Exploring Umbria’s picturesque villages

By: Victor Block

Assisi is one of the best known of the hill towns that dot Umbria, in the countryside of central Italy. St. Francis was born here in 1182. Medieval castles and churches dominate the town’s skyline. UNESCO designated the Franciscan structures of Assisi as a World Heritage Site in 2000.Photo by Henryk SaduraIn 1996, a book titled Under the Tuscan Sun recounted how author Frances Mayes... READ MORE

Getting lost in Venice, for the fun of it

By: Fyllis Hockman

Venice is an old city. The water-logged foundations date back to the 11th century. The newer building facades are as recent as the 15th.So many buildings were stripped of paint and plaster on both sides of a small alleyway that I expected them to crumble before my eyes — until I reminded myself they have looked pretty much the same for over 500 years.This other-worldly city is filled ... READ MORE

A visit to Pittsburgh: food, art and Fences

By: Beth J. Harpaz

If you’re planning a trip to Pittsburgh, you’ll need to learn a few things first. Yinz is local for y’all. Carnegie is pronounced Car-NAY-gie (as in Andrew Carnegie, who made a fortune in Pittsburgh’s steel industry, and whose name adorns libraries, museums and more). And you don’t get French fries with your sandwich at Primanti’s. You get fries on your... READ MORE

Inexpensive, rising Rust Belt destinations

By: Beth J. Harpaz

Here’s why tourists should take the Rust Belt about as seriously as they take politicians these days: Because the food, art and sightseeing in “flyover country” is well worth your precious vacation days — not to mention cheaper than in trendier destinations.In the last two years, I’ve visited Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin — sampling art museums,... READ MORE

All things French without going to France

By: Glenda C. Booth

The Fontaine (fountain) de Tourny’s 43 water jets are illuminated at night. It stands in front of the Québec City Parliament Building, which was completed in 1877 and stands just outside the walls of Old Town. The fountain was added just 10 years ago.Photo by Songquan DengStarting in the 1600s, and escalating in the 1700s, the British and the French battled back and forth over... READ MORE

A geezer relearns the driving rules in Italy

By: Ed Perkins

Italy is one of the world’s top destinations: Great beauty, great history, great people, and great food – what’s not to like? And one of the best ways to enjoy this fabulous country is to rent a car and drive through some of the great places.But if you decide to do this, you have to modify some of your usual driving habits. The last 10 days driving in Southern Italy... READ MORE