Tourist-Free Tourism: Tuscany Without Florence

This article aims to answer one simple question: If you had a car and a weekend in Tuscany, and wanted to get away from the crowds, where should you go?

As requested by a friend, I thought I’d do a few posts on lesser-known tourist destinations for the regions of Italy that I am most familiar with.   Look out for words in red in the article. Where you find one, there will be a little fact at the end which corresponds to it. Consider these my gift to you, which you can use to blow your travel partners’ minds.

I have done one of these before with Veneto, but this is the big one. The granddaddy of Italy challenges. How to spend a weekend in Tuscany without signing over your personal space for the entire duration.

DISCLAIMER: The title is misleading; anywhere you go in Italy, you will encounter tourists. Stumble into a car-park on the outskirts of an industrial area in Lombardy and you will be sure to encounter a fellow traveller holding an open phrasebook exclaiming excitedly how “bello” it all is. This is doubly and triply true for Tuscany, where tourists wouldn’t hesitate to blow their entire holiday budget on a biro if you told them it was the one Dante used to write the Divine Comedy.

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Italian Travel in the Time of Earthquakes

On August 24th, the world looked on in horror as images came in from central Italy in the aftermath of a dreadful earthquake. It was the second major seismic shock to hit the region in the last decade, and repair and recovery efforts have been hindered by ongoing aftershocks. The damage to the region has been immense.

Tourist authorities in the region also fear longer-term consequences, as nervous tourists stay away. Whilst this is an understandable sentiment, as long as you follow the guidance of the UK Foreign Office, there is no reason to avoid this remarkable area, and countless reasons to do the opposite, and make a point of going there. That way you will both be aiding the quake-hit regions and simultaneously enjoying some of the finest art, architecture, nature and gastronomy that Italy has to offer anywhere.

In case you’re not familiar with the area, allow me to help. Here are six places you should write into your travel plans for 2017.
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ROUND-UP: The Year in Jewish Cinema

I thought I’d dedicate this round-up to some of the big news from the world of the silver screen, where there has been plenty of recent Israeli/Jewish news.
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Italian Classics and Italian Audiences – Perfect Strangers

Five minutes before Perfetti Sconosciuti [Perfect Strangers] was due to start, I looked it up on Wikipedia. I’d seen the trailer, but couldn’t work out whether this was a comedy, a drama, or something else entirely.

As it turns out, I needn’t have bothered, Wikipedia was no help at all. It told me I was about to watch a comedy, but no comedy I’ve ever seen has left me feeling so traumatised and disheartened (except for possibly an Adam Sandler one I watched some years back, but that’s for different reasons entirely).
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ROUND-UP: Seven Jewish Stories You Might Have Missed

This is the first of a new regular feature, rounding up some of the more interesting and left-field Jewish travel and culture stories from around the world. Click on the hyperlink in each paragraph for the full story. Enjoy!
-The Wandering Jew-

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In Italy’s Farthest Corner – Its Darkest Place

EDITORS NOTE: I wrote this a few months back and then put it to one side. I’ve kept it in the same voice I wrote it in originally, when I was just back from the Risiera di San Sabba concentration camp in Trieste. It is not a pleasant topic and may well be upsetting, so please do bear that in mind if you’d rather not read on.

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Five Day Trips that Beat Staying in Milan

You’ve done your research, consulted the travel guides, booked your flights, and planned your long weekend away in the beautiful capital of Lombardy. The only problem is, a few short hours after arriving, you’re bored. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been wowed by the Duomo (although also slightly suspicious that on this occasion, the Italians might have *slightly* overdone it), underwhelmed by the Castello Sforzesco, taken a tour of the world-famous La Scala opera house, and now you have a whole other day that you somehow have to fill. You could go shopping, but for every item of clothing you buy, you’ll have to mortgage one of your children. Fear not though, for I am here to help. Here are my Five Day Trips that Beat Staying in Milan:
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