Everything You Need to Know About Laxogenin

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We’ve discussed several supplements that can help us build muscle but one area that is frequently overlooked is the ingredients that can help us reach our goals. To kick things off, we want to introduce something few know about, despite it being a major ingredient in some of the bestselling supplements here at Predator Nutrition – Laxogenin.

To help you better navigate, we’ve included a table of contents linking to each section:

Laxogenin FAQ:

What is Laxogenin?

Also known as 5 alpha hydroxy Laxogenin or 5a hydroxy Laxogenin, Laxogenin is a plant compound and the best known member of a group of compounds collectively referred to as brassinosteroids, which also includes mustard to name just one.

 

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Laxogenin is essentially a plant steroid that is similar in structure to the better known plant extract ecdysterone. Research has shown that it exhibits similar anabolic properties to anabolic steroids such as Anavar, one of the most popular oral anabolic steroids of all time.

Does this mean it’s a prohormone?

The short answer is no.

Prohormones work by providing the body with a compound that is closely related to testosterone. When you take a prohormone, your body senses a rise in androgen levels (the collective term for prohormones and testosterone) and shuts down its own production of testosterone to compensate.

Unlike prohormones, Laxogenin does not interfere with your body’s endocrine system. In other words, it neither increases nor decreases hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.

How does Laxogenin work then?

The study of Laxogenin has mainly been conducted in the old Soviet Union. While its mechanism of effect has yet to be fully elucidated, given its status as a brassinosteroid, the prevailing view is that it directly increases protein synthesis whilst decreasing protein breakdown.

protein breakdown

This appears to be a consistent theme across the entire class of brassinosteroids or at least those that have been studied in any detail.

Laxogenin is also believed to enhance muscle recovery and growth by inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol. Excessive cortisol levels can make it almost impossible to gain muscle, not to mention strength.

Who can use Laxogenin?

Given the fact that Laxogenin is not a prohormone and does not affect your HPTA (hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis), it can be used by virtually anyone including women.

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Because Laxogenin enhances muscle mass and recovery by increasing protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown, it is highly beneficial for anyone who wants to improve their physique.

How long can Laxogenin be used for?

Since it won’t affect your hormone levels, there is no real need to restrict Laxogenin use to a short period of time. It is not like testosterone boosters, to which the body eventually adapts by reducing its own natural test levels in response.

We often see people using laxogenin supplements for 3-4 months at a time and experiencing excellent progress throughout that period, regardless of whether their goal is to build muscle, increase performance or reduce body fat.

 

Laxogenin usage:

Dosage

• Serving size: 25mg
• How to use it: Take 3-6 doses a day for a total daily consumption of 75mg-150mg
• When to take it: Ideally Laxogenin should be taken with food to maximise absorption

Benefits

Effective alternative to prohormones. Consider the types of muscle building supplement. If you disregard those that impact hormone levels such as prohormones, SARMS, testosterone boosters and estrogen blockers, the list of ingredients that can help users improve performance and recover faster become relatively limited. Laxogenin is one such ingredient.

Complements the use of protein supplements. If you also disregard those supplements that are based around protein or protein breakdown products such as BCAAs, the list becomes shorter still. Laxogenin sits in this camp alongside other ingredients we will be reviewing in this series, such as epicatechin, arachidonic acid and creatine.

Fast-acting. With Laxogenin supplements tending to kick in very quickly, they are ideal for anyone looking to build muscle and strength quickly.

 

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Can be stacked with prohormones. Laxogenin can be stacked with other supplements such as testosterone boosters and estrogen blockers to amplify muscle building and recovery across two distinct pathways. This makes a lot more sense than the more common approach of stacking 2 or 3 different testosterone boosters that all target the exact same pathway.

Can be used for PCT (post cycle therapy). This also makes Laxogenin products a wise choice following a prohormone cycle as they help promote anabolism via a different pathway to the likes of testosterone boosters.

Reported results

• Accelerated recovery
• Reduction in post workout muscle soreness
• Faster gains in strength
• Improved resistance to physical and mental fatigue

Brands and reviews

There are several natural muscle building supplements on the market that count Laxogenin amongst their list of ingredients as well as a handful of supplements that contain Laxogenin as the main ingredient. At Predator Nutrition three of our most popular Laxogenin products include Progenadrex from Fusion Supplements, Adamantine from Hydrapharm and Anogenin from Blackstone Labs.

 

image05Fusion Supplements Progenadrex

Progenadrex is a non-hormonal muscle builder formulated to stimulate muscle growth naturally by leveraging the benefits of food. By optimising the absorption of glycogen, amino acids, water and other energy compounds into the muscle, it boosts the body’s natural testosterone levels, accelerating lean body mass gains and improving recovery.

Review from Killahertz, one of our customers:

“Laxogenin is a bit of an in-thing at the moment, but it’s actually been around for many years. Done right it is a pretty potent natural anabolic, and Progenadrex is Laxogenin done right.

Progenadrex is well beyond simple Laxogenin thanks to Rob (the formulator), who has the knowledge of natural anabolics to leverage the most from them. Both in terms of actual formulation but also the quality of raw ingredients that go into them.

In use Progenadrex kicks in within a day or two, with a general sense of mental wellbeing and a marked increase in pump factor and vascularity. As the cycle settles, energy availability and mental drive seriously improve. But the stand out improvement for me was recovery, which was off-the-charts good. 4-6lb gain, and retained post cycle. Energy availability and drive are holding too, which suggests a possible regenerative effect beyond simple recovery. Either way, this is potent natural product, and one I’ll be running again very soon.”

View our Progenadrex product page for more reviews including one from Rob Regish, creator of the highly acclaimed Mass Pro Synthagen.

 

image01Hydrapharm Adamantine

Adamantine is another natural testosterone booster that contains a stack of innovative ingredients – Laxogenin, epicatechin, creatine nitrate and vitamin D3 – that work together to trigger anabolism through multiple pathways, improving strength, size, recovery, performance and endurance.

Review from Craig, one of our customers:

“I was a bit doubtful that Adamantine could live up to the reviews but if anything it’s actually better than I imagined. I’m not normally someone who leaves reviews but after such am experience I felt I had to.

Gains in just three weeks so far of use:

  • Added 10kg on bench going from 120kg for 6 to 130kg for 6. That’s pretty amazing given i had been stuck for months and nothing else changed.
  • Squat – Increased by 10kg and added two reps to my best effort.
  • Pull-ups – Added weight and reps going from 40kg for 4 sets of 4 to 42.5kg for 6,6, 5, and 5 reps.

Other things worth mentioning:

Great recovery, increase in sex drive, seem to have less joint aches, feel better in terms of mood

Overall, if you’re on the fence with this one ask yourself if when you get a protein shake, intra workout, test booster etc. if you can get the kind of results I’ve gotten. If the answer is no, get this and even at the price the fact it’s a 30 day supply and you don’t need to take anything with it IME means Adamantine will be a lot cheaper than most supplement stacks and unlike them it actually works.”

Visit the Adamantine product page for a full write up and more reviews from real users.

 

Blackstone Labs Anogenin

image00Anogenin contains a full 25mg pure Laxogenin per serving to drive dramatic increases in protein synthesis, promoting lean muscle mass gains, significantly increasing strength and minimising muscle soreness post workout. Since it does not affect testosterone levels, there are no negative side effects and can be used by both male and female athletes.

We have yet to receive any feedback on Anogenin from our own customers. However, a quick Google search brings up a host of positive reviews, with the product being praised for its surprising efficacy for building lean mass without the side effects associated with prohormones.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, so if you’ve tried this product please let us know how you found it by leaving a review on the Anogenin product page. (You’ll receive 100 loyalty points once your review has been approved.)

 

So, to summarise…

• Laxogenin is a plant compound that exhibits anabolic properties.
• It is thought to directly increase protein synthesis whilst decreasing protein breakdown.
• It is also believed to inhibit cortisol levels, enhancing muscle recovery and growth.
• The main reported benefits include accelerated recovery, reduction in post-workout muscle soreness, faster strength gains and improved resistance to physical and mental fatigue.
• It can be used as a natural alternative to prohormones to mimic their effects without the endocrine side effects, stacked with prohormones to amplify their effects OR used for PCT to continue to help you make gains post-cycle.
• It’s suitable for men and women and has no reported side effects when dosed correctly.
• There’s no need to restrict use to a short period of time.
• Users report it to be beneficial for a wide range of goals, including building muscle, increasing performance and reducing body fat.

 

Watch this space for more mystery sports nutrition ingredients

In this series of articles we want to focus our attention on some of the innovative ingredients out there that have been shown to deliver significant improvements in performance or body composition. The difference here is that we will be covering ingredients that are less well known so don’t expect a lengthy article on whey protein or BCAAs!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next article in the series, which will feature epicatechin, another ingredient that has been getting a lot of interest in the industry lately but about which little is known in mainstream circles.

10 Home Improvement Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Started the Job

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It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought a newly built home, a condo in a maintained community, or a fixer-upper—owning your own place brings out the home improvement itch in us all (or at least requires us to do necessary repairs and maintenance tasks). Here are ten pieces of advice to help turn your dwelling place into a better home.

10. Choose the Improvements That Add the Most Value to Your Home

If you were offered $100,000, no strings attached, what home improvements would you do? Chances are, a long laundry list of changes come to mind, from refinishing the hardwood floors to adding a new bathroom. Some home improvements, however, are more likely to increase your home’s value than others. Although you shouldn’t think of your home as an investment, with limited home improvement funds, it’s good to consider whether a project has a decent return on investment.

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9. Tackle the Quick Projects That Are Most Timely

Whether winter is coming or you’re considering projects in another season, some home improvements are more urgent than others—saving you money immediately or preventing devastating damage. Sometimes it only takes ten minutes or less to make simple changes around the house that boost your living space.

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8. Decide to DIY or Not

Even if you’re a weekend warrior with a well-stocked workshop, not all home improvement projects are suitable to do yourself (or at least, without the help of a professional). Know your limits, start small if you’re a beginner, and then keep calm and DIY on (if you so wish).

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7. Hone Your Home Improvement Skills

Big projects or small, probably all of us could stand to learn some decent home repair or home improvement skills. (All around the home, there are things we should never have to pay others to fix for us.) Learn Bob Villa-worthy skills and help others at the same time by volunteering or through free clinics and other resources. Turn to great reading resources and try starter projects too. If you get stuck on a project, iOS app Fountain will connect you to a home improvement expert to answer your question for $5.

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6. Find Inspiration for Your Next Home Project

Pinterest is your friend, homeowners. As is Houzz, This Old House, and BHG. Zillow Diggs is pretty neat because it not only shows you project photos, but cost estimates and contractors as well. You can also binge watch HGTV on Netflix, but I’m warning you, you may never leave the house again.

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5. Get the Right Tools

You can’t really improve your home much with just your bare hands (you’ll need a multi-tool at least!). Equip your toolbox with the essential tools for any minor repair or major project, such as basic plumbing tools. Don’t forget your smartphone might be the best DIY tool in your kit, though, and, when all else fails, there’s duct tape.

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4. Find Money for Your Home Improvement

Unfortunately, most home improvements do not pay for themselves. If you can’t afford to finance the project in full with cash, know the different ways you can finance your home improvement without putting your home at risk. Also, if you know the difference between tax breaks you get for home repairs or home improvements, you can make the proper deductions at tax time and get some money back from your project. Similarly, if you’re paying private mortgage insurance, home improvements that increase the value of your home could help you eliminate that cost, which, although it doesn’t raise funds for your project, can reduce your housing expenses overall.

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3. Choose the Right Contractor

About as important as finding a good dentist and finding a good therapist: Finding a responsible handyman or contractor. Horror stories of homeowners being scammed by contractors or having work done so shoddily that it cost thousands of dollars to redo (not to mention the money already spent) give me the shivers. Vet your contractors carefully:

  • Get recommendations from friends, neighbors, and supply houses.
  • Check for complaints against the contractor.
    Find out what licenses and permits they need.
  • Check out the contractor’s insurance. Don’t skip this step!
  • Meet with the contractor.
  • Get quotes. Track the quote variables with a spreadsheet or other list.
  • Ask for references and check them out.
  • The FTC offers advice on questions you should ask a contractor, during which you might want to slyly take a look at their trucks and tools for telling signs.

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2. Save Money on Your Home Improvement Projects

The more money we save on one home improvement project, the more we have left for all the other ones we want to do. In addition to knowing the remodeling projects that offer the most bang for your buck, know which elements of a project you can splurge or skimp on—spend more on items that are hard to replace, such as the bathtub, but skimp on the faucet, for example, or spend more on a professional range if you’re a gourmet cook and save on the decorative tiles and flooring that look like premium materials.

Shop at reuse centers (including architectural salvage stores) to save big bucks on materials, appliances, and furnishings. And after your project, pay it forward by donating your home improvement leftovers to Habitat for Humanity.

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1. Have a Plan

Last but not least, one of the worst things you can do when it comes to home improvements is to start a project without the major details—cost, time, materials, and design—as realistic as possible from the start. Nothing costs more than having to “change horses in midstream” (e.g., you want to move the fridge somewhere else now or want to change your tile choice). Use design tools to conceptualize your project and add a healthy buffer (10-15% more) to your time and financial budget to account for the inevitable surprises.

My in Depth Travel Guide to Italy

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Bell’Italia!

Italy has Europe’s richest, craziest culture. After all, this nation is the cradle of European civilization — established by the Roman Empire and carried on by the Roman Catholic Church. As you explore Italy, you’ll stand face-to-face with some of the world’s most iconic images from this 2,000-year history: the Colosseum of Ancient Rome, the medieval Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo’sDavid and Botticelli’s Venus, the playful Baroque exuberance of the Trevi Fountain…and the elegant decay that surrounds the canals of Venice.

Beyond these famous sights, though, Italy offers Europe’s richest culture. Traditions still live within a country that is vibrant and fully modern. Go with an eye open to both the Italy of the past and of the present.

At a Glance

▲▲▲ Venice Romantic island city, powerful in medieval times; famous for St. Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal, and singing gondoliers.

▲▲▲ Cinque Terre Five idyllic Riviera hamlets along a rugged coastline (and part of a national park), connected by scenic hiking trails and dotted with beaches.

▲▲▲ Florence The cradle of the Renaissance, with the world-class Uffizi Gallery, Brunelleschi’s dome-topped Duomo, Michelangelo’s David, and Italy’s best gelato.

▲▲▲ Siena Florence’s smaller and (some say) more appealing rival, with its grand Il Campo square and striking striped cathedral.

▲▲▲ Rome Italy’s capital, the Eternal City, studded with Roman remnants (Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon), romantic floodlit-fountain squares, and the Vatican — home to one of Italy’s top museums and the Sistine Chapel.

▲▲ Milan Powerhouse city of commerce and fashion, with the prestigious La Scala opera house, Leonardo’s The Last Supper, and three airports.

▲▲ Heart of Tuscany Picturesque, wine-soaked villages of Italy’s heartland, including mellow Montepulciano, Renaissance Pienza, and Brunello-fueled Montalcino.

▲▲ Assisi St. Francis’ hometown, perched on a hillside, with a divinely Giotto-decorated basilica.

▲▲ Orvieto and Civita More hill-town adventures, featuring Orvieto’s classic views and ornate cathedral plus the adorable pocket-sized village of Civita di Bagnoregio.

▲▲ Naples Gritty, in-love-with-life port city featuring vibrant street life and a top archaeological museum.

▲ Near Venice Several interesting towns: Padua (with Giotto’s gloriously frescoed Scrovegni Chapel), Verona (Roman amphitheater plus Romeo and Juliet sights), and Ravenna (top Byzantine mosaics).

▲ The Dolomites Italy’s rugged rooftop with a Germanic flair, featuring Bolzano (home of Ötzi the Iceman), Castelrotto (charming village), and Alpe di Siusi (alpine meadows laced with lifts and hiking trails).

▲ The Lakes Two relaxing lakes, each with low-key resort towns and a mountainous backdrop: Lake Como, with quaint Varenna and upscale Bellagio; and Lake Maggiore, with straightforward Stresa, manicured islands, and elegant villas.

▲ Pisa and Lucca Two classic towns: Pisa, with its famous Leaning Tower and surrounding Field of Miracles, and Lucca, with a charming walled old center.

▲ Volterra and San Gimignano Two hill towns in north Tuscany: vibrant, refreshing Volterra and multi-towered, touristy San Gimignano.

▲ Pompeii and Nearby Famous ruins of the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, stopped in their tracks by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

▲ Sorrento and Capri The seaside resort port of Sorrento, and a short cruise away, the jet-set island getaway of Capri, with its Blue Grotto.

▲ Amalfi Coast and Paestum String of seafront villages — including hilly Positano and workaday Amalfi — tied together by a scenic mountainous coastal road, plus nearby Paestum, with its well-preserved ancient Greek temples.

Riviera Towns near the Cinque Terre More Italian Riviera fun, including the beach towns of Levanto, Sestri Levante, the larger Santa Margherita Ligure, and trendier Portofino nearby, and to the south, resorty Portovenere and workaday La Spezia (transportation hub).


 

Where to go

Rome, Italy’s capital and the one city in the country that owes allegiance neither to the north or south, is a tremendous city quite unlike any other, and in terms of historical sights outstrips everywhere else in the country by some way. It’s the focal point of Lazio, in part a poor and sometimes desolate region whose often rugged landscapes, particularly south of Rome, contrast with the more manicured beauty of the other central regions. The regions ofPiemonte and Lombardy, in the northwest, make up the country’s richest and most cosmopolitan region, and the two main centres, Turin and Milan, are its wealthiest cities. In their southern reaches, these regions are flat and scenically dull, especially Lombardy, but in the north the presence of the Alps shapes the character of each: skiing and hiking are prime activities, and the lakes and mountains of Lombardy are time-honoured tourist territory.Liguria, the small coastal province to the south, has long been known as the “Italian Riviera” and is accordingly crowded with sun-seekers for much of the summer. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful stretch of coast, and its capital, Genoa, is a vibrant, bustling port town with a long seafaring tradition.

Much of the most dramatic mountain scenery lies within the smaller northern regions. In the far northwest, the tiny bilingual region of Valle d’Aosta is home to some of the country’s most frequented ski resorts, and is bordered by the tallest of the Alps – the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. In the northeast, Trentino-Alto Adige, another bilingual region and one in which the national boundary is especially blurred, marks the beginning of the Dolomites mountain range, where Italy’s largest national park, the Stelvio, lies amid some of the country’s most memorable landscapes.

The Dolomites stretch into the northeastern regions of the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. However, here the main focus of interest is, of course, Venice: a unique city, and every bit as beautiful as its reputation would suggest (although this means you won’t be alone in appreciating it). If the crowds are too much, there’s also the arc of historic towns outside the city – Verona, Padua and Vicenza, all centres of interest in their own right, although rather overshadowed by their illustrious neighbour. To the south, the region of Emilia-Romagna was at the heart of Italy’s postwar industrial boom and enjoys a standard of living on a par with Piemonte and Lombardy, although it’s also a traditional stronghold of the Italian Left. Its coast is popular among Italians, and Rimini is about Italy’s brashest (and trendiest) seaside resort, renowned for its nightlife. You may do better to ignore the beaches altogether, however, and concentrate on the ancient centres of Ravenna, Ferrara, Parma and the regional capital of Bologna, one of Italy’s liveliest, most historic but least appreciated cities – and traditionally Italy’s gastronomic and academic capital.

Central Italy represents perhaps the most commonly perceived image of the country, and Tuscany, with its classic rolling countryside and the art-packed towns of Florence, Pisa and Siena, to name only the three best-known, is one of its most visited regions. Neighbouring Umbria is similar in all but its tourist numbers, though it gets busier every year, as visitors flock into towns such as Perugia, Spoleto and Assisi. Further east still, Le Marche has gone the same way, with old stone cottages being turned into foreign-owned holiday homes; the highlights of the region are the ancient towns of Urbino and Ascoli Piceno. South of Le Marche, the hills begin to pucker into mountains in the twin regions of Abruzzo and Molise, one of Italy’s remotest areas, centring on one of the country’s highest peaks – the Gran Sasso d’Italia.

The south proper begins with the region of Campania. Its capital, Naples, is a unique, unforgettable city, the spiritual heart of the Italian south, and close to some of Italy’s finest ancient sites in Pompeii and Herculaneum, not to mention the country’s most spectacular stretch of coast around Amalfi. Basilicata and Calabria, which make up the instep and toe of Italy’s boot, are harder territory but still rewarding, the emphasis less on art, more on the landscape and quiet, relatively unspoilt coastlines. Puglia, the “heel” of Italy, has underrated pleasures, too, notably the landscape of its Gargano peninsula, the souk-like qualities of its capital, Bari, and the Baroque glories of Lecce in the far south. As for Sicily, the island is really a place apart, with a wide mixture of attractions ranging from some of the finest preserved Hellenistic treasures in Europe, to a couple of Italy’s most appealing beach resorts in Taormina and Cefalu, not to mention some gorgeous upland scenery. Come this far south and you’re closer to Africa than Milan, and it shows in the climate, the architecture and the cooking, with couscous featuring on many menus in the west of the island. Sardinia, too, feels far removed from the Italian mainland, especially in its relatively undiscovered interior, although you may be content just to laze on its fine beaches, which are among Italy’s best.


When to go

If you’re planning to visit popular areas, especially beach resorts, avoid July and especially August, when the weather can be too hot and the crowds at their most congested. In August, when most Italians are on holiday, you can expect the crush to be especially bad in the resorts, and the scene in the major historic cities – Rome, Florence, Venice – to be slightly artificial, as the only people around are fellow tourists. The nicest time to visit, in terms of the weather and lack of crowds, is April to late June, and September or October. If you’re planning to swim, however, bear in mind that only the south of the country is likely to be warm enough outside the May to September period.


What to skip

Skip Amalfi Coast, try Cinque Terre

The legendary picturesque destination that is the Amalfi Coast exists in movies like The Talented Mr. Ripley—where limoncello is liberally poured at intimate coastal bars. In reality, you’ll find more tourist busses than Jude Law types. Your best alternative? Cinque Terre (pictured above), or “five towns” set along the rocky northern coast overlooking the Ligurian sea. Once you reach La Spezia (just north of Pisa), each of the small five towns can be reached by foot or by train. What’s more, they offer a feast for the five senses.

In the multi-colored village of Riomaggiore, the first of the towns from the south, venture along the Via dell’Amore. It got its name shortly after World War II, when this trail became a rendezvous point for lovers who lived in Riomaggiore and neighboring Manarola. Today, those who pass through leave padlocks as a nod to everlasting love. Continuing on, stop in sleepyManarola. At the top of town, by the bell tower, you’ll find a wooden railing with steps up to a vineyard path where you’ll take in the scents of grapevines and lemons trees, while bumblebees whiz by and lizards scurry at your feet. The path leads down to the cemetery and then to the breakwater where you’ll either continue along the trail, or if it’s still closed due to recent landslides, catch a train to the next town.

Once arriving in Corniglia, you’ll climb 365-steps to reach town; it’s the only one of the five not in a harbor. It’s worth the trek, if only for a midday glass of vino at Enoteca Il Pirun, which serves them in a funnel-like glass called a Pirun. Apparently, it allows the wine to breathe better. But it’s also silly. (Plus, they give you a bib in case you dribble, which makes for great photos.) Walking along narrow passageways that hug the coast, you’ll see Cinque Terre’s best views as you make your way into Vernazza.

Vernazza is charming with windy streets and a mini beach with large rocks for sunbathing. Recently hit by a massive flood and landslide, it is still recovering from more than 100 million Euros in damage and the loss of three lives. Stop to listen to the waves crashing along the rocks before trekking along to the next town.The trek to Monterosso is the most strenuous, but it’s worth the exercise as you’ll want to do nothing but eat on arriving. (You’ll also want to shell out a few Euro for a lounge chair at one of the beach clubs.) The biggest and most ‘resort-y’ of the five towns, you could easily stay the night. But first, try the simple and delicious lemon acciughe(anchovies) at Risorante Miky, the frutta di mare at L’Alta Marea, and the crema a limone gelato at Slurp! Gelato Artiganale.

Where to Stay: Stay in Vernazza if you want charm and intimacy. But if you also want views, be prepared to hike up stairs. Lots of them. Try Gianni Franzi, whose reception is located in Gianni Franzi Ristorante off the main drag of Piazza Marconi. Their 20 rooms vary in size, but are tucked away amid the carugas overlooking the breakwater. Rates from 70-100 Euro.

If you want modern and hip, the new Hotel Margherita in Monterosso’s Old Town is where it’s at. You’ll get all the amenities—A/C, WiFi, satellite TV—in any of the 31 rooms. Rates from 80-230 Euro.

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Ship Florance, try Siena

You’ve heard about David’s “package” and the gold on the Ponte Vecchio. You’ve read tips about navigating the streets between the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo, and you’ve seen photos of the bistecca fiorentina at Trattoria Mario.

But if you seek a less overwhelming taste of Medieval Italy, try Siena; the ancient walled city known for its differing “contrades” (neighborhoods), each represented by banners and flags featuring 17 symbols from the Oca (goose) and the Tartuca (turtle), to my personal favoriteLeocorno (unicorn).

Siena is best explored without an agenda, since it’s a fairly small city with winding cobblestoned streets that ultimately lead into the Piazza del Campo, with its 400-step Torre del Mangia, a massive tower built in the 14th century. If you’ve got the energy, climb to the top for spectacular views of Tuscany.

As is often the case, the cafes and trattorias around the square get very touristy, so get lost among the car-less streets surrounding it. If you’re lucky, you’ll land at the mysterious-lookingPizzicheria de Miccoli, with its velvet-curtained doorway. Inside, a man who looks straight out ofRatatouille will cut fresh slices of porchetta, prosciutto, and various cheeses for a sandwich. There are no tables and chairs, but it’s worth standing and dining on a stack of wine crates at this family-owned shop.

Where to Stay: Try the very elegant Certosa di Maggiano, a 14th century monastery with just nine rooms and eight suites, making it a romantic destination for couples. With vaulted ceilings and beautiful aristocratic decor, you’ll feel like royalty at this intimate resort outside the city walls.

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Skip San Gimignano, try Castellina

San Gimignano means well. But the walled city plays host to tourists clamoring into wine tasting rooms for a sip of Vernaccia wine before climbing the bell tower before stopping in a leather store, before hopping back on the bus. Think smaller, to Castellina in Chianti. 35 miles south of Florence, you’ll get an intimate look at the true charms of Tuscan life.

First, duck under the covered passage known as the Via delle Volte. Along the Medieval walls, you’ll find galleries, gelaterias, and shops selling locally made wooden kitchen tools. At the end of the covered tunnel at the edge of town, turn back and walk along the sidewalk on the sunny main drag where you’ll find kitschy shops and sidewalk cafes.

If you have a car, drive a quick 20 minutes to Panzano in Chianti to pay a visit to the Dante-quoting butcher, Dario Cecchini, at his classical music-blaring butcher shop: Antica Macelleria Cecchini. You’ll find locals seated along the curb just outside enjoying glasses of red wine and small plates of his ‘sushi del Chianti’ and other treats offered complimentary for newcomers (and regulars).

Where to Stay: Head to the center of town where Palazzo Squarcialupi offers 18 beautiful rooms with wooden-beamed ceilings and frescoed walls. Sunbathing by the pool offers views of rolling green hills and cypress trees. Rates from 120 Euro.

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Skip Rome, try Milan

Rome is so yesterday. Literally, it’s ancient. From The Vatican to the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain, there’s lots of looking back here. Sure, areas like Trastevere now offer a glimpse of the modern, young Italian lifestyle, but most people come to Rome to ponder “the way we were.”

Despite what you’ve heard (“it’s gray and industrial “), skip Rome in favor of the northern metropolis of Milan, where well-dressed locals commute by rent-a-bike and order spritzes (Aperol, Prosecco, and an orange slice). (It was also one of Fodor’s Places to Go in 2012) Of course, Milan offers plenty in the way of history, from da Vinci’s The Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie to the gorgeous Gothic Duomo, but it’s best to take advantage of the well-runMetropolitana (subway) to explore beyond the obvious. This is the city of Armani, Prada, and Missoni after all.

Head to the Brera neighborhood to pop into designer stores where you’ll discover they offer more than just exquisite (expensive) clothing—most stores have “extras” like cafes and hair salons, not to mention merciful blasts of air conditioning. Anyone with a subscription to Vogueshould head to 10 Corso Como, a sanctuary for the high-heeled looking for over-the-top accessories, perfumes, shoes, photography, furniture, books, and of course clothing, in a hyper-designed space (that also has a café).

Being in Italy, Milan has no shortage of great restaurants. Try classic Milanese dishes, like cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded veal cut), with just touch of lemon and a side of arugula at Liu Ristorante. Splurge at Osteria La Bistecca where bowtie-wearing waiters serve super-soft meatballs, creamy spaghetti carbonara, and of course, mouthwatering bistecca.

When the sun goes down, aperitivo heats up. Many restaurants offer meals with the purchase of a drink (think happy hour, but with prosciutto instead of wings.) Head to the Naziglai area to find a host of choices and do yourself a favor: douse yourself in mosquito spray first. As the night wears on, find an outdoor couch at Pacino Cafe, a hip spot that plays everything from house music to Kings of Leon.

Where to Stay: If you want to feel like a local, try Alle Meraviglie, a boutique hotel near the Duomo that offers apartment-like living with super chic amenities. Rates from 175 Euros. Or, splurge at the sleek, luxe Bulgari Milano, where you’ll find modern rooms within and manicured gardens that invite locals and guests outside for coffees or aperitivos. Rates from 530 Euro.

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Skip Pisa, try Lucca

So there’s this tower that’s leaning… and it’s been leaning for a while now… Worth seeing? We’d say no. You’ll have more pictures of tourists than the tower anyway. Skip over to Lucca instead, where the streets are filled with fewer tourists (or at least fewer obvious ones) and the Tuscan lifestyle is alive and well.

Yes it’s another walled city, but this one is mostly pedestrian and isn’t as hilly as the others, making it also bike friendly. Lucca’s architecture is noteworthy, with the carved stone columns of the Duomo and pastel-colored stucco buildings with terracotta roofs. Add to that the horse-drawn carriages, and the town takes on this magically charming vibe. Opera fans will want to stop and pay respects at the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, just steps from the center of town.

You’ll spot local teens eating pizza off paper plates while sitting on the curbs of cobblestone roads, while older locals opt for a street food specialty known as cecina, or “Tuscan Toast”—flatbread made from chickpeas.

At Caffe Di Simo off the main shopping street of Via Fillungo, enjoy an espresso and ponder the life of Puccini, who was a regular.

Where to Stay: Hotel Ilaria may be slightly removed from the city center, but they offer free bike rental, and seeing as that’s the best way to get around Lucca, this modern 36-room hotel (with a hot tub, to boot) is a win-win. Rates from 200 Euro.

 

Extreme Couponing Abbreviations Guide

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Everything I know about couponing I learned from blogs, forums and social media groups. When I first got started, I was overwhelmed at the amount of acronyms and lingo used.

“IQP”. “ECB”. “OOS”. The list goes on (indefinitely).

To help you guys out, I’ve compiled a massive list (over 100!) of couponing abbreviations and acronyms. Hopefully it will help newbies avoid the hours of head-scratching that I had to endure. Print it off, save it to your phone, and go get them diapers!

NOTE: This is a living list. If you have any suggestions for addition, please leave them in the comments section below!

coupon-abbreviations-letter-#

  • $1/1, etc.: Indicates the value of a coupon, $1 off 1 item in this instance but could be any value, $4/2 ($4 off 2 items), $0.75/1 ($0.75 off 1) etc

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  • AC: After Coupon
  • AR: After Rebate
  • ASAV: Any Size, Any Variety

coupon-abbreviations-letter-b

  • BOGO, B1G1, B1G1F: Buy One Get One Free
  • BOLO: Be On the Look-Out
  • BRP: “Balance Reward Points”. Rewards points earned at Walgreens drug stores that can be redeemed at the register to pay for the transaction
  • BTFE: Box Tops For Education
  • B&M: Refers to a “brick & mortar” store, as opposed to a store online

coupon-abbreviations-letter-C

  • CAT: Catalina coupons print at the register after your purchase. They can normally be used like cash on your next purchase at that store. However, if the say “manufacturer’s coupon” on them, you should be able to use them at any store, depending on store policy
  • CBAD: Chef Boyardee products
  • CNP: Coupon Near Product
  • CO or C/O: Cents Off
  • CPN: Coupon
  • CQ: Competitor’s Coupon
  • CRT: “Cash Register Tape”. Coupons at the bottom of your receipt
  • CS: Customer Service

coupon-abbreviations-letter-D

  • DND: Do Not Double
  • DH: Dear Husband
  • DIL: Daughter-In-Law
  • DS: Dear Son
  • DQ: “Double Coupon“. A coupon that can be doubled in value

coupon-abbreviations-letter-E

  • EA: Each
  • ECB: Extra Care Bucks at CVS that print on the receipt
  • ETA: Edited To Add
  • ETS: Excludes Trial Size
  • EXP: Expires

coupon-abbreviations-letter-F

  • FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
  • FAR: Free After Rebate
  • FB: Facebook
  • FS: Free Shipping
  • FSOT: For Sale Or Trade

coupon-abbreviations-letter-G

  • GAF or GAB: “Green Advantage Flyer” or “Green Advantage Buy” flyer. Publix’s grocery flyer with sales and coupons (this comes out every 3 weeks, different from the weekly ad)
  • GC: Gift Card/Gift Certificate
  • GDA: Good Deal Alert
  • GM: General Mills

coupon-abbreviations-letter-H

  • HBA: Health and Beauty Aids
  • HT: “Hangtag”. A tag hanging from an item that includes information and/or a coupon
  • HTH: Hope That Helps

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  • IA: Coupons that come in the weekly store ad, most likely found by the entrance of that particular store
  • IG: Instagram
  • IMHO: In My Humble Opinion
  • IVC: Instant Value Coupon at Walgreens, found in the monthly EasySaver booklet
  • IPQ or IP: Internet Printable Coupon

coupon-abbreviations-letter-J

  • JFY: “Just for you”. The Safeway coupon offers for card holders, tied to their accounts, that they can load to their card for extra discounts at the register. Second, this stands for the CVS “just for you” percent off purchase coupons that members receive via e-mail
  • JMO: Just My Opinion

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coupon-abbreviations-letter-L

  • I got nothing – anything suggestions?

coupon-abbreviations-letter-M

  • MCR: “My Coke Rewards”. Enter codes from Coke products on their website in exchange for points to spend on prizes and coupons
  • MF, MFG, MFR: Manufacturer
  • MM: “Money Maker”. The total coupon value credit at the register for a particular item being more than the original cost of the item
  • MQ: Manufacturer’s Coupon
  • MIR: Mail-In Rebate

coupon-abbreviations-letter-N

  • NAZ: Name, Address, Zipcode
  • NED: No Expiration Date
  • NCB: No Cash Back
  • NCR: Not Coupon Related
  • NIB: New In Box
  • NIP: New In Package
  • NLA: No Longer Available
  • NSL/R: No Size Limit/Restrictions
  • NWT: New With Tags
  • NWOT: New Without Tags

coupon-abbreviations-letter-O

  • OOP: Out Of Pocket
  • OOS: Out Of Stock
  • OP: Original Poster- person who started the conversation in a forum or social group
  • OTC: Over The Counter
  • OYNO: On Your Next Order
  • OYNP: On Your Next Purchase

coupon-abbreviations-letter-P

  • P&G: Proctor & Gamble coupon insert found in the Sunday newspaper
  • PM: “Price Match”. One store reducing the sale price of an item or items to match the lower price you found at another store
  • POP: “Proof of Purchase”. Bar code located on the product
  • PP: Purchase Price or Paypal, depending on context
  • PPFF: Paypal Friends and Family- this method of payment in Paypal does not charge additional fees to the sender or receiver, unlike payment to a seller for goods which charges the seller a fee
  • PSA: Prices Starting At

coupon-abbreviations-letter-Q

  • Q: Coupon

coupon-abbreviations-letter-R

  • RC: “Rain Check”. Signed slip from store allowing an item to be purchased at sale prices in the future when item is no longer on sale. It is received from the store when the particular sale item is sold out at the time of your visit
  • RP: “Red Plum” coupon insert found in the Sunday newspaper
  • RR: “Register Rewards” at Walgreens, which print with receipt

coupon-abbreviations-letter-S

  • SASE: Self Addressed Stamped Envelope
  • SCO: “Self Check Out”. Special register in-store where the customer scans, bags, and pays without a cashier
  • SCR: Single Check Rebate (Rite Aid)
  • SMP: Specially Marked Package
  • SS: Smart Source coupon insert found in the Sunday newspaper
  • SQ: Store Coupon

coupon-abbreviations-letter-T

  • TMF : Try Me Free
  • TY: Thank You

coupon-abbreviations-letter-U

  • UFT: Up for trade, used by someone wanting to trade specific coupons they have for some they desire
  • UPC: “Universal Product Code” (bar code)
  • UPR: “Up Rewards”. A coupon you can earn on your register receipt at Rite Aid

coupon-abbreviations-letter-W

  • WAGS: Short for Walgreens Pharmacy Store
  • WSL: While Supplies Last
  • WT: “Winetag”. A coupon hanging on the package of a product
  • WYB: When You Buy

coupon-abbreviations-letter-X

  • I got nothing – anything suggestions?

coupon-abbreviations-letter-V

  • V: “Valassis coupon” insert found in Sunday newspaper
  • VV: “Video Value”. Printable Rite Aid coupon that becomes available for you to print after watching a short video about products

coupon-abbreviations-letter-Y

  • YMMV: “Your Mileage May Vary”. Depending on various factors, you may or not be successful with said deal
  • YW: You’re Welcome

coupon-abbreviations-letter-Z

  • I got nothing – anything suggestions?

Whew – that’s all I’ve got.

As previously mentioned, this is a living list. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below and we’ll add them.