Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Italian summer dreams...

Not wanting to bleat on about the weather and all, but it's a bit nippy isn't it? I hate the cold. Hate it. Okay, it has a time and a place and events like Bonfire Night and Christmas are meant to be cold, it's the law however by March? I am SO over it and ready for Spring. In fact whilst I was hanging around Convent Garden this time last week with my macaroons it was very Spring-like - gorgeous sunshine, people eating ice-cream and way too hot to be wearing my duvet of a coat which I think it's why it's very disappointing that all this horrid, cold weather has come back. 

Whenever it's cold like this my head always turns to holidays. Luckily I've got some nice ones planned that I can daydream about. Yes, this summer we are off to France and Italy for a couple of weeks. Having never been to either, and taking small children along for the ride this is going to be quite an adventure as we're moving around a little bit in Italy, taking in some of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.  Right now, I'm just trying to plan some of the finer details - we've decided on a private driver to get us around (ooh get us) and need to plan our trips and excursions as I've been told that places can get very busy.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nordelch/

We're starting in Parma (well actually we're not, we're starting in Ventimiglia but our first night is in Parma) and of course Parma says to me CHEESE and HAM which of course means we probably ought to book a gastronomic tour to really experience the fantastic food and see some of the producers of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma ham and the balsamic vinegar at nearby Modena but it's not all about food and I really look forward to visiting the Duomo which I have seen pictures of before and looks amazing - and I'm not really into art at all.

Detail of the frescoes in the Duomo at Parma.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pilar_torres/

After Parma, and after a trip to the Ferrari Musuem just outside Modena we're off to Bologna. I don't know much about Bologna other than it's a big University town and there's no such thing as spaghetti bolognese (the children are going to be distraught...). I do know however that it's nickname is "La Grassa" or "the fat one"which leaves me a little excited as we all know how much I love food. I intend to research good places to eat whilst we are here!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/giovannisighele/

After spending a couple of days we're onto Florence. Everyone I know says they love Florence and to get the most out of it, I'm going to book a walking tour with a guide as of course we'll need to go by the famous Ponte Vecchio. I've been umming and aahing over booking museums and art galleries - I've been told that in August we'd need to book in advance so not as to be disappointed however with a 7 year old and a 6 year old I'm a bit reluctant as there's an element of me that gets quite bored with fine art so I can't really blame them if they get restless. The Uffizi is the big famous one that houses the important works by such people as Raphael, Da Vinchi, Botticelli and so on so it does seem like a must-do however if I have to pick only one it will be The Accademia Gallery to go and see David.  (I fully expect shouts of "look at his peanuts" from my children, so I apologise to Florence tourists now).

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visualpoeticaldistractions/

Again Florence is somewhere I need to spend time reserching where to eat - I really want to make the most of our time there and experience the good rather than the average.  

The final part of our trip is to Pisa. I've heard mixed reviews about Pisa so am going with an open mind. We'll only be there for a day and we're mainly heading that way because that's where the airport is and well, it's the done thing to do the silly pose in front of the leaning tower is it not?!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/88667160@N07/

I have to say I think it's one of the things the children are most looking forward to, although I'm a bit afraid that they think it's actually a "Leaning Tower of Pizza". Which is the not the same thing at all and will be utterly disappointing to a hungry 6 year old boy.

So in a nutshell, that's our week in Italy laid out - it's not just on to the finer details of booking tours, finding top notch restaurants and making sure we don't miss anything important!  If you've been to any of these places I'd love to hear from you - especially if you've got any advice or tips!

I'm back off to cry about the cold now...


  1. Hi Madamding
    Please do not read this fast as I am only writing it slowly. My little bit of advice would be not to plan to much. Leave time for "self discovery" Not always easy with kids in tow though. Strolling the streets of Florence was really nice. Florence was our first City Break. Loved it.

  2. Hi! Been a while since I've commented on one of your posts but I do still follow your blog :-)
    Just to say don't worry about average food on your trip, there is no such thing in italy! You simply can't go wrong, it is fabulous everywhere! xx Winnie

  3. Pisa. Don't plan to spend lots of time there. Once you've done the Leaning Tower, there's only lots of souvenir stalls and lots and lots of looky looky men. Might be worth a walk around away from the Piazza del Duomo. Love, LOVE Florance. Want to go there again.

    If you want to see something about Bologna, there is an episode of Italy Unpacked with Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli that is all about Emilio Romagna and Bologna. Don't think it's on iPlayer anymore but you might be able to find it somewhere on one of the food/history channels.

  4. I typed Florence, you know. ;-)

  5. Lovely restaurant in Florence in Porta Rossa. Great pizzas in Pisa a little bit away from the usual tourist bit. And a seriously good ice cream shop.
    I am so jealous!!

  6. Lucca is well worth a visit and so is San Gimignano.(The kids would love the metal man sculptures there!)


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