About Judy E
Lives in Rome, Italy
Since Jul 2014
For the past decade Italy has been a constant in my assignments as travel writer and photographer. Rome, Florence, and Venice are the cities where I spend the most time, but much of my time has been spent in small towns and the countryside, too, especially in Southern Italy. It's always a privilege to criss-cross the boot, often in a convertible or by train. The art, culture, food, nature, and wine are all incredible. Italy is so rich in these that the problem is never to find something of interest, it's in all those wonders that for lack of space never make it to the printed page or web page. Born in the U.S. and with treasured years of working in the museum world in Washington, DC, I always bring those perspectives with me, too, including to TripAdvisor. I was delighted that TripAdvisor commissioned me to write some Travel Guides for Rome, Venice, and Sicily. Happy reading and happy travels!
Flea & Street Markets
Cemeteries, Historic Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Historic Sites, Ancient Ruins, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Caverns & Caves
Geologic Formations, Volcanoes, Mountains
Hot Springs & Geysers
What's to eat in Sicily? Typical food here offers incredible variety and is delicious. Some dishes will be familiar, but many tastes, colors, and shapes will be new. So where to begin? The best place, in my opinion, is at an outdoor market, where you can explore many food specialties in one go. A stroll through Vucciria Market — Palermo's most famous — is an entertaining morning activity for all ages, and you can snack as you go. Today the market is smaller than it used to be and does cater to tourists, but as such, it a manageable one-stop shop for families.
Inspire your own storytelling with the puppets and marionettes on display at this museum. The use of puppets spans ancient to modern times, and this museum features a beautifully-crafted international collection.
Fancy a swim and some relaxation time on the beach? In Palermo, many locals head to Mondello, a beautiful strip of sand and long stretch of shallow aqua-colored water, which makes for a scenic backdrop and a safer space for younger children to explore. Beach clubs (stabilmenti) rent chairs and umbrellas, and there are plenty of places to eat, too.
While a visit to the Cappucini (Capuchin) catacombs isn't for everyone, it will certainly appeal to kids ready for the thrills and chills of seeing real mummies. Corpses were placed in these catacombs during the 17th-19th centuries, and the result is some 8,000 unusual mummies that were preserved by the atmospheric conditions.
A windmill in Sicily? At first glance, this windmill might seem more at home in the landscape of Holland, but structures like this were once an important part of salt production in the area. There is a small museum on the premises to visit and interesting demonstrations showing how the process used to work, plus the journey there alongside the sea salt marshes is interesting in itself!
Villa Romana del Casale features the most unusual sports-themed mosaics that you're ever likely to encounter. Known informally as the 'Bikini Mosaics,' these 2,000-year-old scenes depict a variety of ancient athletes in action, including 10 young women playing the same kinds of sports and games that we play today. Other scenes show the capture of wild animals for the circus and the Labors of Hercules.
Nature provides the entertainment at Orecchio di Dionisio (the Ear of Dionysius), which dates back to the 5th-century BC, when Sicily was Greek and Dionysisus ruled. Visit this limestone S-shaped cave, talk, and then simply listen to the echoes. Dionysius I, the tyrant of Syracuse, held political prisoners here and then eavesdropped on their conversations!
Marvel at one of the world's most active volcanoes, and one of the largest in Europe, Mt. Etna. More than twice the size of Mt. Vesuvius near Naples, Etna is impressive in any season. If summer's in the air, enjoy a gentle hike on its slopes, or if visiting in the winter, whizz down on anything from sleds and snowboards to trays or cardboard-box panels.
Have fun in the mud on the volcanic island of Vulcano. One of the Aeolian Islands, Vulcano was one of the legendary workshops of Hephaestus, the Greek blacksmith god (Vulcan, for the Romans), and is best known nowadays for its bubbling and belching mud flows. Great for soaking sore muscles in particular, this is the one time you can actively encourage the kids and anyone else to go play in the mud! (Beaches are nearby for swimming, and very handy for rinsing off!)