In 2019, I was fortunate enough to take a little 7-month hiatus from working in travel to actually travel.
I spent the majority of my leave in Italy, travelling from North to South and experiencing the best of what this amazing country has to offer. As my heritage is Italian I have always felt drawn to the ‘motherland’ so I packed myself, my suitcase and my Italian passport and off we went on this scary adventure, having no idea what was installed for me.
My aim was to spend a good quantity of time in each town and city as opposed to ticking off as many places to quickly visit, I guess quality of time over quantity of places visited.
With this idea of traveling, I was able to immerse myself in not only the food but also just living life as a local, so it meant meeting locals and eating and drinking off the ‘tourist’ track.
Firenze has all of your travelling needs rolled into one incredible city. Not only it is the city which houses some of the most amazing pieces of art in the world it is also the birthplace of Leonardo Da Vinci, Pinocchio & Florence Nightingale. In every piazza you will find an amazing piece of art, which was commissioned by the Medici Family who ruled Florence and Tuscany for the better half of 3 centuries. A visit to art houses such as the Gucci Garden to the Uffizi Gallery will leave you in awe. Then there are the spectacular gardens which a scattered around the city such as the Giarddino, the Boboli and the very tranquil Rose Garden.
If art isn’t your thing, then I am guessing you are a foody!!! Florence is known for a couple of delicious treats which will leave your taste buds wanting more!! The most famous of dishes is Bistecca Florentine. Another culinary treat is to sample the many different forms of truffle and then to wash it all down with a divine glass of Chianti.
The River Arno, flows through Florence and the most famous bridge the Ponte Vecchio, which is the also the oldest bridge in the city is on the must see’s in Florence. If its gold you are after, this is the place to shop.
Florence, Firenze, whatever you like to call it, for me, I would love to call this amazing city home one day.
Heading all the way down I spent an incredible two weeks in Sicily – unfortunately for me, this is where most of my holiday weight was gained!! The food in Sicily is quite literally out of this world, every time I would eat something I would find myself saying ‘OMG this is the best thing I have ever eaten’
From dishes including their produce such as Eggplant (Melanzane), Olives and Pistacchio, no visit to Sicily is complete unless eating Pasta alla Norma, Arancini, a Sicilian Cannoli & Granita with Brioche.
Taormina is an incredible city which is perched on a side of mountain, it is very much a tourist hot spot during the Italian summer – the convenience of a short cable cart ride down to a heritage listed Isola Bella Beach to the Teatro Greco where many concerts are held in Sicily’s second largest theatre.
Even though Naples is meant to be known for the most famous pizza’s in Italy, I would say a restaurant in Taormina trumps any pizza I have ever eaten. La Zagara is restaurant which specialises in pizza having the local produce as the star of their pizza’s. Pizza’s such as Gamberetti e Crema di Pistacchio (prawns with pistachio cream) or an Autunno pizza featuring mozzarella, parma ham, walnuts & honey. Buonissimo !!!
The latest Italian hot spot which is becoming very popular with tourist is the region of Puglia. Puglia is known for its incredible beaches, fresh seafood and home to the world’s oldest inhabitants in the city of Matera.
Travelling by a car is the best way to see Puglia, their rail system needs a little bit of work and is probably not the most reliable way to get around –
Puglia in my opinion has an incredible coastline and the beaches there are insanely beautiful. With crystal clear water, where you can count all of toes and swim in incredible caves and jump from hidden grotto’s into the bluest of blue water.
So where there are amazing beaches you will also find incredible seafood – Puglia is a seafood lovers paradise and even for myself who does not go much on seafood, I couldn’t help but gorge myself with fresh mussels, fish & especially octopus !! The coastal town of Polignano will give you the best of these two.
Another must see is the town of Alberobello it is know for its Trulli whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs. It was announced as UNESCO World Heritage sight in 1996. These incredible buildings have symbols on their roof’s which most of the time are represented by Christian symbols.