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Cindy Bigras
Cindy Bigras

Cindy Bigras: For the Love of Travel

One of the things we notice most about Cindy Bigras' stories is her love for the destinations and her love of travel.

While she serves as GoNOMAD's expert on all things Italian, she shows the same enthusiasm for Sweden or Austria or Virginia, or wherever else she decides to go.

Cindy grew up in Vermont and received a B.S. from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

She studied and worked in Florence, Italy, for three years. It was there that her love for all things Italian was born. She returns there as often as possible, and keeps her language skills sharp by watching Italian television daily.

Cindy is a stickler for detail and helps keep the stories on GoNOMAD free of errors and typos.


Walking on Roses with A Saint: Sardinia's Festa di Sant'Efisio

He was born in Jerusalem, but ask any Sardinian and you’ll learn that today, nearly 2000 years after his death, Saint Efisio is the most revered, celebrated and loved saint on the island. He is their saint.

He was beheaded by the Romans in 303 A.D., and in 1656 was implored to protect the island’s residents from the plague ravaging all of Europe. He complied, and Sardinians honor him the first four days of May with the Festa of Saint Efisio held in the island’s capital of Cagliari.

Considered both a religious and a folk festival, the day begins with a mass in the church of Saint Efisio where the saint is said to have been imprisoned and tortured.

The streets of Cagliari, Sardinia, are covered with rose petals during the Festa di Sant'Efisio
The streets of Cagliari, Sardinia are covered with rose petals during the Festa di Sant'Efisio

Following the mass, at noon sharp, bells toll as the saint’s statue leaves the church to join more than three thousand participants from every part of Sardinia gathered to march through Cagliari... Read more


Seeing Sorrento and Ischia

"The Amalfi coast" -- just hearing those three words conjures up images of beautiful but expensive and crowded southern Italy. However, I recently discovered that it is more affordable than the image and exceptionally beautiful.

As for the crowds, yes, it's a crowded place with a long history of foreign tourism, and as my boyfriend remarked, our encounters with fellow tourists proved to be a special part of our time there.

English, Irish, German, and a few fellow Americans, all eager to relax and absorb the experiences that come only from foreign travel.

A singing Christmas tree in Gothenburg, Sweden
A singing Christmas tree in Gothenburg, Sweden

Arriving at the Naples Airport , called Capodichino, it's about an hour ride into Sorrento on the Curreri bus. The bus stops directly in front of the airport and a schedule of their six daily departures is posted... Read more


Gothenburg, Sweden: The Lovely Lights of Christmas

Despite what you may have heard, Sweden in December is not a land of 24-hour darkness; Santa Lucia brings light to all of Scandinavia each year on December 13, and so begins the Christmas season. Gingersnaps and saffron buns are the day’s traditional complement to the morning coffee. 

Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, has become a Christmas destination bathed in the soft glow of Santa Lucia’s candles. It begins when a young lady in each town across Sweden is crowned. 

She appears throughout the season with her entourage of handmaidens and in some cases young men, performing in churches, shopping centers, and other public venues. The young women wear white angelic robes tied with wide blue sashes and carry candles to light the way. 

Lucia herself wears a crown of candles and holds her hands together in prayer. The music is hauntingly beautiful, sung in either Swedish or English. Such was my introduction to Christmastime in Sweden... Read more


Hiking in Austria
Hiking in Austria

Hiking and Biking in Austria: Innsbruck, Salzburg and Grödig

The train lurching to a halt woke me in the early morning hours. I pulled aside the window shade to reveal my first magnificent view of the Alps. These were not like the Green Mountains of Vermont where I had grown up... These were majestic, snow-covered peaks and steep vertical drops all within reach, five feet outside the train window.

I watched, speechless and groggy, for a long time as the train resumed its passage south to Italy where I was headed for a study abroad experience. The next morning it all felt like a dream.

It was many years before I saw the Alps again. Twenty five years later, in September 2004, I boarded an Austrian Airways plane for a hiking vacation in Innsbruck and Salzburg, with the view of those Alps etched in my memory. The Austrian Alps were now the destination, the focus, and the place where I would hike and bike and experience the outdoors at high altitudes and breathtaking vistas... Read more


Virginia's Northern Neck: Undiscovered History and Natural Beauty

The Northern What? My friend had proposed a weekend getaway to Virginia's Northern Neck… an area I had never heard of. Little did I know that I was in for a treat! It was the end of summer in New England, but in Virginia, it was still as warm as July.

Imagine lush, flat green fields stretching to the horizon; narrow roads winding around tall trees, and in any direction you choose, a bay or cove or inlet. They're called creeks in the NN and are wider than many rivers.

This region has changed little since colonial times, when George Washington, James Monroe, James Madison and Richard Henry Lee were born here, amidst working farms, historic villages and watermen who still ply their trade on the rivers and the bay... Read more

Guardsmen in the parade at the Festa di Sant'Efisio
Guardsmen in the parade at the Festa del Sant'Efisio


Putumayo's Italia: Musical Storytelling from Italy

Putumayo’s latest CD, Italia, was released in May, 2009. Featuring Italian singer-songwriters, this music at times transports you to hilltop villages, other times to smoky cabaret settings in postwar Italy.

Folk music inspired by Latin rhythm, swing, and Celtic tradition, it is the vocals that take center stage in this musical storytelling.   

Gianmaria Testa, singer-songwriter and poet from Piemonte in northern Italy. In Il Viaggio, accompanied by his guitar, he tells the moving story of his plan to follow a raging river from his mountain village to the place where it will meet the sea, leaving behind the bright stars... Read more


Stagecoach in Cheyenne's Frontier Days Parade
Stagecoach in Cheyenne's Frontier Days Parade - photo by Cindy Bigras

Wyoming: Cheyenne’s Frontier Days Bring the Old West to Life

As an easterner more experienced with New York’s canyons than those of the West, I am in some ways unprepared for this visit. I’ve come here specifically for the rodeo, yet I know very little about it, except for bull riding, which I’ve seen on TV.

So I join the “Behind the Chutes Tour” at the entrance to the rodeo grounds.  Chutes are the pens from which animals are released for their events.This is a great opportunity to see things up close. 

The open-air arena’s ground is dirt, the air is dry and the sun is hot. I will own a cowboy hat within an hour, and my sensitive skin will appreciate that the super wide brim protects my entire face and neck. I always wondered why cowboy hats looked like that. Now I know. 

Part sport, part skill, all entertainment, the rodeo evolved from cattle herding in the West. Today’s first event, bull riding, is one of the most exciting. Read more


View of Doubtful Sound from Wilmot Pass. Photos by Cindy Bigras. Click on photo to enlarge.
View of Doubtful Sound from Wilmot Pass. Photos by Cindy Bigras.

Cruising New Zealand's Doubtful Sound: Marvelous, Majestic, Mysterious

Doubtful Sound is so isolated that it’s necessary to take a 45-minute boat trip across beautiful Manapouri Lake and then at West Arm board a small van for the 45 minute trip over Wilmot Pass, straight through the rainforest. The scenery is spectacular, flora and birdlife abundant.

The driver, John, who turned out to be our captain, stopped a few times to show us staggering views of the sound from the winding road. He also talked about the lush vegetartion of beech trees and lichen to name a few.

The Seafinn, a two deck, 60-foot steel boat, was waiting when we arrived at Deep Cove. It has several cabins which comfortably sleep couples and also some twin bunks. The private cabins are designed for sleeping, not socializing. That happens above in the lounge, dining area, and two viewing decks. There is a full kitchenette and two bathrooms on deck. You won’t find electrical outlets, wifi, or cell phone service. Ah, pure bliss. Read more


Cindy Bigras

still an island divided Active volcano on Montserrat, which last erupted in 1997. Cindy Bigras photos
Egret next to a snorkler on the beach in Cancun, Mexico. photos by Cindy Bigras. dummy caption
A Bosnia Herzegovina, 2007 Photographs by Cindy-Lou Dale
Getting to Know Mumbai by the Bite Masala chai lady in Mumbai. By Cindy-Lou Dale A Mumbai food
Stagecoach in Cheyenne Frontier Days Parade. Photo by Cindy Bigras
Lanterns are illuminated at dusk in Lukang, Taiwan. photo by Cindy Bigras
Habeeb Salloum Cindy Bigras Esha Samajpati
from Italy By Cindy Bigras PutumayoAs latest CD, Italia , was released in May, 2009. Featuring
the Beginning A By Cindy Bigras Mr. Concepcion, with his deep wrinkles and sun-leathered skin, has
Girls in the costumes of their Sardinian village. photos by Cindy Bigras. Walking
Stagecoach in Cheyenne Frontier Days parade. Photo by Cindy Bigras. Wyoming: CheyenneA
Rick Millikan Habeeb Salloum Cindy Bigras A
View of Doubtful Sound from Wilmot Pass. Photos by Cindy Bigras. Click on photo to enlarge

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