Livvy May is expanding, to travel that is! International, local, home grown and weekends away – look out, the ‘Destinations’ section of the blog will be bigger and better than ever as we delve further into 2014. One of my favourite human beings in the entire universe, Miss Dane Macaulay (my bestie living in London) recently wrote to me asking about my time in Italy. What did I do? Where did I go? How did I get around? Well babe, better than write you back with the low down I’ve published it for the world to see.
Italia, one of the most remarkable places in the world; it’s romantic, a culinary delight and oozes sex appeal in the most appropriate way (that’s my kinda city)! I’ve been to Italy three times now and always done Florence and Rome but third time round, I decided to venture further north to Tuscany, the Chianti wine region and Cinque Terre. Florence is a great place to base yourself as it’s only a short distance to other regions including Luca, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Sienna, San Gimignano and Chianti wine region, so you can do day trips to each. Florence has an amazing hub of eateries, specialising in all the great, pizza, pasta and gelato galore! The architecture and leather filled market stalls are also a must when staying in Firenze. However, you can get lost amongst it all, as I found it one of the hardest places to get around with so many small streets it’s hard not to feel like you’re wandering through a maze.
Take a day trip to Luca, a small town where you can hire a bike and ride around the parks and small streets and check out some of the most beautiful countryside Italy has to offer. It’s easy to catch a train there and explore the town on your own or in a group. Why not stop at Pisa on the way to have a look at what’s leaning in that part of the world. Cinque Terre is also easy to do in a day, although you may want to stay longer, so you can explore the small group of towns off the Italian Riviera. It’s a place famous for its beaches, pesto and brightly coloured buildings. A wondrous delight to hike and explore, for ease I booked a hiking tour with Walkabout and spent the day trekking, eating and enjoying the great outdoors. I highly recommend the walking tour as you get to see so much of the area, enjoy the sunshine and indulge in spare time with gelato and wine tastings, or take a swim in the Italian Riviera.
Being a lover of fine wines, exploring the Tuscan wine region was an absolute necessity. For this I also organised a tour which explored Sienna, San Gimignano and a vineyard in Chianti. This tour wasn’t as stimulating as the trek of Cinque Terre and needed more wine tasting (in my humble opinion). Sienna was a fabulous place with an exquisite church, palace and delectable meringues. The vineyards in Chianti are some of the most glorious sites I’ve ever seen and an absolute must for any lover of wine, oils, balsamic and gourmet delights.
Let’s break it down
Where to stay: Do not book a place called Locanda hostel as I received an email from them the day before I was due to arrive in Florence telling me they had to close due to unforeseen circumstances. I cannot express to you the problems I was faced with during peak season. So I promptly hopped onto hostelworld and booked a hotel called The EurHotel. It wasn’t the best location as it was at least a 20 minute bus ride into the centre of Florence but it was reasonably priced, close to the airport (which proved helpful when my luggage didn’t turn up on arrival) and was clean and spacious.
Where to eat: You all know this is my favourite aspect of travel and one of the best meals I ate in Italy was at Il Latini. Let the waiter take care of business for you as they prefer to recommend certain dishes and bring them out according to where they fit in the complete dining experience. Imagine rustic Italian cuisine at its best. However, if you’re not a lover of meat (Danae, I know this is not a problem for you) I suggest you try elsewhere. Be sure to dine on plenty of prosciutto and melon as it’s a delicacy in Firenze.
Where to shop: The markets are fantastic for leather goods including jackets, bags, purses, jewellery and much more, and if market shopping doesn’t suit your taste there are plenty of boutique stores in the city centre.
Where to party: Florence was not a party priority for me particularly because I’d just come off my Sail Turkey cruise and certainly needed a detox. Also with staying so far away from the city centre the taxi system after midnight in Florence is impossible.
How to get around: Buses and trains are the way to go for your day trips, the train system is actually pretty accessible and very easy to understand. I also caught the train to Rome for my next stop off. If using the train system to venture round the entire boot (Italy is known as the boot) then I would suggest a Eurail pass, it just makes things easier!
The fashion: As you can see from the street style snaps, Italian style is about femininity, colour and clean lines. Think ultra chic with a touch of bohemian.
Stay tuned for the next ‘Destination’ installment as I take you to Rome and further south down the boarder to Sorrento, Positano, the Isle of Capri and much more. X x