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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.

Wanderlust Wednesday |Morning market

A market.  No place I’d rather be.

Photo credit unknown

Photo credit unknown

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

How much time should be spent | Travel with me to Italy

time spent italy travel


Well, as much as you can.  I recommend a minimum of 10 FULL days in Italy.  Remember, those in North America lose a day flying to Europe so I always count 2 days there and 1 day back as travel days.  I never count these as vacation days.  I will explain why at least 10 days are needed.

1.  Travel effort and expense.  As I mentioned above, an Italian vacation involves a THREE day travel commitment.  Spending 50% of your time getting from here to there is not conductive to a memorable or relaxing vacation.  Taking a full two weeks drops that percentage to 21%.  Let’s face it, airfare to Europe is not cheap no matter what day of the week or what time of year.  Why would you spend a major portion of your vacation expense flying to Italy without spending a good amount of time in Italy.

2. Transportation time within Italy.  On a map, Italy looks very manageable with simple connections and distances between the major cities.  What a map doesn’t tell you is when and where the trains or taxis will strike, how many roundabouts you will take before heading in the right direction, which little old lady will hold the attention of the only open ticket booth and thus the entire line.  Or which petrol stations will be on an extended lunch break, where a local market will have an entire street blocked off, or which 1/3 of the Florence roads will be under construction.  Travel from Point A to Point B from almost anywhere in Italy is an all day deal.  Then there is the check in process, assuming you found your little gem on the first try.  There are passports to check, forms to sign, cheeks to kiss, and bags to lug.  This is one of the major reasons I recommend a minimum of 2 nights at any one location.  Ideally a minimum of 2 full days and 3 nights.


3. La Dolce Vita.  The sweet life.  Italy is meant to be savored.  Cherished.  Seduced.  You can’t do that on a one week itinerary.  The more time spent, the more you can slow down to see and feel Italy.  The essence of Italy, not the checklists will be what makes you fall in love.  Why would you want to rush that?

I tell everyone, you can’t see and do it all on the first trip.  You will be back.


Photo courtesy of MarcheBreaks

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Facebook Fan Giveaway | Italy Armchair Traveler Package

I started a little giveaway on my Facebook page but realized I better not leave my great blog followers out.  10690131_10152474017393201_1420239102063667588_n

I had put together an armchair traveler package if 1000 LIKES was reached by midnight this Sunday. Within 24 hours that goal was met!  I had no idea how fast the likes would come or how great the support would be.  I’m keeping the Sunday midnight deadline even though the goal as been met to give as many people a chance to win as possible.  Follow the link HERE to my Facebook fan page and simply hit like.

One person from the 1000 followers will be picked at random. New or old, everyone has a chance.  So invite your friends, tell your mom and bribe your neighbors. Dreaming of Italy? Follow me.


Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Wanderlust Wednesday | Simple lunch


italy travel

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

When is the best time to travel | Travel with me to Italy

best time to travel italy

I get asked this all the time.  This is usually the first question my clients have and the first hurdle we tackle together.

So, when is the best time to travel to Italy?

The answer is not so simple and is actually different for every traveler.  The best time to travel depends on several factors which I will break down here.

1.  Budget.  Money usually drives most decisions and your budget can be tweaked quite a bit just by changing the dates of your travel.  High season comes with the most expensive rates and the least chance of negotiating any price breaks.  Shoulder season comes before and after high season and usually has lower pricing, more flexibility but comes with the risk of some poor weather.   High season runs from the end of May through September.  September is NOT shoulder season.  In fact, I find in my business September is one of my busiest months with accommodations booking their best rooms well in advance.  April and October are classic shoulder season months with early October being my personal favorite time to travel with the easiest bookings.

2.  Experiences.  Wanting to spend your time soaking up the hot sun along the coast?  Packing only shorts and bikinis?  Can’t stand the rain? Or planning on hiking in the Dolomites.  Summer.  Hate crowds, long lines and annoying tourists?  Temperatures above 70 degrees make you melt?  March, April or October.  Always dreamed of being a part of the grape harvest?  Or go white truffle hunting?  September.

3.  Time off.  Many travelers only have the summer months available for travel.  For these travelers my biggest tip is to try to avoid traveling in August.  The weather is scorching making cities like Rome nearly unbearable.  Italians also traditionally take this entire month off and head to the coast.  This means many little businesses are shut down and the seaside is jam-packed with vacationing Italians.  Don’t panic if August is the only time you can travel but the earlier in the summer you can leave the more enjoyable the temperatures and certain locations will be.  I will talk more about how long you should go in an upcoming post.

My two cents?  I have traveled to Italy in almost all of the seasons, from March through the end of October.  Each month has something special about it and each month comes with its own draw backs.  Ask yourself what is most important for you, what would be the most disappointing?   Once you have an honest answer, pick the time of year that will make you the happiest.  For me, I love traveling from September through October.  I love fall.  I love the weather, I love watching locals start to let their hair down.  I love watching the harvest of the grapes and olives.  I hate scorching hot weather and long lines.  September and October are my travel soul mates.




My love affair with rome


Lucignanello Bandini

italy grape harvest

long lines vatican money laundering

vernazza cinque terre

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Serenity in Nesso Italy

Photo credit unknown.  Nesso, Italy

Photo credit unknown. Nesso, Italy


May life


embroider your days


jewels of serenity


Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Wanderlust Wednesday | Florence Sunset

Photo credit unknown

Photo credit unknown

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.


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