Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
The Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium, is the heart of the city

The Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium, is truly the heart of the city. Though the square is mentioned in documents dating back to the 12th century, the buildings from that era were destroyed during three days of bombardment by troops of Louis XIV in 1695. Rather than rebuild in a more modern style, city fathers decided to recreate the original buildings down to their smallest detail. Today the crown jewel of the Grand Place is the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), with its soaring bell tower and Brabant Gothic design. Read More

Liberty Square in San Marino. Not only is the Republic of San Marino one of the tiniest countries in the world, it is completely surrounded by Italy

Liberty Square in the city of San Marino, which is the capital of the Republic of San Marino. Not only is it one of the tiniest countries in the world, San Marino is completely surrounded by Italy. Though the enclave measures just 24 square miles in size, it is a spectacular 24 square miles. The historic capital city perches atop Monte Titano, a stunning rocky outcrop that thrusts unexpectedly from the plains. The three 11th century castles that crown its peaks served as citadels that protected the early citizenry. Today, they are tourist attractions for those who have stamina enough to make the climb to the top via the city’s cobblestone streets. Read More

By now, it’s no secret that I fell in love with the little-known region of Le Marche, Italy. I’ve written about the artisans and traditions of Le Marche, and about my authentic Italian experience while staying at Palazzo Donati in Le Marche, but words can only go so far to describe the wonderful the people and places of this undiscovered gem in Italy. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ve created a video that pulls it all together. Enjoy!


Author’s Note: I stayed at Palazzo Donati, located in the tiny market village of Mercatello sul Metauro, while exploring the Le Marche region. The 17th century palace is available to rent for small groups seeking a creative holiday retreat in a small Italian village. Read More

Construction on Il Ponte di Tiberio (Tiberius Bridge) in Rimini, Italy, was begun in A.D. 14, during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus. However, by the time it was completed in A.D. 21, Tiberius was Emperor, thus its name.

Construction on Il Ponte di Tiberio (Tiberius Bridge) in Rimini, Italy, was begun in A.D. 14, when Augustus was the Roman Emperor. It was completed in A.D. 21, during the reign of Tiberius, and it is for him that the bridge was named. Established by the Romans in 268 B.C., Rimini sat at the junction of major roads that connected northern and southern Italy. Additionally, its location at the confluence of the Marecchia River and Adriatic Sea facilitated river and sea trade. As an important city, Rimini received more than its fair share of prestigious monuments. A 12,000-seat Amphitheater still stands, as do the stately Augustus Arch and Montanara Gate, which were entrances to the city’s Roman Forum. Read More

Rimini, Italy, perhaps best known for its beaches on the Adriatic, is also rife with history. This ancient Montanara Gate in Rimini city center marked one end of the street leading to what was the town's Roman Forum

The city of Rimini, Italy is perhaps best known for its shallow beaches on the Adriatic. I found the beach strip to be a nightmare of lounge chairs and shade umbrellas by day, and crowded bars by night, so as usual, I chose the path less taken. I turned my back on the shore and focused on the city center, which is rife with history and ancient Roman ruins. Read More

There is a place in Italy where things are still done the old way. Where value is measured by the preservation of ancient traditions. Where life is often difficult, but luxuriously slow and overflowing with simple joys. That place is the region of Le Marche.

My first inkling that Le Marche would offer a different kind of Italian experience came at Ristorante da Uto, located in the ancient market town of Mercatello sul Metauro. With a flourish, owner Umberto Sacchi set bowls of Passatelli with black truffle Alfredo sauce in front of us. Like any self-respecting American, I am intimately familiar with spaghetti, linguini, lasagna, cannoli, ravioli, and tortellini. Having recently visited Bologna, where the exact dimensions for Tagliatelle are guarded in the Town Hall, I even knew about this ribbon pasta. But Passatelli was new to those of us sitting around the table. The fat noodles were more reminiscent of German Spaetzle than Italian pasta.

Passatelli with black truffle Alfredo sauce at Ristorante da Uto

Passatelli with black truffle Alfredo sauce at Ristorante da Uto

Umberto was delighted. He rushed off and in a flash returned with two kitchen instruments. The first, a traditional potato ricer, he pronounced as adequate for making Passatelli. “But the ferro per passatelli is much better,” he insisted, holding up a slightly curved, perforated steel disc with wooden handles on each end. He mimicked pressing down on a ball of dough, forcing the noodles up through the holes. “Of course, you know all about truffles from Le Marche?” he asked. We admitted to having only passing knowledge about truffles and the pigs that hunt them. Read More