Want to Travel for Free? Get my Guidebook + Memoir for Free (Yep, It Finally Happened)

chowgypsy opening a book
Ahhh, it feels good to be here. 

Like slipping on my favorite comfy coat. Climbing into bed after a long day. Walking into a room full of old friends.

I found a book in the Chowgypsy maunderings, and I’d like you to find it too. The search won't be difficult. In fact, the book is right here: Everywhere for Nothing: Free Travel for the Modern Nomad.

Too many people responded to my free travels with widened eyes that said, “I never knew something like that existed!

So, I had to do something about it. I had to let everybody know that free travel isn’t some magician’s trick. You can be as basic as, well, me, and get started as soon as today.

I wrote this book because we need more open minds. We need happier people. We need to realize that the world isn’t so big, but our lives are so short.

There will be five days in the coming weeks when the book is free for Kindle

One of those days is Monday (December 17th), and I’d love for you to get one for yourself and maybe share on social media that this potentially life-changing book is free right now.

Yes, ‘free’ is in the title; no, it’s not a gimmick. This is more than just budget travel or cheap vacations. You've seen most of it happen here on the blog ...

I've combed over thirty countries and hundreds of cities; taken every imaginable mode of transport; roomed with over forty foreign families; and lived the most exciting, sleepless, fun, meaningful, and/or dangerous times of my life—all to find the best tips, secrets, and hacks to travel for free.

There've been stories, too. Experiences strange and wonderful. The book is peppered with them, so it's not all guide stuff. It's fun stuff, too.

This ain’t about profit. It’s about travel for the masses.

Let’s do this.

everywhere for nothing book cover
Check it out: click here

Stay updated at my other blog: Bossmeggan.com

A Sabbatical-ish Italian Extravaganza

The return of the Chowgypsy.

And then there was that morning that I groggily woke up early in the Cinque Terre, looked out the window, and noticed an old lady hastily selling vegetables out of the back of her car. I think it was some sort of Vegetable Mafia coup. Vegetables are a rare sighting in the upper half of Italy, so I braved the storm of clamoring old Italian ladies and descended. 

After about four weeks of intensive gypsy-style vagabonding, eating, volunteering, more eating, and general exploration, I have finally settled for a fitting chunk of time in a place with a relaxing and open workspace.

With a mind that is as distractable as a kitten's, if there is no space, there is probably no work.

(No hard work, at least.)

The new digs in Tuscany. John and I have a cozy little downstairs apartment with a half-kitchen and loads of privacy.
Situations like this make volunteering absurdly easy.

My sabbatical has been filled with extreme/strange diets (ranging from quasi-veganism to a form of all-pork gluttony), a six-day visit from my parents, a seven-day visit from a friend, lots of ragu, at least 50 hours spent white washing walls, and, within all of that, visits to TWELVE glorious Italian towns.

Did somebody say photo recap?

cathedral tirano
Yet another stunning cathedral in northern Italy, the Madonna di Tirano, which dates back to 1505
Ancient carvings (from the Neolithic and Iron Ages) on the Rupe Magna at Il Parco delle Incisioni Rupestri in Grosio, Italy. Screw up your eyes and you can see figures at top right and toward the bottom left
A hike in Valtellina Valley's Parco Orobie 
Approaching Lake Como's quaint town of Varenna 
It's porcini season. Beautiful, beautiful porcini season.

Venice, the Disney World for adults. Note: this photo was not taken from a gondola. Stay AWAY from the gondolas unless you love wasting money.
Bunny ears: They never get old. Or do they?

how to sun dry tomato
One of my tasks at our previous farm was picking some of the ample tomato harvest and drying them in the heat of the greenhouse. Sun dried tomato much?
Eating one of the three entree options at Trattoria di Ermes in Modena: Roasted Rabbit (and the best I've ever had).
Bologna's Pasta Fresca, run by a mother & daughter team and serving the BEST fresh pasta and sauces...ever.
A well-served Italian coffee should come with a little glass of water for before-and-after palate cleansing
Visiting a Prosciutto di Parma factory with over 50,000 curing legs (more on that later)
Visiting a factory of the KING, Parmigiano Reggiano (obviously more on that later)
A real producer of Balsami of Modena (boy do we need to talk)
Dark chocolate, yogurt, and blueberry. Gelato art.
Meeting up with Sir Dante Alighieri on a walk through Florence. Are we surprised he looks serious?
Coppa, sopresatta, and prosciutto with a side of pickled vegetable sand marinated Bitto cheese.
A little morning surprise celebrating fig season (they're perfectly ripe when green on some species)
John and our visiting friend Kristen soaking up the day in Florence

Clearly we have some catching up to do.

Over the next few weeks I'll be sifting through all of the writing that I surprisingly have (mostly) been keeping up with in order to fuse them together with the surplus of unedited photos currently glaring at me from my laptop.

Hopefully I can make this deluge of memories into a few blogworthy forms, but it's going to take a little backwards time-travel.

Namely, I wouldn't actually mind going back to this time: A secluded beach between Cinque Terre's Vernazza and Corniglia where, apart from a large and awkward speedo-donned man, John, Kristen, and I had the Italian coast to ourselves.

Regarding the future, however, John and I are actually slated to return (!!) to dear old North America in November, which means (dare I say it?!), Chowgypsy will be Chowgypsying Stateside for a while.

What better way to avoid the oncoming end than to live in the past?

(I don't know if that's actually sound reasoning.)

At any rate, be a pal and travel back to Teglio with me, to the days just before leaving Paolo and Marisa's, and we'll careen toward the end together.

I ain't through with you yet, Northern Italy.

Stay tuned...!

Parents and Piodas

With a pleasant twist of flying-standby fate, my parents were forced to fly into Italy earlier than expected for a long-anticipated visit, which means that John and I have an extra two days with them here in the Alps.

Oh yes, find a job working for the airlines and you, too, can visit your children in Europe for less money than a road trip to the next state over.

Just a casual evening walk through ancient churches and the Italian Alps. We do this every night.
Trekking up to nearby Teglio, a 30-minute uphill walk (single file style optional).

For $50 a night in a B&B that's only five minutes away, we've realized that this should've been the plan to begin with. And since the only plans for the weekend are to house/petsit while Paolo and Marisa take their prize-winning Bernese "Doc" to an international dog show in Switzerland, things couldn't have worked out better.

Workouts with the prize-winner
A little leisure at the B&B

To show our appreciation for their overseas trek, John and I decided on a home-cooked meal using Paolo's pioda. The pioda is a large flat stone that was historically the roofing of choice for this area because it was abundantly mined from the surrounding Valtellina Valley (although cheaper and easier—though not necessarily better— methods have become the norm since then).

Eventually, some crafty Italian figured out that the stone would also make a perfect source for grilling. Word spread, and this big beautiful hot plate of stone was born for all of your grilling needs.

The pioda stone as roofing! When used for cooking, it's typically two inches thick and should be taken care of like a cast iron skillet.
The pioda is kept low to the ground in order to keep the fire directly underneath. Here we have one of Paolo's fresh-caught meals. River trout rubbed with local herbs.

The food ends up being infused with the scent of the smoking wood that burns directly underneath, but without grill grates, whatever you're cooking seems to maintain moisture especially well yet remain perfectly crisp.

I took a page from Paolo's book and made a revised pesto with parsley and salt-brined capers thrown in with basil and EVOO, which was a fresh and fitting spread for both the grilled meat and the vegetables.

With Paolo's rather "hearty" cooking absent for the weekend, we opted for a vegetable bonanza.
Perfectly pioda-grilled freshwater trout from the nearby Adda river rubbed with local herbs and lemon

Keeping dessert simple, we opted for local chestnut honey, the first figs of the season (praise Jesus!), a hunk of 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano, and a layered "cake" of gorgonzola dolce and mascarpone.

The first place we hit when mom and dad arrived: the Sondrio food market, of course.
The lighting may be poor, but luckily that has nothing to do with flavor. This is what honey is made for (thanks bees).

Life away from home and family can be hard. It can be amazing, but it can be hard. It's nice to have the folks around.

Ca Branchi was my parents fantastic B&B that sits just below the town of Teglio and is run, aptly, by a Swiss woman named Heidi. It's a bit out of the way, but the views are worth it. If you're interested in booking, don't judge the place based off its sorely out-of-date website. Take my word, it's worth a visit!

Tomorrow we celebrate the anniversary of the day Teglio made peace with Switzerland, some 500 years ago. Huzzah, history!



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