Published in Print!

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"


Udite, udite! Hear ye, hear ye! I have an announcement to make:

On December 1st, I had my first articles published in print. IN PRINT! In black and white, on a page. In bianco e nero. And you know what? It feels pretty darn good!

I’m now an official contributor for Panoram Italia magazine, a Toronto and Montreal-based Italian-themed travel, lifestyle and everything else bi-monthly, beautiful, glossy magazine. My first pieces were published in the December/January issue, and I’ve already done some work for the February/March issue. I’ve even had a travel article idea approved for the April/May issue, and I couldn’t be happier about it. It gave me a very welcome sense of accomplishment soon after I made my debut as a disoccupata and it has also (in my humble opinion) brought me that much closer to my dream of becoming a published novelist.

If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve been writing elsewhere, follow this link to the current Toronto issue of Panoram Italia.  You’ll find me on pages 48, 52, 55 and 56. I’ve also added a permanent link to Panoram Italia on Not Just Another Dolce Vita’s sidebar for your reading pleasure.

As always, thanks for reading! Grazie di leggere!

Closer to Life – Zona a Traffico Limitato

Once again I find my mind wandering to the many ways in which my life in Italy makes me feel as if I live more in tune with life, more in harmony with life, closer to life.  In my first post on this subject, I used the example of finestre aperte – open windows – and how my open, screenless Italian windows helped me live closer to life. Now I’d like to share with you how the Zona a Traffico Limitato (ZTL, pronounced “zehdda-tee-ehllay”) doesn’t limit me, as its name may suggest, but invites me to get out into the world.

In my Italian home, the charming, medieval city of Siena, the historic town centre is almost entirely free of cars due to the ZTL that encompasses most of the centro storico (old town centre). Siena was the first city in Europe to outlaw cars from its centre, allowing only some taxis, few buses and a minimal number of motorini to wind their way through the labyrinthine streets. For most people, the main mezzo di trasporto (method of transportation) is the heel-toe express.

ZTL at Porta Pispini – Siena

How annoying, people lament when I tell them this. You mean you have to walk everywhere? They actually feel sorry for me. What do people with cars do? They park them ouside the city walls (like in the photo), or get a special permit if they live inside the walls. But isn’t it inconvenient? Not really. I actually quite enjoy it. Oh, I could never do that much walking.  You could if you had to. Well, we’ll just not visit Siena then. It sounds like too much trouble. You’re the ones missing out!

In Canada, I live in a lovely suburban neighbourhood. I go for walks to get my exercise, but I can’t actually really go too many places of interest on foot. In Siena, I find that all the walking makes me feel like the city is my home in Italy, where I belong in Italy. My feet are stepping on the same stones that the Senese people – nobles and peasants alike – have been treading on for hundreds of years. It’s a connection to the past. With every step I take I’m making the city my own. I’m becoming familiar with it. It’s becoming familiar with me. I feel the breeze (or lack of one) come from the countryside. I feel my legs working to climb the many hills that adorn the city. In my sandals, my feet sometimes touch the cobblestones that they’re attempting to navigate.

I also notice that when I’m camminando (walkingand not preoccupied dealing with the gas-brake-horn-horn-HORN-blinker-gas-gasssss-brake-horn-horn-horn cycle of driving, I’m able to pay more attention to my surroundings. As I walk (or sometimes stumble embarassingly) over the uneven cobblestones, I find myself thinking not so much about my destination, but about the people and places I pass on my way.

I might notice a shop, bar or restaurant that I haven’t seen before, then duck inside to check it out. I might pass a friend in the street and stop to chat. I’m more inclined to follow where my curiousity may lead, to explore, to discover. As I look, I appreciate.

Exploring the alleyways of Siena

And funnily enough, in Siena, I don’t use music to block out the world around me. When I drive, the radio is on. Always. When I go for a walk to get some exercise, the iPod is on. Always. When I walk in Siena, you’ll never see me with my earbuds in. Never. I welcome the sounds of Siena.  All the walking and being in the street amongst the other pedestrians, with the odd vehicle slowly cruising by, the odd horse being led around – it’s nice. It makes me feel as if I’m a part of something bigger – a feeling I wouldn’t necessarily get from driving around cooped up in a car.

ZTL, you don’t limit me. You help me live closer to life.

Guest Blogger: Italy is a Family-Friendly Destination

 Check out what Guest Blogger Megan Gates has to say about family travel to Italy:

While it may seem that a trip to Italy is more suited to adults than to children, the fact is Italians love children and traveling to Italy with the family is a very good idea.  Italy is much more than frescoes, old churches and vineyards. Italy provides plenty for families to do and the kids will have a ball.

The Kids Would Love It!

[Photo borrowed from:]

Umbria is an area of Italy located in the center of the Italian peninsula.  It is the only region of Italy that is completely landlocked and features rolling green hills, fertile farmlands, forests, and rivers.  Many of the towns in Umbria are small and exude a medieval atmosphere.

The town of Gubbio has a uniquely, unspoiled, medieval feel and although the town receives many visitors it remains unspoiled and the entire family will enjoy exploring the alleyways and old buildings with arched entryways.  There are many casual dining spots and plenty of gelato shops to keep the kids happy.  There are also many nice accommodations to be found in Gubbio.  Some of the hotels have pools, which are usually a must when one travels with children.  Another hotel is set in an old stone farmhouse complete with working farm.

Lake Trasimeno, also in the Umbria region of Italy offers many recreational possibilities.  There are three islands in the lake that may be reached by ferry.  The lake is shallow and gets warm in the summer time.  One can enjoy swimming, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, or just relaxing on the beach.  Accommodations around this recreational area boast reasonable prices.  There are also villas available for rent, allowing families to relax in some extra space.  If one prefers, there is another great family option for accommodations at a local campground.  Campgrounds offer playgrounds, volleyball, ping-pong, and swimming pools.

Tuscany, known for fine art and beautiful churches, might not seem like the best place to take children, but does have enough to offer young travelers to make this locale an ideal place to consider.  Lucca is an old Italian city within Tuscany, rich with unique culture and completely surrounded by a wall.  The wall surrounding Lucca is wide enough at the top to walk or ride a bike around the entire city, allowing for a bird’s-eye-view.  There are bike rentals available in the city, with bikes to accommodate riders of any size.

Lastly, Forte dei Marmi is the beach resort area that many Tuscans choose for their own family vacations.  This town offers travelers true Tuscan resort ambiance with many Italian visitors eating at local cafes, shopping, and enjoying a passeggiata.  There are water activities to keep the youngsters entertained and mingling with the locals is a wonderfully enriching experience.  There are many affordable hotels at Forte dei Marmi, but book early because this area is a local favourite!

Megan Gates is an active blogger who provides written work to the blogosphere pertaining to New York CIty Real EstateHamptons Homes, home improvement and the latest architecture, design, fashion and travel.  Follow her on twitter @MEGatesDesign.