Milan: former capital of the western Roman empire, famous for fashion and art, as well as being Italy’s centre of commerce. Although not as steeped in historical buildings or as aesthetically pleasing as some of the more classically Italian cities, Milan still attracts crowds of attention through its love of everything stylish.
“That’s the villa there, with the guest house next door”. A group of expats were talking quite loudly about a certain Mr & Mrs Clooney’s abode as we sailed by on the slow boat around Lake Como. It didn’t look like they were at home so popping round for the last pod of coffee was out of the question. Never mind! The journey itself was serene; a sublime panorama featuring a shoreline littered with elegant grand residences. We glided by mansions used in movies perched magnificently on the water’s edge and were given useful photo opportunity tips by the friendly boat crew.
‘It is the most beautiful walk and it is free,’ the girl in the cafe told us. Sold! What could possibly go wrong? We had just arrived in the area of Italy famous for five multi-coloured cliff-hugging villages and hungry for an adventure. Cinque Terre is made up of the pretty towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarolo and Riomaggiore. The hike from Levanto to the most westerly Cinque Terre settlement of Monterosso was our first activity. Levanto was a short cheap train ride from Vernazza, our base for the weekend, which we chose as it was noted to be the most beautiful and easily accessible by boat.
She clutched the cake to her heart and smiled. I couldn’t resist. Through a series of gestures I got the gist of what she was trying to communicate, this was her favourite, ‘Turta del Dunizet della Bergamasca’. I really hadn’t counted on there being two signature cakes in Bergamo, as well as a famous ice cream, but hey, in for a penny, in for several pounds of sugar! The best sales lady ever worked at La Marianna, Bergamo’s most revered pasticceria.
“If a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragons swish their tails”, so the legend goes. Apparently, Jason, of the Argonauts fame, killed a local swamp dwelling dragon in Slovenia as part of his epic quest for the Golden Fleece. A few of his crew stayed behind and settled in the area, establishing a hamlet that would grow into modern day Ljubljana. Today, the dragon is the symbol of the city and one of the earliest constructions of a river crossing using concrete is festooned with statues of the beast. Whether they actually twitch their tails or not is yet to be confirmed, so keep your eyes out for any movement. Nevertheless, the bridge is a great place to start a little tour around the city, which is small enough to easily be covered by foot.
What we know as modern-day Budapest is a product of a menage a trois. In 1873 the three towns of Buda, Pest, and Obuda were connected by the construction of the chain bridge. However, the personalities of each area are very distinct and although they are now part of the same city, they seem to be worlds apart. Buda is the posh, decadent side, where the art is in galleries and the buildings are neo-gothically ornate. Pest, on the other hand, is the rebellious, real Hungary, where the bars are in ruins and the art is sprayed on the walls.
Incredibly beautiful and boasting great weather, seascapes, food and history- Italy’s southern island Sicily has an endless amount to offer its visitors. So, where better to start your Sicilian adventure than its fascinating capital Palermo. With flights from most major UK cities Palermo is a great place to start, or indeed enjoy your entire holiday without ever getting bored.
If you want to really know a place, get to know the culture and people. There’s no better way to do this than by seeking out the top local bars and Ljubljana has some awesome offerings, where friendly is an understatement. The centre of town has some beautiful riverside cocktail lounges and wine bars, but if you want to head out of the tourist trap and into reality, head west. There you will find a collection of cool joints, from diverse to a dive to the divine. Here’s a selection of the best:
Vienna is a city of spectacular grandeur, oozing opulence at every opportunity. This is evident everywhere, from the architecture to the food. So if you want to eat like an Emperor and dine like a dignitary, this is your number one dietary destination. Here are a few suggestions for how you too can find some fancy feasts:
Zanzibar has so many special treats to offer visitors, it is much more than just a tropical island fringed with white sandy beaches. But what are the best things to do? Here’s a quick guide on how to get the most out of your time on Zanzibar.