Travel Time – The Italian Hob

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Our travel writer, Kerry Moss, has recently returned from Italy. We asked her to inspire us with the highlights of her trip. Here’s what she told us.

One of Europe’s most enticing countries, I was immediately intoxicated by Italy’s irresistible food, iconic landmarks and stunning coastlines.

Within minutes of arriving in Rome, I was surprised how quickly you can be soaking up the historical sites. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and you shouldn’t try and see it in one – but you can easily get around, and it doesn’t take long before you’re imagining what it must have been like for the gladiators during their last fight at the Colosseum. No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain, where the waters originate from a 1st Century aqueduct, and the legend of throwing a coin into the fountain to ensure your return to Rome is played out by thousands each day. But, as they say, when in Rome …

For the art lovers and architects, the art filled Vatican Museums, St Peter’s – the world’s largest Christian Basilica, and Michelangelo’s iconic painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are unmissable, but for something extra special (and a little less crowded), head to the Vatican at night for the lights of St Peter’s and Castel Sant’Angelo (a cylindrical castle dating back to the 2nd Century). It’s at night that you truly appreciate the grandeur of the Vatican.

Just a few hours’ drive from Rome and shadowed by Mount Vesuvius, the volcano responsible for destroying the nearby Roman town of Pompeii, is the spirited city of Naples. Sipping Prosecco at a little local restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Naples, it’s easy to overlook the sometimes-suspect reputation of Naples and be captivated by the freshest seafood and stunning vista.

Further north, after driving through stunning scenery you arrive in the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, the breathtaking city of Florence. A city skyline that is recognisable worldwide and home to world-class shopping and dining options, Florence is best explored on foot, so you can discover the hidden treasures that await you around each corner. For something extra special, a market-to-table experience like no other is available at Mercato Centrale (Central Market) Florence. The building is impressive but it’s what inside that will really knock your socks off! Every possible artisan trader imaginable, serving fresh and locally sourced food, produced, sold and packaged or cooked fresh before your eyes. A true foodie delight.

Everywhere you turn in Italy, you are greeted with a postcard view, but it’s when you leave the cities behind that you truly get an understanding of the authentic Italy. The small towns are where you discover the true culture of the Italian people. It’s where you quickly realise that tradition is centered around family, music and food. A place of generous people, rustic farmhouses and sun-kissed olive groves and vineyards. They are gracious and bountiful hosts and whilst you may start dinner as strangers, you will inevitably end up friends.

Italy was like returning home for me. It was familiar and welcoming. You return from Italy wondering why you settled for bad coffee all those years and embracing your new philosophy that sometimes when things don’t go to plan (as they often don’t in Italy), that’s when you have the best adventures.

Happy Travels!

Ciao, Kerry.

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