Feeling Festive in Malta: Celebrating a Festa in the City of Bormla

When I first visited Malta nine years ago, my new Maltese friends told me about the islands’ beloved festas — days on which church parishes honor a patron saint in the most celebratory of fashions. These feast days are replete with fireworks, food, parades, and elaborate decorations. Most festas are crammed into the summer months, and my maiden MalteseContinue reading “Feeling Festive in Malta: Celebrating a Festa in the City of Bormla”

The Windows of Asti, Piemonte, Italy

Perhaps best known for its annual Palio, a 700-year-old bare-back horse race replete with pageantry and tradition, Asti also has a lot to offer architecturally and gastronomically. The Northern Italian city once had more than 70 towers, which symbolized wealth and power. While there are less of them punctuating Asti’s skyline today, the city also features impressive churchesContinue reading “The Windows of Asti, Piemonte, Italy”

From Homeless to Highness: A Reunion with Cocoa the Kitten in Ticino, Switzerland

“Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.” -Carl sandburg As I went to say goodbye to Cocoa, I found him basking in the afternoon sunlight and grooming his lustrous black fur. Occasionally, he would stop and gaze out the window at the Swiss paradise before him – a landscape sprinkled with palm,Continue reading “From Homeless to Highness: A Reunion with Cocoa the Kitten in Ticino, Switzerland”

Piedmont, Italy: The Wine Landscapes of the Langhe

In the vineyard-dressed landscape of the Langhe, in Italy’s Piedmont region, hillsides rise steeply on one side, then drop off more gradually on the other. The name ‘Langhe’ is believed to have Celtic roots, meaning ‘tongues of land,’ alluding to these steep hillsides, and the area’s raised valleys. Our host, Marco Scaglione, from Meet Piemonte, described it thisContinue reading “Piedmont, Italy: The Wine Landscapes of the Langhe”

The Door Knockers of Valletta, Malta

The Mediterranean island nation of Malta may be diminutive, but its limestone buildings’ distinctive door knockers and knobs make a big impression. Known as il-habbata in Maltese, the knockers largely feature maritime motifs such as dolphins, sea horses, and fish, but I have also spotted a plethora of Maltese crosses, even delicate brass hands, which reminded me ofContinue reading “The Door Knockers of Valletta, Malta”

The Renaissance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard in Milan

“The discovery of a good wine is increasingly better for mankind than the discovery of a new star.” Leonardo da vinci In 1482, Leonardo da Vinci moved to Milan, where he would work for the ruling Sforza family doing engineering, sculpting, and architectural projects, and most famously, painting his mural masterpiece, The Last Supper. What’s less known, though, is that theContinue reading “The Renaissance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard in Milan”

Pastoral Piedmont: An Agriturismo & Epicurean Experience in Italy

When you think of Italy, it’s likely that home-cooked pasta, verdant agricultural landscapes, and gourmet food products like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and traditional balsamic vinegar come to mind. A lesser-known concept is that of the agriturismo — a compound noun that marries the Italian words for ‘agriculture’ and ‘tourism.’ As the name implies, an agriturismo is a place where visitors canContinue reading “Pastoral Piedmont: An Agriturismo & Epicurean Experience in Italy”

The Windows of Bellinzona, Ticino, Switzerland

The city of Bellinzona, Switzerland is perhaps best known for its trio of handsome medieval castles, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2000. Yet, this historic city, which sits at the foot of the Alps, has more to offer than these impressive fortifications. Bellinzona also has an elegant Old Town district, a spot which we explored with ourContinue reading “The Windows of Bellinzona, Ticino, Switzerland”