Inside out Italy – Day trip

If you live in or plan to visit Emilia Romagna region, you might know how easy it is to expatriate in a matter of hours. A micro-country into the country: the Republic of San Marino, located in the northeastern side of Apennine Mountains.

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Drive up to the summit and have a walk in the old town. It is quite touristic, but it has magnificent and breathtaking glimpses. Not to mention narrow and cobblestoned streets, ancient and historic buildings, good local restaurants, …

BUT! The best thing you could witnessed up here is sunset and when the sky is cloudless and clear, you can even catch sight of the sea.

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Not far from here and driving back to Italy, you can consider to do a stop-over in San Leo village, just 30 km away from San Marino.

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The Fortress of San Leo, which is the main landmark of the village, can be easily reached by bus or through a walking path. The ticket office is located just at the entrance of the fortress and it’s worth a visit. It has many interesting rooms, such as the torture room, and courtyards. Not to mention the astonishing panorama.

 

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A pearl of the Danube – Austria

Krems an der Donau is a picturesque little Austrian village along the Danube River. Although considered as a whole, it is actually a “conglomerate” of 3 villages: Krems, Stein and Und.

When the sun shines and the sky is blue, all the colourful buildings light up the village. Not to mention its narrow streets, cobblestones and fascinating glimpses… You will feel part of a fairy tale!

 

Schureplatz and Rathausplatz areas are really worth a visit. But the best thing you could do is disorienting yourself while walking up and down the old town.

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At sunset, do not miss the chance to reach the Danube and have a walk along the river. While, at dinner, walk back to the city centre and be inspired by the delicious menus displayed outside the restaurants doors.

Personally, I really appreciated the Zum Kaiser Von Osterreich restaurant where you can taste the real seasonal and fresh products of this rural region. And, nonetheless, the waitress speaks English! Which is not so common in Austria, especially in little villages and towns.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Restaurant: Zum Kaiser Von Osterreich

A taste of Liguria

Liguria is a north-west region of Italy, almost known for its beautiful landscapes, excellent food and… Cristoforo Colombo! There’s so much you can do here. Hiking, sunbathing, diving, visiting towns and villages, fishing, … and eating of course! Genoese pesto and focaccia are a MUST-HAVE if you decide to visit Liguria.

BUT, before introducing you to some of my favourite places around Lerici, you have to bear in mind these crucial points:

  1. If you decide to move by car, you’ll most likely run out of patience. Unless you wake up at sunrise, you won’t be able to park your car… ANYWHERE.
  2. Often, best beaches are not easily accessible. Steps, cliff paths, downhill and uphill slopes.
  3. Liguria doesn’t come cheap.

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And now, my MUST-VISIT list for a weekend in Lerici:

  • Fiascherino beaches are located between Lerici and Tellaro and if you like little bays, nature and cliffs, this is the paradise you were looking for. It is possible to perch and sunbathe on rocks or stay at one of the few beach resorts (booking in advance is highly recommended). The most luxurious and astonishing one is the Eco del Mare.
  • San Terenzio and Lerici beaches, on the contrary, are more suitable for those who prefer the all-comforts beach type. The Colombo beach resort, just to mention one, comes with all amenities.
  • At the end of the day, drive towards the iconic Portovenere and enjoy the sunset while drinking and eating local food at one of the many restaurants along the dock. Elettra is one of my favourites.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Beach resort: Eco del Mar
  • Restaurant: Elettra (in Portovenere)

 

 

Wild Croatia – Lovrečica

Forget about luxury hotels, night life, exclusive parties and wi-fi connections. Lovrečica is a little and quiet village in north-west Croatia where inhabitants live in close contact with nature.

Book your stay at one of the apartments along the coast and ask for a bedroom with the beach view. You’ll be woken up by sunbeams and fallen asleep under a sky full of stars.

Early in the morning, go for a walk and keep silent… you’ll hear the sound of nature and boats of fishermen which slowly approach the dock.

 

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If you’d like to sunbathe and go for a swim, the best place is located at the opposite coast, where you are surrounded by trees and rocks (yes, I know, it hurts a little, but there is no sand here). And since there are no beach resorts in the area, do not forget to bring your beach towels and cooler bag.

At the end of the day, enjoy one of the most spectacular sunset you’ve ever admired.

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HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Nature

Sanctuary with a view – BOLOGNA

Driving on the A1 highway towards Bologna, you can spot the iconic Sanctuary of Saint Luke. It stands on a hill, overlooking the town and the surrounding Apennine (the Italian mountains range which extends from northwest to south).

Whether you are religious or not, this landmark is worth a visit. You can reach it by car or walking under an old and long arcade which has its starting point at the soccer stadium area. Be aware, the walking path comes with many steps (489) but suggestive glimpses and it is about 4 km long.

The view is breathtaking, especially at sunset, and the best period for visiting is, without a doubt, spring. At this time of the year, you will meet tourists from all over the world but also many students. As a matter of fact, it’s usual amongst the University superstitious to walk to the Sanctuary as a symbol of good luck for the forthcoming exams.

 

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Coming down the hill, don’t leave Bologna! Stay for another couple of hours and have dinner in the real heart of the town. To those who’d like to try some real local and traditional food I suggest the Trattoria del Ghiottone. One of my favourite restaurants in Bologna. On the contrary, if you’d like to try a tasty and innovative Pizza, you must have one at the Berberè. Booking a table in advance is highly recommended for both.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sanctuary: Sanctuary of Saint Luke
  • Restaurant: Trattoria del Ghiottone
  • Pizzeria: Berberè

 

Reading Dublin

Each time I visit a new city, I like to spend time in libraries and bookshops too. The smell of the paper, the quietness, the whispering…  they drive me crazy! That’s why today I’d like to suggest you 3 of my favourite reading spots in Dublin.

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If you are an old libraries enthusiast, you must visit the iconic Old Library, which is part of the Trinity College. The Long Room is, without a doubt, the most interesting area of the building. It is mostly covered in wood and its floor creaks under your every step. The room is 65 metres long, covered in shelves containing 200.000 ancient manuscripts and a copy of the original Irish Republic proclamation text . It also displays several busts of distinguished scholars and a harp dating back to 14th century.

Another famous and worth-a-visit library is the Chester Betty Library. It is more than a library, it is a museum. The most beautiful in Ireland and one of the most interesting in Europe. It is located inside the Clock Tower, just behind the Dublin Castle and it displays a variety of unique worldwide texts.

If, instead, you’d like to chill, read or buy some books, you definitely must stop at The Winding Stair bookshop. It is located in the real heart of the City, overlooking the River Liffey and just in front of the Ha’Penny Bridge. It also has a restaurant upstairs where you can enjoy a tasty meal.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Library: Old Library and Chester Betty Library
  • Bookshop: The Winding Stair
  • Restaurant: The Winding Stair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dublin calls for a toast!

March is the green month and green means St. Patrick’s Day! At least, in Ireland.

Despite the cold weather, you should visit Dublin during this period of the year. Dubliners are so welcoming, chatty and good guides too (especially taxi drivers; they know everything about the city and its history).IMG_9120In this very first article about Dublin, I’d like to share with you 3 of my favourite spots:

 

  • The Temple Bar: it’s the iconic red pub. You MUST have a pint here letting locals offer you some. You have just to do the same, but be aware… Irish people drink a lot!
  • Fallon and Byrne: this is absolutely my favourite restaurant and here you can have the best aged Irish fillet of beef of your life. It doesn’t come cheap but believe me, it is worth the price! This place has also a market downstairs, where you can buy fine artisan food of every kind.
  • Wall and Keogh: this tearoom is located in a quite dodgy area, or at least this is the feeling I had, but it offers a variety of teas and infusions from all over the world. You can choose yours by smelling the leads of the jars containing the different herbal infusions. You will also be surprised by the cups and mugs your hot drink will be served in; some look like Chinese mugs, others look like horns… by no means, UNIQUE. And do not forget the scones… delicious!

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So, bear in mind:

STEP 1 Have dinner in the heart of the city.

STEP 2 call for a toast (or even more than one) in a typical Irish pub.

STEP 3 wake up and treat yourself with a hot cup of tea.

Cheers!

 

HiGHLIGHTS:

  • Restaurant: Fallon and Byrne
  • Pub: The Temple Bar
  • Tearoom: Wall and Keogh

Yummy south of England

Who said you can only have fish and chips in England?

Apart from my frequent trips to London, I have been recently in the south of England and had the chance to eat in many restaurants or pubs. What I appreciate most is the wide and international choice; you just need to step into the right place.

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In my culture (I’m Italian), food means tradition, health and togetherness. That’s why, in planning my trips, I never ever leave the meals issue to chance. In England, thanks to its vast multicultural population, you can taste pretty almost the entire planet.

On today’s article, I’ve selected 3 of my favourite places to share with you.

  1. The Alice House is an intimate, yet vibrant, venue located in north-west London and it can be easily reached by tube (Bakerloo line), overground or bus (line n. 6). It offers fresh seasonal dishes and drinks, but I highly recommend it also for Sunday brunch or just a couple of pints on Friday night. Being far from the tourist zone, you can join locals and immerse yourself into the real London life.
  2. The Quod Restaurant & Bar is an easy-chic restaurant located in the Oxford city centre, just in front of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The quietness and elegance of the place mirrors in its dishes and drinks.
  3. The Skewer House is a Portuguese restaurant located in the Taunton city centre. The food is just WOW! You can have meat, fish or vegetables grilled and flavoured on a skewer. Do not forget to try also the delicious and spicy sides.

 

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And now… Enjoy your meal!

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Pub/Restaurant: The Alice House (London – Queen’s Park Tube station)
  • Restaurant: Quod Restaurant (Oxford)
  • Restaurant: The Skewer House (Taunton)

Italy in technicolor – DOZZA

Have you ever dreamed of living in a village whose walls and streets are covered in graffiti? If so, you should visit the mediveal Italian village of Dozza.

Many artists, through the years, payed their tribute to the village making it so unique and colourful. It doesn’t matter if you visit Dozza on a rainy or sunny day, each painting lights up its narrow streets and corners.

 

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Grab your camera and look for every single painting, cause there are so many! Flowers, dragons, butterflies, elves, landscapes… You’ll be definitely impressed by them. Dozza is such an iconic place and yet known by only a few.

After your wandering up and down the village, you might be hungry. Among the excellent restaurants, I’d suggest you to reserve a table at La Scuderia , an old stable used by knights in ancient times. The menu offer delicious local and traditional dishes which can vary according to the season.

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Before leaving this magical village, take a tour of the Fortress, which is located just in front of the restaurant.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Restaurant: La scuderia
  • Museum/Castle: The Fortress of Dozza

 

The hidden Crown Jewels

Among the many well known jewels of England, I have recently discovered two hidden and precious gems: Bibury and Selworthy.

Bibury is a picturesque village in Gloucestershire county which you’ll be totally mesmerised by. The typical cottages and the countryside surrounding seem the perfect setting of a fairy tail. If the sun shines you may have a walk through the village and fields; breathing fresh air, quietness and magic.

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Selworthy is, instead, a village of Somerset county, located in the Exmoor National Park area. It is known by a few people and talking to inhabitants it is pretty clear why they don’t intend to commercialise the place too much. As a matter of fact, what keeps this place unique is its secrecy. Lucky are those who bump into it by chance or driven by an acquaintance. You will definitely fall in love with the yellow cottages and their typical thatched roofs. You can also enter one and have a cup tea and a delicious piece of cake at the Periwinkle Cottage Tea Room.

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The best way to reach both destinations is by car, your own or a rent one. And do not forget to look out the window along the way… the landscape is just “WOW”.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Tea room: Periwinkle Cottage Tea Room in Selworthy