What I learnt this week (special edition): Italian Adventure

Usually this is a weekly blog but I have fallen a little behind due to the fact I was in Italy for three weeks.  Soooo I have decided to do a round up of the whole holiday in one post.  Here we go…

Oh and when I talk about ‘we’ it’s mum and me 🙂

Silcily was our first destination.  We weren’t expecting what we got.  Palermo was supposed to be crime ridden and filthy.  This wasn’t the case.  We stayed in a hidden treasure of a B & B.

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Spent our time shopping, exploring the botanical gardens, wandering through the old city, churches and checking out the Royal Palace.  We were even lucky enough to see a live performance of Mozart’s classical music, set in a beautiful old theatre.  There was a  German silent film projected behind it, which added to the surreal feeling of the evening.    Listening to an Austrian composers masterpiece, whilst watching a film with Italian subtitles and not knowing a word of what was happening.

Ate some of the best seafood I’ve ever tasted in a typical trattoria.  Travelled up into the mountains to view the whole city from a mosaic cathedral.  Spent the rest of the time eating more local foods and driking local wines.  Bliss.

Next stop was a flight to Naples, then straight on to Ravello (when I say straight on it was more like- a bus to catch a train to catch a bus, to wait for another hour to catch a bus to change at Amalfi to catch a local bus, to walk 1k with luggage up steps to get to our accommodation).

It was worth it!   Ravello is a hill side town on the Amalfi Coast.  Very special.  We only had one night there.  Of which we splurged and ate at a restaurant overlooking the coast.  Steak, seafood and of course local wine.

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Then we were lucky enough to be wandering around the city and stumble across an art light show.  Which was music and images projected on the walls of an old castle.  Amazing.

The next day we meandered up and down 1000 stairs to the closest beach- Minori.  Lovely, but we got soaked on the way back.  On account of the rain we headed for wine and pizza in a near by cafe and waited for it eased.  Also ate the best tiramisu of our life!

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Packed up and it was off to Positano. Five days with a balcony view overlooking the stunning Amalfi coast.  We ate, drank and were very merry here.  Spent time at the beach.  Went for a ferry ride to Solerno.  Walked to nearby towns along the coast.  Shopped a little. And relaxed.

Next, it was time to get busy in Rome.  As we only had two days.  We packed in the Coliseum, Vatican, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain all in.  It was a crazy walk all over the city but we did it.

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Ate amazing pizza and lasagna here.  And met an awesome chick- Ludovica on our journey.  You know those people who are so full of life and enthusiasm you can’t not be inspired by their personality!

After a whirlwind stopover in Rome we headed to Florence for the weekend.  That’s where all the cute Italian boys are (reference to any of my single gals).  Amazingly beautiful city.  Loved the vibe.  Killer food.  Brilliant wine, as always.

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Checked out a costume museum at Bobli Gardens.  Ate pizza on the steps of a church.  Wandered the rivers and the markets, cathedrals, leather museums and viewed the city from the top of a hill.

Ate at a really special restaurant- beautiful pasta and desserts- ‘Dildarno.’  The hosts really looked after us.  They even gave us some small pots of jams as gifts when we left.  So the next day we went back with some herb plants for them as a present.  They were so thrilled.

Then off to Rapello.  Our hosts were the brilliant Philippe and Roberto.  Ate more amazing food, drank more amazing wine.  Explored the Cinque Terre area, chilled and wandered the streets of Rapello.  Actually ate Chinese one night too.  Pizza and pasta was getting a bit much!

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Our last stop was Lake Como (where my beloved George Clooney has a house, alas he’s now engaged).  Alessandro, our host of the B & B was a great laugh.  When we arrived he prepared wine and cheese for us, overlooking the lake.  It’s a very special place.  Magical.

The first day we were there the weather wasn’t flash so we wandered around Laglio.  May have walked past George’s house, hehe.

The next day we met some cool American’s staying at the B & B- David and Andrew.  We travelled to Villa Carlotta, absolutely beautiful gardens.  Then to Bellagio for lunch on the lake.  Hot rum and pasta.  Finally a ferry to Managgio.  Wandered and drank coffee.  Back on the bus.

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Walked to a local restaurant for our last night.  Sat over looking the lake.  With a few g and t’s.  Reminiscing about our amazing adventure.

Packed up the next day said bye to Alessandro and caught the bus.  Ran in to Mark (who we met when we arrived in Lake Como), shared out stories over one final Pizza in Lake Como.  Then bus, train, plane, train and home.

What I learnt hmmmm.  The Italian way of life is very different from my own.  They seem to very much go at their own pace.  Things will get done when they get done, not a minute sooner.  Which can be a little frustrating at times.

That being said it is also a good lesson to learn.  Everything in its time.  But maybe they could be a little quicker.  There doesn’t seem to be that much order to how things run e.g. public transport.  It’s organised chaos, perhaps.

I met many a Westernfied tourist who was frustrated with how things ran and people’s apathetic attitudes, at times.  However I do believe we are too ‘go go go’ and want everything ‘now, now now.’  There was a perfect example of this notion as I got back to Heathrow.

In London it’s very much a given that you stand on the right side of the escalator and walk up the left.  But it was clear the Italians would stand anywhere they damn well pleased.  I admire their attitude of confidence to a certain degree.  They have no shame and do exactly what they want seemingly without any care as to what anyone else thinks.  That’s brilliant.  But can be a little frustrating when you’re the person who wants to get up the escalator and go home.

I met some of the most lovely people there and had an amazing experience.  It opened my eyes to another way of life which I think is always so important.  Italians really know how to sit/stroll and just be.   Which is a hard task to master.  I guess in essence ‘trying’ to master it is not really the idea behind the concept!

If there could be a meeting of the minds- the relaxed nature of the Italians to the go getter Westerners it would be a great hybrid.  For now I’ll have to settle with trying to learn how to sit in contemplative stillness.  See what happens…

Funniest moment:

  • I’m going to be slack on this and say there were many laughs during the trip.  Probably my most fond moment was looking back over our experiences during our dinner on the final night.  Though I guess most things are funny after a couple of drinks…

What I did that scared me:

  • When we were staying in Rapello we decided to go on a nice little coast walk near Portafino.  It started out as a lovely stroll in the sun along the coast.  Got pretty steep after a couple of hours, so we rested for lunch.  Kept going and all of a sudden came to a very scary looking section where you had to hold onto  a chain cemented to the wall and basically walk on sheer cliff with the sea about 200 meters below.  I didn’t know what to do.  I thought it must be just this part.  So we braved it, only to look on in dismay and see there was another section like this up ahead.   It was too late to turn back.  We had to go on.  After about 8 section like this, hauling ourselves over a jutting rocks, sliding down gravel rocks, blistered, bruised, battered and terrified we reached the peak of the cliff and down we went into the closest village.  There we ordered the biggest g and t we could find.  In attempt to settle our fried nerves.  I have never been so petrified in all my life.  I actually thought dad was going to read the paper in Aus and see ‘2 women’s cliff hanger walk, ends in nightmare.’ It was hard to even talk about the experience we were so shaken.  The only positive was that you had to be extremely in the moment and put one foot in front of the other otherwise you could die.  And those who know me know I’m not a wussy girl, I walked over 600 km across Spain last year fighting tendonitis, tonsillitis, blisters, a bloody nose and broken heart.  So when I say it scared me.  It freaking scared me!

Highs:

  • Lake Como
  • Meeting some amazing people
  • Wine, food

Lows:

  • Transport system
  • Napoli
  • Cliff walk of (almost) death

What I learnt:

  • There are many ways of life.  Maybe use a little of each and see what serves you best.

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