The Perfect Island Escape of Procida, for the BBC

Procida, Italy
The island of Procida, the perfect weekend escape from Rome

I’ve been getting around the Bay of Naples lately. In May, I wrote a story on Ischia, Capri’s larger but lesser-known neighbor, for Canada’s Globe and Mail. When I visited the tiny, nearby island of Procida in August, I didn’t expect it to compare: After all, Ischia has stunning views… and lovely towns… and a medieval castle!

But you know what? Procida blew me away. Here’s my slideshow for the BBC on what makes Procida unique.

Convinced? Luckily, Procida makes a great weekend trip (or even day trip) from Rome. Take the fast train from Rome to Naples (1 hour 10 minutes), then grab a ferry with Medmar (www.medmarnavi.it), Caremar (www.caremar.it), Alilauro (alilauro.it), or Snav (snav.it) to Procida, which takes about a half hour.

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For the Globe and Mail, the Ancient Town of Taormina, Sicily

Taormina Sicily
"The ancient Greek theatre of Taormina, Sicily, was designed with serious drama in mind – and not just the costumed kind. Perched 250 metres above the Ionian Sea, the amphitheatre’s 360-degree view encompasses the still-active Mount Etna, the sparkling Mediterranean, the medieval village of Castelmola and, of course, Taormina itself.

From here, the town’s pastel palazzi and pretty cathedrals spread across the lush hillside like icing on a cassata siciliana, a traditional Sicilian cake.

It’s hard to look away—or say goodbye. Which is why I’ve come back to the town for a second time."

Read the rest of my story on the ancient seaside town—out in today's issue of the Globe and Mail newspaper—online here.

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Reveal Rome, Episode 1

Remember back… um… a while ago, when I said I'd be doing a series to answer those burning Italy- or travel-related questions in video form? Well, first (September) episode is above.
This is something I'll be doing every month, so before the next video launches on Oct. 15, make sure to send me your questions! Either email them to me (revealedrome@gmail.com), tweet them @revealedrome (hashtag #revealrome), or post them below here.
Thanks, and I look forward to receiving—and answering—your questions!
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How to Get from Ciampino Airport to Rome (Updated for 2019)

Now you can go to the top level of the Colosseum in Rome

Need to get from Ciampino airport to Rome? Yeah, you could take a taxi. But unless some serious stress and/or getting ripped off immediately on landing in Italy is your thing, you probably won’t want to. Luckily, there are lots of other ways to get from Ciampino to Rome.

Better yet, these options are easy, fast… and much cheaper than taking a taxi or transfer. All of these options get you into the Termini train station; from there, you can jump on Rome’s metro (either the A or B lines), take a bus, or grab a cab (from Termini, it shouldn’t be more than €15 at the most to get to another part of the city center).

(Wondering about Uber? Don’t worry — that’s at the end too).

(Note: This information has been updated as of December 2018).

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New Video: The Coolest Keyhole in Rome

One of my favorite local secrets in Rome is… a keyhole. No, really. Located on up on the Aventine hill, a peek through gives you a view of not one, not two, but three sovereign states—plus, there’s a special surprise (and photo op!)
that you can see through it.

Come with me to explore the coolest keyhole in Rome in my latest video!

And don’t forget, for more great tips and tricks, check out The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon, below, or through my site here! (And, yes, the keyhole is where I grabbed the shot for the cover).

Thanks for watching!

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Restaurants in Rome Open in August

Restaurants in Rome open in August
Palatium, a restaurant in Rome that’s open for most of August

Traditionally, much of Rome shuts down in August. (Thank Emperor Augustus for that). That’s less the case every year, with businesses trying to stay open for more of the summer, thanks to a little something known as the economic crisis.

Even so, lots of independent stores and restaurants still close for much of August. And, when it comes to dining, that includes some of the best spots.

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The Best Beaches Near Rome (Updated for 2019)

Rome in summer

Looking for the best beaches near Rome? I don’t blame you: Although you always can cool off at a swimming pool in Rome, there’s nothing like dipping your toes into the Mediterranean on a sweltering summer day.

Here’s a roundup of 5 of my favorite Rome beaches, located as little as 45 minutes away.

One tip: When heading to the beach near Rome, remember that most Italian beaches aren’t public. In other words, most swaths of beach are serviced by private establishments, so you’ll have to rent a cabana to claim your spot on the sand. This generally costs about €10 to €15 per day. The good news? You’ll definitely appreciate the shade — and the ability to order food and drinks from the servers who pass through.

The most picturesque beach, and beach town, near Rome: Sperlonga

Sperlonga, one of the best beaches near Rome
The town of Sperlonga, overlooking one of the best beaches near Rome

Sperlonga is my top choice for a beach near Rome. That’s partly because of its white-washed resort town, lovely stretch of sand, and clean water (it’s been given Blue Flag designation for its environmental initiatives and cleanliness). And the views from the town make it one of the most picturesque seaside spots near Rome.

And, okay. I might also love Sperlonga because of the nearby archaeological museum, on the site of Emperor Tiberius’ ancient grotto, which boasts stunning ancient sculptures by the same guys who did the Laocoön. (Yes, I’m a history nerd). But even if you don’t make it to the museum (although you should!), the beach and town alone make the trip worth it.

By public transport, Sperlonga takes about 1.5 hours to get to from Rome. Find out more about Sperlonga, and getting there, in my previous post on the beach town of Sperlonga.

The beach near Rome with the best nightlife: Fregene

Want to do as the Romans do? Then follow up a day in the sun with aperitivo, drinking, and dancing. Fregene, located 23 miles northwest of Rome, is such a popular nightlife spot, I have friends who have gone there just for the evenings — skipping the whole daytime-sunbathing thing altogether.

Of course, Fregene is also nice during the day. And Maccarese, next door, tends to be a much less crowded option than other beaches near Rome, like Ostia.

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An Exhibit of Stolen (and Recovered) Art, for the BBC

Stolen art on display in Rome
Fresco from a Pompeii villa that was looted from Italy, and then returned—and now on display at Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo.

Art looting is a serious problem in Italy. (And elsewhere). Don’t believe me? If you’re in Rome before November 5, check out the Capolavori dell’archeologia exhibit at Castel Sant’Angelo, which gives just a taste of the extent of the problem, thanks to stunning, priceless pieces that were stolen from Italy… and later recovered.

And if you can’t make it there—or want to know what to expect—make sure you check out my story on the exhibit for the BBC.

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