Arriving in Positano on the Amalfi Coast

Positano  - Photo by Margie MiklasJune 11, 2015
As we drove along the scenic Amalfi coast road my heart skipped a beat once we approached Positano, the città with the homes which appear to jut out from the cliffs. Choosing this beautiful seaside location as the last place on this Italy experience was perfect, because by now, I looked forward to relaxing in a hotel with a view of the sea.

Amalfi Coast approaching Positano - Photo by Margie MiklasIn 1953 John Steinbeck described Positano perfectly. “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone. Its houses climb a hill so steep it would be a cliff except that stairs are cut in it. I believe that whereas most house foundations are vertical, in Positano they are horizontal. The small curving bay of unbelievably blue and green water lips gently on a beach of small pebbles. There is only one narrow street and it does not come down to the water. Everything else is stairs, some of them as steep as ladders. You do not walk to visit a friend, you either climb or slide.”

Positano -- Photo by Margie MiklasMichele, our entertaining Italian driver, left us at a parking garage in the upper part of the town, since vehicles cannot navigate any farther down. The streets narrow into pedestrian walkways and soon disappear and are replaced by staircases and inclined paths.

From here a porter from Hotel Pupetto, our beachfront hotel, met us and distributed our bags onto a wagon. Luckily for us we didn’t have to transport our bags by ourselves, although we had no idea what awaited us.

Excitement reigned as my travel companions and I eagerly began our downhill trek to the beach. Little did we know that we would traverse 300 steps before we would eventually arrive, hot and sweaty.

Positano stairs  - Photo by Margie MiklasJune on the Amalfi Coast seemed to be hotter than normal. In fact most of Italy was experiencing higher than normal temperatures. I was glad I was wearing capris and sandals.

Fornillo Beach in Positano - Photo by Margie MiklasAs we drew closer to the hotel, we caught glimpses of the azure blue sea and the downhill walk immediately became totally worth it! I knew this was where I had longed to be and I felt a sense of sheer joy. And the best part was we had five days here!

Fornillo Beach at Hotel Pupetto in Positano - Photo by Margie Miklas

Fornillo Beach at Hotel Pupetto in Positano

To reach the front desk we had to walk along a path and garden in full bloom with aromatic lemon trees, glorious bougainvillea in hues of magenta and purple, huge white snowball flowers,and other tropical flora.

Hotel Pupetto Garden - Photo by Margie MiklasGarden at Hotel Pupetto-PHOTO by Margie MiklasA large beautifully decorated terrace restaurant extended to overlook the wondrous Tyrrhenian Sea, where small boats were buoyed.

Hotel Pupetto Terrace and Ristorante - Photo by Margie MiklasWe were escorted to our rooms by the friendly English-speaking hotel staff. Once I was inside the room and walked out onto the balcony I knew that I was in Paradise.

This was a dream come true–to realize that for the next five nights this view would be mine,  and that the rhythmic sounds of the quiet waves would soothe me to sleep.

Positano - Photo by Margie MiklasNow you know why this is my favorite place in Italy.

Stay tuned for more posts and photos about Positano, the jewel of the Amalfi Coast.

Have you been to Positano or long to visit? I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave me comment and share your thoughts. Grazie!


Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

50 Tips for Staying Safe as a Solo Female Traveller – Guest Post

Milano Centrale  Milan, Italy - Photo by Margie MiklasI’d like to welcome Raushan Jaiswal as a guest blogger today. He created the cool infographic about safety tips for female solo travelers. Enjoy.

There is no denying that travelling solo can be one of the most insightful adventures in the life. Travelling on your own is fun, challenging, and exhilarating. One of the greatest joys of travelling alone is the freedom to do whatever you like, whenever you like.

Solo travelling gives one the freedom to experience the world without the influence of a friend or partner’s tastes, prejudices, or preferences. You can discover more about yourself at the same time you’re discovering more about your travel. This makes the solo travel delightfully self-indulgent and an ideal opportunity to try something new and exciting.

But solo travelling, especially for a woman, has some perils too. The world is not safe for a woman as we wish it to be. Solo women travelers are more vulnerable to security threats like robbery, harrassments, scams, etc. These safety concerns are the very reason that is keeping most travel enthusiasts away from indulging in our dream travel.

Don’t let your voyage of self discovery be ruined by the evils of the world. A little preparation and common sense can both keep you safe and get you through the rough spots.
Below is a comprehensive list of safety tips for solo female travelers prepared by a travel company 

50 Tips for Staying Safe as a Solo Female Traveller

 Be prepared and be safe by following the solo female traveler’s safety guide while you are on your life changing journey. Enjoy your journey to the fullest by following these tips because when you feel safe, you’re better able to relax and enjoy your trip.

While there is a greater risk for women traveling alone, solo travel is a dangerous business for both genders. Although these safety tips were written with women’s safety in mind, most of these tips are applicable to both men and women.

Raushan is an entrepreneur and a web consultant who loves travelling and wishes to travel around the world with his girlfriend. He can be reached at Twitter and Facebook



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Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast – Official Book Release

5182 Margie with new bookCiao amici!

 It’s official!  Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast has been published!

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie MiklasFrom the pulsating streets of Naples to the relaxing vistas of the Amalfi Coast, people, places, and traditions embody the spirit of Campania. The distinctive photography in Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast portrays the southern Italian culture and lifestyle in such a way that the reader will wish he or she was there.

If you dream of discovering  Naples or visiting the Amalfi Coast, or if you have already experienced this region in southern Italy, you will be transported there on every page. This 96-page hardcover book features all original photography by the author.

Photo by Margie Miklas

In Naples with Tina from Discover Napoli Destinations

Available on for $24.95. If you prefer to have an autographed copy, please e-mail me and I will be happy to ship one directly to you for the same cost, plus shipping and handling. USA $30 total. Canada and International is more. Please e-mail me for final cost.

With Luca from Sailing and Sea in Positano Photo by Margie Miklas

In Positano with Luca, Skipper at Sailing and Sea

Read what some are saying about this book from these 5-star reviews on Amazon

A Delightful Book from Start to Finish! This is a lovely collection of photos from a talented writer whose love of Italy is evident in every word and picture. The Amalfi Coast is a favorite vacation spot of mine, and Margie has captured the true essence of this magical slice of heaven. Naples is still on my must-see list, and I’ll be using this book to guide me in my travels. The narration is down-to-earth, as the author takes you along with her on her travels. I particularly enjoyed the way she shares less touristy stops along the way, giving the reader a glimpse of the “real” Italy and a taste of the rich Italian culture. If you’ve been to Italy, you’ll feel like you’re traveling there once again. And if you’ve never been…what are you waiting for?”

Highly recommend! Margie has really done a wonderful job on this book. The photography is amazing and each picture is worth more than a thousand words. The paragraph or two that accompany the pictures accent the views perfectly. This is the best art book I have ever bought. And you can pick it up at any point in the book and feel the wonder of foreign shores, the sounds of the local square, the yummy shops and the people themselves.”

Beautiful  photography. Love the way Margie has captured the magic of Naples and the Almalfi coast in her photographs whether it is everyday life or stunning views. This book is a must have for people who love Italy.”

“Another Home Run Once again Margie has captured the essence and character of Italy, and the people who are an integral part of Her beauty. On this trip we are transported to just 2 locations in her photos and narrative. She doesn’t take us to the same old spots that every tourist goes to and we have all seen ad nauseam. Instead, Margie walks around the corner, taking us with her every step of the way, and we see glimpses of the pulse, the heartbeat, that is Naples, the exquisite beauty that is the Amalfi Coast. The food, the people, the simplicity of life, the majestic magnificence of Her landscapes, the magic, the smiles, the traditions. Take it all in; slowly. Just let yourself be; in the moment. If you want to see the real beauty of Italy, just turn the page. Go around that corner. You won’t be disappointed.”

The perfect book for those interested in Italy This literary offering is a wonderful exposure to the theme and tribute to Italy. It is complete in its detail, and expressive in its ability to transport one to Naples and the coast in a way that makes you feel like you are there, and, definitely makes you want to go. Just sitting down and reading through brings out the excitement of the authors experiences in wonderfully vivid pictures and by the descriptions you can tell the author has a distinct grasp on the culture which bubbles forth from pages.”

“Perfect book to capture life in Southern Italy! You know when they say some authors have the power to transport you to that place. Well Margie did just that for me. I already feel like I have seen a little of  Naples and Amalfi thanks to you, Margie! I felt a mixture of emotions going through this photo book. Thank you for taking me to Italy- again!

STUNNING and ELOQUENCE Beautiful photography, eloquent descriptions from high above the Mediterranean Sea to vivid bougainvillea flourishing in Capri, alley views and laundry hanging from balconies, garlic strung on a balcony and side street flower vendors, vegetables at the market and pastry, and vines to become wines…. this is a book for anyone thinking of Italy, planning on going and for all who know the experience of memorable times there.”

Grazie for all your support! I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment.



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Cats in Italy

Photo by Margie Miklas Amalfi  Coast catsCats seem to be everywhere in Italy. Maybe I just notice them more since most live outside. On my most recent trip to Italy I saw cats in every single town I visited. I must say though, that I do not recall seeing them in the larger cities of Venice, Florence, and Naples, but I am sure they are there. Because I am a cat lover and have my own cat, Jeronimo,  seeing these kitties in Italy always brought a smile to my face.

Jeronimo Photo by Margie Miklas

My cat at home – Jeronimo

Calico cat in Positano

Calico cat in Positano

Tuxedo cat in Matera ~ Photo by Margie Miklas

Tuxedo cat in Matera

Tuxedo cat in Polignano a Mare ~ Photo by Margie Miklas

Tuxedo cat in Polignano a Mare

This little tuxedo cat was darling but his owner told us he is crazy and his name is Schizzo.

Tabby in Polignano a Mare ~ Photo by Margie Miklas

Tabby in Polignano a Mare

Cats in Apricale

Cats in Apricale

These well-fed cats roam the streets of the Ligurian town of Apricale.

Photo by Margie Miklas

Kitten in Puglia

I took a liking to this little black kitten who lived at Masseria Provenzani in Puglia.

Farm cat in Puglia Photo by Margie Miklas

Farm cat in Puglia

This big kitty also lived at the masseria just outside Squinzano and near Lecce in Puglia.

These kitties and their mamma lived just below our B&B in Polignano a Mare…So cute. Are you a cat lover? I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment. Grazie mille!

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Experience the Sassi of Matera

Matera in Basilicata - Photo by Margie MiklasMatera in Basilicata has intrigued me for quite some time. Any photos I have seen or stories I have read about this place built from caves have been so  interesting. Finally now I can say that I  have experienced this captivating town in southern Italy.

This 2-minute video provides a brief overview of  Matera.

This past fall the European Commission chose Matera as one of its two capitals of European culture for 2019.


A recent article in  Smithsonian Magazine explains the history of Matera and how this unique UNESCO World heritage site advanced from being called “the shame of Italy” to a chic place to stay today.

Not only have I visited Matera, but I stayed in one of the sassi, or cave dwellings, which has been restored into a bed and breakfast. Our below ground suite in San Giovanni Vecchio Residenza was one of the oldest in Matera.

image One of the highlights of staying here was the rooftop terrace with a phenomenal view. We enjoyed evening aperitivo here in this ambience where the scent of the blooming purple petunias permeated the night air.

image The managers who spoke excellent English were extremely nice, carrying our luggage down into our rooms.

imageFully restored with wi-fi and a modern bathroom and kitchen, this subterranean accomodation was an adjustment. Twelve steps down lead into the full suite and there are no windows except a small skylight  high above. It was a challenge which caused me to laugh as I rummaged through my suitcase on a curved floor. I don’t think the stone walls can fully hide the fact that this was once a cistern.

Matera is definitely not a place for anyone with mobility issues. There is a lot of walking and most of it is on uneven ground and staircases.

imageAfter walking  for miles the first day, we opted to pay the reasonable fee of  15 euros and had the opportunity to meet Andrea, a pleasant, intelligent, attractive young man with amazingly curly light brown hair. He was born in Matera and speaks with pride and an honest perspective when he shares his feelings from his heart with us. Regarding the changes to his city, he   explains  that while the restoration of Matera may be good for the economy, the additional onslaught of tourists may change his city forever. “Now nobody locks their doors, ” he says.”It’s not always about money. Some things are more  important.” I am impressed to hear so much wisdom from someone so young.

imageHe not only showed us around his city, but gladly stopped for us to take photographs at various locations, and even recommended a favorite place to have lunch. Grazie, Andrea!

imageimageWe had some of the best food and wine in Matera. Breakfasts at Oi Mari Ristorante and dinner outside at La Talpa were enjoyable.

Because of the appearance of the Sassi in Matera, several movies have been filmed here. Most recently, some scenes from the re-make of Ben-Hur were shot here, and 1000 Matera residents had non-speaking parts in the film.

imageMel Gibson’s 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ  was filmed here since the landscape resembles Jerusalem;  some scenes were filmed outside and some inside one of the 157 Rupestrian churches here.

imageInside the 12th century Church of  Madonna della Virtu, which is dug entirely in the rock. The frescoes are incredible.

Matera is not as small as I had expected. The city has over 50,000 inhabitants, and these Sassi are in the centro storico, or historic district. I liked it that we saw few tourists except some group tours. I saw very few Americans here, but I think that will likely change within the next few years, leading up to the 2019 celebration of Matera as a capital of European culture.

This post only scratches the surface about Matera. Many more  stories can be told about the interesting museums, free-wandering healthy-looking cats, music which fills the air  from the Conservatory near Piazza Sedile, the  views from Piazza Duomo and the Duomo which is under a major restoration, and more. Stay tuned.

Would you put this off-the-beaten path city in southern Italy on your bucket list? I’d like to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment.

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italian History, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

A Solo Traveler Goes on a Small Group Tour

From the title of my first book, Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy, many of you know that I travel solo to Italy and I enjoy the experience. I value the freedom that comes with traveling alone.

FrecciarossaI like creating my own itinerary, deciding where I want to go and what I want to do.

imageI like the lack of stress caused by an argument with your spouse, partner, or travel companion. I also abhor being guided around in a large group like a herd of animals.

Photo by Margie MiklasI believe that traveling solo can be very empowering, especially for women. The unique thing about solo travel is knowing that you are the one who has to make things happen. While that choice is yours, so is the responsibility and yours alone. I often meet up with friends for a day or two, which is great.

Margie Miklas in Gallipoli, PugliaHowever, I decided to make a change this spring and join Victoria De Maio on her Puglia Experience, and I’m so glad I did. I had a fantastic time and did much more than I would have done alone. It was so much more than I expected, and I’d recommend it highly to anyone, whether you are a new traveler or a seasoned traveler.

Let me tell you what made me decide to join this small group tour.

1. Staying in one place, a masseria, for 10 days… and not having to unpack every few days. I liked that idea. From the masseria we  take excursions to other Puglia towns, and participate in cooking classes, wine tastings, and more.

image 2. Everything is included in the price. All the meals, all the wine, all the excursions, cooking classes, wine tastings, and transportation.

Especially in Puglia, without a car, it is costly to get around when you are traveling solo. I have previously hired a driver in Puglia for half a day and I remember what I paid, so I knew that this was really a great value for the money.

Michele from Puglia Wine School

Michele from Puglia Wine School

These two reasons were actually enough for me, although there are many more reasons I’d recommend this small group experience. All I had to do was to see all the photos Victoria posted from last year’s trip and I was hooked. I wanted to go to those places in Puglia that I hadn’t been to before, as well as revisit those that I had seen.

Our driver Fabio and our guide Daniela

Our driver Fabio and our guide Daniela

I can say without a doubt that one of the best parts of going to Puglia with Victoria was feeling the camaraderie not only with the others in the group, but also with our drivers and guides, and all the local people with whom Victoria has established relationships. It is hard to describe but there was definitely the feel of being part of a family.

 imageI knew from Victoria’s writing that she has the same kind of passion for Italy as I have, and now that I have met her and traveled with her, I realize that it’s that passion that makes her small group experiences so special.

imageCheck it out. It may be for you, or maybe not. But you won’t know unless you give yourself the opportunity. I’m so happy I did.

imageWhat do you think? I’m interested in your thoughts. Please leave a comment. Grazie mille.

Posted in Italian Cooking, Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Lunch at La Sponda Restaurant

imageLe Sirenuse Hotel in Positano has been in the Sersale family since 1951 when Marchesi Sersale converted their summer villa into a beautiful hotel.

imageIn keeping with the look of a home, this 58-room luxury hotel sits high above the Bay of Positano, affording views to die for.

imageToday, owner Antonio Sersale maintains the tradition and look of a well-appointed palazzo while creating the attention to detail that makes Le Sirenuse one of the Leading Hotels of the World.

imageLa Sponda, the Michelin Star rated restaurant, is booked every night as guests dine in an elegant atmosphere lit by four hundred candles. I was recently honored to be their guest for lunch on a sunny day in June, along with two other Italy bloggers.

imageThe Director of Operations, Giovanni Ciccone, welcomed us with a warm smile and introduced us to Vincenzo, the maitre d’, who ushered us out to the covered terrace where our linen-covered table overlooked Positano and the sparkling blue Tyrrhenian Sea.

imageimageThe I Galli islands stood in the distance, and the sailboats which were buoyed near shore, added to the magical scene below. This could easily be the setting for a movie with entwined green vines hugging the white columns and magenta bougainvillea climbing up the walls. The breeze made for a pleasant comfortable pranzo.

imageOur lunch began with prosecco and a tasty appetizer made with asparagus cream, buffalo ricotta, and olive oil. Its smooth consistency added to the flavor. A surprise touch was a plate of Tuscan olive oil served on Vietri hand-painted plates and a basket of local bread, white and whole wheat. Delizioso.

A local Costa d’Amalfi white wine was next, a Tramonti Bianco per Eva, from Tenuta San Francesco winery in neighboring Tramonti. This wine is a blend made from three varieties of grapes, Falanghina, Pepella and Ginestra. Not commonly available in the States, I was pleased to taste this wine which is considered one of the top wines in Campania.

imageWe were treated to rocket salad as well as Insalata caprese “Sirenuse,” tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad, which was served with balsamic vinegar. Our waiter, Saverio, informed us that it was from Modena and had aged 25 years.

More appetizers appeared, including white anchovies marinated in olive oil and lemon, as well as carpaccio di pesce con insalata di finocchio, pinoli, e olive nere, fish seasoned with fennel, pine nuts lemon, and olives. Tutto buono!

imageI accepted Saverio’s recommendation and chose the special, fresh ravioli pasta with pesto and pomodoro, for my entrée. I have never seen pasta presented in such a colorful and artistic manner. Not only was the presentation beautiful but the pasta was especially appetizing.

imageI definitely felt special as a team of waiters dressed in white shirts and black pants attended to our every need.


imageAfter the meal, Gianluca, a waiter in training, brought us Le Sirenuse’s own brand of limoncello, followed by  espresso with a plate of Italian cookies, and their specialty dessert, torta caprese al cioccolato, chocolate and almond cake.


Every aspect of this afternoon was extraordinary and I thank Le Sirenuse for the magnificent lunch at La Sponda and memories that will last until my next visit to Positano. Grazie mille.

Posted in Italian Cooking, Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Travel, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Italy Travel ~ Images of Florence

Florence is a photographer’s dream. Art, architecture, people, tradition…Around every corner is another photograph. Each one can tell a story. Enjoy.

Plaster cast of Rape of the Sabines sculpture in the Accademia -Photo by Margie Miklas

Plaster cast of Rape of the Sabines sculpture in the Accademia

The original sculpture is in the Piazza della Signoria. This sculpture was created from a single block of marble.

Statue of David at Piazza Michelangelo - Photo by Margie Miklas

Statue of David at Piazza Michelangelo

Original statue of David by Michelangelo ~ Photo by Margie Miklas

Original statue of David by Michelangelo in the Accademia

Duomo in Florence

Duomo in Florence

Love locks on railing around sculpture of Cellini

Love locks on railing around sculpture of Cellini

Basilica Santa Maria Novella

Basilica Santa Maria Novella

View of Duomo from Piazza Michelangelo

View of Duomo from Piazza Michelangelo

Basilica Santa Croce

Basilica Santa Croce

In front of Palazzo Pitti

In front of Palazzo Pitti

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

Baptistery doors

Baptistery doors

Carousel in Piazza della Repubblica

Carousel in Piazza della Repubblica

Latest designer fashions in Florence

Latest designer fashions in Florence

Rose window architecture of Florence Cathedral

Rose window architecture of Florence Cathedral

Leather vendors at San Lorenzo Market

Leather vendors at San Lorenzo Market

imageimage image These photos don’t even scratch the surface of all there is to see in Florence. There is always a reason to return.

Have you been to Florence?  What is your favorite monument, place, or memory? I’d love to hear it. Please leave a comment.

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italian Fashion, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Italian Lifestyle ~ Photo of the Day

Local Italian men  discussing important issues in the early evening in the small Puglia town of Squinzano.

Local Italian men in Squinzano, Puglia discussing important issues of the day ~ Photo by Margie Miklas

What do you think these men are talking about?

Did you notice that the women are conspicuously missing? Where are they and what are they doing?

I’d love to know what your think. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts. Grazie.

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

 Olympia in Greece~Birthplace of the Olympic Games

Photo by Margie Miklas Ruins at Olympia, GreeceMay 21, 2015

Olympia is not one of the Greek Isles, but rather a city on the mainland of Greece, in a valley on the Peloponnese peninsula. In addition to ancient temples, many remains of the sports structures erected for the first Olympic Games  in 776 B.C. are here.  Every four years at the start of the games, the famous torch is lit here in Olympia and runners transport it to its final destination.

Aside from being a Unesco World Heritage site, Olympia is an important historical spot, and it is much larger than I expected. The first Olympic Games  were held in the stadium here in honor of Zeus. Dating back to the 5th century BC the stadium was 232 yards long by 30 yards wide and had room for 45,000 spectators. When I climbed the hill to look down onto the field, I tried to imagine what it was like to be there during those first games. The fact that I actually was standing in the same place where something so historic occurred more than 2700 years ago was almost mind-boggling.

Olympia, Greece ~ Photo by Margie Miklas


Some of the seats at Olympia in Greece Photo by Margie Miklas

Some of the remaining seats at Olympia in Greece

Walking around Olympia was hot even though this is only the middle of May. I’m glad I decided to wear a sleeveless cotton dress instead of pants which would have made me feel  even hotter.

Olympia, Greece ~  Photo by Margie Miklas
The flowering trees amid the ancient structures make this a pretty place. Actually the area leading into the ruins of Olympia is a beautiful park. Park officials unobtrusively wander about and quietly ensure that visitors are not standing on monuments or doing anything that might mar this protected site.


Temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece Photo by Margie Miklas image

Temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece

Olympia, Greece ~  Photo by Margie Miklas

imageBelow, the Temple of Hera is the oldest temple at Olympia, built around 600 BC. Originally the temple was for Zeus and Hera, but later a separate temple was built for Zeus.

Olympia, Greece ~  Photo by Margie Miklas

Ruins of the Temple of Hera at Olympia, Greece

Olympia, Greece ~  Photo by Margie Miklas Visiting Olympia reminded a bit of going to Pompeii although these Greek ruins are so much older. I highly recommend a visit here if your travels find you in Greece.

Have you been here? What was your impression? Is this some place you might like to visit?

I am interested in your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

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