Blood Orange Juice Giveaway

If you order orange juice in Italy, chances are you’ll get a deep, dark, juice made from blood oranges grown in Sicily. I’ve never been to Italy, but was told this by a friend who works for Aliseo Foods – a company that sources Italian products and sells them here in the states. One product they are demonstrating right now is fresh squeezed, all natural, not-from-concentrate, no-sugar added blood orange juice.

blood orange juice

Heather gave me a sample of blood orange juice and I liked it a lot. Unfortunately, it’s not produced here because we simply do not have enough blood oranges. It takes a lot of blood oranges to make a liter of juice, and in Aliso’s, they use three different kinds — Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinella. The combination of these 3 varieties gives the juice a flavor which reminds me of a less acidic orange- grapefruit juice. In fact, some people like to mix a little blood orange with their grapefruit juice to mellow it out.

Blood orange juice also has some nutritional advantages. As we’ve learned over the past few years, deeply pigmented fruit and vegetables usually contain the most anti-oxidants and blood orange is high in phyto-nutrients and vitamin C. With all of its benefits, I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more if it in the next few years.

If you are lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, then you’ve probably tried blood orange juice. You may have even used it in some recipes. I pasted a few of Aliseo’s below, but a simple Google search brought a ton of results for things like mixed drinks, sorbet, simple syrups and the like. Most of them not baked goods. I haven’t had much success incorporating blood orange juice into baking, but if you have some ideas, send them my way. For now, I’m cooking with it and serving it in drinks. I also came up with an icebox cake which I’ll post in another post.

If you’d like the chance to get some free blood orange juice, here it is. For your chance at having a carton shipped straight to you, in the comment section, tell me something about Italy. I really want to go, but have no idea where or how to start planning my trip. Tell me and other readers something helpful in planning a first-ever trip. If you want to win the free juice but have never been to Italy, comment on where you think you might like to go and say why.

I will pick the winner randomly.  Giveway ends tomorrow at 7:00 AM CST.

Blood Orange Margarita

1 cup Aliseo Blood Orange Juice
2-3 tablespoons Simple Syrup
8 oz Premium Tequila
7 oz Triple Sec or Cointreau
1 Blood Orange slice for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. To prepare
a drink, pour 6 ounces into a shaker filled with ice and
shake. Wet the rim of a margarita glass and dip in
sugar then pour and garnish with a blood orange slice.

Blood Orange Dessert Bars

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt

4 beaten eggs
2/3 cup Aliseo Blood Orange juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 C flour stirred together

Optional powdered sugar for dusting.

Mix all ingredients for the crust in an electric mixer until
combined and crumbly. Press lightly into 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at
350 degrees for 10-15 minutes and cool slightly.

In the mixer bowl blend the eggs and sugar together until
smooth. Add the Aliseo Blood Orange juice and again blend until
smooth. Add the flour, mix on low-medium until well mixed.

Pour the filling into the warm crust. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes,
or until the center of the bars no longer jiggles.

Cool to room temperature, or refrigerate if you like your citrus
bars chilled. Gently dust with powdered sugar when about to

Cranberry Sauce

½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup Aliseo Blood Orange Juice
¼ cup water
1 ½ tbsp honey
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 -12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all the ingredients in a medium
saucepan over medium-high heat and bring
to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10-12
minutes or until mixture is thickened, stirring
occasionally. Throw away cinnamon stick
and cool completely. This refrigerates well
and the flavor will intensify if left in the
fridge overnight before serving.

Yield: 14 servings (2 tbsp = serving)

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  1. Gayle215 says

    I was fortunate enough to travel Italy for 3 weeks on a high school sponsored trip. You must purchase a Eurail Pass so that you can travel the country by train. That is an authentic experience. Don’t miss Florence or Capri, the most beautiful place on earth!

  2. Kelly S. says

    I loved Italy. My two favorite things were FLorence and the Roman ruins in Rome. Milan was down right dull other than the 30 min we spent seeing the Last Supper. I really want to go back, and I want to travel in Tuscany.

  3. Andrea says

    If you’ve never been then you should start with the big three – Rome, Florence and Venice. They are very different cities from each other but give a good overview of the country and culture. Rome – good to start here for the history lesson but it is a big bustling city. Florence – culture/art history buffs usually love Florence. Great art and architecture in this “village”. The main tourist sites are in a fairly compact area and it’s easy to walk everywhere you might want to see. It’s also a great hub for visiting the smaller hill towns of Tuscany (my favorites). I love Venice because of all the glass – Murano (a nearby island) is the home of glass craftsman and has been for centuries. Have you see the Chihuly light fixture at the Bellagio in Las Vegas? It’s like that x 10.

  4. Turi says

    I’ve ALMOST been to Italy. We were in France, but had to scale back plans mid-trip when my wife lost our Eurail Pass. So there’s my recommendation: Buy a Eurail Pass, then keep track of it!

  5. Ellen says

    The most important thing about traveling in Italy is to think like the locals. Eat where they eat, order what they do, and always strike up a conversation with the friendly ones! It makes for the most memorable experiences in my opinion.

  6. Tonya says

    I have never been out of the States,so I can not tell you about it first hand.I think Lake Como would be beautiful to see.

  7. Michelle says

    I have never been to Italy, but recently I read in the New York Times about the emerging craft beer sceen in Italy. THe article gave names and locations of breweries to check out. I love wine, but I would also like to see how Italians work with beer.

  8. says

    I have never been to Italy, but like you, I would love to go. I know Italy has lots of good food and sight seeing places.

    I would use part of the juice to make a dressing for a fresh fruit salad.

  9. AF says

    I would love to go to Venice! I think the canals would be amazing to see! When I start planning a trip, and have very little info to go on I always go to tripadvisor.

  10. Jodi says

    I’ve not been to Italy since I was 16, and I’ve been aching to go back for the last 20 years 🙂 One of the neatest experiences was visiting a cameo factory in Torre Del Greco outside of Naples. We got to watch the craftsmen carefully carving intricate designs on shells and it was breathtaking. Absolutely beautiful pieces and great prices to be had.

    Italy was also the first place I ever had blood oranges — the flavor is so much better than the domestic varieties unfortunately. I think it has to do with the volcanic soil they’re grown in over there.

  11. Gayle says

    My MOST favorite thing in Italy was hiking in the Cinque Terre. Every step was like being in a picture post card, walking along the hills and cliffs looking over the Mediterranean going past olive groves, lemon trees, mini vineyards. Stopping in a coastal town for a plate of pesto pasta and a glass of wine. Wow!

    Enjoy all the local foods and if you like a dish, ask for the recipe. That’s how I learned how to make Spaghetti Ubriacone (drunken spaghetti), a dish special to a single trattoria in Florence.

  12. Anna says

    ive never been either but i will go someday… as for what to see of course all the staples of the ruins and whatnot but maybe take tours of local wineries and check out the hole in the wall restaurants to get some great food!! have fun!!

  13. says

    I’ve never been to italy, but I reallyreallyreally want to go eat pizza and gelato! I would definitely go to florence and venice and eat as much gelato as possible!

  14. Carolyn G says

    I have never been but my hubby went when he was younger. He adored Florence. He liked it better than Rome or venice.

    Invest in a good travel book.

  15. suzanne says

    I lived in Paris for a little over a year. My biggest regret about my time in France is that I never made it to Italy. I would love to go to Rome and Florence.

  16. says

    Many years ago (we’re talking pre-kids),David took me to Italy for 10 days. It was such an incredible trip, from the city of Florence to the hills of Tuscany, and the canals of Venice – all the food, the sights, just the whole experience. We were able to skip the tourist locations – we were lucky enough to be with locals.

    If you have the chance, go for it. I can’t recommend it enough. I am counting the days until we can go again –

  17. says

    Hi Everyone,

    I am really enjoying your comments and approving the new ones as fast as I can. If yours doesn’t appear immediately, don’t worry…it will.

    This is all great info. For some reason I assumed I should go to Rome first, but Florence sounds even more appealing…..and Capri. I forgot about that.

    I’m going to look for more info on hiking Cinque Terre as well.

    Good tip about Eurorail Passes. Now If I could just find some cheap air fare.

    Does anyone else have wanderlust right now?

  18. Carol says

    I’ve never been to Europe and would love to begin travels there with Italy. I’d like places that have inspired Mario Batali and Giada….I admire both Mario and Giada and think it would be fun to actually see the places they talk about so much! Before I went, I would take a look at their cook books and see which regions I would begin with.
    I’d also make sure that I visited Modena, because I love balsamic vinegar so much, and the area where real parmesan cheese is made.

  19. Mila says

    Be careful choosing when you go to Venice — the main tourist season is sooo packed that it’s a lot less fun. And eat LOTS of gelato!! My biggest regret about our very brief time in Italy is that we went to many places, but were never at a single place very long — I’d rather go to slightly fewer places, but experience them more deeply.

  20. mrsblocko says

    I’ve never been to Italy but wow, so many great places to see there. I think if someone said, “today you are going to Italy, pack your bags right now and tell me where you want to go,” I would say someplace warmer along the coast (Capri?) because it is absolutely frigid here in Chicago.

  21. beth says

    If you happen to visit Sicily, take a trip up Mt. Etna. There will be local vendors selling the most delicious honey you will ever taste. Buy it!! My favorite was a pistachio honey that can only be described a sublime. I’ve tried to find it here, but have had no luck. Trust me it is simply delicious! I’ve been to Rome and Florence, I’d give the nod to Rome as Vatican City should not be missed. I’ve never been lucky enough to visit Capri, I hope you are. Ciao!

  22. Janis says

    A great thing about Italy is that they love children and treat them with genuine affection and consideration. You would appreciate that fact if you were travelling with your daughter and she would feel like she was a star! Also, it helps that most kids can find something that is familiar and kid friendly to eat. Venice is my favorite!

  23. Rina says

    I’m fortunate to have visited Italy twice – went to Venice, Rome, Florence, Milan, and Cinque Terre on my first trip and Milan, Alba, and Torino on my second trip. I did the first trip with the Eurail pass and it was perfect for seeing all of the famous sights, etc. The cities all have a different allure – I thought Venice was picturesque/romantic; Rome was metropolitan with must-sees like the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps; Florence was quaint and felt ‘authentic’; Milan was great for people-watching (but not much else); Cinque Terre was gorgeous and the hike feels great when you’re eating gelato every day (my standard rule in Italy).

    The second trip was intended to be less touristy. Alba and Torino were both quick train rides from Milan. Alba is famous for great/inexpensive wine. The highlight of both trips was Torino because I purchased a “Choco-pass” and went on a chocolate tour of the city where gianduja originated. It was amazing to see human-size bottles of nutella and return home with goodies to use in baking (have a hunch that you’d like to do the same, just a hunch).

    I can send you more tips if you decide to go! Sorry for the long post!

  24. Marie says

    Italy is so beautiful and one of my favorite places to go. If you want to see Venice but find the hotels too expensive, stay in Padua and take the train in daily. I think it’s a 30-45 minute ride. The Cadogan guide for Venice is great. It has lots of quirky walking tours where you look for hidden treasures.

    Go out to the smaller islands in the lagoon to find and amazing Byzantine church and restaurants where they pull the seafood in as you watch and cook it right there.

    In Rome, you can go to the Pasta Museum which is near the Trevi fountain. It’s really fun and unusual. There’s a restaurant directly across from it which was one of the best meals I had in Rome. Eat potato and rosemary pizza at the pizzarias!

    My final traveling abroad trip tip is, when you see something you like, buy it right then. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to remember where you saw something or finding out the shop has closed for lunch.

  25. Sarah says

    I went to Lake Como in October. Here’s what I learned: tripadvisor can be your best friend; use multiple guidebooks because you might agree with the hotel suggestions in one but the restaurant suggestions in another; wear good shoes; see if there is a “down season” (the week after we left Bellagio, it was basically going to shut down meaning many shops, restaurants, and hotels would close until the next spring!); save room for gelato.

  26. veronica says

    I’ve never been to Italy, however it is a dream of my husband and mine to visit Venice. I guess I’m a hopeless romantic and think that Venice would be as romantic as they come.

  27. says

    Went to Italy last summer!! LOVED it!! We will go back and see more soon. We did the West Med. Cruise – great way to see many places, then took private tour guides to show us the important sights. Awesome guides with just us, saw more than the big cruise tour groups. Lets see, Cruise started in Barcelona Spain, stops in Naples, Rome, Florence/Pisa, Nice/monacco France then back to Barcelona…. seems like I am missing another Italy stop?? Anyways it was awesome – go!!

    So my tip – hire private guides!

  28. says

    Rome is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Some must-sees (no surprise) are the Vatican and Colosseum. I highly recommend going…it’s like no other in the world. And I can still taste the cappuccinos. One of my favorite memories was seeing the Pieta.

    Some key things to remember: Learn a little bit of Italian. We knew none. That can make getting on the wrong bus VERY easy. It also makes ordering food difficult. At least it did for us. I think I spent a lot of money on a piece of chicken one night. Luckily, the wine made up for it.

  29. says

    I want to go to Italy someday! My mom’s mother is from Italy and I’m “all” Italian (So I’ve been told!) I’m not even that big on wanting to go to all the places in Europe and don’t really like flying for that long, but if I had the chance, I’d go to Italy. I’d go to Venice…and Rome…and, well–all of it! 😉
    Helpful, I know!

  30. Denn says

    Best thing about Italy?? Art. Hands down. It’s everywhere, and not just your basic run-of-the-mill art….we’re talking HISTORIC art. By the masters. Fountains, buildings, even the streets and lampposts. If you can get yourself into the Vatican, even better. It’s mind-boggling, heart stopping eye popping awesome….’Nuff said.

  31. kelly gibson says

    the hub and i wen to Rome for a month. we ate like pigs and both lost at least 15 pounds, from all the walking and because the food is so unprocessed there! i had my first gorgonzola & pear pizza there.

  32. says

    Oh, Anna! You MUST go to Italy!! I’ve been sitting here trying to decide which Italy story to tell and I simply cannot choose just one. I’ve been twice now – back in 1998, my sister and I went to Florence and the Cinque Terre, with a brief stop in Pisa in between (we literally got off the train, went to see the leaning tower, and then got back on the train again that same day). Lisa (my sis) had done a study abroad program a few years prior, and could not stop talking about this one restaurant that gave a good bargain to kids from the program she was on. The only problem was that she couldn’t remember the name! So, every single night, we would wander around the neighborhood it was in (at least she remembered that part) and look for it until I got hungry and cranky, and then we’d give up and go somewhere else. So, finally, on our very last night there, we decided to start wandering the neighborhood a full two or three hours before we thought we’d get hungry. We wandered and wandered, and were about to give up but decided to “just go around this corner and try one more street”….and there it was. To this day, it is one of my favorite meals ever. SO – if you go to Florence, look for a restaurant called La Palle de Oro (I could be misspelling this). DELICIOUS.

    Then, three years ago I went with my husband’s family to Portofino. I wrote about it/posted pictures in these posts:

    The second link is my favorite. 🙂

    Have you read Eat Pray Love? The “Eat” part of the book is set in Italy – you might enjoy it. 🙂

  33. Susan says

    Made my first trip to Italy in October. My recommendations: see Venice without delay even though you will be 400-500 years late (buy a Vaporetto water bus pass and see the sights all around Venice for not much money); also you can ride a gondola “ferry” to cross the Grand Canal for a pittance compared to hiring a gondola for a ride (though you may want to do that also). Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the Renaissance art in museums, churches, and just everywhere. Take your daughter to Gardaland, a huge amusement park by Lake Garda in northern Italy, and meet Prezzemolo (“Parsley”), the green dragon mascot. Try all the cookies; they are much less sweet than ours.

  34. says

    I was in Italy back in 2003, and loved every moment that I spent there. I went to Rome, Venice, to the Sicily region; and I ventured to The Vatican city as well. SUCH a phenomenal location, and I look forward to returning there in the near future.

  35. Angela Z says

    My family is from Italy, though me and my parents have never been. My father has told me a story about how my family owned a plot of land in Abruzzi with a little cottage and “42 olive trees”, as he and his siblings always say. It has since been sold to another family. A few decades ago some of my aunts went to visit it. Apparently, they had to have some locals guide them on foot to this little plot (there are no driveable roads leading to it!) and there is now a family living there, very very modestly. It hasn’t changed much from the time my family owned it, and I would love to see the land my grandfather, who passed away before I was born, once owned.

  36. Karen says

    We went to Italy in 2007, for three weeks, and had a fabulous time. It was challenging to plan it since we had never been, but we got a lot of books and good advice from friends.
    I think it’s important not to try to do too much in too short of a time. If you only have a week, you should go to only one city or maybe 2 cities max, so that you are not rushing around and you get to savor the experience rather than just hitting the top tourist spots.
    We spent 5 days in Rome,in an apartment which was fabulous and just barely enough time. We spent 3 days in Sorrento which was not really enough time to explore the Amalfi Coast. On one day we went to Pompeii. The we spent a week in a gorgeous old “castle” in Tuscany, about 20 miles from Florence. We used it as a base to explore Florence, Sienna, and San Gimigiano, and we could have done more places if we had been more ambitious. It had a pool so we also had some quiet afternoons by the pool and we enjoyed cooking our own meals, mostly made up of prepared foods we bought during the day. It was fantastic! We ended with 4 days in Venice, also barely enough time. If you really start to plan a trip, I can send you the info on the places we rented. The castle in Tuscany was fantastic and affordable.

  37. Sara says

    i’ve been to Italy twice. I have lots of tips:

    Don’t go to Naples at night – scary groups of young guys on Vespas like to scare tourists and it was pretty seedy overall.

    Go to the Amalfi coast. It is the most beautiful coast I’ve seen. My friends and I went during the off season and got stuck waiting for a bus and found this hidden staircase that led down about 200 stairs to a secluded cove/beach.

    If you want to see the Pompeii ruins, try to see the smaller site called Herculeum first. It is less crowded, smaller/more compact, and MUCH better preserved. There are lots of two and even three story buildings preserved. If you go their first you will get a sense of what you are actually seeing at Pompeii, which is really, well, ruined!

  38. Sara says

    Another tip – go to Capri and Anacapri! Make sure you go to the Blue lagoon and take the ski lift to the top of the mountain. The view is incredible, I was like 2000 feet above the sea and could still the bottom of the ocean.

  39. Carrie says

    We honeymooned in Italy and I loved every minute of it! We went in late October- it was a great time to go- mild temps and the off season just started so we got some good deals.
    We stayed a few nights in Rome, Florence, Portofino and San Gimingnano. Rome was fabulous at night- our hotel, Hotel de Russie, would make us dinner reservations each night. We would come back to our room after sight seeing to find a little note on our bed telling us where we could dine that evening. Each night was better than the one before. We rented a car in Rome and drove to Florence. I highly recommend driving if you would like to explore small towns and just see the countryside up close. Highways in Europe are so much easier to navigate than the ones here, despite language differences. Also, the highway restaurants are actually tasty! We stayed 2 nights in Florence. There is a lot of amazing art to see there, but it seems like all the tourists of Rome are just packed into a smaller city. From Florence we drove to Portofino to stay at the Hotel Splendido. This is a major splurge hotel, but I’ll never forget it and I dream of going back. The town itself if darling, though there weren’t tourists around when we visited and I doubt it would be as charming with the the summer throngs of people. We spent our last night in the small Tuscan town of San Gimingnano. It is just outside Siena. We stayed at a cute country hotel, but I just adored Siena and I wish we had stayed there instead. Siena is both a historical city and a college town. The college part is neat because you have this whole other mix of young people around which gives the city another dimension.
    As far as food goes, we didn’t have a single bad meal. I love the menu in Italy- so many choices-antipasti, pasta, meat, appetizers. I don’t think we ate anything sweet other than Gelato. It was so much fun trying all the different flavors- I’m sure we had it twice a day most days. And Pizza for lunch. American pizza just doesn’t cut it for me anymore after our trip to Italy.
    If I go back I would really like to see the Amalfi coast and perhaps Lake Como. The people in Italy are friendly and lively- not like their neighbors to the west.
    I would put Italy high on your travel to do list- you won’t regret it. And go with an appetite!


  40. says

    I would gladly go anywhere in Italy, but for some reason the countryside and vineyards sound more appealing to me than the large cities…but I’d love to check out some ruins as well.

  41. Valerie says

    We might go to Italy as part of our honeymoon. If we go, I don’t care where we go as long as we spend some time in NAPLES! I want to have the world’s best pizza and I am willing to travel half-way around the world to eat it!

  42. says

    I have been once and visited Rome, Venice, Pisa and Florence. I liked seeing the art and places that are so identified with Italy (Leaning Tower, The Pieta etc) during my first visit. I feel like the cities are more conducive to foreigners. I definitely want to go back and see the countryside and small villages, but I’m glad my first visit was to more urban areas. Definitely get one of Rick Steve’s Italy guidebooks. His info is GREAT.

    Get gelato at San Crispino’s which is just around the corner from the Trevi fountain…that stuff is SO good!!! Here’s where it was when I was there in 2003: If you are centered in front of and facing the fountain, the little side street to San Crispino’s is over your right shoulder, at about the 2 or 3 o’clock mark (imagine you are standing in the center of the clock). Walk down this street about 1/2 a block or so, take the first side street to your left and San Crispino’s will be just a few dozen feet up on your right. Go there!

  43. charmy says

    Hi! I’ve never been to Italy, but boy oh boy would I like to right now. I’m living in Ontario, (cold!!! it’s -20C or -5F here!) SOOOO The first place I would DEFINATLY be going is the beach! I’d love to soak up some nice warm sun right about now. And of course, travel the beautiful country side, nice and peaceful! Hope you get to go soon!!!

  44. says

    Hi Anna,
    I’ve actually never been to Italy, either. BigSis and I have been dreaming of planning a trip to Italy for over two years now. (Just waiting on some financing) haha!

    First, read Eat, Pray, Love! Oh my, her descriptions of places in Italy almost made me feel like I was there!

    I even bought several travel books on Rome and started planning a trip in my head. We wanted to include Florence, Capri, and Tuscany, as well.

    Too bad we can’t just take a month off, right?

  45. says

    I’ve never been to Italy, but I’d love to go to Naples. My grandparents live in Naples, Florida and I think it would be funny to call them and say “I’m in Naples, can I come visit?”

  46. Jackie says

    Don’t know much about Italy though I did live in Switzerland for five years.
    I love the blood orange juice from Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately ours has stopped selling it. 🙁 I was hoping it was just out of stock but the guy at the register said they no longer sell it. Not sure if that is just in our store or everywhere.
    If you want to get a feel for what Venice is like, watch the movie “Don’t Look Now” with Donald Sutherland. It freaked me out when I was a kid. Shows all the canals and bridges and gives you a real feel for what the real Venice is like.

  47. jasmine says

    I went backpacking with my mom this past summer through Europe, Belgium and Swizterland were our absolute most favorable places but we did happen to see Italy too! #1. Eurrails are NOT as easy as everyone makes them out to be! I’d recommend skipping them unless you have someone with you who knows a bit about using them. there are a lot of extra booking fees with them and it’s easy to miss your train and be in trouble!

    Venice Italy is the place I would recommend. It is beautiful and EVERY bakery is outstanding with fresh baked pastries for usually only 1 euro!!! my mom and me packed up a good box of pastries and brought them home! Also, go on the shoulder season (not the big months of summer) it will be less crowded and that way you can wonder the many cute streets and enjoy the many shops and bridges over the canals without being shoved or pushed by anxioius tourist!

    Go to Venice! the pastries there were my favorite (even better then Paris!) especially this small cake like scone that was green and had pistachios in it!!

    the coffee is also rich and wonderful and the people there were friendly!

    have fun planning your trip, wherever you go it will be great!

  48. Globe says

    I spent a month in Italy, and my advice is to not overlook lemon gelato – it is the best flavor.

  49. says

    I’d love to try that Margarita recipe with the Blood Orange Juice! 🙂

    My concrete knowledge of Italy is lacking but I’d probably start planning a trip based on the art of Italy. My personal planning would proably involve my daughter’s good friend who is Italian/Swiss and currently working on a PhD in Zurich.

  50. Louise says

    I excel at travel. My husband and I have been traveling all over the world for more than thirty years. We always travel independently. My advice is to not try to see the whole country in one trip as you will spend too much time traveling and not enough seeing/doing what you should be enjoying. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are excellent as they have maps of towns which have details about places you’ll probably want to see and actually show walking tours. We went to Tuscany about three years ago in late October/early November. We picked up a car in Pisa and took two days driving to Florence(it’s only an hour away) as we went to food markets, trattorias, etc. along the way. We parked the car in Florence for three days while we did all the museums, cafes, gelatos, etc. We then headed south into Chianti and ended up staying in Panzano for a couple of nights. Dario Cecchini’s shop, considered to be the world’s most beautiful butcher shop, is not to be missed. It smells like rosemary and now has a small restaurant. We spent a day walking around outside of Panzano just looking at the vineyards and farms using maps that the small hotel owner loaned us. After that we had planned to visit several more small towns south of there, but the weather got even better (80 degrees in November) and we decided to go to the beach instead of a couple more ruins or museums. We ended up in Viareggio for a couple of days. It’s where people from Milan go. Even if I don’t win the blood orange juice, I’ll be happy to help you plan a trip. I truly believe there’s no such thing as “a trip of a lifetime” as if you really enjoy it, you can go back again and see some more. 🙂

  51. cookienurse says

    I’ve been to Italy twice; Rome is a great starting point, then Florence and Venice. I thought going through with a travel group was beneficial, since I don’t speak Italian and I was in the (safe) company of Americans who spoke English. They tend to bring you to the touristy places of course, but every once in a while, we would break away from the group activity to meander on our own (but not too far away!) We would even miss a few group dinners just to look around the town and experience new things on our own.

  52. Anne says

    Two words: Rick Steves!

    Seriously, I’ve been to Italy and am dying to go back and could list lots of favorites, tips, etc., but when traveling to a new place (especially a foreign country), it’s so easy and so extremely helpful to use a travel guide. Rick Steves is a personal favorite, but I’m also a fan of Lonely Planet.

    When we went, we did the “big three” as numerous others have suggested: Venice (beware the “taxi drivers” — they will cheat you), Rome, and Venice. While all three were fabulous, if you can, try to give at least one day to driving out into the country away from the cities to explore a smaller, not-so-touristy town or two. I recommend Braccianno and Anguillara, two towns a short ways northeast of Rome on the shores of Lake Bracciano.

    Bon voyage!

  53. Louise says

    Anna, you asked if anyone else has wanderlust right now? I’m good for now as I was in Norway in November for about my twenty fifth time. 😀

  54. says

    If you are planning a trip to Florence, make sure you sign up to get a ticket to the museums ahead of time, no matter what someone (ahem, Rick Steves) says! The lines can be looooong.

  55. Susan says

    We had our once-in-a-lifetime trip the summer before last and spent 10 days in Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Siena, and Venice. It was spectacular. Rome is a wonderful starting point and we spent three nights at a fabulous smaller hotel called the Senato del Albergo. Everyone was so accomodating. It sits right in the same piazza as the Pantheon so that the first thing you see each morning when you step outside is that enormous, ancient building and you can just mosey inside any time you like. Each evening, before dinner, we met our friends up on the rooftop bar of the hotel and enjoyed cocktails while watching the sun set over Rome. I hope you can travel there.

  56. Rina says

    p.s. Thanks for holding this contest, it is fun to live vicariously through everyone’s travel experiences. I feel like I’m reading a “choose your own adventure” novel!

  57. Juli says

    I lived in Florence one summer in college, then spent a couple of weeks in southern Italy 15 years later. It’s a beautiful country with warm people and amazing food. The one piece of advice I’d give, is to let yourself go with the flow. Italians are very easy going and a lot less stressed out than Americans. If you allow yourself to let go and explore at a relaxed pace, you’ll have a wonderful adventure. If you get the chance to go, the Amalfi coast is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen.

  58. Emily says

    My mother and I are traveling to Italy this Fall. She backpacked across my Europe 30 years ago and was exactly the same age I will be when we take this trip together, 24. I am looking forward to being with her to experience my first time visiting the country and her first time back since a such a memorable trip.

  59. says

    I spent several weeks in Italy 2 summers ago. It is all breathtaking, and if you have the time, I would recommend a whirl-wind tour (Venice, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, etc… seriously not one is overrated). My favorite city was definitely Florence. But the most beautiful place, the truly once in a lifetime-I can die now that I’ve been there place, was the Cinque Terra. 5 little cities hugging the Mediterranean coast. You can walk between them on little (slightly arduous) paths. The food is delicious, the people are friendly. Please, visit the Cinque Terra.

  60. says

    I’ve never been either and I really want to go. My tips are for hotels. I’m a huge fan of priceline, and to see where I should start my bidding I use I just got a 2.5* at LAX airport for 40.00 on the last night of my Cali trip in March. I have a 6am flight back to Detroit. Because I posted my win, 2 other ppl bid and got the same hotel. Priceline is great once you decide where you want to go.

  61. Laura E. says

    I would love to go to Sicily, where my maternal grandfather’s parents where born. For your first trip you could go the tourist route and go see the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Michelangelo’s David, eat creamy gelato in Rome, authentic pizza in Naples and sit back and relax with a glass of wine in the hills of Tuscany.

  62. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" says

    My favorite part about Italy is the gelato. I had some good ones in Milan, in that outdoor glass dome/mall. There is also a chain called “Blue” something. Sorry I can’t remember the names, but you can pretty much get good gelato everywhere, and everyday.

  63. Allison says

    I’m not sure if anyone has written this already, but I hear that Naples is not a good place to visit – especially on your first trip. They say that they locals are rude and it’s dirty. I haven’t been to Italy but I have heard this bit on more than one occasion.

  64. Esmeralda says

    While living in England, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Venice and Rome. My husband and I visited Venice during the off-peak season so we got a 4-star hotel for less than 100 Euro/night including breakfast (muesli, yogurt/milk, various cold cuts and breads, fruit, juice). Other benefits of traveling off-peak is that the city is less crowded and the locals seem more friendly.

    Rome was incredible. My parents and sister joined my husband and me for a week-long vacation. We rented an apartment near the Vatican and it was well worth the money. We used “Rental in Rome”. They have detailed information and pictures on all their apartments in Rome. We saved a lot of money by cooking our breakfast and dinner at the apartment and eating out only for lunch while taking a break from touring. If you are traveling as a family, I would recommend renting an apartment. Also look into the “Roma Pass” and other museum passes which give you access to most of the major museums/sites in Rome without having to stand in the queue to buy tickets. You can usually pick up these passes at the airport. We visited the major tourist sites as well as some not as famous but just as beautiful. If you are a fan of the movie “Roman Holiday”, visiting the “Bocca della Verita (the mouth of truth) is a must.

  65. MS says

    We went to Italy in 2004 with Globus Tours. The tour we took was called the “Best of Italy.” For 10 days we went by bus with 24 other Americans and visited Rome, Pompeii, Capri, Venice, Padua, Assisi, Siena, Florence, and Pisa. It was wonderful. Since we don’t speak Italian, our wonderful English-speaking tour guide made sure we got into museums and all the special places. The Italian people were wonderful (they love Americans) and the food was incredible. St. Peter’s, the Roman Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Isle of Capri are some of my favorites. We plan to go back soon as possible.

  66. Jessica says

    I’d say research Italian food blogs and find out where the locals eat before heading over…

  67. pam shank says

    I too would love to go to Italy. The country side looks so beautiful and to see the foods on
    tv with Giada’s tours sure make you want to try it all. I would not know where to begin. I have seen lots of good advise from the other readers. thanks

  68. KristinaYellow says

    I’ve never been to Italy–but I lived in Germany for awhile and loved it. Something about the beer halls, the hiking trails, the ski slopes, the wine vineyards, and the people–it was amazing, esp around Christmas. I’m hoping that my hubby and I will be taking a trip in a year or so–and we’ll hit Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and England.

    I’m currently 8 1/2 months pregnant and have been craving champagne the whole time….perhaps blood orange juice would be a good sub!!

  69. jacquie says

    i have never been to italy nor really thought about going so i’m not sure where i would to exactly. but i would like to visit a
    farmer’s market type of place, have gelato at a
    spot that local’s love, and do some hiking.

  70. ann says

    i want to go somewhere where tourists don’t usually go (not sure exactly where but definitely
    “off the beaten path”) mainly because we see the big cities on tv all the time. sure, its not the same as visiting in person, but if you’re gonna go all the way to italy, you wanna see some small cities/rural areas for sure!

  71. Kaycee says

    The last place I went in Europe was Paris. The architecture there is absolutely stunning. I cant imagine anyone could go and not feel romantic in some way!!

    kayceewilliams AT gmail DOT com

  72. Louise says

    Heidi said “If you are planning a trip to Florence, make sure you sign up to get a ticket to the museums ahead of time, no matter what someone (ahem, Rick Steves) says! The lines can be looooong.” This is so true and now you can get many of them over the internet with a specified time so you can avoid going when the bus tours hit the museums. You’d want to see almost all the museums in Florence. It’s an easy walking city with the exception that you have the feeling of being in an old Italian movie with all the Vespas zooming around town, including up on the pavements and going down one way streets the wrong way. To say they are a hazard is an understatement. And, the smell of the two stroke engines is everywhere.
    I don’t know if you’ve read about all the heavy rains that Italy had in early December. Here’s some photos of Venice, but the country was badly hit all over.

  73. SJ says

    Italy is amazing! When we visited Venice, we didn’t take a map with us and just explored the streets. We came upon a typical homey Venetian eatery, hidden in the alleys and we had the most delicious sorbet there! The waiter hand whipped lemon, sugar, egg whites (I’m assuming) in a metal ice bowl until it became frothy/slushy, a bit like granita. Italy has so much: arts and culture, fashion, historic sights…but the FOOD! It always stole my attention.

  74. Christy says

    Skip Pisa! It’s dirty and there is nothing to see aside from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Rome is fun with a lot of great bars and restaurants. Florence has the BEST shopping around, but the worst bread- they don’t use salt!. Venice is gorgeous and very mysterious with all of the winding small streets. I went during Carnivale and it was the experience of a lifetime! Also, the views from Cinque Terre are to die for! And they have the best frutti mare and seafood dishes since they are surrounded by the sea. And although I loved Italy (obviously) I still recommend Austria to anyone traveling to Europe. It’s quaint and bustling at the same time with views of the Alps, access to the top ski resorts in the world as well as designer boutiques. It’s people are freindly, the food is rich and flavorful and as an added bonus it’s connected to Italy 🙂 I studied there and obviously am still in love with the culture and beauty of it!

  75. Jessica L. says

    I’ve never been to Italy, but I really want to go! I’d go to Reggio Calabria right at the tip of the boot, because my husband’s family is from there. They talk about it a lot and it sounds wonderful!

  76. michael says

    I’ve always wanted to visit England, It comes from growing up watching all those British sitcoms, Doctor Who, and even Eastenders! Id love to see it all from London To Stonehenge and everything in between. I think taking a tour of some olsd country estates and Manor houses would be very interesting, and of course there’s always the Royal aspect of it all the historical sites all in all I think It would be an Amazing trip especially if combined with nearby Ireland!

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