Archive for the ‘Verona’ Category

Italian for Tourists

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Traveling to a country with its own set of customs, way of life, and, of course, language can be daunting.  Getting accustomed to Italy, with its foreign signs, ancient cobblestone streets, small cars, cover charges at restaurants, and Euro conversions may throw your mind into a tizzy.  Whether you’re in Rome or Florence, Verona or Milan, knowing some basic Italian can get you pretty far.  While chances are the locals you interact with will be able to speak English, and certainly your tour guide will, it’s still important to know a few key words and phrases to get through your trip.  Even in places like Venice, Naples, and Sicily, where dialects are heavily spoken, the more Italian you know, the more authentic you’re experience will be.  So, practice away—soon you’ll be able to sing the captivating song of Italian.


Getting By
Hello Ciao/Salve chow / SAL-veh
Goodbye Arrivederci/Ciao ah-REE-ve-dare-chee / chow
Good Morning Buon giorno bwon jee-OR-no
Good evening Buona sera bwon-ah SEH-rah
Goodnight Buona notte bwon-ah NO-teh
How are you? Come sta? koh-MEH stah?
I’m fine Sto bene stoh BEH-neh
Please Per favore pair fa-VOH-reh
Thank You Grazie GRA-tsee-eh
You’re welcome Prego PREH-go
Excuse me Mi scusi mee SKOO-see
Yes Si see
No No noh
I’m sorry Mi dispiace mee dis-pee-AH-cheh
Do you speak English? Parla inglese? PAR-la een-GLEH-she
I speak…. Parlo…. PAR-low
I don’t speak Italian. Non parlo italiano. non PAR-low ee-tah-lee-AH-no
Do you understand? Capisce? cah-PEE-sheh
I understand / I don’t Capisco / Non capisco cah-PEE-skoh
How do you say…. Come si dice….? koh-MEH see DEE-cheh
Can you help me? Puo aiutarmi? pwoh aye-oo-TAR-mee
Repeat, please Ripeta, per favore ree-PEH-tah pair fa-VOH-reh
Meeting People
What’s your name? Come si chiama? koh-MEH see key-AH-mah
My name is….. Mi chiamo…. mee key-AH-mow
Nice to meet you Piacere pee-a-CHEH-reh
I am… Io sono… EE-oh SO-no
American Americano/a ah-meh-ree-CAH-noh
Canadian Canadese cah-nah-DEH-she
Dining Out and Shopping
Breakfast La colazione la coh-la-tsee-OH-neh
Lunch Il pranzo eel PRAN-tsoh
Dinner La cena la CHEH-nah
I would like to make a reservation. Vorrei fare una prenotazione. voh-RAH-ee FA-reh una
A table for… Un tavolo per… oon TA-voh-loh pair
The bill Il conto eel CON-toh
How much does…cost? Quanto costa… KWAN-toh COH-stah
Postcard Una cartolina oona car-toh-LEE-nah
Stamp Un francobollo oon frank-oh-BOHL-loh
Getting Around
What time is it? Che ora é? kay AW-rah eh
It is… Sono le… SO-no leh
At what time… A che ora… ah kay AW-rah
At… Alle… AH-leh
Today Oggi OH-gee
Tomorrow Domani doh-MAH-nee
Yesterday Ieri ee-EH-ree
Morning Mattina ma-TEE-nah
Afternoon Pomeriggio pom-eh-REE-gee-oh
Evening Sera SEH-rah
Night Notte NOH-teh
Open Aperto ah-PER-toh
Closed Chiuso key-OOH-sow
Where is… Dov’é… DOH-veh eh
Left Sinistra seen-EE-strah
Right Destra DEH-strah
The Train Il treno eel TREH-no
The train station La stazione dei treni la sta-tsee-OH-neh DEH-ee TREH-nee
The plane L’aereo la ah-EH-ree-oh
The airport L’aeroporto la ah-eh-roh-POR-toh
The ticket Il biglietto eel beel-YET-toh
One-way Semplice sem-PLEE-cheh
Roundtrip Andata e ritorno ahn-DA-ta eh ree-TOUR-no

Must-Sees of Milan

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Milan's must-sees include seeing the Duomo from both land and sky, taking in a game at San Siro, shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, and seeing an opera at La Scala. (photo via wikimedia)

It’s Italy’s (and arguably the world’s) fashion capital, but there are plenty of things other than shopping to keep you busy in Milan.

You may not make it there on your first trip to Italy, but Milan should definitely be included on your second.  An ideal visit in Italy’s second-largest city should last about two days—the perfect stopover between Venice and any number of Italy’s other popular destinations: Florence, Turin, Cinque Terre.  It also provides easy access to the country’s northern lakes of Como, Garda, and Maggiore for summertime fun; the Dolomites and the Alps for outdoor winter activities; and Northern Italy’s charming small towns of Verona, Brescia, and Bergamo.

Here is our list of Milan musts:

Enjoy the Last Supper.  See the da Vinci work you’ve been hearing for as long as you can remember.  Reservations to see this masterpiece are required well in advance, but the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this world-renowned fresco at Santa Maria delle Grazie is one you can’t pass up.

Go for a stroll on the Duomo’s rooftop.  Aside from the new financial district and the Pirelli Tower, Milan is pretty flat and you can see it all from between the soaring spires of Milan’s cathedral.

See an opera at La Scala.  Tickets can be hard to come by, but seeing an opera in the world’s most famed opera house is worth the effort.  Opera geniuses Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini all premiered works at the theater, and their music still lives on within its grand walls.

You can’t escape Milan without going shopping.  Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II is convenient, linking Piazza del Duomo with Piazza della Scala (be sure to spin around on the mosaic bull on the floor in the center of the galleria for good luck) or check out the big Italian names of fashion in the Quadrilatero d’Oro shopping district

Take in the calcio classico: Inter vs AC—if you can’t score a ticket to see Milan’s two home soccer teams face off in their shared stadium, at least take a tour of the famed San Siro.  You can even sit in the leather chair assigned to your favorite AC Milan player in the team’s dressing room.

Eat risotto and, in the Christmas season, panettone, two Milanese specialties.

Have any Milan must-dos?  Tell us about them!

The Old Man and the City of Water

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Venice served as inspiration to Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway, who spent a lot of time in the city--including quality time with the pigeons of St. Mark's Square. (photo via wikimedia)

Venice has been loved by millions of people over thousands of years.  From royalty to writers, starlets to sailors, everyday travelers to day-tripping dreamers.  It has been the backdrop of countless plays and the inspiration of endless stories.  And one of the most creative minds to call Venice his muse was Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway and Venice formed their bond while the writer was serving in World War I as a Red Cross ambulance driver on the Italian front, often retreating to Venice for refuge from the bloodshed of war.  Sound familiar?  Hence the plot of his classic story A Farewell to Arms.

After his service, Venice’s magical sights, fine cuisine, excellent wine, and beautiful women inspired Hemingway during several long stays in the City of Water.  When not writing in his Grand Canal-view room at Hotel Gritti Palace, Hemingway rubbed elbows with Venetian nobility, hunted duck in the Veneto valleys, and sipped on Montgomery martinis at Harry’s Bar, a tucked away socialite hotspot near St. Mark’s Square and one of the settings of Across the River and Into the Trees, partly written while in Venice.

That book, though met with horrible reviews, was inspired by Adriana Ivancich, a 19-year old Venetian aristocrat with whom the elder writer felt a deep kinship, despite his being married to another woman.  During his seven year platonic love affair with Ivancich, Hemingway wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Old Man and the Sea in a personal record of eight weeks.

The writer returned to Venice‘s Hotel Gritti Palace for several months in 1954 to recover from serious injuries he suffered during two plane crashes in Africa. Denying pain medication for his fractured skull and kidney and liver damage, Hemingway self-prescribed a remedy of local scampi and Valpolicella wine.  Last month, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the writer’s death, Restaurant Club del Doge at Hotel Gritti Palace recreated the remedy with a special 4-course meal.

While Hemingway also held other northern Italian cities dear, including Verona, Cortina d’Ampezzo, and Caorle, it was Venice that truly drifted into the writer’s soul—as it somehow manages to do to every person who wanders its labyrinth of canals.

How to Enjoy Italy’s Largest Lake

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Shores lined with sandy beaches and quaint towns, olive trees shimmering in the sun, and spectacular mountains rising from dark blue water—the varying scenery of Lake Garda has been drawing visitors to this glacier-formed lake for hundreds of years.  Italians from the surrounding areas of Verona, Brescia, Venice, Milan, and beyond know and love the hidden jewels that Italy’s largest lake has to offer, and a recent article on named Lake Garda as one of the world’s most beautiful lakes.

The varying landscapes surrounding Lake Garda add to the beauty of Italy's largest lake. (photo via wikimedia)

Located in the northern Lakes Region (a top 5 honeymoon destination according to another article), Lake Garda is a skinny slice of relaxation, measuring 31 miles long and 10 miles across at its widest point.  Its clear blue waters make for ideal swimming, and the breezes created by the Dolomites to the north mean great windsurfing and sailing.  On top of that, coastal parks offer exciting hiking and bicycling trails that twist between patches of wildflowers, cypress trees, and lemon groves.

While picturesque towns and medieval castles dot the entire shoreline, there are a handful worth giving special attention:

Pescheria del Garda is one of the lake’s southern shore gems with a 16th Century historic center and close proximity to Gardaland, Italy’s largest amusement park.

Sirmione is known for its charming, shop-filled Old Town; its shoreline promenade; its pebbly beaches; and its 13th Century Castello Scaligero, which offers wonderful views of Lake Garda and the surrounding countryside.  Nearby is Grotte di Carlullo—supposedly the villa and baths of Roman poet Catullus.

Malcesine’s downtown is compact and cute, but the reason to visit this harbor town is for the cable car that goes to Monte Baldo, home to botanical gardens and breathtaking views.

Riva del Garda has an Old Town, a medieval tower called Torre d’Apponale, and a castle, La Rocca, but this charming town is special because it takes advantage of everything the lake has to offer.  In addition to several miles of coastal promenade, multiple parks, and a few beaches, windsurfing is popular year-round.

What is your favorite activity or town at Lake Garda?

Opera Under the Stars in Verona

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Verdi's Aida in the Verona Arena is one of six operatic highlights this summer during the Verona Opera Festival. (photo via Fondazione Arena di Verona)

One of the most anticipated events on the Italian calendar takes place every summer in Verona, where its famous Roman amphitheater hosts nearly 50 elaborate, star-studded operatic performances.  This year, from June 17 to September 3, 15,000 people daily will fill the Arena di Verona to enjoy performances of six classics: La Traviata, Aida, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Nabucco, La Boheme, and Verona’s hometown favorite, Romeo & Juliet.

While the productions themselves are unforgettable, part of what makes this summertime festival so spectacular is its setting.  Built in 30AD with a façade of pink and white limestone, Verona’s arena was able to hold more than 30,000 people to view various games featuring animals and gladiators, as well as theatrical shows.  Much of the building was destroyed in 1117; however, it is still one of Italy’s best-preserved arenas.  The Renaissance brought about its revitalization, and in 1913, a group of people decided to stage Verdi’s Aida in celebration of the composers 100th birthday.  From then on, the annual summer opera festival has brought the arena back to life.

Now in its 89th year, the Verona Opera Festival takes place in the open night air, the arena lit by the moon, the stars, and by candles distributed to audience members sitting in both the stone steps going up the side of the amphitheater and in the cushioned chairs on the stage level. In this intimate setting, magic and music go hand in hand, bringing more ambiance to the already-romantic fairytale of a city, Verona.

Learn more about Verona in our Ciao Italy & Carrani Tours blog and plan your tour now!



Still a Trendsetter at 90

Friday, May 20th, 2011

If you missed your chance to snag a classic Gucci when they first came out, you’ll get another chance next month when the 1921 collection hits Gucci shelves.  Designed to celebrate the design house’s 90th birthday, 1921 puts a twist on some of Gucci’s most iconic pieces.  From Horsebit, Jackie, and Bamboo style calfskin and crocodile handbags in pink, cherry, dark brown, and khaki to green-lined moccasins and horse-riding boots, the new line will bring a fresh look to some truly timeless classics.  The updated pieces, chosen because they represent pivotal chapters in the Gucci story, also include scarves, watches, sunglasses, and wallets, as well as men’s and women’s ready to wear pieces and men’s travel suitcases.

All 1921 items will bear the new trademark G. GUCCI Firenze 1921.  It was in that year when Guccio Gucci and his sons set up a store in his hometown of Florence, creating high-quality leather goods for sophisticated clients.  Over the next few years, the Gucci family opened stores in Rome and Milan, offering shoes, loafers, and clothing in the brand’s signature style.  The new 1921 line will pay homage to Gucci’s time-tested luxury materials and craftsmanship—two qualities that help it live up to the coveted Made in Italy label.

In addition to outlet shopping, which makes for a great day trip from the Gucci headquarters in Florence, here are other boutique locations to buy your intertwining Gs:

Galleria Cavour 90

Via Camerelle 25-27

Cortina d’Ampezzo
Corso Italia 59

Flagship: Via Tornabuoni 73r – 81r
Via Roma 32r

Via XXV Aprile 35r

Flagship: Via Monte Napoleone 5 – 7
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Via Calabritto 4

Galleria Europa 2

Via Roma 18

Flagship: Via Condotti 8
Via Borgognona 7d
Via Condotti 6

San Marco 2102
Piazza San Marco 258

Via Mazzini 34

Fall in Love in Italy

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Italy is widely considered to be one of the—if not the—most romantic places in the world, and of course we agree!  Aside from the usual hotspots like Venice, the Amalfi Coast, and Cinque Terre, this Valentine’s Day, two of Italy’s other most romantic spots are hosting celebrations that are sure to make any couple fall in love all over again.

Hearts fill Verona, including Piazza dei Signori (via Verona in Love)

First is Verona, the land of the most famous “star-crossed lovers,” where from February 12 to 14, city streets are filled with heart-shaped lanterns floating above your head and music from free concerts in Piazza dei Signori, where a huge, red-illuminated heart surrounds the Dante statue, fills the air.  During Verona in Love, leave a message of love (in either written or video form), take in a romantic movie, join hundreds of other couples in a minute-long kiss on the staircase of Palazzo Barbieri, enjoy a special menu at one of 12 participating restaurants, or see a performance of the classic Romeo and Juliet. Read more about Verona’s everyday magic here.

Further south, in the rolling, romantic hills of Umbria, the small town of Terni, home to St. Valentine himself, will host its annual chocolate fair called Cioccolentino from February 11 to 14.  Chocolate festivals (which you can read more about here) are a chocoholic’s dream, as booth after booth offers one better gluttonous nibble after another.  From blocks of white, dark, and milk chocolate to sheets of chocolate and nut squares to colorful truffles and even chocolate ravioli, the sweet snacks are endless.  If you need to give your sweet tooth a rest, take in an art exhibit, poetry reading, chocolate competitions, dance shows, and even a fireworks display.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there’s no better time to take your favorite somebody on a romantic getaway to Italy—especially since you can still take advantage of low-season rates.  Grab your sweetie and start indulging!

Get to Know Italy’s Veneto

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Italy's Veneto region is full of culture, food, wine, and sights to see! (map via wikimedia)

Though the name Veneto may not automatically ring a bell or be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Italy, it is actually the most-visited region in the country, attracting over 60 million tourists each year—one fifth of Italy’s entire foreign tourism.

Home to top-tier towns, Veneto packs a lot of culture into its borders, which include the eastern coast of Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda.   Padua is home to Saint Anthony as well as the second oldest university in Italy.  Verona is an enchanting town rich in romance and architecture, including its commanding Roman amphitheater called the Arena.  But, of course, Venice is the region’s biggest draw, with its magical canals, incredible bridges, and endless churches and towers—not to mention the musical legacy of locally-born composer Antonio Vivaldi.

Austrian and French rule lead to the strong ties that locals feel to their homeland, as well as the distinct language spoken across Veneto—one that makes residents feel like they are a breed of their own, not just Italians.  The region’s varying landscapes offer ensure year-round recreation: beaches of Lake Garda and Venice’s Lido, skiing in the Dolomites, fishing on the Adriatic Sea, and relaxing on the banks of the Po River.  But there are plenty of things to do indoors as well.  For instance, shopping—Veneto is the home base for fashion brands Benetton, Diesel, and Geox.

And then there’s the food and drink for which the Veneto region is famous: Asiago cheese, white asparagus, chestnuts, cherries, rice, tiramisù, grappa, and wines like Valpolicella, Amarone, and Prosecco.

Even if you didn’t know that you wanted to visit Veneto, there are plenty of reasons to take advantage of this unique region!

January Shopping Sconti

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Saldi (clearance sales) and Sconto (discount) are two words you should learn now if you’re going to Italy any time in the next few months.  You’ll put them to good use during the semi-annual, government-sanctioned sales that start in the coming weeks and last from 60 to 90 days.

While you can always gets good deals at designer outlets and street markets, every January and every July, each region sets aside a few weeks during which designer boutiques and department stores alike offer deep discounts on nearly all of their inventory—not just last season’s stuff.  Most stores start their sales at 30% off, and as time goes on, merchandise gets marked further and further down, and by the end of the sale season, the pickings are slim.  So, shop early and often to take advantage of the piccolo price tags.

While dates for the July sales aren’t out yet, you’ll likely score a better bargain in the winter as low travel season means fewer shoppers elbowing their way through the designers’ doors.  Here are some of the dates of this winter’s sales:

Campania (including Napoli): January 2 for 90 days
Emilia Romagna (including Bologna and Parma): January 6 – March 6
Friuli Venezia Giulia (including Trieste): January 3 – March 31
Lazio (including Rome): January 6 – February 16
Liguria (including Genoa and La Spezia): January 6 – February 19
Lombardy (including Milan, Bergamo, Brescia, and Como): January 6 for 60 days
Piedmont (including Asti and Torino): January 1 – March 31 (Torino starts Jan 6)
Sicily: January 2 – March 15
Tuscany (including Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Siena): January 6 – March 6
Umbria (including Perugia):  January 6 for 60 days
Valle d’Aosta: January 10 – March 31
Veneto (including Venice, Padua, and Verona): Jan 6 – Feb 28
Bolzano Province: Jan 8 – Feb 28

Where Would You Live?

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Bolzano, nestled in the Italian Dolomite Mountains, ranked number one in a recent quality of life survey. (Photo via wikimedia)

We all have the same dream: hit the lottery, drop everything, and head to Italy to buy a Tuscan villa or an apartment in Rome, a vineyard in Veneto or a beach house in Amalfi.  Or all of the above.   But with so many idyllic Italian options, how exactly would you choose?  If you don’t already have your dream location picked out, start with the annual quality of life rankings, the results of which were released last week.  Measuring living conditions, employment rates, health, crime, population size, and other factors, the economic daily Il Sole 24 Ore ranked 107 of Italy’s cities to determine where you can have it all.

Coming in first this year is Bolzano, a Medieval commune perched in the Dolomite Mountains that balances Italian, German, and English-speakers among its residents.  Though the winters can be tough, spring and summer are absolutely perfect for roaming the shop-filled streets or going out into the surrounding area to see nature at its finest.

In fact, six more of the list’s top 10 spots were also snagged by some of Italy’s northernmost towns:  Trento (#2), Sondrio (#3), Trieste (#4), Aosta (#6), Gorizia (#7), and Belluno (#10).  The rest of the best included Siena (#5), Bologna (#8), and Oristano (#9).

Some of our favorite cities still ranked in the top half of the list: Florence came in at 16, Milan at 21, Rome at 35, Bergamo at 36, Como at 39, Verona at 40, and Venice at 46.

So, which Italian city would you love to call home?

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