As I’ve had quite a few people pop into the shop recently asking me about Italy, and how my love for this magnificent place started I thought I’d do a post on this. I first visited Rome when I was 16, and I immediately fell in love. If Jet2 had gone bust there and then I wouldn’t have cared, as far as I’d be concerned I’d be stuck in a little heaven on earth.
I first remember walking down Piazza Navona with a lovely Italian man and his guitar singing ‘como e’ bella ce’ la luna brille e’ strette, strette como e’ tutta bella a passeggiare, sotto il cielo di Roma’ (yes I even know the Italian words for this song). This set the tone for what would become a lifelong love of the Serenissima. I turned the corner and was greeted by this:
Oh Bernini, you are a wonder of Italy. This was probably the moment I realised I wanted to study Classical Civilisation, Art and all things Italian. I was mesmerised by the craftsmanship of this, so you can imagine my reaction to Michelangelo later. Very quickly I had learnt Rome had two wonderful aspects to it: Handsome Italian men singing and beautiful works of art. What a perfect combination.
As I visited Rome again and again, my love grew more for Italy, and I wanted to explore other areas.
Venice and Florence were next to be ticked off my list. I was again impressed by the architecture in Florence by Brunelleschi and the quirky, small streets of Venice that seemed to reveal Palladian secrets on every corner. The 3 big cities of Italy were all unique in their own ways, and I couldn’t get enough of them. If I wasn’t searching for the cheapest Ryanair flight (being a student) I was constantly reading up on Titian’s, Veronese’s, Michelangelo’s works. I took up Italian in my spare time, and even took to the kitchen to practice Italian cooking. Nothing tastes quite as sweet as the real deal though, but I have got pretty close!
After these cities, I took to Naples and Genoa, two generally overlooked places in Italy. I would say go to Naples if you’d like the most amazing pizza of your life (this being where Pizza was invented). Genoa has a beautiful historic centre that contrasts with it’s port which is often a stopping point for cruises.
I suppose there were so many places in Italy to visit I couldn’t even think where to continue. Luckily for me, my family chose for me and took me to Lucca in Tuscany. We stayed in an Italian villa just outside of Torres meaning we could only communicate with locals as very few tourists were in the area. This was itself a challenge with only speaking ‘un poco italiano’. But this was a beautiful base to explore lovely Lucca and also Pisa from Italy’s great rail links. As we drove through the Tuscan countryside a lot on this trip the next time we visited we hoped to return to a similar region.
Indeed we did, staying just outside Greve in Chianti. Again I awoke to the singing hills of Tuscany with a smile on my face everyday. I got to taste many Chianti wines this trip which gave me a little taste of a rich, warm culture I was dying to always return to. I also visited my first hot springs in Monticiano and Sovicille which were amazingly well hid from tourists with only this sign to help us:
These amazing little gems were everywhere in Italy, and I felt lucky to be uncovering them one place after another…
Ahhhh ‘il dolce far niente’ was the phrase I was taught during my stay in Sorrento. ‘The sweetness of doing nothing’ and gazing out into the beautiful bay of Naples. Bella bella bella!!! Capri is gorgeous and so was Massa Lubrense were I made a fool of myself trying to park a rented boat and got called ‘STUPIDO’ by lots of locals. Oh well, all the fun of travelling, and I was beaming ear to ear having just steered the Amalfi Coast and the world around me that I couldn’t have cared less for being a ‘Stupido’. I was in bliss!
I suppose this has told you a little/or a lot about why I have fallen in love with Italy and so many places over the years. I love the culture of this place, their love and respect for their own families… by this I mean their families are everything and it’s so important to them to cherish each other. The food is obviously amazing I don’t need to tell you that. Other than that, the wonderful art this place has produced has changed the world, and I mean that sincerely, as has it’s architecture. It was once the centre for law and philosophy with Cicero being well established in Rome. Home to some of the greatest military men of history- aye aye Pompey the great! OH yes I love this place.
There are so many places I have fallen in love with over the years with my affair with Italy. I couldn’t possibly mention them all in one post!
If you have any questions about Italy, please comment below and thank you for reading!
(here is a token photo of me happy on a swing in Tuscany after 1 or 2 glasses of chianti!)