Back from a wonderful trip to Sardinia! The charming city of Cagliari is a port where the ferry from Naples arrives. Beautiful restaurant at the port with good Sardinian wine and fish.
The beaches in Sardinia are just as gorgeous as everyone says. My favorite was Chia beach of course!
The weather was perfect right up until the day we were to leave when a huge storm hit. A big tree branch fell on our rental car, breaking the windshield! The polizia came and filled out a report, so we were not held liable. But things got worse, and the ferry we were to leave on was cancelled. Not just once, but three times! We finally got aboard the ferry, and were resting in our little cabin when the fire alarm went off. No, not a drill! Everyone was told to bring his paperwork and any medicines necessary, and to go to the lifeboats.
The ferry was full of Italian army troops, and since we were not too far from shore, I didn’t panic! The light on my life jacket did not work, so a series of helpful young men tried to fix it. No luck. But the ship’s engineer, Simone, told us that the light was activated in water, so not to worry.
The little fire was extinguished, and all was fine. Rough crossing to Civitavecchia, and we did not arrive until 2am. No taxi at the port, but it didn’t matter because there were no trains until the morning any way! Pouring rain and wind, we trudged 20 minutes to the nearest hotel. Chia was a champ trotting along in 4 inches of water. We arrived at the hotel drenched, and saw the sign NO DOGS ALLOWED….I begged the hotel desk clerk to take pity on us, and he did thankfully. Our rooms were pretty bleak, but clean at least, and we got the train to Florence the next morning. Whew!
A memorable trip, and one I would like to take again, but not so late into the fall!
When traveling to Italy, everyone wants to know some basic information to make the trip pleasant. Where is a good hotel, what forms of payment are accepted in shops, how to mail packages and postcards, etc.
I find TripAdvisor very helpful with hotels in towns I have not visited before. If any of you would like my recommendations for hotels in Italy, just ask.
As far as money goes, cash is king. If you pay for purchases in cash, most places will give you the VAT (Value Added Tax) on the spot without any paperwork. Sometimes a little extra discount is added also. The ATMs are plentiful, but be aware that some bank ATMs may not accept your credit card. I always advise people to bring several. Checking with your bank at home before you arrive, you may find that they partner with an Italian bank, and you will not have to pay a foreign transaction fee. Some credit cards do not charge a foreign transaction fee at all.
All of the stores will accept major credit cards, but they prefer not to use American Express if possible.
As of September 1, you will need to show your passport in the stores to obtain the VAT refund. If you reside outside the EU, you are entitled to this refund which is around 12% of the purchase price. Taking a clear photo of your passport on your smart phone will work also.
When you have had a major shopping spree, you may want to ship purchases back home. Shipping packages from Italy is expensive. Sometimes a store will offer to ship for free, but not often. For example, a handbag costs about 45 euro to ship from Italy to the USA through FedEx insured. If you intend to ship via the post office, always ask for la recivuta di ritorno e per confermare. I shipped once without this and the package disappeared!
Postcards abound here and there are lots of beautiful ones. But trying to buy the stamps is a big headache! I just purchased a few postcard stamps and it took me 45 minutes at the post office. If you are coming to Italy and want to send postcards home, contact me and I will send some to you before you leave. There are way more fun things to do here than sit in the post office!
Fall here in Florence is glorious! The heat of summer has passed, leaving the city with sunny skies and cool breezes. The olives are ripening on the trees, and of course all the fall fashion is out!
I have been settling into the apartment and preparing for a busy month of shopping with clients. I made trip to the Sant’Ambrogio market to stock up on supplies, but passed on this!
I found a gorgeous Phalaenopsis orchid with five stems of flowers that wasn’t on my shopping list, but I couldn’t pass it up.
Saw these beautiful clutch bags in a shop, and can’t stop thinking about them!
They are large enough to hold the essentials for an evening, and have a detachable strap that can be used too. Let the fall temptations begin!
Hard to believe that it is mid August already! I have been spending a quiet summer here in Seattle and will return to Florence at the end of the month. Looks like a busy shopping season this fall with nearly all of the available September shopping appointments filled. Can’t wait to see all the new fall boots and leather jackets.
Chia and I spent a wonderful five days in the Cinque Terre before coming to Seattle, and plan to return this fall just before everything closes for the winter. Maybe a trip to Paris and Versailles too to show off the new boots I see in my future.!
What makes delicious Italian food even better? Serving it on beautiful Italian ceramics. There are lots of ceramics shops in Florence, and my favorite one has Renaissance patterns on the pieces. The choice for my house in Seattle is this black and lavender pattern. I have a small oval plate next to my coffeemaker, and a large oval serving platter.
I took hors d’oeuvres to a friend’s for dinner, and he refused to return this piece!
The various patterns can be painted on many different pieces! Everything from complete services to little olive dishes. So much fun to have these special ceramics from Florence.