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

Ma’am, your suitcase is too heavy. You have to take out 4 pounds” And there I was, in line at the international check in with a long line of angry people behind me, waiting impatiently to check their own bags in. This was my travel nightmare, opening my suitcase in front of the world, trying to figure out what I could pull out and somehow fit into my bulging carry on bag. I could feel my face burning red, I wanted to cry and I was close to panicking.

This was ten years ago, and I have learned a lot about packing like a pro since that horrible day.

Whether you are traveling across the country for the holidays or across the world for a vacation you can make your trip much easier by packing like a pro.

This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure page to find out how this blog uses affiliate links

how to pack a suitcase like a pro. Best travel tips for planning and packing a suitcase

How To Pack A Suitcase Like A Pro

1. It Starts With The Right Suitcase.

You many need to replace your old, worn suitcase with a new, modern one. Modern suitcases are built light so you’re not wasting unnecessary weight on the suitcase itself. They tend to have compartments divided off, compression straps and 360 degree wheels. Look for one with 360 degree wheels that are slightly inline – if they stick out too far they are more likely to break off.

Size Matters

I used to travel with a 29 inch suitcase (why???) but now have the Away Medium which is approximately 25 inches, 26 if you include the wheels. The bigger the suitcase the more likely you are to overfill it. My travel rule is if it doesn’t fit in a 25 inch case it’s not coming. The End.

RELATED POST: 7 ESSENTIALS YOU CAN’T TRAVEL WITHOUT

2. Use Packing Cubes

These have proven to be a lifesaver for me! I have been using the Eagle Creek Packing Cubes for the past few years and like them better than any others. Their sizing is perfect, they are well constructed and their fabrics don’t hold and trap smells. You won’t want to pack clean clothes into packing cubes that hold the smell of well worn socks and dirty laundry!

I find them invaluable because I always know where everything is. I use one for sleepwear and undergarments, another for tops, another for bottoms etc. I even have a narrow one for all my electronic attachments – computer chargers, phone chargers, adaptors, spare cords. This means I never lose anything and never have to tear my suitcase apart looking for anything.

If I have a special event and have separate clothes for it, they stay in their own cube. If I have to pack for different climates I use separate cubes for each.

The great thing is they fit together seamlessly inside my suitcase. It is incredibly efficient.

On international trips I always pack clothes for 3 days into my carry on. Inside one packing cube I can roll everything I need and slip it into my bag, nice and easy!

I bought the blue Eagle Creek Packing Cubes at The Container Store. I started with the 3 piece set and have since added more pieces.  I also found the starter set on Amazon: Eagle Creek Pack It Cube Set at Amazon.com

3. Mix And Match

Planning your travel wardrobe is essential. Ideally pack 4 or 5 tops for each set of bottoms, and have them all (or almost all) mix and match. Sticking to a simple color palette with interchangeable pieces makes everything really easy. I like to plan my outfit for each day so that I’m not caught out with nothing to wear. I also find this helps eliminate excess items.

Keep heavy and bulky items to a minimum. Jeans, sweaters, coats take up lots of room and can weigh a lot. Good planning will cancel out “just in case” items. You don’t need them!

4. Two Pairs Of Shoes

It took me ages to get on board with this one, but once I started planning my outfit for each day away it became quite easy.

Of course you have to have the right shoes for specific events, such as hiking/beaching/going to a ball, but most of the time we only need two pairs.

I don’t count flip flops as one of my pairs, but I do plan on one pair of shoes that I can walk in all day and one pair of sandals in the summer or boots in the winter, and I make sure they work with everything I’m bringing. This folds in nicely with that streamlined color palette!

RELATED POST: THE BEST SHOES FOR EUROPE THIS WINTER

5. Choose Travel Friendly Fabrics

This is so important! You need to pack fabrics that breathe, don’t require dry-cleaning and aren’t high maintenance. Nothing that requires lots of ironing, nothing that makes you sweat, nothing that holds smells. In summer look for cottons and linens (although linen crushes quickly). Also look for modal, an “artificial silk” that breathes, is luxurious but hard wearing. You can wash modal over and over and it doesn’t pill up, fade or shrink. It is the perfect travel fabric.

Warmth Doesn’t Have To Mean Bulk

You don’t need bulky clothes to stay warm. You can find very fine merino wool pieces that keep you super warm but are still lightweight. Last winter I traveled in Europe with the Ibex Shae Dress in black. It is only slightly thicker than a t-shirt fabric, but was super warm.


I discovered Ibex dresses via Travel Fashion Girl. They make dresses for all seasons, and they even have merino dresses for summer!

Ridge Merino makes really fine merino base layers that keep you warm without adding bulk.

Merino is fantastic for travel. It is antimicrobial, odor resistant, quick drying and temperature regulating. It is also soft, doesn’t itch and rolls down beautifully so it needs very little space.

6. Roll It!

The very best way to pack your clothes is to roll them. It gives you much more space and for the most part stops wrinkling. My mom who has been an avid traveler her whole life taught me how to roll clothes when packing. I always marveled at how she had so many outfits in one medium sized suitcase, and nothing came out wrinkled! Endlessly chic, she is also incredibly glamorous and has never sacrificed her sense of style or panache when traveling.

My rolling skills are pretty basic but still really efficient. I don’t do the little tuck over they do at the end of this video, but it will give you an idea of how to roll your clothes when you’re packing.

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7. Go Digital

I never travel with hard copy books or magazines anymore. Everything is digital.

I have found that one travel guide is never enough – no two have identical information, so I would normally take 2 or 3 with me. I love to read, especially on planes, so any trip needed a handful of novels too.

Years ago I got the Kindle App (I don’t own a kindle) and now read everything on my iPad. The app syncs with my phone, so my travel guides are at my finger tips when I’m out exploring. If I stop for a coffee I can pick up where I left off on any book I’m reading, although I’m not much for reading novels on my phone.

When I wrote my book, Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget)  I planned for it to only be available on the Kindle App so that travelers had me there to help them, right on their phone. (It is actually available as a paperback too)

A bonus to anyone reading their books on the Kindle App is that Kindle eBooks cost much less than their paperback counterparts, and there is no waiting for a book to arrive, it is instantly there in your Kindle App. If you read a lot you can get a subscription service called Kindle Unlimited that lets you download as many books as you want for (I think) $9.95 per month. They have some different plans available:  Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

I don’t have Kindle Unlimited because right now I only order a couple of books per month, and with Kindle books being so inexpensive I seldom spend more than $10 in a month anyway.

I have a couple of other Amazon links that are great for travelers. The first is for the Amazon Unlimited Music free trial : Try Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial

The second is for Audible. This is a subscription for monthly downloads of audio books. You can get 2 free books with a thirty day trial. They also have a variety of plans available depending on how many books you like to listen to each month. Here’s the link:  Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

So how did that airport scene with the open suitcase end up? I took out my travel books, a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes. The airline attendant working the check in let me get away with a couple of pounds overweight, and I vowed this would never, ever happen to me again.