Taking a break from procrastinating on my posts for Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Aruba, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico (ugh), I present to you, in the meantime, the holiday magic of the Honolulu City Lights, an annual tradition on Oahu (where I’m from). It all takes place at Honolulu Hale (city hall) where a big Christmas tree is lit out front, and decoration and wreath contests are held within. So enjoy these photos with warm thoughts, wherever you are, while listening to the classic Hawaiian song inspired by the event.
Located far in Italy’s northeast, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a unique region. Its proximity to the Austrian and Slovenian borders gives it a unique flavor respective of classic Italian cities like Rome or Florence. This is especially true of its capital city, Trieste, which I visited twice in this year alone. Similarly, Udine, FVG’s second largest city in terms of population, has its own style. Friuli, the area of which Udine is the historical capital, has its own distinct wine country and language (not dialect; language).
“Two households, both alike in dignity / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” So begins Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set in Verona in Italy’s northern region of Veneto, a city so beautiful it inspired the greatest of bards.
One of the great clichés of travel writing is starting a story with an overly dramatic sentence meant to draw in the reader, so I won’t begin by mentioning the explosives mishap or firing a shotgun at dead cacti. But such was my Fourth of July in Austin, part of my lifelong quest for the quintessential American experience. Could anything scream red, white and blue more than Independence Day in Texas? I’ll get to that later.
One of my favorite memories of my time in Trieste was simply sitting along the pier, feet dangling over the Adriatic as the rising tide splashed water upon my shoes, jellyfish floating below us like ethereal dancers in a separate universe. The Italian word for “jellyfish” is medusa, yet I kept mistakenly saying lampedusa after the Italian island that was at the center of the migrant crisis. It just goes to show how much my language skills need work.
It’s hard to believe now that my first experience in Italy was five years ago, a Mediterranean adventure that started in Venice. I remember arriving into Venice Marco Polo Airport unsure of what to expect of the city and how my shabby Italian skills would hold up. Spoiler alert: I fell in love with Venice and they did not hold up well.
I recently found myself back in Florence, perhaps my favorite city in Italy, one year after my previous visit. This time I stayed close to Firenze Santa Maria Novella, the city’s main train station, in a bustling neighborhood of hotels and eateries. While I did more running around a year prior (check out my previous article on the city for more in-depth coverage of Florence’s top attractions and on visiting popular Tuscan towns), I was able to catch many things I had missed, namely several churches and David, while revisiting my favorite locales in the city.
Located in the northwestern section of Italy, Turin is, like Milan, more European than the traditional idea of the country. Unlike Milan, it’s smaller and arguably more charming. Turin features many of the aspects that make other Italian cities lovely, like a beautiful river, energy-filled piazze, world-class museums and the ever-revered aperitivo.