Winter Activities Near O’Hare International Airport

The following article was originally published on by Nathan Anderson on 12/18/17.

Chicago is famous for many things, from its sports teams and stadiums to the blustery weather, which has earned it the moniker of The Windy City. It is the home of the deep dish pizza and the Sears Tower and was the base of Al Capone in his heyday. It is a fascinating place, and many people are keen to visit the city center.  But the areas surrounding the city itself are full of history and things to do, and it’s a shame to miss out on all they have to offer. Here are some winter activities near O’Hare International Airport you can do before or after you explore the heart of The Windy City.

Winter Activities in Rosemont

Rosemont is a small suburb of Chicago bordering the airport.  Home of the Chicago Wolves, it’s a great spot to catch a professional hockey game anytime from December through mid-April. If you’re not into sports, check out the Rosemont Theatre for events and concerts — they happen throughout the year.

MB Financial Park, a 200,000-square-foot entertainment and dining complex, has a huge amount of activities on offer. Check out Zanies Comedy Club for some good laughs or Kings Dining and Entertainment for the chance to follow up a tasty dinner with bowling. You can even go skydiving (indoors) with iFly; talk about an all-inclusive vacation!

Winter Activities in Park Ridge

On the other side of the Des Plaines River from Rosemont is Park Ridge, an area conveniently connected to the city center by train. With numerous wooded areas including the Iroquois and Chippewa Woods to explore and relax, it offers plenty for outdoor enthusiasts willing to brave the cold.  If the weather is too frigid and you want to stay indoors, head over to the Pickwick Theater — built in 1928 — and enjoy a classic American cinema experience. There are a number of hotel options in the area if you choose to make this your base.

A not-to-be-missed spot is the Beer on the Wall beer cafe with its massive selection of tapped and bottled brews, as well as the board games and old Nintendo it has available for the young at heart. What could be better on a cold winter night?

Winter Activities in Glenview

Finally, north of both Rosemont and Park Ridge is Glenview, a suburb with parks and fields aplenty and bordered on either side by wooded areas. Check out the Camp Pine or Allison Woods for some walking paths and solace from the buzz of the town. Or head to the Glenview Ice Center for an afternoon of ice skating with friends.

Don’t miss The Grove, a parcel of prairie grove land set aside and maintained by the Parks District. Rich in both ecological and historical heritage, The Grove is open year round and provides a fascinating look at a side of Chicago many people never see.

Chicago is a great city to explore, but don’t get so caught up in the heart of the city that you miss what lies just beyond. Take some time to explore these areas near O’Hare International Airport, and let us know what you think!


Where to Stay, and What to See in Washington DC

The following article was published on by Mary Chong on 12/18/17.

Where to Stay, and What to See in Washington DC

When visiting the U.S. Capitol, you must include the national monuments and museums on your to-do list. Here are some suggestions of where to stay and what to see in Washington, D.C.

Alexandria, Virginia

When I’m in Washington, D.C., I normally stay in a hotel near Alexandria, Virginia, since there is easy access to Washington’s major tourist sites via the Metro, and many of the hotels here offer free parking. George Washington’s hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, charms visitors with its tree-lined cobblestone streets and early 19th-century architecture. Designated a historic district, Old Town Alexandria’s King Street features over 200 independently owned shops and restaurants.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Dedicated to the longest-running president in the USA, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is 7 acres in size with four rooms representing each term in office. Staying in a hotel near the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial provides easy access to transit, but it’s also a convenient walking distance to the other notable sites along the National Mall.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is dedicated to the third U.S. president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence. The memorial is the best spot to see the cherry blossom trees in spectacular full bloom if you are visiting Washington in the spring. Better yet, book a hotel near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial so you can wake up to the most beautiful view of the flowering trees! The area is within walking distance to all the major tourist sites, but it’s also perfect to enjoy the peacefulness and natural beauty of the Tidal Basin and surrounding parkland.

The Wharf District

The Wharf District is my favorite spot to go for seafood because it’s the location of the Municipal Fish Market, also known as Maine Avenue Fish Market. Locals come here to do their shopping, but most of the fishmongers offer freshly prepared seafood on the premises. Staying in a hotel near the George Mason Memorial allows for easy access to the Wharf District but also sights such as The National Mall, and the more than 20 museums of the Smithsonian. With nightlife, shopping, dining, water activities, and attractions, the Wharf District is a great area to check out.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is the largest military cemetery in the USA and is open daily for visitors. This cemetery isn’t located in Washington, D.C., but is across the Potomac River in nearby Arlington, Virginia. The location, out of the busy downtown core of Washington, has some affordable hotel accommodations that are easily accessible through a 15-minute Metro ride.

Arlington National Cemetery contains more than 400,000 internments. Guided tours, as well as free shuttle buses, are available to the most significant visitor sites such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Washington, D.C., offers rich history, top-notch museums, great shopping and food, and beautiful scenery. With so much to see and do in Washington, D.C., you really can’t do it all in only one visit!

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Where to Stay, and What to See in Washington D.C.


Most Common Facts about Flood & Insurance Policies

Wherever you live in the world, you know that the weather conditions are unpredictable. The cause is due to the increasing damage to the ozone layer and the environment of the earth. Natural calamities can happen anywhere and anytime in the world. If you are like most homeowners, you must have insurance to your assets like home, car etc., Did you know that not most insurance policies cover flood damage? A serious flood can cost tens of thousands of dollars if you do not have the insurance policy that covers flood damage as well.

Recently, Irma hurricane caused more than $100 billion damage to many parts of Florida and other areas, surpassing the record held by the famous Katrina that damaged assets of worth $50 billion in 2005. If you are planning to get an insurance policy but not considering covering the damage caused by flood, understanding common facts of flood damage will help you make a better decision. So, let met unwrap the most unknown facts about floods.

Devastating floods occur a lot more frequently that you would imagine. In fact, statistics show that flood occurs in every state of U.S. This means, no matter how lucky you have been in the past you are always at risk of your home being flooded. Additionally, most homeowners don’t have insurance policies with flood damage coverage. If you are planning to get an insurance policy, make sure you take this quiz to find out how flood damage policy can save you thousands of dollars. You can also visit Health to learn more.

4 Key Leadership Skills in Higher Education and How to Develop Them

The leadership in higher education is as similar as leadership in the corporate world. The presidents, deans, and chancellors have same pressure and challenges as compared to CEOs of the companies. Leadership skills required a few qualities to face the challenges by the leader of an organization.

Developing qualities and skills totally depend upon the ones-self. The higher education makes you aware of the key skills of a leader but you need to develop that skills yourself to succeed in your career. Let’s discuss a few required qualities: –

Maintaining a journal

Maintaining a journal is like a hobby for a good leader. He can write about the good and bad. He can write about the areas where he has to work more and the areas where he is already performing well. Maintaining a journal will help him formulation of plans and policies.


Discipline is key to every success. Discipline is not only necessary in the field of leadership rather it is important in the very aspect of life. The leader must be disciplined to be followed by others. The leader must be stick to his routine and follow the schedule properly so that he can ask others too to follow the same.

Better communication

A leader must be confident enough that his communication must be clear to all. What he wants to convey to his audience must clear to him as well as understood by his audience well. To bridge the gap between speaker and listener the Communication is the key. The higher education helps you in expressing yourself in the proper and effective way. If you deliver the message to your audience which you want to convey that means you have delivered better communication.

Calm and patient

The leader must be calm and patient. He must have quality for observing others first then conclude his decision. He must be calm to make the followers understand and well familiar with his plans and policies, he has made. Leadership in higher education helps in achieving hard goals with patience and make you calm.

When It’s Great to be a Woman in Italy

Yes, there might be sexism in Italy — even up to the highest levels of government. Yes, it might be so bad that primetime news shows routinely show half-naked women, that the country lags behind in every statistic from the gender gap in wages to the number of female politicians, and that a million women protested in a nationwide demonstration last month.

But at least this Tuesday, March 8, women get a break: For Festa della Donna, the traditional Italian holiday for women, all nationally-run monuments and museums will be free for females only. In Rome, that includes sites like the Colosseum and Palazzo Massimo.

Hey, it’s something. Ladies: Take advantage!

Hidden Underground, an Ornate, 2,000-Year-Old Sepulchre

I’ve done a lot of cool things in Rome — but visiting the Columbarium of Pomponio Hylas is one of the coolest.

And it’s one of Rome’s best-kept secrets.

First off, let’s debunk the idea that Christians were the only ones who got neat underground burial chambers in Rome. In fact, the practice of interring the dead below ground went back to the pagan Romans. One popular way to do this was with a columbarium — an underground chamber built and decorated to hold the urns of Romans’ ashes, either for one family or many. (Later, around the time of Trajan in the 2nd century, pagans would stop incinerating their dead and start burying whole bodies in catacombs. The Christians took up the same idea and, along with continuing to bury their dead side-by-side with pagans in mixed catacombs, also started building catacombs just for Christians).

Needless to say, every once in a while, a new columbarium is discovered below Rome’s ground level. This one was found in 1831. And it dates way back — back earlier than the Christian catacombs — to between 14 and 54 A.D. The incredible thing? Many of the frescoes and decorations still look fresh. And lots of the burial urns are still there.

The columbarium likely was founded by Pomponio Hylas for his family in the 1st century B.C. How do we know? The extraordinary mosaic that faces you as you descend down the stairs into the space.

The chamber itself is small. But it’s filled with beautifully-detailed, and preserved, frescoes and decorations, from mythological scenes to delicate, winding vines.

There’s nothing quite as extraordinary as standing in the small chamber designed, so intimately, by a family for its dead, seeing the frescoes that they hired artists to paint, viewing the inscriptions with their individual names — and the urns that once contained their ashes. If it weren’t so beautiful, it would give you the shivers.

And you’d never guess any of this from the outside.

To book, you’re supposed to have a group of at least 10 people. Book by calling 060608. It costs €3 per person. Just promise one thing: If you go, you will not touch the frescoes, or anything else in there. That’s what destroys the artwork.

The columbarium is located in the Parco degli Scipioni, nearest to Via Latina 10. For a map, click here.

Want to find out about Rome’s other hidden gems? Check out The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon, below, or through my site here!

An Empress’s House Opens… Only Through March

Rome’s just unveiling all kinds of incredible ancient sites. Case in point: the House of Livia — a gloriously-frescoed, 2,000-year-old structure thought to belong to Emperor Augustus’ wife. After being closed to the public for years, then open on Saturday mornings only last fall, it’s reopened this month.

But go quickly. Because, so far, it’s only open this month.

Why is it worth visiting? Well, two reasons. First, if you’re wandering around the ruins of the Palatine and curious how any of these ancient houses actually would have been decorated, here’s your chance. The House of Livia still boasts (fragments of) mosaic floors and beautiful frescoes — not quite as pristine as those in the House of Augustus, but almost. (Below, the well-preserved frescoes of the garlands that symbolized Octavian Augustus’ victory — you can see them on his Ara Pacis, too).

Secondly, the house is thought to belong to Livia. Augustus’ wife. The woman that Octavian fell in love with so immediately he divorced his wife the day she was birthing his child in order to marry Livia. Who he remained married to for 51 years, even though she never bore him a child, and even though she was the daughter of a man who had been killed in battle fighting against her now-husband. Who was, herself, the mother of the second emperor Tiberius, the grandmother of Claudius, and the great-grandmother of Caligula.

And who was so powerful, the Senate tried to bestow her with the title of Mater Patriae (“Mother of the Fatherland”) — and, supposedly, such a powerful meddler that her son Tiberius retired himself to Capri just to avoid her. In short? She was a bad-ass.

How could you not want to see where she lived, loved, and plotted… or the decorations that she chose? (Note: The tour guide said the frescoes were chosen by Augustus. Why this has been assumed, I’m not exactly sure. I doubt a woman who was powerful enough to make the emperor retire would have let somebody else pick out her home’s decor.)

So, go. And go now — before the House of Livia shuts once more, to open who-knows-when.

As per the Pierreci site, the House of Livia is open only for tours that run, in English, at 9:30am and every hour thereafter until 3:30pm. That said, I was there yesterday and the house was very clearly simply open, with people wandering in and out, at 3:15. The tour guide did come in at 3:30 and gave a 15-minute tour, but it didn’t seem to be necessary to view the house’s offerings. The price of entrance is included in your 12 euro forum/Colosseum/Palatine ticket.

The Week of Free Museums Across Italy… Is Here!

From now until April 17, Italy’s state-run museums and sites are free. (Yay!) In Rome, that includes the Colosseum, Forum, Palazzo Massimo, Galleria Borghese (where you can find Raphael’s beautiful “Entombment,” above) and Baths of Caracalla… to name a few. Take advantage!

Here’s a complete list of sites with free entrances this week, from Pierreci (click on the drop-down beneath the map on the right to choose your region — Rome, of course, is Lazio).

Revealed Rome’s 12 Most Popular Posts in 2012

As we approach 2012’s end, I was pretty curious about which blog posts were the most popular on Revealed Rome this year. A little stats-checking proved to me that my readers are (unsurprisingly) big fans of Rome, especially when it comes to food, Christmas, shopping, and more!

Without further ado, here’s the list of the 12 most popular Revealed Rome posts in 2012… a couple of which surprised me! Do any surprise you?

#12: 5 Favorite Places for Food Near the Vatican: Oh lists, how I love thee. This one, on where to grab lunch in the food desert touristy area around the Vatican, was one of my first (semi-regular) “Five for Friday” posts—and one of the most popular.

#11: Rome’s Best Shopping Streets: Via del Boschetto: It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Rome’s shopping… when it’s done far, far away from chain-store-choked Via del Corso. One great alternative is this little street in Monti, near the Roman forum, which is chock-a-block with fantastic artisans and boutiques.

#10: How Safe is Rome, Really?: A question readers found even more pertinent in 2012 than in 2011 or 2010, when it was first published. Not sure what that says about Rome’s reputation. Or about crime in the world in general.

#9: In Rome, Shopping for Vintage Clothes: I love vintage clothes—and, from the looks of it, so do travelers coming to Rome. Make sure you also check out King Size Vintage, a new addition to Rome’s vintage shopping scene.

 #8: Is Anything Open During Christmas and New Year’s in Rome?: A good question… and one a lot of people wanted the answers to this year.

#7: 5 Frustrating Things Somebody Coming to Rome Can Say: I wrote this post in a fit of, well, frustration. (For example: Yes, it’s frustrating when you say you booked a hotel way out of Rome’s center to save money, and yes, it’s frustrating that you rented a car to use in Rome… to name just two pet peeves). Luckily, it looks like it resonated with a lot of people—and hopefully steered them away from making some first-time-traveler mistakes.

#6: Underground at the Colosseum: How Do You Get There?: Two years after I wrote this post, people were still checking it out (and yes, the information has been updated several times since). Looks like the Colosseum underground, which includes the hypogeum where gladiators waited for their turn to fight, is still a big deal—although slightly less exciting than last year, when it was Revealed Rome’s #1 most popular post.

Lots of people wanted to know where to go to the beach near Rome…

#5: Rome’s Most Convenient Beach (And It’s Pretty!): Not going to lie, this one kind of surprised me, especially with the yawn-worthy title. But many readers seemed bent on making it to the beach this year, which got this post a lot of play.

#4: 10 Things to Do This Christmas in Rome: Yep, yet another Christmas post. And here I thought the summer was high season in Rome.

Want to nosh on something this delicious near Rome’s touristy areas? You’re not the only one…

#3: Where to Eat in Rome’s Most Touristy Areas: I’m really glad this post got so much play, because, as I’ve pointed out before, there’s a huge misconception about eating in Rome—that you can eat at any restaurant (even in the super-touristy parts of the city) and still eat well. False! Readers avoided the tourist traps by checking out these recommendations for where to eat near the Spanish Steps, Colosseum and Pantheon.

#2: The Best Gelato, and Best-Kept Secret, in Rome: Apparently, a secret no longer! My post on I Caruso, my favorite gelateria in the city, was the site’s 2nd most popular post in 2012. So if it’s a little more crowded now than it was when I first discovered it, back in 2009… I’m sorry.

And (drumroll please…):

My #1 post in 2012: 

11 Etiquette Mistakes (Not) to Make at an Italian Meal
: From ranking at #5 for my most-read post in 2011, this fun-but-oh-ever-so-important list shot its way up to the single most popular one on the site in 2012. I’m very glad I’ve gotten the chance to save so many people from the crimes of ordering a cappuccino after noon or asking for parmesan for their pizza.

What was your favorite Revealed Rome post in 2012? And what would you like to see in 2013? Let me know in the comments!

Where to Find Rome’s Christmas Markets (Updated for 2016!)

Christmas markets in Rome just aren’t as much of a thing as they are in cities elsewhere in Europe, especially further north. For years, when it came to mercatini di Natale, as Italians call them, the main event really was just the Christmas market at Piazza Navona.

Today, the Piazza Navona Christmas market (which runs daily, and until 1am, from November 25 to January 6) remains the largest in Rome’s center. Every Roman (and visiting) family stops there at some point during the Christmas season. Stalls sell Christmas decorations, gifts and sweets and street performers juggle and dance, all under the gloriously-lit fountains and Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. For atmosphere and convenience, the 100-year-old Christmas market is a good bet. (Update, 1 December 2016: After being called off last year, the Piazza Navona Christmas market is back!) Update, 18 December 2016: Psych… despite earlier news to the contrary, the Piazza Navona Christmas market is not running this year. There is, however, the market’s traditional carousel running at the piazza!).

But. Most of the gifts for sale there are mass-produced, made-in-China items — and a far cry from the kind of artisanal gifts you can so easily find elsewhere in Rome.

So here are some other top bets for the season. (And for more information on Rome during the holidays, don’t miss my full guide to Christmas in Rome!). Although some of these other markets are slightly out of the heart of the center, if you’re looking for a truly authentic Christmas market experience — one full of Roman families and locally-made goods — they’re worth the trip.

Buon Natale!

New for 2016: Mercatino di Natale a Piazza di Spagna 

For the first time this year, there’s a Christmas market at the Spanish Steps. Featuring the usual craft, gift and food stalls, it runs on December 18 only, from 10am to 5pm; entrance costs €2 and the proceeds will go to Italy’s earthquake victims.

Arti & Mestieri Expo

Although it’s definitely not central, this market features several hundred stalls selling artisanal goods and foodstuffs, from ceramics to leather to olive oil to chocolate. And since all of the products are made in Italy, it’s a great place to find local, one-of-a-kind gifts to bring back home.

The market, which is free to enter, is at the Fiera di Roma, about a 20-minute train ride from the center of Rome; just hop on the same regional train that you can take from the Trastevere or Ostiense train stations all the way to Fiumicono Airport (the Treno FR 1) and get off at the “Fiera Roma” stop.

For 2016, the Arti & Mestieri Expo takes place from December 15 to 18.

Villaggio di Natale al Parco Egeria

Located in Piazza della Radio and hailed as the largest Christmas fair in Rome, this “Christmas village” opens with a sagra (if you’re not familiar with this fabulous event, check out my explainer on sagre) of chickpea soup, chestnuts and porcini mushrooms on Friday, followed by another sagra of handmade gnocchi on Saturday and Sunday. If that weren’t enough, there are also artisans (including those who do Christmas cribs), games, elves and Santa Claus himself. (You may just have to warn your wee one that this Santa speaks Italian).

In 2016, the Villagio di Natale takes place at Parco Egeria (look for Via dell’Almone 105), best accessed via bus from the center, from December 8 to 11 and the weekend of December 17 to 18.

Natale all’Auditorium Parco della Musica

Every year, Rome’s Auditorium puts on a seriously spectacular Christmas event. There’s a big ice-skating rink (one of the city’s few), a small Christmas market with some 30 stalls selling food and gifts, and plenty of performances and concerts, from gospel choirs to the Rome Orchestra — so make sure to time your visit with one of the events going on. From the center, one of the easiest ways to get to the Auditorium is to take the #910 bus, which leaves from Termini.

In 2016, the Natale all’Auditorium takes place from December 8 to January 8.

Mercatino di Natale di Emergenza Sorrisi

Want to make a difference with your Christmas shopping? Head to this Christmas market — which has stalls selling food, children’s clothes and jewelry and accessories — to support the Gruppo Sorriso Roma Onlus, which helps at-risk and disadvantaged children. It’s located on Via Salaria 95 in Parioli, a 10-minute bus ride on the #360 from the Termini train station.

In 2016, the market takes place until January 6 on weekdays, from 9am to 5pm.

Also: five overrated things to do in Rome (and what to do instead), and a visual visit to see Rome’s spectacular Christmas lights.

If you liked this post, you’ll love The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon or through my site here! I’m also free for one-on-one consulting sessions to help plan your Italy trip.