Bologna

img_7178If you have the opportunity to visit the beautiful area of Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy, then don’t pass it up. I had the pleasure of living and working here for four months one summer and it’s a gorgeous area with some of the best food in Italy.

I’m well aware that you can’t go wrong with food in Italy. I stand by the assertion that it is one of the best foods in the world, and definitely the best food in the West, and I’m still saying that after living in Asia. But, if I had to narrow it even further, I truly believe that Emilia-Romagna is home to some of Italy’s best dishes. We’re talking Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar (only ever from Modena), tortelloni and proscuitto, to name just a few, and believe me when I say that the list continues indefinitely. I think even amongst Italians, this area is said to be home to some of the most delicious food Italians have ever created.

But if having some of the best food in Italy isn’t reason enough to visit the area, then consider the gorgeous rolling hills and beautiful cities as well. It’s a hard life. If you’re looking for a medieval Italian city then Bologna is the best one in the region. As a place, it’s pretty compact so quite an easy city to get around, but that’s not to say that it’s not packed with charm and medieval beauty on every corner. There is a long list of things to see and you’ll no doubt stumble upon. But as always, and I especially recommend it with Italy, get lost. Italians have one of the most amazing cultures in the world, and their laidback friendly attitude makes it easy to slip into life here. Don’t be afraid to sit down and watch the world go by over an espresso or an ice cream – or both, because why not?
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Valle d’Aosta and the Gran Paradiso

The Aosta Valley in the North Western Alpine region of Italy is a stop that should be added somewhere near to the top of your list and is yet another one of those places that I could see out my existence – I’m aware that I say that about a lot of places. This region is home to the biggest names of the Alps, Monte Rosa, the beautiful National Park of the Gran Paradiso and of course Monte Bianco – perhaps you’ve heard of that one. This valley and its breathtaking peaks will have you in awe the whole year round and the region boasts a wide variety of outdoor activities for you to try. If you’re more of one to watch the world go by then this region also offers some beautiful villages, incredible Roman ruins and of course delicious Italian food and coffee. Everyone is set. There are very few reasons for you to complain, if any. Continue reading “Valle d’Aosta and the Gran Paradiso”

Fall in love with Florence

Whilst I’m not a believer in any kind of love at first sight, this city might be the exception. Florence is, without a shed of doubt, my favourite city in Italy and it wouldn’t be pushing it to extend that to Europe or even the big wide world. If you like places that will envelope you in art and culture at every corner then this city will steal your heart like it has stolen mine. I had the pleasure of spending a summer near this incredible city so I have spent a lot of time sitting on these streets sipping coffee, reading books and just generally watching the world go by and this is an activity that I would highly recommend. But, obviously Florence has got a lot on offer for you to see so here’s what I’d suggest you do if you manage to pull yourself away from your delicious coffee and biscotti.

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Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.

Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are a hot spot in Southern Italy for visitors – but if you make even a brief trip you’ll very quickly understand why.

Hate it

The whole coast is very accessible from Naples by using the Circumvesuviana Napoli-Sorrento. You can grab this train from Naples main station but cannot book tickets as it’s not part of the National rail network. Trains run every 30 minutes or so and tend to be very crowded. If you’re confused and lost looking for it in the station, head downstairs – it will appear.

 

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Seven days sailing Greek Paradise

If you haven’t yet tried Greek Island hopping then I can suggest no better way than hiring a boat and sailing the Ionian. If you’re an ex-literature student in love with Greek mythology then this area makes those days of burying your head in The Iliad and The Odyssey a reality. (Queue link to my favourite poem ever because you need something to read when you’re sailing idyllically through opal waters with the sun on your back and the wind in your hair.)

The Greek Islands are the epitome of paradise and this itinerary barely scrapes the surface of the 6000 of them available for exploration. But, if you’re limited to a short stay amongst this little slice of heaven then this route definitely gave me a pretty good indication that I could see the rest of my life out there and be perfectly content – which is a big commitment for someone who is as restless as myself. Continue reading “Seven days sailing Greek Paradise”