Italy Rules – Expanded

The Blissful Adventurer - Michael Housewright

Spaghetti with Clams – Le Marche

What a wonderful and sometimes intense set of responses from my previous post – The Italy Rules. I want to take a little time today to expand and expound on some of my thoughts and provide further insight into traveling in Italy.

1. Italy Guides – Here is my short list of who I would travel with and why in Italy.

  • The Rome Digest – This new and wonderful consortium of talented Rome guides includes my dear friend Katie Parla, who is my champion of all things Roman (pork, gelato, beer, wine, art, history, and life) If you are going to spend time in Rome, and you should, let the Rome digest draw a map for you
  • VeniceRow Venice Nan McIlroy is one of the most knowledgeable people in Italy regarding living life, eating well, and getting out on the water. Don’t pay 200 euro for a snooze on a gondola. Pay less and get out there and learn to do it yourself. Easily one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in Italy
  • TuscanyJudy Francini will cook with you and teach you what it means to truly experience life in Tuscany. Reach out to her. She has been cooking successfully for her Italian husband for years. She will teach you how to impress anyone.
  • Puglia – this is a bit biased but I can vouch for the unbeatable quality of Southern Visions Travel. Antonello Losito leads this superior company leading the most authentic excursions into Italy’s tastiest region. From 1 day to 1 month, these guys are amazing
  • Le MarcheMariano Pallottini – the best guides are sometimes not guides. For this truly under-the-radar region no one can show visitors the ropes like Mariano. Please tell him I sent you.
  • Travel for Teens – If you would like to send your son or daughter on one of the most amazing experiences to be had. I strongly suggest using Travel for Teens. Managed and operated by a group of passionate, intelligent, and experienced men and women, TFT is the leader in volunteer and cultural travel in Italy for students. Ask for Ned or Nick and your young adult will be blown away
  • For other Italian regions I have friends of friends and would be happy to do some research for you [Read more…]

Lost Images of Turin, Italy

The Blissful Adventurer - Turin

View from the Church Steps – Turin.

Lost Images of Turin, Italy

I made my first trip to Turin, Italy in August of 2010. I was simply blown away by the architectural influence of the French Savoy family. However, like most of Italy in August, the city was practically deserted. The empty streets along with the general resignation on the faces of the locals, during this holiday month, gave one of Europe’s richest cities an eerie and sickly feel.

The Blissful Adventurer - Torino, Italy

A haunting bridge over the Po.

I love the ghostly light emanating from the center tunnel in this image. This one ray of sunshine seemed to encapsulate the spirit of this very challenging summer in Italy. [Read more…]

Real Risotto for Real Joy

Real Risotto for Real Joy

This post is taken from something I did last year. I have made risottto more than 300 times in my life and I believe mine is right up there with the best I have had. If you want this rice to blow your doors, follow my lead here and make it like a champion.

Recently, and likely often, I have risotto on the brain. When I began my article on the subject last week I actually intended to share some favorite tips with you and I digressed into telling a passionate college story.

Now I would like to share with you some things I do to make risotti my friends and family enjoy. I have two classes of risotto that I make: A weeknight version with commercially produced stock and a “Special Occasion Risotto” with homemade stocks and usually something like chanterelles or truffles in the mix.

Today I am explaining the basic Risotto Milanese (giallo) taught to me by my dear friend Benjamin and augmented by yours truly over the years.

Great Risotto begins and ends with the Rice:

The King of Rice [Read more…]

Italy Fiction – The Grape Harvest Part 7

An exploration of Italy Fiction – The Grape Harvest Part 7 is the story of a newly published author, his daughter, and their passion for Italian food, life, and danger.

Here is a link to Part 6

Italy Fiction - The Grape Harvest Part 7
The Grape Harvest


Mike really enjoyed driving the Ape. As close to wine as he was he had never been a winemaker and the discomfort of the sulfured-overalls did not affect the joy he derived from the costume. Much like a play from his youth dressing the part somehow made him the character. This was a dress rehearsal for deception and Mike would have it no other way. [Read more…]

The Grape Harvest – Italy Travel Fiction Part 6

The Grape Harvest Part 6 is the continuation of my Italy Travel Fiction segment that I began in April. This is a 7-10 part series following Mike, a newly successful author along his travels in Italy. Do not let the innocuous description steer you away from this story of introspection, compulsion, and deviance. Here are links to the first 5 chapters.

Parts – One – Two – Three – Four – Five

The Grape Harvest - Piedmont Travel Fiction Part 6

The Sacrament

Previously – Mike fired another round through the bridge of the German’s nose and he died. At that moment the iPhone text tone sounded and the message said “have you finished your business Dad? ready for that walk?”

He stared at the message all too aware that Viola was wandering through the vineyards with the winemaker and waiting on him to join. 4 gunshots although muffled a bit by the thick walls and the annoying bathroom exhaust fan were more than a little obvious. In the quiet space that exists only in the most fleeting moments Mike knew he had to go. Viola would have to forgive her father again for an unannounced departure which gave him a sad pause. [Read more…]

The Grape Harvest Part 5 – Piedmont Travel Fiction

The Grape Harvest Part 5 is the continuation of my Italy Travel Fiction segment that I began in April. This is a 7-10 part series following Mike, a newly successful author along his travels in Italy. Do not let the banal description steer you away from this story of introspection, compulsion, and deviance. Here are links to the first 4 chapters.

Parts – OneTwoThreeFour

The Grape Harvest Part 5 - Piedmont Travel Fiction

A Good Read

Mike: (to Viola) you knew that Roberto had truffles today didn’t you?

Viola: I AM my father’s daughter

Mike: he still gets these via trade; his guy told him that he could get $1500 each for the small fist truffles but that because the winery had been so good to him in the lean years that there would never be any wavering in the agreement which dated back 22 years to the first November after Roberto’s father fell ill.

Viola: Roberto’s poem on the winery wall?

Mike: yeah, perhaps the most compelling argument that life and our direction is not nearly so neat as we would like to make it. Roberto was a successful man, but family….

Viola: I love you Dad

Mike: are you sure?

Viola: you silly, silly man, with the big dangerous imagination…you know I am not going to repeat myself [Read more…]

Celebrating 20 Years of Italy Photos

TBA 1992 - Photo by Leo Landin

To celebrate 20 years of Italy Travel I present you 20 years of Me :-) As you can see I still love cameras and sunglasses.

TBA 2012 - Photo by Mike Fiveson

Italy Images – This is Why I am Blissful

A ray of light on the wall of the Pantheon. In this greatest functioning example of ancient architecture I am always amazed that the renaissance genius Raphael is entombed here. [Read more…]

The Grape Harvest – Part 3 #TravelFiction

Nebbiolo Grapes - 2nd Crop



Mike realizing he could do no more decided to live with his look as well as his garb and went for the door. Just as he pulled the handle his iPhone buzzed on the nightstand. Another fucking birthday reminder he thought as he went to the phone and saw the SMS – “maybe you shouldn’t”

There was no number attached to the message yet this note was clearly not the work of internet marketing. Mike instinctively looked about the room now as the sun was breaking the fog in all directions and created individual search lights through the bits of dust as they appeared to be in perpetual flight. Of course there was no one there but this was now two cryptic notes less than 20 minutes apart in arrival and neither with a claimed author. [Read more…]

The Grape Harvest – Part 2 (Travel Fiction)

The Villa and the Vineyards

PART 1 (essential to understanding Part 2)

Mike looked over the note one final time. Was it Mary, the American who works for the winery? Who even knows he was here besides his agent and the villa staff? He was hungry so he was just going to have to find out. The mirror called to him one last time and he decided that the black V-Neck masked his cheese belly better than the light grey sweater he was wearing. He changed quickly and rubbed his hands down across his abdomen hoping he might smooth away a bit of the curd that had developed along his midsection.

Mike had always been lean and with a high metabolism. It was only recently that his drinking had begun to breakdown the muscle along his core and give his belly button a 270 degree look at the world. Belly buttons are not to be noticed he thought as he took in the largest breath of air he could manage while thrusting his shoulders back. He wanted to gaze a final time in the mirror before exiting the safety of his room, for what awaited him at breakfast. [Read more…]