Palio crowds fill Piazza il Campo in Siena Italy

Stepping Inside the Palio in Siena Italy

Traffic heading into Siena from the autostrada was unusually heavy, I thought. Better fill my gas tank in case I’m stuck in a jam. “A lot of traffic today” observed a well-dressed young man standing beside his car at the next pump. I agreed, in my Read More

Ficus Pumilia (Creeping Fig) at Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como.

Boating to Villa del Balbianello’s Garden on Lake Como

  I am sitting on a taxi-boat instead of walking through a trail from the Lenno dock to Villa del Balbianello on the wooded promontory. The trail is closed on Mondays. Things must happen for a reason because glimpsing the villa through Read More

Convent of Santa Chiara, Naples

Searching for the Old and the Unusual in the Historic Centre of Naples

If you believe its reputation, Naples is a den of cut-throats and pickpockets, with nothing much to see. I'd avoided it for years but, lured by the offer of a cheap flight, I decided to see for myself. As I walked along cobbled streets, catching Read More

Entering the Vatican Museum

St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican with a Freelance Guide

Michael’s shtick is designed to make us feel smart. We are smart to be on his tour, smart to ask the questions we pose. Most other tourists don’t notice that, he insists, as we gape at the trompe l'oiel on the ceiling of the Vatican’s Hall of Read More