Walking among the cobblestones in Florence, Italy


This Sunday I’m happy to welcome back my friend Katie Greenaway, an American who now lives in Florence, Italy. She tempted us last Tuesday with her favorite church in Florence, and today she’s taking us on a walk through the streets of her beloved city. These two guest posts on Florence have me thinking about the wonderful few days I spent in Florence last month, and I’ll be sharing some photos and stories from my trip over the next few weeks. Until then, enjoy a Sunday stroll through Florence with Katie.

Welcome, Katie!



Katie Florence 2

Florence has always been a destination on everyone’s list to visit.  If you are lucky enough to spend a lazy Sunday in Florence, Italy this is what I would suggest.  With all the tourist groups that congest the city center, why not venture to the areas more scarce and full of the energy of the locals.  The Oltrarno holds many of the secrets of Florence such as Cuculia that has a great Sunday Brunch. If that is too much, just enjoy a refreshing cappuccino and a pastry.  Bring a book or your computer and use the free WiFi in Cuculia.  Florence is very lazy waking up on Sundays, so no need to wake up too early.  

After your delightful cappuccino, start heading to Porta Romana.  There you will find 3 different streets to follow.  I suggest the one on the far right.  It is called Viale Niccolo` Macchiavelli.  Along this street, there are many trees and benches where if you feel like taking a rest and getting out your book again, just do it.  Among these trees are very gorgeous homes, villas and luxuries hotels.  Great for photo ops.

This street will take you all the way to San Miniato al Monte then onward to the panoramic view of Piazzale Michelangelo.  Both the views from San Miniato and Piazzale Michelangelo are views of a lifetime.  Imagine what people in this city did years before and how they live now.  As I know now, after living here for about 8 years on and off, I have lived every type of life here.  The tourist, the student, the nanny and finally the self-sufficient worker living a simple life in the city of Florence that brings me joy and happiness everyday.  

Katie Florence 1

Enjoy the city as it stands on its own.  Florence has so much to offer to the independent traveler.  Keep your eyes peeled and see what presents itself to you. Don’t ask questions, just live it! 


Katie Greenaway is a freelance travel writer and is the Local Expert of Florence for Nile Guide where she also provides the secrets of Florence on her blog.  She writes about her life in Florence on her personal blog Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino and contributes to MNUI Travel Insurance with travel articles.

Oleander blooms on the Amalfi Coast


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Oleander

I love it when the oleander comes into full bloom on the Amalfi Coast. Many towns have planted oleander (Oleandro in Italian) along the side of the road or around town, and it grows very happily in the Mediterranean sun. I noticed the other day this beautiful oleander just outside the gate where I live. It had just reached its peak, and I knew the pink petals would soon be falling and blowing into our garden creating a carpet of pink. It will be until early summer next year before we get to enjoy this bright burst of pink welcoming us home.

Tempting Tuesday: SS. Apostoli in Florence with Katie Greenaway

Katie and Laura in Florence

This is a very special Tempting Tuesday for me. I am happy to welcome my friend Katie Greenaway to write about one of her favorite spots in Florence, where she is so lucky to call home. This is special, because last month when I visited Florence and met Katie in person for the first time, she took me on a walk through her Florence, past this beautiful church and through the most peaceful residential neighborhoods. I am grateful for the new friends I have met here in Italy, for how they brighten my days and make me feel at home here in a new country. This photo is us in front of the SS. Apostoli church. But I’ll let Katie tell you more about it…

Welcome, Katie!



The most tempting place for me in Florence is my special church named SS. Apostoli.  The church was introduced to me in 2002 by my very Italian art and architecture teacher, Vera.  It was closed at that time but I always remembered that it was Vera’s favorite church, and it was an obsession for me to arrive there when it was open.  It was like a secret treasure that I needed to uncover.  Since then, it has been a place of solitude and quiet contemplation for me.

Not many people know about this exquisite church located right next the Arno river in Piazza del Limbo.  Legend has it that there is a cemetery underneath the cobblestones where babies were buried.  The babies died before being baptized.  Hence the name of the piazza, Limbo.  Built in the 11th century, SS. Apostoli is one of the oldest churches in Florence. 



The church was said to have been built by Charlemagne in the year 800 A.D.  The facade speaks to the Romanesque period and the main doors from the 14th century.  SS. Apostoli was severely damaged in the 1966 flood when the Arno river came over it’s walls and flowed into the church.  Many of the frescoes were damaged beyond repair others are still being restored to this day.  It is a rare experience when you visit SS. Apostoli, so much history and so much soul.

SS Apostoli Katie Greenaway

SS. Apostoli really brings my life here to a calming stop when I step into this sacred space.  I can’t hear the taxis speeding down Borgo SS. Apostoli, nor tours marching along the streets, absolutely nothing.  I never pass up a chance to visit my church.  It lies in the middle of the city and yet when you step inside, you enter a peaceful universe.  It is more than tempting, it is enticing! 


Katie Greenaway is a freelance travel writer and is the Local Expert of Florence for Nile Guide where she also provides the secrets of Florence on her blog.  She writes about her life in Florence on her personal blog Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino and contributes to MNUI Travel Insurance with travel articles.

Festival of Sant’Antonio, Amalfi


Amalfi Sant Antonio 2010 statue1 

Last Sunday was the festival day for Sant’Antonio di Padova (St. Anthony of Padua), which is one of the most unique religious celebrations in Amalfi. The church of Sant’Antonio in Amalfi is located between Amalfi and Atrani, and because of this location the religious procession takes place between the two cities. But what is even more unusual, the procession takes place both on land and on the sea. The boat procession is really a sight to see! Earlier this week I linked to my posts from last summer about the elaborate procession from the church in Amalfi and the videos and photos I took while riding on the first boat with the statue of Sant’Antonio for the water procession from Atrani to Amalfi.

This year I watched the procession from another vantage point high above near the Hotel Luna in Amalfi. Here is a video of the boat procession leaving Atrani and heading to Amalfi. You can see the main boat with the statue of Sant’Antonio in the front. Just behind is the boat with the band, which is absolutely my favorite part of the procession. It makes me smile even thinking about it! On the right you can see the Amalfi regatta team rowing the boat used for the annual Regatta.



Here is the boat procession as it approached the Amalfi watchtower that is now part of the Hotel Luna.



Here’s the procession as it passes by and approaches Amalfi. I love hearing the music coming from the band boat!



Once around the corner, the procession heads to Amalfi for a quick pass by before continuing on to Conca dei Marini to sat hi to the church there dedicated to Sant’Antonio.


Amalfi Sant Antonio 2010 boat procession


After the pass by at Conca dei Marini, the whole procession turns around and returns to Amalfi where the statue is removed from the boat and carried on a procession through the streets before returning safely back home to the church of Sant’Antonio.


Amalfi Sant Antonio 2010 procession

Tempting Tuesday: Sicilian Dreams

Last week for  Tempting Tuesday Cherrye took us down to the Sizzlin’ Soverato beach in Calabria. That post was perfectly timed with the arrival of the first sunny and hot weather of summer. I’ve been sizzlin’ this past week on the beaches of the Amalfi Coast, and taking some lovely photos to tempt you all with here. Until then, I have some great friends stopping by to tempt you with destinations throughout Italy. This week I am pleased to welcome Lisa Fantino from Wanderlust Women Travel, who is taking us down past Calabria and a hop over to the beautiful island of Sicily. One of the places in Italy that certainly tempts me!

Welcome Lisa!



It’s funny how we make plans and then our life-path takes us in a totally different direction. As a child, I always dreamed of going to Sicily. That was where Nonna was from in Palermo. I would listen to her talk about Etna and the mountains and how as a child she would be in the hills and the clouds would be so close that she could walk right through them. It was mesmerizing! She was mesmerizing! She made even the daily routine of getting groceries from a basket lowered through a window to the street level sound exciting.

450px-Taormina_antique_shop Taormina antique shop by Jeanne Boleyn

Can you believe that all these years later and I still have not been there. I am almost ashamed to say that I have traveled to Italy at least half a dozen times and I have still not been to Sicily or Calabria, the other birthplace of ¼ of my DNA.

However, I am still tempted to visit both of them. The beaches of Calabria and the history of Sicily each call out to me but the burning desire is no longer there, as if that yearning took its last breath when Nonna died. Yet, the amateur genealogist in me must venture there or my story will not feel complete.

800px-Palermo-Teatro-Massimo-bjs2007-02 Photo of Teatro Massimo by Bernhard J. Scheuvens

I must walk the path in front of the Opera House, Teatro Massimo, to see where she skipped rope. (This was also the scene of The Godfather III, where Michael Corleone’s daughter was killed on the steps of the theater…..just a bit of trivia for movie fans!) I must feel the sand through my toes where she went swimming at the beach of Mondello and then I must move on to Corleone and Messina, the birthplace of the rest of my family.

I have been told by locals that there is no beach more beautiful than Tropea in Calabria or Taormina in Sicily, so I will take a peek just to see if they are right………then I will swim home with my memories, but not before visiting the ancient ruins and antique stalls of Taormina.

Lisa Fantino is an award-winning journalist and attorney and the creative force behind Wanderlust Women Travel and Wanderlust Weddings. She also writes travel features for MNUI Travel Insurance and blogs as Lady Litigator.