7 tips for Italy by train

Florence is situated in central Italy, and is an important train hub – it is possible to get to Rome in 1 hour and to Milan in little more than 2 hrs, with the high speed rail. Therefore, is a good idea to leave your car at home and travel by train – here some useful infos from a very nice blog about Italy

Madeinitalymall's Blog

Photo of train station by sailko from Wikimedia Commons
Photo of train station by sailko from Wikimedia Commons

The topic of train travel in Italy is fresh on my mind after a recent trip to Italy. I have also found that the options for train travel are changing frequently, so an update on this topic is in order.

I am summarizing a couple of tricks I learned this summer when I visited Italy in hopes it will help others get around Italy as adeptly as I was able to during my trip. I found that Italia Rail usually had good options: https://www.italiarail.com/. So, these tips apply to that service, even though there are other options for train travel in Italy.
Tip 1: book in advance, especially in high season. You will nearly always save money if you can book at least a week in advance. As the trains fill up, the seat selection options reduce. I had to…

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It is not only Florence

Yes, by the way, we at Scuola Toscana like to go out of the city, and let you see the many beautiful places all over Tuscany. In summer, the beaches, in winter, the cities, in fall, the countryside.

One of the advantages of Florence is that you are in the country in just 20 minutes by public bus !

Scuola Toscana activities

October is the best month to visit the pictoresque Chianti area. Very easy, by yourself or with Scuola Toscana

with scuola toscana activities, you can visit wineries in Chianti

with scuola toscana activities, you can visit wineries in Chianti

… and of course, many farms and producers offer wine and oil tastings. The visit in the Chianti is definitely one of the highlights among our activities in this season.

You Know You’re Becoming a Local in Florence When…

What do you think of this list? Share your toughts with us ! And thank you to Meghan for the nice page ..!

The ISA Journal

Meghan Harmening is a student at Buena Vista University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy.

Nap time is strictly at 3pm when all of the shops close for the afternoon.

Here in Italy, a majority of stores and restaurants close down around 3pm – it’s simply how the work culture is here. What does that mean for the under-rested college student? Nap time! Really I’m just adjusting to the culture and doing life as the Italians do.

High heels are just as easy to walk in as Converse are.

My first few days here were filled with weak ankles, blisters, and Band-Aids. I would walk around and wonder how in the world these Italian women were walking in 4 inch heels. The cobblestone here is just large enough that with the right steps you could probably get through…

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First stop in language: The Italian alphabet

For our beginners ! (They have just started this monday…) Thank you Shasha for this nice page…!

The Notes of the Outsider


The Italian alphabet has 21 letters: 5 vowels and 16 consonants. Listen to the pronunciation here.

The missing consonants from the English alphabet are: j (i lunga), k (cappa), w (doppia vu), x (ics), and y (ipsilon).  They only appear in words with foreign origin as in x-ray.

Some differences in pronunciation of consonants are:

H is not pronounced.

C before e or i sounds like CHE or CHI ( like the ch in church in English ).

CH is pronounced like the letter K.

SC is pronounced like SH.

G before e and i is pronounced like J.

S if in between two vowels sound like the English letter Z.

Some useful internet or website conventions:

@ chiocciola
. punto , dot
/ barra, forward slash
 trattino, hyphen

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10 Surprising Facts About Nutella

One of the activities at Scuola Toscana is the “Dolce alla Nutella” by our teacher Caterina – here some more info about Nutella.

Madeinitalymall's Blog

Article published on Refinery29.com by Zoe Bain: http://www.refinery29.com/2015/10/95108/nutella-facts

Nutella has rescued us from breakups, from bad days at work, and often from our own hangry selves. But how much do we really know about the chocolate-hazelnut spread, other than that it’s good enough to eat straight from the jar? (We all do it — no judgements here.) As it turns out, the story of how Nutella ended up with a permanent spot in our pantries (and our hearts) is pretty amazing. Thanks to Nutella World (yes, there’s a book on the subject) by Gigi Padovani, we have all the info we need on Nutella and its parent company, Ferrero, to officially call the spread our CFL (condiment for life.) Below, check out 10 facts we never knew about Nutella.

Read full article: http://www.refinery29.com/2015/10/95108/nutella-facts

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The “Florence Discovery” experience

More and more students ask us for very short courses, and the one-week course has become routine. While it is difficult to learn a language in a week, it makes a lot of sense if you need to refresh or if you are mostly interested in visiting Firenze.

florence discovery 4

As a matter of fact, in one week you can visit the Uffizi and the Accademia with a specialised teacher, can have a cooking lesson at Fiammetta, and enjoy a walk in the pictoresque Oltrarno. Moreover, get 10 hours of Italian grammar and 10 hours of Italian conversation classes. Not so bad, especially in this season, when the huge number of tourists is slowly winding down.  More info here

(picture, courtesy of Serena Fischbaum)

Sunflower: Girasole

In these foggy and rainy days, nice to see some sunny pics !

Blogging In Italy

Driving through Tuscany in the summer, a common site is a field of sunflowers. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost think they were shy, as it seems they are always facing away when I want to take a picture. An understanding of the name, however,  helps one understand – gira sole literally means turns toward the sun, and that is exactly what they do.

©Blogginginitaly.com ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com ©Blogginginitaly.com

But what happens to them in the fall? As you might imagine, they look quite different.

©Blogginginitaly.com ©Blogginginitaly.com

Once they reach this state, sunflowers are cultivated for their edible seeds, which are an important source of oil for cooking. Timing is important as the seeds need to be harvested before they begin to dry and loosen, and before the squirrels and birds decide to do the harvesting for you.

©Blogginginitaly.com ©Blogginginitaly.com

According to Fun Flower Facts, by Connor Lowry, here are some ways the sunflower can be used besides being a wonderful ornamental flower:

  1. As you know, sunflower…

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Florence ‘s Gates of Paradise

The Battistero has been totally cleaned and now is (almost) visible again !

Madeinitalymall's Blog

Article published on onedayinitaly.com by Jessica Andrews: http://onedayinitaly.com/florences-gates-of-paradise/

(All photos courtesy of One Day in Italy)

One of the most famous free attractions in Florence are the bronze doors on the Baptistery of San Giovanni that Michelangelo called the “Gates of Paradise”, a classifier that has stuck in the minds of Florentines and foreign admirers for centuries. Lorenzo Ghiberti, a contemporary and rival of Filippo Brunelleschi (the artist and architect famous for designing the incredible dome on Florence’s duomo – read more here), created these marvels between 1425 and 1452.

That’s right – it took him and his team of artisans 27 years to sculpt and cast the two doors, which feature ten panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament. A quarter century earlier, in 1401, Ghiberti had gotten his first commission to create bronze doors for the Baptistery. Those doors featured twenty-eight panels in total: twenty showing scenes…

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