The Oxford Experience: A Summer Learning Program

Hall of Residence

And that sweet City with her dreaming spires, She needs not June for beauty’s heightening, Lovely all times she lies, lovely to-night! “Thyrsis,” Matthew Arnold, April 1866 A century after Arnold penned those words about the city of Oxford a latter-day pop manifesto urges us to “Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and people.” If you think you are ready for some time under the ... Read Full Article

Basilicata, Italy: a Tiny Treasure of Passion and Peppers

A Basilicata landscape

The Basilicata, located at the instep of Italy’s geographic “boot”, is one of the country’s smaller regions, one of its least-densely populated, most mountainous, and most often overlooked. But within its 3,869 square miles (slightly under 10,000 square km) are: a UNESCO World Heritage site (Matera) Italy’s largest national park (Parco Nazionale del Pollino) the longest ... Read Full Article

Windsor Great Park: 5,000 Acres of History

Autumn view of Virginia Water

Even on a cold winter’s morning, the hedges of rhododendron in Windsor Great Park are jungle green and glossy. Ducks tread over the wafer-thin ice of Wick Pond and coots bob along, unfazed by the frigid waters. Most visitors come to Windsor for the castle, spilling off trains and coaches for history’s sake. They jostle their way up the High Street, perhaps pausing for a glance at Wren’s Guildhall ... Read Full Article

Savoring September at a Snail’s Pace in the Piedmont

Mercato con Arco nu

Half an hour from the industrial bustle of Turin lies southern Piedmont, a renowned eden for epicurians. Each community has its own claim to fame: the truffles of Alba, the sparkling wines of Asti, the sausage and cheeses of Bra, the world-class wines of Barolo. The landscapes of the Langhe, of Roero and Monferrato, seduce you slowly, with the intricate -- and regionally appropriate -- ... Read Full Article

Undiscovered Italy: Food and Lodging in Polesine

Part of lunch buffet at Agriturismo Corte Carezzabella

In my recent article, Polesine Italy: Two Rivers Run Through it, I told you about a series of attractions in Polesine, an area of northeast Italy which is sadly overlooked and seriously overshadowed by neighboring Venice. Two attractions not mentioned in the previous article are covered here: food and lodging. They are inter-connected in that many of the appealing places to stay are agritourism ... Read Full Article

Polesine, Italy: Two Rivers Run Through it

Along a bicycle path in Polesine

You don’t have to drive Apollo’s sun chariot to find yourself in close proximity to the Po River of Northern Italy. Phaeton did it the hard way when he lost control of his father's horses, and was struck down by Zeus. According to mythology, the mortal fell and drowned in the Po River not far from Crespino, a small town about 37 miles (60 kilometers) southwest of Venice. Today Crespino’s main ... Read Full Article

Sardinia for the Rest of Us

Typical landscape of the Maddalena archipelago

Among the first things you hear when you arrive in Sardinia is a local exclaiming: “Look at our beaches. Look at our water. More beautiful than the Caribbean!” Usually the claim is made by someone who has never set foot on a Caribbean island so its validity is questionable, but you can understand why the assertion was made. The waters surrounding the second largest island in the ... Read Full Article

Warm Yourself in the Thermal Baths of Budapest

The Szecheyni Baths are classic and good for half a day

If you leave Budapest without soaking in a Hungarian thermal bath, you have cheated yourself of a memorable experience. Last visit, I found myself floating naked in a body-temperature pool under a 500-year old Ottoman dome pierced by jewel-colored glass “eyes”. The Rudas (ROO-das) bath experience left me as relaxed as I’ve ever been in my life, I have to say. The Turkish bath experience is all ... Read Full Article

On the James Joyce Trail in Trieste

James Joyce statue by the Canal Grande

The city of Trieste is in border country. Follow the coast all the way around, as James Joyce did in the early years of the twentieth century, and pretty soon you’ll be in Slovenia, with Croatia just a few miles further south. You are as likely to hear people say 'dober dan' as 'buongiorno', and the phone book is full of names like Gravnik and Decic. Trieste has always inhabited an ... Read Full Article

A Tour of London’s Street Art

Crane by Belgian artist Roa

Next time you're in the East End, take a moment to soak up London's street art. It's bold, witty and often subversive, much like the city itself. The works of artists who revel in pseudonyms like Jimmy C, Stik, Ronzo and, of course, Banksy, have turned the formerly mean streets of Spitalfields and Shoreditch into a continually evolving open air art gallery. Once, not so long ago, the East ... Read Full Article