When You Leave a Beautiful Place, you carry it with you wherever you go.Alexandra Stoddard
I am sure Alexandra Stoddard was talking about Italy when she said; “When You Leave a Beautiful Place, you carry it with you wherever you go.”
To be cut and dry Italy or Italia as the Italians proudly call it, is a country in Southern Europe acknowledged by the world as the birthplace of western culture. A country so old it houses the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A place most popular for its cuisines and good looking men with tight buns and accents so exotic they make women swoon.
However stay longer, look deeper and you will find a country of contrast; the old and new blending together to create the modern. You will see masterpieces created by the greats like Bernini and Rafael at every corner, architecture so old and yet so contemporary like the Pantheon; whose architects taught the world the art of drainage through architecture. Get to know the people who are warm, happy, caring and passionate and you will find a country that awakes your passion and inflames your senses, it did mine.
Italy greeted us with perfect weather, in late October it was cool crisp and sunny; this is how it stayed most of the trip – except when it drizzled, a bit. Packing for the trip is easy, lots of jeans, sweatshirts and sweaters, depending on your agenda some formal wear.
Since this is about my trip, let me share a secret with you – Italy helped me lose weight – something I was working on before I left, but Italy helped without me working at it. No, it wasn’t the food, we did eat and eat a lot, but, because we not only walked a lot but we climbed a lot. I think every major city competes with the other in which city makes you climb more stairs.
Let me explain; in Florence the must see is The Duomo and to get to the top of the Duomo via a spiral stone staircase is 463 steps. My recommendation – Totally worth it! Then we went to The Leaning Tower of Pisa which has 296 steps to get to the top to the bell, once you are there the view will definitely take your breath away – if the climbing does not! And there is Positano on the Amalfi Coast, which I think takes the prize for making a person climb, the stairs keep going and going; just when you think this is the last flight; nope; there is one more; that is until you reach the top and you are awe struck by the vistas.
But there is more to Italy than the stairs and vistas, there is the food which is fresh and light, you eat pasta but do not feel too full because most of the food is organic. While on the subject of food, I have to tell you as a general rule of thumb; everyone sitting at the restaurant enjoys their food. You will not see guests replying to email or looking at their phones. They are chatting, laughing and savoring their food. It does not matter if you visit a high end restaurant for dinner or a café during the lunch hour, food as the Italians say; is to be enjoyed. The managers and wait staff at restaurants take pride in the food they serve, if you don’t finish the first question asked; is something wrong with the food? Did you not like it? I completed the food just out of fear of offending the kind souls.
Oh, and before I end I have to share with you that we became Gladiators and were freed from slavery at the Gladiator school we attended for a two hour course of fun and games. It was an amazing and exhilarating experience. Truly, Italy has lots of amazing unusual activities including riding the Vespa and driving a Ferrari for those who have the need for speed. There are one day cooking classes, where you can cook with an Earl or a half day class for the serious cook, where you learn to make authentic pastas, panna-cotta and Tiramisu, there is also a tour of Cheese world for the cheese lovers, boat and train rides all reasonably priced for the everyday travelers.
The Italians are very accommodating and will go out of their way to accommodate the wheelchair and make the guest comfortable.
So experience Milan – the industrial hub turned into a spell-binding fashion hub; Como – a quiet city for Fashionistas; Venice – a city of canals; Tuscany – 50 shades of green; Florence – the Italian charmer; Amalfi Coast – 42 miles of road that teaches you the meaning of exotic; Capri – the home of the limoncello; Rome – a city of love; Pomeii – a walk with a history lesson.