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Featured Photo Friday | Via dell’Amore Traditions in Cinque Terre

cinque terre italy

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Cinque Terre via dell'amore

Lovers Locks

For more on the recent rock slide injuring 4 tourist, click here.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Rock Slide in Cinque Terre Injures 4 Australians | Via dell’Amore Closed

A week of good news followed by bad I am afraid.

This past Monday a group of Australian tourists were caught in a rock slide along the famous and most popular section of trails in the area called Via dell’Amore.  Two of the tourists remain hospitalized, one in serious condition after being swept over the protective barrier and trapped along the hard to access rocky coastline.

What caused this new tragedy?  The mayor of Riomaggiore made a statement earlier blaming the drought and dry weather to cause the boulders to detach from the cliff above the trail.  The incident is incredibly rare and even harder to predict.  The trails in the Cinque Terre are often closed due to land slides.  I always warn my clients to double-check closures before starting out.  With the mudslides from the flooding last winter, most trails have been closed longer than open.  But this is the first time fingers have been pointed to drought as the culprit.  I am sure many are wondering what will happen when the rains begin again this fall.

cinque terre italy

I will keep travelers updated on the conditions of the trails and the situation on Via dell’Amore.  For related articles, click here.

cinque terre italy

Courtesy of Da Paulin Cinque Terre

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Trattoria da Sandro Open Again | Vernazza

When people ask me where my very favorite restaurant in Vernazza is, without hesitation I say Sandro’s.  It is one of the only restaurants without a view of the harbor, but that doesn’t keep it from being packed every evening.  The crowd Sandro’s draws is also important:  locals and Italians.  Going where the locals go has always been my secret for finding the best places and I wasn’t disappointed here.  So much so that almost one year ago I placed it on my Top Ten Favorite Places to Eat list.

Sandro's

The village of Vernazza

But when the floods hit Vernazza last October, I was afraid Sandro’s would be lost for good.  This restaurant was one of the hardest hit and the owner barely escaped with his life.  The location of the restaurant and the way the kitchen was set up meant a difficult clean up and recovery.

This hardship makes announcing Trattoria da Sandro’s re-opening even more exciting.  If anyone is getting ready to travel to the Cinque Terre, make sure to stop by Vernazza and spend an evening here.  Let them delight you!

For the most recent photos from Trattoria da Sandro, I invite you to my blogging friend’s mouth-watering article at Cultural Comments.  I have been trying not to be too jealous of Nicole, but come on!  Those photos are just NOT FAIR!

vernazza cinque terre

Courtesy of Cultural Comments. And I’m not jealous at all. Really.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Featured Photo Friday | By a Tuscan Hearth

Tuscany hearth

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

The Road of Terror | Driving Along the Amalfi Coast

Hold on to your ‘Oh Shit’ handles ladies and gentlemen!

This video explains better than any words why I cringe when my clients tell me they think renting a car for the Amalfi coast in August would be fun.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Featured Photo Friday | Morning Market in Italy

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

My Love Affair With Rome

I sat down to write my typical Top Ten list last week, but I found that my love for Rome could not simply be contained in such a short post.  I was literally unable to summarize all the elements that have made me fall head over heels.

I have decided instead to share with you all the specific reasons, the details, the moments that have made me a captive of this amazing place.  My hope is that you will soon understand why I have woken up in the middle of the night sure that I have smelt the aroma of the morning bread or why I will watch any movie (even pathetic romantic comedies with outrageously horrible acting and brutal stereotyping) in hopes that I can catch a glimpse of a little alley I am familiar with or to hear the distinctive sound of the sirens.

Before I begin, I would like to take a moment upon my soapbox to come to the defense of Rome and the bad rap often given this beautifully gritty city.

More than once I have had concerned clients ask me if Rome is safe.  Some were even considering removing Rome as a stop on their itinerary.

My answer every time is that Rome is my favorite big city on the planet.  Rome is noisy and dirty and pushy and extremely overwhelming.  Without the right frame of mind, a traveler might hurry through their to-do-list and get the heck outta Dodge.

Dirty?  Yep, especially when compared to Paris, although to be fair most of Europe is.  There is graffiti everywhere, mostly soccer smack talk.  Watch your step in the morning as the doggie poo bag remains a mystery of the universe here.  Cigarette butts can found just about anywhere.

Noisy?  Like nothing you could ever imagine.  Romans learn to drive with one hand holding a cigarette and another on the horn.  Traffic is a way of life and there are more mopeds than you can shake a stick at.   Romans are loud.  They are boisterous.  They wave their hands in the air with a dizzying frenzy.  You will feel overwhelmed at first.  But if you take a deep breath and let go you will realize that these people just feel life and they hold nothing back.  I will argue that there are no bigger hearts in all of Europe.  I absolutely enjoy Paris but I have never really made a friend there and sometimes I get the feeling they could take me or leave me, they are just so subdued you don’t really know where you stand.  In Rome, I make friends crossing the street.  They love to talk, they want to get to know you.

Safe?  I have never ever had a problem.  BUT people who don’t travel they way I recommend always do.  I can actually stand outside the Colosseum and guess which tourist is going to get scammed.  There are gypsies, but they are easy to spot.  There are pickpockets at the train station/major sites/buses but if you wear a moneybelt and remain aware of your surroundings (and never ever use a fanny pack) no one is going to mess with you.  If you deal in small bills, no one is going to question your change.  The men can still be perverted (I find the older men can be but the younger generation is much more respectful of women) but if you understand that they are harmless and just laugh it off instead of getting offended or think of it as an ego boast it isn’t that bad.  When someone does make you feel uncomfortable or does cross the line, get in their face.  They will back off.

I only ask to give Rome a chance.  Please don’t be afraid.  Don’t listen to other people’s bad experiences.  Travel to Rome with your eyes open but even more importantly your heart.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Featured Photo Friday | Grandparents Day Tribute

pienza italy

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Italy’s Slow Food

I just finished reading an inspiring article for the National Geographic Traveler magazine (my favorite!) about the little traveled to Piedmont region.  This is in the northern part of Italy and literally means the foot of the mountains.  What this region is known for is the wine and the birth of the Slow Food Movement.

I had the opportunity to plant my first real garden this year and it was quite frankly addicting.  The vegetables flourished, I found myself knocking on neighbors doors to give away my lettuce for fear they would rot.  Proudly, I have been able to put fresh corn, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, peppers and soon pumpkin on the table.  Fewer trips to the grocery store, more creative meals made around what was picked that day.  Even better?  Watching my 2 and 9 year old in the garden hunting for ripe veggies.   Now that I know what I can grow, I’m busy planning for new things next year.

Slow Food.  Simply speaking, food to table.  Grown fresh and locally.  I like that concept.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Italy in the News: Phone Sex, WWI arsenal found, Trevi repairs and the death of a Cardinal

Headlines from the week of Aug 26-Sept 1

Courtesy of Gizmodo

(ANSA) – Giving phone sex for money does not make you a prostitute, as long as it’s done solely with the mind, not with the body, Italy’s supreme court ruled on Friday. Read More

(Guardian) –  As the Venice Biennale of Architecture kicks off today, we head to Cannaregio and discover a neighbourhood largely unchanged by the city’s tourist hordes. Its bars, restaurants and shops are great places to taste local life.  Read More

(ANSA) –  Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini died from Parkinson’s disease on Friday at the age of 85.     The former archbishop of Milan and highly esteemed member of the Catholic Church had been suffering from the degenerative nerve disorder for many years.  Read More

(ANSA) – Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain has been drained to make way for repairs to its facade that lost several small pieces last June, Cultural Heritage Superintendent Umberto Broccoli said on Monday.  Read More

(ANSA) –  Italian Finance Police recovered 200 pieces of World War I ammunition, which emerged from a melting glacier on a Trentino mountain peak on Friday, Finance Guard sources said.Read More

(Wa Post) – Flowers, family, found objects. If you have an iPhone, chances are you’ve started to explore the world of iPhoneography —  shooting images with your phone and, if you choose, processing them using various applications.  Read More

(ANSA) – Rome – Dripping with chocolate, covered with strawberries or laden with cream, there is a gelato to tease the tastebuds of every ice-cream lover.       It’s no surprise to learn that thousands of foreign tourists who come to Rome take time out to scour the cobbled streets of the Italian capital in search of the perfect gelato.  Read More

Courtesy of ANSA

For anyone who missed my articles about the wildfires in Italy or painted pigeons in Venice, follow the links below.

Courtesty of Julian Charrière

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

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