CALIFORNIA -Visitor Centers- (Marta’s Road Book #6)


Hi everybody!


I’ve just come home after a wonderful vacation in and around San Francisco and northern California.


During this trip I realized once again how helpful Visitor Centers are.


When visiting a national park for example remember to stop by at the VISITOR CENTER, where the park RANGERS will help you to plan your visit and make the most of your time there.

Guide books and websites can’t compare to a conversation with a ranger who knows that park inside and out, plus it’s a great opportunity for you to practice the language!


Visitor centers also sell the TRAVEL ITEMS that you may need during your visit, such as reusable water bottles, caps, batteries, and so on.

Buying your souvenirs and gifts at the visitor center is also a good way to support that park.


When driving around California you will see these signs guiding you to one of the many CALIFORNIA WELCOME CENTERS where you will be given maps and any kind of information for free.
Not to mention the refreshments and the clean restrooms that you will surely appreciate after driving around for hours!  🙂


For example, I stopped by at the Welcome Center in Merced because I had heard on the radio of some construction works on the road that could have delayed my trip the following day.
The welcome center assistant made a few phone calls right away, provided me with all the details and I planned my trip accordingly. It was so easy.
Then we ended up chatting about California and all of those beautiful places that don’t make it into the guide books. She was really nice and helpful. I had a great time talking with her.
That’s why it’s called “Welcome center”, it makes you feel Welcome and willing to come back in the future.


So my travel tip for your next trip to the States is :

wherever you go, make sure to stop by at a Visitor Center, talk to the assistant, ask questions and practice the language!

Take care,

ROME -fountains- (Marta’s Road Book #5)


Visiting Rome is a never ending experience, not even 10 days in a row would be enough to see half of it.
Rome has been the capital of the Roman Empire first and of the Christian world later on and it wouldn’t have been possible without one precious element: water.

So here’s some water-related words you need to know when visiting the “Eternal City”:
aqueducts : the waterway system providing Rome with running water
baths  -thermae- : public facilities for bathing and wellness
monumental fountains:  beautiful fountains decorating Rome and still glorifying who built them.

The Trevi fountain is maybe the most famous of all, it’s been the setting of films like “La dolce vita” and “Roman holidays”.

There’s a popular superstition about it: by throwing a coin in the Trevi fountain you are ensured to return to Rome.
Every single day about 3,000 Euro are thrown in that fountain, then collected for charity.

There are so many fountains in Rome that you can decide to follow an itinerary across the center to see them all, possibly by night.
Don’t miss the famous fountains in Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna and in front of the Pantheon.

But this is just the beginning: be ready to discover a lot of minor fountains that embellish every hidden corner of Rome.

This is “Nasone“, it means : Big Nose.

There are so many of these little drinking fountains around you, they are not monumental, but they are very useful : the water is always fresh, good and for free!

Have a great time in Rome!
All the best,

HOTELS in the US (Marta’s Road Book #4)


Hotels in the States are usually less expensive than in Europe.
I often travel on a budget and I’ve always been able to find big double rooms for two people at about $50 per night, including a free continental breakfast, free parking, high-speed internet connection, satellite TV and a swimming pool. For that price, where I live in Italy, what you would get is a small room with a bathroom to share along the hallway!

Here’s a few words you may need when making your hotel reservation:
COMPLIMENTARY, that means included in the price. For example: “this hotel offers complimentary breakfast every morning until 9.30”
KING & QUEEN : a king-size bed is a very big bed (about 2 m wide and long), while a queen-size bed is a little smaller, but still very comfortable.
The average hotel room in the USA is bigger than in Europe: for example here I was in a double queen room, and as you can see there is a lot of space left even with 2 queen beds in the room.
I usually choose this kind of hotel, where you can park your car right in front of the door of your room and where there’s a swimming pool to relax in.

When checking in you will probably be asked to leave your credit card details as a guarantee, no matter if your room was prepaid on line. Some hotels may even place a hold for a certain amount of money on your credit card, just in case you damage or steal something, or you have further expenses during your stay; but don’t worry, the hold will only remain on your card until you check out.

Be sure to ask ”What time is check-out?’‘ so that you will depart on time and don’t incur any further charges.

See you soon!



No, I’m not going to talk about the skyscrapers, the museums, or any famous landmarks.  I want to talk about the SUBWAY.
In Europe you’d call it the Underground, in London the “Tube”,  here in the States it’s the SUBWAY.

When visiting a big city, the subway is often cheaper than many other means of transport  and in my opinion it’s really interesting because you get to observe fragments of everyday life for regular people, living and working in New York City.

It gives you the chance to practice the language as well:  you need to plan your trips, to study the maps,  to ask for information, to keep an eye on the signs and listen for announcements.


Nowadays you can find on line anything you need to know about the subway.  As per New York go visit the MTA website (Metropolitan Transportation Authority).

You can check the FARES (prices) and decide to buy a METRO CARD, for example.

Buying your tickets is very easy, you will find TICKET MACHINES at every STATION.

Then, follow the signs that lead you to the LINE you need to use, get to the PLATFORM, take your train and when necessary be ready for TRANSFERS on different lines in order to reach your destination.

Don’t miss this station:

14th Street – Eighth Avenue,

where you can bump into these cute sculptures by Tom Otterness (Life Underground),
which reminded me that long time ago people had to buy TOKENS for their trips in the subway,  there was no on line payments or prepaid cards!


See you soon,   Marta

SANIBEL island – Florida


Sanibel offers you everything you dream of when you think of a tropical island lost in the middle of the ocean: white sand, blue water, palm trees and wonderful sunsets.  But it’s just a short ride from Fort Myers, Florida.

You get there on a toll bridge.  Uh, wait a minute, that’s a word to learn when driving around the States : TOLL.  A toll bridge is a bridge over which you may pass upon payment of a fee, a TOLL.   You also pay a toll to the toll keeper when you get to the toll booth / toll station if you drive on a toll road / a tollway.

Ok, now, let’s go back to wonderful Sanibel island.  You pay a toll to drive on the toll bridge that takes you there (I paid 6 $ a couple of years ago) but it’s totally worth it !

On Sanibel shores you will find an incredible number of sea shells.  You will be surprised to see people constantly walk on the beach collecting colorful shells of any kind. They walk, stop, stoop over and pick up the shells they choose among thousands of them.   This stance, this posture is called : “the Sanibel stoop” !

There are shops selling shells too.  I bought some shells in a shop called “She sells sea shells”.

Wow, it sounds like a tongue twister, doesn’t it?

Let me end this post with the welcoming sign on one of Sanibel beaches:

“Enjoy, don’t destroy.”

” Leave nothing on beach but footprints.”






Hi everyone!  Today I’m taking you to a wonderful place called :

BRYCE CANYON National Park, in Utah.

The erosional force of rainwater has shaped these pink rocks into this incredible landscape.

Bryce amphitheater is BREATHTAKING (that’s the new word to learn!), it absolutely takes your breath away.  No matter if you can stay for a week or a few hours only,  make sure to include Bryce Canyon into your trip.  I spent two days there and, believe me, I left a piece of my heart on those rocks.

Don’t miss the sunset, well, actually there is the “Sunset Point” -and I grant you there’s a reason why!-  just relax, take your time and enjoy the light, the colors, the silence.

On a clear day the visibility is amazing,  up to 100 miles.  After a while you can lose the sense of distances and proportion, so take a walk close to the rocks and realize how big they are (see how little I seem in this picture!!!)

After such a BREATHTAKING view you will certainly be hungry, so hurry up and find a place where you can have dinner before it’s too late:  restaurants close very early in the evening here in Utah!   For example I remember I had dinner at the Foster’s Family Steakhouse. Delicious! Give it a try!!