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Photo by Toni DeBella

It’s hardly a secret that the Netherlands is home to the most bicycles per capita than anywhere else in the world. Statistics reveal that 17 million Dutch people own 22.5 million bicycles (1.3 bikes per resident) and there are upwards of 55,000 kilometres of bike lanes stretching from north to south and east to west.

Perhaps nowhere except Copenhagen is a city quite as bike-friendly as Holland’s capital of Amsterdam. From cradle to grave, citizens can be seen straight-backed and confident as they pedal around their unique city, come rain or come shine. Come hell or high water.

Before taking to these canal-lined streets on two wheels, here are some things you ought to know about biking in Amsterdam:

1 There’s a lane for that

Brick-hued, one- and two-way bike paths snake through charming neighbourhoods and grey pavement is marked with pedestrian symbols (specifying footpaths) or bike symbols (indicating cycle and scooter lanes.)

2 There’s a traffic sign for that

Along with traffic lights for motor vehicles, there are also designated signals for pedestrians and bicycles. Don’t forget to look both ways before crossing the street!

3 Road rules made simple

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Photo by Eliad Yaholom

Follow road signs, stay to the right, give the right-of-way to pedestrians at zebra crossings, comply with caution signals, and keep pace with the flow of bike traffic.

4 They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

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Photo by Toni DeBella

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Parking guidelines require that you place your bike in an allocated parking spot (on a rack or at an indoor parking facility). Bikes illegally parked will be confiscated and stored in the city’s Bicycle Depot. To avoid theft, always lock your bike to something secure and immovable.

5 He who hesitates is lost

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Photo by Becky Day beckyday

If you’re a novice cyclist or you haven’t been on a bike for a time we suggest joining a guided bike tour or explore the city on foot. Amsterdam on a bike is not for the faint of heart (see number “6” below).

6 The most dangerous thing in Amsterdam is…

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Photo by Slaunger

…a tourist on a bicycle. To enjoy Amsterdam safely you should be well versed in the rules of the road and follow them to the letter. Read about cycling safety here.

7 The second most dangerous thing in Amsterdam is…

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Photo by Steven

…a tourist NOT on a bike looking at a map. Pay attention to where you’re going or suffer the unpleasant consequences.

8 Fun fact

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Did you know that there is a crack team of city workers charged with cleaning up Amsterdam’s numerous waterways? Incredibly, they pluck more than 15,000 bikes annually from their aqueous graves.

Bonus: insider tips

Here are some dos and don’ts to make riding a bike in Amsterdam more enjoyable and safer:

  • DON’T stop abruptly in a bike lane. DO pull over.

  • DON’T use a cell phone or read a map while moving.

  • DO keep a safe distance between you and the bike in front of you.

  • DO put out your arm and point in the direction you’re intending to go.

  • DO use a light at night.

  • DO use your bell to alert someone that you want to pass.

  • DON’T bike more than two across.

  • DO or DON’T wear a bike helmet (they’re not required by law).

  • DO avoid rush hour when cycling can be the most harrowing and chaotic.

  • DO cross tram rails at an angle to avoid tires getting stuck in the groove.

  • DON’T cycle when drunk or under the influence.

For more information on booking guided bike tours in Holland, France, and Italy contact Amsterdam-based YuBike. You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

Sometimes a plan just comes together. Last October a wonderful group of artists of all levels and from all corners of the world gathered to paint and sketch our little hill town. They took the city by storm!

 

Sketch tour at Comune.

And their work was simply wonderful…

Margaret Wheaton, Florida, U.S.A.

MWheaton Orvieto

“Lovely bells ringing, but then the rain returned!”

Yvonne Fay, Manchester, UK

YFay

Alistair Duffield, Singapore

ADuffield

“I had a great time in Orvieto. It is a wonderful, friendly Italian hilltop town and the week is not only about sketching and painting, but the town, its people, great restaurants and food. Well organised by Toni and on top of that sketching/painting every day was a joy – guided by Kelly. “

 

Erin Lee Gafill & Tom Birmingham, Big Sur, U.S.A.

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“Kelly is a simply great teacher and Orvieto is the ideal place to learn. I absolutely loved the experience and can’t wait to come back and do it again! Kelly’s lessons are invaluable and serve me well every day in my own painting practice.”

 

Valéria Salgueiro, Brazil

V. Salgerio

“The whole week period, from Monday to Sunday, was very well organized in every respect – accommodation, special activities with local people and, obviously, the thematic painting workshops. In a word or two, everything run as planned and informed to all participants, and the results were well above our expectations. Kelly is an excellent artist and a lovely person, and each day she explored different aspects involved in painting such as composition, sense of space, light and shadow, color, texture asw. All this occurred in a very friendly and respectful climate, so that I left Orvieto with that great feeling I did the right choice. I would not hesitate to strongly recommend Kelly Medford’s workshop to whoever wishes to put together a traveling, painting and making friends experience in unforgettable Orvieto.”

 

Jane Stephenson Bumar, Florida, U.S.A

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“Every day was beautifully structured to present completely different experiences and lessons carefully guided by Kelly Medford who is such a genius at working with all levels of artist from beginning to professional. Such an enriching, magical and supportive experience all around.”

 

Jane Driscoll, South Carolina, U.S.A.

APeterson

“Sketching Orvieto” with Kelly Medford was a wonderful experience. Everything was perfect – the magical location, local culture, delicious food and, of course, Kelly’s excellent instruction.”

 

We would love to have you at Kelly’s next Sketching Orvieto Workshop. Find out more below…

 

https://www.kellymedford.com/workshop/sketching-orvieto-capture-a-magnificent-italian-hill-town-in-watercolor/

 

I’m so thrilled to announce that my good friend, Kelly Medford (of Kelly Medford Art and Sketching Tours Rome) and I are collaborating to bring her famous Watercolor Sketching workshop to Orvieto this October. It’s open to anyone who wants to spend a week painting and experiencing Orvieto, one brush stroke at a time. To register or find out more, go to Kelly’s website, as spaces are limited. Share with anyone who might want to join us. Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions. PAINTING ORVIETO, KELLY STYLE!

http://www.kellymedford.com/workshop/exploring-orvieto-watercolor-sketching-in-the-perfect-italian-hill-town/

kelly paint orvieto

 

It’s a message I’ve been attempting to get across to travellers for years. It’s become my own, personal mantra. I’ve recently made it an Instagram hashtag. I’ll shout it from the rooftops, if I have to…

One day is not enough to fully experience all the wonders that Orvieto has to offer!”

the food.

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Pretty cauliflower

 

umbrichelli tartufo

Umbrichelli al tartufo nero

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gelato on the steps of the Duomo di Orvieto

the wine.

foresco

Barberani Foresco red

vino

white wines anyone?

febo wine

a little Prosecco to take the edge off

the art and culture.

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Luca Signorelli’s Masterpiece

 

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Famous rooster ceramic pitchers

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Christmas magic

the lifestyle.

 

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Ahhh, life is good.

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Transport

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Parades

and the people.

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Cheese, please.

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Keeping up with the news.

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Friends with boots.

Repeat after me! Orvieto is NOT just a day trip from Rome!

Come. Stay. Enjoy!

 

Election image

Given the number of parties in Italy there are to choose from, candidate platforms to sort through, and the chess game that is the collalition-forming possibilities, voting here is not a simple undertaking. Preparation is key.

Here’s my step-by-step guide to voting in an Italian election…

Step one: If you’re eligible to vote, register at the local election office before the deadline.

Step two: Go online. I found a helpful video entitled, “Elezioni politiche 2018, come si vota.” Watch it here:

Step three: Visit your local coffee bar and ask the baristas and patrons for advice. They are a fountain of information. Order a double espresso to fortify yourself for what is about to come next.

Step four: Walk over to your polling place. Once there, things get a lot more complicated.

Step five: Find the voting room that corresponds with the number on your voter registration card. If a crowd has gathered, ask who is the last person waiting–it’s similar to queuing at the doctor’s office. There are no lines. Italians prefer to bunch.

Step six: While you’re waiting for a booth to open up, some enthusiastic citizen will give the group an explanation of how to mark your ballots. They’ll use the samples ballots hanging on the wall as a visual aid. After the lesson, you’ll still be confused.

Step seven: As a crowd forms and grows bigger, don’t get involved in arguments about who was there before whom; hold your ground and keep your elbows spread. Inside, poll workers were calling our group in–alternating between men and women–though no one is quite sure why.

Step eight: After you’ve been handed your ballots and a pencil, enter a voting booth, close the curtain behind you and mark a large “X” across the party or candidates (or both – this still isn’t completely clear to me) you’re voting for. Fold the ballots and drop them into the color-coded cardboard ballot boxes.

Congratulations! You just voted in Italy.

*** Note: This post has nothing to do with Italy, other than I’m writing it from Orvieto.

 

My personal list of the eleven things we should stop doing on social media right now:

1.  #instagramming “foot shots” by the pool or at the beach.

Feet are ugly.

2.  Posting photos of your medical procedures.

Self-explanatory.

3.  Sharing bogus news stories and urban myths.

Two words: Snopes.com people.

4.  Arguing with trolls.

You’re feeding the beast.

5.  Food styling your dinner rather than eating it.

Chefs and food writers excepted.

6.  Sending chain letters.

Your friends don’t want them. Trust me.

7.  Giving daily updates of your new love affair.

It’s nice that you’re blissfully happy, but when and if the romance ends your heartbreak will be in Facebook’s memory forever.

8.  Posting seductive selfies.

Smile normally and drop the fish face.

9.  Asking advice about sensitive things on behalf of other people.

“Does anyone know a good gynecologist for my 11-year old daughter? She just got her period.” Um, Noooooooooo!

10.  Using Facebook Live.

Unless you’re the host on of a History or Travel Channel show, don’t narrate yourself doing stuff.  

11.  Writing “what not to do” pieces on your blog.

 

The rolling green hills of Umbria speed past the train window as I feel my body and mind start to relax.

Sometimes we need to get off the merry-go-round of our daily routines and say to ourselves, “Selves, it’s time for a little trip somewhere we’ve never been before.”

 

Faraglioni

 

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A granita (crushed ice and fruit juice) and a little serenade.

 

This is how the “other half” lives.

 

The natives must have the strongest hearts and calves in Italy.

 

Church bells and evening cocktails on the Piazzetta.

 

I think he’s giving me the side-eye!

 

Morning dip in the Mediterranean, anyone? Marina Piccola.

 

A light lunch at Pescheria Le Botteghe.

 

Window shopping for the colors of Capri at OROGAMI.

 

Ahhhhh.

 

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