More Time to Travel is a site that provides advice, information and inspiration for travellers who have reached their midlife. Follow us to keep up with Travel advice, information, & inspiration for travelers over 50 from Irene S. Levine, an award-winning freelance journalist. Topics include - Destinations, Cruises, Food, Hotels, Tips, and Photo galleries.
Eureka! We found the best lightweight travel vest for men. It’s hard to improve upon perfection but Scottevest has done it.
My husband has always been a huge fan of Scottevest apparel. In fact, the vest that he’s used for the last six or so years is the one piece of apparel he takes on every single trip.
He loves the convenience of being able to load the vest pockets with his smartphone, camera, backup charger, wallet, keys, passport, and more.
When we arrive at airport security—instead of going through the arduous task of emptying his pants or jacket pockets into one or more trays—he simply removes the vest, folds it, places it in a tray on the conveyer belt, and picks up the vest at the other end. Everything remains safely tucked inside the pockets ready to pick up and go.
He wears the vest on walking tours and shore excursions, leaving him hands-free to take photographs, take notes or reach into his pocket to pay for something.
He purchased a tan-colored one for tropical climates and a navy blue one for cooler ones. I can’t even count all the times the old vests have been washed. Yet, they still look and perform like new.
The new and improved lightweight travel vest: What we loved
Then we received the newest model for review: the featherweight version of the classic vest. My husband chose the black one (it comes in three different colors) and will never go back to the old version. Yes, you can improve upon perfection.
Comfortable and easy to wear
Weighing in at 0.6 pounds, this easy-to-wear, featherweight travel vest adds minimal heft or weight on your back or in your suitcase. The breathable fabric is comfortable enough to wear in warm weather and light enough to be worn under a medium or heavier weight jacket.
Plenty of pockets:
With 16 pockets (some inside and others outside), there’s a place to stash everything you want to take with you. The zippered pockets keep your wallet safe, out of sight, and off-limits to potential pickpockets. A front pocket is a perfect place to stow a smartphone so it’s easy to reach when you need it.
One of the interior pockets offers RFID protection (radio-frequency-identification) so no one can surreptitiously steal data (or your identity) from your wallet or credit cards. Another interior pocket is large enough to hold an iPad.
A pocket large enough to hold an iPad: How cool is that?
Stylish and durable:
We love the water- and stain-repellent fabric as well as its fit. Two small slits at the hip make the fit forgiving and comfortable. The new lightweight travel vest is made of high-quality polyester, with just enough sheen to keep it looking fresh and clean. It’s washable and dries quickly.
THE LIGHTWEIGHT TRAVEL VEST GIVEAWAY
Scottevest has agreed to give one lucky reader of MoreTimeToTravel a 16-Pocket Featherweight Vest for Men. Here are the rules:
Leave a comment below on or before midnight September 5, 2019, choosing the color vest you would want if you win. The choices are Cement, Cadet Blue or Black.
The vest comes in three colors
One reader will be randomly chosen, announced here shortly thereafter, and asked their address and size for mailing.
Sorry, limited to addresses in the U.S. and Canada only.
On YouTube: Meet Scott Jordan, CEO of Scottevest and learn about this featherweight vest
SCOTTeVEST: Featherweight Vest - YouTube
Disclosure: We received this vest for review but any opinions expressed in this post are our own.
You’ve packed your bags but need to remember, too, to prune your wallet before you travel. Here are some tips on what goes and what stays…
Traveling often entails being shoulder-to-shoulder amidst crowds on busy streets or on public transportation. You may be awkwardly weighed down with suitcases and other paraphernalia—all of this in a new place offering novel distractions. It’s not surprising how these circumstances can drastically increase the risk of losing your personal belongings or becoming the victim of a pickpocket.
One of the worst things to lose on a trip is your wallet. The financial loss can be substantial. Even worse, it increases the risk of identify theft.
Whatever our gender, we tend to accumulate “stuff” in our wallets. That’s why it’s vitally important to take the time to “prune your wallet” before a trip, taking as few things as possible with you—only the bare essentials.
This requires thinking through what you’ll need and what you won’t need, which can vary based on your lifestyle, your destination and the type of trip you’re taking.
Here are 14 things you should take out of your wallet before you travel:
1) Membership cards
While traveling, it’s unlikely you’ll need proof of organizational memberships. One exception: If it’s a travel organization (e.g., one associated with travel discounts, like an AARP card), take a photo of the front and back of the card with your smartphone.
Only keep a membership card in your wallet if it confers a discount
2) Employee IDs
Unless you are on a business trip and plan to visit a satellite office, you probably won’t need your clunky business ID.
3) Car registration/proof of automobile insurance
Unless you’re on a road trip using your own car, you can leave these at home.
4) Department store charge cards
Unless you are going on a shopping trip and know that that the chain stores at home will also be at your destination, leave your department store charge cards at home. You can use a generic charge card (e.g., Mastercard, Visa or AMEX) or ask the sales clerk to look up your charge number.
5) Duplicate credit/debit cards
You won’t likely need two of anything; eliminate heft and reduce risk by eliminating redundancy. Limit your charge cards to one or two, and if you have two credit cards from the same bank, only take one (making sure it has the lowest foreign transaction fee if you are traveling internationally).
6) Library cards
You won’t need your local library card.
7) Sales receipts and dry cleaner bills
Put these in a safe place for when you return,
Toss your old receipts
8) Local transit passes, or bus or metro cards
Unless you’re taking public transportation to the airport or taking a staycation, you won’t need these either.
9) Treasured photos
Keep these images on your smartphone and leave the originals safely at home.
Leave sentimental photos at home
10) Gift cards
Losing or misplacing a gift card is like losing cash. Save them for use when you return.
11) Other people’s business cards
While you might want one or two of your own (if you want more than that, certainly don’t keep them in your wallet. If the card has contact information for someone you want to connect with on your trip, add his or her contact info to the address directory of your smartphone.
12) Airline loyalty cards
Again, they provide too much heft. Make sure you give your membership/frequent flyer number when you’re making your reservation and keep these numbers on your smartphone.
13) Social security cards
You know your number by now. These are simply too high risk to carry around in terms of potential identity theft.
14) Lottery tickets
If the lottery hasn’t been held before the date of your trip, you’ll find out that you didn’t win when you get back.:-)
Especially, make sure you don’t take unnecessary valuables. Take only as much currency as you’ll need.
Find the safest place to keep your wallet (e.g., in a front pocket for men, in a zippered purse for women.)
An RFID wallet can help protect you against identity theft.
Use your password-protected smartphone to copy information you might need but you’re taking out of your wallet.
Lastly, don’t forget to take your health or medical insurance cards and your driver’s license-photo ID out of your wallet before you travel.
When the weather is warm and meals tend to be lighter, many wine-lovers opt for a chilled glass of rosé. Although rosé wines are produced in different countries around the world (including the U.S), we commonly associate them with the south of France.
That was—before we visited Puglia, an epicenter of pink wine production. Before that, we didn’t even know that Italy produces an esteemed rosé of its own, which is called rosato (pl. rosati).
I recently attended an event sponsored by the AICNY (the association of Italian chefs in New York) and Puglia in Rosé (the association of pink wine producers in Puglia), scheduled to coincide with the Specialty Food Show. Held at the Scavolini Show Room in New York City, five AICNY chefs prepared Pugliese (Apulian) recipes paired with the most famous wines of the region, such as Primitivo, Nero di Troia and others.
Burrata Gnocchi at the Scavolino event (Credit: Irene S. Levine)
Serving of gnocchi garnished with white truffles
That event inspired me to find out more about the rosato wines I enjoyed in Puglia. Here’s are six things to know about the pink wine of Puglia:
1) Is rosato the same as rosé?
Pink Wine of Puglia (Credit: Pugliainrose.it)
Rosato (translated literally, as “pinkish”) is considered the Italian equivalent of rosé wine (or rosado wine in Portugal and Spain) because it shares the same production methods and the same pinkish hue. Yet, Italian rosato wine has a personality of its own because its grapes come from different terroirs than those found elsewhere.
2) Where are Italian rosato wines produced?
In wine-centric Italy, it’s not surprising that excellent rosato wines are produced in several regions including Tuscany, Lombardy, Sicily and Sardinia. But Puglia—the long, narrow region of southeastern Italy whose coastline touches both the Adriatic and Ionian seas—is Italy’s largest producer of rosato wines. It is estimated that 44 percent of the country’s rosato wines comes from this region.
3) Why is so much rosato produced in Puglia?
The fertile soil and hospitable climate of this region are conducive to the growth of more than 20 different varieties of grapes that are used to produce the pink wine of Puglia. These favorable conditions, coupled with a passionate cadre of pink wine producers, have led to the production of a number of fine rosato wines, many of them available for export.
Puglia in Rose is the association that supports the culture of winemaking in Puglia and promotes these wines around the world.
4) How does one pair rosato wines with food?
A chilled glass of rosato makes a delightful and refreshing aperitivo on its own. You might sip it with a handful of taralli, a popular snack in Puglia that has the taste of a breadstick, the crispness of a cracker and the shape of a miniature bagel. Taralli can be sweet (sometimes coated with sugar) or savory (with onion, fennel, garlic, or seeds).
Taralli from Panificio Angelina in Martina Franca, Puglia (Credit: Jerome Levine)
Now considered a four-season wine, rosato wines are extremely versatile and food-friendly, pairing well with appetizers, cheese, pasta, rice, pizza, fish, or meat.
Wine matches with everything (Credit: PugliainRose.it)
5) Why are there so many shades of rosato wines?
All rose wines (except sparkling ones) are made from red grapes. The shade of the pink wine depends on a number of factors including the length of time the grapes are macerated in their skins and the coloring capabilities of the grapes. Darker pink wines tend to have more body and a more intense flavor. The wines also differ in their degree of sweetness.
6) Why is the pink wine of Puglia experiencing a surge in popularity?
Pink gin. Pink vodka. Everyone is seeing pink. Some say that the rose wines of Puglia are on track to become the next Prosecco, which experienced a boom in popularity in the US in recent years because it was seen as an economical champagne alternative. The Italian publication Wine News refers to a “Pink Revolution” that has resulted in Italy, and especially Puglia, achieving a robust increase in its overseas market share of rose wines.
Visit one of the many wineries in Puglia. The region has mapped wine itineraries, which can be visited by car or bicycle, across its six provinces: Bari (BA), Barletta-Andria-Trani (BT), Brindisi (BR), Foggia (FG), Lecce (LE), Taranto (TA).
Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rose, by sommelier Victoria James and wine merchant/illustrator Lyle Railsback. One interesting anecdote from the book—“Jacques Pépin, one of the most famous French chefs today, first drank rosé when he was only six or seven years old. ‘It was wonderful,’ he recalls. ‘My father would start putting a tablespoon of rosé in a glass of water, just to change the color a little bit and get a taste of what it is. You have to understand, back then, there was no soda or anything. There was water, and then there was wine. That was it.’
On our last trip to Puglia, a dish of stracciatella cheese was set on the buffet table at Sotto Le Commerse, an albergo diffuso (scattered site hotel) in Locorotondo, a magical white town where we spent several memorable nights.
Breakfast at Sotto Le Commerse
While Sotto Le Commerse’s sleeping accommodations are scattered around the tiny town, guests come together for the complimentary buffet breakfast served in a charming breakfast room on one of the winding streets.
Each morning, the buffet table is filled with home-baked pastries and breads made fresh daily by Valeria, nuts and grains, freshly squeezed blood orange juice, and fresh cheeses including stracciatella, ricotta and burrata, all made locally.
Stracciatella cheese on the buffet table at Sotto Le Commerse in Locorotondo
Our introduction to stracciatella cheese
While we are admitted cheese lovers and were familiar with other soft Italian cheeses, including ricotta and burrata, stracciatella cheese (also called stracciatella di bufala) was new-to-us.
We loved the way the creamy stracciatella tasted spread on a chunk of freshly baked bread. The cheese is also eaten on toasted crostini drizzled with olive oil, as a complement to tomatoes on a salad, or as a topping for pasta or pizza.
This is what we learned about this delicious tasting cheese:
What is stracciatella cheese?
Stracciatella is actually a soft, white, creamy buffalo (or sometimes, cow’s) milk cheese made with straccia (little shreds), using a technique that involves stretching and shredding.
Where does stracciatella come from?
The origins of the cheese are in the province of Foggia, which is located in the south of Puglia, but a similar cheese is also produced in other regions, notably Lazio and Campania.
How does stracciatella cheese differ from burrata?
Stracciatella is used to make burrata—the most famous of which is Burrata di Andria, a product with a PGI designation that certifies it is made in one defined geographic location in Puglia using the same techniques used for generations. To make the burrata, stracciatella is mixed with thick buttery, cream and placed inside a pouch made with mozzarella and cream.
Salad plate with burrata and tomatoes
I’ve heard that term before. What’s in a name?
The cheese isn’t to be confused with stracciatella gelato, which is gelato laced with fine chocolate shavings (somewhat like American chocolate chip ice cream. It also shouldn’t be confused with straciatella soup, a Roman dish made with egg and broth (the egg is broken and passed through a fork making it look somewhat like Chinese egg drop soup). What the three do have in common is the use of a similar shredding technique.
So you may wonder why I have stracciatella on my mind right now?
At this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show, held in the Javits Center in New York, Belgioioso, an artisanal Wisconsin cheese producer announced that it was beginning to sell the cheese in 8- and 16-oz cups. Fresh stracciatella doesn’t keep well in the refrigerator so I presume this is why I haven’t seen the real thing imported but this stateside version promises a shelf life of 37 days in the refrigerator.
Container of Belgioioso stracciatella cheese
If you like creamy fresh cheeses, I’m sure you’ll like this one. If you’re headed to Puglia, give it a try! Until I’m able to return to southern Italy again, I’m going to be scouring my local supermarkets to find the American wannabe.
Women over the age of 50 often find that their feet aren’t as lovely as that of newborn babies or even that of toddlers. And that understatement puts it mildly!
With each passing decade, women of a certain age have an increased risk of unsightly and painful foot problems such as bunions, calluses, corns, hammertoes, fallen arches or even more than one malady. This can make it tough to find shoes that fit comfortably. Perhaps, it’s because of those years when we wore perilously wore high heels, crammed our feet into very pointy toes, or opted for flats or flip-flops with virtually no arch support.
If you are hard to fit, you need a shoe that’s forgiving. Zee Alexis makes a one-of-a-kind line of footwear that conforms to most problem feet, including mine! Not only that, the designs are attractive and stylish and the shoes are reasonably priced.
I recently had the opportunity to review two of the designs in their current line: The Katie and The Danielle. I loved both of them so much that I asked the kind folks at Zee Alexis if they would be willing to sponsor another giveaway for MoreTimeToTravel readers (the last one was two years ago).
They sent me two pairs of shoes for review and I fell in love with both!
Like the entire line, the Katie (which retails for $70) is made of a flexible elastic woven fabric. This model comes in blue denim crosshatch print look, perfect for travelers (and stay-at-homes) who live in their jeans. The shoes are as comfy as slippers with a plush memory foam innersole and a substantial rubber sole. They’re easy to slip in and out even for those of us with bulging bunions. And although they’re extremely lightweight and packable, they’re sturdy and supportive enough to be comfortable walking over cobblestone streets or other uneven ground.
It’s not surprising the Danielle Sneaker (also retailing for $70) is the company’s most popular shoe. This sporty shoe is a perfect complement for those who live in athleisure wear and like a casual look. The Bottega Veneta-style woven upper bands accommodate your foot (in whatever shapes it’s in) and stretch with each step. One timely aside: My neighbor recently had hand surgery and asked me to come to her house to tie her shoes (because she couldn’t manage to tie them with her cast). I showed her the no-tie elastic laces on my Danielle sneakers and she immediately went online to order a pair. This model, too, is ultra-light and easy to pack.
They’re the kind of shoes that look so good that they turn heads. Your friends, like mine, will ask where you got them.
The Zee Alexis Giveaway
The manufacturer is sponsoring an easy-to-enter shoe giveaway for one lucky reader of MoreTimeTo Travel.com. Here are the rules:
Breeze through the Zee Alexis online shoe shop and choose one pair you would like to add to your own travel shoe collection. You might want to start by taking a look at “Katie’ and “Danielle.”
Copy the text (name and color) of the shoes of your choice and cut and paste it (or simply keyboard it) into the comment section below on or before midnight, August 01, 2019.
One reader will be randomly chosen, announced here shortly thereafter, and asked their address and shoe size for mailing.
Sorry, limited to U.S. addresses only.
Disclosure: The Zee Alexis shoes were sent to me for review for this giveaway but any opinions expressed in this post are my own. You probably can tell, but I really love these shoes!
If you want to order a pair on your own and use this link, you’ll get 20% off your purchase and I’ll get $10 to support this website. Shipping and returns are free of charge.
Tip: Although the fabric tops are stretchable, the soles are not and the shoes tend to run small. My recommendation: Order the shoes ½ size larger than usual for extra comfort.
Contributor Lori Tripoli takes a road trip to Jamestown, N.Y. and finds a destination rich with comedy, culture and more.
.Jamestown, N.Y. is not the historic settlement of the same name that was formerly full of English colonists. Instead, this city is associated with a certain redhead who made a very different kind of history: Lucille Ball.
Born in 1911 to a young mother who before long would become a young widow, Ball grew up in humble circumstances, shuttling between various family members and moving from Jamestown to its suburb of sorts, Celoron, before she grew up, went to the big city, failed large, and returned home before leaving to try again.
Lucille Ball certainly drew attention to Jamestown, N.Y., but this place offers quite a lot to visitors who would never consider themselves to be Lucy-Desi groupies.
Spoiler alert: Lucille Ball made it big—really big—by starring with then-husband Desi Arnaz in the I Love Lucy sitcom about a zany housewife and her Cuban, bandleading husband in a television show that would make history of its own. The world got to see a wife with career ambitions in a so-called (for the time) “mixed marriage.” Lucy played a woman who juggled those goals with relatively late-in-life (for the time) parenthood. Ball turned 42 the year little Ricky Ricardo was born in an era when the word “pregnant” could not be uttered on air (instead, Lucy was enceinte). Little Ricky’s birth in a January 1953 episode of the show just happened to coincide with the birth of her real-life son, Desi Arnaz IV (known as “Desi Jr.”).
Where to find Lucy in Jamestown N.Y.
The reason so many of us grew up on I Love Lucy reruns was because Lucy and Desi’s performances were filmed before a live audience using a pioneering three-camera system. At that time, other programs aired live. In short, episodes of I Love Lucy could be aired again and again and again and possibly into perpetuity. Visitors at the aptly named Lucy Desi Museum in Jamestown, N.Y. learn this and so much more about this one-time power couple.
The Ball-Arnaz duo also formed Desilu Productions. After Lucy and Desi divorced, Lucy bought Desi out and became the first woman to helm a major television studio. She also okayed a science fiction program, Star Trek, which became the first TV show on which a character uttered the word “pregnant.” Lucy ultimately sold Desilu to Gulf + Western.
After becoming a star, Lucy never forgot her roots in western New York. She and Desi/Ricky, and Ethel and Fred can still be found elsewhere around town. Murals depict scenes from the old TV show, and a statue of Lucy appears in Lucille Ball Memorial Park in nearby Celoron.
A mural in Jamestown NY depicts Lucy
At the Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, follow the red hearts with an L inside them to find Lucy’s gravestone.
Lucille Ball’s gravestone in Jamestown New York
Advancing comedy as an art form
The National Comedy Center in Jamestown N.Y.
Walk from the Lucy Desi Museum (stop by the charming Crown Street Roasting Company next door if you need a quick jolt of caffeine) to the newly opened National Comedy Center just a few blocks away for an interactive, immersive experience. Yes, there’s comedy karaoke for those who are especially brave, and an opportunity to make your own meme.
Comedy’s role in advancing culture thanks to bold comedians willing to criticize, with laughter, certain entrenched institutions is covered well here. Back then, those nervy comics would get arrested for being so candid. Comedian Lenny Bruce’s trials on obscenity charges most definitely get attention at the National Comedy Center. So does comedy’s role in soothing a nation following trauma. Remember then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s appearance on Saturday Night Live just weeks after 9/11? The National Comedy Center does.
The National Comedy Center pays tribute to writers’ contributions to comedy, like those of Lenny Bruce
It also pays tribute to writers, to props, to connections, to comics and cartoons. Visitors learn their own sense of humor profile as they advance through the museum, which is housed, in part, in Jamestown’s former train station. Plan to spend more time than you think you will here. It is hard to leave because there is just so much to do, and learn.
Visitors to the National Comedy Center receive personalized comedy profiles at the end of their tours
Plus, one cannot help but like a place that, upon learning that it earned the No. 2 slot in USA Today’s 2019 10 Best New Attractions, issued a press release touting its pride in being a second banana.
Mix college and summer camp at Chautauqua Institute
For those who like mind-bending of a slightly different sort, a visit to the nearby Chautauqua Institute may well be in order. Part college, part summer camp, this summer community based in Chautauqua on Chautauqua Lake offers nine weeks of arts, recreation, education, and a little bit of religion (including Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim religious services). There’s swimming and golf and tennis, and sometimes lectures by Supreme Court justices and well-known authors and others.
Susan B. Anthony advocated women’s right to vote here back in 1892, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his “I hate war” speech on these grounds in 1936. Navigator Amelia Earhart landed her plane on the 14th fairway of the institute’s golf course in 1929, had lunch, and then gave a lecture on her cross-Atlantic flight the year before.
In more recent years, Wynton Marsalis and Sheryl Crow have both performed here. Think of the Chautauqua Institute as the Davos of New York state without all the pretentiousness.
An intellectual powerhouse: The Robert H. Jackson Center
The Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown N.Y.
Looking to keep those intellectual juices flowing? Head to the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown. Housed in a mansion built in the 1800s (President Ulysses S. Grant stopped by for lunch in 1875) and later owned by the Masonic Lodge, the center is dedicated to promoting liberty under the law—and to the memory of Robert H. Jackson, a local lawyer who ended up with quite an impressive career as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and as the Chief U.S. Prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials. He is credited for defining “crimes against humanity” as felonies.
This not-so-large center draws some impressive speakers. Bob Woodward, who covered the Watergate story for the Washington Post in the 1970s and who has written extensively about political matters ever since, is slated to appear later this summer; Chief Justice John Roberts made an appearance here about a half-dozen years ago. Should you take a tour of the mansion, be certain to ask your docent about upcoming and recent appearances by big names with important stories to tell.
Where to stay: The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel
Sunset at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel
For Lucy lovers, the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, which opened in 2018, is conveniently located right across from the Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron. Photos of young Lucy grace the hotel’s hallways, and, thanks to the hotel’s partnership with the National Comedy Center, a mini-exhibition adds more charm to its lobby.
The hotel offers a Hilarious Getaway package featuring hotel accommodations, two tickets to the National Comedy Center and the Lucy Desi Museum, and a $30 meal voucher to the Lakehouse Tap and Grill. A welcome gift bag includes Groucho Marx glasses. Wear yours to the Lakehouse Tap and Grill and get a complimentary dessert!
The hotel serves as a perfect weekend getaway all on its own—it is situated right on the water, has indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, a putting green, firepits for cool, breezy evenings, an onsite bar and restaurant, and the outdoor Carousel Bar, so named because the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel is on the site of an old-time amusement park that, sadly, burned down in the 1960s. There is also plenty of banquet capacity for weddings and other large get-togethers at this hotel with 135 guestrooms that is open year-round. (A winter Fire & Ice event featured ice sculptures, a martini luge, and fireworks.) Boating, water sports, and golf outings can be arranged via the hotel’s concierge service.
For many, being a tourist in Italy is synonymous with romance. Whether you’re on a gondola in Venice; taking a passeggiata around the shores of Lake Como; visiting Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet; or watching the water glisten in the moonlight off the Isle of Capri, evenings in Italy tend to be dreamier than they are in most other places.
But, without a doubt, the first Saturday after the summer solstice (which falls on June 22nd this year), La Notte Romantica (Romantic Night) promises to be the most romantic night of the year of all in Italy, both for locals and visitors. Last year, more than 1 million people participated in these festivities.
This national event takes place in many of the 294 small villages the Association has recognized and certified as “most beautiful” in Italy. Make no mistake. These aren’t the large, iconic cities that are frequented by tourists. Instead, they are carefully curated, off-the-beaten-track destinations that are amazingly rich in terms of their history, traditions, art, architecture, culture and natural beauty.
Tremosine in Lombardy (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)
From the north to the south and east to west, each of the participating borghi (small villages) interprets Romantic Night in a unique way befitting the character of its setting and citizenry. Illuminated by candlelight and fireworks, scheduled events often center around film, dance, music, theater, concerts, playful competitions and more—all themed around love and romance. There are also organized mini-events geared to singles and those looking for love.
However, two traditions, intended to unify the villages and bring them together, are adhered to by all the participating villages:
1- Each year, one chef is chosen to create a special dessert recipe that is shared with all the other villages. That recipe is then prepared in each of the village’s restaurants on Romantic Night. This year, Michelin-star Chef Donato Episcopo of Villa Abbazzio in Follina (a beautiful village in the region of Veneto) created an appropriately named dessert, Pensiero d’amore (love thought).
Chef Episcopo’s Pensiero d’amore (Credit: Mauro Milan)
2- At midnight, everyone participates in the tradition of the “midnight kiss,” at which time 1000 balloons are launched into the sky culminating a special evening.
Lovers in Lugnano n Teverina, Umbria (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)
Tourists traveling to Italy (or one of the other participating countries) during this period of time will have a unique opportunity to enjoy these small-town festivities and interact with locals while enjoying new foods and sharing new customs.
The Association website lists each of the small villages in Italy that will be participating in Romantic Night this year.
A bucket list for Italophiles
Celebrating Small Villages in Italy (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)
Is your curiosity piqued to see these charming small towns with stone walls, cobblestones streets, castles, villas, true farm-to-table restaurants, farms, craftspeople, wineries and sweeping views of the countryside? Places that have been preserved or restored since the Middle Ages or the Renaissance?
Those who can’t arrange travel to Italy in June to coincide with this once-a-year event may want to plan a trip that takes them to one or more of these beautiful villages that are waiting to be explored throughout the year. Organized by regions, the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy website describes every village and provides links for further information.
My recent article on Forbes.com describes five of the small villages we have personally visited (Montefalco (Perugia), Dozza (Emilia Romagna), Locorotondo (Puglia), Montaione (Tuscany) and San Leo (Emilia Romagna) and, hopefully, offers a sense of how much they have to offer.
Watch the Association’s video on YouTube to get a feel for the ambiance of these borghi:
If you want to feel good and look good when traveling, it’s essential to master the art of accessorizing. After all, a carefully selected necklace, a statement ring or a pair of show-stopping earrings can instantly change a look without taking up too much room in your suitcase. When well-selected, accessories can take on more importance than clothes themselves. The reason for this is that they often tend to reflect the more playful part of an individual’s personality.
The art of accessorizing can make a dramatic and noticeable impact. For example, a vibrant scarf or piece of jewelry can be the difference between a plain outfit and a red carpet-worthy ensemble. A hair accessory can make the difference between someone blending in with the crowd or attracting a few nods.
Accessories like a vibrant scarf can change a look from day to night
Carefully choosing the right accessories allows travelers to rely on fewer pieces of clothing for a change of look and thus, they can also pack lighter. Speaking of packing, even opting for a bright and bold suitcase and cabin trolley at the airport can make the difference between looking boring and appearing full of life and personality.
There are lots of different accessory pieces that can be used to adorn your look. But, if you want to be a true trendsetter, it helps to be aware of the latest fashions. You might even look to your millennial offspring for ideas. One trend that is highly popular at the moment is that of chandelier earrings. These earrings are big, bold, glistening and attention-grabbing.
Chandelier earrings have the capacity to turn a plain, little black dress into the main attraction. Inexpensive and easy to pack, it is always a good idea to have a pair of them on hand. After all, if you are struggling to find something to wear, all you need to do is team your earrings with your outfit to achieve a great look for dinner or an evening get-together.
When traveling, women often want to make sure their hair has been recently trimmed and shaped to make haircare as hassle-free as possible while they’re away. Depending on the length of their hair, they might throw one or more fun hair accessories into their handbag or suitcase to keep it looking neat all day. A colorful scrunchie or foldable hat can be great when traveling to warmer climates.
The interplay between hairstyle and other accessories needs to be considered, too. For example, if you are wearing long, chandelier earrings, it is nice to be able to pull your hair back or tie it up in order to showcase the earrings and let them speak for themselves.
Aside from chandelier earrings, another popular trend is that of studded bags. Studs are highly popular at present because they have an edgy and sexy look to them. When buying a bag, whether you are buying an everyday shopper, an envelope clutch bag, or even if you are looking for suitcases, studs are a great option. They are stylish and fashion-forward, yet at the same time, they are versatile. This means that it is a trend which is likely to go with any look – no matter what colors or patterns you are wearing.
In addition to studded bags and chandelier earrings, another accessory trend is fashion scarves. These can be adorned with exciting and intricate patterns. There are lots of different choices available and thus you are bound to find something to suit your style and your look. When it comes to the patterns, some of the most popular options this season include florals, Aztec and, comic book strip designs, leopard prints and stripes.
A nice handbag is a must-have accessory for every woman. After all, what else are we supposed to use to carry our make-up, money, phone, etc. around with us all the time? Therefore when buying a handbag, you should put in a lot of thought and consideration into the one that you choose. After all, it is something that you are likely to get a lot of use out of. Moreover, handbags have the capacity to dictate the entire look and feel of your outfit. They say a lot about your style as well as your personality.
A satchel type bag offers a sophisticated look and is extremely fashionable at the moment. It helps create an overall image that is striking and confident. Moreover, if a traveler wants to stray away from the typical black option, bottle green or navy blue work can be neutral enough to complement almost any outfit. Moreover, satchels are a practical option because they tend to have multiple compartments that can keep you organized on your travels.
Satchels help keep things organized when traveling
When traveling, we often tend to pick up things along the way. Tote leather handbags are a practical option because not only do they offer the space and durability you’ll need but they will easily look good with any outfit.
If you are going to a concert, festival or shopping in busy markets and you only want to carry the bare necessities, one good option is a crossbody bag. These are stylish, compact and practical. They don’t get in your way because of the body strap and also offer a degree of security when you’re immersed in large crowds. One stylish option might be a brown leather bag with tassels, a great way to emulate indie casual.
Purses that slip in evening
Space permitting, you might also want to pack a smart-looking leather purse that can dress up whatever you’re wearing to dinner. Metallic is a perennially popular trend. Opting for a bag in silver or a bronze color is a great way to add style and glamour to your outfit. This would work well with a pair of skinny jeans, a black top and a pair of heels. It provides the perfect way to instantly glam up a look, and thus, is great for dinner at a nice restaurant.
If you are going to a party or on a night out, an oversized leather clutch bag is another stunning choice. If you are looking for an overload of glam then you should consider a leather clutch with studs, which is very much in at the moment. An envelope clutch is a great way to make a statement and ensure that your outfit is striking.
All photo credits: Pixabay
*This is a collaborative post written by Amelia Hudson.
Guest Contributors John and Sandra Nowlan cruise the Great Lakes on Victory I, enthralled by the scenic stops along the way.
The bumper sticker read: “The Great Lakes – Unsalted and Shark-Free.” While it was an effective bumper sticker, the publisher could have added, “Wonderful Cruising.”
The Great Lakes contain fully a fifth of all the standing fresh water in the world. With 10,000 miles of shoreline, the five lakes dominate the geography, culture and history of central North America. The region has never had the profile of ocean or European river cruising…but it should.
Chicago, with its grand buildings, many museums and outstanding cuisine was an ideal city from which to begin our cruise to the Great Lakes on Victory I to Toronto.
Our ship was Victory I, a comfortable 200-passenger vessel built in 2001 and owned by Victory Cruise Lines,recently acquired by the American Queen Steamboat Company. Its registered tonnage is just 5,000 and it’s 300 feet long. Its unusual bow is vertical rather than slanted.
Finding Victory I in Chicago was a challenge. We gave our taxi driver, a 30-year veteran, a street address and told him it was at the “Chicago Dock”. “Never heard of it”, he replied. After consulting his GPS and with a long ride south, almost to the Indiana border, the handsome ship was finally spotted in a gritty, very unattractive industrial area. Chicago, if it wants to be a major cruise player, has to find a better port facility closer to downtown.
Boarding Victory I
Once aboard the Victory I, the atmosphere improved rapidly. A welcome drink and smiling crew members made registration simple and we were escorted to our cabin. It was small with muted, attractive colours but cleverly laid out with a surprising amount of storage space. Two large picture windows offered great views. The bathroom was tiny but quite functional with luxury touches like L’Occitane toiletries.
Before sailing, a quick tour of Victory I showed off its passenger-friendly attributes. On Deck 2, a comfortable Compass Lounge had enough room for all passengers and became the center for entertainment and lectures. A small library on either side of the lounge led to the “Tavern” with its bar and complimentary beer, wine, spirits and cocktails.
Complimentary wine was also available with meals in the two dining areas, the large Coastal Dining Room on Deck 1 and the more intimate one, The Grill, with excellent views, at the rear of Deck 4.
All meals were surprisingly good with our German chef and his team producing imaginative dishes like Beef Steak Tartar, Colcannon Soup, Venison Tourtiere and Panko Crusted Atlantic Cod. Fish, mostly pre-frozen, was of high quality with very fresh Ontario trout a highlight one evening. Service from the well-trained Indonesian, Filipino and Indian waiters was very professional.
While food, service and comfort were excellent, it’s the Great Lakes itinerary that really shone. With outstanding guides, we visited both small, intimate communities and major North American cities.
Sailing the Great Lakes on Victory I
Our first stop was new to most of the ship’s American, Canadian and Australian guests. On the east side of Lake Michigan, Muskegon (population 38,000) is the largest city. It boasts two fascinating World War II vessels that are now floating museums. The US Silversides was the most decorated surviving submarine from the war. Visitors can walk through the claustrophobic interior and see the small galley and the crew’s bunk beds adjacent to the torpedo tubes.
Nearby, visitors can also enjoy a tour through the cavernous interior and huge front unloading ramp of USS LST 393, one of only two remaining tank landing crafts that were used to bring Sherman tanks and troops to the shores of Normandy 75 years ago during D-Day. More than a thousand of these versatile crafts, each more than 300 feet long, were built for use in World War II.
One of two remaining tank landing ships from WWII
In the afternoon, another complimentary tour took us to the charming town of Holland, Michigan. As expected, the community was filled with tulips (luckily, it was tulip season) but the most interesting sight was the only authentic Dutch windmill in the U.S. The De Zwaan windmill was built in the Netherlands in 1761, then moved piece by piece to Holland, Michigan in 1964. Visitors can take a tour inside this working wind machine.
A Dutch welcome in Holland, Michigan
The historic De Zwaan Windmill
After a relaxing day on Lake Michigan (including elegant Afternoon Tea) we arrived at Mackinac Island, a unique U.S. destination where cars have been banned since 1898. All transportation is by bicycle or horse-drawn carriages, through the village with its 17 fudge shops and on to the historic Grand Hotel (built in 1887) with its 397 rooms and world’s longest porch.
Victory I at car-free Mackinac Island
The 1887 Grand Hotel, even elegant on a rainy day
Victory Cruise Lines reserved a section of the Hotel’s huge restaurant for the extravagant Grand Luncheon Buffet.
Viennese afternoon tea
Our first Canadian destination was Little Current, Ontario, a village on Manitoulin, the world’s largest freshwater island. The island is home to the Ojibwe People, part of the largest First Nation population in North America. All guests were invited to the nearby cultural center for a welcoming smudging ceremony and a Pow Wow, a lively exhibit of native drumming, singing and dancing.
After we re-boarded Victory I, we went through the Little Current Swing Bridge dating from 1913 (the only bridge to the island) and past the Strawberry Island Lighthouse in Georgian Bay. Built in 1881, it’s one of the most photographed in North America.
Strawberry Island Lighthouse
Winding down from our cruise on the Great Lakes on Victory I
After visiting small, rural communities it was fascinating to dock beside the downtowns of two major US cities, Detroit and Cleveland. It was an easy walk from the ship to the central cores. Both offer a multitude of tourist attractions so, with just a day to spend there, our tour organizers chose well.
In Detroit, the highlight was the Henry Ford Museum, second only to the Smithsonian in Washington for cultural significance. Among the exhibits in its huge, one-level gallery are the limousine that carried President Kennedy on that fateful 1963 day in Dallas, the Alabama bus in which Rosa Parks defied seat segregation laws and the actual chair from the Ford Theatre occupied by President Lincoln when he was shot in 1865.
The 1963 car in which President Kennedy was shot
President Lincoln’s Chair from the Ford Theatre
Of course, there are several exhibits showing early airplanes and locomotives along with Model A and Model T Fords when Henry Ford pioneered vehicle assembly lines.
In Cleveland, Victory I guests were taken on an extensive Trolley Tour of the impressive city including a drive through the 170-acre medical campus of the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic and a stop at the outstanding Cleveland Museum of Art. But next door to the ship was an architectural masterpiece, the I.M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, paying homage to the greats of rock music history, from Buddy Holly to Elvis and the Beatles to the Rolling Stones and Prince. Great fun for music nostalgia fans.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame designed by I.M. Pei
A popular corner in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Wet fun and fine wine were in store for our final day of the cruise as Victory I entered the eight locks of the Welland Canal, bypassing Niagara Falls and lowering ships 326 feet between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. All guests were given a picturesque bus ride along the Niagara Parkway and then invited aboard one of the Hornblower Niagara Cruise ships. Outfitted with red ponchos, guests sailed past the American Falls to the base of the Horseshoe Falls where wind, spray and towering cascades of water made an unforgettable impression.
Niagara Falls: Wet…and loving it
Fully dried, we boarded our buses to Chateau des Charmes, one of the many fine wineries in the Niagara region where we enjoyed lunch and samples of excellent Ontario vintages. We then had free time in Niagara-on-the Lake, a charming community renowned as the home of the Shaw Summer Festival.
The next morning we woke up in Toronto in an industrial part of Lake Ontario but facing the extraordinary skyline of Ontario’s capital. It was certainly a prettier sight than the depressing view from the Chicago cruise port. The good news is that Victory Cruise Lines has promised that future Great Lakes sailings between Chicago and Toronto will use a much more convenient port, close to downtown Chicago. An enhanced start for a wonderful cruise experience.
Disclosure: The Nowlans sailed on the Great Lakes on Victory I as guests of Victory Cruise Lines but any opinions expressed in this post are their own.
*John and Sandra Nowlan are travel and food writers based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their website is www.nowtravel.ca.
Before you book your next holiday to travel the world and start spending that cash you’ve saved, it’s best to take a while to really make sure you’re ready to go. Travel often is one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences life has to offer but it can also be one of the most stressful. Here, we’re going to look at how you let go of (or at least minimize) that stress and actually enjoy your holiday. All you need to do is take some time to do a little preparation beforehand. Here are a few tips that even seasoned travelers may forget:
Make sure your destination is safe
Avoid “slip-ups” by planning ahead
It’s the part of travel we don’t like to think about as much. Ignorance might be bliss but it’s also dangerous. Wherever you decide you want to go, you need to look at the risks involved there. It’s not a good idea to pay attention solely to the news, but to use the warnings made available by government agencies. U.S. citizens should check travel advisories from the State Department and register their whereabouts with S.T.E.P. Citizens of the U.K. should look at Travel Aware for similar guidance.
Here, you can not only find out about possible political dangers in a country but gain a good overlook of the more common kinds of crime. You can enjoy a trip to the country but be aware of the risks, meaning you’re a lot less likely to encounter them. Many travelers also rely on local news reports and Twitter feeds once they reach their destination.
Make sure you’re allowed in
Check out visa requirements before your next holiday
Different countries have different requirements for whom they allow in. If you’re traveling anywhere in the EU, for instance, you might need nothing more than a passport (for now). However, depending on where you are coming from, some countries like Canada and Australia require various types of electronic verification. Most countries provide much of this information online.
Some places like Russia and China require a lengthier visa process. Booking your flights before you’ve made sure you’re actually allowed to enter a country is an obvious error, but one that’s made rather often.
Make sure you’re getting the best deal
Prices comparisons can be made online
There are many ways to reach any destination, as well as a wide variety of choices in terms of places to stay, and agencies from which you can hire a car. It might seem convenient to go with the most popular or visible option. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the cheapest. There are a few great price comparison sites on the net that can help you find the best deal on flight, hotel, and car.
To navigate around a new city and stay in touch with family and friends at home, don’t forget to check out SIM cards, too—so you can stay connected during your travels. Take a look at SMARTY UK for affordable data and minutes. That way, you’ll have a lot more to put into your spending budget when you’re actually at your destination.
Make sure you’ll have no hassles at the airport
Airports are one of the most stressful aspects of travel
One of the most stressful aspects of travel is getting to and from, and thru airports. Arriving early is a must. But you can make the whole process a lot smoother for yourself by doing your homework in advance.
For instance, if you have any connecting flights, you should make sure there is sufficient time between flights to get from one terminal to another. And don’t count on your first flight landing on time!
Also, check out airport accommodations, which can make any overnight stays so much more comfortable. Pre-book your parking space at the airport well in advance, too. To cut down on the lines and red tape, make sure you get your boarding pass electronically with any airlines that allow it. As a double-check, some travelers also make a printed copy of the boarding pass.
Make sure your home is safe and secure
Before your next holiday, ask neighbors to keep an eye on your front door
If you have some friendly neighbours whom you get on well with and trust – or have some close friends and family who are willing – ask them to remove all flyers and leaflets out of your door or post box. A build-up of these is a tell-tale sign that no one is home, because you wouldn’t usually leave them all wedged in your door, would you? It looks messy and unkempt. So get someone to remove them all for you, so they don’t draw unwanted attention to your house.
If you don’t have an alarm, why not consider installing one? People worry about going a little overboard in this department, but it’s your home, and that’s what alarms are there for – to draw attention and alert you (or others) of a problem. So don’t think you’re being overly dramatic by installing the systems. If you’re not too sure what you need, have a look at some alarm systems online and read about the different uses for them. You can even get systems that send alerts to your phone.
Do what you can and then relax
Planning ahead before your next holiday will allow you to relax
You’ve checked all the boxes: You’ve ensured that a country is safe and free to enter and that the costs of your trip don’t exceed your budget. These are just a few little tricks that can ease your peace of mind, but there are plenty of other ways you can plan ahead before your next holiday.
Just don’t go stressing yourself, because it can ruin your whole trip! Relax, put all these things into place, get your home secure, safe, and make it appear as though it’s currently being lived in, and then you have nothing to worry about. Oh, and most importantly – enjoy the trip!
All photo credits: Pixabay
*This is a collaborative post written by Amelia Hudson.