Italian Insights: Two Fun Videos That Will Make You Smile

Cue the popcorn, sit back and enjoy these videos that charmingly introduce you to the experience of traveling in Italy. We love Rick Steve’s “eyes open” look at the charms and frustrations. And who can resist the whimsy of Italian hand gestures which come as readily to an Italian as breathing. We hope you will enjoy these two fun and informative videos.

 

Resources mentioned or related:

Rick Steve’s Guide to Italy

Five Rome Sites to Book Ahead

What Florence Sites to Book Ahead

 

Rome's Top 5 Gelaterie: Roman ice-cream for all tastes

Roman Gelato Joy: Top 5 Gelaterie Picks

No trip to Rome would be complete without sampling cool and creamy gelato. The origins of ice-cream are steeped in legend, with little hard historical evidence to support any of the numerous tales surrounding its invention. Nonetheless, Italy tends to feature pretty centrally in these stories, so even if the first recipe might be traced back to ancient China,  we can probably still assume that Italians played a key role in the development of the dessert into the creamy delicacy adored by millions the world over today.

While ancient Romans were said to have enjoyed gelati made of snow gathered from the mountains outside the city, it was only in the 1920s that Italians began to develop a widespread love of the rich snack, at which time ice-cream parlors – or gelaterie – sprang up across the country. Present-day Romans enjoy gelato year-round, and most gelaterie offer seasonal variations according to the availability of ingredients, so a trip to at least one of the following spots should be at the top of your must-do list at any time of year.

The flavors are all so tempting, consider taking a carton of a variety back to your Italy Perfect Vacation Rental.

Giolitti

Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40

A short walk from the Panthoen, Giolitti claims to be Rome’s oldest existing gelateria, dating back to 1900 and still owned by the Giolitti family to this day. Come here for a wide selection of time-tested traditional flavors such as chocolate, zabaione, pistacchio and various fruit sorbets. Like most places in central Rome, sitting at a table comes at an additional price, so you can also order a cone or copetta (cup) to-go and enjoy in while gazing on the Pantheon.

San Crispino

Near Pantheon: Piazza della Maddalena 3

Near Trevi fountain: Via della Panetteria, 42

With two parlors in Rome’s centro storico this gelateria is known for a long tradition of high quality and seriously delicious flavors. Look for novelties such as walnut and fig, whisky, licorice, rum and cocoa.

Fassi

Via Principe Eugenio, 65

Fassi – or to give the place its full name, Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi (Giovanni Fassi’s Palace of Cold) – is another Roman tradition going back to the turn of the last century and installed in its present location since 1928. Many famous and infamous historical personalities have enjoyed Fassi’s ice-creams over the years – of the latter, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler were said to be fans. Following the liberation of Rome at the end of WWII, the parlor was commandeered by the American Red Cross to provide it’s services as ice-cream-maker to the US troops. Fassi is situated in the Esquilino district not far from Termini station – the closest Rome gets to a Chinatown – and has now also branched out with new parlors in China and South Korea. The addition of gelato di riso, made from rice (can we call it ‘rice-cream’?), further helps to make Fassi a hit with many Asian customers.

Otaleg

Viale dei Colli Portuensi 594

Award-winning contemporary ice-cream spot with plenty of unusual, modern (and often downright bizarre) flavors mixed in with the classics. Otaleg’s Marco Radicioni clearly set out to turn Italy’s ice-cream-making traditions on their head (or rather back-to-front: the name Otaleg of course spells gelato backwards) and here you’ll have the opportunity to try such unique flavor combinations as gorgonzola and white chocolate with hazelnuts, or a mustard flavored gelato.

La Gourmandise

Via Felice Cavallotti, 36B

Perhaps the closest Italian gelato gets to hipster-barman mixology, this small, boutique gelateria in the  residential neighborhood of Monteverde Vecchio offers plenty of creative, contemporary flavor combinations to rival Otaleg (above) but without ever veering into overly outlandish (or stomach-churning) territory. Winner of Italy’s highest culinary award – the Gambero Rosso – here you’ll find such flavors as avocado, jasmine and watermelon, sesame, honey and lemon, raspberry and rosewater, dates and green peppercorns. Also on offer are ice-creams made from goats milk. For ginger lovers, La Gourmandise’s ginger gelato is one of the best and chock-full of the spicy root.

Photo by Cliffano Subagio  under Creative Commons.

David at Piazza Signoria

How to Get the Most Out of Five Days in Florence

Few cities in the world have surpassed the test of time without losing their character and traditional atmosphere. One of those is surely Florence. This city in the center of Italy still retains much of its magnificent cultural heritage, and the possibility to easily walk around the historic center of Florence makes it a great destination for an Italy  vacation. Add to that the opportunity to experience life in one of Italy Perfect’s vacation rental apartments where you can relax, cook and live the Italian lifestyle.

Palazzo Vecchio StatuesStart your first day in the majestic Piazza della Signoria, home of the city council through the ages. Florence was a republic in an age of monarchies and fiefdoms  and the statue of Michelangelo’s David in Piazza della Signoria symbolizes Florence as David facing the Goliath of the French monarchy. The spectacular Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia dei Lanzi and the several statues carved by the greatest Italian artist such as Michelangelo, Donatello and Cellini make this square an open-air museum. Take the time to visit the inside of Palazzo Vecchio and you will still be able to feel the atmosphere and pride of the Republic of Florence. For a casual lunch, choose a delicious sandwich (the best in Florence) or “schiacciata” and a glass of local wine from All’Antico Vinaio (Via dei Neri, 74/R) and then walk to the near Piazza San Firenze, where you can see the Bargello musuem, the oldest public building in the city, from 1255. This marvelous museum is well worth a visit. The next stop is Piazza del Duomo, home of the monumental Santa Maria del Fiore, better known at “the Duomo”, the city’s main Cathedral. We recommend an audio guide to help enjoy the wonderful aspects of this landmark piece of architecture. Climb to the top of the cupola if you can, appreciating the construction of the dome; the first made without supports as it was constructed, and then enjoy a spectacular view of the city, for a magical and unforgettable experience. The Baptistry across the from the cathedral is quite wonderful for, among many fine works, scenes of Hell.

Farmaceutica Santa Maria NovellaOn your second day  Piazza Santa Maria Novella is a good starting point. Here you can admire inside and out the church  that dates back to 1279.  Walk to the nearby fragrant Officina profumo farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (Via della Scala, 16), considered the oldest pharmacy and herb shop in Europe; their unique potpourri is most wonderful.  Stroll back towards Piazza della Repubblica and stop for a casual lunch on via della Spada at Trattoria Marione or La Spada restaurants. After lunch walk towards the church of Santa Croce, a prestigious symbol of Florence where the “gods” of Florentine art, culture and science are enshrined. En route stop at deservedly famous gelateria Vivoli.  Meander towards the Arno river and you’ll see the Ponte Vecchio bridge, another symbol of Florence with its jewelry shops. Close the day with a cocktail from the rooftop café of La Rinascente department store in Piazza della Repubblica. We like the amusingly named Pensavo Peggio restaurant at Via del Moro 51, which name means “I thought it would be worse!”;-)

boboliFor your 3rd day, provided there’s no rain, enjoy Florence’s lovely formal gardens with carefully organized greenery, fountains and scupltures: Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens) or the Giardino Bardini (Bardini Gardens). Choose a sunny afternoon for an invigorating walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a dramatic view of the city. Just behind the piazza is the beautiful romanesque San Miniato church where, at 4:30 or 5:30 pm depending on the season, the church resonates with monks singing the ancient Gregorian chants.

Uffizi_Gallery_-_Michelangelo_painting_-Tondo_Doni- (2)Start your 4th day early at the Uffizi Gallery getting in before crowds. Book ahead; it is one of the most popular museums in the world, official booking site on this link.   The visit will take a few hours; have a coffee or lunch at the café located inside the museum while enjoying a privileged view of Palazzo Vecchio. In the afternoon, it’s time to discover the other side of the Arno river, known as the Oltrarno. Walk to the characteristic Piazza della Passera and then to Piazza Santo Spirito, often animated by local markets and a vibrant nightlife. If you want to try some of the best ice cream in town and still have some energy to walk a bit more, head towards Piazza Tasso and look for La Sorbetteria (Piazza Tasso, 11r): so delicious! For lunch or dinner, experience the homey and characteristic atmosphere of La Casalinga (Via dei Michelozzi, 9).

foto-mercatocentrale2Your last day starts at another well-known Museum: Galleria dell’Accademia (Via Ricasoli). The original statue of the David by Michelangelo and the dramatic Bound Slaves are worth contemplation  For lunch, try Il Desco Bistrot (Via Cavour, 27) and then walk to Piazza San Lorenzo for experiences of many kinds: the church of San Lorenzo is home to home to the dramatic Medici chapel with sculptures by Michelangelo and you can’t miss the great market all around the church for leather, tshirts, souvenirs, many things!  Nearby is the Mercato Centrale, the Central Market, where downstairs you can enjoy the farmer’s market and upstairs a great Tuscan foodcourt.

The compact size of Florence  makes it easy to explore almost all the city on foot. While you’ll only scratch the surface of Florence in five days, its beauty and art is sure to make a lasting impression.

Photo attributions:

By Petar Milošević – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36617497

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:JoJan

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Florence Giovanna Apartment Offers Luxury Living & Terrace

Live large and enjoy your own terrace in the Giovanna apartment, located in a noble historic palazzo right in the center of Florence. We like the Florence Giovanna vacation apartment for its grand proportions, 3 large bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. To top it off, it has a splendid terrace where you can relax, enjoy the Mediterranean sun. To enhance your stay there are optional on-site concierge services to arrange tours, a private chef or grocery shopping. Even better, July & August 2106 dates are on sale. See the full description & photos by clicking here. Contact reservations@italyperfect.com for more information about how to reserve the Giovanna apartment for your Florence stay.
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