Travel to Italy Made Simple!

January 24th, 2013

Planning a trip to Italy? Want some help? I’ve traveled on my own to more than 100 cities and villages in Italy, using public transport and affordable lodging to have wonderful adventures. Since 2010, I’ve lived part of the year in Italy, in Florence, and near Rome, so I’m especially familiar with these cities and their environs. I’ve traveled in 13 out of 20 regions in Italy.

Whether traveling alone or with a group, I have helpful tips and insights about Italian cities and the Italian culture and language that can make your trip easier, less costly and more enjoyable! Age should be no barrier: my travels began at the age of 55!  A rich experience awaits you in Italia!

Four-week classes can be arranged  when four or more people sign up.

(Four classes, 2-hours each, $100 per person total)

Private sessions also available!  ($40 per hour).


Florence, Rome, Venice, le Cinque Terre,  Siena, Pisa, Amalfi Coast, Capri, Assisi, Cortona, Orvieto,  Ravenna, Tivoli,  Bologna, Modena,  Parma, Verona, Cremona, Ascoli Piceno,  Puglia, Alto-Adige and more!


In the class, you will learn:

Useful Italian for travelers

Information about:

– traveling by train and bus

– specific cities

– lodging and activities

– where to shop

– parks and hiking areas

– what to take, what to avoid, what to look for

– and MUCH MORE!

I have photos and stories galore to show what’s possible!

Call to  learn more:


Lawrence, KS location


Alive again!

September 23rd, 2012

This blog was suspended in cyberspace for more than two years but was recently retrieved.

Due to the loss of the blog,  in July 2010 it morphed into Become More, Italy, which can be found at this link:


A Room with a View

June 20th, 2010

Actually, I’ve found a studio apartment with a view from a terrace! After several weeks of viewing rooms and apartments from the options available on Craigslist in Florence, I decided to go with an agency to find the right place. And I’ve found a charming little place to live for three months next fall during my stay in Florence, Italy.

Initially, I’d hoped to find a cozy room, but quickly discovered it might be a challenge to arrange. Many listings did not have photos, and then there was also the question of being scammed in the process of securing a place. I had a friend in Florence look at a few of the rooms that seemed promising, but I didn’t want to burden her with more than that.

Since I will need to work while I’m there, I had some stiff prerequisites that are non-negotiable: I needed a place with a fast internet connection, somewhat quiet, where it would be safe to leave my computer and belongings when I travel to other cities for a few days. I also wanted a private bathroom and windows with some kind of view. I didn’t mind the idea of sharing a kitchen, but with many of the rooms that were available, I’d be sharing with 2-3 other people, who might change on a monthly basis. I also had a certain area of town I wanted to live, near Santa Croce and the Sant’Ambrogio open market.

After my friend looked at several rooms, I was having trouble corresponding with the woman who rented them. I asked many questions, but often did not receive answers. I decided to move on, and look at other options. One was a fully furnished apartment, advertised for the same price as many of the rooms I’d been looking at. It seemed too good to be true. The man advertising it claimed to be a music producer currently living in Nigeria. Right away, the red flags started waving, as many internet scams seems to originate from Nigeria. I wasn’t about to send money to secure an apartment that could not be viewed ahead of time: he said he would send me the key from Nigeria. Once I asked for background information and proof of his ownership of the apartment in Florence, I never heard back from him. I’m guessing it was a scam.

At this point, I came across some listings by an agency for several attractive apartments. They seemed affordable, though quite a bit more than the rooms I’d looked at. From the photos, the rooms looked shabby and claustrophobic in comparison to the photos of the apartments. With the rooms, I would only have the one room to hang out in. But the apartments offered several rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a washing machine and more. Once I came across the studio apartment with the terrace, I had trouble imagining myself anywhere else. When I contacted the agency, I received quick and thorough responses to my questions. I found the cost a bit daunting, as it would include not only a booking fee, but also a security deposit and a hefty monthly rent. If all goes well with my work while I’m there, it should be no problem managing the expense. If not, I can just squeak by with my savings, though I may have to limit other expenditures during my stay. I’m willing to take the risk.

In addition to being near Santa Croce and the open market, the apartment is equidistant from other favorite places: the Duomo, and Piazza D’Azeglio, where there is a large park I love to hang out in. I can easily walk to any of these places within 5 -10 minutes.

In any case, I’ve booked the apartment, and can start to imagine being there: waking up to a view of the city of Florence from my terrace; walking to the open market for fresh produce each day; sharing a glass of wine with friends from the terrace in the evenings. I feel quite certain it will be worth the expense!

blog photo.jpg

Awaiting company….

Making Dreams Come True: It’s a Process

June 13th, 2010

As I move closer to realizing the dream of spending more time in Italy, I’m contemplating the process and stages of my journey. So often, we have yearnings, including the desire to experience and become more, but how often do we actually act on achieving those things we desire? For too many years, I was content with the dream, until it became quite clear that it would forever remain a dream unless I did something to bring it into reality. My journey with Italy started just four years ago, and I’ve come a long way in a short time, but it seems I still have far to go. After all, my real goal is to KNOW another language and culture…not just enjoy it on a superficial level, but KNOW it. ALL of it: the good, the bad and the ugly. How can I hope to accomplish that objective without living in that culture? I’m often frustrated by the slow but steady progress I’ve made; but I stay with it, and it continues to push me forward.

I’ve been both inspired and envious of others who have managed to make the BIG LEAP, that is, to move to Italy. I’ve come to realize that my process is constrained by certain factors in my life: responsibilities at home (house and yard), a limited income, and to some extent, my age and marital status. Most people who have moved to Italy (and who blog about it) are either under 40 years of age, part of a couple (often married to an Italian), or retired, with a spouse and a pension. In contrast, I am 60, single, with little savings and no prospect of retirement on the horizon. I have the freedom to do what I like, but it’s often harder to manage things alone when dealing with another culture and language.

However, in my favor, I’m in excellent health, I have a comfortable income from jobs I can do online from anywhere in the world, my mind is sharp and curious, and I have rich connections with my son and many good friends who encourage my journey of exploration. My Italian friends are more interested and involved in my daily life than most of my friends and family here in the states; another compelling factor that pulls me towards Italy. These aspects of my life sustain me as I gather the courage to move forward. There are many uncertainties ahead, but I’m more than willing to risk some comfort and security in order to experience life and the world more fully. I don’t want to regret that I didn’t try when I had the chance to. And as the say, it’s the journey that rewards us, not the outcome. ONWARD!

Coraggiio! Stai tranquilla…tutto andrà  bene, vedrai.

Courage! Don’t worry, all will be well, you’ll see.

New Adventures

June 12th, 2010

I’ve been neglecting my writing for far too long, and hope to remedy that now with more regular posts. I’ll try, anyway. My intense working season is coming to an end, and I can turn my thoughts to the next adventure coming up this fall: three months in Italy.

A few significant things have happened this year so far. First: 2010 is purported to be a momentous year for me, as it is the year of the Metal Tiger in Chinese astrology, and I was born in the year of the Metal Tiger. This event only comes around once or twice in one’s lifetime, and this is the first time it has occurred since I was born. I want to take advantage of any momentous energy that might be available.

Along those lines, I turned 60 this year, and it’s reminded me that time’s a-wasting, and I need to attend to several goals with more fervor than before. I’ve made good headway on some of them, but I believe it’s time to take some quantum leaps towards realizing those goals.

Another change: my son has come home to live, after 13 years in other places, including 2 in Georgia, 6 in San Francisco and 4 in Tokyo. He’s taking some time to regroup before taking on another adventure, and will be staying with me while he figures out what’s next. With him here to look after the house and yard, I feel freer to spend more time in Italy. We can keep each other company while also encouraging our mutual interest in exploring other cultures.

I’m currently looking for a room or apartment to rent in Florence for three months. I decided to use Florence as a home base, where I can work when I need to, and leave my things while I travel to other places for a few days. Florence has become like a second home, a cityI’ve become familiar with after spending many weeks there over the past 4 years. It’s easy to get around, a manageable size, and it’s centrally located, with easy access to other cities via the train system. And creativity abounds in Florence: in every nook and cranny there is something to inspire or wonder about. I’m curious to see what happens by encountering her bounty on a daily basis.

In the months ahead, I’ll be sharing more of this journey: to get into a writing habit and to record my experiences. I currently spend many hours on Skype with my Italian friends, which is also part of my journey, so I’ll share stories about those encounters as well. If anyone happens to read and benefit from my musings, that’s icing on the cake. But it is not my intention to develop a following or market my blog, as many others do. I simply want to record my thoughts.