Wednesday, April 5, 2017

See Italy: advice from locals

An inside look into travel in Italy but    
NOT a travel book 


My Secret Italy A Girl’s Guide to Intimate Italy, by Isabella Campagnol, Beatrice Campagnol and Elizabeth Rainer
Photographs by Lorenzo Di Renzo 

This collaboration by native Italians offers a fresh approach to experiencing Italian culture, a cities and people.   The authors share the secret places and locals you can find in Italy if you know where to look, includes wonderful history lessons, folklore, superstition and biographies.       

Italy is special.   The more you visit the more you long to return.   If you have a love for the Italian way of life or enjoy exploring a town or city beyond the list of ‘important sites’, the approach the writers of this ‘experience guide’ take, will show you how to enjoy Italy on a different level.  Tourists transform into travelers when they enjoy meeting locals, discovering unknown places and experiences not featured in travel books.  My Secret Italy opens doors to the places and people that may not be included in well promoted travel books.     

This is NOT a tour book but a great on the ground resource for seeing Italy as a traveler.  You may find yourself reading every page of My Secret Italy, as I did and highlighting many ‘stops’ for your next trip Home to Italy.  The introduction explains “the inspiration for My Secret Italy from the destinations for the 19th century traditional Grand Tour”.   Today’s list includes far more: “all of these experiences, and more, become a select itinerary for the sensitive traveler”.   What a great inspiration!

Each chapter in this delightful book takes you to a different region in Italy, many that are not on the usual tourist’s list.   You visit large and small cities and even a few small towns.     You will learn more than what are the most important buildings, churches or art found in each location but also discover such treasures as ‘Emilian rolled-out pastry in Bologna, a house with 12 sisters in Milan, a museum to Mary in Abruzzo, silks for a King in Caserta, the statue that stopped the lava in Naples or wine doors and windows in Firenze’.  Stunning photographs and illustrations punctuate each description.  

With more than 70 entries you are sure to find some surprises.  Have you visited the Museo dell’Occhiale (eye ware museum) in a small town in the Dolomites?  Did you know that Nove in the province of Vicenza is known for ceramics?   The legend of “An Honest Woman and a Greedy One” (page 45) will have me searching for the marble face in the wall, in Venice.     If I visited a fraction of the fascinating shops and artisans listed, I would be traveling for many weeks.    Just a small sample of many unique entries.  

You will find a few recipes included and contact information for shops and museums is also available.    Directions should be available on the individually listed web sites.   The color-coded sections, dividing entries into North, South, East or West, allows the reader to target parts of Italy. 

A thoroughly enjoyable read even for an armchair traveler. 

“My Secret Italy” A Girl’s Guide to Intimate Italy by Isabella Campagnol, Beatrice Campagnol and Elisabeth Rainer.   Photographs by Lorenzo Di Renzo 
ISBN number 9788873017738 

You may also enjoy the in depth tour of Venice where you will meet artisans and visit shops  while learning about Venice from locals.
“My Pretty Venice” a Girls’ guide to True Venice by Isabella Campagnol, Elisabeth Rainer, Illustrations by Beatrice Campagnol
ISBN 9788873017745


  1. A Trip To Italy
    I am planning a trip to Italy in next few month. Your blog is really helpful for me. I am going for 10-14 days and want to visit Venice, Piza, Milan and Rome. Does anyone have suggestions on the best way to travel, how long I should spend in each city.

    1. you will have an amazing time. I think each of us that return to Italy time and time again have our favorite places: the big 3 (rome/Florence/venice) are usually on first time travelers lists. You could spend your entire time in those cities but to see more of Italy I suggest the local trains and perhaps select some stops on the way between cities.
      after more than 15 trips home to Italy I have probably only seen a small part of the country.
      I you like the sea and hiking, the cinque terra is great and an easy train trip from Florence. You can also visit Bologna on the way to Venice as well as Verona. The trip from Rome has 2 routes that can take you to Assisi, Peruga, Siena, just give you a few of the ancient towns to visit. "so much to see, so little time". You can do Italy on your own, but even I have to admit, some city tours can open great new opportunities for you. offers great experiences with local artisans and there are always wonderful cooking classes.

    2. you may want to post questions on other tourist sites, there are always hundreds of readers who have opinions, I prefer to share something a little more unusual on my blog

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