The Cinque Terre is Alive and Well After Flooding of 2011

May 18 News hit the world like a flash. The beautiful Cinque Terre of Italy’s Ligurian coast was destroyed by terrible mudslides in October, 2011. Torrential downpours had reduced the villages to colorful versions of Pompeii. Well, not entirely true, as we found out on a recent visit to this sparkling part of Italy. Two […]

A Day in Montepulciano, Tuscany

May 12 We’re on a slow ramble around Tuscany with two nights in Montepulciano, one of the prettiest of the Tuscan hill towns. Also one of the steepest, we’ve determined, after visiting others such as Siena, Montecchiello and Pienza. Montepulciano is famous for its palaces around the main square, its unfinished church (they ran our […]

Abbey San Salvatore in Tuscany, Italy

May 12 On our way from Orvieto to Montepulciano we took a diversion and drove high up into the mountains to the ancient Abbey San Salvatore in the town of the same name high in the mountains of the Val di Orcia, Tuscany. The abbey is small and not particularly impressive from the exterior unless […]

Jewish History in Pittigliano, Tuscany

May 10 There was once a flourishing Jewish community in this fortified Tuscan village. Kicked out of the Papal States (those areas immediately surrounding Rome) by Popes in the 16th century, a large settlement developed in Pittigliano where they were given protection by the local ruling family. In ‘Little Jerusalem’ there can be seen many […]

Enjoying Italy by Visiting Orvieto, Umbria

May 9 Just off the plane at Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, George and Susan Then from Florida were welcomed by guide James Derheim for their second trip with European Focus. Last year, it was Germany and George’s ancestral towns of Amberg and Nurnberg. This time, it’s Susan’s turn with visits to Orvieto, Tuscany, the […]

Castle for Sale in Tuscany

April 18 While on my way to Rome recently to pick up clients, I stopped in northern Tuscany to visit good friends Giulio and Elisabetta Salemme. We stayed the night in a simple but lovely Agriturismo within sight of a massive gray pile of rock which I learned was the Castello dell’Aquila. Giulio offered a […]

Three special lanes in Pienza, Tuscany

April 13 While strolling around the beautiful hilltop town of Pienza in the Val d’Orcia, Tuscany recently we were told by a couple of locals that the three streets leading to a pretty overview have some special significance in the way they are lined up, and the way they are named. Approaching from the south, […]

Getting into Venice by Gypsy Cab

April 13 We have a routine we follow when we bring our clients to Venice. Since driving right up to the front door of the hotel is obviously out of the question, those who arrive by car to this watery city have only a few choices to get to their hotel. They can walk (pity […]