It was on a trip to the central Italian region of Abruzzo in late autumn that David and Sharyn Collins stumbled upon their new home. “We stopped in Sulmona and fell in love with it. It is one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. Sulmona is right in the centre of a valley with lots of beautiful towns, unspoiled villages, castles and wineries scattered all around it in the mountains,” the couple say.
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.
Overshadowed by Venice, Padua doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Only 30 minutes by train from its famous neighbour, it has stunning Venetian-style architecture, picturesque squares, world-class museums and a relaxed atmosphere of a university town. Rents are low, prices in restaurants and bars are reasonable and you can enjoy the ancient streets in peace without selfie-snapping tourists getting in your way.
I love being able to travel wherever and whenever I like, for as long as I like. And these days I can, thanks to copywriting. Put simply, I write compelling stories and articles for businesses. It’s flexible and fun and it’s been paying the way for my overseas adventures for years now...
On my many visits to Venice I have learnt that there are two cities: one is overrun by throngs of camera-clicking tourists and the other one is quiet with empty squares (called “campi”) and locals going on about their daily business. Guess which one I prefer? Getting lost in narrow lanes and crossing hundreds of bridges, I have discovered some of the best spots and views of the city, without the maddening crowds and astronomical prices.
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...