Welcome to the NEW Adventures of a Carry-on

First of all I want to say THANK YOU to all who follow this blog. I truly appreciate every “like,” follower, and comment.

Now for the big news, I’ve updated the site and while still on WordPress, it is self hosted.
You may need to re subscribe in order to continue to receive new content updates, as WordPress.com will send notifications, but the content has moved to the new host.

Please visit Adventuresofacarryon.com and have a look around. I think you will find it easier to navigate and visually much more attractive.

I hope you will continue to follow along! I love hearing from you.

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a presto! see you soon,

Penny Sadler

Adventures of a Carry-on

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Postcard from Voghera, Italy

Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2103

Piazza del Duomo, Voghera, Italy

Surrounded by vineyards, set amidst rolling hills crowned with ancient castles, and steeped in history, Voghera is located in one of most beautiful regions of Italy and definitely worth a visit.

I chose Voghera as my base camp on a recent trip to Italy. The central location in Lombardia (on one of the main train arteries) allowed me to travel out for day trips to Milan, Pavia, Genoa, and many points in between. I enjoyed staying in a smaller town that was not overrun by tourists, and thus had plenty of opportunities to practice speaking Italian.

The Italian Lakes are an easy ninety minute drive from Voghera. You can get there by train, but it’s a bit of an ordeal, and luckily I didn’t need to do that. A car is definitely the transportation mode of choice around the lakes.

Because of its strategic position in northwest Italy, Voghera has been ruled by various countries and kingdoms – the Romans, the French, and Austrians have all occupied and influenced the history and landscape of Voghera. Napolean once made Voghera his base camp and stayed at Palazzo Dattilini on Via Emilia.

Cathedral del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Piazza del Duomo is the place to begin a visit to Voghera. Like most towns in Italy, it is the center of civic life. Here you can find shops, restaurants, bars, and of course gelaterias. It’s a wonderful place to sit in a small cafe like Barocco for an apertivo or take a gelato at Britz, and immerse yourself in the local culture and language.

I like the wide expansive feeling of this piazza, and the pastel and ochre colors of the old palazzos that make up the perimeter. Most of these buildings are now government offices, such as City Hall and the Mayor’s office.

I think the charm of Voghera can best be observed in the wide variety of architecture, from the tenth century Castello to the seventeenth century Cathedral del Duomo. Even the more modern buildings are colorful, and display window boxes with seasonal flowers and herbs. I think it’s a sign of a town that is proud of its heritage – and that feels like a nice place to me.

Piazza del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Related posts:

http://adventuresofacarryon.com/2013/07/08/hungry-top-gelato-spots-in-lombardia/

All material copyright PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.

Hungry? Top Gelato Spots in Lombardia

gelato in Italy, @PennySadler 2013

A perennial favorite, gelato seems to taste so much better when I’m in Italy than anywhere else. I sometimes go to a shop in Dallas that was started by a family from northern Italy, but it’s just not the same. I was told by an Italian friend it’s because in Italy, gelato is made fresh from scratch every day.

I think it might be at least a little bit that when you’re on vacation, everything tastes better. Or maybe it was because it was unusually hot in Lombardia when I was there? There’s nothing quite as delicious as a fresh, cold gelato to revive you. Whatever the reason, I gave in to the urge to eat gelato almost every day while I was in Italy a few weeks ago. I wish I had eaten more!

Here’s the scoop (pun intended) on where I ate gelato:

Top Milan Gelaterias:

Vanilla specializes in traditional Italian flavors like hazelnut, pistachio, chocolate, and pinoli. During the summer, they offer local and unique fruit flavors, too, such as prickly pear, goji berry, pomegranate, and mango.

Another unique ingredient used at Vanilla that I’ve never seen anywhere else is olive oil. The olive oil replaces the dairy and so is great for those who are lactose intolerant and have other digestive ailments. And, it’s good for your heart – why not have gelato every day?

I spent several hours wandering around near the Duomo in Milano, and noticed that Vanilla always had a line. Plus they had some pretty little bistro tables set with lace and umbrellas, and I was ready to sit down. Most gelaterias have no seating inside or out – you simply stand around outside, or walk away with your gelato.

I tried the coconut and watermelon. I often order coconut, but this was my first watermelon gelato. If you can taste summer in a food, watermelon would be it for me, it’s sweet and refreshing, and watermelon gelato – yum!

Vanilla Gelato, Milan Italy &#64:PennySadler 2013

I noticed most everyone took their gelato in a cone, but I always get it in a cup. I think I agree with the purists that the cone distracts you from the true flavor of the gelato. At Vanilla, the flavors are so crisp and true, I don’t want anything interfering.

The fellow in this photo knew what I was up to with my camera and gave me a clear shot. Thank you, kind stranger!

Vanilla Gelateria, Milan Italy @PennySadler 2013

Vanilla is located behind the Duomo di Milano.

Vanilla Gelateria
Via Pattari, 2 20122 Milano
vanilla-gelateria-italiani.it

Grom gelateria, Milan, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Grom has built its reputation on using only organic, fresh ingredients from around Italy: Sfusato lemon from Amalfi, and the Leonforte peach, for example. They have a central farm where all the raw ingredients are mixed, ensuring their high standards are met.

I did not eat gelato at Grom, but if the crowd of people outside is any indication, I’d give it a try next time. They started with one shop in Torino in 2003, and have since expanded all over the world. You can eat Grom gelato now in Paris, Tokyo, Malibu, and NYC. They must be doing something right!

There are seven locations in Milan alone, and of course there’s one near the Duomo di Milano. In case you’re wondering, Grom is the surname of one of the founders.

Grom
Via Santa Margherita, 16, 20121 Milano ‎
 grom.it

Britz gelateria, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Gelato in Voghera:

Britz. We went to Britz one night when it seemed like the entire town was out for the evening. Within two blocks I saw more gelaterias than you can imagine! Apparently gelato is the thing in Voghera.

My friend had the chocolate and hazelnut (two typical Italian flavors) and pronounced it “Very good!” I tried the lemon sorbetto and found it a bit too tart and lacking the creamy texture I was seeking. What do I know? Perhaps I just ordered the wrong thing?

The location in Piazza del Duomo, however, is excellent. There is no seating inside, but it’s more fun to be outside and people watch anyway. In Italy everyone goes out in the evening to walk (passeggiata) and visit with friends, family, and neighbors. It’s an experience you cannot duplicate anywhere else in the world.

Do you think the folks in the photo are wondering if the people to their left are checking out what flavor they got? LOL

Britz Gelateria
Piazza del Duomo,Voghera

Mojito Cafe, gelato colors @PennySadler 2013

gelateria, San Giulio di Orta, Lake Orta, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Gelato in Orta San Giulio:

Mojito Cafe. Here I found the lemon sorbetto (limone) I craved. I don’t know how they do it, because I don’t think they add any dairy as it’s a fruit flavor, but it was creamy, yet light – sweet, but not too sweet. I adore lemon sorbetto in Italy. I should have taken a larger serving!
An Italian friend told me, “You are an Italian girl,” because limone is the most Italian of flavors. (Those Italian guys always know what to say)

The location in romantic Lake Orta didn’t hurt, either…probably made it taste even better. I’ll certainly never forget it.

This gelateria with the improbable name offers drinks and coffees as well as gelato, and there is seating outside. However, there is a minimum of 7 euros per person to sit at a table. When we were there it was raining and every table was taken. We found a doorstep on a tiny side street and sat under the awning.

Gelato flavors from Mojito Cafe @PennySadler 2013

I don’t have an address or website for Mojito Cafe, but there’s only one main street in Orta San Giulio – you can’t miss it.

Mojito Cafe
San Giulio di Orta, Lake Orta

All materials ©PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.

Travel To Escape Reality

Beautiful doorway with flower pots in small town in Chianti, Tuscany @PennySadler 2013

Have you ever booked a last minute trip to a place that was several time zones away, where people don’t speak English, don’t use the same currency – and if you’re truly honest with yourself about the whole thing, you can’t afford it?

Have you ever spent a ridiculous amount of money just to get away from your life and all the things that go with it?

I’m considering doing just that. I need to get out of my own head. I need a break from the person I’ve become the past few months, feeling like a hamster on the wheel.

I’ve tried breathing, exercising, talking to friends, making gratitude lists, and it all works for a little while, but not long.

Tuscan country house, Chianti, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

“Must it be out of the country?” I ask myself. It would be easier to stay in the U.S. I wouldn’t have to change currency, deal with the long flights, the plane changes, the jet lag from crossing several times zones. I wouldn’t have to worry about roaming charges or keeping up with my passport, and I could speak English. But of course, my thoughts generally go to Italy.

But I can justify all of those inconveniences. In my mind, speaking a little Italian is a pleasure, and the worst thing about the euro is my dollars are worth less. I can call my cell phone provider and have roaming temporarily disconnected.

I don’t love the jet lag, but I know I’ll live, I’ve done it before.

Charming street in Trastevere, Rome, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

So I’m thinking maybe the way out of my funk, maybe the way I get “my groove back” is to go to Italy. I can visualize myself walking down some ancient cobblestone street, camera in hand, thousands of years of history all around me. I notice everything around me, sculptures by Bernini, 17th century buildings next to 12th century ruins. I notice people and try to guess where they might be from – are they tourists, like me, or locals? I eat a gelato and I don’t think about the calories or the fact that it’s dairy and I shouldn’t eat too much dairy. Dairy be damned! I’m in Italy! Without even being conscious of it, I begin to feel better – more attractive, more a part of the world. I’m living life, not going through the motions.

The parts of myself that stress me out begin to recede. Along the way I find the better parts, the Penny who is fun, and funny, and spontaneous, and curious, and who knows, it is insane to resist what is. And sometimes all it takes is a complete stranger who smiles and says, “Ciao Bella,” – or a cappuccino.
Italian style cappuccino @PennySadler 2103

All material copyright Penny Sadler 2013. All rights reserved.

How To Make An Italian Neighborhood Your Own

Vicolo del Cedro @PennySadler 2013

Typical street in Trastevere

I first discovered Trastevere in 2009. I rented a room in an old apartment building without air- conditioning. It was here that I learned to do as the Romans do – luxuriate in long lunches, take a nap in the heat of the day, and generally enjoy life more. In Trastevere, I learned about “la dolce far niente,” the sweetness of doing nothing.

I’ve returned to Trastevere many times since that first stay. I fell in love with the narrow, winding cobblestone streets, the warm terra cotta colors of the buildings, the friendly people, and the fact that it’s a real neighborhood where I can find everything I need within a few blocks.

San Cosimato, Trastevere @PennySadler 2013

Market at Piazza San Cosimato

@PennySadler 2013 Piazza San Cosimato, Trastevere

Piazza San Cosimato

I always return to the same internet cafe (I don’t travel with a computer in Europe), organic and
gluten-free market, and shop at the open air produce market in Piazza San Cosimato. In this way I get a tiny taste of what life would be like if lived in this neighborhood in Rome. Ocourse if I was living there,  I doubt I’d spend my days walking around with my camera and following those medieval winding streets wherever I fancy, but, non si sa mai, you never know.

I got to know the guy who made my cappuccino in the morning and my spritz in the afternoon, and other people in the neighborhood who recognize me to this day.

cafe in Trastevere @PennySadler 2013

Taking an espresso Italian style

@PennySadler 2013 Ponte Sisto Bridge

View of Piazza Trilusa

Trastevere means trans Tiber or across the river. It has always been home to craftsmen, artists, and immigrants. In fact, many of the people I meet who have lived there for decades are expats, and tell me they can’t imagine living anywhere else in Rome.

Today there are, of course, lots of tourists. Trastevere is well known for great restaurants, pubs, and nightlife, and believe me, at night it is packed. The older part of the area around Via della Scala and Piazza Trilusa, can be quite mad with people.

But during the day the streets are relatively quiet, and locals go about their business and their work. It’s not uncommon to find an open doorway to a craftsman shop and they don’t seem to mind if you take a peek inside.

Mohsan Kosarasafir's shop in Trastevere, @PennySadler 2013

Instrument makers shop Vicolo del Cedro

Here are some ideas for things to see and do in Trastevere, whether you stay a day, a week, or longer.

There are several important churches in Trastevere: Santa Cecilia, Santa Maria and San Francesco a Ripa.

@PennySadler 2013

Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome

Piazza and Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere is the first church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary and probably the oldest church in Rome. You will recognize it by the distinctive Romaneque bell tower – and beautiful mosaics on the front glimmering in the sun.  The piazza is a central meeting point in Trastevere, and a great people watching spot. Watch out for drunks and beggars in the evening. Generally harmless, but can be annoying.

Santa Cecila is an 18th century remodel of a medieval church. It is named for St. Cecilia (the patron saint of music), who was martyred here in the 3rd century. Inside you will find the tomb of Santa Cecilia sculpted by Stefano Maderno, and some fragments of Pietro Cavallini’s fresco, The Last Judgement. I haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s on my list.

San Francesco a Ripa: this rather nondescript church houses Bernini’s famous sculpture Beata Ludovia Albertoni. Just go see it.

San Francesco a Ripa, Trastevere @PennySadler 2013

Piazza San Francesco a Ripa

The Museo di Roma in Trastevere. In May, this museum hosts an exhibition of World Press photographs. Other photographs and art in the permanent collection focus on depicting life in Rome from the 1950’s to the present. If you love photography, this is the place for you. I went to an exhibit last year that permanently affected the way I take photographs today. http://en.museodiromaintrastevere.it/il_museo/la_collezione

The Gianicolo or Janiculum Hill is above Trastevere – a bit of a climb, but well worth the effort. Here you have the best views of the city and in my opinion one of the most romantic spots in Rome. Take a date if you can.

Farmacia Santa Maria della Scala – a true 17th century pharmacy now a museum and operated by monks. It’s never been open when I’m there, but I keep trying.

Eat gelato! My favorite place in Trastevere is Bar Checco. Located at Via Benedetta 7.

Relax! at a typical Roman cafe while enjoying an espresso or a drink and watch the world go by.
I’ve got several good choices and there are many more.

@PennySadler 2013

Cafe Maurizio in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere great views of the Piazza and the mosaics on the front of the Basilica.

Cafe San Calisto: Piazza San Calisto, basically adjacent to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Traditional Roman style bar and cafe.

Ombre Rose: Piazza Sant Egidio across from the Museo di Roma. A pretty spot with trees and a funky artsy vibe. Always lots of people sitting outside here.

&#64'PennySadler 2013

Bubble maker, Santa Maria di

@PennySadler 2013 Da Lucia Rome, Italy

Da Lucia

Eat! There are loads of good restaurants in Trastevere and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a bad meal here. A few ideas are:

Ivo’s for pizza. The place is always packed. Call ahead. Via San Francesco a Ripa.

Da Lucia. A traditional Roman restaurant also always packed. After my fifth trip I finally got in there one night without a reservation. Cacio e pepe is a must. I also had a delicious cheese omelet. Weird I know, but it tasted great with the pasta and wine. Vicolo del Mattonato.

Isola Sicilia. I’ve been here numerous times and always like it. Nice size portions of food, very fresh. If you like seafood this place is very reliable. A wee bit pricey but delicious.
Via Garibaldi.

Isole di Sicilia @PennySadler 2013

Isole di Sicilia

Walk! Trastevere is a great place for walking, as auto traffic is restricted in most areas. There are charming little local artisinal shops, and one of kind things you’ll find no where else. I love walking in Trastevere (even though a few times I thought my feet were permanently broken by the cobblestones). It has a feeling of a small village where people know their neighbors and everyone says hello. It feels like home to me.

@PennySadler 2013 Trastevere

“La dolce far niente”

Love Rome? Not sure? Read Roman Holiday.

All materials ©Penny Sadler 2012 – 2013

Postcard: Piazza San Michele in Foro, Lucca

San Michele in Foro, Lucca, Italy

This piazza, named for the 12th century church of San Michele, is the site of what was once a Roman market. It was the center of all public and political life. Today it is lined with shops, restaurants, and other businesses and is one of the best people watching spots in Lucca.

I spent a few hours here just hanging out, taking photographs and enjoying watching the world go by.
You can see more photographs of this piazza and the church of San Michele in my photo essay, Inside Lucca.

Lucca is a walled city in Tuscany accessible by train from Florence or Pisa. It was once a wealthy medieval city built upon the silk trade. It was also on a religious pilgrimage route and many people left their money in banks there, never to return.

Ft. Lauderdale’s Unique Transportation

Intracoastal Ft. Lauderdale, Florida ©pennysadler 2013

It was my first time in Ft. Lauderdale and I quickly realized there was only one way to truly get to know the city touted as “The Venice of America,” and that was by boat. If you’re not lucky enough to have one (or know someone who does) don’t despair. One way you can experience it on a boat is by taking a Water Taxi.

The Water Taxi is really quite a deal – for only $20.00 you can ride all day. It’s the perfect way to see Ft. Lauderdale’s intracoastal waterways, and get you can get off and on as often as you like. At each stop you’ll find bars, restaurants, shopping and cultural attractions in the area. And you don’t have to worry about a designated driver.

If you are staying at one of the hotels on the regular route, you can call ahead and arrange for the water taxi to pick you up. There are several to chose from and my pick would be the historic Riverside Hotel. I did not stay there but I liked the location and the old world ambiance. It’s right on Las Olas Blvd. so you can easily walk to restaurants and shops. If you want to be closer to the water there’s the Hilton Marina Hotel where you can also connect with the Water Taxi bound for the Hollywood Beaches.

Riverside Hotel Las Olas Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale, ©pennysadler 2013

Riverside Hotel

Water Taxi on the intracoastal ©pennysadler2013

The Water Taxi

If you have only 24 hours in Ft. Lauderdale, here’s a suggested itinerary and I’ve included beach time. (even though I’m not really a beach girl)

Head over to Las Olas, a charming neighborhood of galleries, shops, and restaurants. I liked the small and somewhat European feel of Las Olas, and could have easily spent the better part of a day there strolling the boulevard, stopping for a coffee or cold drink, and browsing the art galleries.

Have a continental style breakfast at Gran Forno Pronto, or get your coffee and pastry to go. You can catch the Water Taxi at the Riverside Hotel next door.

The Water Taxi takes you on about a two to three hour tour. You can drool over the million dollar yachts and multi-million dollar homes. It really is mind boggling how many celebrities and gazillionaires keep a home (and the prerequisite yacht) in Ft.Lauderdale. The tour guide on the water taxi will give you the inside scoop.

Ft. Lauderdale intracoastal ©pennysadler 2013

Yachts!

Ft. Lauderdale Intracoastal, ©pennysadler 2013

More Yachts!

©intracoastal waterway ft. lauderdale, Fl. ©pennysadler 2013

“Miami Vice” house

If you’re a beach person you can get off at either stop 7 or 8 for the Ft. Lauderdale beaches. There you can also pick up a bottle of water or something to rehydrate while you’re soaking up the Florida sunshine. You can spend the day at the beach then return to Las Olas in plenty of time for an alfresco dinner and drinks.

Las Olas Blvd. ©pennysadler 2013

Las Olas Blvd.

Gondola Ft. Lauderdale ©pennysadler 2013

If you’re a romantic type, you can end the evening with a gondola tour of the canals. Or hop back on the Water Taxi for the night ride. A great way to end a beautiful day in sunny southeast Florida.

Water Taxi

Gondola Tour

Las Olas Blvd.

Riverside Hotel

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2013.