According to my post from 30th April today is second part of my collaboration with Genevieve Hassall. With pleasure I post today her memories from Italy.
Finding bliss in Italy
,,Travelling through Italy was the highlight of my most recent trip to Europe, as I was able to experience the big cities, quiet beach side towns and beautiful nature. I saw the stunning towns of the Italian Riviera and the cities steeped in culture further north.
I started in the idyllic seaside town of Levanto and then travelled to each stunning hamlet of Cinque Terre. Coming from Australia, I am used to beautiful beaches but Levanto is now my dream holiday destination for pure relaxation. Our Villa Clelia B&B host was wonderful and very friendly and the local community was very charming. English wasn’t as widely spoken, which I found refreshing.
Cinque Terre was more touristy but undeniably gorgeous. I have never seen anywhere like it!
After relaxing on beautiful beaches, we moved north to Florence. Tuscany has to be my favourite region of Italy, I could have stayed so much longer! My only regret while staying in Florence was not visiting Siena. After a few weeks of travelling quite quickly, we were in need of some down time in Florence. I still dream about the beautiful boutiques in Florence! On my first visit to Florence I bought a beautiful wallet and three years later I still get compliments on it.
We only had a two-hour train stopover in Milan, which we used to see the Duomo and the very beautiful shopping mall (if you could call it that!) beside it. We stayed for a few nights in Verona and had another wonderfully accommodating B&B host and then spent a day in Venice.
Venice is a must-see destination, but I have to say I preferred it in winter when it was more quiet. In September it was packed with American tourists, which was a little annoying. As a tourist myself, I can’t really complain. Not all Americans are noisy either, but the few that are make up for every other quiet tourists in town.
After Venice, we went to Rome. Rome is an impressive, very masculine city which is huge, sprawling and full of contrasts. I can appreciate Rome’s incredible history, but I prefer beautiful Florence which feels more feminine and quietly sophisticated.
Finally, we stayed in Sorrento, a gorgeous seaside town. From here we made day trips to Capri, Amalfi and Positano. The most blissful day of my life so far was spent on a boat sailing around Capri. It is hard to worry when you’re soaking up the beautiful sunshine, admiring the blue, green and white grottoes and jumping off the boat into the refreshing, deep blue ocean. I love the mosaic work throughout the south of Italy, particularly in Capri and Amalfi. It is easy to see why the region is known for la dolce vita and why it inspires thousands of travelers every year to visit these glamorous holiday destinations.
Although the towns and cities I visited were very different to each other, throughout Italy two things remain constant: The most delicious food and the most warm hospitality.
I will admit, I am not the biggest fan of “Italian” cuisine back home in Australia. Big pizzas and pastas full of too many toppings and heavy sauces leave me feeling bloated and overwhelmed.
In Italy, the food is perfect. Real Italian food is not as heavy and not as fatty. It is served in much better portions and every ingredient is of such high quality that they do not feel the need to shovel too many flavours into a dish. Small, family-run restaurants were the best.
Our Italian B&B hosts were wonderful ambassadors of their country. They were the friendliest, the most helpful and the accommodation rooms and food provided were the best of our entire trip. They were always amicable and happy to share their recommendations, drawing routes and the best local restaurants on our maps. Many even drove us to the train station at the end of our stay, loading our luggage into their small family car and making sure we made our train on time.
Italy is a destination for couples, friends and families. It brings out your inner foodie and feeds your inner fashionista. It’s hard not to fall in love with history in Rome or art in Florence. I challenge you to hold onto your worries while wandering the streets of Cinque Terre or stress about your diet as you sit down to eat in Levanto.
Italy brings out the best in everyone.
Genevieve shares her beautiful travel experiences on a budget on her blog, Wanderbug, http://www.thewanderbug.com Genevieve owns the photos in this post, Visit Siena has permission to use them.
She has also recently launched Global Gourmand, a new online destination for learning about food culture around the world. Global Gourmand is looking for contributors from around the world to talk about the best food in their country, region or city.