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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Abandoned Tuscany

ghost towns in Tuscany, Italy

One thing I didn’t know about Tuscany is that the region is full of ghost towns, or –better- ghost villages. 
There are so many that I would have never managed to visit all of them, and so I picked the three which were most likely along my itinerary of the week (Volterra – Siena – Pisa) and consider it one more reason to come back to Tuscany soon. 
And so this time I visited Poggio Santa Cecilia (SI), Buriano (PI) and Villa Saletta (PI), all three charmingly suspended within another dimension, but obviously I already made a bucket list with more abandoned sites in Tuscany waiting to be explored. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Inside the Great Mosque of Rome

the Great Mosque of Rome Italy Moschea di Roma

One of the greatest aspect of Rome is that you can both travel and mingle with different cultures even sticking around the same town. Looking for the “world within Rome”, I usually happen to discover some of the most beautiful minor sights of the Eternal City, as I did this morning by visiting the Great Mosque of Rome

Even if there are several spots around Rome where Muslims gather to pray (usually apartments or garages arranged for the purpose), this is the only Islamic temple in Rome and the largest Mosque in Europe as well.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Volterra and Valdicecina: exploring Tuscany off-the-beaten path

abandoned mental asylum in Volterra, Tuscany, Italy, urban exploration
When I was invited to a cena galeotta (convicts' dinner) at Volterra State Prison I couldn't help turning the invitation into a one week holiday to explore Tuscany, to enjoy its gentle hills and their countless autumn shades and -why not- also to do nothing but sip a good cup of tea in front of the warm hearth.
It goes without saying that I didn't last long in front of the warm hearth, but I had an amazing time exploring the area of Volterra and Cecina Valley instead! So, within a couple of days, I visited a copped mine closed in 1907, the quaint village of Montecatini Valdicecina, a ghost village called Buriano, the beautiful Volterra and I finally checked off the spot at the very top of my "Tuscany bucket list": the abandoned mental asylum in Volterra and the decadent cemetery where its "guests" were buried. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

One week in Athens: my travel plan so far

visit athens greece travel plan
Christmas holidays are coming and I finally booked my next trip!
As usual, the first step has been downsizing and so my 10 days in Athens and Skopje turned into one week in Athens... but I'm sure it will be amazing as well!
I did my homeworks and I've already jotted down a weekly plan of the trip, now it's your turn to let me know your favorite places in Athens and all those secret spots I haven't been able to track down so far: please write your suggestions in the comment area below!
My main concern is that I will find many places closed for holidays, so I would like to add some open-air attractions to my plan, or anyway places that are open also on the first week of the year.
The fil rouge of the trip will be investigating whether or not Athens (and therefore Greece) has that Balkan soul I love so much, so any tip on where to find "Balkans" in Athens will be more than welcome!
I'm also looking for some modern novels located in Athens, to get in the mood, and especially some books about anarchist movements in Exarchia... if you happen to know a good book which has been translated into English, please let me know in the comment area below!
So... here is my travel plan to visit Athens in one week:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Arcidosso: Tuscany beyond stereotypes

Borondo, street art, Arcidosso, Tuscany

Don’t get me wrong: I love Tuscany and this short week long weekend between Volterra, Siena and Pisa has been amazing. 
But after five days surrounded by gentle hills of fascinating autumn shades, geometrical vineyards, perfectly lined cypresses and olive trees, I did need something different –I am an urban addicted, after all!  
What I needed to break the Tuscany stereotype was a visit to Arcidosso, a small village of 4000 inhabitants in the province of Grosseto. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Inside Mussolini's bunker in Villa Torlonia

Mussolini's bunker, villa torlonia, rome, italy
I am the most stubborn person I know. 

When I got my mind set on something (it can be a life-changing idea as well as small stuff) I will do what I've set myself to do,  no matter what.

And so last Sunday, despite the storm and my friend letting me down about our booked tour at Mussolini's bunker in Villa Torlonia, can you guess where I went? 

Yes, I went down the bunker. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Postcards from the future

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Each time I’m back in Slovenia I play this odd mind game: I watch myself from the outside doing the grocery at the historical Ljubljana’s farm market on Pogačarjev Trg, reading a book at the open-air libraries, having a coffee on Ljubljanica banks or dancing the night out at Metelkova Mesto; then I rewind my memories back to 2008 – 2009 when all mentioned activities were not only part of my daily life but also (and foremost!) the object of my daydreams about my future life in Slovenia.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Road-trip essentials

road-trip essentials

There is something about road-trips, the lure of the open road, the flexibility of the itinerary, the 100% locals’ perspective, which makes them my favourite way of travelling.

The speed at which the landscape changes on the horizon perfectly goes with my stream of consciousness, while the car going ahead helps me to move forward when my thoughts got stuck... it is both relaxing and stimulating, the perfect feeling to reconnect with myself.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ljubljana off-the-beaten path

ljubljana by bike

The best way to explore Ljubljana on and off-the-beaten track is by renting a bike and go around. 
Ljubljana -in fact- is the smallest European capital and it won't take you long to reach by bike some of  Ljubljana's suburban and rural areas I describe in this article. The town is perfectly equipped with bike lanes, so it won't be dangerous either! Basically if I managed to bike all around Ljubljana I'm sure anyone can! :-) 
And if you need a place to rest and take refreshment later, just check my "Eating out in Ljubljana" series (vol. 1 & vol. 2).
So, get on your bike and let's explore Ljubljana off-the-beaten path!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Albanian UNESCO listed ancient towns of Gjirokastër and Berat

Gjirokaster, Albania, Balkans
Despite its beautiful nature and its rich cultural heritage, Albania is still not such a touristic destination: most of the time we were the only two foreigners enjoying unspoiled beaches, wild mountainous areas and lake shores. The only two times when we weren’t the only foreigners around –besides of course in the capital town Tirana- there were in the two UNESCO listed ancient towns of Gjirokastër and Berat. Both Gjirokastër and Berat are well-known for their ancient neighborhoods preserving historic Ottoman-era architectures, a style originated in Turkey between the 14th and 15th centuries and arrived in Albania during the 18th and 19th centuries, but that's not the only reason why I found them both very fascinating!