Posts Tagged 'Italy'

Find Great Discounts Abroad

With exchange rates fluctuating daily there is no way to gauge how much you’ll spend while traveling abroad. This is why it’s important to take advantage of every discount opportunity. That International Student ID Card might really come in handy. In some places you’ll also find city specific discount books or coupons to help you explore museums, zoos, cathedrals, and other important sites. Before purchasing any discount cards, research a little to guarantee you’re getting a good deal. Here are a few to consider.


The I amsterdam Card provides a public transport ticket (GVB public transport system), a pocket guide, and dozens of free and discounted offers at major attractions and restaurants. The card is valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours and starts at €38. Your I amsterdam Card and Transport Ticket will automatically validate the moment each is stamped and/or after your first use. The I amsterdam Card is available at most Amsterdam Tourist Offices or can be purchased on-line.


Get a View From the Top in Brugge!

Get a View From the Top in Brugge!

Discover one of Belgium’s most beautiful cities- Brugge – at half the price!  The Brugge City Card offers discounts or free admission to practically every place in the city. Check out the Chocolate Museum, Belgium Fries Museum, or take a Canal Ride (closed during the winter). Want a breathtaking view of this medieval town? Hike the 366 stairs to the top of the Belfry Tower for an unforgettable experience.


If you’re under 26 years of age, you can explore any museum in Florence for an entire year, for €40. Adults over 26 can purchase a coupon card for €60. You’ll have free membership to such places as: The Uffizi Gallery, L’Accademia Gallery, Pitti Palace (Palatina Gallery & Royal Apartments), Bargello Museum and Medici Chapels (San Lorenzo) to name a few. You’ll also find discounts for other events, restaurants, and exhibitions around Florence. If you’re going to Venice, check out these coupon passes. Although most places in Rome are free to visit, the Coliseum and the Roman Forum are not. Make sure you pick up a combo package before paying full price.


The Sky is the Limit When You Find a Great Deal

The Sky is the Limit When You Find a Great Deal

Want to travel around Ireland? Look into a Local Discounts Card or the Emerald Discounts Card. These cards provide a minimum of 10% savings on hotels, restaurants, shopping purchases, transportation (including buses, trains, ferries and rental cars), golf fees, museum entrances and more. Each card costs €10 for a one-year membership.


Antsy to explore Japan? Then pick up a Grutt Pass (gurutto pasu in Japanese). The pass offers free admission to such places as the Ueno Zoo and the Tokyo Sea Life Park. The card is a great find if you live in Tokyo or plan to visit several museums, restaurants, and art galleries in the area. For some of the more expensive sites, like the Mori Art Museum in the Mori Tower, you’ll get discounts off admission. Here is a full list of places where you can use the Grutt Pass. The pass is good for 2 months.

Car Museums are the Best Kind of Museums

I feel the need...

I feel the need...

I’m a BIG car fan.  If I had the chance, I would stay up 24 hours and camp outside Le Mans and I would pay through the nose to watch a Grand Prix in Monaco.  Lucky study abroad students have great access to all of the major foreign manufacturers and motorsport.  Even better, many of these companies have large and elegant museums (I’m looking at you Porsche) where you can trundle down memory lane, see the most modern concepts, and view race winning cars.  While many of the museums are a bit far from study abroad centers, they are usually no more than a train ride away.

BMW Museum

The BMW museum was established in 1972, right before the start of the Munich Olympics.  It was recently renovated and includes fixtures from BMW’s 80 year history.  Tickets are 12 Euros.

Porsche Museum

This museum is one of the largest and one of the most recent.  Located in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, it boasts over 80 cars on display and special exhibits.  Until October 31, the special exhibit is a dedication to Ferry Porsche and his contributions to automotive history over the past 100 years.

Mercedes Museum

Also in Stuttgart, the Mercedes Museum opened in 2007 and contains over 160 cars spanning its long history.  8 Euros covers the cost of a ticket and includes a guided audio tour in several languages.

Galleria Ferrari

...for speed

...for speed

If you want to be seduced by passion and beauty, then the Galleria Ferrari is for you.  Iconic road and track cars from the manufacturer’s history are showcased right outside Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy.  Head over to see Ferrari’s first car, the 125 S and a replica of Enzo’s office.  At 13 Euros, it’s a little pricier than the Porsche and Mercedes exhibits, but the wow factor will be huge.

Honda Collection Hall

The Hall is located at the Twin Ring Motegi complex in Motegi, Japan.  The complex was built by Honda and today is the site of both car and kart racing.  The Hall itself has a gallery of various Honda products including cars, motorcycles, and engines.

Peugeot Museum

Located in Sochaux, the Peugeot Museum traces the history of this venerable company.  While Peugeots haven’t been sold in the US for some time, they are still very active in Europe.  They even won the 24 Hours of Le Mans a few months ago.

Alfa Romeo History Museum

The Museum is sited near a now-unused Alfa factory in Milan, Italy, and has a large collection from nearly 100 years of company history.  Over 100 cars are on display, most of which are fully functional.  Alfa Romeo isn’t well known in the US, but after one trip to their museum, you’ll wish they were.

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International Film Festival Season

When I studied abroad in Europe I spent several days in Pordenone, Italy. This beautiful town, about an hour train ride north of Venice, hosts a silent film festival each October. My college film professor encouraged me to attend. It quickly became a highlight of my trip. These festivals not only introduce you to the creative minds of international filmmakers, but also give you the chance to explore new and fascinating cities. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Le Giornate Del Cinema Muto

Creativity Knows No Boundaries

Creativity Knows No Boundaries

Pordenone’s silent film festival brings you back in time, to the early stages of filmmaking.  No, you don’t shoot a silent film, but you do watch classics from D.W. Griffith,  the Lumière brothers, Erich von Stroheim, Mary Pickford, Harold Lloyd and other international silent stars before the 1930s. For a week every October, film professionals, preservationists, scholars and enthusiasts watch rare footage not available to most. For 30 Euro you receive unlimited access to a full line-up of classic silent films- many of which have recently been restored. While you’re there, explore the small town of Pordenone; take a day trip to Venice; enjoy a homely Italian lunch or savor a creamy gelato. It’s an unforgettable week!

Festival de Cannes

Since 1946, the Festival International du Film in Cannes, France has been one of the world’s premiere film festivals. Today it draws tens of thousands of film professionals from around the world. The festival gives novice and seasoned independent filmmakers a chance to showcase their work before their peers. Check out films by Quentin Tarantino, Michael Haneke, Steven Soderbergh, and Park Chan-Wook. See the work of your favorite stars or expose yourself to a bigger film culture. Located in southern France along the French Riviera- it’s hard to go wrong!

Internationalen Filmfestspiele Berlin

Berlin Comes Alive at Night

Berlin Comes Alive at Night

The Berlin International Film Festival will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2010.  Selling more than 200,000 tickets each year, “Berlinale” hosts the largest audience of any film festival in the world. The festival in Berlin, Germany showcases more than 400 films over a two-week period each February. Prestigious awards include: the Golden and Silver Bears, the International Jury Award (Alfred Bauer Prize), as well as awards for top Feature, Actor, and Director. Located in one of the world’s most historical cities, attendees can visit unforgettable landmarks, taste delicious food, and explore memorable locals.

Other notable festivals:

Offseason Travel: Exploring the Ruins of Sicily

Studying abroad or traveling through Europe this fall? Escape the crowds in France and mainland Italy and head south to Sicily. Blending Roman and Greek culture, Sicily is a jewel of the Mediterranean. Avoids the crowds and visit during the offseason. I went to Sicily during the winter and found it the warmest destination on my Europe trip. As a San Francisco native, sunny skies and 55 degrees weather feels perfect. To my Sicilian relatives, it’s “freezing!” You’ll quickly discover many kind-natured Sicilians as well as hundreds of historical landmarks. Here are a few places to consider:


Sicily is Surrounded by Ancient Treasures

Sicily is Surrounded by Ancient Treasures

Set amid a backdrop of rolling hills, Segesta is a well-preserved Doric temple in northwest Sicily. It’s lies on the outskirts of Palermo, in Trapani. Dating to the 5th century B.C., Segesta existed for 1,800 years under successive waves of Greeks, Romans, Muslims, and Normans. In his Aeneid, Virgil refers to Segesta as a prosperous city, but by the thirteenth century the city had all but been abandoned.

Agrigento and the Valley of Temples

Agrigento’s Valley of Temples is nearly deserted, save a small collection of loyal Japanese tourists. The crown jewels include the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Hercules, and the Temple of Concordia. The 5th century B.C. Temple of Concordia was preserved after being converted into a church in the 6th century A.D.  Gnarled olive trees also blanket the site. If you have time, catch the majestic Temples lit up at night. A couple other finds: the 13th-century church, Abbazia di Santo Spirito, and the Museo Regionale Archeologico.


Over 2,700 years old, Syracuse once served as the capital of Sicily. Roman philosopher and statesman, Cicero called Syracuse “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all.” Don’t miss the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis. One of Italy’s greatest archaeological gardens, it offers the Teatro Greco, Latomia del Paradiso, and Anfiteatro Romano. Check out the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi as well. You’ll quickly discover why Syracuse rivaled Athens in cultural importance. Mathematician and philosopher Archimedes, playwright Aeschylus, and poet Sappho all lived in Syracuse. Plato also frequented the town.

End of the Summer Adventures

Wrapping up your trip abroad? Not ready to hit the books? If you’ve got some money saved up, here are a few fun adventures to consider before diving back into the school year.

No Telling What You'll Encounter Abroad

No Telling What You'll Encounter Abroad

Climb Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Intimidated by Mount Everest? You’re not the only one. A better bet- climb Kilimanjaro! Take the less traveled Western Breach route, a challenging path up Africa’s loftiest peak. On your way to the summit, check out the Barranco Valley’s waterfalls, near the Arrow Glacier, and the rocky ridgelines. After the summit, don’t miss wildlife in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.

Lake Baikal, Russia

Need a break from the hassle of everyday life? Seclude yourself in Russia’s Lake Baikal. Situated in southeast Siberia, this World Heritage site is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest lake in the world. Like the Galapagos, it’s isolation helped it evolve into a unique freshwater ecosystem. Hike along the lakeshores; pass through old fishing villages; traverse craggy mountains; and keep an eye out for unusual species like the nerpa, an endemic freshwater seal.

Pyrenees National Park

Pyrenees National Park

Pyrenees National Park, France & Spain

The French-run Pyrenees National Park stretches 60 miles along the French-Spanish border, covering 180 square miles of lakes, towering summits, rolling hills, and fertile valleys. The park is composed of two regions. The uninhabited central zone offers some of the park’s most spectacular landscapes. The peripheral zone, on the edge of the central area, houses 86 villages and some 40,000 inhabitants. During the summer you can trek, cycle, horseback, and raft. The weather will accommodate all adventure activities.

Italian Alps, Italy & Germany

Get out your road bike and hit the Alps! Experience the blend of Italian and German cultures as you cruise along the Adige River and the western Dolomites.  Pass the famous Strada del Vino, stop in tiny villages, take a detour for wine tastings or a visit to medieval Lazise. Looking for a tour? Check out Ciclismo Classico.

Royal Treatment While Studying Abroad: Monaco

You don’t have to be rich and famous to get royal treatment abroad. If you’re studying in northern France, along the French Riviera, or in northern Italy and don’t know what to do with your free time, head to Monaco. You’ve probably already hit up the Cannes Film Festival, walked along a beautiful beach in Nice, or went skiing in Torino. Yes, life is rough. If you’re looking for something else a little out of the ordinary… take a weekend trip to Monaco!

Be a Bond Girl (or 007) in Monte Carlo

Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, behind Vatican City. The capital of Monaco, Monte Carlo, is famous for its hotels, casinos, glamour, and celebrity sightings. Feel like a star with a visit to the Opera, the Cabaret, the Salle des Etoiles, the Monte Carlo Golf Club, and the Monte Carlo Country Club, as well as Casino Square.

Move Over Vegas. This is the Real Monte Carlo

Move Over Vegas. This is the real Monte Carlo

Of course, no trip to Monte Carlo is complete without a visit to the famed Monte Carlo Casino, or Le Casino de Monte Carlo. No we’re not talking about Vegas but the Côte d’Azur (aka French Riviera). Built by famous architect Charles Garnier in 1878, the Casino is paved in marble and surrounded by 28 onyx columns. Nightlife is abound inside. Granted, you can’t just walk in with your backpack and sandals. There is a dress code…and a cover charge just for entering the famed casino. If you’re on a budget, just walk into the main lobby and peek around. It’s worth an extra look.

What’s the Bond connection? Author Ian Fleming used the Monte Carlo as a setting in his first James Bond book, Casino Royale. You’ll also catch it in the 1995 Bond film, GoldenEye.

Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix

Like sports? You’ve come to the right place. The Monaco Grand Prix (or Grand Prix de Monaco) is held each May on the Circuit de Monaco. It’s considered one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world and forms the triple Crown of Motorsport along with the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Royal Family of Monaco

There’s plenty to do in Monaco- including a visit to the Royal Family estate. Monaco-Ville, located on a promontory, is home to the Place du Palais, which houses the Prince’s Palace and State Apartments. Visitors must also check out the Princess Grace Rose Garden, the Royal Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium, which sits on a cliffside rock. Other attractions include the Museum of Napoleonic Souvenirs and Collection of the Palace’s Historic Archives, the Wax Museum of the Princess of Monaco, and the Monte Carlo Story, a show on Monaco’s history.

Granted, you’ll probably splurge a little on this royal treatment… so either take an overnight train to Monaco from Paris or

Reward Yourself with some Mussels!

Treat your taste-buds to some Mussels!

Venice (or wherever you’re living) or stay in a hostel in a nearby town. Several trains run to Monaco from Nice every hour (about $6 round trip). You’ll probably also build up an appetite walking around the Palace grounds and Monte Carlo. Reward yourself with some Moules Frites cozze con Patatine (aka. Mussels with Fries)- Molto Buono!

Travelers Flock to Unusual Attractions While Abroad

What are your summer plans? Here at GulliverGo, we encourage people to study or travel abroad. But we’re also interested in those day trips, secret getaways, and places you visit when you’re on break. For some, the Palace of Versailles, wine tasting in Tuscany, or hiking in the Alps, spark interest. Apparently, for others, torture museums, cemeteries, and suicide forests rank high on the list. Whether you’re visiting Italy, France, or Japan, you’re bound to discover a few morbid tourist attractions.

Don't Get Stuck in San Gimignano's Torture Museum

Don't Get Stuck in San Gimignano's Torture Museum

If you study abroad in Italy, you’re bound to end up in Tuscany. Check out the historic Duomo and Campanile in Florence and of course, watch the sunset on the fleuve (river) Arno. Take a bus and go wine tasting in nearby Fiesole- and see the house that served as the setting for the 1985 film, “A Room with a View.” I did all this during my time in Tuscany, but one of the more memorable day trips was a bus ride to the walled, medieval town of San Gimignano. Surrounded by century’s old towers, the town’s most fascinating attraction is its Museo della Tortura e di Criminologia Medievale (Museum of Torture and Medieval Crime). Ok, the historic architecture, Wine museum, and 9th century Fonti Medievali (Medieval Fountains) are pretty neat, but how often do you get to see the inside of a torture chamber? Located within a real dungeon, the Torture Museum showcases more than 100 grisly and gory ways to die, including thumbscrews, chastity belts and lots of creepy masks. You can even pick up your own set of brass knuckles at the gift shop on your way out… I did.

If you find yourself in say, Paris, France on October 31st, you won’t be dressing up as your favorite monster – they don’t celebrate Halloween. Instead, the first day of November, the “Day of the Dead,” is a national holiday. What better place to honor the dead, than visiting a cemetery. Paris doesn’t offer just any run-of-the-mill cemetery- this one attracts all the famous people. A recent article by the Vancouver Sun, recommends a day trip to Père-Lachaise cemetery as a highlight of Paris. You’ll easily spend hours visiting the graves of Edith Piaf and Gertrude Stein, Frederik Chopin, Balzac and Oscar Wilde. It’s hard to miss the most popular grave site, that of singer Jim Morrison. In contrast to most of Paris, cemeteries are perfect for the low budget traveler… they’re usually free!

Leave Oscar Wilde a Message from Beyond the Grave

Leave Oscar Wilde a Message from Beyond the Grave

Asia also has its fair share of creepy places to visit. While Germany boasts its Black Forest, Japan is known for its “Haunted Forest” (Aokigahara Forest) at the base of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain. The forest, commonly referred to as the Sea of Trees, sits on volcanic rock and has several rocky caverns, which get covered in ice during the winter. Two of the caves within the forest are popular tourist attractions known as the Wind Cave and Ice Cave. Why is the forest “haunted?” Well, it’s infamous for its famed suicides and “ghosts” that apparently roam the woods. It may be haunted, but Aokigahara offers some of the most beautiful scenic views and its dense forest and rugged inaccessibility attract plenty of adventure seekers.

These are just some of the unusual places that attract droves of visitors. There are plenty more popular places to visit and oftentimes the adventure is finding them.

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