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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Arcidosso: Tuscany beyond stereotypes

Borondo, street art, Arcidosso, Tuscany

Don’t get me wrong: I love Tuscany and this short week long weekend between Volterra, Siena and Pisa has been amazing. 
But after five days surrounded by gentle hills of fascinating autumn shades, geometrical vineyards, perfectly lined cypresses and olive trees, I did need something different –I am an urban addicted, after all!  
What I needed to break the Tuscany stereotype was a visit to Arcidosso, a small village of 4000 inhabitants in the province of Grosseto. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Inside Mussolini's bunker in Villa Torlonia

Mussolini's bunker, villa torlonia, rome, italy
I am the most stubborn person I know. 

When I got my mind set on something (it can be a life-changing idea as well as small stuff) I will do what I've set myself to do,  no matter what.

And so last Sunday, despite the storm and my friend letting me down about our booked tour at Mussolini's bunker in Villa Torlonia, can you guess where I went? 

Yes, I went down the bunker. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Postcards from the future

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Each time I’m back in Slovenia I play this odd mind game: I watch myself from the outside doing the grocery at the historical Ljubljana’s farm market on Pogačarjev Trg, reading a book at the open-air libraries, having a coffee on Ljubljanica banks or dancing the night out at Metelkova Mesto; then I rewind my memories back to 2008 – 2009 when all mentioned activities were not only part of my daily life but also (and foremost!) the object of my daydreams about my future life in Slovenia.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Road-trip essentials

road-trip essentials

There is something about road-trips, the lure of the open road, the flexibility of the itinerary, the 100% locals’ perspective, which makes them my favourite way of travelling.

The speed at which the landscape changes on the horizon perfectly goes with my stream of consciousness, while the car going ahead helps me to move forward when my thoughts got stuck... it is both relaxing and stimulating, the perfect feeling to reconnect with myself.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ljubljana off-the-beaten path

ljubljana by bike

The best way to explore Ljubljana on and off-the-beaten track is by renting a bike and go around. 
Ljubljana -in fact- is the smallest European capital and it won't take you long to reach by bike some of  Ljubljana's suburban and rural areas I describe in this article. The town is perfectly equipped with bike lanes, so it won't be dangerous either! Basically if I managed to bike all around Ljubljana I'm sure anyone can! :-) 
And if you need a place to rest and take refreshment later, just check my "Eating out in Ljubljana" series (vol. 1 & vol. 2).
So, get on your bike and let's explore Ljubljana off-the-beaten path!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Albanian UNESCO listed ancient towns of Gjirokastër and Berat

Gjirokaster, Albania, Balkans
Despite its beautiful nature and its rich cultural heritage, Albania is still not such a touristic destination: most of the time we were the only two foreigners enjoying unspoiled beaches, wild mountainous areas and lake shores. The only two times when we weren’t the only foreigners around –besides of course in the capital town Tirana- there were in the two UNESCO listed ancient towns of Gjirokastër and Berat. Both Gjirokastër and Berat are well-known for their ancient neighborhoods preserving historic Ottoman-era architectures, a style originated in Turkey between the 14th and 15th centuries and arrived in Albania during the 18th and 19th centuries, but that's not the only reason why I found them both very fascinating! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eating out in Ljubljana - VOL. 2

eating out in ljubljana slovenia food restaurants
The whole point of this short trip to Ljubljana I just had was a reunion with two of my former housemates from my EVS time in Slovenske Konjice, two girls I kept being in touch during the following years and with whom -back then- I instantly had a special bound based on our common passion for food –hence our trio nickname “trije prašički” (the three little pigs, as those from the fairy tale). And so, as you can easily guess, our trije prašički reunion in Ljubljana revolved mostly around food :-)
Elena, the one of us who still lives in Slovenia, was in charge to select a bunch of high quality restaurants in Ljubljana and she did a great job, even outdoing her own Ljubljana's best restaurants selection from last time I visited her in September 2013. 
(and if you were wondering why I titled this post “VOL. 2” you should click on the previous link to read where Elena brought me to eat last time). 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5 of Rome's best hidden coutryards

Peeking into courtyards is a great way to explore a town literally going beyond the surface of a destination. From pocket parks in New York City to “Jardins” in Barcelona, such little oases help us escape overcrowded city lives. But if many of New York’s pocket parks are corporate-backed and designed down to the most minute details and Barcelona’s “jardins” are something out of the most creative dreams of landscape gardeners, Rome’s hidden inner courtyards were meant to recreate the atmosphere of the village’s main square. They are places where you can hang out the laundry, let the kids play all day long, and where neighborhood relationships are built. You can find these hidden gems of beauty both within the medieval buildings of the city center and in the suburbs of Rome, especially in those suburban neighborhoods planned as garden cities. 

And so here are 5 of my favorite destinations in Rome:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Monterano ghost village and more highlights from Roman countryside

Monterano ghost village, Lazio, Italy
After the 30th, any birthday comes with a mixed feeling of both being excited to be at the center of your loved ones’ attention and disappointment about what you thought you would have accomplished by that age. That’s why for my 30th birthday I organized an amazing double celebration first at Memorie Urbane street art festival in Gaeta and then in Serbia, where I danced at the Guca Trumpet Festival and wandered around my beautiful Belgrade
All this for saying that me and my 30something friends agreed to add a spoonful of sugar to any bittersweet anniversary by organizing out-of-town celebrations; and so this time we headed to the Etruscan part of the Roman countryside visiting Bracciano, exploring the ghost village of Monterano and enjoying a Sunday lunch on lake Martignano

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Përmet and the Balkan side of Albania

Permet, Albania
If last time I showed you the places I liked the most of my road-trip around Albania, this time I will bring you to the town which most reminded me of my beloved Balkan atmosphere: Përmet and the surrounding mountainous area, that is the very South of Albania.  
I will start by saying that our three days exploring Përmet and the surrounding area have been pretty rainy and so we didn't have the chance to go around all the time but just in between a storm and the next one; therefore we had to skip many open-air places on my bucket list, such as the ancient village of Frashër within the Fir of Hotova National Park and the Këlcyrë gorge, while we played for time and stayed a bit longer into Përmet delicious restaurants tasting its well-known cuisine. In fact this is not only the area of large national parks and beautiful green valleys, but it's renowned also for its local wines and traditional products (such as the many different types of jam and compote), some of which are even protected -and therefore promoted- by Slow Food Albania