• Our Travel Photos and Commentaries From Around the World

    Venice Italy, 2022

    We have been traveling throughout Italy and parts of France over the past 20 years. As I am also a photographer, I thought it would be fun to publish some of my pictures along with some fun commentary.

    Malcesine, Lago di Garda, Lombardy, Italy
    Florence Italy, 2022

    We love traveling and I love photography. It is a dangerous combination. I could talk about Italy for hours so if you have any questions, please leave a comment and I would love to talk your ear off. All pictures are taken by me and are my property, they may not be used or copied without my permission. If you would like to purchase any of my captures, I can get you the full resolution images.

  • Our Unforgettable Night with Rammstein in Padova, Italy 2023

    After seeing the fantastic and fiery Rammstein show in Chicago of 2022, we wanted to see them again. We were going to be in Italy for over a month anyway which fortuitously coincided with their 2023 Europe Tour.

    The anticipation was palpable as we stood outside the Stadio Euganeo in Padova, Italy, surrounded by fellow music enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. We could hardly believe that the moment had finally arrived. We were about to experience one of the most iconic and electrifying live performances in the world—Rammstein’s “Europe Stadium Tour 2023.”

    The band, known for their explosive stage presence and genre-defying blend of industrial metal and performance art, has consistently delivered legendary performances, and we were about to become a part of their fervent fanbase who could say, “We were there.”

    The night was an unforgettable blend of musical mastery, pyrotechnics that defied belief, and a fervent crowd singing along to every word. Rammstein didn’t disappoint; they exceeded every expectation, leaving us in a state of euphoria.

  • An Enjoyable Morning at Isola di Garda

    Isola de Garda, is a hidden gem.

    Villa at the Isola di Garda
    Villa at the Isola di Garda

    With its rich history and captivating beauty, Isola de Garda offers an unforgettable experience for travelers seeking tranquility and elegance. From its intriguing past to its serene present, Isola de Garda invites you to embark on a journey of discovery, where nature, culture, and relaxation harmoniously coexist. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isola_di_Garda

    We booked a trip to the island from our home base in Desenzano Del Garda. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desenzano_del_Garda

    It took us about 45 minutes by boat to arrive and then had a 2 hour tour which included wine and olive oil tastings. There was also time to do some independent exploring of some of the beauty.

    Approaching the Isola di Garda by boat
    Approaching the Isola di Garda by boat

    This villa, with its striking neogothic facade, exudes a sense of enchantment as it overlooks the shimmering waters of Lake Garda. Originally constructed in the early 20th century, the villa seamlessly blends Italian Renaissance and Venetian Gothic styles, creating a truly unique and captivating aesthetic.

    As we were touring the villa, the staff was decorating for a wedding. Apparently this is a wonderful venue.

    Spirit of Olives

    Spirit of Olives carving on the Isola di Garda
    Spirit of Olives carving or wooden sculpture on the Isola di Garda in italy

    There were many interesting sculptures on the island but I found the Sprit of Olives very interesting as it captures the island’s olive growing heritage. It was carved out of an ancient olive tree by the artist Gianluigi Zampelli. This is one of 20 sculptures on the island. https://www.51news.it/societa/3348-da-odolo-all-isola-del-garda-in-mostra-le-scultura-di-zambelli

    Flowers on Isola di Garda
    Flowers on Isola di Garda
  • A quick daytrip to Cinque Terre Italy, flash from the past

    Cinque Terre is a beautiful region in Italy, known for its colorful seaside villages, rugged coastline, and hiking trails.

    Vernazza Italy
    Vernazza in the Cinque Terre

    The name “Cinque Terre” derives from the Italian term for “Five Lands,” representing the five enchanting coastal towns nestled within the region: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. A few years ago, during our stay in Milan, we embarked on an exhilarating day trip to Cinque Terre, which included delightful hiking adventures. The beauty we witnessed was so captivating that we find ourselves yearning to return and savor the experience for a few more days.

    Many people mispronounce Cinque Terre, the correct pronunciation is as follows.

    • “Cinque” is pronounced “chink-weh.” The “c” is a soft “ch” sound, similar to the “ch” in “church.” The “i” is pronounced like the “ee” in “tree.” The “n” is a normal “n” sound, and the “q” is silent. The “u” is pronounced like the “w” in “we,” and the “e” at the end is pronounced like the “eh” in “meh.”
    • “Terre” is pronounced “teh-reh.” The “t” is a normal “t” sound. The “e” is pronounced like the “eh” in “meh.” The “rr” is pronounced with a slight trill, similar to the “r” sound in Spanish. And the final “e” is also pronounced like the “eh” in “meh.”

    So altogether, the pronunciation is “Chink-weh Teh-reh.”

    Beautiful Boats in the Cinque Terre
    Beautiful Boats in the Cinque Terre
    Man Fishing
    Man Fishing at the Cinque Terre
    Cioccolato Caldo
    Alex trying Cioccolato Caldo for the first time. It was the first of many throughout the years.

    Discover the Irresistible Charm of Cioccolato Caldo in Italy

    Italy’s Cioccolato Caldo is a hot chocolate beverage that takes indulgence to new heights. With a rich culinary tradition centered around chocolate, Italy’s mastery of this delectable treat is unparalleled. Cioccolato Caldo, often referred to as “liquid happiness,” delights the senses with its velvety texture, alluring aroma, and decadent flavor.

    Train Tunnel at Riomaggiore Italy
    Train Tunnel at Riomaggiore Italy
    Riomaggiore Italy
    Beautiful view of Riomaggiore Italy
    Tracks at Manarola, Cinque Terre
    Tracks at Manarola, Cinque Terre
    Hiking at the Via Dellamore, Cinque Terre Italy
    Hiking at the Via Dellamore, Cinque Terre Italy

    The Via dell’Amore, or the “Pathway of Love,” is a renowned and romantic trail that winds along the breathtaking coastline of Cinque Terre, Italy.

    This iconic path connects the towns of Riomaggiore and Manarola, offering visitors a picturesque journey filled with stunning vistas and a touch of enchantment. The Via dell’Amore is not just a trail; it’s a symbol of love, as evidenced by the countless padlocks attached to its railings by couples professing their eternal affection.

    San Giovanni Battista Church Riomaggiore Italy
    San Giovanni Battista Church Riomaggiore Italy
  • Mestre Italy, A Wonderful Summer Vacation

    This summer we decided to rent an apartment for a month in Mestre Italy. 

    Mestre is part of the municipality of Venice but a 15 minute bus ride across the causeway on the mainland. We love Venice but in my opinion, a little goes a long way. https://tastefulopinions.com/2022/08/venice/

    Waiting to get on our train at the Mestre Train Station
    Waiting to get on our train at the Venezia Mestre Train Station

    Mestre is almost the opposite of Venice

    Mestre is much less touristy, less hustle and bustle, has better food, cost of living is more reasonable, and one can actually relax and enjoy a different experience of Italy. Mestre also has a great train station and is well connected with bus stops throughout town, which gives you good access to the entire country.

    We like to take the Frecciarossa or red arrow when possible. The Frecciarossa is not the cheapest option but worth the money in my opinion. They are quite fast and even have a Business Area Silenzio (silent) car that is very nice if you don’t want to hear everyone listening to music on their devices without headsets. This is something I hadn’t noticed until this year. It is very popular right now for some reason.

    I also recommend downloading and using the Trenitalia app on your phone. You don’t have to validate your electronic tickets like you do with paper, and contrary to may opinions on line, the app works quite well.

    Mestre Shopping District

    Our time in Mestre was mostly spent in and around the Shopping District. There are so many wonderful bars and restaurants in this area that we feel we could have spent another month or two.

    We love Gelato

    I’m not sure I need to say much more about this subject. We have had Gelato all over Italy. It is interesting how each city or region has some special flavors that you may not find elsewhere. We may have actually had Gelato more than once a day on some occasions.

    A gelato di Doria in Mestre
    Our favorite gelato place in Mestre. A gelato di Doria.

    Gelato in Mestre

    We bought gelato all over town and you just can’t go wrong with any of the stores. We did finally pick a favorite. My wife doesn’t eat dairy so she got the dark chocolate gelato which was dairy free. I enjoyed the pistachio and my son enjoyed the amarena flavor.

    This guy was so much fun. You can tell he was enjoying the show.

    A walk to Forte Marghera

    One morning we decided to talk a walk to Forte Marghera and see the largest cat colony in Europe. https://tastefulopinions.com/2022/09/forte-marghera-mestre/ It was a fun walk although it started getting quite hot. We decided to use the taxi app to get back home later in the day. Since there is no Uber in Italy, we used an app called appTaxi. It doesn’t have very good reviews but we used it 4 or 5 times and it seemed to work fine.

    Mestre Street Market

    We were able to shop at the Mestre Street Markets a few times during our stay. The market appears to be open on Wednesday and Friday in the mornings. It was nice to see some of the local wares and we bought a few items to use during our stay and to take back with us.

    Old Wild West – Mestre Italy

    One evening my son decided that he was in the mood for a good burger. After a bit of searching we found Old Wild West and it was in walking distance. The reviews were just so so but we decided to give it a try anyway. You know how in the states we have the Olive Garden with fake Americanized Italian Food? Well in Italy, they have American chain restaurants with burgers and fries that are actually quite good.

    I am happy to report that we had a great dinner and the burgers were great! I think their ratings get dinged by tourists who expect fast service. You shouldn’t expect fast service or over attentive servers in Italy. Just relax and enjoy your meal and the experience. Plan to spend a couple hours.

    Ristorante Al Progresso – Mestre

    Our apartment was quite close to Ristorante Al Progresso, and lucky for us, it was a hidden gem. We ate Dinner at Al Progresso at least 3 times and had takeout pizza a few times for lunch. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g194822-d2025175-r866445869-Ristorante_Al_Progresso-Mestre_Veneto.html?m=19905 The staff is very helpful and friendly and the food is good and reasonably priced. It seems to be a local favorite and is always busy. My son ordered the Schumacher Pizza as you can see above. I thought it was fitting as my grandmother’s maiden name was Schumacher.

  • Forte Marghera, Previous Military Barracks and Home of the Largest Cat Colony in Europe

    Forte Marghera was built in the early 1800 in the lagoon near Venice where large artillery vehicles were not able to drive. It was built as a barracks for the Italian army. Here is a very interesting link if you are interested in reading more. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forte_Marghera

    Black and White Cat sitting in Window
    Cat in colony of Mestre Venice Italy

    The Fort is home to one of Europe’s largest cat colonies.

    One of the reasons for planning this day trip was to see the cats. In addition to the cats, it is a very interesting historical site with lots of interesting buildings and artifacts. It was very hot the day we visited so we were happy to buy some cold drinks and food at one of the few local bars on site. It was worth the walk and we were glad we went.

    Please donate to help the cats
    Aiutaci ad Aiutare

    You can tell the cats of Forte Marghera are loved and well cared for.

    Donations were and are appreciated as it is expensive to provide food and shelter. You could tell that they were all very content. Some were even friendly!

    Below are pictures of the Stop Playing monument.

    Closeup of globe in Stop Playing Monument
    Closeup of globe in Stop Playing Monument
    Stop Playing different angle
    Stop Playing

    Partial quote from the plaques caption in the picture, Lorenzo Quinn “If we consider Erath’s age. Humanity as a whole is like a small child in the evolution of time on earth. The world seems as if it’s in the hands of this capricious child, who plays with it without care for the consequences any game might cause. The slingshot represents our natural resources, which we are stretching beyond their limits. “

    Rotten Boat from many years ago in a canal in Forte Marghera
    Rotten Boat from many years ago in a canal in Forte Marghera

    As you wonder around Forte Marghera, you may find an old rotten boat in the canal covered in moss and who knows what else. It looks so cool and I wish I knew the story of what it was used for and why it is still there after so many years. It is a great photo op for sure. If anybody knows, please leave a comment to enlighten me and my readers.

    There is also a cool Military Museum at Forte Marghera although we didn’t spend a lot of time.

    Apparently they have different art exhibits in the old gunpowder storage building at the forte. This one was very cool and interesting.
  • The Lovely Prosecco Region and Wine Tasting. Did you Know Brute is Really Dryer than Extra Dry?

    Susegana Italy Train Station

    Our daytrip from Mestre to the Prosecco region. As you can see, there isn’t much of a station here in Susegana 🙂 It is a wonderful area to visit for sure. Our driver Oriana was great and knew her stuff. She took us around the area and visited a few local producers. Would recommend her for sure. https://www.orianancc.it/

    What can I say, a picture is worth a thousand words. This area was like a little slice of heaven. Wherever we looked we saw the beauty of the Prosecco region and Italy. It was breathtaking to say the least.

    While on our Prosecco tour, our driver stopped at this beautiful ancient mill. It is called the Molinetto della Croda and is a great example of 17th century rural architecture in the Lierza valley. They say it is one of the most picturesque spots in the Marca Trevigiana.
    Unfortunately the whole region was in a severe drought and heat wave.

    Prosecco Region Italy
  • Exploring my Love / Hate Relationship with Venezia (Venice)

    One of the lovely canals in Venice.

    I have a love / hate relationship with Venice. First of all, do I recommend that you see Venice at least once in your life? Absolutely! In fact, I have been to Venice many times over the years and hope to again soon.

    I remember stepping out of the train station in Venice over 20 years ago. The surreal feelings and experience I had seeing the canals and architecture for the first time will stay with me forever. It is magical and wonderful! Does it smell? In some places yes, just like any other city but for the most part it is just fine.

    Why do I hate Venice? I really don’t but if you’re not careful, it can be a bit like Disneyland. The crowds of tourists flocking around San Marco’s and the Rialto Bridge are annoying as well as the high prices for low quality food and drinks. Gondola rides that cost € 80 for 30 minutes feel a bit crazy. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t see these attractions and take a ride, but Venice has so much more to offer if you do you homework, take your time, relax, and just wander. I used to enjoy getting lost so maybe even turn off your phone GPS and give it a try. Hint… Check out the Jewish Ghetto, Murano And Burano.

    We have stayed in Venice a few times but for our last trip we rented a condo for a month near the shopping district in Mestre across the bridge on the mainland. It was just a quick 15 minute bus ride whenever we wanted to visit Venice and then back home to great relaxing food and drink for half the price.

    This was the biggest pepper grinder I have ever seen. I think they have a lot of fun with it.

    Osteria All’Arco
    Cicchetti at the Osteria All’Arco. Some of the best Cicchetti we had in Venice.
    Fondamenta Dei Frati
    Venice Canals and boat in the golden hour
    Venice Italy Canal and Boat
    Beautiful colors and architecture in Venice
    Scvola Grande Di San Rocco
    Venice architecture and colors
  • Our First Trip to Trieste Italy Did Not Disappoint

    Evening in Trieste Italy
    Evening in Trieste Italy

    Trieste is a port town in northeast Italy located between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia. It is the largest city in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. There is a lot of military presence around town as it is a deep water port and maritime gateway for Italy. We didn’t really plan this weekend trip well as it was kind of spontaneous. We were pleasantly surprised with the amazing beauty and wonderful fresh seafood that we discovered.

    Looking out the window of our hotel in Trieste Italy. See the ship in the distance.
    Looking out the window of our hotel in Trieste Italy. See the ship in the distance.
    Free Territory of Trieste, USA & UK Come Back!
    Free Territory of Trieste, USA & UK Come Back!
    Gelato in Trieste
    Alex made sure to get gelato at least once a day during our trip.

    The nightlife in Trieste was crazy and awesome. It was one huge party until early in the morning.

    I believe it was Karaoke night. She was great!
    Evening looking out over the Adriatic Sea. The view was breathtaking.
    This was absolutely some of the freshest seafood I have ever eaten! It tasted as good as it looks!
    Typical street view of Trieste
  • Staying at the Beautiful Goldenstern Townhouse in Bolzano Italy

    Goldenstern Common Area
    We decided to stay at the Goldenstern Townhouse in Old Town Bolzano for this weekend. https://www.goldenstern.it/ Lots of stairs to check in and access our room but worth the extra effort. It was a very good location near shopping and good restaurants. On check in we were presented with a voucher for a couple glasses of Prosecco at the Franziskaner Stuben Restaurant. (See Below) We were looking for a nice place for dinner anyway and that is where we went. Very nice service and the food was great!
    Goldenstern Front Entrance
    Main entrance of the Goldenstern Townhouse
    Goldenstern Stairs
    Goldenstern Stairs that we took to get to our room.
    Terrace on the Goldenstern, view of Dolomite mountains in distance.
    Having dinner at the Franziskaner Stuben Restaurant.
    Franziskaner Stuben Bolzano Italy
  • Bolzano Italy – Enjoying a Beautiful Weekend Trip

    Outdoor Market Flowers Bolzano Italy

    After arriving at the Bolzano Italy train station, we started walking downtown toward our hotel. We were very hungry and started looking for a place to eat. It was hard not to be distracted with all the cool street vendors. We immediately noticed that there was a very strong Austrian / German influence. Most employees in stores and restaurants actually spoke German by default.

    It was close to 2:00 PM and most stores and restaurants were closed so we finally found a bar / restaurant that was still open.

    My lunch of prosciutto and melon in Bolzano Italy
    My lunch of prosciutto and melon in Bolzano Italy

    Bolzano Italy is so beautiful. Mountains, rivers, wonderful Germain inspired food, amazing sights wherever you look. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived and wish we would have planned more days there to enjoy.

    Corte Bar Bistro Bolzano Italy
    German Pizza Chino
    Bride and Groom Bolzano Italy

    I always like to capture a picture of a bride and groom. We always joke about the number of weddings we see in Italy.

    Bolzano – Bozen Italy train station.