Category - Italy

Italy – Its Best + Worst

2 Sep

We spent 5 WHOLE WEEKS in Italy, which we think is almost long enough to say you’ve lived there, so we thought we’d do something a little different and list the best and worst things about the country, because to be honest, there are both.

bummer

1. Street Vendors. In the big cities, the tourist spots are filled with pushy sales guys, offering you hats, water (1 euro, 1 euro, 1 euro), umbrellas and even roses. Yep we saw one guy shoving roses in womens’ hands and demanding money for it. They are pushy, and won’t leave you in peace unless you walk away.

2. It’s dirty. Italy is not the cleanest place. I’m proud to say that Australia is one of the cleanest countries I’ve ever seen. Cigarette butts are a dime a dozen here, and people generally have a disregard for the cleanliness of their streets, yards and beaches, and litter often flies away from the communal street bins (no individual green bins here). It’s not great.

3. Beaches aren’t free. As I’ve mentioned before, the beaches aren’t free. Of course the water is, but most of the paid beaches involve an umbrella and chair and spot to put your bag. Also, these paid parts of the beach are cleanest. If you are willing to rough the pebbles or even rocks, you can visit the beaches for free.

4. Toilets aren’t free. In fact toilets are hard to find in the first place. The most we’ve paid for a toilet is 1 euro (you have to be desperate), and most days, you just gotta hold it until you get home. Truth. It’s a little gross really – lets just say we’ve seen people doing things on the street that are less than hygienic.

5. It’s hot. The heat can really get out of hand in the European summer. Don’t forget that if you plan on visiting. It can become so uncomfortable you may snap out of frustation. Just sayin.

winner

1. The food. It really is as good as they say. From pizza (you really can’t find bad pizza here) to pasta… did we mention the Ligurian foccacia bread? Or the trofie (a form of gnocchi)? *dribble*

2. The water. It’s free and fresh and clean and cold, and just about as available as toilets in Australia (odd comparison, I know).

3. The colour. From the buildings to the landscape and everything in between, Italy is vibrant and gorgeous, with so much to take in.

4. The history. Everything is just so old, which is sooo good because there really is NOTHING like it anywhere else. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can clearly see it.

5. The people. They are kind, understanding and mostly speak English. They are willing to help, will pick you up from the station, cook you meals and go the extra mile. We will miss the hospitality for sure.

There you have it. Have you been to Italy? Got any thoughts?
You might also want to check out our highlights of Italy:

The Views on Lake Como || Pisa not Pizza || The Cinque Terre

Rome – St Pauls, Pantheon, Sant’Ignazio Church + more

30 Aug

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We paid a visit, a rather disappointing visit, to the Vatican City. In fact we were so disappointed with it, and not to mention overwhelmed with the crowds, that we didn’t get further than St Pauls. Don’t get me wrong, the building, the site, the location, the statues, all of the above are beautiful, but for some reason we left the place mind boggled and questioning. We’re pretty sure and sound in what we believe, and it’s always interesting to see what other believe and hold in their hearts, but honestly, there were parts of it that we found confronting and hard to swallow. Read more…

Rome – the Roman Forum, Palatino and Colosseum

28 Aug

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We found ourselves in Rome. I’d (Kirsty) been here before, seen the usual tourist things, but I’ll say it again, just how special it is to come back to a place and share it all over again with your favourite person. In fact, I think Rome will hold a special place in our trip memories, and not because of the city itself. Read more…

Lavanga and the Torta dei Fieschi

26 Aug

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Our mission from the start was to travel in a unique way. We didn’t want to be your average “backpacker”. We had no interest in staying in hostels, however wanted something that would be the same price point. In case you are wondering, we use Air BnB everywhere we go. We’ve stayed in two hostels while on the road (totally worth it, on the deserted Isle of Skye), but for the rest of our trip, we’ve been staying with locals, and of course friends. The benefits of this approach are enormous. Not only do we have a comfy room, a clean kitchen to cook in and a quiet spot to rest our heads (and most of the time, guaranteed wifi), but we’ve seen some fascinating towns and villages, been introduce to food and drink from the area (and then went out and bought it ourselves), and can now say we have been to a local event that happens once a year, and has been celebrated since the 12th century. Read more…

Santa Margherita to Portofino… and back

23 Aug

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On recommendation from our hosts (seriously some of the loveliest people we’ve ever met), we decided to head to Portofino; holiday destination of the rich and famous and also the Italian President – he has a most impressive house there.

Read more…

The Five Towns on the Coast – Cinque Terre

21 Aug

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There’s plenty of buzz in Italy about the Cinque Terre. In fact, there is a buzz about it beyond Italy, and while we acknowledge it is stunning, and makes for some beautiful photos, we were a little let down. You see, the Cinque Terre is a national park and inside that park are 5 towns (Cinque meaning 5 in Italian), all bar one of those towns lines the coast of the national park, and have some of the quaintest towns with pastels buildings piled on top of each other, and crystal clear water glinting in the sun below the towns, but for some reason it was not what we expected. If you are up for a big day of adventuring, as we were, you can probably visit all 5 towns in a day, but be prepared for big crowds and VERY rocky beaches.

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The Leaning Tower isn’t made out of Pizza?

19 Aug

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Everyone knows Pisa. It’s where the leaning tower is right? Well, yes I guess so, and that’s what I thought the last time I visited, but this time was different. We arrived via train and as such, we had to walk quite a way to the tower grounds, which despite it being hot, turned out to be a win for us, as we accidentally discovered a Keith Haring mural – something I never thought I would see (was probably my highlight of Pisa). Read more…

Lucca + The Kindness of People

16 Aug

Lucca italy view of Guinigi Tower

We spent a week living in Lucca and our accommodation was fantastic. Lavish breakfasts were laid on each morning, complete with biscuits and coffee, in a beautifully quirky Tuscan house just outside the city. We had to ride bikes into the centre of Lucca everyday, but for us two bike lovers this was a perk… until the pedal snapped off the crank halfway home one night on Josh’s rickety red bike. And there may have been a rather large truck zooming up our behinds at that precise moment. Read more…

Calenzano

14 Aug

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We stayed in a little town outside of Florence called Calenzano, where we met our wonderful hosts and enjoyed many a night dining on the balcony with them, watching the sun set and sharing stories about our trips. The little town has an old part to it, and the hills are full of towers and old castles.

DCIM100GOPRO

We decided to tackle the local town (of course at the top of a steep hill) on bikes. It was like a ghost town, and I caught a glimpse of people staring through their windows behind the curtains, or slipping back through their front door as we rode past – it was a little creepy, but the views are Tuscan and gorgeous.

 

Sometimes it’s nice just to spend some time wander the streets of the place you are staying, not venturing too far, but far enough to see something new and different.

Florence

12 Aug

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Excuse me a moment while I reflect over here. It’s a funny thing, going back to a place you once visited seven years ago. Places and times all blur, things that were tough become harder to remember and all that remains are the good times, and the good people. Moments in your memories. So it’s no wonder I couldn’t really remember my visit to Florence (or Lucca for that matter). I remembered the bumpy ride through cobblestone streets as I was dinked on the back of my friends bike riding, and a beautiful church, all pink, green and white in the mass of warm tones. Turns out what I thought was in Lucca was in Florence, and what I thought was in Florence was in Lucca.

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