Venice Travels~Italy

May 16
After a good night’s rest and simple breakfast we checked out of our accommodation, leaving our luggage for later, and took the vaporetto to the Rialto stop. The weather had improved and we were on a mission to find the jewelry shop where we had purchased some beautiful pieces. We both decided that we needed more, and since we were leaving Venice today, we wasted no time. We found our way to the shop of Giuliano Costantino which was not yet open.

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So we wandered around towards St Mark’s and heard a choir singing in the square as Mass was being celebrated outside.

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Since the workers were just now arriving at work, we could see the difficulty in transporting boxes up and down the numerous footbridges.

imageMany of the shop owners were sweeping out their shops and cleaning up after last night’s high water which flooded this area. A young woman working in another jewelry shop showed us where the water reached by a ruler marked on the leg of a counter. Dealing with the rising water is a way of life for these hardy Venetians.

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Eventually our shop opened and Cinzia, the manager, was a delight, suggesting which colors of the Murano glass jewelry looked best on each of us. Of course we left with several purchases, our mission complete.
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On the walk back, we passed SignorGusto, a self-service gelato place which reminded of a similar place in NYC, but of there it was ice cream, not gelato. I liked the sign which read, “weigh and enjoy.” Naturally we did just that! Delizioso!

The boat ride back was yet another photo op as we observed the morning workers delivering linen and emptying trash by boat. These scenes fascinate me no matter how many times I see them.

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Having retrieved our luggage we walked to the People Mover which dropped us off at the port of Venice, where we had to walk another mile to Terminal 17, where our ship, the Norwegian Jade, was docked. So from an ex-convent, we are now going to luxury accommodations for the next week as we embark on a week cruise to the Greek Isles.

Stay tuned for more adventures in Greece. Ciao.

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Writing | 5 Comments

A Day in Venice~Travel in Italy

May 15, 2015
Today is a day of walking in Venice because of the 24-hour vaporetto strike.
After a light breakfast of yogurt and cappuccino, we headed out of foot to the Rialto Market, Venice’s largest and most well-known market located at the Rialto Bridge. We arrived before nine and were able to see the fishmongers setting up their stalls. Many of the types of fish are foreign to me but everything was fresh.

The produce vendors’ colorful displays attracted my attention and we bought some fresh fruit to taste, some for now and some to keep for later. Too bad we wouldn’t be staying long enough to cook in an apartment. I would have liked to buy much more.

After the market we stopped on the Rialto Bridge at the jewelry shop of Marco Jovan. What a pleasure to finally meet this young man with the talented hands that create custom cameos! I will meet up with Marco later this trip when I have more time to spend with him. For now, ciao Marco.

Patty and I walked all over Venice for the next seven hours. I think we were in all the sestieri, or neighborhoods. The shops in Venice seem to have an endless selection of jewelry, hand-made with Murano glass. Normally I don’t shop so much, so I am blaming Patty for my shopping spree here, but I must say the jewelry was spectacular and the prices were good.

We made our way to St Mark’s Square and decided to have a caffè at the famous  Caffé Florian. Since 1720 this caffè has been serving customers including many famous poets, composers, writers, and movie stars. Our two cappuccinos and a pastry cost €34.50 including the €6 per person charge for supplemental music. Yes the live orchestra was a nice touch, but nothing is free in Venice. After all, this city’s history dates back to times of wealth and power and Venetians were first and foremost merchants. It’s all about the experience though.

As we walked back toward Piazzale Roma, we found a great cicchetti bar in Castello and that was where we had our lunch. I don’t have to tell you that it was delicious.

Rain was expected all day but we lucked out as the morning stayed dry until 1:00pm. We had umbrellas to protect us once it started and we got back to Casa Sant’ Andrea by late afternoon.

Since the forecast was calling for acqua alta, or high water at 9:15pm, we bought some prosciutto and cheese along with some crackers and fruit and stayed inside with our own picnic dinner. Neither of us felt like walking anymore especially with the expected flooding. So this worked out well. Buona sera.

Due to poor wi-fi connectivity I can’t upload photos to this post. Hopefully the next one will be better.

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Arrived in Venice!

IMG_5717May 14
We arrived in Venice at 8am today and I am impressed with the pleasant experience of flying into Marco Polo Airport in Venice. Since the airport is smaller, the wait for checked bags was short and the immigration process was a non-issue. The entire process took about two minutes including waiting in line! Before 8:30 we had bought tickets for €11 round trip for the 20-minute bus ride to Piazzale Roma. The trip took a bit longer due to rush-hour traffic, but we quickly found our accommodation, Casa Sant’Andrea, which was once a convent.

IMG_5689We were able to leave our bags, check in, and get cleaned up, even though we were early and the room was not yet ready. By 9:15 am we were already on the vaporetto, or ferry boat, and on our way to Murano.

We had heard that tomorrow there will be a 24-hour boat strike so that is why today is the day to visit the island Murano. Once there Patty and I could not resist the amazing Murano glass jewelry made by designers, and we were happy to make several purchases. At one of the Schiavon galleries, we were invited to view the small factory in the back and observe two artisans craft a glass figurine of a giraffe. They were incredible to watch.

Soon afterward we found our way to gallery and factory of Massimiliano Schiavon, where we were met by the pleasant Fannie and Lorenza.

Photo May 14, 5 42 47 AMFannie was kind enough to explain much of the process and took Patty and me on a personal tour.

Photo May 14, 6 21 56 AMMaster glassmaker Claudio was once again working and we exchanged greetings, having met twice before. I always marvel at their skill as they create these works of art.

Photo May 14, 5 40 50 AMWe also were in luck that the designer and art director himself was present and took some time to meet with Patty and me. Grazie, Massimiliano!

Massimiliano

He shared with us his newest vision and showed us his partially finished creation involving glazed wooden tree formations where he would be placing various glass insects like butterflies, etc. His enthusiasm could not be missed and I felt honored to be here.

Today is Patty’s birthday, so we celebrated with an outdoor lunch at Trattoria Busa Alla Torre in Campo San Stefano. We shared some calamari and I had a caprese salad and Patty had the gnocchi. Tutto buono! Afterward we took the vaporetto to St Mark’s Square and walked around taking in the atmosphere and playing tourist. Tons of people were there and the weather was warm.

IMG_5730More walking and browsing the streets of Venice and took time for some limoncello and a refreshing gelato. In the Dorsoduro neighborhood we met Hongjung Park, an interesting artist whose ongoing exhibit of suspended IV bottles filled with colored water. She calls this “The Simple Gift.” She explained she wanted to make others aware of the value of health care providers.

IMG_5720I loved watching young boys playing soccer and meeting a local artist named Marco who has been painting for 45 years.

IMG_5726After finally checking  into our rooms and getting cleaned up, we walked over to the Rialto and had dinner at a lovely outdoor restaurant, Roma Ristorante.

IMG_5737After being up for over 30 hours we finally crashed at 10pm Italy time. Hopefully this will minimize any jet lag and we’ll get a good night’s sleep. Buonanotte.

Photo May 14, 6 37 00 AM

 

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Travel, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

It’s Italy Time! I’m on my Way

May 13, 2015
The countdown to Italy is over and I am on my way. I boarded my flight to Philadelphia at Palm Beach International Airport without delay and I am currently in the air. My friend Patty is traveling with me; this her first trip abroad! We’ll make a connection in Philadelphia and fly directly to Marco Polo Airport in Venice from there.

I love returning to Venice and we’ll have a few days there before boarding a cruise to the Greek Isles, a place I’ve never been. So looking forward to a completely new experience! Then when the the ship returns to Venezia, Patty and I will take a fast train to Florence and spend two days there.

Afterwards, Patty will fly home from Venice and I will meet up with fellow Italophiles and bloggers in Venice. Lots of planned fun as well as some unplanned. The itinerary following Venice takes me to the south of Italy for the remaining three weeks where I will be part of the Puglia Experience arranged by Victoria De Maio, from Postcardz with Victoria. Ten days at a masseria…you may wonder just what that is, and I am also curious, since it will be my first experience.

I’ll be writing when I can and posting photos when WiFi is available. After ten days in Puglia with Victoria as well as Susan from Timeless Italy, we will continue to travel together. We will explore the coastal town of Polignano a Mare, the Unesco World Heritage site of the Sassi cave dwellings in Matera, and the stunning Amalfi Coast. Exciting! Stay tuned!

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Milan – Expo 2015 – Milano Centrale

20110513-032105.jpgMilano Centrale will see a lot more traffic this year since the MILAN EXPO2015 just opened May 1st and will run until November 1, 2015. This beautiful structure is an architectural monument, modeled after  Union Station in Washington, DC.

Photo by Margie MiklasIf you measure by size and  traffic volume, Milan’s main train station is  the second-largest station in Italy. Over 120 million people use this station every year with 600 trains departing or arriving each day.
Milano Centrale photo by Margie MiklasSo in addition to being one of the busiest, Milano Centrale is definitely one of the most beautiful train stations in Europe.

I have traveled through this station on numerous occasions and have always found it to be efficient and a pleasant experience. Have you traveled through Milano Centrale? What was your experience? I’d  love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment. Grazie.

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Meet Tina from Discover Napoli Destinations

I’d like to introduce you to Tina Carignani from Discover Napoli Destinations. As some of you may or may not know, Tina wrote the foreword for Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, which is now in the hands of the printer, with a release date near the end of May.

Tina from DiscoverNapoliDestinations.com

I am honored that she agreed to write it, because Tina is the person who opened my eyes and my heart to Napoli. It is because of  the five days I spent in Naples with Tina acting as my guide, that I really experienced what Naples is all about…from the eyes of a local. So thank you Tina.

These are her words…

I am really a totally half & half Italo-American! My American father and Italian mother who came to spend a one-year sabbatical in Napoli, where my mother’s family had a home, … ended up staying for 36 years!! (Ahhh, the charm and fascination of Napoli!!!)

I grew up in a totally bilingual and bi-cultural environment, attending American schools for “military brats” (intramural sports, pep rallies, proms, etc) in the morning, whereas in the afternoon, I would see and spend time with my Italian friends. Summers were spent either touring the States by car, driving from NYC all the way to Texas after the Atlantic crossing by ship (this took place once every 2-3 years), or touring Europe by car and spending a lot of time in my mother’s family home on Capri, where my parents had met during WWII. I guess you could say I have a true split personality!!!

While I was in college, studying Art History, I met my husband, settled in Napoli and had 4 “Neapolitan” children. During many years, I enjoyed showing my American friends who came to visit, some of whom had been in high school with me, the beauties of Naples and the surrounding area. I guess that my enthusiasm was contagious, because by word of mouth, more and more people started asking me to guide them around when they came! This is how and why DND –  discovernapolidestinations was born!

Napoli has gotten, and keeps on getting, a lot of bad press, and its image has been tarnished by inaccurate and biased news stories which dwell only on negative aspects which are common to any large city, so, my moment of “triumph” invariably comes when my friends and clients tell me with delighted surprise “we had no idea there was so much to see and do… It’s such an amazing city!!!” …and they all become “Napolilovers”!!!

-Tina Carignani

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And now,  I can say that I am one of the Napoli lovers too!  I understand the phrase “See Naples and Die.” Now I am not afraid to go to Naples, and I hope to encourage and inspire anyone who is making travel plans for Italy to put Naples on your agenda. It certainly is worth it.

To read more about my adventures with Tina, including our first meeting in Pompeii, when she rescued me from a train strike,  click on these dates: Sept 24, 2013 and Oct 4, 2014.

Have you been to Naples? What is your best memory from Napoli? Please leave a comment. Grazie.

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How an Idea Becomes a Dream – Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.  Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast is complete and available for pre-order on Amazon! The printing company will not have the books ready until the end of May, but everything else is complete.

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie MiklasFor at least ten years I have had a dream of publishing a book of my travel photos. When I travel I love to capture the moment with my camera and create memories forever. So many times I have been asked if there are photos in my books.  Since the answer is no, my blog has been the place where anyone can see these photos.

My other two books are published through CreateSpace, and my research has shown that photos do not print with high enough quality by CreateSpace. In addition, the paper is not appropriate for photos, so I have always opted to not include photos in my books, other than the covers.

Many of my friends have always encouraged me to include photos or create a photo book, but the price point for sale has always been too high. I knew that I couldn’t sell a book of my photography if it was priced at $50 or $60.

Thanks to my friend Jill Farrell and author Sherry Rentschler, I decided to check out some companies who specialize in printing photo books. Even Blurb, which I have found to have wonderful quality, could not price a book in  the range I needed. Enter JoAnn Locktov and Dream of Venice.

As soon as I had my first hands-on experience with this wonderful hardcover work, edited by  JoAnn Locktov, with photography by Charles Christopher, I knew that this was the kind of book I wanted to publish and I hoped that I could feasibly do it.

I sought out information from JoAnn, who was more than gracious and helpful, responding to my inquiries about the printing company,  Friesens from Canada, and the publishing process. This is offset printing, a completely different process from print-on-demand.  Thank you so much, JoAnn, for all of your help.

That was  in January, and once I realized that I could publish a photography book with a reasonable selling price, I had made a decision. I knew I needed to set a deadline before my trip to Italy. After  discussing this with Almut, my editor, we thought we could achieve the goal together. I had earned from experience that once the writing is done the editing process can take months. Thank you Almut, for your effficiency.

After talking with Brad,  the ever-knowing and patient technical support person at Friesens, I realized that I needed to learn how to use Adobe InDesign in order to create my book. That process can be another entire blog post. Suffice it to say that with the help of online tutorials from Lynda.com,  and many phone calls to Brad, I achieved the goal.

So here we are, a few months later, and I am elated! What I am really thrilled about is having created a book which features the people, streets, traditions, places, and history of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Naples rarely receives its due, and the Amalfi Coast has become my favorite place in Italy.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Tina, from Discover Napoli Destinations.  She wrote the foreword to this book, and if it weren’t for her, I never would have visited Naples in the first place. After  experiencing  Naples with Tina, I was inspired to write a book which focuses on the good aspects of Naples. Grazie, Tina.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will feature Tina. Ciao.

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

Announcing a Contest to Win an Authentic Hand-Crafted Cameo from Venice

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. SCROLL TO BOTTOM TO SEE WHO WON!
Eredi Jovon Web siteToday I am honored to introduce you to a true Italian artisan from Venice.  Marco Jovon has been designing and creating cameos since 1998. He continues the tradition started by his grandfather, Luciano Jovon, who began handcrafting cameos in Venice over eighty years ago. Luciano’s son Bruno followed in his father’s footsteps and expanded their jewelry-making to include corals. These made-by-hand jewelry items have been sold in the same shop, Eredi Jovon, on the famed Rialto Bridge, since 1934. As Marco says, “since three generations we make this and we are proud to tell that we make it well!”

To celebrate Mother’s Day, Marco has decided to offer a beautiful one-of-a-kind cameo as a prize to the winner of a our drawing.

This stunning Maternity, mother and child Brooch and pendant together, first quality blu agate cameo, sterling silver set in the Venetian  style representing mother with a child. Valued at  €125 this beautiful cameo can be yours by entering this contest. Photo  by Marco Jovon

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What is a cameo?
“A cameo is a piece of art, is a part of Italian history, something for the life, something that you can use but almost something that pointed out your taste for elegance and grace.”Not all cameos are alike. Some are not even authentic and instead are fake. Click here to learn how to spot the differences.

Shell   cameos must be hand crafted because the shell presents an uneven surface unsuitable for a machine-engraving.In addition to this the shell could easily break with a machine cut.

Eredi Jovon- about usThe shells which are mainly utilized for the realization of cameos are:

• Cassis Madascarensis: so called “SARDONICA”, hight appx 30 cm. ; chestnut brown on the bottom and perfectly white on the surface to be engraved.

• Cassis Rufa: so called “CORNIOLA”, in general height is appx 16 cm.,has an interior reddish layer; the exterior layer, for engraving, is pale-flesh-colored

• Other shell: Tigrina shell (Cypraea tigris); Red shell (Cornuta cassis); corallina shell (Strombus Gigas) Mother of pearl (Pinctada Margaritifera)
Shells from the Cassis Family are particularly adapt for engraving: in fact, the two layers of of color, clearly distinct from one another, allow the relief figure to stand out in the best way.

One of the most unique aspects to Eredi Jovon is Marco’s “portrait cameos customized.” Marco can create a custom portrait cameo  made directly from your photos or digital files.

Stay up-to-date with Marco by subscribing to his newsletter.
Click here to subscribe.

AND NOW FOR THE CONTEST! Here are the rules:

1- Click here and like Eredi Jovon Facebook Page

2- If you are not doing so already, follow my blog, by simply clicking on the “Sign Me Up” button in the upper right-hand corner of this blog page.

3- Click here and follow Margie on Twitter

4- Click here and follow Eredi Jovon on Twitter

5- Re-tweet this post by adding the hash-tag #2015venicecameocontest

6-Share this post on Facebook with the hash-tag #2015venicecameocontest

Once you have executed the previous steps, leave a comment below to let me know you have entered the contest. Leave your  email address so we can contact you if you win.

The competition is open to everyone, worldwide. Prizes will either be sent from Italy to a valid address or delivered by me after I return from Italy in June.

Entry to the competition is restricted to one entry per person please. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Automated entries, bulk entries or third party entries will be disqualified!

The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries, among all the people who have correctly completed all the indicated steps and left a comment (we will use this site http://www.randomresult.com/).

The  decision of the judges is final.

The competition. is open from today Monday 11th April 20 until Monday May 4th , 9am Italian time, or 3pm US DST

 Click  here for the Random Number Generator

3   Raleigh Hussung is the winner!! Congratulations, Raleigh!

Posted in Art, Made in Italy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Countdown to Italy

Of course it’s no surprise to anyone who knows me or is a follower of this blog, that I am always looking for opportunities to return to Italy. The time is fast approaching when I will be leaving for Bella Italia, and I am psyched about it.

I am not traveling solo this time; instead, my very good friend Patty is my traveling companion, and this is her first trip to Italy! I am changing it up a bit and the first stop is Venice, followed by a cruise to the Greek Isles, and then back to Italia. More on that later. For now, enjoy a few photos from previous trips to La Serenissima.

Gondolas in Venice - Photo by Margie Miklas

Gondolas in Venice

Venice, Italy ~ photo by Margie Miklas

Venice, Italy

Venice gondolier taking a smoke break

Venice gondolier taking a smoke break

Feeding pigeons in St Mark's Square - Venice

Feeding pigeons in St Mark’s Square

Venice

Venice

I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment.

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, Photography, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Top 5 Free Things to do in Milan

Milan duomo Photo by Margie MiklasPlease welcome Vicky Petel as a guest blogger today.

Being one of the world’s most popular fashion and design capitals, it might be a little bit challenging to find free, or even cheap things to do in Milan. But if you’ll get a bit creative, you’ll realize there’s quite a lot to do in this great city without spending a dime.
So what is there to do in Milan for free, beside window-shopping or wandering around in its stunning streets? Here’s my suggestion:

1. Sforza Castle
This old 15th century castle is now a house to several of Milan’s museums and art galleries. While the castle ground is open and free, some of the museums charge admission.
So here’s a little tip from me – every Tuesday from 2:30-5:00PM and Wednesday to Friday from 4:30-5:00 you can enter for free and get a taste of the Museum of Ancient Art, the Sforza Castle Pinacoteca art gallery, the Egyptian Museum; the Archaeological Museum and more.
For the complete list, click here: http://bit.ly/1Ns6xeB

2. Museum of Natural History
Milan’s Museo Civico di Storia Naturale is one of the oldest public institutions in the city, and as you might have guessed, features dinosaur bones and animal figures.
The explanations are only in Italian, but most of the exhibition is self-explained.
Free admission every Tuesday from 14:00 and every day from 16:30.

Navigli

3. Navigli – Porta Ticinese
If you are into nightlife, this is an area worth a visit. The heart of Milan’s nightlife today, was once an important place for trade and commerce.
During the day the area is very relaxed, with a mix of traditional and modern vibes at the same time.
Every Saturday there’s a flea market along the canals and if you are into antiques, you should pay a visit to the vintage market, which takes place on the last Sunday of every month.

Colonne di San Lorenzo
4. Colonne di San Lorenzo
Want to take a break from the fashionista Milan? Then this popular and lively place is the perfect spot for you. Surrounded by the church of San Lorenzo, these columns, which date back to the 2nd century, are an Oasis in the middle of Milan for people who are looking for cheap drinks and good conversations.
And at night people would take out their guitars and play music which, if you’re lucky, might turn into an open party.

5. Carla Sozzani Gallery
Last but not least, a great place worth visiting both the photo exhibitions, which most of them are free, but also for the interesting book store which offers a wide collection of art, fashion, design and more of the things that give you a taste of Milan.
So whether you are a photography fan or just want to relax and have a coffee in a beautiful courtyard with a great contrast between the old and modern Milan, the Carla Sozzani Gallery is one stop you want to make.

Bonus: Another great way to save
So you were able to save quite a lot, but regardless, at the end of your trip you’ll be left with coins and bills that are probably useless back home (unless you live in EU countries). Most of us will put this foreign change in a money-jar and most likely forget about it.

TravelersBox logoA new service at Milan’s Malpensa and Linate airports is offering a solution for just that – getting rid of leftover change before you get back home, by depositing it directly into one of your online accounts, like PayPal, Skype, iTunes and more.

Travelersbox in Milan MalpensaIt’s worth to check out. A new service at Milan’s Malpensa and Linate airports is offering a solution for just that – getting rid of leftover change before you get back home, by depositing it directly into one of your online accounts, like PayPal, Skype, iTunes and more.
It’s worth to check out.

About TravelersBox
TravelersBox is an innovative solution for leftover foreign change at airports around the world. We offer an easy and fun way to deposit leftover coins and bills directly into your PayPal account, get Skype credit or choose from many gift cards, just before your go back home.

— Vicky Petel
https://twitter.com/thetravelersbox
http://www.travelersbox.com
https://www.facebook.com/travelersboxx

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