta Travel On

Photo credit unknown

Photo credit unknown

And I feel like I just want to travel on

Done laid around, done stayed around

This old town too long

And it seems like I’ve got to travel on
And it seems like I’ve got to travel on.

Bob Dylan

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Wanderlust Wednesday |Rome dining

Put me in a little trattoria and I’ll be the happiest girl in Rome

italy rome travel

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

18 Must Read Books | Travel with me to Italy

italy travel reading book listHere is the list of my very favorite books that get me so excited for Italy I can hardly stand myself.  Some are purely entertaining, a few historical, one just for cooking, and of course my best guides.  Grab one, pour yourself a glass of vino and get dreaming.

Rick Steves’ Italy– A down to earth guide to travel in Italy, limited coverage in the lesser known and southern areas.  I’ve been traveling with his guidance since I was 19 years old and his office consisted of bulletin boards and folding tables.

100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should go by Susan Van Allen – I LOVE this guide because it is more of a series of short stories.  She brings alive the essence of what it is to see Italy.  Full of places and ideas that aren’t in your standard guidebook.

La Bella Lingua by Dianne Hales – The book is a tantalizingly juicy read that made me add language school to my bucket list.  Dianne is a terrific storyteller.

Too Much Tuscan Sun by Dario Castagno – A hilarious book about life as a tour guide in Chianti, many characters I can relate to.  A great book to help understand cultural differences while enjoying the descriptions of Tuscany

The Hills of Tuscany by Ferenc Mate – This incredible and entertaining book takes you on the couples real life journey as they make Italy their home.  The author still lives in Tuscany and owns an amazing winery.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – A woman search for herself spanning across three different countries. Although Italy is only the first stop, this book is worth reading because of the way she makes Italy come alive and makes your mouth water with every morsel she describes.

Under the Tuscan Sun & Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes – A story about an American writer making a home in Italy, probably the most recognizable of all books on my list.

Italian Affair by Laura Fraser – A young woman struggling after her divorce finds love and so much more in Italy.  This is the book that inspired me to begin writing.

As the Romans Do by Alan Epstein – Rome through the eyes of an American family as they struggle to set up roots. Very accurate, sometimes funny and sometimes painful, view of Roman culture.

A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi – A story about finding love and a new life in Venice. I found myself absorbed in this book.  Complete with real recipes.

A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena de Blasi – The author takes another leap of faith as she and her new Italian husband move into a renovated house in Tuscany.  After reading this second novel and falling in love all over again, I ran into her and her husband outside a cafe in Orvieto.  I was so starstruck I didn’t even say hello.

La Bella Figura by Beppe Severgnini – The author helps to reveal the essence of being Italian.

The Broker by John Grisham – A fast paced book about a man on the run, set mostly in Bologna. A great peak into the language and food of the area.  Prepare to get hungry.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham – A cute story about a washed up NFL quarterback who finds himself playing football in Italy.  I found this an easy read that made me want to jump on a plane.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown – Before the Da Vinci Code, there was this book. Set in Rome and features most of the great sites in the city.  And yes, I was that person in the movie theater saying ‘I’ve been there’ ‘and there’

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone – A beautifully and very detailed account of the life and works of Michelangelo. This book will make Florence and Michelangelo’s work come to life.  The story is dry and tedious in a few parts but worth it.  I’ve personally read it three times.

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King – Recounts the amazing four years Michelangelo spent painting the Sistine Chapel.  Yes, I’m a Michelangelo junkie.

Savoring Italy by Michele Scicolone – This is my Italian cook book. I found this in Florence and packed it all the way home, only to find it on sale in Costco.


Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Make it real | Travel with me to Italy

travel italyPart 3, Travel with me it Italy series.

You’ve picked your ideal time to travel and have decided how long to go.

Now it is time to make things real.  Time to set up that designated savings account, arrange for the kids to stay with family, get your guidebooks, make your lists and put in for vacation time.  Time to do whatever needs to be done to put your dates on the calendar IN PEN and start setting things in stone.

Once you have transition from dreaming of Italy to I’m going to Italy, everything will begin to look different.  The countdown is now on!

In upcoming posts I will be sharing how I research my destinations, the most ideal flow of your itinerary, negotiating through flights, my favorite travel reads to get you in the mood, best guide books and much, much more!

If you missed early posts in the series, follow the links here.  How much time to spendWhen is the best time to travel.


Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.


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