Hill Towns in Tuscany and Umbria

Civita Bagnoregio

Other than visiting wineries and binging on pasta, the main thing to do in Tuscany and Umbria is to drive around and visit the hill towns. Some are more touristy than others, most were built over 800 years ago and all are stupidly gorgeous. Aside from walking around with a dripping scoop of pistachio gelato (a very worthy activity), there’s little to do in these towns…which is to say, they are a merciful respite from the sightseeing obligations of cities like Rome and Florence. Here are a few of my favorites: Continue reading

Notes from Pasta Land

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I’ve never heard anyone talk about food the way Italians talk about food. These people are more obsessed with quality products that the Spanish,  prouder of their traditions than the French and have been committed to all things local and seasonal before any tattooed American kitchen rat was even born. In all Italian dishes, the passion is quite literally palpable, yet somehow even more so in each plate of handmade pasta.  Continue reading

Secret Paris

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The first time I went to Paris, I did as everyone does on their first trip and visited the Louvre. I hated it. It was a Dan Brown-fueled anthill of humans clamoring to get close to tiny works of art hidden behind protective cases. The friend I was with had a near panic attack and I was more than happy for the excuse to leave. Ever since then, I’ve been kind of gun shy when it comes to seeing the major sights in the City of Lights. But because of my reluctance to play tourist in Paris, I’ve been freed up to sniff out some truly special city secrets. Continue reading