Tag Archives: Italy

Shop Originals In Italy

It’s well known that Italy produces some of the most original and beautiful leather handmade goods in the world. If you visit Italy, be sure to spend some time seeking out shops that offer one-of-a-kind hand made leather goods.  They will last for a lifetime.  And they are exquisite.

“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”                                                              Johannes Brahms

For leather sandals, I have an absolute favorite shop in Sorrento that produces what I consider to be the most beautiful sandals in the world.  It’s named Corcione and when you visit this stunning shop, there is always someone there, working to make these beautiful shoes by hand. Tucked away down a side street in Sorrento, at Corso Italia 28, Corcione has been producing handmade sandals since 1925.

Gorgeous handmade sandals in Sorrento, Italy

Handmade sandals at Corcione, in Sorrento, Italy

One of the extraordinary things about this particular shop, is that they will allow you to participate in the creation of your own sandals.  You can choose the height of the sole of the shoe, along with the particular style and design you prefer.  The owners will fit the sandals to  your own feet.  Yes, you can always choose from their many ready-made versions, but the real fun, I think, is in making your own personal selections.  You need to come at least a day ahead to chose your design elements and then plan to return the next day, for a final fitting.

Gorgeous hand-made sandals

A touch of dragon-fly jeweled accents

In addition, you can choose the exact color of leather straps you want, along with the jeweled accents and other personal touches you wish to add.  Best of all, these handmade sandals are not totally beyond reach.  Ranging anywhere from 40 to 185 Euros and up, they are an outstanding buy!  And when purchased this way, they also become one-of-a-kind.

Hand-made and Hand-chosen details

Hand-made and Hand-chosen details

I have found that looking for this kind of unique shopping experience is a great way to spend time when you’re traveling on your own.  Making a connection with gifted craftsmen, like those at Corcione, elevates shopping solo to a whole new level.  The creative process feels like a collaboration between customer and artisan.  The results too are exciting!  Since you’re making your own selections, there’s a special anticipation that comes with seeing the final product.  You’re not buying something you’ve already seen!  Back home, when you wear your beautiful new sandals, you’ll be transported back to the experience.  And the compliments you get will be so much fun, because you had a hand in making them yourself!

Gorgeous handmade sandals in Sorrento

Gorgeous handmade sandals in Sorrento

Set out to treat yourself whenever you shop, by taking in everything around you.  At Corcione, you may need to wait, as the shop draws lots of locals as well as tourists.  They may tell you to come back in a few hours, but if you do, they may not be ready yet.  Of course, there’s no lack of things to do in Sorrento, so having to occupy your time while waiting is more than delightful.  But I find that giving these craftsmen a day or two works better.  The shop is small, it can sometimes get very crowded and In southern Italy, I don’t believe that there is a word for “rush”.

That’s also part of this wonderful shopping experience too!  If you can, always seek out the one-of-a-kind and the unforgettable!  That’s how to shop with “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady

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B&B’s…and Pensiones!

B&B’s (Bed and Breakfasts) are a great option when you first begin to travel on your own.  They tend to be the most intimate lodging experience, since they are typically small and personally run by the owners.  B&Bs are everywhere.  Here in the U.S. and overseas as well.  On a recent trip to southern Italy, I stayed at a lovely little B&B, (called a pensione in Italy),  in tranquil Piano di Sorrento.

A lovely private entrance to an Italian pensione in Piano de Sorrento, Italy

A lovely private entrance to an Italian pensione in Piano di Sorrento, Italy

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known”.                                                               Carl Sagan

Since traveling solo can sometimes feel daunting, choosing a small B&B or pensione, in this case, is a great way to get yourself into a good “comfort zone”.  Owners are usually happy to see you and they will cater to you in a way that’s very friendly and helpful.  They’re great at recommending places to see, eat and shop.

Delightful entrance to my own little Italian "apartment"

Delightful entrance to my own little Italian “apartment”

Every B&B is unique and different.  There’s nothing “standard” about them, with the exception that they each provide a room and your morning “wake-up” breakfast meal.   It can sometimes feel like you’re visiting friends, because B&B’s tend to have very homey bedrooms and they will generally all vary in size and style.

The charm is in all the quirky details!

The charm is in all the quirky details!

I love the quirky details that come with B&B’s.  Here’s a photo of the safe in my room at the pensione in Italy, complete with a cleverly devised piece of framed art to keep it hidden from sight!  You will find unique touches in every B&B or pensione you visit.  It’s worth every moment and you will find it’s a great way to travel with “A Table For One”!

Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady

Small Hotels

Small hotels, sometimes in out-of-the way places can be a great option when you first start out traveling alone.  Recently, I stayed in a small hotel, just outside of Sorrento, Italy.  Located in Vico Equense, it was just a quick 11 minute train ride into Sorrento.   The Hotel Aequa featured all the advantages of a small hotel for solo travelers.


Hotel Aequa, Vico Equense

Hotel Aequa, Vico Equense

Hotel and Garden

Hotel and Garden

“The true object of all human life is play.  Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.”     Gilbert K. Chesterton        

The price included a European style buffet breakfast each morning.  I had asked for a double room with small balcony and view, thinking that the single rooms in Europe are still quite small.  It was a good choice, because the bed was bigger and the balcony provided access to beautiful views of the hotel property, Bay of Naples and the stunning Mount Vesuvius.

View from the balcony

View from the Balcony

Small hotels can be both intimate and private, depending on how much you want to engage with the people around you.  Again, this can be ideal for those first venturing out alone.  The hotel clerks are there to help, the guests at breakfast and around the pool can sometimes be friendly and engaging.  But if you really just want to relax, read, sun yourself, etc. you can easily opt to do this without interruptions.


Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady