The other day, I sat down and counted the number of countries I have been to and was amazed at the outcome; 59! Having been born with the travel bug, I wasn’t really surprised. Except, for years I have been saying it was 57; how wrong can you be?! Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things.
What brought this on was my imminent departure for Italy. I returned from Italy last week and next week, I’m off again! In all the heat … yes, it gets very hot in Italy but for some reason it isn’t as bad as in somewhere like Cairo for example. One of my earliest travel memories is Cairo … in 1958. Very different to the Cairo of today.
Not loving Italy
Of course, like many people, there are things about Italy I hate. BUT, once you are reconciled to:
□ not getting things done (not this century),
□ not having things delivered (not to the top of the hill anyway!),
□ listening to promises of completion (which seldom eventuate),
□ bad driving (the worst!),
□ the necessity to speak the language,
□ bizarre ways to buy petrol for the car (really odd if you don’t know how!)
□ stupid political correctness,
and sundry other issues, you realise how much you love it!
Yes, it’s a place that drives you nuts. So why do I keep going back? What is it about Italy that makes my heart sing?!
It’s lovely, and even if you can speak only a little, you feel good! It rolls off the tongue and can only be described as mellifluous. Where else in the world do you have a word like Prego! meaning “you’re welcome”, “it’s a pleasure”, “OK”, and other ugly expressions?! Just saying Prego, makes you feel Italian and part of the culture.
No doubt about it, Italy has some amazing and gorgeous buildings. If you’re a first time visitor to Italy, just walking around can take your breath away. The history is in every pore of every street and building. The restaurants, the cafes, the shoes, the clothes, the bags; the shopping! I’ll refrain from waxing lyrical about the architecture here; saved for another blog.
Shopping may not be classified as culture by most people, but it shows a particular side of the local population; merging with the locals, eating where they eat, having an aperitivo. This is societal culture.
Wherever you go you will find designer outlets and local boutiques, all selling wonderful clothing. Did I mention the shoes?! In Positano (for example), you can have hand-made leather sandals designed especially for you! In Florence, you can buy a leather jacket (not in the markets), or have one made for you; yes, it will cost, but the leather is so soft and the colours are so mouth-watering you’ll feel no pain when you part with your cash! In Milano, you can literally shop ‘til you drop; start with Via Montenapoleone. The same in Rome where you will be delighted by Via dei Condotti and via Borgognona as your starting points.
Not to mention the little side streets, the shopping centres, the designer outlets (NOT inexpensive), the strange little shop down the road … all of Italy is a banquet
Wherever you go in Italy, the food is simple delicious. Each region has its own speciality; from Bistecca alla fiorentina to Lampredotto in Tuscany, and from Frisella to Orecchietta in Puglia. Food is a serious part of the culture (there’s that word again!); and Gelato is everywhere.
Prepare to be surprised at some of the small, local cafes; many of them serve food which is a taste bud sensation. They may not have brilliant decor, but who cares if the food is scrumptious?!
When you can, and if you feel comfortable, always travel on the road less travelled. Adventures and extraordinary experiences make it worthwhile. They used to say Travel broadens the mind. A saying that still rings true, but I like to add expands the heart and sets the spirit free.
You can experience all of this by joining us on one of our tours. See you in September …