Discover a new pasta – great spring recipe – fregola sarda and asparagus

You would think with all the times I have been to Italy that I would have tried all the various pasta there is to try…like the one with the evocative name of ‘strangle the priest” (strozzapreti) – but I had never tried Fregola Sarda (#fregolasarda) –

What a wonderful meal I had at Nell Thorn ( #nellthorne) in La Conner, Washington when I went to view the tulips

I  discovered this wonderful pasta from Sardinia on a superb local restaurant recently. I had this delicate spherical pasta with fresh local asparagus, pecorino cheese, and the chef topped it with an organic egg.

This recipe sounds like just the same one – get inspired for spring and fresh asparagus season, try something new…. Continue reading

Seven Apps to tackle inflight boredom

After a long flight, the soft hills of Pisa beckon, a glass of wine, a villa terrace.

Found this great article in USA Today – as you know travel these days can get awfully long – especially if you ended up in a seat where the inflight entertainment may not be working (happens more often than you think). Be prepared – read the following and get ready before you leave. Carina of found that the TED talks provided hours of interesting entertainment.

Read on….Seema Dhawan, Special for USA TODAY -

The only thing that makes getting the middle seat on a long flight worse is the realization that the article you were reading has refreshed on your device, promising hours of Internet-less boredom. A long flight can be an entertaining experience with the right apps; they can transform a boring seven-hour journey into an afternoon of good reading, brainstorming, productivity or entertainment. Download these free apps before you’re off on your next trip to avoid begging the flight tracker to get you there faster. Continue reading

How to get the airline seats you want or that special extra something

So you want to get to Italy on points ( or somewhere else for that matter) – the best advice that I have found personally is to hang up and call back, so what a delight to find this informative article with just that advice…read on, book your ticket, then come visit us in Italy…

Hang Up, Call Back (The Four Most Important Words in Travel, and Maybe Even Life) from the Boarding Area


I don’t think there can possibly be any better advice in travel than ‘hang up, call back’. Any time you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, try another agent. Most airlines are big companies, agents have varying levels of competence, and also varying levels of helpfulness.

Just because an agent tells you that an award ticket isn’t available doesn’t mean that it isn’t available. I’ve frequently had agents tell me that nothing was available when they clearly hadn’t had time to even search yet. I would ask about multiple dates and they’d just reply that nothing was available the whole month when I know they couldn’t possibly have searched for that.

If you aren’t going to search for award space yourself using tools like partner websites (Qantas and British Airways for oneworld awards, Aeroplan/All Nippon/ for Star Alliance, for most of Skyteam), FlightStats, Expertflyer, the KVS Tool, then the advice I give is to just hang up, call back. For novices who aren’t going to invest the time, my rule of thumb is to make three calls — get told no three times — before believing the answer that you get is truly ‘no’. Continue reading

Is a Rome sightseeing pass worthwhile? or Private tour of Rome, Rome with kids and more

Is a Rome sightseeing pass worthwhile? for some it might be just the right solution for others – you may prefer our special private tours, whether you want to do Rome with children, see the hidden corners of Rome, food and market tours and more…read on

Ask the experts: Lee Marshall, Rome expert, offers some advice on the city’s sightseeing passes

Lee Marshall, Rome expert, for the UK Telegraph replies
If you have the stamina to visit all the main museums and sights – and in three days, that’s a tall order – then a cumulative ticket may be worth it.

But which one? Best value in my view is the three-day Roma Pass (, which costs €34/£29 and gives you free travel on public transport, plus free access to two sights, plus discounts of around €2 on others. To give you a price comparison, separately purchased tickets for the Forum/Colosseum and Borghese Gallery, plus a three-day bus pass, would set you back €39.50. Another advantage of the pass is that it allows you to avoid long queues at ticket offices. Continue reading

Great apartment in Florence – testimontial

Perfect vacation in our apartment in Florence:

What a wonderful time we all had in Florence. We could not have asked for a more perfectly situated apartment, literally a minute from the Duomo and the views from the rooftop terrace were fantastic. The apartment itself far exceeded our expectations and the booking and checking in/out processes were so easily done.
We managed to fit in visits to all the major city center sights in Florence and spend time in the Uffizi too. The conference was also a resounding success and between the culture and the science we all benefited from our time in Florence. We will certainly return to explore more of the Italian countryside and probably Rome too!
Thanks again

This client stayed in our wonderful apartment Mirage –