I cannot explain precisely why but I love Italy. LOVE it. But then again, I also cannot imagine why anyone would question it anyway. What's not to love? Great food, beautiful cities, long coastline, immeasurable amounts of history and culture, fashion capital.. I think the words 'picturesque' and 'elegant' were invented for Italy - or anything even remotely Italian, come to think of it. So now that I am - once again - living in Europe, and this epitome of elegance is merely a stonethrow away (or a Ryan Air flight, which sometimes feels like the same thing), I did my fair share of travelling there over the last three years.
First on the list - and indeed a gem to start with - was Florence (Firenze, I should say). I have to add, it was partly on the top of my list because I was going to visit R, a dear friend and ex-colleague from East-Africa.
So first I made a reservation online to see the Duomo on the inside, queued for that, and then I thought that all the other days, I could just wing it - which is what I did. It was a week of ticking off things on my bucket list: crossing the Ponte Vecchio, spending hours in the Uffizi, admiring David and the birth of Venus.. R and myself took a daytrip to Siena to top it all off. Bliss.
I visited Palermo because a Sicilian once cooked spagetthi for me in Africa :)
No seriously.. I have a friend that is from Palermo and he always spoke about his hometown with such love and respect that I was intrigued. I have to admit that I did not know anything about the city (nor the island) unless what I had seen in 'the Godfather'.
My expectations were exceeded, and they were pretty high to begin with. Palermo itself is a beautiful city, just utterly gorgeous. But it was summer and so I also took the bus to Mondello beach, walked to Cefalu, wandered around the harbour, visited the street markets, and of course: visited museums and cathedrals, and ate all the Sicilian specialties (A gave me a list of what to eat where).
It is funny how the island's special location gives it its unique character: it is unmistakably Italian but there are so many apparent influences from neighbouring countries and cultures. Will most definitely go back there.
My third visit can be clasified as sheer luck. My school offers the magnificicent possibility to follow extra schooling abroad, and as it so happend, the course that my colleague and I were interested in, was in Bologna. So we headed to the Erasmus training centre: Lessons in the morning, and strolling the elegant streets of Bologna in the afternoon, who can say no to that?
This time around, I was provided with a list by yet another native and ex-colleague (thank you E). While discovering the city, I especially loved the arcades, running all the way through the city centre, which allowed us to keep exploring the city even when it drizzled. The city is known for its towers and yes, the view after climbing one of them was mindblowing but 500 stairs one way made me surprisingly dizzy. We managed to squeeze in two museum visits and a steep uphill 2-hour walk walk to San Luca.
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