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Italy in pictures…

So I went to Italy late last year mainly for the Travel Bloggers Destination Italy (TBDI) Conference but also largely for a holiday. And I haven’t blogged about the holiday bit at all. In part, honestly sometimes I miss just having an experience and leaving it there like everyone else without dissecting it in my head (or on this blog). But I do want to share some of Italy with you, so I’m going to do more of a visual post…

A couple of things made this trip different & quite exciting:

  1. Neither my husband nor I had been to Italy before so it was great to experience together it for the 1st time. Since he lived in Belgium for a few years he’s pretty much seen all of Europe while I’m trying to play catch up.
  2. It was my 1st international trip for my blog
  3. We flew via Ethiopia which was not the transit route I would have expected. We would have loved to spend a day/two in Addis but next time!
  4. It was the 1st time were travelling to so many multiple cities in one country (Rome, Rimini, Venice & then Florence)
  5. We winged it. We didn’t have accommodation sorted for Venice and Florence until just a few hours before we arrived in those cities. In fact, we hadn’t planned our trip further than the 1st 2 stops (Rome & Rimini) until we got there. Not my usual style. I have no idea how we even got Visas!
  6. It was a l-o-n-g trip at 2 and a half weeks. That always sounds amazing when you’re planning it but when you’re a week in and physically cannot keep your eyes open but feel like you have to go out and explore it’s tough…

 

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Touch down Rome more than 24 hours after leaving our apartment in SA…

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My very 1st picture of the streets of Rome just outside Fiumicino International Airport. I hadn’t slept at all the night before we flew (& I can’t sleep on planes) so when arrived in Rome my brain function was around zero but I stepped out of the airport & onto Roma’s streets & it was like I got a surge of energy as I took everything in…

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 Hotels are a bit of a gamble if they’re not one of the bigger chains (thank God for Trip Advisor) but I loved this quaint little place Star of Rome….

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 Complete with our own private garden…

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I like doing the hop-on-hop off bus to get an overview of a new city…

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The controversial Monumento Nazionale (large parts of the neighbourhood was destroyed for it to be built) completed in 1925 – by day….

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….and by night

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and with gelato (this is what a tourist trap R160 ice cream looks like by the way…)…

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I resisted!

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the trendy Trastevere neighbourhood looks like something from the movies (loads of tourists & expats)…

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The more I travel the more I realise big cities have many of the same challenges. We’re just so hard on ourselves in SA but we do have it really good overall…

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Italy should really just be renamed carb country. Italian food is much simpler than we’re made to think in SA…

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Not all the food was a hit  – this octopus carpaccio tasted like a tentacle was going to flap at me at any second 🙂

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I don’t think I had ever seen nuns in real life before. I tried hard not to stare but I have no doubt I didn’t succeed…

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The mandatory Colosseum shot…

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St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City – one of the largest & arguably the most important/well known churches in the world…

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View over Rome from the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. You can’t possibly get the full idea of the size and scale from these pics but imagine that its draws crowds of over 80 000 people when the Pope presides over services…

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Looks like Cape Town at 1st glance hey? Our 2nd stop in Italy was Rimini, where the Travel Bloggers Destination Italy Conference was held…

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And then Venice!

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I’ve heard many people say Venice is a tourist trap. Most of Italy felt that way honestly. But you have to go and see Venice at least once…

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 We tried an AirBnB rental for the 1st time ever in Venice and we loved it! We had a s-p-a-c-i-o-u-s one bedroom apartment amongst the locals. The owner had a friend who owned a nearby restaurant and reserved the best table in place for us for dinner on our 1st night…

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One of the companies I met at the conference was Walks of Italy. We did a walking tour with them in Venice and later in Florence. I cannot recommend them enough. The tours are led my locals and are laid back, intimate (there were just 4 of us both times) and incredibly interesting. Wish I’d known about them when we in Rome – it added so much valuable insight into the cities… Here our guide Marina is showing us around the fish market…

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Part 4 – Florence – Grand Hotel Bretagne Terazza.

I’d have loved to shown you a pic of our room but it was so tiny I couldn’t manoeuvre around it to snap one 🙂 The location was faultless though – in the centre of Florence with a great view over Arno river…

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 If you don’t know I’m leather obsessed so learning that Florence was one of the leather capitals of the world was the best news. Here we are at the leather market (Mercato Nuovo) in the historic centre of Florence.

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People watching at Piazza della Signoria

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Homeward bound! I will never ever tire of travelling but I echo these two’s sentiments – having fun can be exhausting too!

Italy was a great trip but sticks out in my mind as a really expensive one. Let’s just say that the day I paid close to R80 for a 330ml tin of Coke is one I cannot get out of my mind! I hate to say this and I’ve thought about it a lot (be warned I am about to make a sweeping generalization here) but Italians are some of the unfriendliest people I have met – even in places where we were  spending money like restaurants etc. At first I put it down to a language/culture barrier but it was more than that. You can tell someone’s demeanour & tone even if you don’t fully understand each other. Or maybe they’re just tired of all the constant tourists? If you’ve been, I’d love to know what you think…

That said, we did meet some Italians who were pretty amazing to us that it felt like they’d made up for the rest of their countrymen like the Andrea the owner of the AirBnB flat we rented in Venice (he went above & beyond & just blew us away), the staff at Grand Hotel Bretagne Terazza, everyone at Walks of Italy and the gentleman I bought a leather bag from at the market in Florence (I was so indecisive and he was so patient!)…

So that was Italy! You’d think two and a half weeks in one country should do but I still want to go back and see Milan, Siena and all of the south of Italy too.

W

xoxo

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