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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

 

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Photograph by Toni DeBella

One of the advantages of living in Europe is its proximity to exotic places like…Marrakesh, Morocco. Marrakesh is one of the hippest, cultured, atmospheric, friendly, delicious, and surprising places I’ve ever been.

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Watercolor by Kelly Medford

In preparation for my first journey to Morocco (and the continent of Africa, for that matter), I made a conscious decision not to “Google” the hell out my upcoming trip, but experience it with fresh, unfiltered eyes. I didn’t have low expectations. I had no expectations. Surprise, Marrakesh!

Astonishing Thing #1: Sparkling Streets

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Photograph by Kelly Medford

I had no idea that the city of Marrakesh would be so clean! From the modern and architecturally stunning airport, to the palm tree-lined (and pothole-free) roads, to the un-graffitied walls, to the dusty ancient streets of the Medina…all are absolutely pristine.

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Photograph by Toni DeBella

 Astonishing Thing #2: It’s Organized

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Photograph by Kelly Medford

The people of Marrakesh have rules and they actually follow them (hint, hint Italy)! In the Medina, motorcycles, bikes, and donkey carts travel on the left—pedestrians walk on the right. I didn’t see one collision (or even a close call) while I was visiting. Moroccans do traffic flow really well. I would call it organized chaos.

Astonishing Thing #3: It’s Safe

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Photograph by Kelly Medford

You’ve probably heard stories about how unsafe it is to walk around The Medina without a local guide at your side. Bunk. Yes, a lot of people stop to ask if you need help finding something or they may offer to take you to their uncle’s/cousin’s/father’s spice shop; a simple “No Merci” easily discourages them. I walked all over the city unescorted and, truth be told, I worry more about having my pockets picked in Rome.

Astonishing Thing #4: Everything is Negotiable

 

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Photograph by Christine Cantow Smith

It’s not normal for Americans to haggle over every single purchase we make, but in Morocco negotiating price is a huge part of the culture (and one I didn’t particularly enjoy). If you want to buy stuff in the Souks (outdoor markets), you’re going to have to play the game. After my third transaction, I hung up my shopping boots and went for a coffee (which is great, by the way). I just didn’t have any more fight left in me. 

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Photograph by Christine Cantow Smith

Astonishing Thing #5: A Built-in Wake Up Call

Five times-a-day mosques deliver “a call to prayer” by loudspeaker; the first goes off at dawn. If you’re an early riser, no need to set your alarm clock. If you’re someone who likes to sleep in, I don’t know what to tell you. Nazir, a communications director for three museums who moonlights at Riad Dombaraka, explains that the call isn’t necessarily an obligation to pray, but rather a reminder for those who want to pray. (Watch the Video above).

Our bellhop

Our bellhop

From the first moment I arrived, I fell in love with Marrakesh and its super-cool vibe. I can’t wait to come back and see what other surprises this wonderful city has in store for me. ‘Arak qariba!

A big shout-out and bigger “shukraan” (thank you in Arabic) to my pal and artist Kelly Medford for inviting me to join her group during her watercolor workshop. For more information about upcoming painting workshops with Kelly click here.

 

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Watercolor by Birgit Dreesen

 

Watercolor by Lisa Fedich

Watercolor by Lisa Fedich

 

Joe Painting

Joe Altwer

Photo credits: Toni DeBella, Kelly Medford & Christine Cantow Smith

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So, you think you have to forego your workouts when visiting Orvieto? Well, you’d be wrong. On top of lots of strolling, you can take a Zumba class with the great Oxana Voropinova at Persiede dance studio (along with ballet, jazz, etc). There’s also several yoga and pilates studios around town and the ‘the 2 Peppes’ (tennis pros) at Villa Mercede will hone your clay court tennis skills. Not sporty? Then take the ‘walks of all walks’ on the ‘Anello della Rupe”: An hour trek around the rock that will change your life! Read about it here. Orvieto is good for your health! Like! Share! Visit! 

 

#‎31daysofOrvieto‬ ‪#‎orvietoorbust‬ ‪#‎iloveorvieto‬ ‪#‎Orvieto‬ ‪#‎Italytravel‬ ‪#‎Italy‬

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bolsena lake

Lago di Bolsena, that is. Just a 20-minute drive from Orvieto, this oval-shaped crater lake (with a quaint medieval village) was formed from a volcanic eruption 370,000 years ago. Geologist believe that a piece of the volcano was catapulted nearly 30 km and landed at the site that Orvieto was later built (hence the town’s nickname “la Rupe). Etruscans found the volcanic ‘tufo’ perfect for digging wells and caves…and the rest is history! Find out more about Orvieto and its surrounding sites when you visit! Like! Share! Visit!  

bolsena mom, andrew lynn

Bolsena town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#‎31daysofOrvieto‬‪#‎orvietoorbust‬ ‪#‎Orvieto‬ ‪#‎iloveorvieto‬ ‪#‎Italytravel‬

 

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torre del moro

Want a bird’s eye, panoramic view of Orvieto and its surrounding Umbrian countryside? Just climb the 271 steps (45m) to the top of Torre del Moro. The medieval tower sits at the ‘intersection’ of Corso Cavour and Via del Duomo and from it’s terrace you’ll see it all…but cover your ears at the hour, quarter- and half-hour, for the bells chime LOUDLY. Who needs a wristwatch when you live in Orvieto? Share! Like! Visit!

Bruzzese ‪#‎31daysofOrvieto‬ ‪#‎orvietoorbust‬ ‪#‎Orvieto‬ ‪#‎travelwriter‬ ‪#‎Italytravel

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Did you know that: 1) 2,500ish year-old Orvieto sits on volcanic tufo cliffs; 2) The Pope(s) slept here; 3) There’s an underground city with as many as 1,200 Etruscan caves and wells; 4) It was sacked by Julius Caesar’s Rome in 280 BC; and 5) The famous funicular railway was once operated by a water-ballast counterbalanced system?

Want to find out more? Come! Visit and Share the “31 Days of Orvieto” with your friends!

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Day #3 of “31 Days of Orvieto” highlights the ARTISAN.

Our friend Steven Brenner of Cross-Pollinate & The-Beehive has made a film showcasing Orvietano (Roman by birth) Federico Badia, a young man who creates handmade shoes and other leather goods. The film asks the question: What is the future of Italy’s artisans? Let’s hope the answers is that there is a future for Federico and other’s like him in Orvieto and throughout the world! Share if you care about and support fine craftsmanship and a deep dedication to one’s work.  Like! Share! Visit!

 

 

 

 

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Vicolo scooter
 

THE SAGA CONTINUES… (Read Vicolo Wars here).

Since declaring war in my little alley things have gone from bad to worse. 

Remember the plants that I couldn’t water when motorcycles were parked underneath the windowsill? Not a problem any longer – my flowers pots disappeared one by one by one…

Flowers and sign

Rough Translation: “For the person who stole my vase of flowers. Shame!”

When the cold winter weather arrived the scooters moved out and the dog walkers moved in… 

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Rough Translation: “Someone lives on this vicolo. It’s not a bathroom for your dogs.”

**(Note: Sign disappeared 5 minutes after I posted it).

Oh, how I miss the days when young girls only sat on the stoop and smoked. Now drunk teenagers scream and barf on my doorstep at 2:30 a.m. leaving broken beer bottles to step on in the morning. I admit it was sort of amusing listening through the door as a group of confused offenders discussed the sign. I think the sarcasm might have gone over their inebriated little heads…

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Rough Translation: “To be young is a beautiful thing. Please be young somewhere else.” 

Vicolo War is hell.

 

by Toni DeBella

 

 

 

 

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