An Italian Dream at Villa La Collina

An Italian Dream at Villa La Collina

Since our first visit to Tredozio, Italy in June of 2013, I’ve dreamed of a return to this serene village of Emilia-Romagna in the Apennine mountains. During our April trip to Italy, my dream was fulfilled. We once again enjoyed the hospitality of our host at Torre Fantini (you may remember reading about our stay here in 2013) and were royally welcomed at another lovely estate in the EsteVillas portfolio of holiday rentals, Villa La Collina.

Exploring Veneto: 5 Great Side Trips from Asolo

Exploring Veneto: 5 Great Side Trips from Asolo

From our romantic apartment in Asolo, we not only enjoyed the culture and lifestyle of the captivating town just beyond our doorstop, we had easy access to other wonders of the Veneto region of Italy on side trips during our four-day stay. With our expert guides and gracious hosts Mr. TWS and I explored highlights that included regional wine, art, and architecture. Here are five places that we recommend for your Veneto itinerary.

I Left My Heart in Asolo

I Left My Heart in Asolo

I often think of Asolo. Since our April visit to this town in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy, I’ve thought back fondly to many moments of our stay there. The picture-perfect hilltop town exudes romance with its winding lanes, beautiful villas, galleries, cafes, and fabulous views from its lofty position.

An Authentic Taste of Mantua

An Authentic Taste of Mantua

Traditional food and wine of Mantua Enjoying regional food and wine is always a key element in our travels. While staying at Palazzo Castiglioni in Mantua, we indulged in a variety of local specialties. We also learned about Mantuan pride in the agricultural richness of the area (in large part due to its proximity to the Po River) and […]

Highlights of Mantua, 2016 Italian Capital of Culture

Highlights of Mantua, 2016 Italian Capital of Culture

Surveying the Mantua skyline from the tower rooftop at Palazzo Castiglioni, I thought of the stories of power, wealth, love, and war that unfolded here from the city’s Etruscan origins and Roman occupation, through the Renaissance.

Biking in the Park: Our Tour of Parco Giardino Sigurta

Biking in the Park: Our Tour of Parco Giardino Sigurta

Parco Giardino Sigurtà (Sigurtà Garden Park) Open from March 6 to November 6 (2016) Since Mr. TWS and I are bike-riding enthusiasts, a bike tour of an award-winning park and gardens in Italy sounded like an awesome idea. So I really looked forward to this part of our stay in Mantua, Italy. I hope these photos will give you a […]

The Musical Essence of Mantua

The Musical Essence of Mantua

Music is an essential part of Mantua’s culture, and the Mantova Chamber Orchestra is an important part of Mantua’s music. For over 30 years, through their concerts and special projects the organization has spread the enjoyment of all musical genres to families, young people, cultural tourists, and all music lovers.

Magical Maggiore: Our Stay on the Lake

Magical Maggiore: Our Stay on the Lake

There was definitely something special about Lake Maggiore from the moment we arrived at our villa rental in Lesa until we left four days later. Did it start with the warm welcome we received from our hosts? Was it the natural beauty of the water, islands, and gardens? Was it our special experiences that included world-class music? I think it was a combination of all of those things wrapped up into one magical experience.

A Tale of Four Regions: Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna

A Tale of Four Regions: Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna

It shouldn’t be surprising that art, literature, and music are essential aspects of northern Italy. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, dramatic history, and deep cultural traditions, it’s easy to understand why writers, artists, and musicians have been enamored of and inspired by various locations in the four regions of Italy we visited on our latest trip — Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna.

7 Tuscany Luxury Villas Ideal for Families and Friends

7 Tuscany Luxury Villas Ideal for Families and Friends

As one of the most beautiful regions of Europe, Tuscany is a prime vacation destination for many. It can be especially appealing to those wishing to celebrate special occasions (such as weddings and anniversaries), bring friends together and spend quality time with their families. Very popular accommodations in the region are luxury villas that have been transformed into holiday rentals and opened to guests.

Picture Portugal Part Two: Instagram Favorites

Picture Portugal Part Two: Instagram Favorites

When you picture Portugal in your mind, what do you see — trams on steep streets, towering bridges, and historic sites such as Belém? I was excited to see these scenes in person and even happier to experience Portuguese culture expressed in art, architecture, and music as portrayed in the second part of my Portugal Instagram photos.

Prelude to a Cruise: 7 Lisbon Highlights

Prelude to a Cruise: 7 Lisbon Highlights

Lisbon was irresistible. I fell in love at first sight.

As much as Mr. TWS and I were excited about taking our first cruise, the fact that the Viking River Cruises “Portugal’s River of Gold” itinerary included a two-day stay in Lisbon prior to ever stepping foot on the boat was one of our favorite things.

Cruising Portugal's River of Gold: Our Favorite Things

Cruising Portugal’s River of Gold: Our Favorite Things

“Portugal’s River of Gold”, Viking River Cruises’ itinerary from Porto to the Spanish border showcases the Douro region of northern Portugal, capturing the essence of its people, history, culture, and gastronomy. Portugal and Viking River Cruises also captured my heart.

Picture Portugal on Instagram

Picture Portugal on Instagram

Picture Portugal — the glittering lights of Lisbon, sweeping vistas of the stunning Douro Valley, Baroque architecture, colorful ceramic tiles, and delightful surprises. These are just a few of the facets of this wonderful country that we captured for our Instagram gallery during our first visit there on our Viking River “Portugal’s River of Gold” cruise.

The Art of Pietrasanta: A Tuscany Highlight

The Art of Pietrasanta: A Tuscany Highlight

Of the many highlights that Mr. TWS and I enjoyed during our stay in Tuscany, one of our favorites was learning about the rich art culture of Pietrasanta, a town near the Versilian coast (Tuscany’s Riviera) in the foothills of the Apuan Alps.

A Day in the Heart of Chianti

A Day in the Heart of Chianti

By now, it’s not a secret that Mr. TWS and I were smitten with Tuscany on our first visit to the region. Each day brought new experiences in the hilltop villages, historic towns, and countryside. On this day with with the promise of more tasty and interesting activities ahead, Mr. TWS and I were driving along Tuscany’s country roads among the vineyards and olive groves enjoying the burst of colorful spring blooms on the wooded hillsides.

Maritime Québec: Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski to Rimouski

Maritime Québec: Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski to Rimouski

From my first day in Kamouraska to my final night in Rimouski, I enjoyed the food, wine, art, and natural beauty of maritime Québec. This is the third and final post in my maritime Québec road trip series.

Maritime Québec: Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac to Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski

Maritime Québec: Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac to Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski

Following our day relishing the charm and cuisine of Kamouraska, my travel companions and I spent two more days in the maritime regions of Québec. Here’s the second part of the story.

10 Glimpses of Maritime Québec on Instagram

10 Glimpses of Maritime Québec on Instagram

Colorful, delicious, fresh, charming, intriguing. These are some of the characteristics I tried to capture in photos during my three-day road trip in two of the maritime regions of Québec, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie. I’ve written about my trip in other articles, but here I’ll give you a glimpse with ten of my favorite maritime Québec Instagram photos.

On the Hilltops of Tuscany

On the Hilltops of Tuscany

Writers, artists, and pilgrims have for centuries been inspired by the villages and hilltops of Tuscany. And no wonder. During our visit, I was constantly in awe of the historic towns with their turrets and towers atop the hills. Certaldo Alta and San Gimignano, two of the region’s most notable hilltop towns, exemplified the Tuscany of medieval times and the beauty of modern-day Tuscany.

Classic Tuscan Elegance at Villa Buonvisi

Classic Tuscan Elegance at Villa Buonvisi

Picture a stay in an elegant 16th-century Tuscan villa in the luxurious style of Renaissance nobility, but with all of today’s modern conveniences. Imagine a setting overlooking vineyards with views of majestic mountains. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? To that picture, add convenient access to the fascinating medieval city of Lucca and many top sites in the region and you have Villa Buonvisi…

Tasting Montana, One Town at a Time: Bozeman

Tasting Montana, One Town at a Time: Bozeman

Southwestern Montana evokes visions of bison, cowboys, and vast landscapes, and that has always held an exciting appeal for me on the occasions I’ve traversed the state on road trips. Although a big part of its makeup and well-known allure, that’s not all that Big Sky Country has to offer as Mr. TWS and I recently learned.

Rome in a Day Part 2: The Power and the Glory

Rome in a Day Part 2: The Power and the Glory

Did you know that there are nine miles of culture and history with sculptures, paintings, other art, and religious and historical relics in the Vatican Museums, including their most famous attraction — the Sistine Chapel? It’s impossible to take it all in during one visit.

Rome in a Day: The Grandeur

Rome in a Day: The Grandeur

Rome: The Eternal City — How do you begin to take in 2,500 years of civilization during a short visit?

With only three nights to spend on our first visit to Rome, we needed to figure out how to make the most of our time in order to see the major sites, and yet be able to wander and explore on our own.

Authentic Tuscany at La Novellina

Authentic Tuscany at La Novellina

When I think of Tuscany, I picture the wonderful food and wine of the region with a backdrop of a golden afternoon sun on beautiful vistas of vineyards, olive groves and green hills. Anticipating our trip there, I hoped to have an experience that this picture epitomized and from our first welcome to the day we said goodbye, my expectations were met.

Off-Season Provence: Things to Do in Vaucluse

Off-Season Provence: Things to Do in Vaucluse

As picturesque vineyards, brilliant lavender fields, and lively festivals are attracting tourists to Provence for the spring and summer peak season, I’m reflecting on our wonderful visit there in December and particularly the Vaucluse area in the northwestern part of the region.

A Taste of Burgundy in California Wine Country

A Taste of Burgundy in California Wine Country

Sometimes the recipe for a special evening is created in a surprising and exceptional way. French flavors, California wine, charming hosts, new friends, and a remarkable venue provided the ingredients for our lovely evening in Santa Rosa, California hosted by Fallot Mustard and DeLoach Vineyards.

A Day in Aix-en-Provence: Top Things to Do

A Day in Aix-en-Provence: Top Things to Do

The third day of our busy Provence trip brought us to Aix-en-Provence. As soon as we arrived on this weekday morning in December, we noticed the bustling, upbeat vibe of the city as people were shopping the markets, strolling the streets, and socializing in cafés.

European Capital of Culture: Highlights of Marseille

European Capital of Culture: Highlights of Marseille

“Marseille is a way of life”. It’s the playing of pétanque (similar to bocce), the imbibing of pastis (an anise liqueur developed in Marseille as a substitute for the banned absinthe in 1915), the savoring of Bouillabaisse (for which Marseille is famous), and a certain “joie de vivre”. It is also a way of life that embraces the diversity of this melting pot on the Mediterranean and its rich culture, history, and art — giving an ample number of reasons for its designation as a 2013 European Capital of Culture.

Cassis by the Sea

Cassis by the Sea

“Qu’a vist Paris, se noun a vist Cassis, pou dire: n’ai rèn vist,”

“He who has seen Paris and who has not seen Cassis can say … I have seen nothing.” Frédéric Mistral (1830 – 1914), beloved Provençal poet and Nobel Prize laureate

After just a few hours in this village on the Mediterranean coast, I began to understand.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Emilia-Romagna

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Emilia-Romagna

It’s not a secret that I fell in love with the Emilia-Romagna and Puglia regions of Italy last year. As in Puglia, in Emilia-Romagna we met many wonderful people who were friendly, helpful, and very understanding of our extremely limited Italian language skills. Now I want to highlight some of the things you can do when you visit Emilia-Romagna to make it special for you, too.

5 Favorite Highlights of Ferrara Italy

5 Favorite Highlights of Ferrara Italy

It was a whirlwind of a day trip to Ferrara, Italy from our base in Verucchio. We started out early for our 2-hour drive to Ferrara, 90 miles to the north (about 30 miles from Bologna). We left the driving to our Italian blogger friend, Alessandra Catania…