Visiting the world’s oldest republic: San Marino

For those who (like me) love Italy, you may be aware that, within its borders, Italy contains two independent countries. One – the Holy See or Vatican – requires little introduction. The second might be less known. San Marino, or, by its romantic sounding full Italian name Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino, is just under…

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Perfect views over invading knights in medieval Òsimo

I’ve been writing about a lot of impressive towns boasting spectacular medieval architecture in Italy’s Marche region. The medieval hilltop town of Òsimo is one such town that merits a visit when you next find yourself in the region. This is an easy one to reach – just a few kilometers from the regional capital…

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In search of olive ascolane in the Marche’s Ascoli-Piceno

In normal times, finding Ascoli-Piceno’s culinary specialty in its historic center is no real challenge. But these are not ordinary times. My son loves olive ascolane – olives stuffed with meat and deep fried. This is a common appetizer at restaurants throughout Italy, although, all too often, they are simply the frozen variety. In the…

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A weekend in Italy’s center – Rieti

I’ve already written about this medieval town north of Rome, at the upper edges of the Lazio region. I got to know Rieti quite well when my younger son began running for the town’s competitive track and field team. Although his daily practice is (thankfully) in Rome, we get here fairly often for track meets.…

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The showstopping square in Italy’s Cittaducale

On a recent visit to Rieti with my younger son, we decided to explore the nearby town of Cittaducale. Just 8 km east of Rieti, Cittaducale is an impressive example of a late medieval fortress town. Perched on a strategic hilltop location and surrounded by mountains, this town is a pleasant place to wander. Although…

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Wandering the silent, medieval streets of Toffia

I’ve driven by Toffia many times on my drives from Rome to Rieti, but never made time to visit. On a recent weekend trip to Rieti, my son and I decided to take a little detour from the Via Salaria to visit this picturesque, medieval town. We were in Toffia on a perfect summer day.…

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Medieval splendor in Gubbio

It’s been years that I’ve wanted to visit the town of Gubbio – in Italy’s Umbria region. I have travelled all throughout the pretty region of Umbria, but Gubbio is on its far eastern side, and I never managed to get there. That’s why I was so happy to visit during the Christmas break. It…

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Cliffside splendor in Moustiers Sainte-Marie, France

This spectacular town of 700 residents, is perched dramatically among the cliffs of the Regional Park of the Verdon. Since 1981, it has been designated as one of the most beautiful villages of France (Les plus beaux villages de France). Although human settlement in the area dates back tens of thousands of years, it was…

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