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My Love Affair with Italy

I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Italy. It’s as if we are in a long-distance relationship and I am the needy girlfriend that can’t get enough. But when I sleep, I dream about swimming off the coast of Capri, jumping off rocks and dancing in circles in the water just drunk with happiness. When I wake, I think back to playing football in the streets of Viareggio on a cool spring day, pretending to be Toni, Cannavaro and Buffon all rolled into one. I pine for the risotto milanese and mozzarella di bufala I had in Milan, the incredible mussels from Positano, the Fiorentine and tiramisu we made in Florence during our own private cooking class with our friends from Florencetown, and the endless supply of limoncello that we drank in Capri under the lemon trees of da Paolino. And I miss the dancing: the outdoor club outside the football stadium in Rome that Alessandro took us to, the unforgettable Music on the Rocks that’s carved into the cliffs of Positano, the famous Anema e core in Capri which requires dancing on tables with tambourines with people of all ages and lots of singing (and its neighbor, Number One, which also has fantastic live music), the nightclub in Rimini with 10 of my closest hostelmates, and the incredible night out at La Capannina in Forte dei Marmi with my good friend Ale.

It’s no surprise I visited Italy 3 times in one year, and that I am already plotting my next escape over. What is it exactly about Italy that keeps me coming back hungry for more? Yes, it’s beautiful but there are so many other beautiful places in the world, so why is it that out of all the places I’ve been to its Italy that has stolen my heart? I think it comes down to the feeling I have when I am there. Or more like the person I become when I am there. I slow down. I take time to savor the meal in front of me and enjoy the refreshing glass of wine in my hand. I spend hours at the table engrossed in fantastic conversation with my friends, and have an eternal caffeine high from the many espressos throughout the day. I let myself go and adopt a care-free mentality, not getting overwhelmed by the stress in my life but instead focusing on and celebrating the amazing parts of it. I open my mind and learn so much from the different perspectives of the fun and interesting people I meet each day. And well, as far as the beauty, I do get taken aback again and again by just how gorgeous each new place is.  I really do think Positano is heaven on Earth, Steinbeck was dead on. Overall, I really think that the Italian lifestyle complements me – I can’t help it, I’m smitten!

If you haven’t been to Italy and are looking to make your way over, here are the places I stayed at during my trips. Feel free to contact me for more info, I can’t talk about it enough.

Florence:

Hotel: Montebello Splendid – Even though it’s a nice hotel, I wouldn’t recommend it. The rooms are small, and its practically impossible to change your reservation should you need to (warning: they will NOT refund you.) I think it’s a little overpriced and you can probably find better accommodations elsewhere.

Hostel: New Ostel  – Cheap hostel close to the train station. The staff was very nice and they have a good outdoor area to relax and mingle, but I would stay elsewhere if I return. There are no lockers in the rooms, and the rooms seem a little outdated. It also took me a while to walk to the main part of the city which was a big inconvenience.

Positano:

Hotel Miramare Positano – Highly recommend! Great location, decent price, beautiful views from your balcony, and wonderful staff. There are so many places in Positano, all at different price points, but everything is so closeby that I don’t think its necessary to spend a lot of money on a more expensive hotel there.

Capri:

Hotel Weber Ambassador – Also highly recommend! Right up the street from a great beach, not at the center of town but there is free transportation, small rooms but the price is right and you have a killer view off the room balcony.

Rome:

Hotel Fontana – Recommend for a good budget hotel. This is a decent hotel that’s right outside the Trevi Fountain (our window faced the front of the fountain, that was pretty rad.) The price is good, the service was good – I really have nothing bad to say about this place. Enjoy!

Bergamo:

NH Bergamo – This was a little out of my price range but seeing as there was a train strike in Italy and I wasn’t able to leave Bergamo that night I couldn’t really be too picky. The hotel is fantastic though –  nice look, great free breakfast, free wifi in the lobby. Bergamo is such an adorable town (and the people are pretty fabulous!) so you should definitely stop by for a day or two.

Rimini:

Hostel: Sunflower City Backpacker – This hostel was so fun! Ok, the good and the bad. The staff there is great. They include everyone and make sure that you are having a good time. The bad is that the rooms are kind of old, and the bathrooms are a little scary. Like shower over the toilet scary. But I will admit that the atmosphere of the place made up for the room and I’m really glad I stayed there. Rimini doesn’t have that many options for good hostels, so this is probably one of the better choices.

Fiorentine - Just part of what we made during our cooking class in Florence.

Music on the Rocks with some of our new Positano friends.

Marina Piccola beach in Capri

Rimini

Lake Como

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Firenze

Now I remember why I love Italy so much. Because the Italians spoil you to death! Firenze was fantastic. I was only there 24 hours but loved it. I wasn’t planning on going, but a friend who lives there asked me to stop by so I scrapped my night in Venice and headed south. Venice is too romantic anyway and may have killed my travel buzz, next time! I met up with my friend for dinner and I was greeted to Florence with great food, even better wine, and interesting conversation. We went to one of his favorite restaurants and ate, and ate, and ate. Oof! Everything he ordered was amazing, including the risotto that was originally a mistake on the menu because they mixed the wrong ingredients, but turned out to be delicious so they kept it. Gah, I love the food in Italy! My friend said that I should spend a month in Florence and that he could find me a nice apartment for pretty cheap. Definitely something to remember, that soils be fantastic! Anyway, he suggested walking around the artisan shops on Via Santo Spirito so that’s what I spent the following day doing: slowly walking past every boutique shop and peeking into every artist’s studio. Very cool to see. After wandering the streets for a few hours, I returned to my hostel where the owners kid proceeded to attack me, showing me everything he owns and managing to stick things in my purse when I wasn’t looking. I can only hope he didn’t take something when I wasn’t looking. Cute kid, but man I am so not ready for one of my own. On the other hand, Aja is so ready, and Monica just popped out her second! Congrats, Mo! I’m coming in December – deja vu!

Ponte Vecchio

So my last hostel was in Florence – I survived!! Phew! There were a few times where I wasn’t sure if I would, but other times I felt like I was at a high end hotel or a good friends apt. All in all, I would definitely hostel it up again. Hostelworld.com is the best.

On my last train now to Milano. Eagerly waiting for my welcome drink and snack. First class, I’ll miss you! See, Italy does spoil you.

 

Quote Book
Florence friend: I love my mom. And I’m not just saying that because I’m Italian.

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Florence is for Artists

Someone sketching Ponte Vecchio

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September 22, 2011 · 3:10 pm