Highlighting Some of my Favorite Places in Italy

Joanne Natale Spigonardo

April 16, 2023

I’ve had the good fortune to travel to Italy dozens of times, and while it is impossible to make a top list of my favorite places, there are some places that always inch there way to the top of my list. One of them is Portofino, nestled in the Ligurian Coast of Italy. Portofino is magical in every way, the blues of the water and sky are an impossible blue that is indescribable unless you see it with your own eyes. Portofino is for those who want lazy days in a spectacular setting, who enjoy and savor simple moments of true beauty. Like every place in Italy, the food is exquisite, with one of the local delicacies being focaccia with pesto and olives. In addition the seafood is some of the best that I’ve ever enjoyed. Desert is no exception, with delectable pastries, and the after dinner drink to beat all after dinner drinks, the famous Scropino, which is a concoction of Prosecco and lemon sorbetto. Evenings consist of classical music in outdoor cafes and fabulous strolls along the water. Portofino is a perfect place for a honeymoon, anniversary, or for no reason at all.

If you have never been to Sicily, you must go. There is so much history and natural beauty with one of the wonders of the world, being Mount Etna.

My husband, Francesco and I visited Mount Etna in 2019, and it was a bucket list adventure for us. Even if you are not a hiker you will be able to manage some of the less steeper trails where you will be among the clouds. It is a mesmerizing place, and a spiritual experience. Mount Etna is an active volcano situated between Messina and Catania in eastern Sicily. It is fairly safe to visit Mount Etna as it is constantly surveyed for its security, however Mount Etna did recently erupt in November, 2022. Fortunately, there were no causalities. Even with the risk, I would totally visit Mount Etna again. We worked up an appetite, and on the return descent we stopped in Taormina, where we enjoyed the world-famous, arancini, rice balls filled with several delicacies. Taormina is a must see, with the famous San Domenico Hotel, (featured in White Lotus on HBO). More on Taormina in a future blog.

Pompeii dates back to the 7th Century BC. It is located near the Bay of Naples. It is incredible to imagine how advance this civilization was, and how many milestones they reached along with the influence of the Greeks. Most of the ancient Roman city is still intact where there are countless artifacts to admire. Pompeii became frozen in time after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which left the city in ash. Everyone was killed, however the ash preserved Pompeii for many centuries. In the 1700s the splendor of Pompeii was excavated under the leadership of Don Carlos, King of Naples.

Walking along the cobblestones of Pompeii one is transported to an advanced culture, and it seems surreal to know that the famous Centaur statue will continue to guard Pompeii for many civilizations to come. We were lucky to stop in Naples on the way back, where we enjoyed un espresso stretto with a delicious sfogliatella. Sofliatelle are Neapolitan traditional pastries, with dozens of crispy layers, filled with sweet ricotta and candied fruit.

Really there are countless spots in Italy that I love, but Portofino, Mount Etna, and Pompeii are engraved in my memories and are truly special.

About the Author:

Joanne has many years of experience in travel to Italy, Italian art, literature, film, history, wine, and cuisine. She is a lover of nature and beauty.  She is an advocate for Italian immigrant women, and the author of White Widow, which is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB.  For more information about Joanne please visit her LinkedIn page:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanne-spigonardo-b4824a9/.

Published by spigonaj

Joanne Spigonardo Business Development Consultant Specializing in Sustainability, Higher Education, Career Management, and Public Relations In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton. Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels. Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB

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