Thursday 19 May 2011

Italy For Amateurs...

Mari's invitation to write a guest post for her blog Mari's World (whilst she is off enjoying a well deserved holiday), prompted me to think about holiday's we have been on in the past, and those that have been the most memorable to us as a family. Given her Italian links, Mari might be pleased to hear that some of our best trips so far have been to beautiful Italy.

Our first visit was to Sansepolcro, on the very edge of Tuscany, where we stayed high up in the hilltops in a small stone cottage. We had nothing but the geraniums we had been asked to water, and the tiny scorpions that lived in the window frames(who were totally harmless!) to keep us company, and it was heaven! Our daughter was around 18 months old at the time, and I was around 5 months pregnant with our son, and still suffering from terrible morning sickness. We were there in September when it was cool and calm, but the weather was still good. During the day we would explore little towns, searching out great local restaurants for lunch, and scouring the markets for seasonal food to cook in the evenings. A few days in, and my morning sickness suddenly disappeared - it was such a relief, and as an added bonus I suddenly developed an urge to eat my own bodyweight in heavenly gelato.

One morning we awoke at the crack of dawn to a large group of traditionally dressed huntsmen gathering outside our cottage, we watched them trudge off, and then while we were having breakfast, they returned triumphantly carrying a huge boar. This rural idyll proved to be just the break we needed from hectic London, and our love affair with Italy began.

Fast forward a couple of years and we returned, this time to Puglia in the middle of June. Our choice of accommodation was quite unusual in that we chose to stay in a Trullo. This was really interesting, if not a little basic, but nothing we couldn't cope with! The children bathed in washing up bowls, and the kitchen was a true test of our cooking skills, but it was fun! The metre thick walls also kept us cool during the day, and felt protective and cosy when thunderstorms approached! Once more we had the peace and tranquillity we craved for a couple of weeks, and again our mornings were spent exploring, and seeking out the shade in the afternoon.

We gorged ourselves on local produce, from beautifully fresh seafood and pasta to the most amazing tomatoes, and mounds and mounds of black cherries and strawberries. We devoured salads made from squat round cucumbers (an accidental purchase as I had mistaken them for melons!), I often crave these from time to time now, and I am kicking myself for not picking up any seeds from the markets! We made a great discovery one afternoon at a butcher's in town, where they would cook your purchase for you at your chosen time. It saved us attempting to cook it in our primitive kitchen and on washing up!

I will always remember enjoying one of the best coffees I have ever tasted at a lovely café one morning. On arrival, I took stock of the place, slightly worried about the fact that it looked like it was THE place to be seen, and the staff had possibly been selected on looks alone. I had taken my (then three year old) daughter straight to the toilet, and left my husband to order the coffee. Job done, we walked back through the packed café, and I began to feel quite self-conscious as all eyes were completely on me. I told myself that it was because they maybe didn't get many English tourists, and sat down to enjoy my coffee. Around ten minutes later, someone opened a fridge door, and as the door swung around, the reflection that greeted me was utterly mortifying. I looked like more of an idiot than usual, with my three year old daughter's sun-hat perched like a pea on a drum on top of my head (where I had placed it whilst trying to sort the three year old out in loo, and had then promptly forgotten about it!). An Italian sophisticate I was very obviously not. I can't quite believe that my family members hadn't actually thought to let me know, and had let me sit there for ages oblivious. However, they had to then endure me not being able to move for laughing for around half an hour. The beautiful staff, all stood around looking faintly bemused at this oddly dressed English girl, who now appeared to be having some kind of fit. Needless to say, I couldn't bear to go back there again, which was a shame as the coffee was outstanding!

Since our Scandinavian adventure began, we haven't had the chance to go back to Italy, and I feel like we have neglected one of our favourite countries. However, before we start our next adventure, I am determined to try and fit in a visit, even if it's just for a weekend - it's been far far too long!



  1. do you speak Italian? We are thinking of going next year but am a bit bothered about my language skills.

  2. A Trullo looks like lots of fun! I off to google them now :-)

    Wearing my daughters hat sounds just like something I would do! x

  3. @Kellogsville, hardly a word of it, apart from hello, goodbye, thank you, and icecream! Go, you will love it!

    @mummymummymum - it was great, I would recommend it but some are more luxurious than others!

    Glad it sounds like something someone else would do as well! :)

  4. would love to go,we've never been there....

  5. Some lovely recollections here! The food is just heavenly in Italy, isn't it. I always think it's a perfect country for family holidays as the food is ideal even for the fussiest of children.

    I have very happy memories of Italy; always a joy whether it's been Rome, Venice, Tuscany or the Lakes. In particular I have very fond memories of a two-centre holiday in Tuscany and Umbria - I came back pregnant after years of trying! If Rory had been a girl we might have named her Florence!

  6. @clairejustine - you really should, it's wonderful!

    @Trish - thank you! Isn't it just. When people say Italian food is their favourite, I can quite understand why (and if I lived there I would be the size of a house with all those carbs), how lovely about your happy memories of Italy too, Rory is a great holiday souvenir! :)

  7. Uhhhhm yummy Pasta! I could eat pasta all the time and never get bored. Ive never been to Italy, should go one day!

  8. @WT yum indeed, you should go, if I had to choose one European country that I could visit for the rest of my life, it would be Italy!


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