Aqua Alta in Venice: What it Is and Why it Happens

You may have seen videos and photos in the news of Venice underwater from time to time, with tourists lugging suitcases through rivers or frolicking in Piazza San Marco wearing rain boots. This flooding is unfortunately common and is simply called “high water” or aqua alta.  Venice, as a city built on muddy islands in a […]

A Real Day as a Guidebook Researcher

I’m out on the road in Italy again, updating Rick Steves guidebooks. Guidebook research is fun, and many people would say that it is their dream job. I did too, that’s why I’m here. With all professions, no matter how glamorous from the outside, work is called work for a reason. Guidebook research requires stamina […]

Adventures with Nico, Episode Five: Piedmont Pleasures

My trip to Italy with Nico had been intended to welcome my son into my alternate world, my adopted country. I wasn’t sure what he would find interesting in terms of historical or cultural sits, but I knew he had one item at the top of his to-do list, visiting with his friend Emmanuele. Emi […]

Travel Tutorial: Day Trip Rome to Pompeii

Most visitors to Italy will go to Rome and see the ancient sites. The broken bones of the Roman Empire are fascinating, but the ancient way of life can be hard to visualize. A visit to the ancient city of  Pompeii is the best way, in my opinion, to get a feel for Roman daily […]


You’d think that someone who travels for a living, writes about travel and guides hundreds of people around Europe every year would have magnificent organizational skills. You’d think that everything would always go as planned. You’d think there would be nothing but sunshine and perfect days. You’d be wrong. Misadventures are the real stuff of […]

A Day in the Life of a Guidebook Researcher

I’ve changed gears here in Italy, just having finished two tours, one of Sicily and one of Venice, Florence and Rome. My next adventure is in doing a bit of research for the Rick Steves guidebooks. More than 16 years ago, I was a frustrated young architect who was unhappy in her profession. One evening, […]