Hidden Gems of Italy

Now that summer vacation is in full swing, thoughts of Italy come to mind as a lot of travelers visit the big three: Rome, Florence and Venice – with Amalfi Coast right behind them in terms of popularity. But what some relish is the path less traveled – Umbria, Piedmont Region, and Sicily.

With a perfect geographical location, just one hour by car or train from Rome or Florence, Umbria is an ideal destination for those in search of art and culture. The region is celebrated as “the Green Heart of Italy” for all the olive groves and vineyards, which populate this area. Stay in Relais il Castello – a historic residence in a medieval village named Monte Castello di Vibio near Perugia (the capital of Umbria) where you can take a cooking class at the hotel or visit the nearby Arnaldo Caprai Winery. A very reasonable accommodation with all the comforts of home, but with a unique ambiance that will definitely remind you that you are in Italy, not Connecticut. What’s more, you can rent a car and use it as a base to explore other towns such as Assisi, Perugia, Siena, Florence or Rome.

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All-American Summer Getaways


It’s officially Summer and that means it’s time to take the ultimate family vacation. If you haven’t decided where to go yet, here are highlights of four of the top get-away destinations that our great nation has to offer.

Orlando may very well be the most magical place on Earth. From the wonderous sights and sounds of Walt Disney World’s parks and resorts to the splendor of SeaWorld’s ocean life, this subtropical spot has something for every member of your family. With over a dozen theme parks, some of the world’s finest food and entertainment, and more miniature golf courses than you can count, you and your family will have the adventure of a lifetime. And, with the second highest number of hotel rooms in the country, your family will have a great range of hotel options – no matter what your budget.

In 2004, my family and I travelled to Arizona and embarked on what my son considers to be the greatest vacation experience of his entire life—visiting the Grand Canyon. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this national park stretches 227 river miles long, spans up to 18 miles in width, and possesses a depth of just over one mile, so it’s no wonder why over 4 million people visit this geological marvel each and every year. While there, you and your family can hike trails, observe a unique variety of wildlife, whitewater raft and learn about local Native American culture and history.


Chicago is a place very near and dear to my heart. As a native daughter of the Windy City, I know first-hand of the fun and excitement that the city has to offer your family. Delight in the deliciousness that is deep dish pizza at either the original Giordano’s Pizzeria or Uno Pizzeria & Grill; stroll through the exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago; munch on a classic Chicago-style dog as you root for either the Cubs or the White Sox at a home game; laugh uncontrollably at a Second City improv show; embrace the blues at Buddy Guy’s Legends and explore the modern-day menagerie that is the historic Lincoln Park Zoo.

Washington, D.C. is easily the ultimate all-American family vacation experience. Our nation’s capital boasts some of the most historic sites imaginable. Walk the streets paved by our forefathers as you visit Ford’s Theatre, climb the steps of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and gaze at your reflection in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on the Washington Mall in front of the Washington Monument. But the fun doesn’t stop there—you can enjoy a prime cut at BLT Steak, shop the 10 acres of stores at CityCenterDC, ride the nation’s highest-rated public transportation system and bask in the glory of the Star-Spangled Banner flag at the National Museum of American History.

The ultimate family vacation can be closer than you think. A new destination transports us and creates fabulous family memories.


Exploring Cambodia and Viet Nam on the Mekong River

Exotic destinations are becoming more and more enticing to baby boomers as they start to check off their bucket list of things to see and do, China and the Great Wall, the Nile and The Pyramids, African game preserves and Victoria Falls, the Galapagos Islands and the evolution of species… But most intriguing of all might be Viet Nam and Cambodia. Both are on Trip Advisors top 10 destinations for 2017. For many who served in the war it’s a difficult decision to go back. Many veterans are curious to see the changes that have taken place in 50 years and others can’t get over the memories of their youth.  The recent television series by Ken Burns on the The Vietnam War puts this into a vivid perspective.

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Traveling to Alaska? This Norwegian Ship is Pure Bliss!


Frank and I were lucky  to attend the May 4th NYC Inaugural of The Norwegian Bliss – a brand new way to explore Alaska! This impressive ship features the U.S. debut of the largest racetrack at sea and the Tony award-winning Broadway Show “Jersey Boys”.

What makes this ship uniquely positioned for an Alaska sailing is an awe-inspiring Observation Lounge which takes up half of the 15th deck and has  panoramic windows with lounge chairs,  breakfast and lunch buffets and a circular bar near the bow of the ship.  You want to move right in!

When not spotting whales and glaciers out those panoramic windows, there is plenty of other activities to occupy all ages onboard this ship.

The eco-friendly racetrack on the top of the ship and is a marvel of engineering. Cruisers here were excited about the $7 ride, on which up to ten electric go-karts can race each other day and night. An absolute “must do” for all ages (min. height is 4’6”) Another new attraction is the Ultimate Laser Tag Adventure where families can explore a giant abandoned space station that hasn’t been inhabited for 200 years. 

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