Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Five List

I like to make lists. I don’t know why; it’s just one of those quirks. I like the memes like Five Favorite Words, or Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Me (which I keep meaning to get around to and somehow haven’t quite done it yet).

Today I’m giving a Five List – my five favorite towns in Italy. I’ve done a lot of informal email consulting since I started my blog and this is a question that comes up a lot. Of course, taste is subjective; the places I adore may not suit your ideal, but here are my picks, in no particular order.

Ascoli Piceno (Le Marche)
Oh come on, you knew this one would be on the list! I lived there for three years and it still feels like home to me. This is an appealing place: it offers amazing architecture, pretty piazzas, and friendly folks. And if that’s not enough for you the food is fantastic and the wine is wonderful. (So why haven’t you been there yet?)  There's plenty to read about Ascoli here at the Pinon Tree; just do a search and you'll have reading material to keep you busy for a while.

Matera (Basilicata)
This is another obvious choice, at least one that habitual readers would have expected. Matera is almost indescribable; it is unique, complex, beautiful, haunting. Wandering the silent Sassi gives me an almost spiritual feeling, while the lively, hip centro up above buzzes with life. Some of the best meals I’ve ever enjoyed in Italy came from simple Materana kitchens.  (More about Matera.)

Rome (needs no introduction)
It’s a true contrast that I bought a house in a remote, mountain-top village of 600 people yet I love, love, love Rome. I pledged my undying affection for Italy after about twenty minutes in the Eternal City. It is stylish, vibrant, noisy, beautiful, gritty, distinctive and chaotic all at the same time. I love the feeling of being embraced by millennia of history when I am there. And I feel at home among our famiglia” there. I echo the sentiments of Princess Anne in Roman Holiday when she said, “Rome, by all means, Rome.”

Sulmona (Abruzzo)
If you’ve never heard of Sulmona before, you’re about to. George Clooney’s newest movie, The American, was filmed there. This lovely small city is one of Abruzzo’s real gems. Sulmona is famous for its confetti, the sugary almonds that are given out at weddings, but it is also surprisingly upscale, with trendy shops, pretty palazzi and coffee bars aplenty. The evening passeggiata brings out most of the town, with an endless parade of stylishly-dressed residents laughing and walking, eating gelato, meeting and greeting.  (More about Sulmona.)

Citta’ della Pieve (Umbria)
This town is almost too perfect. It’s a picture-postcard type of golden-hued hill town that gleams in the gauzy light and embodies everyone’s image of Italy. As the birthplace of Perugino, it contains some fabulous artwork inside its charming churches. It is surrounded by olive groves, sunflower fields and vineyards.  It is at the edge of Tuscany, making it a great home-base from which to see central Italy.

What are your favorite towns in Italia?

Check out my Five List for Foodies to learn where to eat well in these towns!


Michiel Janssen said...

My absolute favorite is Lucca. My second favorite is Rome and Verona is third.

I like cities very much.

carol said...

Soriano nel Cimino is of course, at the top of my list......but I'll have to give some thought to the other many gorgeous hard to choose.
miss you guys...when are you coming back?

LindyLouMac said...

I am not sure I could even wittle my choices down to ten let alone five! As every new town we discover becomes another favourite place in Italy. Just love it all!

Marta, Tuscania, Capodimonte, Montefiascone,Vetralla,Tarquinia,
Amalfi,Positano, Ravello,Lucca, Barga,Roma, and so on and on.

J.Doe said...

I love Venice. It is unique and unlike any other place I have visited, but for cities with cars I'll also have to nominate Lucca.
Florence is also a nice town(I lived there so this is not an impartial, unbiased opinion)
Naples is also great. For the friendliness of the local popultion as well as the food I'll have to nominate Naples.

To be honest I haven't traveled much. Every place I've seen in Italy has pluses (and minuses.)

Evey said...

Oh, what a tough question, I agree that each new visit changes my choices... I do love Rome, it feeds my need for largeness and intimacy all in the turn of a corner, and then the elegance of Siena begs my return often, I fell in love with Panicale, neighbor to Citta' della Pieve, the south of Italy is just soaking in to my skin so a choice there has to wait, and a new stay in the area around Fauglia will greet me soon! Love your choices!

Miss Footloose said...

Hi Valerie! I haveve been to Italy a number of times, but not often enogh to have a list of favorite towns yet.

I've been to Matera, Ascoli and Rome and they are wonderful in their own unique way.

I've not been to Sulmona and Citta della Pieve, so must come again and check them out.

Naples is NOT on my future list, and I know this is probably sacriligious to some, but there it is!

Valerie said...

Michiel - Lucca is beautiful. Haven't been to Verona yet, but would love to see it.

Carol - That's a surprise ;) Looking forward to reading your list. Gee, did I just start a meme?!

LindyLou - It's tough, I know. I had a hard time narrowing it down. I've not been to several of your picks, so I have a new travel list, thanks.

J. - I agree about Lucca, really nice place. I like the art and architecture of Firenze but otherwise it hasn't turned me on, so to speak. Napoli is really appealing. Thanks for sharing your list.

Evey - I can tell you just returned from Italia, you're waxing poetic! ;) I saw Citta della Pieve the first time because of you!

Miss Footloose - Naples is a love it or loathe it kind of town. I wrote about it here:

Eleonora said...

You did just start a new meme! Glad you mentioned Sulmona, because I was just there last fall filming The American. And also Matera, another great movie location dear to me, I discovered it when shooting The Passion of The Christ.

Off to visit Five Favorite Words now...

Ciao Valeria, a presto
E xx

LindyLouMac said...

It is a problem when you love the entire country! I did leave off one place that is very important to us and that is Viterbo, the capital of our region. A beautiful unspoilt and relatively unknown city with a stunning medieval quarter.

Valerie said...

Hi Ele - I remember you said he'd been in Matera but didn't know you worked on The American in Sulmona. Nice place, huh? (You must have the best job ever!)

LindyLou - Viterbo is very pretty.

Karen said...

Asiago! Seriously. I was so fortunate to have traveled quite a bit and still, it's Asiago (the mountains and cows just do it for me)! And then there is my former hometown; Santarcangelo di Romagna -- it is truly special and the place where I will likely return to live.

Jim Zurer said...

Nice list Valerie--we haven't been to Citta di Pieve yet but all the others are great choices.

I would have a hard time making such a list...although Lerici and San Quirico d'Orcia would definitely be included. We also really liked Padova on our last trip.

When asked about our favorite places in Italy, we usually respond that "Rome is our favorite and everywhere else is tied for second."

Hope all is well with you and Brian.


Valerie said...

Karen - Haven't been to Asiago; sounds nice. I regret we never made it to Santarcangelo before you moved.

Jim - Ciao! Love your philosophy about Rome! I'm a little surprised you haven't been to Citta della Pieve - I thought you've seen it all! ;)

Debra Kolkka said...

Apart from our little village of Bagni di Lucca, I love Lucca, Orvieto, Ravenna, Varenna, Mantova, Sorrento where my son was born etc, etc. How can you choose favourites, when there are so many gorgeous place.

Julie said...

Hey! I found your blog and really enjoyed reading about your love of Italy. My husband and I just returned from living in Spain and we can't wait to get back. So I understand your itch to get back to Italy! :) I've just read your 100 things list and thought you might enjoy connecting with others on this site:
No pressure, just wanted to pass it on in hopes that you can benefit too!

Discount Hotels Paris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ER said...

I've been wanting to explore southern Italy more, so I'll have to check out that town in Basilicata. Verona will always be special to me because I spent 6 weeks there when I was first learning Italian. It just has great character, and a lot of little secrets you learn as you spend time there.

Optimal Optimist said...

Ciao! I just saw your post on Bleeding Espresso and I'm so excited to read your blog! I just returned from Italia this summer and I cannot wait to return. Thanks for keeping me connected to that beautiful country...
-Vanessa from Optimal Optimist

Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors said...

I like Matera too; but another really cool little Calabrian town is Stilo. Oh,and the friendliest little town I was ever in was Serrastretta! and oh, wait, there's Cefalu' , they were very friendly and it's gorgeous...
and then there's Sersale. Oh, I'm sorry, I like a LOT of Italian towns. Nice blog! :)

Alicia said...

I wonder what your five lists are when it comes to foods in Italy... Anyway, Italy is a great choice when it comes to tourist destination because of the amazing places and views and the foods. The architectures are so amazing and very elegant and the foods are really mouthwatering.

Nelly said...

I think making a list is a great idea. I also do that a lot especially if I wanted something. For me it is like setting goals in life and it motivates me a lot in achieving everything listed in it. The feeling is good seeing everything listed in there being accomplished.

Orlando Hotels said...

Venice is my favorite. Overall Italy is a great place to visit and I will visit again.