As soon as we visited Volterra, we knew we had found one of the best villages in Tuscany. Here's why we love it.
See those happy, happy grins!? That's us, minutes after checking into our Volterra hotel room and discovering we had our own secret terrace. Swoon! We were fresh off the bus but we already knew that Volterra was one of the best villages in Tuscany.
Tuscany is a region in central Italy. It's famous for its spectacular regional capital city, Florence, as well as having one of the best food scenes in the world. Some of the world's finest olive oil, wine, cheese, cured meats, and pasta are produced here. And much of it is produced in and around small hill top villages which were once mighty fortress cities - that is, until the Florentines starting throwing their weight around!
With plenty of time and no real travel restrictions, we were spoiled with choice about where to go in Tuscany. We didn't want to spread ourselves too thin and decided to concentrate on just a couple villages. On paper, Volterra checked many of our travel boxes. It was picturesque, affordable, and small enough to explore on foot. And it didn't hurt that Volterra was renowned for its alabaster art. But until we arrived, we hadn't known that we not only made the right choice - we made the perfect choice! Arriving in Volterra was one of those take-your-breath-away moments, giving us absolutely everything we could have ever dreamed of for a sweet Tuscan getaway.
But what exactly about it made us declare Voterra to be one of the best villages in Tuscany? Here are some of the many reasons we fell in love, along with some practical tips for planning your own trip.
We hiked the Victoria Falls Bridge on foot FOUR times in order to cross the Zimbabwe Zambia border. Here's everything you need to know so you can do it too.
At 128 meters high, the Victoria Falls Bridge is a graceful, lacy arch, a throwback to the dreams of a Cape-to-Cairo rail link and what was once one of the most ambitious engineering feats in the world. Today, the beauty is still there, albeit faded and battered around the edges as commerce and trade push bygone nostalgia aside. Connecting Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Livingstone, Zambia, the bridge is a busy border post for commercial trade, as well as for travelers eager to explore both sides of Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River, and the Batoka Gorge.
It wasn't long into our trip to southern Africa before the Victoria Falls Bridge border crossing felt like our old stomping grounds. All told, we crossed the bridge four times! We entered Zimbabwe via Victoria Falls Airport and after three days, we walked across the bridge into Zambia to spend four days in Livingstone. Crossing number one!
We then walked back to Zimbabwe (number two!) for breakfast and to meet up with our Botswanan safari guide. After a week in Botswana, we returned to Zimbabwe. We had lunch post-safari in Victoria Falls before leaving Zimbabwe and walking across the bridge (number three!) for an extra three days in Livingstone.
Finally, we crossed back to Zimbabwe a final time (number four!) for breakfast, some last minute shopping, and to catch our outbound flight. Whew!
Believe it or not, all travelers really need to explore the Victoria Falls Bridge and cross the Zimbabwe Zambia border is their passport and their own two feet. Having the right visa helps as well. For us, that was the Kaza Univisa, a relatively new option that allows unlimited crossings between Zambia and Zimbabwe (as well as day trips into Botswana via Kazungula Borders) for 30 days. We purchased the visa twice as we departed the visa zone during our extended time in Botswana. This proved to be an economical and convenient choice for us, but other options - including single entry and multiple entry visas - might be better suited to your bridge adventures.
Speaking of bridge adventures, here's all you need to know for your crossing, regardless of which country you start in.
Changi Airport's free Singapore tour is famous. But is it more trouble than it's worth? Here's what you need to know before you go.
I love layovers and I love great deals - and everyone knows it! As such, the free Singapore tour out of Changi Airport has been on my radar for a long time. During our first visit to Singapore in 2013, our lengthy overnight layover of nearly 24 hours called for a hotel and some independent time exploring. But during our recent 2018 trip, our layover was closer to 12 hours - just the right amount of time to enjoy the free Singapore tour and explore the city a bit. What could be better?
Turns out, there's a catch to this story. Or rather, there are several. We soon learned the hard way that there are a lot of important rules that are rarely mentioned. If you're planning a layover in Singapore and keen to take in the free Singapore sightseeing tour, here's what you should know before you finalize your plans.
Can you find a bargain in Perth? You bet! Here are the best free things to do in Perth - plus a few frugal meal suggestions too.
Note that some links in this post may be affiliate links, which means we are paid a small commission should you make a purchase.
Let's chat travel and economics for a moment, shall we? On some prosaic, theoretical level, I understand why many a price tag in Australia comes with sticker shock. For one thing, the cost of taxes and tips are included in the price you pay. Furthermore, I appreciate that Australia is an island - a lot of things are imported here and that means that costs are passed along. And of course, Australia also has a very high standard of living. The elevated cost of everyday items reflects the fact that the country has a correspondingly high minimum wage.
But you know what? All these sensible and logical explanations don't count for much when you're staring down $20 museum admissions and $50 bills for basic, boring lunches. Australia is an expensive travel destination. There's just no getting around it. And prices in Perth, the most isolated city not just in Australia but in fact the entire world, can sometimes feel like highway robbery. Rather appropriate, for a former penal colony settlement.
With a tight budget and a week to spend in Perth, I was determined to make our money go the distance. These are the best frugal and free things to do in Perth, with a focus on the city center. (Don't you worry - I'll be working on a list of the best free things to do in Fremantle and other nearby communities soon!)
Join us as we eat our way through the Eternal City on the best food tour Rome has to offer - and learn some important lessons about Italian cuisine along the way.
We were granted media passes to LivItaly's Rome food tour at no cost and we thank them for their support. All research, writing, and opinions are our own. Note that some links in this post may be affiliate links, which means we are paid a small commission should you make a purchase.
Are you ready for a culinary lesson, straight from the best food tour Rome has to offer? Here goes! There are three important things you should know when it comes to buying olive oil. First, always knock a year off the suggested 'best before' date. Freshness really matters when it comes to olive oil. Next, you should store it far away from your stove. While it might be convenient to have it nearby while cooking, proximity to heat can affect the quality of the oil over time. Finally, know that you usually get what you pay for. It's impossible to get a high quality olive oil for $7 a liter. Single source, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil, a foundation of Italian cooking, is well worth paying a premium for.
If you're suddenly craving a loaf of crusty bread and a saucer of pungent oil for dipping, you aren't alone. It's delicious! So would it surprise you to learn that I didn't once try olive oil during our LivItaly small group Rome food tour? Everything I learned about olive oil came from a conversation with our tour guide, Dario, over glasses of wine and a platter of local cured meat, cheese, bread, and honey.
I'm not exactly sure how we got on the topic of olive oil but once we started asking questions, we couldn't stop. And we soon learned that the mark of a great food tour is that you're so busy chatting you scarcely notice the food at all, no matter how delicious it is. Within minutes, we weren't studious culinary scholars. We were noshing with a new friend and it felt like old times.
Read on to learn more about the wine, food, and conversations that flowed!
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