Posts in Top Tips
Flavours of Tuscany

Of the boot shaped peninsula’s twenty regions, you hear of foodie pilgrimages to Emilia Romagna and to Puglia, but lesser so to Tuscany, a region whose inhabitants are still routinely – and unjustly- referred to as ‘mangiafagioli’ (bean eaters).

But Tuscany is good at food, excellent in fact.

It is a region where cucina povera reigns supreme, where the phrase ‘fresh and seasonal produce’ is roaringly true; a land of spicy salamis, crumbly pecorino cheeses, plump Jerusalem artichokes, olive oil, truffles, almond biscuits, and of deep, rich chianti wine.

If you’re off to Tuscany, here’s a list of delicious foods to sample. Read it and don’t tell anyone – it’s best kept a secret.

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The perfect romantic weekend in Florence

Lovers have scampered to Florence for centuries. Verona may have Romeo, and Venice may have singing gondoliers, but Florence has glorious hulking bistecca alla fiorentina steaks washed down with great carafes of rich chianti winesecluded walks in sprawling renaissance gardens, hill-top sunsets, and art, architecture and aperitivi aplomb. 

Florence is a city which doesn’t need too much of an itinerary, but if you’re planning a long weekend with your beloved, you’ll want to know how to make the most of it.

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A Budget Guide to Portofino

Portofino is the jewel of the Italian Riviera. The town has long since abandoned all pretences of being a fishing village and affluent tourists have flocked to its picture perfect shores since the mid 1800s. Synonymous with style and infinite glamour, it’s where Richard Burton first proposed to Elizabeth Taylor. Today, it’s a hot spot for the wealthy and glamorous; the town is dominated by luxury boutiques, high-end hotels and well heeled yachtsman. 

Whilst it might reek of refined luxury, it is still possible for those on even a shoe-string budget to enjoy the sights. Here’s my guide on how: 

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Things you need to see and do in Chiavari

You might not have heard of this Medieval Ligurian City. Perched between the promontory of Portofino and Mongelia, in the heart of the Gulf of Tigullio, this busy town is regularly skipped from guide books and hasn't really made a dent on Instagram.

It’s not as pretty as neighboring fishing villages like Camogli, it doesn't have enough galleries and museums to warrant a day trip for most tour groups and, (to date) it is one of the least aesthetically pleasing beaches I have ever seen. Great swathes of grey gravel in front of a busy road does not a dream seaside resort make. 

Yet, there’s something very charming and quintessentially Italian about this underrated town. 

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Visit Genoa: What to see and what to do

So you’ve booked a break to the Italian Riviera. Perhaps you’re en-route to a picturesque fishing village like Portofino or Camogli, or in for a hike across the Cinque Terre. You’re due to land in Genoa, a place you haven't heard all that much about, and you’re unsure whether to stick around for a day or two. 

Do. 

There’s no doubt about it, Genoa is a working city. It’s grubbier than Venice and Florence, but its a city with a pulse - lively, incoherent and messy. It’s crammed full of narrow carrugi, old markets, small museums and huge palaces, with a plethora of art, antiquities and delicious food. 

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Notes on Napoli

I’ll be frank. I’d assumed my trip to Naples would entail a semi-joyless few days of inhaling tomato infused stodge, running around Roman ruins and artfully dodging both Italian gangs on the look-out for unfastened handbags and disappointed tourists in large hats regretting their decisions to venture out of well-trodden Sorento.

I was wrong. 

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You really need to visit Basilicata

Basilicata. Heard of it? Perhaps not. It is, after all, as The Telegraph described it, ‘the forgotten corner of Italy’.

Basilicata makes up the instep of Italy, flanked by Calabria in the toe and Puglia in the heel. Whilst the terrain is largely mountainous, the region is equally famous for its great swathes of white sand, turquoise waters and grandiose archaeological parks.

 

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Five of the most romantic views in Rome

According to the most official looking survey I could find (welovedates.com), Rome does not make the Top 25 Most Romantic Cities in the World. She’s been pipped to the post by smaller, more manageable cities like Florence and Venice, and is currently lagging somewhere behind Dublin. 

Perhaps it’s because Rome is so hot and busy, and full of so many ancient artefacts that sheer visual fatigue makes it hard to look at anything at the end of the day, let alone your good-looking partner. 

But, Rome can be romantic. Think of Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant navigating their way through small back streets on a vespa. Think of Anita Ekberg frolicking about in the Trevi Fountain. 

To prove it, I've provided a little guide to the best views in the Eternal City: 

 

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