Top Places to Stay in Gay Puglia – Nomadic Boys

Author: , July 19th, 2018

Top Places to Stay in Gay Puglia - Nomadic Boys

Puglia, the “heel of the boot” of Italy has long been a popular destination for LGBTQ travellers, particularly the gorgeous seaside town of Gallipoli. There are also many cultural gems in the area like the Baroque rich city of Lecce, the many trulli stone huts in Alberobello and a handful of excellent gay friendly beaches.

Quite a lot of the touristic highlights of Puglia are spread out, so the best way to get the most out of your trip is to rent a car and make it a road trip. We also recommend staying in a place which is located in a quiet village or small town for a more authentic Italian countryside experience. These are our 5 favourite gay friendly places to stay in Puglia we found during our road trip, which we loved and recommend you check out.

Trullo Incanto D’Itria near Alberobello
A trullo (plural: trulli) is a traditional Apulian dry limestone hut with a conical roof, unique to the Itria Valley of Puglia. The highest concentration of trulli can be found in the small town of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The trulli of Alberobello are some of the oldest, dating back to the 1300s. Today most trulli in Alberobello are souvenir shops, cafes or restaurants. Some are also places you can book to stay.

We loved this idea – staying in a stone conical hut that resembles the sort of houses you’d expect Frodo and his fellow hobbits to live in in the Shire; you can’t help being charmed by these Hobbit-like houses.

One of our favourite trulli to stay is the luxurious Trullo Incanto d’Itria, located in the countryside, around 5 minutes drive from Alberobello. This trullo has its own private pool and garden area, but still retains a traditional feel in its construction. LGBTQ travellers are welcomed, with no issue about booking a double bed.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Puglia Gay Travel Resources

Pisa Views from the Leaning Tower – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 14th, 2018

Pisa Views

Yes, it is possible to climb to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. You just don’t pose like you’re saving the leaning tower from falling with your tiny hands but you have to climb and see what’s up there. The views aren’t really impressive but climbing a leaning tower is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You don’t get to experience that anywhere else, right? Perhaps, this might be the only leaning tower you’d ever climbed on.

Before Climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa

First, you have to buy a ticket. The ticket booth is on the left side, across the green lawn. When buying, choose a time that’s convenient for you. They limit the number of people going up there for security reasons. When you’ve paid, go to the room next door and leave your things in a locked safe. They won’t allow backpacks or bags. Just bring your camera, phone or valuable things, like your wallet. Be sure to line up 10-15 minutes before your time.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Views from the Roof of Milan’s Duomo – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 11th, 2018

Milan's Duomo - Keep Calm and Wander

If standing on top of Milan Cathedral won’t take your breath away – you better check in yourself to a hospital. 😀 No, I’m not kidding. Milan Duomo is one of the very few man-made architectural wonder that blew my mind away. It’s one of those places you don’t only have to see but also experience it.

From its facade to its internal core, this architectural wonder will leave you with a lasting impression. And from its underground archaeological museum to its roof, the Duomo shows us a contrast of what Milan was like and what Milan is today.

Climb the stairs or use an elevator?

Here’s the deal: the former will cost you 8 euros and the latter is 10 euros. However, the lift doesn’t go all the way up to the roof but only on the last floor and then you have to climb the remaining steps.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Milan Gay Travel Resources

Pieta Rondanini, Michelangelo’s Unfinished Statue – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 9th, 2018

Pieta Rondanini - Keep Calm and WanderPieta Rondanini – Keep Calm and Wander

Pieta Rondanini is Michelangelo’s unfinished marble statue. Since 1952, Milan is a host to the master’s work. Today, you can find it at Museo Pieta Rondanini inside the Castello Sforzesco. When Michelangelo died in 1564, they found the sculpture at the artist’s workshop in Rome. Afterwards, the unfinished statue was missing for more than 200 years and reappeared in 1807 at Palazzo Rondanini.

And that’s how it gained its monicker: Pieta Rondanini.

As you can see, Mary is standing, supporting her son, Jesus, after he was taken down from the cross. The famed Pieta inside St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican has Mary sitting while looking down at his son bathed in blood.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Florence Gay Travel Resources

Back to Rome – Dolly Travels

Author: , June 29th, 2018

Back to Rome

Buongiorno, tutti,

I am so happy to be back in Rome. This trip I am with my granddaughter, Heather, and her husband, Danny. We had a long, long flight from San Francisco to Rome, which not only made us all very tired, but the flight delays were stressful. However, near midnight on Wednesday, we made it to our lovely little apartment. We were hungry, too, so not long after we got the keys to the apartment, we ventured out to find food. Fortunately, Rome has several restaurants that stay open late, so we found ourselves eating pasta at nearly one o’clock in the morning.

The first sight we saw as we went in search of food was the Trevi Fountain. This lovely monument is only a block and a half from our apartment. In fact, we heard the sound of the water first, then the fountain came into view.

I had never seen the fountain with so few people around. The lighting and the sound of the gently falling water made the scene quite emotionally moving.

The following day, Danny and I ventured out to see some of Rome. I loved seeing his reaction to the city itself, as well as the sights we saw, for this was his first visit to Italy.

Danny and I walked all over that historic area of Rome, found a nice place for lunch in Campo di Fiori, then walked back to our apartment. We needed a “siesta”.

Later, Heather, Danny and I went out walking again. We stopped first for a gelato, then walked to the Spanish Steps, up to Piazza Barberini, and found a restaurant where I had been seven years ago with my grandson, Patrick and his girl friend, Kiri. After dinner we walked some more, taking Heather back to the Pantheon area and to Piazza Navona. We ventured over to Campo di Fiori for a drink, then home again.

Our days have been filled to the brim with activity. Over the past three days we have been to the Colosseum, the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica, Borghese Galleria, Piazza Della Popolo, across the river to Trastevere.

Last night, after a lovely dinner near the Pantheon, I wanted the kids to see the Isola Tiberina, the island in the middle of the Tiber River. Lo and behold, we found an entirely new activity, for lack of a better word. Right down next to the river, on the Trastevere side, were tent-like structures, each one a different business. Many were restaurants or bars, a couple of hookah bars, a carnival area, with some clowns and games for kids, shops with clothings, jewelry, etc., etc. This area follows the river edge for about two miles. It was fun to walk along and watch the nighttime activity. The place was hopping.

Now we are packed and ready to go to Sorrento for a couple of days. I will try to blog more often, but we have been busy. Danny kept track of our miles of walking. We got in over 9 miles each day on Thursday and Friday; yesterday we walked 10-1/2 miles, and lots of stairs. I made the comment that I would be skinny as a rail when I get back home, but I think the gelato and the good food are going to balance out the calories lost in walking.

Ci vediamo presto. We will see each other soon.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

Ravenna’s Magnificent Mosaics at the Basilica di San Vitale – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 18th, 2018

Basilica di San Vitale - Keep Calm and Wander

Ravenna is called “The City of Mosaics” for places such as the Basilica di San Vitale. I was dazzled by the Byzantine mosaics that played before my eyes and I couldn’t help but contemplate all its historical attributes of this place, not to mention its architectural magnificence.

The first stone foundation of the basilica was laid in 526 and after treacherous years of construction, it was finally completed by the 27th Bishop of Ravenna known as Maximian.

The Splendid Mosaics of Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna

The basilica has all the elements of Roman Empire from its dome, towers, doorways, and that of the Byzantine elements of narrow bricks, perfectly illustrious mosaics and a polygonal apse. That is the structural brilliance that the place is built with.

However, more than this, what really captures the eyes and the heart of a visitor are the mosaics that are dotted around the building, lining its walls, and creating moving depictions of the old testament – all the way up to the dome.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Emilia Romagna Gay Travel Resources

Beloved Siena – Dolly Travels

Author: , June 16th, 2018

Siena

Good morning, everyone,

As I prepare to return to Italy, I am reminiscing today about another of my favorite cities, Siena.

Siena is one of the Tuscan hill towns, situated just a short drive southeast of Florence. Between those two cities lies the vineyards and countrysides of Tuscany, where Chianti wine and those lovely Chianina beef thrive.

For me, as for most tourists, visiting Siena usually means visiting the area around Il Campo, the main piazza in Siena, along with the cathedral and sights within this ancient area. I will not describe it in minutes walked, for nearly every time I go to Siena, I get lost. That in itself is not a tragedy, for I know that eventually I will find my way. The reason I get lost is that the streets in this old city run up and down, around and around, for the streets, by necessity, follow the curves of the hills of the city. Little alleys lead to someone’s doorstep, or if I am lucky, out to another street that is more familiar.

The main piazza, Il Campo, is unique, for not only is it round, but it slopes down from the outer edges to the center, so strolling through the piazza is rather like strolling down the sides and around a giant bowl.

Siena Campo

The building you see here is the city hall and the city tower next to it. These structures were built in the 14th century a.d. The color of the bricks and most of the buildings here is that orange- red brick color that Rick Steves describes as Crayola’s Burnt Sienna” crayon color. (When I first read that description, I recalled from childhood wondering what “burnt sienna” meant; now I know.). Within the city hall now is the Civic Museum, a small but worthwhile museum. There is also a gallery of paintings and frescoes within the tower.

The most famous structure in Siena is the cathedral. I think that this is one of the most beautiful churches in Italy.

Siena Duomo

The church is enormous, consisting of many side chapels around the main part of the nave. Although the church is huge now, the original plans were for the church to be even larger than it is now. However, money constraints and a plague epidemic ended those plans.

Back at the Il Campo, one of my favorite places is the “Fountain of Joy”. The fountain looks more like a large pool, with water flowing out of the mouths of the stone wolves that sit right above the pool. Religious carvings are at the back of the fountain.

Fountain of Joy in Siena

A few years ago, I had read about the Palio di Siena, the famous horse race that takes place in Siena on two different days in the summer, July 2 and August 16. This race is a competition between the seventeen contrade, or neighborhoods, within Siena. In this competition, a horse and rider from ten of the contrade, race around the Il Campo.

In preparation for the Palio, Il Campo is changed tremendously. The lovely sidewalk cafes are replaced with grandstands for viewing. In front of those stands, a dirt racetrack is put down, encircling the Il Campo.

Palio in Siena

A drawing to select the ten contrade that will compete in the race has been done earlier. Those contrade select a horse and rider to represent them in the race. On the day of the race, both horse and rider are blessed by the priest of their neighborhood church. Then they proceed to the starting gate at the west side of the campo. When the signal is given to start the race, off they go, taking three laps around the track, for a total of about a mile.

There are no saddles on the horses; many times the rider falls off during the race, but if the horse finishes first, the contrada he represents has won the race. It doesn’t matter that there is not rider. It is a fantastic, wild few moments, climaxing weeks, days, hours of preparation.

I had the opportunity to witness this race a few years ago. It was probably one of the wildest events I had ever witnessed. I could not afford a seat in the bleachers, so I was one of the hundreds packed into a tight group in the center of the Campo. That center was separated from the racetrack by low wooden fencing.

Many of the horses, who are just ordinary horse, not race horses, did not want any part of the festivities. On the day that I went, the race had to be restarted several times due to errant horses: horses who wanted to leave, horses that bit other horses, riders thrown from their horse in that enclosed starting area. When the race did get underway, it lasted only a few moments, then the crowd went wild.

Siena, though, is more than the Cathedral and the Palio. It is a ancient town with many alleys and streets that beg to be explored. There is so much history here, not just in the museums, but in the many little cafes and shops, as well as the churches.

Siena is another of those magical Tuscan cities that is calling me back. I hope I will be able to write another blog post from the town when I am actually there.

So, until next time and a visit to another Italian city,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

Rome’s Tiber Island – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 14th, 2018

Tiber Island - Keep Calm and Wander

The River Tiber is as ancient as the history of Rome, or maybe even older than it. As it snakes and twines around the city through multiple historical places, it seems as if it takes a small siesta on an ancient island named in honor of it – the Island Tiber.

Just as myths and peculiar stories are attached to every kind of historical and unexplained event, so has the Island Tiber a legend associated with its creation.

It is said that when the last king of Rome was overthrown in around 509 BC, his corpse was dumped in the River Tiber. However, it was so huge that the river could not either dissolve it or flow it away with itself. So, in the end, all of that culminated in the creation of the Tiber Island.

After a few years, they say that during a plague, a ship sent to Epidaurus arrived at Rome with a sacred snake of the God of Medicine Aesculapius. As the very ship was crossing the River Tiber, the snake jumped from the ship and settled on the island. This is why the base of the Temple of Aesculapius was built there followed by a magnificent temple.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Rome Gay Travel Resources

Verona’s Arena is Older Than the Colosseum – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 9th, 2018

Verona's Arena is Older Than the Colosseum - Keep Calm and Wander

Standing in all its grandeur, this Arena in Verona has been around in the city for well over 2000 years. I have been to the Colosseum in Rome and although it is larger, unlike Verona Arena, it does not hold immense history in its folds. That is fact no. 1.

When I was in Verona I could sense the pink stained marbles still vibrating with the more than 30,000 cries of jubilation as the gladiators slaughtered each other. This thing happens to me, a kind of a time warp where I, for few seconds, get lost in the very imagination of what a historic place would have been like in its full swing.

This arena has hosted thousands of gladiator carnages in the past and, supposedly, that happened for almost 400 years until the emperor Honorius banned the practice in 404 AD.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Verona Gay Travel Resources

Returning to Lucca – Dolly Travels

Author: , May 5th, 2018

Lucca - Dolly Travels

Good morning, Everyone.

Today I am remembering Lucca. Lucca is another of my favorite cities in Tuscany. To get to Lucca, I usually take a train from Florence and enjoy the city as a day trip. The older part of the city is enclosed within ancient Roman stone walls. One walks from the train station, across a busy boulevard, then on a path that takes you through an archway in the wall, up a few steps and you are in a totally different world.

This is part of one of my tour groups, my “ducklings”, as we walk up the path to go through the wall up to the old city.

Once inside the walls, the city is full of parks, pretty piazze and lovely little sidewalk cafes.

Churches are abundant. For the most part, there are no tacky sidewalk vendors or beggars. This old town is as popular with the locals as it is with tourists, for many fine businesses flourish on the inner streets. Via Fillulungo is one street with expensive stores; I only window shop on that street. However, there is a wonderful pasticerria on that street, so sometimes I do have to stop in there and get a delicious treat.

For me, of the most fun things to do in Lucca is to rent bicycles and ride around the top of the old wall, the ramparts. The path is about two and a half miles around, completely encircling the old town. There are two bicycle rental places within the walls, and one outside, near the train station. I don’t ride a bike, but I love to walk this path, as it is pretty, and I have a great view of the inner part of the city. From there, I can decide where I want to go next.

I don’t think I would ride a bike down one of the exits off the ramparts that leads to the old city, for even walking down was a bit treacherous. There are easier ways to get down. One important item to remember, is which exit to take back to the city, for there are four main “porte”, or exits. If you go down the wrong one, you may have a long walk back to the train station. The exit closest to the station, for your information, is Porta San Pietro. Remember that, if you go to Lucca.

Another fun thing to do is to climb Guinigi Tower. This tower, a remnant of the 15th century, A.D., has a garden with full size trees growing up on top. To get to the top is a bit of a strenuous hike; there are 227 steps. However, once you emerge onto that garden, you will have a stupendous view, not only of the old city, but the surrounding countryside.

Lucca

Lucca sits in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, or Alpi Apuane, as they are known in Italy. Over those mountains in the background, not too far away, are the more famous Carrara Mountains, known for its fantastic marble quarries.

The Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro is one of the largest in Lucca. I have been there when an auto show was taking place. Wow! Some of the most beautiful cars in the world are in Italy, and I think they all gathered in Lucca that day.

Or you can relax at one of the many small cafes that are on the fringes of Piazza San Michele. Usually, there are children playing soccer in the piazza. (I will insert a little side note here: children in Italy rarely throw a ball; they kick it.).

As with all the Italian towns, there is so much more to discover than I have seen; therefore, I need to go back and find some more wonderful sights. I still have not seen Puccini’s house, although he is one of my favorite composers, and he is a native of Lucca. I would like to stay overnight in Lucca one of these times, for every night there is a concert. I know I would enjoy that.

I am looking forward to going to Lucca once more time.

I will post more pictures of Lucca when I am actually there, in just a few short weeks. Until then,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Lucca Gay Travel Resources