Since starting to travel to Italy over a decade ago, I had always been cautioned about visiting Naples (or, properly in Italian, Napoli). I’ve heard its dirty, rough around the edges, not pretty and at its worst, plain dangerous. I trusted that most of these stereotypes were overblown, but prior to 2022, I had only passed through the Naples train station en route to the Amalfi Coast. Well, I finally got a chance for a brief visit in May 2022, and I throughly enjoyed it. I stayed in the tourist center during this visit, but I found Naples to be beautiful, safe enough (for most tourists, a pick pocket or the crazy drivers are probably your biggest worry), and home to some absolutely delicious food. To hit some great spots, Dan and I signed up for a food tour with Eating Europe and that was a great way to eat our way through the tourist center.
Street side groceries.
We met the rest of our food tour, which was just one other family visiting from Germany, in the GORGEOUS Galleria Umberto I. Galleria Umberto I is a fabulous old shopping mall, which reminded me a lot of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milano (but with less luxury stores). I could not help but pick up a few souvenirs before our tour started… Regardless of tours or shopping, every visitor to Naples should pass though the Galleria Umberto I – its free to enter and not far from the train station and ferry port.
If you’ve ever planned a day at the Vatican, I’m sure you are very familiar with the mediocre food options in the area. Why the mediocre food? The Vatican is full of tourists, not locals returning for meals in the area, so, similar to Venice, there is not much incentive to produce excellent food. In other words, quantity over quality, and high prices to boot. I paid 5 euro for a Coke Light in 2008 … In any case, when for my family’s lunch break between visiting Vatican City and the Colosseum (yes, HUGE day, read about it here), I was determined to find a good, sit down restaurant for a break.
In 2016, Dan and I, as well as a few others, flew all the way to San Miniato for its white truffle festival! We had a blast. So much so that when we visited Italy with our family in November 2021, we added Alba to our itinerary for the sole purpose of visiting Alba’s legendary white truffle festival! For those unfamiliar, Alba is a small town in Northern Italy in the Piedmont region. Alba is located about 1 hour from Torino and 2 hours from Milan’s airport, where we flew in. Alba is a foodie town, complete with numerous Michelin starred restaurants, and its most well know for its white truffle festival – Fiera Internazionale Tartufo Bianco d’Alba. This year was the 91st festival and despite Covid, it was operating in full force. First person experiences were difficult to find online when I was planning our trip, so here is some helpful information for the truffle lovers our there.
As some of you may know, one of Dan and my recent trips was a trip to Italy with 6 of our family members – my parents, Dan’s parents, and Dan’s siblings – for about 10 days. Yes, 8 people in Italy for 10 days. It was a wild ride and I’ll be writing more about specific bits of our trip later, but here is a summary for those interested in doing something similar!
DAYS 1 – 2: ALBA, ITALY
After an overnight flight from New York, we landed in Milan early in the morning. A van was waiting for us and drove us 2 hours to Alba in the Piedmont region. We checked into our hotel and promptly hit the streets to explore Alba’s famous International White Truffle Festival. We spent two days in Alba, largely at the truffle festival. We also checked out some delicious Piedmontese restaurants!
After our planned Puglia trip last summer was COVID-cancelled, we rescheduled to this September! While we originally planned to explore a bit more of Puglia, we ended up adding Umbria to the trip (highly recommended!) and based our time in posh Polignano a Mare. This article tells what we did, where we ate, and where we stayed or those planning a similar trip to Polignano a Mare!
The most famous foto of Polignano a Mare from the Roman Bridge.
POLIGNANO A MARE
Polignano a Mare is a small, yet swanky, Italian beach town in Northern Puglia, located 45 minutes south of Bari by car on the intersection of the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, directly across from southern Croatia and Montenegro. While in Northern Puglia, Polignano a Mare is firmly in southern Italy, and as such, stays warmer and summery much longer than its northern counterparts. Reachable by its tiny train station or car, Polignano a Mare is definitely on the Italian-tourist’s radar, but I didn’t find it quite as touristy as some more popular destinations, such as Amalfi or Cinque Terre (at least not yet…). Dan and I spent 3 nights and 4 days in Polignano a Mare and we thought this was the perfect amount of time to see Polignano a Mare and explore a bit of Puglia.
Crystal clear waters in Polignano a Mare.
We choose to stay in Polignano a Mare because it just looked so cute in the pictures! We were happy with our decision: Polignano a Mare was easy enough to reach, close to some places we wanted to day trip, such as Bari and Alberobello, and had lots of restaurants and shops. On a return visit, however, we will probably visit another town; Polignano a Mare is more expensive than other towns in the area and its a bit more foreign-tourist heavy than its neighbors.
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