For my next post, I thought I would share with you a few little snapshots of my time in Italy 🙂 here’s a bit of the story behind why I went (and why it’s now one of my favorite places in the world)
As our anniversary present to each other and first holiday together, Mike and I spent months searching through brochures for the perfect destination – one that was romantic, cultural and offered plenty of opportunities for sight-seeing, all whilst being close to home (I’m not very good with flying but I’m getting better!)
With all this in mind, Italy, and more specifically Lake Garda, ticked every box and was always quick to remind us why we made the best decision in choosing it – with incredible people, chilled lifestyle and delicious food everywhere you go.
Arrival at the hotel and exploring Malcesine.
After traveling through beautiful old villages in the country side, the hills shrouding them eventually parted and we could finally get a good clear view of Lake Garda. We continued driving along the coastal road for another hour until we reached the hotel in the town of Malcesine, set back from the lake by just under a mile on a small hill. Breathtaking buildings and views, words still can’t really do it justice (cue the photos!)
I still can’t get over the views, which were spectacular from anywhere in the hotel.
From the entrance (above),
The pool, and our balcony (below).
Walking down to the lake shore was one of our favorite things to do on lazy days, with great views to practice landscape photography, restaurants to suit everyone and anyone and most of all, the lake to cool off in.
Our first trip.. Venice!
Visiting Venice was the highlight of our holiday for me, and is now one of my absolute favorite cities.
As soon as we got off the boat, we quickly made our way to the nearest gelato vendor and began exploring Venice (Venice was sweltering in mid-August, but luckily there is a gelato shop everywhere, another reason I love Italy so much..).
Winding and weaving our way through old streets decorated in hanging flower baskets and arriving in small market squares, Venice never failed to create a chilled romantic vibe with shops and amenities to suit all sorts, and with sign posts at every corner, it’s easy to navigate yourself back to where you started if you get lost.
After stopping off for some pizza (I know, how cliche!) we enjoyed a 20-minute gondola ride, allowing us to travel along Venice’s most beautiful canals and see some of its famous bridges. It was also breezy along the canals, so it was a great way to cool down.
Towards the end of the day, we made a trip to the infamous open air Caffe Florian in St Mark’s square for a couple of elderflower cocktails. Famous for being Europe’s oldest cafe and for its 18th-century vibe, Caffe Florian oozes elegance and class at every opportunity it can, and is an absolute must-see in Venice.
We only ordered a couple of drinks here (it was a bit expensive, and we had already blown most of our spending money on gelato.. I wonder how that happened..) but with the cafe’s own orchestra playing a number of classical songs whilst we enjoyed our drinks, it was the perfect way to wind down at the end of a busy day and prepare for the journey back to the hotel.
Ferarri museum (Museo Ferarri) in Maranello
Next stop.. the ferarri museum!
We like to tell ourselves that this trip was to develop our more cultural side.., but in all honesty, it was mainly for Mike and his love of Formula 1 (which has started to rub off on me too..)
Despite not being as big a ‘petrol-head’ as him at the time (his words not mine!), I absolutely loved visiting Maranello’s Ferarri Museum, and highly recommend you grab yourself some tickets if you are planning a trip to the area.
Balsamic Vinegar tasting in Modena
After visiting the Ferarri Museum, we visited a traditional Winery and Balsamic Vinegar farm in the region of Modena, famous for its Balsamic Vinegar. When we arrived at the farm, we were greeted by the owner and treated to lunch on the patio, before a quick tour of the Balsamic Vinegar barn where we could see all of the different barrels. I couldn’t get many photos because my camera had almost run out of battery after the Ferrari Museum, but I thought the one below captured the atmosphere on the farm really well – relaxed, rustic and refined.
After the tour, we attended a Balsamic Vinegar tasting session – who knew you could have over 50 varieties of Balsamic vinegar, all different strengths and ages, and that they worked with ice cream! (..as if I needed another excuse for more gelato!)
Towards the end of our stay, we decided to walk down to Malcesine harbor and catch a ferry over to the other side of the Island to visit Limone. Whenever I think back to Limone, I instantly remember the vivid citrusy fragrances that enveloped the town – you could even catch the notes of lemon in the breeze up to a mile out on the lake.
After a long few days of travelling to Venice, Maranello and Modena, we decided to keep this day relaxed and chilled, so we spent the afternoon walking through Limone’s cobblestone streets and stopped for lunch at one of the local’s favourite pizzarias.
Visiting Malcesine market
Okay, so it’s pretty clear that I love ice cream.. but you should see how much I love shopping! So that meant that as soon as the Malcesine summer market came to town, no matter what, we. were. going.
As well as being another great opportunity to take some pictures of the town, and visit Pedro’s pizza restaurant (if you visiting Malcesine, go to Pedro’s for the best pizza of your life) visiting the local market was another great way to experience everyday Italian culture. The market was situated in the town’s square and had a variety of different stalls from clothes and accessories to cakes and condiments, again, enough to suit anyone and everyone.
As well as exploring the little streets and local shops, the photo below shows Malcesine castle which was amazing to photograph. We didn’t actually get a chance to go inside (it was quite busy inside) but it was still just as nice to walk around the castle and appreciate the old architecture.
Climbing and..paragliding off Mount Baldo
Okay, so we didn’t have a completely relaxing holiday.. Towards the end of our stay, we decided to try something completely different to relaxed sight seeing tours – paragliding.
This was one of those things that seem like a very good idea at the time, and then when you actually get to it, all you can think about is the sound of your heart pumping through your head. This feeling still continued as we literally ran off the side of Mount Baldo (thankfully strapped to professional paragliders).. but in the most incredible way.
It was amazing gliding over alpine forests and looking down at the hotel thousands of feet below, and feeling the parachute float upwards as we reached pockets of warm air called thermals.
Whilst Mike loved the feeling of swooping up in the parachute as it passed over the thermals, me being a bit more susceptible to motion sickness opted for a smoother ride by avoiding some of the bigger thermals, and saying “err.. maybe next time!” when the guide offered to show off some of his paragliding acrobatics.
Though paragliding was an incredible experience, I equally loved just walking around Mount Baldo’s summit, which is actually a large nature reserve and popular skiing center in the winter.
We got to the top at around 8:30 to beat the long queues, and although it was an early start, it really was worth it. Being so early, it was quite cold (take something to keep yourself warm! I was a bit nippy in the picture below..) but also so peaceful. There was also no clouds or sun haze, meaning you could see the mountains and snow covered peaks perfectly.
A perfect end to a perfect holiday
and I can’t wait to go back.