28 Nov 2014

An Italy waiting to be discovered, in Le Marche


What images does Italy conjure up in your mind? The mighty Colosseum in Rome, the Renaissance masterpieces in Florence, the gliding gondolas of Venice, the vineyards of Tuscany, perhaps the leaning tower in Pisa, maybe the glamorous Amalfi Coast... Beautiful places all, and certainly worth a visit (or more). But allow me to paint you a different picture. 


Rambling around tiny hilltop towns (still stuck in the Middle Ages), walking down pristine beaches with only the waves (and a few seagulls) for company, driving down country roads flanked by miles of vineyards, descending into the depths of the earth to explore one of the largest subterranean caves in Europe, sitting in the caffè in the piazza, sipping the local liqueur and watching the nonni on their passeggiata - yes, there is another Italy waiting to be discovered, places still off the tourist radar, minus the touts that you might encounter in Venice, Rome or Florence... Don't get me wrong - I love the 'grand tour' cities as well and I have already visited them twice (I cannot get enough of Venice!). But, there is so much more. So whether you're a first time visitor or have already 'done' Italy, consider one of the lesser known regions. 



14 Nov 2014

Travel Bloggers You Should Follow - A #TBDI2014 Round-up

Ciao!! I have just returned from my month-long #AutumnInItaly tour, and boy, did I have a ball!  


Beginning with TBDI2014 - the travel blogging conference that I was invited to in Rimini. 3 days of talks, meetings and networking, not to mention several aperitivi!! So before I regale you with tales of all the places I visited in Italy, I thought I'd do a little blog roll of some of the wonderful bloggers I met at TBDI2014 - travel blogs that I love reading and I know you will too. 


Here they are - in no particular order :)

7 Oct 2014

Exciting News - I'm heading to TBD Italy 2014!


When I tossed a coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome last year, little did I know that I'd be returning to the city so soon! Yes, Italy beckons once again and I am so glad to be escaping the infernal October heat here; can't wait to experience #AutumnInItaly :) 

I am on my way to my very first travel blogger conference, in Rimini Italy. The good folks at Travel Blogger Destination Italia (TBDI) sent me an invite way back in July and since then I have been planning another epic trip around il bel paese. 


A bit about TBDI

It is already known that bloggers are increasingly becoming an important part of promoting destinations. So it's no surprise that the prestigious TTG Incontri, the main international B2B fair on tourism in Italy, started the TBD Italia project last year - a format within TTG Incontri that is dedicated to travel bloggers and digital media. In 2014, TBD Italia will connect some 300 bloggers with the B2B operators in the tourism industry. Of these 300 bloggers, 100 have been chosen as TOP Bloggers - including yours truly! 

18 Sep 2014

TimesCity Gourmet Week - #GW2014 at Yauatcha


The second edition of the TimesCity Gourmet Week is currently on across 6 cities in India. It features several restaurants that were awarded at the recently held Times Food Award 2014 and includes many 5-star restaurants (Konkan Cafe, Dakshin Coastal, Tuskers, Cellini, Vetro etc.) and some excellent stand-alone ones (Masala Library, Kofuku, Oh! Calcutta, Cheval to name a few). The menus are significantly lower priced and some of them offer a very good deal indeed. I got a chance to check out the Yauatcha lunch, courtesy TimesCity. I had had one of my birthday dinners at Yauatcha this year (and loved it), so I was excited about trying the Gourmet Week offering. I dragged the husband along for a mid-week date :)

12 Sep 2014

The Best Coffee Houses in Vienna



Born from war, Vienna’s cafés serve a heady mix of coffee, confections and centuries-old charm

It was the September of 1683. For nearly two months, troops of the Ottoman Turk had besieged Vienna. The final assault lasted two days, but the Turks were no match for the imperial forces. Routed, they fled, leaving behind food, cattle and bags full of coffee beans. Shortly after, in 1685, Vienna got its first coffee house. The coffee managed what the Turks couldn’t—rule the minds and lives of the people of Vienna.

Image Credit: Café Central at Palais Ferstel, Vienna
With the coffee came the newspapers and pool tables, followed by warm meals and alcohol, and eventually, in 1856, the women. For the Viennese people who lived in cramped apartments, coffee houses (or kaffeehäuser) became public living rooms or second homes, where they’d meet friends, read the papers, have a smoke and nurse a coffee (or something stronger). The coffee house also became a meeting spot for intellectuals and artists of all callings – writers, poets and painters. Some, like Austrian poet Peter Altenberg, worked out of cafés. He even had his mail delivered to Café Central, his favourite coffee house.

The coffee house culture is so entrenched in the Vienna’s fabric that in 2011, it was added to UNESCO’s list of national intangible cultural heritage, which acknowledges “identity practices” including performing arts, social practices and traditional know-how. Today, there are some 2,500 coffee houses in the Austrian capital. Before you go café-hopping, here's one important tip: take your time. Café-hopping in Vienna is quite easy. Coffee houses are everywhere – along grand avenues, inside tiny alleys, and at town squares big and small.

Image Credit: Café Central at Palais Ferstel, Vienna
Unlike the cafés in Italy, where I’d rather grab my espresso at the ‘bar’ like the locals, in Vienna, the coffee houses are designed to linger – over the papers in German (which I couldn’t read), or a book (which I could) or to people-watch. Coffee and cake was my preferred method of lingering at these coffee houses, though I did eat a schnitzel at Café Central, since I visited during lunchtime.

Here’s my pick of the city's must-visit coffee houses: