The year so far has not been easy. I’m not complaining, just stating. I was in desperate need of a vacation, but with a very commitment-phobic attitude, I was unable to decide on a place to go. Enter my friend Elly. She was going to her hometown of Lake Garda in Italy for two weeks and invited me to join her. I did, for eight glorious days. Here’s some of what we got up to.
Walking around and suddenly coming into view of the duomo is something special.
Santa Maria del Fiore; one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. You can’t help but be drawn in and stare as you walk by.
Check out the detail on this thing. Insane.
The duomo is maaaassive.
Ponte Vecchio was absolute perfection. Like a painting.
View of Florence’s duomo and city centre from Piazzale Michelangelo, which has a replica of Michelangelo’s David.
Such a beautiful city. Also, very windy (which was welcome, in 40 degree heat!).
View of Florence from atop Santa Maria del Fiore.
More from atop the duomo and view of the cupola.
Replica of Michelangelo’s David in Piazzale Michelangelo.
If you keep walking up the hill from Piazzale Michelangelo, you’ll reach San Miniato al Monte, another beautiful basilica (arguably more beautiful on the inside than Santa Maria del Fiore). Beautiful views of the city from there as well.
I don’t think people followed the signs…!
Santa Maria Novella; yet another beautiful basilica. Florence is not short on those.
In the square across Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence.
The immaculately painted ceiling of the cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore. The detail is mind boggling. Also hard to capture the full glory of this with an iPhone!
The shining duomo at night. The marble sparkles when it’s dark; still breathtaking.
Intricate broken glass at Maria la Luce.
My mom’s name is Amal. I had to send her this 😀
Oh, and while we were in Florence, we rented this apartment from Crystal Ship. It was amazing and we fell in love. The location was perfect (5 minutes to the duomo, delicious restaurants around), it was very clean and nicely decorated, and the guy managing it was super nice. Highly recommended.
The Street Art I have a slight fascination with street art and love noticing it in the various cities I travel. Florence did not disappoint.
I found interesting street art in Florence. This was the first one I spotted. Cute.
And then this happened…
And then some talented artists .
The Food I can’t talk about Italy and not talk about the food, of course. Italian food is one of my favourites, not only to eat but to make as well. This trip was immense inspiration for new dishes.
Gnudi – This is pretty much the stuffing of the ravioli, but made like gnocchi. Very simple, and deceptively light looking…it’s so heavy. It’s ricotta, spinach, and covered in butter and sage. Definitely recreating this one.
Wild boar ragu. Simple.
I think this was my favourite new thing that I tried. The finocchiona (the one on the far right) was amazing. It is salami with fennel and it’s melt-in-your-mouth amazing. I tracked down a local seller and bought some back to London. Can’t wait to cut into it again, but already sad I only brought one back.
This one was interesting. While walking around the first night, we spotted this on one of the outside menus and decided to come back for it for lunch the next day. Great decision as it was amazing. While it sounded weird to some, I immediately imagined the amazing combination of flavours – bresaola, burrata, and grapefruit on a bed of rocket. It was divine. Also recreating this one…often!
The weather was hot hot hot in Italy, and this was the perfect lunch meal on some days. A somewhat typical dish, it’s melon, prosciutto, and burrata with basil. So refreshing. Served with sparkling white wine, it was a great light lunch on hot days.
The Lakes I always wondered what it would be like to have a week of relaxation by a beach to just enjoy the sun, read a nice book, and savour the moment. I finally got to experience that. My book of choice was The Martian by Andy Weir (fantastic read!) and I got to enjoy it in various towns along the coast of Lake Garda.
This was on my very first day in Italy and in Lake Garda. This area is in the town of Garda, which lends its name to the lake. It looked like paradise.
When we got back from Florence, we headed to Torbole the next day. Torbole is in the northern tip of the lake. This first view was breathtaking. This is completely unedited and unfiltered. It’s just that beautiful.
There were a LOT of wind surfers around.
The following day we went to idyllic Lake Tenno. This was the actual colour of the lake. It almost felt like my eyes were playing tricks; it was just too beautiful.
First view of Lake Tenno.
Finally, on the last day, we went to the town of Sirmione. It’s in the southern tip of Lake Garda.
Beautiful “Jamaica beach” in Sirmione.
And that concluded an amazing week in Italy. It was honestly one of the best trips I’ve ever taken, made even better by sharing it with a great friend. Italy, you were a dream.