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 Greg’s Italy Blog

This is a continuing story of traveling through Italy. Enjoying the sights, the tastes, and the people of this very unique country. There are more world heritage sites in Italy than any other country. The food is amazing and the people are friendly. Visit Italy and discover what I have. 


Greg's Italy Home Page


In September I will be returning to Italy and taking a bike tour from Bolzano through Lake Garda and on to Venice.  I began thinking about my cell phone. I had used all the credits and in the past had to renew through recharge my sim. de but alas they are no longer in business.  So lets look at your options.   TIM has a very simple plan called TIM FOR VISITORS. Google the link and click on the English Flag to change language. 

it  is not a bad deal. For 30 Euro you get 4 GIG data, and 100 min of talk.  You can purchase the voucher in the US an bring it to any TIM store. I used the one at Fiumicino, Leonardo da Vinci,  Rome;s main airport.  It took less than 15 minutes to get me up and running and have the attendant set up my phone. You can purchase the voucher using your US credit card. 

OK, now it  is time to take about recharging your card.  You can go through your minutes quickly and until recently you could not recharge your sim with an foreign credit card.    First go to

You will get the Italian language screen, best thing is to use Google Chrome or install the translate extension in Safari.  Right click and you will get the English  language translation. Keep in mind TEXT MESSAGES ARE NOT FREE. You can use iMessage or other apps that will allow you to text for free on the data. Also consider installing Skype for calls back to the US. I have had excellent results with Skype. 

ITALIAN, Ricaica means recharge.

English translation. Click recharge after you use pull down to select amount.


At the bottom, you can select the receive email notification. It will come to your email account of choice. There os also a box to insert a TEXT which will be sent to your cell to confirm all is working. 

Here is my email confirmation.

Gentile Cliente,
Ti confermiamo la presa in carico dell'ordine nº xxxxxxxxx del 08/04/2018 23:07:16


Numero: xxxxxxxxx Data e ora: 08/04/2018 23:07:16
Metodo di pagamento utilizzato: CDC
Costo a pagare: 10.00 Euro


Importo ricarica: 10.00 Euro
Numero ricaricato: 339xxxxxxx

N.B. La ricarica sara' immediatamente resa disponibile come credito telefonico e comunque non oltre le 48 ore dal momento della richiesta.

Ti ricordiamo che sul sito puoi attivare altre offerte o servizi, acquistare prodotti e Ricaricare. Inoltre, accedendo alla sezione MyTIM Mobile del sito potrai:

verificare il tuo credito residuo
verificare lo stato delle offerte attive sulla tua linea
modificare il tuo profilo tariffario
consultare lo stato dei tuoi acquisti online

There are other options, Vodafone  has a similar plan.  Google Vodafone Holiday for information.

Keep in mind none of the plans have everything you may need. You need an unlocked cell phone with GSM capabilities.    You will always need your passport when purchasing from a Tim or Vodafone store. 

Testaccio Market, Roma.

We strayed from our Campo dei Fiore market to seek out the Testaccio Market. It has moved from a covered stall environment to a new modern clean building. It proved to be a great day trip. Google maps gave us the correct bus line to make and after that is was a short walk.


This is a large comfortable space with many vendors, both food and clothing. We enjoyed looking and eating at the market.

Fresh seafood is abundant. 


Fresh vegetables with very affordable prices.

My favorite porchetta! Delicious.

Tripe is a favorite of many people, ma non io.



Bring your own bottle, look at the prices. 2.40 E for a liter. 

Arancini or supple are a favorite of mine.

We enjoyed lunch from this stall


It was a great lunch.

Clothing is also sold.

The market is well worth the visit. Lots has been written about it and there are no exaggerations. Enjoy the many markets of Rome. I am back in Florida and our weekend markets do not come close to the Rome markets.


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While wandering the far end of the Campo dei Fiore and came upon Largo dei Librai, a small dead end street. But it was not a dead end, it was the beginning of a great find. With children kicking a soccer ball in front I came upon the  THE CHURCH OF SANTA BARBARA DEI LIBRAI.


This tiny church is located on Largo dei Librai, just past Alice Pizza and the Filleti di Baccala. Alice Pizza is a great and inexpensive lunch stop.

I came upon this by chance and then read about it in detail in the Blog “An American in Rome” which was my go to resource when we were there for eighteen days last summer. 

This tiny space contains so much beauty.  The small size of the church keeps it from being overwhelming.

I came back a few days  later with my wife and found it was closed. The hours did not seem to be posted on the door.

If you visit near the Campo dei Fiore, head towards the far end and continue down the street. After passing by a number of shops, you will see Largo dei Librai on your left. The church is at the far end.




Tale a look at the American in Rome blog. Stephanie is an American living and working in Rome.


From Wikipedia: 

Santa Barbara dei Librai, Rome
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Coordinates: 41°53′41.32″N 12°28′25.49″E

Santa Barbara dei Librai[1] is a small Roman Catholic church in Rome, Italy. It was once known as Santa Barbara alla Regola after the rione in which it was located. Today it now considered within the rione of Parione, near the Campo de' Fiori.

Giuseppe Vasi dates the consecration of the church by 1306, although it is probable that a church existed at the site since the 10-11th century. Inscriptions inside claim that the church was established by Giovanni di Crescenzio de Roizo and his wife Rogata, who was a senator of Rome in the second century. In 1600, it was granted to the confraternity of the Bookmakers (bookbinders, publishers, and scribes) or Librari, who titled the church after St Thomas Acquinas and St John of God as patrons.

During the papacy of Innocent XI , the church was restored. In 1634, after a fire, the confraternity of book makers bought out adjacent properties. The baroque façade was remade by Giuseppe Passeri. The statue of St Barbara over the door was sculpted by Ambrogio Parisi, and the angel painted on a wall is attributed to Guido Reni. The church has paintings by Luigi Garzi; a fresco of St Saba by Giovanni Battista Brughi, pupil of Baciccio, in the chapel of Specchi; and frescoes by Francesco Ragusa and Domenico Monacelli.

The church was used by the confraternity till 1878, but fell into abandon and was deconsecrated. In 1982, it was restored and.[2]

The adjacent oratory is sited in the ruins of the Theater of Pompey.

Tryptich by Leonardo da Roma
Among the works of art inside the church are:

Tryptich of Madonna and child with John the Baptist and Archangel Michael (1453) by Leonardo da Roma.
Crucifixion by Garzi
Jump up ^ Diocese of Rome
Jump up ^ Itinerario istruttivo per ritrovare con facilità tutte le Magnificenze di Roma e di alcune città, e castelli suburbani. Settima Giornata in
Morelli Gonippo, la chiesa di sants Barbara dei librai, Roma 1927
C. Rendina, Le Chiese di Roma, Newton & Compton Editori, Milano 2000
C. Cerchiai, Rione V Ponte, in AA.VV, I rioni di Roma, Newton & Compton Editori, Milano 2000, Vol. I, pp. 335–382
Mariano Armellini,Le chiese di Roma dal secolo IV al XIX, Roma 1891
C. Hulsen, Le chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, Firenze 1927 F. Titi, Descrizione delle Pitture, Sculture e Architetture esposte in Roma, Roma 1763




Orvieto a most beautiful hill town

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Orvieto Cathedral (ItalianDuomo di Orvieto; Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) is a large 14th-century Roman Catholic cathedraldedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and situated in the town of Orvieto in Umbria, central Italy. Formerly the episcopal seat of the Diocese of Todi, it has been since 1986 that of the Diocese of Orvieto-Todi.

The building was constructed under the orders of Pope Urban IV to commemorate and provide a suitable home for the Corporal of Bolsena, a miracle which is said to have occurred in 1263 in the nearby town of Bolsena, when a travelling priest who had doubts about the truth of transubstantiation found that his Host was bleeding so much that it stained the altar cloth. The cloth is now stored in the Chapel of the Corporal inside the cathedral. From Wikipedia. 

This is the scond time we visited the Duomo, so beautiful, so huge. At a Sunday service there were very few people attending. 

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Piazza del Duomo, Cathederal Square, Orvieto. A quiet sunday morning. 

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Interior of Duomo during Sunday service. 

View showing how massive Duomo is. 

Perfect spot to play calico in the piazza,


The Duomo is always visible from most the the town of Orvieto.

Strolling down the side streets of Orvieto

My new bike. Perfect for shopping. 


This is one of the most common trucks seen in Italy. It is an Ape 50. It is prounounced ah pay. Literaly a bee  probably because with its motor cycle engine it sounds like a bee.  It is ubiquitous through all of italyu 


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Civita was founded by Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago. Civita was the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure, who died in 1274. The location of his boyhood house has long since fallen off the edge of the cliff. By the 16th century, Civita was beginning to decline, becoming eclipsed by its former suburb Bagnoregio.

At the end of the 17th century, the bishop and the municipal government were forced to move to Bagnoregio because of a major earthquake that accelerated the old town's decline. At that time, the area was part of the Papal States. In the 19th century, Civita's location was turning into an island and the pace of the erosion quickened as the layer of clay below the stone was reached in the area where today's bridge is situated. Bagnoregio continues as a small but prosperous town, while Civita became known in Italian as il paese che muore ("the town that is dying"). Civita has only recently been experiencing a tourist revival. ( Text from WikiPedia, Photos © Greg Speck 2017)

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Civita Bagnoregio

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We made a day trip to see this wonderful little town. Almost abandoned, it now has shops and restaurants and has become an major tourist attraction. Unlike many attractions, it is not quite so crowded. WORTH THE TRIP.  

Inferno The Movie Locations In Florence and Venice, Italy

The Inferno was shot in Florence and Venice and some other locations. Here are some of the publicity photos along witth my photos of the scene locations.  The movie was not the greatest, but the scenery was. Tom Hanks and Felecity Jones were able to salvage enough to make it interesting. 

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Tom Hanks andFelicithy Jones  in Florence, Italy in still from the inferno.

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Screen shots of the  Babtistry  in Florence 


The  Babtistry from Giottos Campanile


Ponte Vecchio Florence


Duomo Florence


Palazzo Vecchio, Florence


Palazzo Vecchio, Florence


Who would fall thtrouh the ceiling at Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

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She did not make a good impression on landing. Screen shot from the film.


Remember the question that he asked about the horses? St Marks , Venice Italy

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What about the horses heads?  From the book:  “I’ve got it,” Sienna said, taking his phone. “I’ll run a search for Venetian doges, cross-referenced with headless horses and the bones of the blind.” She began typing rapidly on the tiny keyboard.

Brown, Dan (2013-05-13T22:00:00+00:00). Inferno (Kindle Locations 4808-4810). Transworld. Kindle Edition. 

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St Marks, Vencie Italy

Wandering Around Firenze

The Ponte Vecchio

An artist at work, Ponte Vecchio

Shopping near Ponte Vecchio

Florence is well know for its gold jewelry.

David uncovered outsdide the Palazzo Vecchio

Giotto’s Campanile 

A view from the top.

The Duomo

A view from Uffizi gallery

All of the photos below are of restoration at the Uffizi gallery 


Toscana 2016 17 Days In Heaven

This year we traveled to Florence Italy on the first leg of our Tuscany trip.  We spend 3 nights in Florence, 4 nights in Siena, 4 nights in Montepulicano and 4 nights in Orvieto. Orvieto is in Umbria but so close we lumped in with Tuscany. It was an amazing trip.   In Firenze ( Florence) we had an Air BnB in the Oltrano section. It was  a 10 minute walk to the Arno river and across the bridge to a most beautiful city.  Being just outside of the downtown put us in a quiet neighborhood close several nice restaurants, a small bar ( The Italian Coffee Shop) and a supermarket for miscellaneous items. 

We were totally satisfied with Air B&B accommodations on our trip. It was our first experience using them, and will continue to do so in the future.  After reading a piece in the NY Times by a woman who was not so thrilled with her accommodations with Air B&B, we made sure our choices had EXCELLENT reviews and we double checked the descriptions for each of the four locations we stayed at. They were all very comfortable and offered a chance to get to know the areas and people very well. 

Well Firenze is amazing. Angela and I first visited it in 1998 and I returned last year for 36 hours. This time we walked the city and had a chance to explore the nooks and crannies of the amazing town.  I will be updating the blog on all of our stops during the next several weeks. 

The Duomo in Firenze - The Basillica of Santa Marie del Fiore

Giotto’s Campanile is a free-standing campanile that is part of the complex of buildings that make up Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Standing adjacent to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistry of St. John, the tower is one of the showpieces of the Florentine Gothic architecture with its design by Giotto, its rich sculptural decorations and the polychrome marble encrustations.

This slender structure stands on a square plan with a side of 14.45 meters (47.41 ft). It attains a height of 84.7 metres (277.9 ft) sustained by four polygonal buttresses at the corners.[1] These four vertical lines are crossed by four horizontal lines, dividing the tower ( Text from Wikipedia) 

SInce I climbed the Duomo in 1998, it was time to climb the Canpanile. The views were certainly worth the effort.

View from the Campanile.

The  Campanile.from the top of the Duomo, taken in 1998. 

Ponte Vecchio the most famous bridge in Italy

More to come, Ufizzi gallery and views of sculpture restorations.   So much to see, but the legs eventually give out. 

Ciao for now. 

Siena from Torre del Mangia


Siena Part 2


Piazza del Campo , Siena


View from the Torre del Mantia

The Torre del Mangia is a tower in Siena, in the Tuscany region of Italy. Built in 1338-1348,[1] it is located in the Piazza del Campo, Siena's premier square, adjacent to the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall). When built it was one of the tallest seculartowers in medieval Italy.[2] At 88 metres (289 feet), it is third tallest after Cremona's Torrazzo (112 m (367 ft)) and the Asinelli tower in Bologna (97 m (318 ft)).


More views from Torre del Mangia


Ladies in waiting Piazza del Campo

© Greg Speck 2016