The Italy Road Trip

The Italy Road Trip was planned for quite some time. The dilemma was how do you see all of what Italy has to offer in 2 weeks? Well the answer is you don’t. It’s just not possible in 2 weeks. So what do you see? And where do you start? Well right here.

The Italy Road Trip – Getting There

Choose your airline (it’s Air Canada for me from Canada). In order to hit the ground running (with a 6 hour time difference), I need to fly Business Class (sometimes) or Premium Economy (this time). The extra room and increased comfort make the long flight enjoyable. I absolutely have to sleep so I bring along my new travel friend, my Palmate Travel Pillow, to get to sleep and stay asleep. I want to be ready to go and awake on Day 1!

The Italy Road Trip – Venice

Arriving in Venice, we leave the airport in a water taxi and begin the short journey into the historic canals of Venice. After checking into our hotel, we grab an espresso and head out to explore the streets of Venice. Tourists are absolutely everywhere and the streets are packed. Walking along main walking routes and over bridges, we manage to find side routes and squares where the locals are. Small neighbourhoods with cafes, restaurants, shops and Venetian homes are a lot more interesting than the main streets. On Day 2, we jump on the public water taxi (Venice transit) to get around easily and give into the main tourist areas. There’s a lot to see in Venice including Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doges’ Palace. But take the time to get off the main paths and explore!

Italy Road Trip - Venice

The Italy Road Trip – Prosecco

We leave Venice in a rental car and head up to the Prosecco Region (the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the province of Treviso). It’s mid-September and we manage to hit full grape harvest. The area is alive with extra workers and tractors with grape packed trailers. There are many wineries to visit and wines to drink. We are looking for Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Most wineries will have a fee based tasting (5-10 Euro per person) and will provide a generous sample of their product (3-5 wine samples). If you choose to buy a bottle or 2, the wine fee will be reduced or waived (depending on your purchase amount). Among the best wineries to visit: San Gregorio (family owned- you’ll meet father, mother and sisters);  Col Vetoraz (with a wine vending machine on the small road leading to the winery); and Villa Sandi (great wine and restaurant).

Italy Road Trip - Prosecco Region

The Italy Road Trip – Tuscany

There are so many reasons to include Tuscany in your Italian Road Trip. The wine; the food; the scenery and the people. Among the many wines, the Classico Chianti (with the black rooster on the bottle neck) stands out. The Classico label is only available to Chiantis produced from grapes in the the Chianti Classico subregion. The area covers approximately 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. The other more well known wine in the area is the “Super Tuscan”. The American name for a deep red wine blended from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It’s priced to take advantage of the aura in the marketplace. Among the very best wineries to get a Super Tuscan (and other quality wines) is Villa San Andrea. The small 400 year old winery is right next door to the well known Antinori. They provide an intimate tour and wine tasting for 10 Euro. Villa San Andrea’s Super Tuscan is far cheaper than the winery next door. They also have 7 other high quality and affordable wines.

Italy Road Trip - Villa San Andrea, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Tuscany

Among the many towns/places to visit in Tuscany are – Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino and of course Florence. You really can’t go wrong wherever you go, but San Gimignano stands near the top. It’s an amazing, well preserved medieval village with several small hotels, shops, museums, and Tuscan restaurants. My favourite restaurants “Le Vecchie Mura“. It has both an inside restaurant and an outside terrace area across the lane. Authentic dishes feature pasta, steak, rabbit, deer, wild boar and of course local wine. Eating a Tuscan dinner overlooking Tuscany is pretty hard to beat.

Italy Road Trip - San Gimignano, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Pasta with Truffles

The Italy Road Trip – Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is all about the views. And getting to the coast just adds to the anticipation. Heading south, we drive along the highway through Naples, then onto the winding roads of  Sorrento and its long mountain tunnel. Positano is our destination and our base for 3 days on the Amalfi Coast. Positano has some incredible coastal views. It also has great hotels (Le Sirenuse, Villa Rosa); some great restaurants down on the beach (Chez Black and Le Tre Sorelle – both highly rated and right beside each other) and lots of small boutiques for shopping. From Positano, you can easily make day trips to Amalfi, Ravello, Scala and others.

Italy Road Trip - Positano

Italy Road Trip - Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

We drive to Rome Airport and overnight at a Rome Airport hotel before leaving the next day. Except for the return flight, the trip is over. The Italy Road Trip was among my top trips ever. And that’s saying a lot given the amount of travelling that I have done over the years. Each area/stop well worth the visit to immerse yourself in the history, culture, food and wine of Italy. The biggest issue is when is the next Italy Road Trip?

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Travel Product Review – Palmate Travel Pillow

I’m a regular air traveller and have been for a very long time. I have the very good fortune of being able to sleep and/or nap quite easily on any flight – be it 1 hour or 12 hours. I’ve also never owned a travel pillow – until now.

There are actually a lot of travel pillows in the marketplace. You can buy them at the airport; at luggage stores; online, etc. The new Palmate Travel Pillow aims to be different and it is. It has cool and practical in one. And it does the job!

Palmate Travel Pillow

Palmate Travel Pillow

Palmate Travel Pillow – What Makes It Different?

Most travel pillows are round or shaped like a horseshoe. The Palmate is square and uber cool looking. It’s designed to mimic the way you would hold your head with your hands. It cradles your head in all directions. The Palmate fits comfortably around your neck and keeps your head from moving.  There are cut-outs on both sides to fit earbuds or even headphones. There’s even a secret built-in vent at the back to keep you cool. The Palmate’s cotton cover is soft and can be removed from the memory foam for washing. The Palmate Pillow also comes with a black cloth carry bag, a lint roller and earplugs. It is a bit bulky but you can tie the black carry bag to your carry-on or make room in a knapsack.

Palmate Travel Pillow – Does It Work?

In a word, yes. My only issue at all with sleeping on a plane is “the headbob”. You fall asleep sitting and your head falls forward or sideways. The “headbob” doesn’t happen to me with the Palmate around my neck. It works just like a neck brace or collar so that your head doesn’t move. Unlike a neck brace, it’s comfortable, plush and can be adjusted as you want.

Palmate Travel Pillow – Where To Buy It?

Get it from Amazon for $25.99. Save 50% with my exclusive promo code PALMATE50 for a limited time! You can also buy it directly from Palmate.

How to Pack Like a Travel Blogger

Packing for a trip can be a true nightmare, especially for the inexperienced. They usually fall into the common trap of stuffing their bags and suitcases with everything they think they might need, but often forget some important item. That usually leads to frustration, because the problem is most typically noticed when there’s no place where the particular item can be bought.

Those people who have this problem envy travel bloggers and wonder how they can travel so much and still carry everything they need with them. The secret lies in the fact that the more you travel, the better you are at packing and in following the tips of more seasoned travellers. So, what is it they recommend, based on their experience?

Daypack

One of the first things you need to put on the list is a daypack, which can be easily compressed and stored in the main backpack. You need it for day trips, hikes or even weekend getaways, where you need to be careful not to carry anything that is not absolutely necessary. With so many daypacks to choose from, your only concern is likely to be the amount of money you’re happy to part with, while some, more fashion-conscious ones, will also try to match the style of their daypack with the clothes they usually wear on a trip.

Multi-tools

You definitely want to bring any multi-tool, such as the famous Swiss Army knife, which you can use for opening cans, bottles, nail clipping and cutting food. However, make sure you check your luggage and not try to bring it with you on a plane since the security officer will surely take it away from you. Still, the functionality of such tools allows travellers to reduce both the size and volume of their luggage by option for these practical solutions.

Bags for wet and dry items

No matter where you go, you’ll be exposed to the risk of getting wet to a certain extent. In case that happens, you need to protect your dry clothes and electronics by using a wet/dry item. This is particularly useful for towels that can’t get dry before you your departure or swimsuits.

Record your memories

No matter how focused you may be during your trip, there’s no way you can remember every adventure you had. That’s why it’s vital you take something to help you record your memories but won’t require a lot of your attention in terms of handling. A logical choice is a gadget, such as a fantastic GoPro HERO action camera, that can provide high-quality videos and pics of your travels.

Earplugs

Though they might not be an obvious choice, earplugs are highly recommended by frequent travellers because of their ability to help us deal with crying babies, snorers or simply people having impolitely rude conversations close to you. You want to be rested as much as possible once you reach your destination and there aren’t many items that can help you with that better than a pair of good earplugs.

Reusable water bottle

Since you need to keep yourself hydrated at all times, it’s very important that you have a sturdy, reusable water bottle that you can refill and reuse many times. You’ll not only avoid buying plastic water bottles, but you can also benefit from some bottles’ ability to filter water using UV light or some other method.

Dark clothes

Unless you’re travelling to some sunny and hot destination, experienced travellers recommend using darker clothes, because all the stains and spills that are bound to appear will not be as noticeable as they would be if you wore white, for example. That would also mean packing fewer items of clothing, which is another benefit of listening to seasoned travellers.

It goes without saying that there are many other tips for packing like a travel blogger, but you have to start from somewhere, right? So, consider the destination, the length of stay and other vital elements and start making a list well before you embark on your journey. It’s through the experience of travelling that you’ll find what you need to bring on your next trip.