Why do you travel? What is it about new places…different cultures…other languages…? For me, the answers are varied.
Italy. Its terracotta rooftops and rolling vine-covered hills, colourful cliff-side villages and fresh, flavourful, food and rich culture have captured the imagination of the world for decades.
Recently I was lucky enough to spend two months in the bustling, vibrant, food-loving Italian capital, Rome. A place where monuments tower overhead, pizzerias serve their fare crispy and hot and the best gelato in the world is never more than a few minutes away.
This past May, I celebrated my five-year anniversary of being on the road full-time and took a long, happy, look back at the adventures those years have given me. Those adventures were beautiful and vast and more than I ever could have imagined when I first set out on this journey.
Deep blue water stretching into the distance. Rocky coastlines where mountains push up against the sea. Terracotta rooftops cascading down bright green hills. Islands silhouetted by fiery sunsets.
For most of the past five years, I’ve been exploring Europe non-stop. I’ve lived in the Swiss Alps and spent winters in Paris. I’ve based myself in Italian hill country and along the coast of Sicily. I’ve gone off the beaten track in Slovenia and Belgium. And I’ve fallen in love with this continent over and over again...
In the past 10 years, I’ve spent more than six full months exploring Italy—riding the gondolas of Venice, stuffing myself at the food festivals of Tuscany, walking the cliff-side paths of the Cinque Terre and seeking out the thing Italy is most known for it: it’s fresh, flavourful food.
In all my many years of travelling around Italy, the tiny pink-and-white-stone hilltop town of Assisi has always had a special place in my heart. I first visited in the heart of winter and found myself wandering down the hill through brown and golden leaves, turning to look back at the imposing cathedral and town wreathed in fog before coming back up to wander its winding, narrow, perfectly Italian hill town streets.
Winding my way through Rome’s maze-like cobblestone streets, I arrived at the home of an Italian food-writer-turned-cooking-teacher for a private pasta-making lesson. We rounded off the afternoon indulging in our extravagant, carefully-prepared lunch of artichoke and tomato tagliatelle, traditional tortellini in rich broth and mint-stuffed ravioli—all accompanied by a glass of perfectly poised Chianti...
If you’re like me, just hearing the name of “The City of Light” makes you smile, conjuring up images of long afternoons whiled away on cafe terraces, still-warm baguettes ripped apart and eaten with spreads, long walks through cobbled streets, cocktails in tiny wood-paneled bars, experimental fusion dinners in tiny up-and-coming restaurants, towering architectural marvels and bottles of perfectly balanced wines from some of the world’s best vineyards...