Patty Civalleri, Author
Archaeology, Art | Art History, BLOG, Italy, Writing

The Secret to Writing


People often ask me how I manage to get any writing done with this crazy lifestyle of mine. It’s easy. I just sit down and write. I don’t think about it, I don’t put pressure on it. I just sit down and write. 

Many folks have told me they would LOVE to write a book, but they don’t know how to get started, or how to fit it in. But I guess I see it backward: I am constantly trying to figure out how to fit my crazy life into my writing time. Odd, I know.

I wasn’t born a writer, or perhaps I was. My 92-year-old Dad was a writer and still is. My 28-year-old son is a writing fiend. So I suppose that writing was supposed to come naturally to me as well. 

I was born with nothing

But I am one of those people that nothing came naturally to, so I overcompensated by over-learning everything until each thing became natural. Like playing classical piano, or singing, or cooking, or sailing, or photography, or graphic design, or computer technology, or science, or photoshop, or biology, or archaeology, or history, or or or…

Crazy is what crazy does

I have incorporated most all of these things (and many more) into my normal life’s flow. For example, I have served on the Director’s Council of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA for 17 years, I have built over 250 websites for just as many clients, I have taught Photoshop, I have photographed the darkest corners of our ancient world for nearly two decades, and I am the Commodore of a boating club. Periodically, I perform random acts of Public Relations for myself and others. I have a family, a dog, and three elderly senior loved ones that need consistent love and attention. I published a book last year that needs daily marketing or it dies. I love to travel, so I do. I was away from my home a total of five months during 2017. So yeah, I have a bit of a crazy lifestyle.

Fall in Love

With all of this going on, what keeps me motivated to write? That’s easy. I love the subject. Last year, I published a book about a city that I had unexpectedly fallen in love with: Florence, Italy. This year, I fell in love with the city of Venice. Trips to Italy and research for these books has made me fall in love with Renaissance Art History. These topics and images roll around in my head 24 hours a day. I dream about them, I hear their whispers, I see their images reflected in my morning coffee, I simply can’t stop thinking about them. Clearly, I am in love. And when you are in love, nothing can stand in your way.

This must be the secret to writing: let yourself fall hopelessly and madly in love with your topic, and it will write itself. The words will flow with consistent grace from your keyboard; the ideas will flourish in your mind’s eye and it will all happen with an ease and a style that will invoke envy in all who peer into your office. Well, maybe that, plus some serious research and some much-needed elbow grease!

Just fall in love.
Happy writing, Patty

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Archaeology, BLOG, History, Italy, Travel

Haunting Images That Will Put Pompeii On Your Bucket List

One of the intrinsic benefits of luxury travel is getting to wander off the main tourist path and visit places that can are stimulating from an intellectual point of view. The ancient city of Pompeii on Italy’s west coast is just such a place. It experienced a catastrophic ending, and within 1 day, it was completely buried for the next 2,000 years. Today, it can be visited on foot thanks to over a century of archaeological excavations. After reading her story, I encourage you to add Pompeii to your bucket list.

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BLOG, Italy, Travel

Cinque Terre: 5 Pearls of the Italian Coastline

For the luxury-minded traveler, Cinque Terra is the gift to yourself that never stops giving. It will provide you with a lifetime of memories that, because of the unusual scenic treasures, will stand out from the other trips you have taken in your lifetime.

It is both a National Park as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. A masterpiece of coastal beauty, it shares words like insanely picturesque, deeply colorful and wildly natural all at the same time. Recently, it has been named the “Cinque Terre Riviera.”

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view from St Mark's Square, Venice
BLOG, Italy, Travel

VENICE: Hacking St. Mark’s Square

Everyone that visits Venice will go to St. Mark’s Square, period. And you must as well. But how can you do it differently than the millions of selfie-taking tourists while garnering food for your brain and staying cool to boot? Most consider St. Mark’s Square to consist of the Basilica, the Doges’ Palace, and the Bell Tower. But this World Heritage site houses so much more for intellectually-driven luxury travelers; and those that enjoy moving at less than the break-neck pace to which the typical cruise ship tourists must adhere.

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BLOG, Italy, Travel

GETTING HIGH IN FLORENCE: 7 Climbs to get Stunning Photos

Cameras have evolved into a permanent must-have part of our mainstream culture. Whether it is a part of a smart phone, or a high-end DSLR, we use them to communicate online and off, for email and social media, for business and education. This article will show you how to get stunning photos when you get to Florence, Italy. 

When traveling, cameras have become as ubiquitous as a passport. Even more so, because some of us carry more than one type of camera.

Getting good photos in Florence, Italy: If photography is of interest to you, then you know how important it is to find good angles from which to shoot. Most guidebooks have terrific photos, but they don’t often let you know from where they were shot. Here are a few of the places in Florence where you can climb up to take great scenic shots of this wonderfully ancient city. As you can see, a picturesque palette awaits your climb. Some may require you to purchase a ticket, some are free, and some may require you to enjoy a local Tuscan vino!   😉

But no matter which you choose, you will enjoy this rare perspective into the ancient past from above.

Il Duomo

Simply entering this formidable structure inspires awe. And the climb to the top will only add to your amazement. Looking down over the city from the Duomo will give birds-eye views from every direction. BONUS: The unusual part of this view is that Giotto’s Bell Tower, or The Campanile, stands tall right across the same piazza from you. Which means that if you and a friend each climb one of these structures at the same time, you will be able to get a great shot of each other from these lofty heights!


Giotto’s Bell Tower (il Campanile)

In addition to marvelous views of the city and the Arno from all sides of Giotto’s architectural wonder, next door you will get an up-close view of Brunelleschi’s great architectural creation, il Duomo. This view comes complete with its own scintillating shot of the cupola that is the crown of the city. From atop the north side of the Campanile, you can look down on the eight-sided Baptistery in the foreground, and further away you will see another dome: the Cappella de’ Medici (the Medici Chapel) resting quietly in the near distance. If you decide to scale the 414 steps to the top of this Campanile (Bell Tower) you will see all of Florence. From there, it is easy to imagine that you are looking back through time to the ancient past.


Palazzo Vecchio

After climbing a mere 223 steps to the top of the Palazzo Vecchio tower, a feast for your eyes awaits you at every single rest level where tiny windows give you a break and a glimpse of what lies below you. Looking southwest from the top of the crenellated tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, you will acquire a terrific view of the Bargello: Initially built as a seat for law enforcement, it later became an infamous prison where from its crenellations, you might have seen a few bodies dangling upside down as a direct message to those that might wish to break the law. Looking southward, the main scenic feature is the Church of Santa Croce (below). With a large piazza out front, you will find musicians and street performers of every kind. But inside is where all the bodies are buried – literally. From a Dante cenotaph to Donatello, and from Florence Nightingale to Michelangelo, this church has become the final resting place for many famous folks.


Piazzale Michelangelo

is a medium-effort walk from the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. But whether you hike it or you take the #12 Bus up the hill, be sure to bring a picnic basket. This is one of the more popular places to end your day and to watch the sun set over the city.


This view, taken from atop the Westin Excelsior Hotel on the Arno River (Piazza Ognissanti, 3, Firenze) is clearly fantastico! Day or night, rain or shine, this panorama is quite a sight to behold. Take the elevator to the top (8th) floor, go through the bar and out the glass doors to get this sumptuous feast for your eyes. The 8th floor doesn’t seem very high, but when you are in an ancient city where most structures are a mere 2-3 stories, 8 floors is plenty high!


Hotel La Scaletta

is a gem in a hidden treasure chest! A bit tough to find: Once you have located the correct building (near the Pitti Palace) you will climb a few steps, take a rickety little 2-person elevator to the top, walk through a small lobby into a restaurant, go out the back door, up some steps to a roof-top bar, then up one more precarious narrow flight to the rooftop. There you will find a couple of small cafe tables waiting for you to savor the wine & cheese along with these fantastic views of the historical center of the city (below), and the Observatory over Boboli Gardens behind you. A VERY romantic way to enjoy the sunset.
(Hotel La Scaletta: Via Guicciardini, 13 – 50125 FLORENCE


Vasari Corridor

This view from inside of the Vasari Corridor secretly looks down over the heads of the unsuspecting tourists as they shop for gold jewelry on the famous Ponte Vecchio The mysterious Vasari Corridor also gives rare views of the Arno and the backstreets of the city as it winds its way over the tops of the buildings between the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi Gallery.

Patty Civalleri is the author of FLORENCE ~ A Traveler’s Guide to its Gems & Giants. Click to Get it NOW on Amazon.


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BLOG, Italy, Travel

What is the 1 WORD That Seduces Travelers into Repeatedly Returning to Florence?

By Patty Civalleri

There are many reasons why people find their way to Florence, some of which may be by accident. The simple facts that Florence is “on the route” between Rome and Venice, or it is “included in the Italy package” are some of the more common ways that people get to Florence.

Most time-constrained tourists tend to breeze through as many destinations that can be compressed into their limited holiday period. This often means that they are forced to zip into a city, find the best place for food and drink, look at a few buildings on the streets, then check it off their bucket list. “Yup, I’ve been there, and done that,” they say. But have they really?

The opportunity to stay longer in any single destination is truly a luxury that many travelers do not possess. But if you travel because you want to learn more about the world (besides just its restaurants), and you want to come away feeling smarter and more enlightened, then Florence is your destination.

But why is it that so many people find that Florence has become their ‘favorite city in the world?’ And why is it that so many travelers repeatedly return to Florence even as the rest of the world continues to beckon?

As difficult as it may seem, it is this one single scary word that holds the draw for so many people: no matter how you look at it, Florence simply has some of the coolest and most seductive HISTORY” in the world.

Sure, every country has cool history. But Florence holds the key that connects so many of those little dots in our heads that were left by our school teachers so many years ago.

Let me show you. I’ll start simple, then get more fun as we go. Did you know:

  • that Florence is the Capital of Tuscany? Surprisingly, few people are aware of this.
  • that a bunch of familiar guys came from Florence?
    • Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Galileo, Raphael, Dante, Machiavelli, the infamous Medici family, and scores more
  • that most of these guys actually knew each other?
  • that the combined genius of these men (along with many more great guys), turned history on its ear and yanked the Western World out of the Dark Ages?
  • that this ‘yanking’ from the Dark Ages into an enlightened age of ‘free thinking’ is what we all know of as The Renaissance?
  • that the “Pirate Pope” was from Florence?
  • that the original “Bonfire of the Vanities” occurred in Florence?
  • that Michelangelo hid underneath a chapel – for 3 months – to avoid imprisonment? And that while in there, he drew all over the walls to stay sane? And that you can visit this tiny little self-imposed prison/chamber?
  • that the Bargello Museum used to be a prison where they would among other things hang prisoners by their feet from the crenellations over the streets to warn people not to commit crimes?
  • that the Ponte Vecchio Bridge is the only bridge that remains intact after the Nazis bombed all other bridges in Florence?
  • that Leonardo da Vinci would visit his ‘secret woman’ each time he returned to Florence?
  • that the famous artists Filippo Lippi was kidnapped from the area and sold into slavery?
  • that Raphael is the King of ‘selfies’?

Florence is truly the veritable who’s who of familiar names and events in Western History. In fact, her history reads  like a Hollywood Magazine of the ins, outs and drama that has impacted our life in the West for the next 600 years.

This is why so many are compelled to return every few years. The city beckons and seduces with factoids and stories that will send you home as the smartest person in the room!

A stay in Florence can keep you busy every hour of every day that you spend there. Oh, and the restaurants and bars are pretty nice too!

Patty Civalleri, Author
“FLORENCE Gems & Giants”



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Art | Art History, BLOG, Italy

How to Make a Bronze Statue in 7 Easy Steps

This technique is called ‘the Lost Wax’ method. It is the method that Master Andrea del Verrocchio used to create his timeless sculpture of “David” among others. This method was widely used during the Renaissance period, and is still used by some masters today.

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Art | Art History, BLOG, Italy

Master of the Masters

Andrea del Verrocchio

(pron “ver-OH-kee-oh”)

Born Andrea di Michele di Francesco de’ Cioni, he was trained under a master goldsmith, Giuliano Verrocchio, from whom Andrea took the name, which translates to “true eyes.” He grew up with Lorenzo d’Medici (aka, Lorenzo the Magnificent) as a close friend. Although a bachelor for life, he lived with and supported his sister and her children.

For quite some time, Verrocchio was considered to be one of the most important artists in Florence. Lorenzo and Piero de’Medici were

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BLOG, Italy, Travel

How Much Time Should You Spend in Florence?

I know that people have time limits when traveling, and they want to see more than one single place. But Florence is quite different than most other places because of what I will tell you in 4 short paragraphs.

If I had a limited vacation and was flying across the world, I would spend no less than 3–4 days, bare minimum. You see, 4 years ago, I spent 2.5 months in Florence, and since then I have learned about more places that I wish I could have seen. The longer you stay, the deeper you can go. But of course, this is true of every place to which you will travel. Or is it?

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BLOG, Italy, Travel

What are some lesser-known sights to see when visiting Florence, Italy?

 Note: I wrote this to answer the question in the website.

The answer to this question depends upon your personal interests, so I’ll throw out a few of my own favs.

A fantastic place from which to see the sunset over the city: Piazzale Michelangelo. You can either walk up to it, or take a local bus, but bring a picnic and enjoy the end of the day. One of the 2 full-sized copies of Michelangelo’s “David” stands overlooking the sunset as well.

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Patty Civalleri, Author
BLOG, Writing

Patty Civalleri Interview with Fiverr

Historian, photographer and new author Patty Civalleri launches a new kind of Travel Guide, “FLORENCE: A Traveler’s Guide to its Gems & Giants.” Designed to take you a step deeper into your trip to Florence, Italy, Civalleri has created it as a set of four products: a Paperback Book, an EBOOK, a FunBook, and an APP. No city and no author in the world offers these kinds of travel tools. wants to know more.

Q1. Why are you interested in Deep Travel?

A1. As a writer and photographer, I have traveled for 17 years to ancient archaeological dig sites with some of the foremost archaeologists in the world. In every city, I have

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Art | Art History, BLOG, History, Italy, Travel

10 Fun Things You Should Know About the Florence Renaissance

Sure. We all know the names: Michelangelo, da Vinci, Botticelli, Dante, Raphael, Galileo, the Medici, Machiavelli, Donatello, and many more.  But did you know that they were all from the city of Florence? And did you know that most of these guys actually knew other?

There are so many fun things about that period of time that will tickle your fancy so much, that once you know them, you’ll want to hop on a plane and go to Florence. Tomorrow morning.

There are so many interesting facts that I wrote a whole book about them. But for this post, I’ll stick to the first 10 quickies that pop into my head as I write this. You can find the book right here on Amazon.

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Art | Art History, BLOG, History, Italy

FLORENCE: Finding Verrocchio

Andrea del Verrocchio ~ Master of the Masters

Goldsmith, painter, sculptor

Born Andrea di Michele di Francesco de’ Cioni, he was trained under a master goldsmith, Giuliano Verrocchio, from whom Andrea took the name, which translates to “true eyes.” He grew up with Lorenzo d’Medici as a close friend. Although a bachelor for life, he lived with and supported his sister and her children.

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BLOG, Italy, Travel

A Fine Buongiorno – pt 1

Many of us dream of replanting ourselves into a foreign land, even if only temporarily. The thought of immersing yourself into a world of new colors and landscapes, of enjoying the aromas of freshly-baked yummies emerging from local centuries-old ovens. Of startling your self-image with a new style of togs to match your new-found surroundings. These are things that you just know will expand your ordinary daily existence and transform you into a new person replete with ancient wisdom and insights. Wow – if only.

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