For some reason I have always found Italy my favourite travel destination in Europe. One reason might be the small little details of this country – I always pay my attention to details! From these years Italy brings me such memories as white statues in the middle of the field, decay romantic dirty alleys of Venice, deadly interesting Gomorra documents from Naples, delicious orange aperitifs in the street scene just everywhere – only to mention a few! After all, the history of this country is great! And I’m very keen to the fact – that how come – Rome dominated the whole Europe! The antique history almost gives me goose pumps and I get something out of the paintings and myths that my modern creative friends find so boring…
So to me Italy is extremely beautiful, there is both small and big beauty in the shoe of Europe! I love shoes anyway! This is why I wanted to do my 30th B-Day trip vol. 2 to Northern Italy. I flew with my own WWW photographer – that is Antti of course – to Rome, we took the Volvo under and started rolling.
To plan or not to plan a road trip?! We didn’t plan the route nor booked anything before hand. We wanted to stay flexible. And to be honest, when travelling this much you start to feel lazy to prepare things. This non-planning has both its good and bad sides; I will get there later! But anyway, at least we knew what we wanted, mostly! Wine areas and the sea – lets go there!
This was our route for the one week trip and I also wrote down my recommendations
Orvieto – go there!
From Rome we started heading towards the famous wine area of Tuscany. But already in the start we had decided that we are not only going to sit in the car and hurry. I don’t enjoy that. I rather see and experience some things fully than hurry and try to see as much as possible just to be able to tell I have been here and there. And that is relaxation too and the whole point of the holiday, when you get to chill a bit. So on the first day we spent a great while by the silent beach of Civitavechhia having lunch and a nap on a sun bed after we had catched an early flight, and are also getting some age hahaa! Before getting to the wine area, there was also something special on the way. A town called Orvieto! You shouldn’t miss it.
Orvieto is a very beautiful ancient city built high on the rock on volcanic tuff. It was amazing to see Orvieto in the horizon first time from the valley. The place looked like in the fairy tales! I didn’t even realized that we had booked our first night there, but was so happy to land through the defenced walls and to spend the first night and the next day there. Orvieto has old history with the Etruscan people and catacombs under the ground. There they were making wine and olive oil, breeding pigeons and taking construction materials out of stone from the early start. I liked the peaceful atmosphere of the approx. 20 000 people town a lot. You can wander around in peace and admire the beautiful alleys; architecture and ceramic artwork the town has to offer. I absolutely would have stayed longer! Beware, you can have a little claustrophobia when driving car in a real tight places here, streets are narrow, very much so!
Tuscan wine area – go there!
On a way to Orvieto we had already driven through Europe’s biggest lake formed by a volcanic crater – Lake Bolsena. On a way from Umbria region to Tuscany we passed the big lake again and went for a swim to this sweet clear water in town Bolsena. And then the main purpose of the trip started; the wine area and the small little cute villages of Tuscany! I loved my time under the Tuscan sun. Tuscany is full of fields. The scenery is just amazing with the big landscape of rolling hills that are so wide and great that I could call it dinosaur land. There were super tall tress and cypress hills. And huge sunflower fields, golden grass, green everything, birds singing in their big band, frogs and grasshoppers in a choir… Of course vineyards and amazing wine just everywhere, as well as the food indulgence too; when you just check out where to go, IF you search for the word Perfetto! Not everything is good, there might be some bulk touristic restaurants too. Or at least places that feel too expensive compared to the experience. But in general it feels that in Tuscany you can find delicious salami, ham and cheeses no matter where you go. Of course accompanied by wheat white bread. Pizza, pasta, bread – get used to that high carbs idea!
We stayed three nights in a picture perfect place on the hill – named Agriturismo Bonello. A great form of accommodation in Italy is the nice and tidy farmhouses all around the hoods. We were lucky to find ours! Bonello had nice rustic rooms, amazing surroundings having 360 degrees views to the fields – with sunsets and sunrises! We had total peace around us. And a nice swimming pool. You can’t imagine how much I enjoyed laying on the pool reading and relaxing besides visiting all the near by beautiful villages so easily by car. This accommodation had just perfect location to explore the Tuscan area.
Tuscany was represented for example by nice Pienza famous for it’s cheese. Montalcino for highly respected Brunello. We went to a wine tour in the vineyard of Conti Costanti and got to hear a lot of interesting facts about Brunello making. Conti Costanti is one of the most respected and oldest Brunello makers. My favourite Tuscan village was very small and beautiful Castiglione d’Orcia – there were no one but us visiting there. We could just wander on the wonderfull cute stone streets and indeed wonder, how children’s book story like and fascinating the tiny town was! Just steps out from there was also maybe the best spot to see Tuscany up from the tower – Rocca di Tentenanno. Tuscany is full of these little villages with their old town stylish vibes. Go and find your favourite!
Siena – go there!
After the small Tuscan villages we headed towards the bit bigger university town, the charming Siena! This felt true decay romance city to me! A bit of a rougher streets, very fascinating atmosphere. So hard to explain, but Siena just had that something. We Googled a really good restaurant called Salefino and had a dinner enjoying a seven course menu. Absolutely yummy. In Siena there were also some nice shoes and clothes boutiques that were luckily closed, that I didn’t get to spend my money!
Pisa – too crowded!
Next morning after Siena we continued going. On a highway, off to Pisa! I have not much to mention about Pisa. Pisa tower is for sure a beautiful funny building but there are a lot of people around. You can check it out on a way shortly! It’s possible to go in and sense the skewed tower but we kept going.
Italian Riviera – Cinque Terre and Rapallo
This is when the shitty part of travelling took over. Sometimes when you plan things it’s easier to adjust and we were happy we hadn’t booked industrial La Spezia for our next to last night and could go further on Italian Riviera, which to our disappointment was quite a surprise with its fully building and people packed strand line. Especially the nearby coast to Pisa wasn’t appealing. It was a rush hour of people walking in their beach/summer suites and very slow to drive by. We moved on but faced a bit of a problem. We went to check beautiful but tourist crowded Cinque Terre with amazing sceneries – but then the night came suddenly and these little villages were so full that we couldn’t get a place to stay over night. We were hungry, tired and f*ked up, without internet, going from place to another asking for accommodation. In the end we found a cellar smelling grandparent’s place on the mountain route of Cinque Terre. Before taking quickly off in the morning and finally heading to our last destination Rapallo for the last night in Italy!
Rapallo was nice, not That touristy, but seen in a one or two nights. Italian Riviera in general was bit of an unpleasant surprise to me. It’s nothing special but a crowded place of people and boats. Riviera doesn’t necessarely mean a beach but rather a smooth stylish expensive harbour town. Well from The Bold and the Beautiful famous expensive Portofino was just 7 km away from this one of Hemingway’s favourite spots, Rapallo. Still a relaxing afternoon on the sunbed on a platform was a nice end for the trip. In the end we drove and passed the mountain views to the Milano Airport and took off. All in all when moving around in Italy it’s just green everywhere, people are very friendly; you may not always have a common language, but you always get along and what you need. This time we didn’t have time for Milano or the other big cities – for example Florence that would have been on our way. So we decided to skip them, stay on the road and have them another time. It’s better to be without a car then!