Here's the next in our Why We Love It series. This is a series written by different team members at Peregrine, about the place in the world they long to see again. Today's focus is on delectable, delicious and delightful Italy.
Let’s start with the food. Reason enough to visit the country, from sampling the iconic – think the south’s pizzas and caprese salad, or the north’s pesto and Risotto Milanese – to exploring lesser known regional cuisine (hearty, gutsy Umbrian fare was the biggest discovery last time I visited). Italy’s cuisine is, for me, the world’s best. A fortnight’s holiday there and I can return home the size of an opera singer!
Walk on by
Italy is not all about sedentary indulgence though: it’s a great destination for walkers and trekkers. If you want to learn how man can make the countryside around him more beautiful then Italy is the place to head.
Tuscany has been intensely cultivated since time immemorial, and is spellbinding for it: silvery olive groves and rolling blankets of vineyards, cypress trees spearing the sky on the hillsides that lead to perched villages, bright sunflower fields and golden seas of wheat. Walking the ancient paths, meeting locals along the way and refuelling at hill-towns, have given me some of my strongest and fondest Italian memories.
And the coastal paths – walk the Amalfi Coast or the Cinque Terre to see colourful little idyllic villages sunbathing among stunning rocky coastlines. They look like an invention of the local tourist board, a vision of perfection. But the great thing about them is their individual character – drop into a bar or just soak in the ambience of the local piazza and you’re struck by life being lived out by locals.
Walking is the perfect way to appreciate these places – you’re not overwhelming them with traffic or belching pollutants into the air.
The perfect city
Imagine a perfect city and I picture Florence. Yes, Rome for some blockbuster sites, Milan and Napoli both have their moments and fine food, Venice is fantastical, but Florence for me is a thumbnail sketch of all the Italian things I love. The streets were made for wandering, it has amazing sights (check out the Duomo and the Uffizi for evidence) plus food and wine that encourage gluttony (the ice cream here is the best money can buy). And it's all within a manageable size. In a parallel life I live in an apartment on the Lungarno degli Acciaioli, overlooking the Ponte Vecchio, a stone’s throw from the Uffizi.
But who knows? Maybe I’ll have a new favourite next time I visit – I plan to go Sicily, which I’ve never been to before. Palermo sounds like great fun, and I can’t wait to check out some of the ancient sites in the east of the island. No matter how many times I visit Italy, there are always compelling reasons to return!
What was your favourite part of Italy? Tell us about it in the comments section below. Or head to twitter and Facebook to upload images and stories. You can even email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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