Travel

My favorite holiday destination: Italy

Dear friends long time no see, or I would rather say long time no read…. moving from New York and starting a new job was rather hectic, and also figuring out where we want to settle, but finally I feel I am back on track with things that make me happy – especially friends, family, running and blogging! Looking into my Instagram posts, clearly my two most visited places are New York and Italy. While I keep returning to New York for business, Italy is my ultimate holiday destination. There are many reasons to love Italy: its delicious food, wine, culture, history and architecture… I have spent our first Christmas with my husband (then “boyfriend”) in Italy, we spent our honeymoon in Sicily and I have nostalgic childhood memories when I recall all ski trips and family holidays I’ve spent there.

Bari

When we were planning a girl’s trip last spring and were looking into different options, my friend found affordable plane tickets to Bari, Italy. Soon after I opened Google I found out it is a popular place for a weekend getaway. Bari is a harbor city in southern Italy’s Puglia region, on the Adriatic Sea coast. Bari Vecchio, the city’s old town is great for strolls and I loved exploring its narrow streets. We found a nice apartment near the city center. Beside wandering around the city, we visited a small local beach Pane e Pomodoro and returned via beautiful promenade – The Lungomare Nazario Sauro. I enjoyed a pleasant company of my girlfriends, lots of girl-talks, great pasta and red wine. We visited in early May, but the weather was pleasant as well as the sea temperature. Of course, it wasn’t as hot as during the summer months, but I had no problem swimming in the sea and during the chillier evenings I wore a denim jacket.

Since we were spending 3 days in Bari, we decided to take a day trip to Polignano a Mare. I particularly liked the white-pebble beach Lama Monachile, also known as Cala Porto, which is bordered by a Roman bridge. Well, what can I say. Italy never disappoints.

We returned to Italy in August with my husband, as we didn’t feel comfortable flying anywhere further. Many of our friends experienced flight delays or lost luggage, so we opted for a roadtrip. We had to plan cautiously, not to be tired of too much driving or hitting weekend traffic jams.

Venice

We have decided that it would be manageable to leave early in the morning from Bratislava, drive for 6 hours and still enjoy half of the day in Venice. It is a truly extraordinary city with its canals, bridges and narrow cobblestone streets. Since cars are not permitted in the city center, we parked in a parking lot at Tronchetto Island and took a ferry. Waterr transport is the most convenient way of transport in Venice, beside walking. Although many tips say that you should buy tickets for attractions in advance, we found it was cheaper to do it on the spot – such as a gondola ride or a classical music concert at a local church. We also enjoyed a tour in La Fenice Theater and a gallery tour. What proved useful was to pick restaurants and book tables in advance based on the ratings on TripAdvisor or Google maps.

Bologna

After 2,5 days in Venice we drove through Bologna into San Gimignano in Tuscany. Since Bologna is famous for its delicious dishes, after a walk in the city center we booked a restaurant for a classic Italian Sunday lunch – Lasagna. Bologna has a beautiful medieval city center with famous University and most of the main sites are located within easy reach.

Agriturismo in Tuscany: San Gimignano and Siena

From Bologna we drove to San Gimignano, beautiful medieval town, sitting on a hilltop. San Gimignano is unique for its architecture and preservation of tower houses. Towers were built by San Gimignano’s families as a competition and display of their wealth. The town is also known for saffron and its white wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano, fancied by popes. I would really recommend to climb to the top of Torre Grossa, to experience stunning views of Tuscan landscape.

We spent a night in Cesani organic farm, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. Their wine tasting tour was one of the best experiences we had. The farm belongs to the family of the same name and has been producing wines and cold-pressed olive oil for hundres of years with respect for nature and sustainability.

After a lovely breakfast at the farm, we drove to Siena. Siena is said to have been founded by Senius, son of Remus, one of the two legendary founders of Rome. I would say Siena is a must stop in Tuscany. It is a beautiful city. The Duomo di Siena and the artwork inside is truly extraordinary, but make sure you book the tour online – in advance.

In the region I would also recommend visiting Florence and Pisa, but we had been there a few months ago, for a short trip. So this time, we didn’t make a stop. I am sharing some pictures from the trip for inspiration.

Viareggio

After all the walking and exploring we felt like spending a few days by the sea, just laying on the beach. We have chosen Viareggio, seaside city in Tuscany. Viareggio has a long beachfront promenade with many shops, cafés and restaurants to choose from. The coast in Viareggio is divided into beach clubs and you have to pay a fee to rent a beach chair or an umbrella. Beach is sandy, and covered in long rows of brightly colored parasols. The lovely part was that we left our phones in the hotel room and enjoyed some “online detox”. There are certainly more beautiful beaches in Italy, but Viareggio didn’t disappoint.

Bergamo

And as it goes in life, every holiday has to come to an end. Our last stop on the road trip was Bergamo. Bergamo is often missed in favor of its more famous neighbor, the design and fashion city of Milan. I actually preferred to visit Bergamo. We walked to the Upper City – Città Alta by foot, but you can take a bus or the funicular. Bergamo’s Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was breathtaking. I also enjoyed climbing to the top of the Torre del Gombito – 12th century tower with a panoramic terrace. We were lucky that there was some festival going on, so we enjoyed a glass of wine, good coffee together with music and dance performances. I have to say Italian cuisine never disappoints.

Till the next time, Ciao!

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