Secret Italy: the gardens of Ninfa

Ninfa

Ninfa, Cisterna di Latina, Lazio

40 miles south east of hectic Rome, you’ll come across one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Italy: the gardens of Ninfa. Ninfa and its unique setting are still a fairly well-kept secret among gardeners, but this enchanting place is guaranteed to weave a magic spell not just on nature lovers but also on everyone who visits!

Built on the medieval town of Ninfa in the Pontine marshes, the garden has been declared a Natural Monument given the variety of remarkable flora and fauna you can admire within its grounds. Continue reading “Secret Italy: the gardens of Ninfa”

Italian viewpoint: Scilla, Calabria

Scilla,Calabria

Scilla in Calabria

A highlight of the unexplored and wild region of Calabria in Italy’s south is this mythical fishing village called Scilla, picturesquely situated on the coast overlooking the Strait of Messina to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands.

The Costa Viola or Violet Coast which Scilla is on has long been one of the Italy’s least visited coastlines and yet one of the most stunning. The Costa Viola earned the name from its steep cliff faces that are said to glow a rich purple with bougainvillea in the sunset. It probably didn’t help that the ancient Greek poet Homer warned travellers to beware of Scylla – a barking, six-headed monster that indiscriminately gobbled up passing seafarers.

The picturesque seaside town still carries her name, luckily though the monster is nowhere to be seen! From UK Alitalia flies to Reggio Calabria from Rome and Milan, as there are no direct flights there. At the airport, hire a car and the drive to Scilla only takes about 30 minutes.

I challenge you to find a more spectacular viewpoint!

calabria-map

Get your FREE Guide '20 Fun things to do in Rome' & receive travel updates

 

 

A secret UNESCO listed gem: Castel del Monte, Puglia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Castel del Monte, Puglia

The southern region of Puglia still remains in my view one of the most underrated in Italy and yet it’s full of surprises and has many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed!

You would probably instantly associate it with those curious and hobbit-like dwellings with a conical roof like trulli or endless fields of ancient olive trees dominating the landscape. But venture to a little town near Bari, called Andria and standing isolated on a remote hilltop, you’ll come across one of the most unique and striking UNESCO listed castles, Castel del Monte.  Continue reading “A secret UNESCO listed gem: Castel del Monte, Puglia”

A tour of secret Italian islands

Procida-island-Italy

I don’t know about you, but the start of springtime makes me start plotting a sunny escape and nothing lifts my spirits more than mentally teleporting myself to the peace and quiet of a beautiful island.

Aside from its stunning countryside, picturesque towns, vibrant cities and art at every turn, Italy counts amongst its many gems a number of relatively unknown islands that beg to be discovered. Here’s a list of my favourite Italian islands and you can combine a city stay with one of these sparkling jewels! Continue reading “A tour of secret Italian islands”

10 Best things about Italy

Rome by night 1

After many years of travelling around Italy and talking to fellow travellers and friends, here’s a list of the 10 best things that make your trip there a very special one:

1. The Eternal City – Besides being biased as it’s my native city, without a doubt Rome has a timeless appeal that will delight time and time again and no matter how many times you visit, you will discover something new and exciting! I would advise going in early spring and late autumn to avoid the crowds and still enjoy milder weather.

2. The Markets – If you love Italian food, then you can’t miss visiting the buzzing and convivial atmosphere of a market. All across the country, it’s at the markets that you will experience the authentic flavour of Italian culture not to mention the best local produce at reasonable prices. Next time you are there, grab a shopping bag, search for your nearest food market and get eating just like an Italian would!

3. The Light – What we love is not just that, for the most part, Italy is warm and sunny, but the light. Visit Tuscany in late September or Puglia in late autumn and the quality of the light has such vibrancy that buildings appear to be lit from within and gives the landscape a charm that has inspired so many artists and photographers! Continue reading “10 Best things about Italy”

Enjoy Italy the ‘slow’ way!

Maremma - a

In today’s world where we have been brainwashed to consume everything in our lives at super fast speed, I feel the need to slow down and enjoy the moment, especially when it comes to travel. This Manifesto for ‘Slow Travel’ was first published on the website ‘Hidden Europe’ and I fully embrace every single point! What about you?!

1. Slow travel is a state of mind and you should start to develop this at home.
2. Travel slowly. Speed cuts your relationship with the local landscape.
3. No matter how eager you are to arrive at your chosen destination, don’t let anticipation overshadow the pleasure of the journey.
4. Check out local markets and shops.
5. Soak up café culture. Sit in a café and you become part of the local furniture and engage rather than observe.
6. Try and get a feel for the language and dialect of the areas you visit. Learn a few key phrases, use a dictionary and buy a local newspaper.
7. Engage with communities by choosing accommodation and eating options that are representative to and give something back to the area where you are travelling.
8. Don’t follow the herd, do as the locals do.
9. Enjoy the unexpected. Sheep being shepherded across the highway can be a wonderful experience if you relax.
10. Consider if you can give back to the communities you visit. Support a local festa or event.

I’m convinced that following even only some of these suggestions would enhance your travels to Italy tenfold and I’d be curious to know of any experiences you have had of ‘slow travel’.

Get your FREE Guide '20 Fun things to do in Rome' & receive travel updates

Once again I resign from adulthood!

Set sail and discover……..

Once again I have found myself caught up in daily stresses and recurrent annoyances with technology like the threat of not feeling safe online and this has led me to neglect my blog and my website and the desire to inform and serve.

So I think that the end of the year is the perfect time to wind down, take stock but also reaffirm desires and regain strength to go after long-held dreams. And that’s why I would like you to join me once again and resign from adulthood, if only for a while. Set sail and rediscover the child in you!

I’m hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult. I have decided that I don’t want to feel the weight of responsibilities and feel like a zombie going through life without really noticing what’s all around me.

I want back my rose-tinted spectacles, endless sense of wonder and curiosity. I want to jump in naked in a bottomless sea, roll down a grassy hill and see what happens, be given piggybacks and squeal with laughter, gaze at the stars and discover new ones every time, swim underwater through canyons of coral and be amazed at the wonderful patterns of light reflected in the sea, dance myself silly for hours till I’ll flop on the floor exhausted, walk barefoot for a whole week and laugh again till my jaws hurt and my belly is sore!

I want to find magic again in simple things, I really want to live the simple life again and feel good all day just because I saw the most amazing dawn or sunset or just because a baby smiled at me in the street. I don’t want my life to be a repeat of today and yesterday and the day before and carry on drearily overwhelmed by depressing people, news, stifling routines, talks of redundancy, the pain of losing loved ones, the separation from friends.

I really want to believe in the power of love and hugs, in kindness, justice, compassion, forgiveness, wild flights of fancy, letting my imagination fly high like a kite and never taking no for an answer.

So………here goes, I’m resigning from adulthood and if you should try and stop me, you won’t catch me as I’ll be long gone and riding my shiny new Harley on Route 66 with no helmet, wind in my hair, the sun beating down on my back and a big grin on my face!

Get your FREE Guide '20 Fun things to do in Rome' & receive travel updates

 

Italian viewpoint: the island of Burano

colorful Burano
The colourful island of Burano, Venice

 

If you are in dire need of an emotional boost, after enduring the long, dark days of winter, nothing will uplift your spirits and soul more than a visit to the island of Burano in the Venetian archipelago. The colours of its houses pop and fizzle in a way that makes the place feel tropical and you can’t help it but want to be left stranded on such a picture-perfect spot!

Another one of Burano’s highlights is lacemaking and in fact the women on this island have been experts at making lace since the 1500’s and have carried on this tradition to the present day, where many exquisite examples of their craftsmanship can be found.

When you are next in Venice, jump on a ‘vaporetto’ and head to Burano and your eyes will be rewarded by one of the most colourful places in the world. Can you think of a more picturesque spot in Italy?!

Get your FREE Guide '20 Fun things to do in Rome' & receive travel updates

Best places to enjoy spring in Italy

infiorata di Noto

(Flower festival in Noto, Sicily)

During the short and dark days of winter, I can’t help but think about the best places to enjoy spring in Italy and like many of us I’ll start planning a sunny escape to wash away the winter blues.

Here’s a list of the best places to make the most of Italy in spring and enjoy the vibrant renewal of nature in all its glory: Continue reading “Best places to enjoy spring in Italy”

Discover Christmas in Rome

The_Colosseum_during_Christmas

If you are thinking of spending Christmas in Rome this year, my article on how to enjoy a magical festive season there will really help you make the most of this special time of the year!

And if you have already been during Christmas, please share it with anyone who would like to experience the Eternal City  in December.

Continue reading “Discover Christmas in Rome”