Tuscany

Tuscany has been pulling at my heart strings ever since the day I left. I think it’s because it reminds me of home being in the countryside but with warmer air and beautifully raw Italian ingredients. I long for the day I can return, I really can see Joe and myself living here in the future. I sometimes find myself looking at properties to buy in the Tuscan region, dreaming of a renovation on an old property with plenty of land to grow olive trees and to keep chickens.

DSC_0411.jpg
Tuscan countryside

Whilst we were in Tuscany we stayed several nights in Florence, we done two tours with a local company named Walkabout Florence which meant we didn’t spend a great amount of time in Florence itself. But with that said, what I did see of the city I fell in love with. I seem to have a great passion for cities with water, I was drawn to Porto in a similar way. The two tours we did; one day we went on a coach looking at ‘the best of Tuscany’. Whilst on this trip we visited; Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa. Included in the day was a lunch in a local vineyard where we got to ‘sample’ the wines (definitely got out moneys worth). The second tour we travelled through the Tuscan countryside in a vintage Fiat 500, as anyone who knows Joe, he was in his element!

DSC_0532
Our Fiat 500 for the day

The one night we went out in Florence we wondered around the streets when we came across All’Antico Vinaio. The sandwich shop seemed to have a large queue so like any British person we stood in line before being presented with the best sandwich I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. It was so good I had to go back the next day to try it again to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Meanwhile in the morning someone tried to break into Trudie unsuccessfully (admittedly all our belongings were on display). Throughout the entire rest of the trip and for several months later Joe and I had to climb through the boot to unlock the doors through all of the stuff we acquired.

IMG_4970

We visited Angie’s Bar where we met a lovely couple on their honeymoon, the bar was small but had a great atmosphere. I would go back to Florence in a heartbeat! If you get the chance please have one more of those sandwiches for me.

Thanks for reading.

#Danniandherpassport

Cinque Terre

DSC_0219
Manarola views

Cinque Terre, what a beautiful gem of Italy. Cinque Terre is a protected area, made up of five towns filled with pure natural and man made beauty. We stayed in the next town from the famous five called Levanto. Levanto is only a short train ride to the next town but it much quieter with fewer tourists visiting which was nice to come back to after the days filled with hustle and bustle. Also driving around the five towns is banned, not that I would of wanted to try and get Trudie through the crowds and hills!

I remember arriving in our Airbnb apartment, after getting lost down many narrow dead ends whilst Joe accidentally put his hand on the horn while locals were walking on a zebra crossing. Levanto reminded me of seaside towns back in England. People with their items heading to the beach, locals sat outside cafes watching the world go by.

Now I guess like most places, it was packed full of tourists (me included in that). Although have to counter in we went just at the end of peak season. I really wouldn’t let that put you off. We still managed to find corners of the coast that were tranquil.
On our first night we decided to stay in Levanto and cook some food at the apartment. Joe and I got some local pesto from the supermarket (pesto originated in Genoa, north of Cinque Terre, made using a pestle and mortar suppose to a blender). After this we spent time walking by the waves of the sea, we even came across some cactus fruit. Something that Joe and I first tried in Morocco. Managed to get one down, SO juicy. Although had thorns in our hands for days to come.

DSC_0182
Exploring the streets

We visited four out of the five towns, mainly down to our time restraints. Little gutted we didn’t see Monterosso as many people say it’s their favourite due to the beach. Although they all have their similarities with the houses and narrow street they all have their unique beauty.

Corniglia stood out for me, I remember stating we will get a drink at the end stop which so happened to be at the top of a large hill with what felt like hundreds of steps. The views from the top of the coastline are spectacular, the town seemed a little more slow paced than the other three visited but think that’s what makes it so special.

Again the powers of social media, I came across this beautiful restaurant named Nessun Dorma in Manarola, many of you would of seen photos/videos of it like I had. I feel sometimes it’s a real risk getting caught in a tourist trap going to places with a view and that have been shared on social media thousands of times but this restaurant is perfect. I have read that it can take a long time to get seated, we came just before they opened after people finished their pesto workshop. One of the experiences the restaurant has to offer. We got seated, where we enjoyed a Aperol spritz and a mezze of meats, breads and olives looking over at the pastel coloured houses on the cliff. Honestly what I’d do to be back there right now. If you ever get the chance to visit these incredible towns be sure to visit Nessun Dorma.

IMG_4807.jpg
Nessun Dorma
DSC_0266
Nessun Dorma

Thanks for reading.

#Danniandherpassport

Italian road trip video.

Nearly been one year since our dream Italian road trip. I thought I should get my ass in gear and finally make the video with the footage I got from my GoPro. It’s missing chunks of the venture but we must of been having such a good time we forgot to capture it on camera.

The Temper Trap – Sweet disposition, will forever remind me of driving through the Italian Alps cruising along getting overtaken by lorries.

Hope you enjoy if you haven’t seen it already!

Turin.

For me, Turin was never a city that screamed visit me, in fact I hadn’t even heard of it before researching for our road trip. Situated at the foot of the Italian Alps, this city ranked high above my expectations. I think that’s the beauty of ‘wanderlust’ when you start your research into the next trip or destination you so badly want to visit, you start to find out interesting facts or must see places that you never heard of previously.

DCIM100GOPRO
Lunch time on our balcony

So as most of our travelling goes now we used an Airbnb, when we arrived at our apartment in Turin our hosts were kindly waiting outside, saving us some on street parking. The apartment was perfect (definitely my favourite from the entire trip), with a balcony looking over the side street, being able to enjoy a morning espresso watching people go about their day. Trudie was and is a perfect size for a city car. Think we were naive to think Joe’s company car (Volkswagen Passat) would have been appropriate to park in some of the places we did, it was a job at times with our small Trudie.

Once we arrived in the city we started to read into it more, with leaflets and books left by the hosts. The city is very intriguing and mysterious, the more and more you look into it’s history and landmarks the more it draws you in. Some unexplainable happenings, conspiracies and parts of history lay in Turin. 

DSC_0075
Where good and evil energies meet

There are energies described in Turin, we visited both Piazza Statuto and Piazza Castello known for their good and evil energies crossing the city. The ancient route of ‘black magic’ known to cross between Turin, London and San Francisco flowing energetic currents by Piazza Statuto in the city. The positive energy known as the ‘white magic’ stretches between Lyon, Prague and Piazza Castello; Turin, the centre of the positive energy . With both paths crossing in Turin the aura of the city feels uncanny.

Something we found mesmerising was the Holy shroud of Turin, situated in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. Many believe it to be the linen cloth of Jesus Christ, due to sunlight and how precious it is, it is not kept on display to the public for much of the year but we saw a detailed replica. The face on the cloth does compare to how you’d imagine Jesus to look, whether it is the genuine shroud that Jesus was wrapped in will remain a mystery.

IMG_4743
Only photo from the Egyptian museum

One of the highlights of the city for me was the Egyptian museum which has the biggest collection of Egyptian artefacts outside of Egypt. It’s a rather large display as I’m sure you can imagine although at one time not even half is out on display to the public. History was never my favourite subject, but Egyptian history has always interested me. A lot to take in but definitely worth a visit and rather impressive the importance of the collection.

Whilst my love for Italian food has been since I can remember, prior to the trip I looked into the different provinces of Italy and where certain dishes originate. The dish risotto comes from northern Italy, closer to Milan than Turin although the restaurant we want to did not disappoint. I found it on TripAdvisor, Il Vicolo ristorante. Reasonably priced risottos, I had quite a simple one with saffron whilst Joe had one with red wine. Really thought it was going to be heavy and sickly, never heard of risotto with red wine only white. But as is everything, tastes so much better than anything we are used to back at home in the U.K.

Now supposedly some of the best pizza’s are from Naples, in Italy. Somewhere we planned to head down to but being realistic we headed north after Rome just to spend more time in the places we planned to visit, quality over quantity as they say. Each province has their own take on pizza as does each restaurant. I feel the pizza restaurant we headed to on our first night in Turin was the best pizza I had the entire trip. Four cheese pizza with gorgonzola for added richness, oozing out quite a thick crust base, not usually my favourite but that pizza was an exception, Dogana Grimm was the name of the restaurant if you get the chance to visit.

(Looking back through photos it seems that we only took about five for the whole time we were in Turin so apologies for the poor selection)

#Danniandherpassport

Italian road trip Sept 2017.

So I definitely haven’t kept my blog posts in order of my travels but I think that sums me up in a nutshell. In September 2017 to celebrate finishing my nursing degree my boyfriend, Joe and myself decided to go on a road trip around Italy. A country that has always been high on my wish list but struggling to commit to a single destination it was always brushed under the carpet. 

When we planned the trip it was quite strongly inspired by Joe getting a brand new company car which would guarantee a breakdown free trip. Before September came Joe took a promotion with another company and the role unfortunately didn’t require a company car leaving us without the safety blanket we based the trip on. Getting closer to the time still throwing ideas back and forth on what to do, we thought the idea of inter-railing was really our only option. Although we ideally wanted to fill a car up with all the lovely wines and foods we discovered on our venture. We took a risk and bought a Toyota Scarlet for £350, soon to become ‘Trudie’, having just one previous owner and low milage for her age. Cheaper than if we both had to pay for train tickets but the risk of her breaking down was prevalent. We kitted her out with Italian flags, beaded seat covers and her name in diamontes on the boot and she was ready to go.

IMG_4197
Trudie before we embarked on our adventure

We drove from our home in Somerset, through to Dover, caught the ferry over to Calais where we stayed the night. Somehow managed to drive through the bulk of France in one day stopping briefly visiting Épernay (home of many champagne houses, we briefly looked around the Moët gift shop and left after looking at the prices) before arriving in Lyon for the night. Finally driving through the Alps into northern Italy the following morning, and what an experience it was.

DSC_0034
On the side of the road in the Alps

We started in Turin before heading south, as far as Rome. Then began travelling the north east of the country towards Rimini and Venice. Travelling across to Lake Como before the long drive back to England. The whole trip was once in a lifetime experience not to mention Trudie did not break down once, although someone tried to break into her at Florence by forcing a screwdriver into the locks, resulting in us having to climb through the boot with all our belongings each time we locked her, such a novelty (still need to get that fixed).

It would not do the trip justice to try and squeeze it all into one small blog post. I plan to write about each destination individually, the places we visited and the foods we ate so bare with me on this.

Thanks for reading.

#Danniandherpassport

IMG_4716
Picturesque driving through the Alps