Do you have someone on your gift list who is an Italy lover or who is planning a trip to Italy? Today’s post is all about great gift ideas for anyone who loves Italy.

Whether you are need Cyber Monday shopping ideas or whether you just need some inspiration for what to buy an Italy lover, here are some fabulous ideas. This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links and it also features my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) , because of course I want everyone to get a copy! If your person has a Kindle device or has the Kindle App on their smartphone/tablet/laptop you can gift them (or yourself) the eBook version for only $5.99. It is discounted through the Christmas shopping season.

Gifts For The Coffee Lover

Wonderful gift ideas for anyone who loves Italy or who wants to travel to Italy. Especially great for coffee lovers!

Curl up with a good book (great book!) and a fabulous cup of Italian coffee while you dream of going to Italy.  My favorite coffee is Lavazza Crema E Gusto . I buy it every time I’m in Italy, bring back about 10 pounds of it in my suitcase, and then when I run out I buy it on Amazon. This is a hearty, rich, full flavored coffee but it isn’t at all bitter the way some strong coffees are. It is really delicious and everyone who tries it loves it. I buy it in packs of 4 but the 2 pack is still good value. Try the Lavazza 2 Pack Crema E Gusto Ground Coffee 8.8oz/250g Each

I make my coffee most mornings in a french press. I have used the Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker for years. It has been the gold standard in french press coffee makers for as long as I can remember. I received this Alfred But First Coffee French Press Coffee Maker in my Fall 2018 Fab Fit Fun Subscription Box and found it here  on Amazon.com too. It’s fun don’t you think? I start my day thinking …but first, coffee...

RELATED POST: HOW TO ORDER COFFEE IN ITALY

the Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine is the perfect at-home coffee maker. Make espressos or lattes or capuccinos at home

The other way I make coffee at home is with my Nespresso machine, pictured here. Mine is the Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine which is their smallest one, but I find it brilliant. I have had it for years and it runs beautifully. If I ever had to replace it or buy a second one I would stick with the Inissia.I buy coffee pods whenever I’m in Europe – they cost half of the price here, so if your person is a traveler consider the original series machines rather than the Vertuo-line machines, which are not available in Europe. Not only are the Vertuo-line pods more expensive than the regular ones, (for the exact same cup of coffee no less) but you can’t buy them in Europe.

I love running into Nespresso stores when I’m over there because not only does it save me money on the pods, but also they have flavors we don’t have here, and limited edition coffees that are fun to bring home. If you are not sure which coffee pods to choose you can get a Nestle Nespresso Variety Pack which has a few of each strength and flavor. Personally I drink the Nespresso OriginalLine: Arpeggio coffee, which is the one in the purple pods. Its a really good place to start if you’re not sure what to buy. Arpeggio is a nice, full bodied coffee that is not at all bitter. If I want a medium strength coffee I buy the Nespresso OriginalLine: Roma. Roma is great for an afternoon coffee – it doesn’t keep me awake at night.

RELATED POST: HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN COFFEE IN A MOKA

Gift Ideas For Wine Lovers

Channel your inner Olivia Pope with a glass of red wine and some popcorn, and a really good book!

Who wouldn’t want to channel their inner Olivia Pope on a cold winter’s night with a glass of red wine and some designer popcorn (and a good book!)?? You can buy the Grand Beaujolais (Set of 4) Wine Glasses that Olivia drinks her red wine from, or maybe some Bordeaux wine glasses like the one pictured above,  similar here , Amazon has a huge selection of wine glasses perfect for gifting.

There are lots of designer popcorns to chose from, or you could make it simple with Dutchman’s Popcorn – Medium Hulless White Popcorn Kernels   a non GMO popcorn that can be made on the stovetop, in the microwave or in an air popper.

RELATED POST: 16 TOTALLY LUSCIOUS ITALIAN WORDS YOU NEED IN YOUR LIFE!

Red wine from Puglia

Another great gift pairing with my book is a really great bottle of Italian wine. Not available on Amazon but available in most wine stores, try something a little different. Wines from Puglia (the thin heel of Italy’s boot) are just fantastic. I write about them in my book, with ideas of which ones to try. There is an entire chapter of the book devoted to which wines you should drink in each region of Italy. The one pictured here was actually a gift from one of my Glam Italia Tour travelers and is a Nero di Troia from Puglia, which I am saving to drink on my birthday in December.

If you haven’t read it yet I hope you will buy my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget)  It is a fabulous book, full of really great information for anyone planning a trip to Italy (or just dreaming about it!). It was only released in July of this year but has already been a best seller and has topped the charts in several categories.

If you are thinking about planing a trip to Italy or just want to know more about my book without being on an Amazon sales page, you can find out more here

Bonus Info

In my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy I talk about a questionnaire I use when planning my Glam Italia Tours or helping people to plan their Italian vacations. I also use it myself when I’m planning trips to new places. It helps me to make sure I see all the things I want to see, and not waste precious travel time doing the wrong things. If you would like a free PDF of the Travel Questionnaire you can Download It Here

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

This is one of my absolute favorite things to see in Rome.

You can stand outside the door and look at thousands of tourists in the vicinity of the Forum and Colosseum, then walk back inside and only have a small group of you waiting to go on the tour of the Palazzo. This one is on the list of places in Rome that most tourists don’t ever hear about, and don’t even realize is right there in front of them. It’s pretty fantastic. And now you are in the know too…

Why You Need To See Palazzo Valentini In Rome

Palazzo Valentini is a beautiful Renaissance palazzo, with an interesting history. At one point it was owned by an incredibly handsome fellow by the name of Giacomo Boncompagni, Duke of Sora, Aquino, Arce and Arpino. He was a feudal lord and also happened to be the illegitimate son of Pope Gregory XIII. Those Popes were a raunchy bunch – celibate to the world but with mistresses and wives and children. I find it fascinating!

What’s Below Palazzo Valentini?

In 2005 while renovations were being done on the palazzo, the remains of two magnificent Imperial Roman homes and thermal baths were discovered underneath. Archeologists spent years working on it and now the 20,000 square foot space is open for viewing. Let me tell you, it is amazing!

2000 year old mosaics on the floors of the Domus Romane underneath Palazzo Valentini in Rome

2000 year old mosaic floors still in perfect condition, in the Roman houses underneath Palazzo Valentini in Rome

Buried for centuries under the palazzo, the Domus Romane (Roman Houses) are incredibly well preserved. You will see the original ancient staircases, mosaics, frescoes, inlaid marble floors, all dating back to around the 3rd century.

Frescoes lining the wall at Palazzo Valentini in Rome

Ancient frescoes lining the walls at Palazzo valentini in Rome

You walk across a glass floor, with ancient Rome lit up below you, so rather than observing from the sidelines you feel as though you are in it.

Glass floors at the Roman Houses under the Palazzo Valentini in Rome allow you to see the homes from directly above rather than from the sidelines, giving you a more inclusive experience

RELATED POST: WHY YOU NEED TO VISIT THE BATHS OF DIOCLETIAN IN ROME

The thermal baths give you an idea of how wealthy this family must have been, and the location alone speaks to their importance – right outside the roman forum.

There is a glassed off room full of ancient Roman trash – plates and cups and kitchen gear that had been thrown away.

A multi media installation at the Domus Romane at Palazzo Valentini Rome lets you see how the houses would have looked back in the 2nd century

It keeps getting better too, because this museum has a multi-media element to it. While a taped narration explains what you are seeing (in clear English, over a speaker system so you don’t need to wear headphones), the lights go down and the multi media part lights up, letting you see how it would have been back then, completing rooms and walls and ceilings.

The multi media installation at the Roman Houses at Palazzo Valentini in Rome shows you how the houses would have looked back in the 2nd century A.D.

The multi media experience lets you see how the homes would have looked in the 2nd century

A multi media show in the Domus Romane at Palazzo Valentini shows you how everything would have looked back in the 2nd century A.D. It's fantastic!

Part of the multi media experience at the Roman houses underneath Palazzo Valentini in Rome

One part that I really loved was looking down onto the remains of a Roman road. A laser lights up the stones and shows you how clever they were with their construction and how the shapes of the stones were repeated and not random, making strong roads that lasted for millenia.

An ancient Roman road underneath Palazzo Valentini in Rome. During the tour a laser lights up the ptterns in the stones

The remains of a Roman road run between the two houses. A laser lights up the shapes of the stones and you learn just how clever the Romans were when building their roads. They are a variety of sizes and shapes making up a repetitive pattern. It’s incredible!

RELATED POST: 14 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT PIAZZA NAVONA IN ROME

The final part of the tour takes you into a video room where the stories on Trajan’s Column are explained (it’s brilliant). When the video is done they walk you to a private viewing area that looks out at the column, immediately in front of the palazzo.

This is one of Rome’s treasures that I will keep returning to. It is just fascinating and fabulous.

Ancient mosaics on the floors of the Roman house underneath Palazzo Valentini in Rome. These mosaics are 2000 years old!

2000 year old mosaic floors, still intact, in the Roman houses underneath Palazzo Valentini in Rome

You can only go through the Domus Romane with a guide and they have set times for each tour. The tour lasts around 90 minutes and is in English. The Domus Romane are closed on Tuesdays.

RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

Make sure you book ahead. You can get dates, times and online tickets at the Palazzo Valentini website. You have to arrive 30 minutes before your tour to turn your voucher into a ticket.

Have you read my book yet? Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget)  has made it to the best seller list in all of its categories on Amazon.com!

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy (Secrets to glamorous travel on a not so glamorous budget) Learn how to plan the trip of a lifetime, get the best deals, and learn tips and tricks from a travel pro!

Learn how to plan the trip of a lifetime without breaking the bank. Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy will help you do everything from use the trains in Italy, know which foods and wines to order in each region of the country, what to buy where and how to get your sales tax back, know what to look out for when you rent a car in Italy, which beaches are the best beaches, how to avoid pickpockets, how to work your money in Europe, what to do if you get sick, and much, much more!

Get your copy here on Amazon.com

 

On the On the secret Rome list this is an absolute must see! Two roman houses from the 2nd century, underneath Palazzo Valentini

Are you traveling to Rome anytime soon? Do you want to see some fascinating sites, full of ancient history, but far from the tourist crowds? Guess what? Rome is full of amazing places that the tour buses don’t go to. Places you can wander around at leisure, experience ancient Rome without the crowds, and that are right in the heart of the city. Today I want to introduce you to one of these treasures.

Why You Need To Visit The Baths Of Diocletian In Rome

Personally, I find Diocletian fascinating.

Just between you and me I knew exactly nothing about him until I started googling his namesake public baths and pool. Partway down my never ending list of things to do in Rome was an entry for Diocletian’s Baths and I had decided to read up on Diocletian and then visit them on the next trip to the Eternal City.

It seems as though every emperor I research has something quirky or interesting going on…

About Diocletian

Anyway, old Diocletian was a Dalmatian military guy who rose to power towards the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. Said crisis was caused by invasions, civil war, economic depression and the plague. The reign of Diocletian stabilized the empire and ended the crisis.

Diocletian was emperor of Rome from 284 - 305 A.D. Although he never set foot in Rome, his co-emperor Maximian dedicated the massive Baths of Diocletian to him. These were the biggest public baths and pools in the Roman Empire

Diocletian, Emperor of Rome

Diocletian became Emperor in 284. He understood that the empire had become too huge and too far reaching to be successfully governed by just one person, so in 286 he made Maximian his co-emperor. He ran the Eastern Empire himself and had Max take care of the west. It is thought that Diocletian never set foot in Rome.

The empire had had a revolving door of emperors, some only lasting weeks or months, others just a few years. In order to ensure smooth succession for themselves and for future emperors, they created a system whereby two competent, experienced administrators would be in place as “junior emperors”, learning how to run the empire so that when the time came the transition would be seamless. (Greed and power hunger meant this would be short lived, even though it was a brilliant idea)

He reformed and restructured the government, essentially keeping it intact for the next 150 years. It had been on the verge of collapse during his youth. Diocletian was an important emperor.

A Life With Vegetables

All went well until 305 when in poor health Diocletian decided to become the first emperor to abdicate. He moved back to the Dalmatian Coast and retired to a palace in a Croatian town now known as Split, living out the rest of his life growing vegetables. Years after his abdication when his system of co-emperors and junior emperors collapsed and the empire returned to chaos, Rome asked him to come back, be emperor again and fix everything, but he was happy with his tomatoes and cabbages (or whatever vegetables he was growing) and chose to stay in Croatia.

RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

The Baths

Emperors left their mark on the empire by building structures designed to last the test of time. The third century was to a degree a building wasteland, so it was time for something huge to be built.

Maximian was co-emperor of Rome. Diocletian ruled the Eastern empire and Maximian ruled the western empire. Maximian commissioned the Baths of Diocletian, named for an emperor who never set foot in Rome

Maximian, co-emperor of Rome

And so the Baths of Diocletian, the largest of all the imperial baths in the Roman world, was commissioned. They were actually commissioned by co-emperor Maximian in 298 and completed in 306, by which time neither were still emperor. Maximian named them the Baths of Diocletian. Diocletian himself never saw them, as he didn’t go to Rome.

The Baths of Diocletian are not just huge, they are gargantuan. They take up 130,000 meters (or 32 acres) between the Viminal and Quirinal Hills. They were designed to be public baths/pools for the people living in the Viminal, Quirinal and Esquiline quarters of the city.

Supposedly large enough to accommodate 3000 people at any time, the complex was made up of a cool water pool (frigidarium), and medium temperature pool (tepidarium) and a hot pool (caldarium) as well as a 4000 square meter outdoor pool. There was an open air gym (palaestra) on either side of the pools, as well as libraries and beautiful walkways.

Today the ruins of the baths are still enormous. As you walk through the ruins the size and scope of the project is quite overwhelming. You can almost hear the patter of Roman sandals ambling through the common areas nearly 2 millennia ago. How incredible it must have been for the people of Rome to stroll these giant walkways on their way to the pools, how sensational the beauty must have been!

For two centuries water was supplied to the pools via the Aqua Marcia aqueduct, until the siege of Rome in 537 when Ostrogothic king Vitiges had the water supply cut off.

If the shell of the building and the pools were all there was to see I would recommend you add this stop to your Rome itinerary, but there is more.

RELATED POST: PIAZZA NAVONA – 14 FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROME’S LOVELIEST PIAZZA

The Statues

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

Throughout the complex, everywhere you turn there are statues.

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

Spectacular, awe inspiring statues of Gods and Kings, beasts and beauties. Statues and artifacts that will take your breath away.

Statue of a water nymph from a 2nd century fountain. Found at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Water nymph from a fountain, dating back to the 2nd century

Sometimes I think they just dig up so many treasures in Rome that there is no place to put them. The Baths of Diocletian are as good a place as any to line up endless treasures from antiquity!

Walking through the cloisters looking at them all lined up throughout the inner courtyard was just incredible.

Cloisters at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statues line the cloisters of this inner courtyard at the Baths of Diocletian

Some date back to the 1st century B.C. Plenty are dated to the 1st century A.D.

Bust of Nero from the 1st century A.D, at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

From Nero’s head to a bust of beautiful Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, dated to around 18 A.D, that stands taller than me.

Bust of Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, dated to 18 A.D. This statue is at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statue of Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, 18 A.D.

Sarcophagi from 160 A.D, water nymphs from 2nd century fountains – there is just so much here to look at!

the details on this 4th century sarcophagus are amazing. 1700 years later the eyes and noses and facial expressions are all still there. You can see it at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

I actually spent a small amount of time exploring the pools and an enormous amount of time walking around and around all the areas with statues.

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

And here is what is even more fascinating: once again I had the whole place almost entirely to myself.

Statues lining the cloisters at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

My first trip to the Baths of Diocletian was in June of 2018. That day Rome was packed to bursting point and stifling hot. I had initially been going to tackle some items on my list that were close to the Colosseum but the crush of tourist humans in the area forced me to head back out of there as fast as I could.

On the map Diocletian’s Baths didn’t look far so I decided to walk, which wasn’t an entirely brilliant idea on a day so hot and humid. A taxi would have only cost a few euros and buses run right up to the Piazza della Repubblica which abuts parts of the walls.

The entry is beautiful, with trees and a huge fountain, a lovely place to escape the heat, or if not visiting during the middle of summer just a lovely place to sit and enjoy the scenery.

The cost of entry was around 10 euros and was worth every penny. There were other people visiting that afternoon – I wasn’t the only one, but I might as well have been. Everywhere I walked I had a clear, uninterrupted view. I could look at the statues from every angle, I could see it all unimpeded.

Inner courtyard at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statues line the walls under these cloistered porticos. It was a busy day in Rome, but there was no one here

I think my favorite part was walking round and round the cloistered internal courtyard, cool and shaded from the heat of the day. A few artists were scattered around sketching, but when I look at all the photos and videos I took, I can’t even see them.

This, to me, is part of the incredible magic of Rome. There is so much to see and do, most of which is far from the tourist crush.

RELATED POST: 10 FABULOUS DAY TRIPS FROM ROME BY TRAIN

What else is there?

Diocletian was said to be the most ardent persecutor of Christians. He killed more of them than any other emperor. I have read that the Baths of Diocletian were built by 10,000 Christians. Whether that number is true or not, suffice to say it was a rough time to be a Christian.

This wasn’t based on theology so much as it was based on continuity, obedience and legitimacy. Emperors presented themselves as semi-divine, almost Gods. The concept of aligning yourself with the “one true God” was a direct challenge to that legitimacy. The current system had worked so well and Romans had successfully worshipped their Gods for 1000 years. Why change?

In the end the Christians got the last laugh. Pope Pius IV commissioned Michelangelo to build a church on the site to commemorate the Christians who died building the baths. Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri was built using the frigidarium and tepidarium structures, and a small cloister was built using part of the natation (outdoor pool). St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs is a must see while in the area.

A second church is also there, San Bernardo alle Terme (St Bernard of the Baths). This one was built in 1598 and is quite remarkable in its own right. Similar to the shape of the Pantheon this church is cylindrical, has a dome and an oculus. There are statues of 8 saints in wall niches, by Camillo Mariani dating to around 1600.

You could spend a fabulous afternoon exploring the Baths and the 2 churches. As with so much of Rome you are away from the crowds while still in the heart of the city.

 

How to get there:

Take a bus from any direction to the Piazza della Repubblica.

From the Colosseum/Forum area it is an easy walk up the Via Nazionale.

Have you read my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) (Volume 1)

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy (Secrets to glamorous travel on a not so glamorous budget) Learn how to plan the trip of a lifetime, get the best deals, and learn tips and tricks from a travel pro!

 

You can get your copy here at Amazon.com

Bonus Content

Do you get overwhelmed trying to figure out where to go on your trip to Italy (or anywhere else!), how long to stay in each place, which things to plan on seeing and doing and which things to skip?

I have a PDF that I send to my Glam Italia Tour travelers to help narrow down what we will do on their tour. I talk about it in my book and now I am making it available to you too! If you would like a printable PDF you can get it here: Send me the PDF!