Dreaming of the Island of Ponza

AKA The Roman Capri…

These beautiful almost summer days have me dreaming back to days on the island of Ponza, aka The Roman Capri…The 7km squiggle off the coast of Lazio may look minor on the map,…

but Ponza has long been a major summertime paradise for pleasure-seeking Romans. Its port is one of the most enchanting in the Mediterranean, where travelers can hop on boats for rides around a dramatic rocky coastline, stopping to sun and swim at dreamy beach coves and indulge in fresh seafood at rustic eateries.


Saint Catherine of Siena

All you need to know about this Saint and her Wonderful Tuscan Town

Today, April 29, is the Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena — Mystic and Patron Saint of Europe, Co-Patron of Italy (with Saint Francis), and of Nurses and Fire Prevention.

I adore her city in Tuscany, for so many reasons, including the most beautiful Duomo…


Milan: My Gray Grand Dame Turns Golden

How taking a cooking class transforms a Milan experience

There’s a sensation, a click that happens when my trip to Italy truly begins. It’s not the moment when the plane lands. It’s that click when I first feel the heart and soul of it. The sight of a signora on a bicycle crossing the Arno as I cab into Florence, a church bell ringing in Rome, the pop of a prosecco bottle in my hotel room in Venice. My heart expands in my chest, a calming warmth flows in, La Dolce Vita takes…


The Legend of La Befana

Sweep Away the Old Year, Italian Style

We are all so very ready to begin a brighter New Year and let go of 2020. According to Italian tradition, La Befana flies through the night sky on January 5 to sweep away all the troubles of the old year, and clear the way for a fresh start, the Epiphany on January 6. I’ll go along for that ride!


A Child’s Christmas in New Jersey

Memories of Angels, Fish, and Salute!

It’s a warm, sunny day in Hollywood — weather that still seems odd in December for this Jersey girl, and adds to an already unsettled feeling, amidst EVERYTHING ELSE. I close the curtains and curl up on the couch to gaze at the coffee table filled with a collection of Christmas stuff I’ve hauled in from the garage.

I haven’t decorated our bungalow for holiday times in who knows how many years. Like many transplants to California, winter holidays for my husband and me have become about flying…


December 13 — Feast of Saint Lucy

Celebrate the Saint of Light and Sight, Italian Style

Today, Saint Lucy’s Feast Day, traditionally brings hope to dark winter days…this year, how we NEED Santa Lucia.
The festa also brings me back to Siracusa, Sicily, and the island of Ortygia, where she is honored, along with other amazing females...

Ortygia’s Duomo is built around the remains of a Greek Temple that honored the Goddess Athena, patron of Wisdom, Craftsmanship and Heroic Endeavors, who became Minerva to the Romans. …


The Truffle Hunt

Memories of an Autumn Adventure in Gubbio, Italy

Once upon a time I stood in a grand piazza, waiting for a stranger to arrive and take me into a forest for a truffle hunt. It was dark. I was shivering. And all alone.

What the hell was I doing here at 6:25 in the a.m.?

Here, being Gubbio, a medieval village in Italy’s Umbria region. It’s a fairytale of a place: all done up in ivory stone — towers, Romanesque churches, palazzos-tucked into a hillside, surrounded by a shimmering green forest.


Remembering Daddy on Veteran’s Day

With Gratitude to WWII’s Silent Style

My father never talked about his time in the Navy during World War II. We did see pictures of him in uniform, knew he was a radio operator, and thought it was cool that he used Morse Code. There was also that Pea Coat in great condition, from when he was discharged in January of 1946. The coat was handed down from my brother to us three girls, fashionable in the 1960s, perfect for New Jersey winters.

I also remember a framed certificate in the garage, propped up on…


Naples and the Heart of Pizza

Celebrating Pizza with the King

Ten at night in Naples. I’m headed for an interview with Gino Sorbillo, aka King of Pizza. It’s an unusual time for an interview, but life is lived larger here — hours extend, there’s an abundance of spirit that takes hold and inspires me to go with the flow when Gino texted me 22.00 va bene per un’ intervista.


Covid-19 Cleaning Reveals a New Family History

In the springtime of uncertainty, there was certainly time to clean out closets. Strangely, burrowing in dark corners brought comfort. Outside were so many questions: When will it end? Will my loved ones suffer and die? Will I get it?

The answer was always: I don’t know.

But inside my closet were things I knew everything about. That Twiggy doll was a Christmas gift from Aunt Tuddy, there were faux pearl rosary beads I held tightly to at my First Holy Communion. A button from a 1979 Patti Smith concert stirred up memories…

Susan Van Allen

Author of “100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go” and lots more about Italian travel, especially for women. www.susanvanallen.com

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