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mtaussig's picture

Coffee culture....Italian style

on Wed, 01/25/2012 - 09:39

It’s no accident that there are few if any Starbucks in Italy. Arguably, Italy (in our humble opinion) invented the concept that Starbucks shoots for. In Italy there often are two or three bars per city block, staffed by a skilled “barista” who knows their customer personally and serves even the quickest, cheapest coffee with manners and panache. Bringing a Starbucks to Italy is truly like bringing coals to Newcastle. The American in Italia Blog says it this way, "Italian bars are a three-minute social club. All day long strangers and regular customers meet and chat. People treat bar-mates as long-lost friends, no alcohol necessary."

nickfortunatus's picture

Travel Takeaway: Our Favorite Hotel in Florence

on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 09:29

While I, and many of our Untourists, recommend you spend at least a week or two in Florence, I realize that such a timeframe doesn't work for everyone, for one reason or another. Because of that, I want to make sure that your brief stay in Florence is at a place that I'd recommend to my own mother. That place is Hotel Pendini.

Hotel Pendini is a quaint hotel in Florence with an excellent location (it's in the historic center, just a short walk away from the Duomo, Basilica Santa Croce and Ponte Vecchio) and superb staff. When our Untourists are looking to add a few days on to their stay in Florence, we always send them to Hotel Pendini because our experience has always been positive there and we hear the same feedback from our Untourists.


nickfortunatus's picture

Untourist of the Week: Metha Hillard

on Mon, 01/23/2012 - 10:47

Our favorite memories of Untours have been the times that we were actually in Tuscany on Mother's Day (same day as ours here in America). During this time of year, the flowers are in full bloom and there are many opportunities to see them on display.

Pienza is my favorite place to see the flowers. There is a flower market where all the local landscapers and nurseries come to town and show off their roses, hydrangeas and geraniums. Although I'm partial to Tuscany in the spring because of the flowers, gardeners would love going in the fall to see all the greenery. It's great all year round, really.

elizabeth.killough's picture

Foundation Fridays: If The Shoe Fits...

on Fri, 01/20/2012 - 09:30

From time to time, I receive a friendly email from someone letting me know there is an error in an online interview of Hal. The actual interview reads: A former college professor once told him, “It’s not how much you give away [that matters in life], it’s how much you keep.”

Those emailing me suggest that the quotation should read: “It’s not how much you keep, it’s how much you give away.”

nickfortunatus's picture

Untours Featured Property: Il Pozzo

on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 10:30

Il Pozzo
Our Il Pozzo apartment is located in the heart of the tiny Etruscan village of Murlo.

Staying in Murlo will give you easy access to Buonconvento (only a 10-15 minute drive) and Siena (around 30 minutes) while Florence is just a 90-minute drive away.


nickfortunatus's picture

A Recipe from Tuscany: Cooked Water

on Wed, 01/18/2012 - 11:11

If you ask me, it's a given that Italian food (you know, the kind cooked in Italy) is going to delight your taste buds. In addition to the gustatory glee I get from savoring a perfect dish of risotto al gorgonzola, my ears simply frolic at the melodies of the names of these dishes. Tagliatelle al pomodoro. Penne all'arrabbiata. Cooked water. Canelloni al - wait...Cooked water?

While "cooked water" doesn't exactly bring music to my ears, it does bring smiles to my belly.

nickfortunatus's picture

The Best Restaurant Inside the Walls of Buonconvento

on Tue, 01/17/2012 - 10:42

As you well know, Italy is overflowing with great food and abundant with amazing places to eat all that food. In places like Rome, Florence and Venice, it can be a snap to find good restaurants in Rick Steves' Italy guidebooks or one of the many other excellent guidebooks out there.

However, if you're in Tuscany and looking for a restaurant in Buonconvento, a beautiful little medieval town just south of Siena, it may be a little more difficult to know which restaurants to give a shot.

mtaussig's picture

Untourist of the Week: Thomas Evans

on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 10:39

We're not typical Untourists because our last tour was our seventh consecutive visit to South Tuscany. Being in a familiar place, we didn't feel compelled to visit every museum, inspect every basilica, and hike up the main street of every hill town listed in the guide books, but we did cover some ground because we enjoy motoring over the Tuscan hills and torturing the locals with our inclination to obey the speed limit.

elizabeth.killough's picture

Foundation Fridays: Hal, the Spokes-Man

on Fri, 01/13/2012 - 09:32

As many of you know, the Untours Foundation is the small and mighty nonprofit that’s the other side of the coin to Untours, the travel business. We give out low-interest loans to innovative and planet-loving projects that address poverty by creating jobs for vulnerable populations. I’ll be blogging about our loan recipients, our donors, and other aspects of our work. But by popular demand, I am starting with a few stories about my boss and dear friend, Hal Taussig.

nickfortunatus's picture

Untours Featured Property: Le Chiuse

on Thu, 01/12/2012 - 12:09

Le Chiuse is an award-winning vineyard in Montalcino, Tuscany, on which we have 5 charming apartments, all surrounding a refreshing in-ground swimming pool. Set against the backdrop of endless rolling hills, the Le Chiuse apartments all have a rustic charm about them that you can only find in Tuscany.

Stay at Le Chiuse and, after you make your own pizza in their fabulous brick oven, you'll be able to buy olive oil and their award-winning wine right on site.