Planning a Family Reunion at a Tuscan Villa

by Mario 19-May 2016

A reunion necessitates a lot of planning. Organizing the travel, accommodations, transportation, and activities while keeping everyone happy is always a challenge of the first order. Thankfully, with Parker Villas to help you out, a lot of the work won't really fall on your shoulders. In addition to renting beautiful, hand-picked villas to rent all over Italy and Tuscany we also arrange almost every aspect of your trip.

You know your family better than anyone, and most of these trips are multi-generational and include people with varying interests. It’s important to take a few of these key pointers into consideration when collaborating with us:

Consider the special and varying needs of all

·      • Accommodate grandparents - Take into consideration any guests who may need bedrooms on the ground level with fewer steps. They also may not be up for an aggressive touring schedule and wish to spend more time at the house relaxing. Living areas and kitchens should be easily accessible. Having a large patio or garden area with particularly scenic views of the surrounding countryside is a plus.

·      • Plan for little ones / kids – Younger family members need space to run around, such as a large lawn or garden. All rental homes have kitchens - allowing parents to prepare meals that will make picky kids happy. Many children are not adventurous eaters (no matter how good the cuisine), so having a kitchen to make grilled cheese, snacks and portable sandwiches for the day out can be a real lifesaver.

·       • Allow for some separation – Elders or those without kids may not be used to traveling with kids - a baby crying in the middle of the night impacts everyone’s vacation. By assigning family groups separate floors, renting a house with a detached cottage or opting for an estate with multiple housing units everyone gets a better night’s sleep.

·      • Choose a large space for dining and socializing together – If you feel your family is apt to spend time at your vacation house rather than sightseeing, the living and dining areas become more of a priority when selecting your home away from home.  

Don't overdo togetherness

Reconnecting with family that you haven't seen in years is a special occasion and a rarity. While you want to enjoy precious time on this memorable trip, you also want to be mindful of too much togetherness.  Everyone needs a little alone time, even on a family reunion trip, so don't plan out every minute of every day.

• On a weekly trip, plan 3 or 4 scheduled day trip activities – These could include a guided city tour, a cooking class, a wine tour, a shopping expedition, etc. Remember to include a variety of activities so that everyone has something to look forward to.

• Plan 2-3 group dinners at the villa, but not every night – Vacation rentals can arrange for a cook so that everyone can relax and socialize instead of worrying about cooking and cleaning. However, there will be some days when guests want to venture out on longer day trips and dine in the town they are visiting rather than rush back to the villa.

• Make Wednesday a free day – Mid week is always a great point to leave open as a free day. This allows Mary to go buy her shoes, Bob to go golfing, and Betty to relax by the pool. Time for pursuing individual interests, keeps everyone happier on the trip.

• Arrange for daily breakfast at a villa rental – This is a great way to get started before heading out on a tour or a short day trip to the coast. No one has to get up early to make breakfast or spend time doing the dishes when they could be out enjoying the Italian countryside.

• Suggest one week for the family reunion and a second week for your own family – A combo vacation is a great way to spend time with the entire gang and also a little bonding time with your own family – two great experiences in one vacation!


• Consider renting a couple of smaller cars instead of a group van – A Partridge Family- style bus with sing-alongs sounds great, but what happens when the group wants to separate? Maybe one person wants to spend hours at the Roman ruins while another cannot leave Italy without buying a new Gucci bag. Families have diverse interests and you want everyone to enjoy the trip. Renting several smaller cars rather than a large van allows everyone to have some independence and no regrets about missed opportunities. Getting two smaller cars also costs less than getting a large van – and are easier to drive on curvy country roads!

• Rent a bus for a day – For an outing such as a winery tour or scenic drive through Italy's hill towns, it is possible to rent a bus with a driver for a day to make the logistics easier.

Bring a favorite babysitter along

• It will be worth it in the long run – The extra airline ticket is a good investment, since wine tours and museums are traditionally not kid favorites.

• Bringing someone you trust allows for worry-free vacationing – Rather than trying to engage a stranger for the job, bring someone you feel comfortable entrusting with your children's safety and well-being. This allows you to enjoy your time at a wine tour or late dinner without wondering if your kids are ok, have gotten to bed on time, etc.

• Your kids will be less anxious – Many kids can be unsettled in unfamiliar surroundings, especially if their parents leave to go sightseeing. Having someone they know and trust helps them settle into their new environment and enjoy their time too.

When it's time to start the planning, everyone says "count me in," but how do you get the ball rolling?

• Select a group leader – Group e-mails are fun when initial ideas are being tossed around, but you'll need a leader to move things along and make some final decisions.

• Collect a deposit by a given deadline – Setting a firm deadline for payments is a great way to see who is serious about the trip and who is content to dream. This is important because, whether you rent a house, book a tour, reserve hotels, etc., establishing the number of people involved is often the first thing you have to do.

• Include travel insurance in the budget – While some people debate the value of travel insurance for smaller trips, it is invaluable in an endeavor as large as a family reunion. But should you purchase a group policy? Individual insurance? Actually, the best option is to have each family buy their own policy. This means that if one family group has a mishap and cannot make the trip, said family can get a refund and the trip continues on.

• Start planning at least a year in advance to find available space – Since most large groups rent in June, July, and September, be sure to book well ahead of time to find accommodations during these months. If you are planning a trip at the last minute, searching for shoulder or off-season months may be your best option for availability. Prices can be pleasantly lower as well.

At Parker Villas, we've helped  thousands of people plan their family reunions and know the questions to ask to help you consider everyone's needs. All of our large villas offer the option of breakfast and dinner service, cooking classes, and additional cleaning. We also arrange for hotels, rental cars, day tours – our one-stop arrangements help make it easy to keep a large group trip organized. Contact us for more information today!

Unveiling the Secrets of Rome's Past

by Mario 09-Aug 2013

With all the renewed attention Rome is enjoying with Pope Francis, James Papandrea's most recent outing "Rome  — A Pilgrim's Guide to the Eternal City" comes at a providentially opportune time. The guide is indispensable for unveiling many of Rome's ancient secrets — especially those that go unnoticed in plain sight. In an easy, colloquial style, yet packed with detail, Jim probes behind (and often beneath) the most famous and sometimes long forgotten facades and artworks on a journey of unique discovery. Those in need of a mere lodging & good eats guide should read no further.

While Jim uncovers tangible evidence of Rome's early church, the book reveals so much more. Regardless of one's belief system, this guide is a bag of pearls. Each find is a glimpse into a hidden Rome. Catholics and other ecumenical denominations will appreciate age-old invocations and devotions to a panoply of early saints. However, students of history be they peoples of the Book, followers of the Way, agnostics or adherents of any faith will be fascinated with how Babel's pantheism morfed into the Roman Catholic rite.

One interesting tidbit regarding Julius Caesar's coronation required his becoming Pontifex Maximus — the empire's chief priest. However, this was in BC (before Christ). The church Julius headed, with all the familiar trappings of today's pontiffs, originated long before Christ in ancient Mesopotamia. The question one begs is whether all this evidence points to Catholicism donning a pagan mask to survive or was it the other way around?

"Rome  — A Pilgrim's Guide to the Eternal City" opens a doorway into a hall of mirrors encompassing masterpieces of art and architecture, traditions and doctrines and reveals an origin far older than Rome. You needn't visit the city to enjoy this read or its photos, but the sheer number of insights and curiosities will likely make your eventual appearance inevitable and rewarding.

Eager forensic detectives may even choose to personally accompany Dr. Papandrea on future explorations of the Eternal City. For more information preview the book, read about the author and ckeck his 2014 travel schedule or just simply visit him at You may also purchase a copy directly from the publishers: Wipf and Stock Publishers or from Amazon in either print or e-version.

A final note — Jim is a Parker Villas client and I'm always thrilled to share our guests' deepening love affair with Italy. While I am neither a writer nor a critic, I do profess to know Italy very well. Having lived in Rome and visited the city countless times, Jim's book left me happily humbled by how little I knew and by how much more I look forward to returning to my favorite corner of Rome. This review was not prescreened by the author.

The Art of Tipping: When, How, and How Much

by Admin 11-Oct 2012

Tipping is the exception and not the rule in Italy. The Italians who perform a service, whether it’s waiting tables, driving a taxi, or being a porter take pride in their chosen profession. Unlike in the U.S., they are paid a respectable wage, earn full benefits and enjoy an average of six to eight weeks paid vacation a year. A small token of appreciation and sincere grazie for a job well done is really all that is required. If you look around you’ll notice that’s exactly the cultural behavior of the Italians; it’s an acknowledgment, an extra little thank you, but never an obligation. 

So what should you do in a restaurant?

You’ll notice your bill will say either il coperto or servizio incluso (and often both). Il coperto is a cover charge for bread and a glass of water. Servizio incluso indicates that service—in the form of a “tip”—has been included. That amount is generally about 15 percent of the total bill. If you’ve enjoyed good service, leaving an additional 10 percent is the norm. When paying with a credit card, don’t leave a tip on the card, leave it in cash, on the table, discreetly under a dish or glass. Look around the restaurant; you’ll see that’s what the Italian clientele is doing. “When in Rome” ... right?

Here’s a short list of When and How Much to tip:

• In a caffè, a coin (5 to 15 Euro cents) on the counter is customary.
• For hotel maids, a Euro per night is appropriate. Porters are generally tipped one Euro per bag. Room Service: 2 Euros.
• For taxi drivers, a tip is not common. If you received help with luggage or a friendly narration en route to your destination, you can round up with a friendly “keep the change”– tenga il resto
• Men seldom tip in barbershops; women usually give a small tip of one or two Euros to the person who washed her hair.
• In public restrooms (WC) where a fee is not published, you may see a lady collecting coins; leaving 10-20 Euro cents in the coin dish is appreciated.

Enjoy yourselves in Italy, and enjoy the good services provided by the Italians. Avoid over-tipping, which can be seen as disparaging and snobby. Your modest tokens of appreciation — especially your smile and "tante grazie!"— are what will ultimately make for a bella figura: the socially important act of looking good that all Italians strive for!


Aperto/Chiuso: Opening Hours in Italian Time

by Admin 04-Oct 2012

That 24/7 thing we’ve come to take for granted here in the U.S.? Not so much in Italy. La dolce vita wouldn’t be quite so sweet if that were the case. Especially when such a large part of its charm lies in the pleasures of savoring a long lunch with friends or colleagues... of tending to business after your morning cappuccino... of doing something else when you actually can’t go shopping. In Italy, this break time is called riposo, which is akin to a Spanish siesta, and absolutely vital to the (emotional) well being of the entire nation—and therefore yours.

So, for travelers wondering how to be efficient in a country that isn’t always... Yes, you can plan your days to maximize your time so that you can both see what you came to see, but also experience the unexpected enchantments that Italy offers—and which we long for, long after we’ve returned to our very convenient lifestyle.

All of that said, we do agree that frustration and utter disbelief at the non-efficiency of our favorite country is also part of the journey, though a lesser part of the charm. To make it a bit easier to take, below are some practical guidelines. (We said “guidelines.” This is not Switzerland.) And for these purposes we’d like to replace “Have a nice day” with: “Stay flexible.” Which, ultimately, will help you have a nice day. Smile

Dizionario = Dictionary

Aperto = Open

Chiuso = Closed
Giorni feriali (or just feriali), means Monday through Friday
Giorni festivi (or just festivi) means Sundays and holidays
• First, Italy uses the 24-hour clock: 12:a.m. to 12:00 noon; 13:00 to 23:59 (1 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.)

• Second, There is no “daily” on the Italian timetable for stores, supermarkets, local bakeries, and clothing stores. Hours vary according to the day of the week. Look for the l'orario, which indicates and the aperto-chiuso hours.

• Most stores are open between 8:30/9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. when they close for riposo. Most stores reopen from 3:30/4 p.m. until 7:00/9:00 p.m.

• You know you've hit the jackpot when the sign reads: orario continuo—these establishments never close for lunch.
Clothing stores: Many clothing stores are closed on Monday “mornings” (until afternoon hours of 3:30/4 p.m. Some might be closed on Mondays altogether. Look for the orario.
Local grocery stores: Many are closed on Monday or Wednesday afternoons (in Rome, they close on Thursday afternoons).

Restaurants: Most will be closed on Sunday evenings, and either Monday or Tuesday. Italians like to have lunch around 1 p.m. The kitchen is usually open between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. The national dinnertime in Italy begins around 8. Restaurant kitchens are open from about 7 to 10:30 p.m.
Caffè Bar: These usually open at 5:30/6 a.m. Cafés and snack bars stay open all day until about 6 or 7 p.m. Bars (where you can get both un caffè, un aperitivo, and un digestivo) stay open throughout the evening, often until midnight or 1 a.m.. Bars that serve primarily alcoholic drinks and stay open late are strangely called American Bar.

Banks: Open 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and from 3 to 4 (sometimes 5) p.m. Some banks are open Saturday mornings from 9 to 1:30. Check the orario. ATMS, called Bancomats, are common and available 24 hours.

Museums: Major sights remain open all day from 8/9 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Minor ones often close around 3 p.m. Many are closed on Mondays.

Churches: Open 6:30/ 8 a.m. until 5/7 p.m. If you’re not going to mass on Sunday mornings, it’s not a good time for a visit to look at the artwork; you can go in after 1 p.m.
Mondays: Try to avoid having Monday be the only day of your trip where you can sightsee, especially in a major city or tourist area. Most museums and many restaurants are closed.
Travel Tip: Avoid some of the longer lines at star attractions by waiting until 1 p.m. when even the tourists go for lunch. You may not have the place to yourself, but you might be able to actually view the art. A good way to tell if you won’t have to wait long for entry at a famous monument or museum is to look for the tour buses... If they’re not there, you should be!

Two major exceptions to these tips are the mega supermarkets (ipermercati) that stay open continuously throughout the day, usually until 9 p.m. Some even have Sunday hours. As a last resort, you can always get a meal, a coffee, gas or some victuals any day from dawn to 11 p.m. at dozens of Autogrill found all along the Italian highway system, provided you are inclined to pay the toll to get on a major highway. See blog post Driving In Italy part 4 — Autostrade Rest Areas.

Florence and the Three Davids

by Admin 01-Oct 2012

No, it’s not a rock band. It’s Michelangelo's famous miracle-in-marble sculpture, the David, and there happens to be three of them scattered about the city of Florence. Let us introduce you ...

The original, the hand-hewn Michelangelo, the prototype for millions of refrigerator magnets, plastic statuettes, snow-globes, and T-shirts (to mention just a few) stands in the Galleria dell’Accademia—the sighs, the wows, and tears of a thousand visitors a day creating a fitting soundtrack. (You will too, you’ll see.)   

In 1501 a 25-year-old Michelangelo was commissioned by the board of the Cathedral of Florence (the one with the big dome) to sculpt David from an abandoned giant block of stone with the intent of placing it in one of the exterior niches ...

HISTORY BREAK: In the early 1400s, Italy was divided into multiple city-states, each vying for power over the others. Florence was a republic, believing in the guaranteed freedom and rights of individuals. Milan, ruled by a succession of Dukes with absolute power, repeatedly tried to gain control of Florence, but was defeated for the last time in 1425, giving way to the flowering of the early Renaissance. From that point on, the city adopted the young hero David—who, through sheer faith in his Lord and belief in the cause, slay the enemy of his own birthplace—as their symbol and guardian.

... It took Michelangelo three years to sculpt the David, all of under the secret cover of scaffolding. He chose to create a contemplative lad, perhaps accepting the blessing of God before the slaying of the giant, rather than the victorious hero full of pride.

When the statue was finally revealed, the citizens and important artists of Florence agreed that it was too fine a work to be placed high up on a building. A base was constructed and the 14-foot-tall figure was brought to the Piazza della Signoria to stand in front of City Hall. Some 370 years later, due to weather effects, the marble masterpiece was moved to the Accademia. In 1882, a replica was placed back in the Piazza della Signoria.

Today, if you haven’t ordered your tickets in advance online ( you have to stand outside in long lines to visit THE David (always worth it, but unnecessary). If you somehow have to forego seeing the number one most famous statue in the history of sculpture in person, you can admire Dave II from a table at Caffe Rivoire, where the price of coffee might be what Michelangelo was paid for his work. The show is fun though, watching all the silly poses by tourists of every nationality under the sun (Tuscan and otherwise) ...

And, you’ll have another chance to meet, David—Davide III. This one perches high above the city in the Piazzale Michelangelo, where you can order a Negroni at a table (probably for the price of the Sistine Ceiling commission, but mostly worth it) and watch the magical descent of dusk over Florence while tour buses park around the statue.

There are, of course, many more David sculptures; perhaps the most famous three after Michelangelo are by Donatello (1408) and Verrocchio (1475), which are in Florence’s Bargello Museum; and Bernini’s Baroque piece (1624), which resides in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. But none comes close to capturing the spirit of the Old Testament story (see below) and a young’s man’s unquestioning devotion to his Lord as does Michelangelo’s breathtaking work. Don’t miss the real thing!

As the painter, architect and historian Giorgio Vasari wrote upon seeing the David:

…nor has there ever been seen a pose so easy, or any grace to equal that in this work, or feet, hands and head so well in accord, one member with another, in harmony, design, and excellence of artistry.
PARKER VILLAS – Vacation Rentals in Florence
For those seeking a true Florentine immersion, our Torre Uffizi Apartments (which comfortably house 2 to 6 guests) are located right in the heart of the city, a few minutes walk from the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries, and all the major sights and museums of the historic center.

Italy How-To: Get Me to the Cruise Ship on Time!

by Mario 29-Aug 2012




This site was recommended to me to solve a problem with transportation from FCO Airport to Civitavecchia port to catch the Pacific Princess. Our travel agent booked us to arrive at 2:45pm on flight number 682 KLM. We need to get to the port between 2pm and 5 pm. What transportation can I access to achieve this goal? I understand that it is about 45 km. Thanks you for your help. (This is our first time to attempt such a transfer.)



Dear Ruth,

You will be cutting it too close to take a nearly 90 minute train ride from the airport to Civitavecchia.

If you are coming directly from the States and connecting to Rome via Amsterdam (KLM?) you will be, in addition to waiting for your luggage, clearing customs in Italy. All of which, assuming the flight is on time, will easily take over one hour depending on how many other flights are coming in.  

Again, assuming you and your bags are finally clear and standing outside the airport door by 4:00 pm, the best solution is to have prearranged car and driver waiting for you. The drive, depending on traffic, is between 45 minutes to an hour. Rates will depend on the size vehicle needed to fit the number of people and bags. This cuts it close but gets you there with least amount of hassle.

Your agent should have booked such a service. If not, a Parker Villas Travel Advisor may be able to help. We generally only offer such services to our villa rental clients, but it may be worth calling the 800 number soon if all else fails.

Have a great trip,


Italian Coffee Break part 2 — Ordering un Caffè in Italy

by Mario 08-Apr 2010

Start by never asking for latte, unless you want a glass of milk. Italians love their coffee and while most of us are familiar with cappuccino and espresso there are at least 30 ways in which Italians individualize their coffee. To preserve our collective sanity, I have cut the list down to the basic variations.

Just CoffeeUn espresso or un caffè normale is the national beverage of Italy. Espresso, meaning quick, is served in a small cup filled to less than half. The crema or coffee foam should be a third of an inch thick and if using sugar, the sugar should slowly seep through the crema without dissipating the foam. Most espresso is drunk standing at the bar and the average cost of a cup in Italy is 1 Euro or less. Sitting at a table costs more. Extravagant exceptions are fancy hotels and famous cafes such as the Florian in St. Mark’s Square in Venice topping the charts at around 5 Euros per cup. Then again, at the Florian you get to sit in Italy’s most renown square, listen to the orchestra play show tunes and watch the world stroll by. Most folks who order a Florian coffee tend to nurse the cup for at least an hour. It may be the best hour of all in Venice and 5 Euros sounds quite fair. 

Serious Italians and coffee lovers everywhere may ask for un caffè ristretto or un caffè corto (short shot). This potent brew is served in the same small cup and uses the same amount of coffee as does an espresso. The only difference is that less water is employed resulting is a more concentrated, less bitter coffee flavor. Don’t fret over the caffeine content. There is more caffeine in a cup of American style coffee than in an espresso.

If you are fretting over the caffeine content — as in you need more — order un doppio ristretto. This is a double shot of concentrated espresso. With this potion under your belt there is no need to come home by plane, you can fly right from the bar!

If fretting over caffeine content — as in you need less not more — order un caffè decaffinato (decaffeinated) or try the leading decaf brand by requesting un Caffè Hag. A European Sanka wannabe that sounds much like it tastes. If you dislike coffee, and quite a few younger Italians do, ask for a trendy alternative called orzo. Orzo means barley and that is what it’s made from. I have no clue what orzo tastes like and less desire to find out. However, orzo allows non coffee lovers to share in Italy’s favorite pastime — hanging out at the bar — and that can’t be a bad thing.

For those who crave more liquid in the cup request un caffè lungo (long). It is still served in the little cup and made with the same amount of coffee, however, the cup is more than halfway full. The final option is to breakdown and ask for un caffè Americano. A large cup is filled with espresso broth that tastes nothing like American coffee. Dunkin Donuts, found throughout Europe, tried a few locations in Italy. They eventually packed their tent and left, not before leaving a bunch of young Italians hooked on donuts.  

Coffee & Milk — Cappuccino is Italy’s breakfast drink of choice. The word cappuccino means little hood and this coffee is literally an espresso with a frothy, little hood of milk.

Caffelatte, another breakfast drink (coffee and milk), is typically served in this fashion: One large cup, one small pitcher of espresso coffee and a separate pitcher of foamed milk. Mix and and serve yourself.

While it is bad form to order either of the above anytime after noon, it is always the right moment to ask for un caffè macchiato or un marocchino. Caffè Macchiato is an espresso served in a small cup with a dollop of foamy milk. A Marocchino, is a mini cappuccino, with a hint of cocoa, usually served in a small glass.

Coffee Plus — Caffè Corretto means a correct coffee. The only way to correct coffee in Italy is with booze. The choice is yours to ask for un caffè corretto con: whisky, grappa, anice, Fernet Branca. The latter (Fernet) is a horrid, bitter digestive. I’ve seen Italian hunters in countryside bars drink these up at dawn and proceed to run out and shoot at anything that moves.

Italian Coffee Lingo — Now that you know the basics you can mix and match to suit your taste. Don’t worry, Italians do it constantly to stress their individuality. You can order anything in vetro, meaning in a see-through glass. Ask for the milk senza schiuma (without foam) a parte (served on the side) in tazza grande (in a large cup) con latte freddo (with cold milk). So let’s try un caffè doppio ristretto in tazza grande con latte freddo a parte. Got that? 

If you need it and don’t see it ask for either zucchero (sugar) or dolcificante (aspartame).

Italian Coffee Break part 1 — Paying it Forward in Naples

by Mario 07-Apr 2010

Nearly 100 years ago a unique coffee tradition began in the city of Naples. Customers of coffee shops would pay twice for one espresso, instructing the barista to log the paid but untaken beverage in an “in suspense” chart (caffè pagato or a caffè sospeso). The barista would record what the patron paid for, such as an espresso, cappuccino or even a pastry. Paid items would remain in the log book until someone less fortunate would come and inquire if there was anything paid or in suspense. The barista would check the log and say: “Yes, there is a paid cappuccino. May I serve it to you?” The beauty of this form of charity was multifaceted. Donors and recipients remained completely anonymous to one another. The recipient was always treated with dignity. Donors would compete with other donors as to who could leave more paid coffees behind and baristas all over the city took great pride in carefully recording each entry and serving it.

Following Italy’s Dolce Vita boom years of the sixties this genteel Neapolitan tradition became confined to Christmas and nearly disappeared. In the last two years, it has sparked it up again. Perhaps, it’s that global cloud of uncertainty that looms over all of us. Nonetheless, the tradition of the caffè pagato is back in Naples and spreading. In Florence nearly a dozen of that city’s most fashionable cafes are recording paid coffees.

Not all Italians are yet aware of this fad and Italians generally hate not being at the forefront of any trend. So, if you happen to remember to leave a caffè pagato or caffè sospeso the next time you are in Italy, just watching the reactions may be worth the price and some interesting conversations might ensue. Say: Vorrei lasciare un caffè pagato. You can also say caffè sospeso. The former translates into a paid coffee the latter a suspended coffee — as suspended in thin air. Both mean the same thing.

Now if only we could start something similar over here, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds immediately come to mind. Perhaps we could get even more creative and leave a paid prescription behind at the pharmacy or grocery items at the supermarket.

Next we shall explore the myriad ways you can order and enjoy a coffee in Italy.

PS. While a paid espresso is always good, most Neapolitans discovered it was better to leave a paid cappuccino as the foamed milk provided the recipient with a bit of nutrition as well. 

Gluten Free Dining in Italy

by Mario 09-Feb 2010

Il Pallaio in Florence offers simple Gluten Free Italian meals and pizzas 

Not a week goes by that a Parker Villas guest seeks our assistance with specific dietary requirements while vacationing in Italy. This week's focus is on enjoying Italy on a Gluten Free diet. The first and easiest thing to do is copy and paste the following message on a card and show it to the waiter if you are not sure what they serve:

Gentile Ristoratore,
Sono affetto da CELIACHIA (intolleranza al glutine). Devo fare una dieta assolutamente priva di glutine. Qualsiasi cibo contenente farina di grano, orzo segale e avena puo causarmi gravi malori. Se non e sicuro, la prego di dirmelo. Posso mangiare cibi contenenti di carne, pesce, granturco, riso, patate, verdura, frutta, uova, formaggio e latte purche non siano preparate con aggiunta di farina, pane grattugiato, o salsa legata con farina o pastella fatta con farina.

The above message reads: Dear Restaurateur, I am affected by Celiac disease (gluten intolerance). My diet must be completely free of gluten. Any food containing wheat flour, barley rye and oats can cause me serious illness. If you are not sure, please tell me. I can eat foods containing meat, fish, corn, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, eggs, cheese and milk as long as they are not prepared with the addition of flour, breadcrumbs or sauce linked to flour or batter made with flour. Thank you

The second thing to do is to visit Italy's comprehensive guide to gluten free restaurants nationwide. The site is in Italian but here are the essentials:

1. Click the region you will be visiting on the left hand side of the home page. (for Rome click Lazio, for Florence click Tuscany)

2. The next page is sorted by provinces within that region. Scroll down to the cities of your choice. Next to city names are code letters: H for hotel, R for restaurant, P for pizzeria, Tr for trattoria. Next to the code is the name of the establishment. Click on each establishment name for addresses, web sites and even maps in some cases.

Buon appetito!

Family Tree

by Admin 22-Jan 2010

Q. Ciao! 
My father was born in Italy as were my grandparents and Aunt.  I want to apply for an Italian Passport as I travel there whenever time and money allows!!  BUT--I need to locate my grandparents birth certificate and do not know how to go about that.  Could you direct me to the correct Italian Department I would need to contact? 

A. Hi Linda,
You need to request each birth certificate Cerificato di Nascita from the Anagrafe (registry office) of the Comune (municipality) where each grandparent was born. The request should contain the following information: name, place and birth date of the person and the name of the parents of the person born. If the individual was born in a tiny village, hamlet or location outside of a town with a town hall, visit this site to locate the Comune. The search site is in Italian but it will eventually lead you to the right city hall. Let me know how you made out.

About this blog

Welcome to our Access Italy blog, a mosaic of eclectic, but practical, information; fascinating cultural insights; and unique commentary on a wonderful way of life only the Italians could have designed.  more....


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