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How to spend a perfect night in London

Last week it was the birthday of one of my team member and I decided to do her a surprise. The first thing I had to plan was making sure that she would believe that I was coming to London during a different week, and that part of the plan was successful from the start. Then I started to plan what to do during her birthday since I was looking for something unique and magical. After looking on Google for a while I found a majestic hotel called The Kensington and I immediately knew that it was the perfect place where to spend a perfect night.

The Kensington is a five star hotel located, obviously, in the middle of Kensington. If you are a bit familiar with London, you already probably know that Kensington is one of the prettiest and luxurious neighborhood in the town and it’s also very close to Knightsbridge (Harrods anyone?).

After a long day of wandering in London, it was easy to reach the hotel since it’s very close to the South Kensington Station (Piccadilly, Circle and District Line) and as soon as we got there, their amazing staff welcomed us in the best way possible. It was also very nice knowing that some of their staff is Italian since, as you may know, I’m Italian as well. We were also very lucky to come during November since the hotel was already full of Christmas decoration. You guys, you have no idea how magical was to just walk in into their amazing entrance it felt like I was at home the day before Christmas.

After checking in we moved to our room which was incredibly amazing! The first thing that I noticed was the size of the room which was very big since London is also famous for hotels offering very small rooms. I still speechless about the bathroom, which was so luxurious and enormous and featured an amazingly designed bathtub.

After a long bubbly bathtub it was time to go to dinner to their Town House restaurant and I could not contain my excitement. The dinner setting was so intimate and cozy, but the food is what made a difference. Everything in the menu seemed so delicious so it was really hard to choose, but the Maître was extremely helpful and we ended up eating one of the best dinner of our lives. Right next to the restaurant they also have the prettiest and most elegant bar ever, which is also open 24h (crazy right?!).

The next morning, we woke up with the sound of knocking on our door which was announcing that our breakfast was here. Pancakes, açai bowl, croissant and one of the best avocado toast I ever tried made our waking up less painful since, honestly, who would have ever leave that extremely comfy bed?!

After the delicious breakfast sadly it was time to leave, but the staff took care of us until we took the last step outside the hotel. What was left to do was visiting the city for one last day knowing that I manage to do the perfect surprise.

 

I was welcomed by The Kensington as a guest but as always opinions are my own.

 

 

Europe Travels

Vibrant Copenhagen

If you’re going in winter or in autumn prepare to freeze since the city is really windy and cold, but you can always appreciate her beauty if you’re prepared enough. I know that this could be little touristy to mention places like the Nyhavn, but they are something unique. Even on a cloudy day, you will be happy to stroll among the canal surrounded by little colorful houses and I love to call call this city “the Venice of North”.

What to do:
Tivoli Gardens, is one of the oldest theme park in the whole world so expect the atmosphere to be quite vintage, but every single detail is so curated and unique. Unfortunately during my last last trip I hadn’t the chance to go because it’s closed during both Autumn and Winter.

Louisiana museum, located 40 kilometres north of Copenhagen it one of the best contemporary museum on the planet. There’s always a permanent exhibition and some temporary you can choose to visit or not. In my opinion, the best part is definitely the Infinity Mirror Room, a breathtaking installation made by Yayoi Kusama. Keep in mind that since it’s not near the city center, you have to expect to allocate at least half a day in order to be able to visit properly.

Botanical garden, escaping in this gardens will transport you directly to the tropics, the main part of the garden (Palm House), built in the 90’s, with her two cast-iron spiral stairs will lead you to a passageway at the top where you can admire the garden from above and walk around it.

Magstræde, it’s probably the most instagrammable street in the city, every house is painted in a different color and you can always find someone starting a shooting. I won’t lie, I walked for almost 30 minutes in the craziest weather ever, but search for #magstræde on Instagram if you want to see what I mean.

Landemærket, it is one of the cutest streets in Copenhagen. I won’t lie, there is not a lot of things to do there other then seeing pretty houses, but it is very close to the city center, so if you have time make sure to come here.

Nørrebro, is a district located at the north of the city and it is so different from the rest of the city. It is famous for being the most multicultural and hippy district of Copenhagen and I definitely agree with this statement. Here you can find a lot of vintage shop but I also suggest you to visit Jægersborggade street and Superkilen Park.

Where to eat:
Mirabelle, a cute french bakery, what I enjoyed the most were the symmetrical floor and the color-contrast with the tables. Oh, and how can I forget their freshly baked croissant!

Atelier september, the air you breathe in this coffee is truly magnificent, it almost seems to be in the showroom of some famous fashion houses. Genuine place, lovely staff and best avocado toast in the whole word (so basic, I know).

Far’s dreng, I absolutely recommend the salty dishes with eggs, ham, cheeses and avocado which were all of the best quality. I loved sitting in front of the windows and just watching outside the world goes by.

Copenhagen it is a magical city and even, as I said, in winter is incredibly cold you will be able to enjoy every pieces of it. During my last trip I was really lucky and on the second day it started to snow like crazy. I can still remember the feeling of watching the snow falling on the street by my Airbnb windows while drinking a hot tea at night, and waking up the next day with all the city covered of white. The memories that this city left me are unique, and trust me, when you will be back from this gorgeous city you will feel exactly like me.

Europe Travels

Glorious Athens

Walking among the magnificent ruins of Athens was like going back to the golden age of ancient Greece. I think that the Greeks where definitely one of the most advanced society of all times, and it’s incredible how many elements of their ancient culture are still alive nowadays, after all these centuries, even if probably we don’t realize it.

I’ve never been to Greece before and Athens was my first stop on our trip and although everyone told me to spend two days tops in the city, I can say that if you really explore it, far from the chaotic and crowded streets full of tourists, you can find a lot of unexpected surprises and breathe the real local atmosphere.

(Scroll down for the Italian version)

 

What to see:

Climb up to the Acropolis, it’s extremely hot during the summer but it’s a good hike and the view is totally worth it. There are seven different archeological zones: the actual Acropolis is just the main one and the view from there was just unbelievable, you have all Athens literally at your feet. The others include the likes of Hadrian’s Library or the Roman Agora.

Wander in the little streets of Plaka, the cutest and prettiest neighborhood in the city, it’s at the feet of the Acropolis Hill and it’s full of restaurants and cafes where to relax and take a break from the walking tour around the city.

Kifisia is the chic district of Athens. The first things that the taxi driver told us when he realized we where going there was: «Uhm, money», and when I arrived there I perfectly understood why. This area is renowned for its fine shopping and entertainment venues. There are only streets of luxury shops and boutiques, everything is so calm and perfect there.

Explore the Vintage Flea Market, located in the city center in the district of Monasteriaki. It’s close to the underground station and, of course, it’s very crowded during the day, but there’s plenty of things I love. You’ll find everything: from tourist souvenirs to antiques and jewelry.

There are different hills around Athens where you can go hike and admire the city  different perspectives. Choose the one that fits your interest. Each one is so unique and breathtaking especially at sunset when the sky start looking pink and romantic. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit all of them, maybe next time I will have the chance to do it.

 

 

Where to stay:

Kefalari Suites, in the center of Kifisia, it’s a nice and comfy hotel. It consists in 13 rooms (each one uniquely decorated) and the atmosphere is pretty elegant. And the best part are the Jacuzzi located on the rooftop.

New Hotel, an approach to design so new that it’s even hard to explain in words. The hotel is located in the heart of Athens, there’s a restaurant on the terrace with an enchanting view over the Acropolis.

 

 

Where to eat:

Point A – Athens, the most beautiful view over the Acropolis is from this elegant rooftop restaurant. It’s definitely a must in Athens. And you can also enjoy a cocktail at the bar, always overlooking the archeological wonderland this city is. The most magical thing is when, at night, the lights inside the new Acropolis museum start glowing in the dark bringing to life another sky full of stars.

Meliartos, I was tempted to enter by the fantastic window full of sweets, I couldn’t go on my way without trying at least one. It’s perfect if you’re curious to try different types of local Greek sweets.

Kudu coffee shop, the best coffee in town, specialized in foam art: you can customize everything about your coffee. There’s a big choice of coffee flavors, you can also taste them and the staff is super friendly.

Fresko Yogurt Bar, while trying to fight the city heat this really really cool place could be your solution. Great frozen yogurts, in as many flavors as they came.

GB Roof Garden, everything in Athens is pretty cheap, so if you want you to spoil yourself for a night you should definitely come here for a fine luxury dining experience. This restaurant has a rooftop where you can overlook the Acropolis, and,you know, that is something you never get tired of.

 

Camminare in mezzo alle magnifiche rovine di Atene è come tornare indietro nel tempo all’età dell’oro dell’Antica Grecia. Credo che i Greci siano stati una delle società più avanzate di tutti i tempi ed è incredibile quanti elementi della loro antichissima cultura siano ancora vivi oggi, dopo tutti questi secoli, anche se a volte non ce ne rendiamo conto.

 

Non ero mai stato ad Atena prima e, anche se tutti mi avevano detto di passarci al massimo un paio di giorni, posso dire che se si esplora davvero la città, lontano dalle caotiche e affollate strade piene di turisti, si possono scoprire moltissime sorprese inaspettate e respirare la vera atmosfera della città.

 

Cosa vedere:

Salite fino all’Acropoli, fa un caldo incredibile durante l’estate ma è una bella passeggiata e la vista che si ha vale tutta la fatica. Ci sono sette diverse zone archeologiche: l’Acropoli è solo una e la principale e il panorama da lì è semplicemente incredibile, tutta Atene è ai vostri piedi. Tra gli altri siti ci sono la Biblioteca di Adriano e l’Agorà Romana.

Girovagate per le stradine di Plaka, il quartiere più delizioso della città, è ai piedi dell’Acropoli ed è pieno di ristoranti e caffè dove rilassarsi e prendersi una pausa dai vostri giri in città.

Kifisia è il quartiere chic della città. La prima cosa che il tassista ci ha detto quando gli abbiamo detto che stavamo andando lì è stata «Uhm, soldi», e quando siamo arrivati lì ho capito perfettamente il perché. L’area è rinomata per il raffinato shopping e i luoghi d’intrattenimento. Ci sono intere strade piene di negozi di lusso e boutique, ed è tutto calmo e perfetto.

Esplorate il Mercato delle Pulci, che è in centro città, nel quartiere di Monasteriaki. È vicino alla fermata della metro e, ovviamente, è molto affollato durante il giorno, ma è pieno di cose che ho amato. Ci troverete di tutto: dai souvenir per turisti a pezzi d’antiquariato e gioielli.

Ci sono molte colline intorno ad Atene dove potete andare a passeggiare e ammirare la città da tante prospettive diverse. Scegliete quella che preferite. Ognuna di loro è unica e mozzafiato, specialmente al tramonto quando il cielo si tinge di rosa e romanticismo. Purtroppo non ho avuto il tempo di visitarle tutte, ma la prossima volta avrò l’opportunità di farlo.

 

 

Dove soggiornare:

Kefalari Suites, al centro di Kifisia, è un hotel bello e confortevole. È composto da tredici stanze (ognuna con una decorazione diversa) e l’atmosfera è abbastanza elegante. La pare migliore è la Jacuzzi sul tetto.

New Hotel, ha un approccio al design così innovativo che è difficile da descrivere a parole. Sta nel cuore di Atene, ha un ristorante sul terrazzo con una incantevole vista sull’Acropoli.

 

 

Dove mangiare:

Point A – Athens. La vista più bella dell’Acropoli è dall’elegante terrazzo di questo ristorante. È davvero un must di Atene. Ci si può anche godere un cocktail al bar, sempre godendosi le meraviglie archeologiche della città. Il momento più magico è quando, di notte, le luci dentro il museo dell’Acropoli iniziano a brillare al buio e sembrano accendere un nuovo cielo pieno di stelle.

Meliartos. Sono stato tentato ad entrare dalla fantastica vetrina piena di dolci, non sono riuscito ad andarmene senza provarne almeno no. È perfetto se siete curiosi di privare diversi tipi di dolci greci del posto.

Kudu Coffee Shop. Il miglior caffè della città, specializzato nei disegni sulla schiuma: potete personalizzare davvero tutto del vostro caffè. C’è una grande scelta di aromi, potete anche provarli e lo staff è incredibilmente gentile.

Fresko Yogurt Bar. Se cercate di combattere il caldo cittadino questo bar al fresco può essere la vostra soluzione. Ottimi yogurt gelati e in tutti i sapori che potete immaginarvi.

GB Roof Garden. Ad Atene è tutto molto economico, e se volete viziarvi un po’ per una notte dovete assolutamente venire in questo posto per una cena di lusso. Questo ristorante ha un terrazzo che dà sull’Acropoli e, a questo punto potete immaginarlo, è una vista che non stanca mai.

 

 

 

 

Europe Travels

That’s what you get for waking up in Berlin

What is better than unexpected travels thanks to cheap flights? It took us less then 10 minutes to decide to buy ticket for a random city, without even knowing if we could actually go. After having a little discussion on which city we should pick, we agreed that it was time to give Berlin a fair chance to impress us.

(Scroll down for the Italian version)

We arrived in Berlin around 11 in the morning and we went straight to our hotel in Charlottenburg, a delicious borough named after the Queen Consort of Prussia, Sophie Charlotte, and home to the last surviving royal residence in the city . It’s easy to see that it was once an indipendent city: it has its own townhouse and city gates still intact, there are zoological gardens, theaters and churches. The style of the buldings and the urban planning in general have a distinctive 19th century elegance due to its popularity at the time among the wealthiest berliners.

The weather wasn’t exactly the best but that’s what is to be expected in North Europe. Berlin under a clouded sky is a strange spectacle: the cityscape is both familiar and unconventional. As Italians, we are used to dip in history when we stroll around our cities. Berlin presents us with a modernity which can be a little startling at first, especially in a gloomy weather.

After exploring the refined Charlottenburg, we walked around the alleys of Kreuzberg, one of the former poorest boroughs of the town, now the front line of the bohemian and counterculture scene. You have to be prepared for Kreuzberg, it isn’t for all palates and it may take you by surprise at first. It was a borough of West Germany so it’s not as elegant as Charlottenburg but much more popular. In all sincerity, we weren’t quite prepared to it so after a little we moved towards Alexanderplatz.

Alexanderplatz is one of the most crowded places in Berlin. There’s nothing much to do here, it’s just a really big square, but it is also a unique point of observation of the berliner way of life. We advise to visit it when the sun is out. When the sky is cloudy, the sight of the grey empty square could become a real bummer. One of the most famous german buildings is located in Alexanderplatz: the Fernsehturm or Television Tower. It’s gigantic. So big, actually, that it has its own resturant inside. It is one of the most iconic places in Berlin and its view is alone worth a visit at the square.

It’s in Alexanderplatz that we had lunch. Berlin is a fast-paced, dynamic city and its typical foods aren’t just the refined cuisine you could find in the most elegant resturants. Some times a greasy hot dog and warm, salty pretzels with one of the many local beers are the best lunch you could dream of. These meals truly reflect the spirit of the city: efficient but easy going, organized and in harmony with the urban environment. After all that crowd, we could have used some calm and silence, and that’s when we went to Museuminsel.

The Island of Museums, or Museuminsel in German, is on the Spree River, located in the central Mitte district of the town. It takes its name from the complex of five extraordinary museums which have been opened there for over two centuries. The island also contains the Berlin Cathedral, or Berliner Dom, whose dome towers over the river. All of the island, the gorgeous museums buildings and the cathedral are a very suggestive sight to see, even under the grey sky we were under. There’s a lot to see in the museums, but the most majestic piece of history preserved there is the Pergamon Altar, a monumental reconstruction of a 2000 years old Hellenistic temple.

It takes a little time to thoroughly visit all of the museums so, when we had finished, it was dinner time already. We were too tired to go and sit at a resturant so we tried the currywurst, a typical German streetfood which is very nice but has a very strong flavour too. But we all know Berlin isn’t for delicate palates, so be brave and take a dive in the diversity of its lifestyles. After dinner we restored ourselves with some good beer at the Hofbrauhaus and then we went sleeping for our trip had just started.

What does one not do for a couple of cool pictures… We woke up very early to take photos of the Brandeburg Gate at dawn, when the city was empty and the crowd of tourists didn’t put itself between this beauty and our cameras. It really is a plague, nowadays, how really crowded some famous places can be and how the crowd itself stops you from enjoyng an undisturbed view of our favorite places. The Brandeburg Gate is a world-famous monument and capturing its image when no one was around, well, it was one of the highlights of our trip.

After a quick breakfast at the train station of Alexanderplatz, we took a train to the city of Potsdam, the former residence of the Prussian kings and capital of the Brandeburg region. The city directly borders Berlin, they are two halves of the same metropolitan region, so the train ride is very quick. We used the Berlin Welcome Card, that includes all transports in Berlin and the train to Potsdam. It was really cool to have all transports included in just one ticket! Potsdam is so different from Berlin in so many aspects. For starters, it’s a more tradional historical town, like us Italians are used to, with ancient buildings and an historic centre, not as dynamic and modern as Berlin but very enjoyable none the less.

Potsdam was one of the finest places we got to see in Germany. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by the colours and smells of flowers. Flower stands were all lined up in front of the train station gifting us with a lively spectacle which cheered us up. We visited the famous palaces once home to the Prussian nobles. The first one was the Neues Palais, a baroque jewel built to celebrate the end of the Seven Years’ War. It truly is a majestic place. It has its theatre, its park and its interiors are lavish and dazzling, including a wonderful Grotto Hall, with walls encrusted in rocks and seashells.

After that we walked to Sansouci Palace. It’s a small walk but if you’re feeling tired there’s a bus which will take you right there. The Sansouci Palace was created as a small version of Versailles. Its name means, in French, “without concerns” and it’s where the royals of Prussia used to spend their leisure time. It isn’t very large compared to other royal palaces or castles in Europe but it’s as much as elegant. The palace is placed above a delicious wineyard and terrace gardens.

We went back to Berlin and, since there was still time, we decided to take a walk towards one of the biggest open-air museums of Europe: the East Side Gallery. On a long, still standing portion of the old Berlin Wall, there are one-hundred and five mural paintings made by international artists right after the wall was tore down in 1989. The East Side Gallery is more than one kilometer long, so there’s a lot to see.

Night out. We had the luck to find the Light Festival in a full swing mode. It happens every year in Berlin, accompanied by all sorts of festive events. It’s wonderful how a city so grey during the end of autumn can literally shine with vibrant colors. We had a little fun after all the sightseeing of the day and we ended exactly where we started: the Brandeburg Gate, bright and vivacious thanks to the awesome lightpainting.

When we woke up, we were both starving. A nice, savory breakfast was definitely in order. So we dressed up, got ourselves going and went straight to the Milch Halle Berlin, an oasis of peace amidst the turmoil of the buzzing town. Milch Halle is kind of magic to me. Located in the delicious Auguststraße, this little jewel really has everything: great coffee, couches and long tables, free wi-fi, magazines and newspapers and, last but not least, great music. The place is little and quiet, a very familiar atmosphere. We had capuccinos and some awesome-tasting heart-shaped waffles. The staff was so kind that they didn’t even wince when we started taking pictures of all the food. But we could not help it, it was a feast for both our stomachs and our eyes.

Everything is better with a full belly. We strolled in the sun and visited the Reichstag Dom. There’s an awesome view from up there but also an awfully long queue down there, so do like us and book your visit with a certain anticipation, you’ll avoid the tiresome waiting.

We had lunch at the House of Small Wonder. Wonderful place. You enter and there are lots of plants with their large, lush leaves and I cannot even describe the scenographic staircase. When you enter you get this strange feeling: the place looks both luxurious and domestic at the same time. It’s pleasently crowded, we had vegan croissants and ethnic dishes. A great way to eat your greens!

We walked around for the rest of the afternoon. It was late when we got to the Holocaust Memorial so we visited it almost empty. The place has a sombre, haunting beauty visited at this hour. The kind of beauty that makes you think. The visit was short, though, on account of our bad timing. So we quickly visited the famous Check Point Charlie which was culturally remarkable but rather boring. The last place before ending our journey: the majestic Potsdamer Platz, with its game of lights, fountains and futuristic buildings. And that was it. We went back to the hotel tired but happy and the next day we took our flight back to Italy.

This trip was partially sponsored by VisitBerlin, but all opinions are my own.

Thank you House of Small Wonder for inviting us and let us discover your beautiful little world.

Italian Version 

Che c’è di meglio di fare un viaggio inaspettato grazie a dei biglietti economici? Ci abbiamo messo meno di dieci minuti a prenotare verso una destinazione qualunque, senza nemmeno sapere se potessimo davvero andare. Ma dopo aver discusso un po’ su che città scegliere, abbiamo pensato che era ora di dare a Berlino l’occasione di stupirci.

Siamo arrivati a Berlino intorno alle undici del mattino e siamo andati dritti al nostro hotel a Charlottenburg, un quartiere squisito che prende il nome dalla Regina Consorte di Prussia, Sophie Charlotte, e che ospita le ultime regge della città. Si vede subito che una volta era una città indipendente: ha ancora il suo antico municipio e le sue antiche porte cittadine, ci sono giardini zoologici, teatri e chiese. Lo stile degli edifici e l’urbanistica in generale hanno una decisa eleganza da diciottesimo secolo, dovuta anche alla popolarità che la zona godeva fra gli abitanti più ricchi.

Il tempo non era proprio il massimo ma è quello che bisogna aspettarsi in Nord Europa. È uno strano spettacolo, Berlino sotto le nuvole: il paesaggio è insieme familiare e inatteso. Da italiani, siamo abituati a immergerci nella storia quando camminiamo nelle nostre città. Berlino ci mette davanti una modernità che può essere un po’ sorprendente all’inizio, specialmente quando il cielo è coperto.

Dopo aver esplorato la raffinata Charlottenburg, abbiamo passeggiato per le vie di Kreuzberg, uno dei vecchi quartieri poveri della città, ora la prima linea della scena bohemienne e della controcultura. Bisogna essere preparati per Kreuzberg, non è per tutti i palati e potrebbe cogliervi alla sprovvista all’inizio. Era un quartiere della Germania Est quindi non è elegante quanto Charlottenburg, anzi è molto più popolare. E in tutta sincerità ci ha colto alla sprovvista, quindi dopo aver esplorato un po’ ci siamo diretti verso Alexanderplatz.

Alexanderplatz è uno dei posti più affollati di Berlino. Non c’è veramente molto da fare e in effetti si tratta solo di una piazza molto grande, ma è anche un punto di osservazione unica dello stile di vita dei berlinesi. Vi consigliamo di andarci quando c’è il sole. Sotto le nuvole, la vista della piazza grigia e vuota potrebbe guastarvi l’umore. Una delle più famose costruzioni della Germania si trova qui: il Fernsehturm o Torre della Televisione. È gigantesca. Così grande in effetti che ha dentro un ristorante. È uno dei luoghi più iconici di Berlino e il panorama che si gode da lì vale da solo la visita alla piazza.

È ad Alexanderplatz che abbiamo pranzato. Berlino è una città veloce, dinamica e i suoi cibi tipici non sono solo le specialità gastronomiche dei migliori ristoranti. A volte un hot dog saporito e i pretzels salati e caldi con una delle molte birre locali sono la cosa migliore che potete sognare. Questi pranzi consumati alla buona riflettono il vero spirito della città: efficiente ma alla mano, in armonia con lo scenario urbano. Dopo quel bagno di folla, avevamo bisogno di quiete e silenzio, quindi siamo andati alla Museuminsel.

L’Isola dei Musei,  Museuminsel in tedesco, si trova sul fiume Spree, nel quartiere di Mitte al centro della città. Prende il suo nome dal complesso di cinque straordinari musei che sono aperti da più di due secoli. L’isola contiene anche la cattedrale di Berlino, o Berliner Dom, la cui cupola troneggia sul fiume. Tutta l’isola, con gli spettacolari musei e la cattedrale, è davvero suggestiva da vedere, anche sotto il cielo nuvoloso. C’è molto da vedere nei musei, ma il pezzo di storia più maestoso che si conserva lì è l’Altare di Pergamo, una monumentale ricostruzione di un tempio ellenistico vecchio di duemila anni.

Ci vuole tempo per visitare come si deve tutti i musei e così, quando abbiamo finito, era già ora di cena. Eravamo troppo stanchi per sedere al ristorante, così abbiamo provato il currywurst, un tipico streetfood tedesco, molto buono ma anche molto speziato. Ma si sa che Berlino non è un posto per palati delicati, basta prendere coraggio e tuffarsi nella diversità dei suoi stili di vita. Dopo cena, ci siamo riposati con l’ottima birra dell’Hofbrauhaus e siamo andati a dormire. Il nostro viaggio era appena iniziato.

Cosa non si fa per un paio di begli scatti… Ci siamo svegliati presto per fotografare la Porta di Brandeburgo all’alba, quando la città era ancora vuota e la folla di turisti non poteva intromettersi tra questa bellezza e i nostri obiettivi. È una piaga la maniera in cui molti luoghi famosi sono affollati, oggigiorno, con la folla che impedisce di godersi in pace la vista dei posti che preferiamo. La Porta di Brandeburgo è un monumento famoso in tutto il mondo e catturare la sua immagine senza nessuno in giro, be’, è stato uno dei momenti più belli del nostro viaggio.

Dopo una rapida colazione alla stazione di Alexanderplatx, abbiamo preso un treno per Potsdam, l’antica sede dei re prussiani e capitale della regione del Brandeburgo. La città confina direttamente con Berlino, due metà della stessa regione metropolitana, quindi la corsa in treno è molto breve. Abbiamo usato la Berlin Welcome Card, che include tutti i trasporti a Berlino ed il treno per Potsdam. È stato comodissimo avere un solo biglietto che include tutti i trasporti. Potsdam è diversa da Berlino per molti versi. Per cominciare, è una città più tradizionale, come quelle a cui noi italiani siamo abituati, con antichi palazzi e un centro storico vero e proprio, non dinamica e moderna come Berlino ma comunque estremamente piacevole.

Potsdam è uno dei posti più belli che abbiamo visto in Germania. Appena siamo arrivati, ci hanno accolto i colori e odori dei fiori. Le bancarelle dei fiorai erano tutte allineate davanti alla stazione e ci regalavano un vivace spettacolo che chi ha migliorato l’umore. Abbiamo visitato quei celebri palazzi che un tempo ospitavano i nobili prussiani. Il primo era il Neues Palais, un gioiello barocco costruito in occasione della fine della Guerra dei Sette Anni. È un luogo imponente. Ha il suo teatro e il suo parco, gli interni sono così opulenti da far girare la testa ed esiste pure una grotta artificiale con pareti incrostate di rocce e conchiglie.

Poco dopo abbiamo camminato fino al palazzo di Sansouci. È una breve passeggiata ma se voi vi sentite stanchi c’è un bus che vi lascia lì davanti. Il palazzo di Sansouci fu creato come una piccola copia di Versailles. Il suo nome significa, in francese, “senza pensieri” ed è il luogo dove i reali di Prussia passavano il tempo libero. Non è molto grande paragonato agli altri palazzi reali d’Europa ma non è inferiore in eleganza. Ai suoi piedi si estendono vigne deliziose e giardini a terrazza.

Tornati a Berlino avevamo ancora tempo e abbiamo deciso di camminare verso uno dei più grandi musei a cielo aperto d’Europa: la East Side Gallery. Su una parte ancora in piedi del vecchio muro di Berlino, stanno centocinque murales dipinti da artisti internazionali dopo il crollo del muro nel 1989. La East Side Gallery si allunga per più di un chilometro, c’è molto da vedere.

Passiamo la serata in giro. Abbiamo la fortuna di trovare il Light Festival al suo culmine. Il festival si celebra ogni anno a Berlino ed è accompagnato da ogni sorta di eventi. È incredibile come una città tanto grigia alla fine dell’autunno possa letteralmente brillare di colori vibranti. Così ci siamo divertiti un po’ dopo tutto quel giorno di turismo. Abbiamo finito esattamente dove abbiamo iniziato: alla Porta di Brandeburgo, tutta un tripudio di colori grazie all’incredibile lightpainting.

Quando ci siamo svegliati stavamo morendo di fame. Quello che ci serviva era una buona, saporita colazione. Allora ci siamo vestiti, ci siamo messi in marcia e siamo andati dritti fino al Milch Halle Berlin, un’oasi di pace nel caos ronzante della città. Milch Halle ha qualcosa di magico per me. Si trova nella deliziosa Auguststraße, un piccolo gioiello che ha davvero tutto quello che serve: ottimo caffè, divani, lunghi tavoli, wi-fi gratis, riviste e giornali e, ultimo ma non per importanza, grande musica. È un posto piccolo e tranquillo, un’atmosfera molto familiare. Abbiamo ordinato dei cappuccini e degli ottimi waffle a forma di cuore. Il personale era così gentile che non hanno battuto ciglio quando abbiamo iniziato a fare foto di tutti i piatti. Ma non siamo riusciti a trattenerci, la scorpacciata non era solo per lo stomaco ma anche per gli occhi.

Tutto sembra meglio con la pancia piena. Abbiamo passeggiato sotto il sole e visitato la Reichstag Dom, la cupola del Parlamento. C’è una vista incredibile da lassù ma anche una fila impensabile laggiù. Fate come noi: prenotate la visita con un certo anticipo e vi risparmierete l’attesa. Abbiamo pranzato alla House of Small Wonder. Un posto fantastico. Appena si entra ci sono piante dovunque con le loro larghe, lucide foglie e la scalinata, così scenografica che non si può nemmeno descrivere. Quando si entra si ha una strana sensazione: è un posto che pare sia lussuoso che domestico nello stesso momento. C’è un piacevole movimento, noi abbiamo mangiato croissant vegani e piatti etnici. Un bel modo di mangiare le verdure!

Abbiamo continuato a passeggiare per il resto del pomeriggio. Era già tardi quando siamo arrivati al Memoriale dell’Olocausto e lo abbiamo visitato che era quasi vuoto. È un luogo di taciturna, inquietante bellezza quando lo si visita a quest’ora. Il genere di bellezza che spinge a riflettere. La visita è stata breve però, per colpa del nostro cattivo tempismo. Abbiamo fatto una rapida visita al celebre Check Point Charlie, culturalmente importante ma alquanto noioso. L’ultima visita prima di terminare il viaggio: la maestosa Potsdamer Platz, coi suoi giochi di luce, le fontane e gli edifici futuristici. E poi era finita. Siamo tornati all’albergo stanchi ma felici, il giorno dopo il nostro volo per l’Italia ci aspettava.

Europe Travels

Neuschwanstein Castle

When we went to Munich this November it looked like a fairy tale. But it was only in Neuschwanstein Castle that the fairy tale got real. You may never have heard of it, but you could all recognize it as the inspiration behind the castles of the Disney movies.

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Those who built it conceived it more as a scenography than an actual palace. King Ludwig II, the Mad King as many called him, took inspiration from the ancient German legends and the work of composer Richard Wagner of whom he was the greatest admirer. The castle was named after an hero of a Wagner’s opera, Lohenegrin, also known as the Knight of the Swan. And as a swan the castle hovers above the Bavarian mountains that it’s built upon.

Once he was detroned, Ludwig II wanted to create his own personal universe where he could still be king, a realm of beauty, an homage to the fairy tales he once heard as a child and then Richard Wagner glorified in his music. He himself took care of the design of the rooms and their dispositions, he even built an artifical grotto with a functioning waterfall. Even if it was made to look medieval, all the innovations of the time were present: a functioning telephone line, central heating and all the comforts that a true king deserves.

From Munich, the best way to the castle is the train to Füssen, a small mountain village straight out the nineteenth century. Fussen is very little, take your time to stroll around its little streets, look at the typical houses in German style and then look up towards the mountain, whose top in winter is lost among the white clouds.

There are no fancy places here, everything closes very early, but  if you get the chance try the local food. It’s like a meeting between the cool street food you can find in Munich and the original Bavarian cuisine, with its strong tastes and savory meats.

Once we arrived in Füssen (a two-hours train ride from Munich) there were few buses right next to the station that brought us directly to Hohenswangau, the town at the feet of the Castle. The return bus ticket costs 2,40€. There are also cabs that bring you to the castle but they are obviously more expensive.

After a ten minutes bus ride, we finally arrived at Hohenswangau. The ticket office and information point is very close to the bus station and it’s very easy to find. We didn’t booked our ticket in advance, but if you are planning a visit during the summer, you should consider buying them on their website since in that season queues can be even three hours long. Keep in mind that visits to the castle are scheduled, so you must be in front of the castle exactly at the time wrote on your ticket.

Once we bought the ticket, we wanted to reach the Marienbrücke bridge in order to see the iconic view of the castle. It takes around 30/45 minutes to get there. Obviously the road is a little bit sloping but if you think that it might be too hard walking to the bridge there’s a bus that takes you there.

Any way you choose to get there, try and savour the haunting beauty of the woods all around, their beautiful colors and perspectives that open at every road turn. If you have the chance, listen closely to the sound of the woods and you could hear, beyond the chirping of birds and the sound of leaves, the majestic roar of the waterfall.

From the bridge, the walk to the castle was short and easy. We picked one of the last tour of the day at 4PM but since we arrived at Hohenswangau around 10AM, after lunch we had no idea on how to spend our time till the visit, so keep that in mind.

The visit itself was very interesting and the guide told us King Ludwig’s story in every detail. The visit was very short, though, spanning for around ten or fifteen minutes. Walking inside those halls we imagined the kind of life which was led there, in the beautiful setting of the mountains, with the village so little under our feet that looked like a doll house.

Neuschwanstein Castle is the perfect place to soak up all the majestic beauty of the Bavarian scenery, and a great opportunity to relive the story of one of the most unique kings in Europe. If you’re in Munich you absolutely should go to Neuschwanstein to crown your visit.

One last tip: if you’re visiting in autumn/winter plan carefully your time schedule. After visiting the castle we were planning on having dinner in the village, but as soon as we got to the town center, we sadly found out that every restaurant was closed. Since we were sleeping in a hotel between Hohenswangau and Füssen, we had to go back to Füssen to have dinner and after that we took an half an hour walk back to the hotel, since buses stopped running (it was 8PM).

Quando abbiamo visitato Monaco questo Novembre ci sembrava di essere in una favola. Ma solo al castello di Neuschwanstein la favola è diventata realtà. Forse non ne avete mai sentito parlare ma lo riconoscerete come l’ispirazione dei castelli nei film della Disney.

I suoi costruttori l’hanno concepito più come una scenografia che come un palazzo vero e proprio. Il re Ludwig II o, come molti lo hanno chiamato, il Re Folle si è ispirato alle antiche leggende germaniche e alle opere del compositore Richard Wagner, di cui era il più grande ammiratore. Il castello prese il nome dell’eroe di un’opera di Wagner, Lohenegrin, conosciuto anche come il Cavaliere del Cigno. E come un cigno il castello si libra sopra le montagne bavaresi su cui è costruito.

Dopo che fu deposto, Ludwig II volle creare un suo personale universo dove poteva ancora essere un re, un regno di bellezze e un omaggio alle favole che udiva da bambino poi glorificate dalla musica di Richard Wagner. Il re stesso curò i progetti delle stanze e la loro disposizione, costruì persino una grotta artificiale con una cascata funzionante. E anche se il castello fu costruito con un aspetto medievale, tutte le innovazioni dell’epoca erano presenti: linee telefoniche, riscaldamento centralizzato e tutte le comodità che merita un re.

Da Monaco, la via più veloce per arrivare al castello è il treno per Füssen, un piccolo villaggio di montagna che sembra uscito dall’Ottocento. Fussen è molto piccola, prendetevi del tempo per passeggiare per le sue stradine, godetevi la vista delle sue tipiche case in stile tedesco e poi guardate verso la montagna la cui cima, in inverno, si perde fra nuvole bianche.

Non ci sono posticini eleganti qui e tutti i locali chiudono molto presto ma, se ne avete l’occasione, provate il cibo locale. È un incontro fra lo street food alla moda che potreste trovare a Monaco e l’originaria gastronomia bavarese con i suoi sapori forti e le sue carni speziate.

Una volta arrivati a Füssen (circa due ore in treno da Monaco) c’erano alcuni bus che ci hanno portato direttamente a Hohenswangau, la cittadina ai piedi del castello. Il bus per il ritorno costava circa 2,40 €. Ci sono anche taxi che portano direttamente al castello ma ovviamente sono più costosi.

Presi i biglietti, abbiamo voluto raggiungere il ponte di Marienbrücke per goderci l’iconica vista del castello. Per arrivarci ci vogliono dai trentacinque ai quaranta minuti. Ovviamente la strada è in forte pendenza, quindi se pensate che la camminata sia troppo ardua ci sarà un bus che vi porterà fino a lì.

In qualunque maniera deciderete di arrivarci, provate a godervi  la misteriosa bellezza dei boschi tutt’intorno, gli stupendi colori e gli scorci che si svelano a ogni curva della strada. Se potete, ascoltate con attenzione al rumore dei boschi e sentirete, dietro al cinguettare degli uccelli e al suono delle foglie, il ruggito maestoso della cascata.

Dal ponte, raggiungere il castello è facile e veloce. Abbiamo scelto uno degli ultimi tour della giornata, alle quattro del pomeriggio, ma dato che siamo arrivati a Hohenswangau per le dieci del mattino non avevamo idea di come passare il tempo fino alla visita. Tenetelo a mente.

La visita in sé è stata molto interessante e la guida ci ha raccontato la storia di re Ludwig in tutti i dettagli. Ma la visita è stata molto breve, dieci minuti o quarto d’ora circa. Mentre camminavamo per quei saloni abbiamo immaginato la vita che veniva condotta lì, nel meraviglioso scenario montano, col villaggio così piccolo laggiù che pareva una casetta per le bambole.

Il castello di Neuschawnstein è il posto perfetto per immergersi nella magnificenza del panorama bavarese e una grande opportunità per rivivere la storia di uno dei regnanti più unici di tutta Europa. Se state visitando Monaco, una visita a Neuschwanstein sarà il coronamento perfetto del vostro viaggio.

Un ultimo consiglio: se la vostra visita si svolge nei mesi autunnali o invernali, pianificate con attenzione la vostra tabella di marcia. Dopo la nostra visita al castello volevamo cenare al villaggio ma appena vi siamo tornati ci ha rattristato scoprire che tutti i ristoranti erano chiusi. E dato che il nostro albergo era fra Hohenswangau e Fussen, abbiamo dovuto tornare a Fussen per cenare e poi camminare per circa una mezz’ora fino al nostro albergo, dato che le corse in bus erano finite (erano circa le otto di sera).

Europe Travels

Eternal Rome

Have you ever found a views that you can watch for hours and you are never tired of? The Eternal City could transport you directly back to the history behind the monuments, between the streets.

I came to Rome more than a couple of times, and every single time I can’t help but falling in love even more with this city. This is one of the most outstanding places you could ever go to, with its gorgeous ancient buildings, to the magnificent colosseum. Everything is magical about this city, and any city is amazing at night, not even Paris maybe, and you know how much I love Paris. I hope you will come here very soon, because trust me, pictures doesn’t give this city justice.

What to see and do:

Climb up St Peter’s Basilica Dome and you will have all the eternal city at your feet. If you go up during the daylight hours you will have the interior lights plus sunlight and the atmosphere will be quite unreal.

Trastevere, As far as I concern this is the best neighborhood in Rome. Fullfilled with vintage stores and cute restaurants, here it you feel like you are in another world. You could spend hours wandering around without getting tired. In the evening, find you favourite restaurant and  have dinner here, you won’t be disappointed.

Fontana di Trevi, I know, pretty touristy right? But this place is so magical and I can stop myself from writing about it. It was recently restored, so now it’s white as snow, and the contrast it makes with the water is awesome. And don’t forget to make a wish by throwing a coin in the fountain.

Villa borghese, this place is soooo calming. You will constantly find statues, but the best part is the little lake where you can get a boat and having the time of your life there. You won’t be disappointed. And don’t forget to check the views from “Terrazza del Pincio”.

Rione monti, you probably know how much I adore finding beautiful doors (and snap them)… I can say that in this district you can find my favourite ones (check out the picture scrolling down), in summer these two doors are covered by a waterfall of green leafs that make the doors even more pretty.

Villa Pamphili, besides the amazing villa, the gardens around it are so gorgeous. Awesome place to spend an entire afternoon by doing completely nothing.

Don’t miss the sunset from the bridge of Castel San’t Angelo overlooking the St Peter’s Basilica Dome. This is something I will never forget..

Where to eat:

Grazia & Graziella, to taste the best Cacio & pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper), typical of Rome.

Caffè Propaganda, near the Colosseum, this black and white bistrot is probably one of the most elegant ones in the city. They have a great selection of teas and tasty macarons.

Ladurée Salon de The, this is the first (and the only one in Italy until now) Salon de the of Laduree opened in Italy, go there to taste the best french patisserie in the hearth of Italy.

Coromandel, if you wander in & between the little streets in the city center and your are searching for the perfect spot where to brunch you might find this cute café. Besides being pretty, their waffles and pancakes are A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

Tiramisù da Pompi, while I was strolling around the city with Moeko (check her blog here moekomunaretto.com) she took me there and when I ate their tiramisù (that you can try in so many flavours) I felt like I couldn’t stop myself from having more and more. There  are many spots where you can try it, so find the perfect one for you.

Ristorante Angelina, on Sunday you can have a super brunch here before strolling for the rest of the day around Rome.

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Avete mai trovato quella vista che guardereste per ore senza mai stancarvi? La città eterna vi trasporterà indietro nel tempo tra i suoi monumenti e le sue strade.

Sono stato a Roma più volte, ma ognuna è così unica e non riesco a smettere di innamorarmi di questa città. E’ davvero uno dei posti più incredibili che si possano visitare sulla terra: con i suoi fantastici edifici che rivestono ancora tutta la storia che c’è dietro, e ovviamente il magnifico Colosseo.

Spero davvero che la visitiate al più presto (o magari di nuovo se ci siete già stati), perchè credo che delle semplici foto non rendano la sensazione di vivere davvero questa città.

Cosa fare e vedere:

Salite sulla cupola di San Pietro per ammirare la città eterna dall’altro, qualcosa che credo non dimenticherete facilmente. Se salite durante il giorno vedrete la luce  esterna filtrata dalle finestre che renderà l’atmosfera davvero surreale.

Trastevere, è il mio quartiere preferito. Negozi vintage e i ristorantini vi faranno vivere in un altro mondo. Potreste passare interi pomeriggi a girovagare tra una stradina e l’altra senza mai stancarvi. E alla sera… cercate il vostro ristorante preferito (ce ne sono davvero tantissimi) e concedetevi una cenetta romantica, sono sicuro che ne resterete entusiasti.

Fontana di Trevi, Anche se forse troppo turistica (magari visitatela al mattino presto per godervi l’atmosfera di calma) non posso non inserirla tra le mie cose preferite. E’ stata recentemente restaurata, ed è tornata a splendere di nuovo e il contrasto con l’azzurro dell’acqua la rende ancora più caratteristica. E non dimenticatevi di And don’t forget to make a wish by throwing a coin in the fountain.

Villa borghese, nello scappare dal caos cittadino rifugiatevi qui. Troverete qua e là statue, una vista incredibile su Roma (Terrazza del Pincio), un antico orologio ad acqua, ma la parte migliore sarà noleggiare una barchetta nel laghetto con qualche amico.

Rione monti, saprete probabilmente quanto mi piace cercare ovunque le casette caratteristiche, e sopratutto i loro portoni (e fotografarli, immaginando come se ognuna potesse essere mia) e posso dire che in questo quartiere trovate i miei preferiti, durante l’estate sono completamente incorniciate da una cascata di foglie verdissime che le rendono ancora più belle.

Villa Pamphili, oltre alla bellissima villa troverete anche un parco dove potervi rilassare o passare un intero pomeriggio esplorando i giardini.

Non dimenticate di vedere il tramonto dal ponte di Castel San’t Angelo guardando la Basilica di San Pietro. E’ stato uno dei momenti più magici di sempre, davvero mozzafiato..

Dove mangiare:

Caffè Propaganda, se siete vicino al Colosseo concedetevi una pausa qui, vi assicuro che non vi deluderà! È probabilmente il bistrot più elegante della capitale.

Ladurée Salon de The, è il primo “Salon de the” di Ladurée  aperto in Italia, anche se non tipico del luogo ai macarons non si resiste mai, non è vero?

Coromandel, lo troverete girovagando per le stradine di Roma, ed è anche questo a renderlo così tipico, oltre all’arredamento interno. Provate i pancankes sono giganti e deliziosi.

Tiramisù da Pompi, mentre Moeko (date un’occhiata al suo blog qui moekomunaretto.com) mi faceva da guida turistica mi ha anche portato a mangiare il tiramisù da Pompi. Non troverete solo il classico ma ce ne sono di tantissimi tipi e gusti, ero davvero indeciso su quale scegliere ma alla fine ha vinto quello alla fragola.
Ristorante Angelina, di domenica concedetevi una piacevole sosta per il brunch prima di una bella passeggiata romana.

Grazia & Graziella, a Trastevere per provare gli spaghetti cacio e pepe tipici di Roma.

Europe Travels

King’s Landing or Dubrovnik?

I’ve have to be honest, when I was thinking about my next trip, I never took Croatia into consideration. Even if Croatia is a state close to my home country, well known for its wonderful and breathtaking landscapes, for some stupid reason I never though it deserved my attention. Thanks God this year I changed my mind and finally decided to give this country a shot, and trust me guys, that was one of the best decision I ever made. Since we went there by car, we obviously decided to visit multiple places, so in this guide and in the next one I’m going to talk about every single stop we made.
The first stop was Dubrovnik. After traveling for 13 hours, we finally reached the first city listed in our trip plan. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy driving for all those hours, but it was definitely worth it.
With its very unique city center, Dubrovnik in 1979 joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Obviously the city most likely lives around tourism, which can be a little bit annoying since everyday the center was fulfilled by tourist that made our stay less enjoyable, but hey, we’re tourist too, so no big deal. The city center, called “Old Town”, is surrounded by some massive walls, which were needed in the past to protect the city from assaults. As soon as you walk across the walls in order to enter into the heart of the town, you feel like you were catapulted into another dimension, or maybe into the Game of Thrones set, if you know what I mean.

What to see and do:
Obviously you must get lost among all the cute little streets and alleys that cross the Stradun, the major street  in the Old Town. That was the first thing we’ve done, so we could get a better perspective of what Dubrovnik offers. We could’ve easily spend every day of our stay just wandering around aimlessly.

Taking a walk on the Walls of Dubrovnik was something we really enjoyed, besides the hot weather obviously. It took us almost 2 hours to do the entire walk! While I was walking it was impossible not to think about all the soldiers that in the past put their feet exactly were I was standing. If you want to go there be sure to plan your visit in the early morning or at sunset.

Seeing the Dubrovnik’s panorama at sunset is something I will never forget. We had to took a kinda expensive cable car in order to reach the perfect spot to enjoy the view, but it was definitely worth it.

The trip to Lokrum island was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. By taking a boat from the Dubrovnik’s harbour, after just 15 minutes you can reach this amazing island. Sadly we weren’t able to see all the things the island offered, but we managed to jump off a cliff right into the bluest sea I ever seen. Oh and by the way, if you are a Game of Thrones fan, you should now that here you can find the exactly replica of the Iron Throne. Amazing right?

Even if it’s not exactly in Dubrovnik, the Trsteno Arboretum is something you must see if you’re there. It’s very close to the city, located in the town of Trsteno, which is a district of Dubrovnik. It’s the oldest arboretum in the world. And again, obviously you will have major Game of Thrones vibes there.

Where to eat:
Above 5, to enjoy your breakfast with a superb rooftop view of the Old Town, something I will never forget.
Barba, if you want to have a quick snack or a quick dinner of fresh fish, there are also some delicious fish burgers you can’t miss.
Stara Loza, behind the crowded Stradun, if you explore the alleys you’ll probably notice this restaurant.

Where hang out:

Reveline Culture Club, this unique club is probably one of the most authentic spot I’ve ever seen, located literally inside in Old Town Walls it’s a museum during the day and a club in the night.

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Europe Travels

Big dreams start in small places

Cinque Terre meaning ‘Five Lands’ are five little towns of the Italian Riviera, that maintain the charm and character of Italian villages of the past.

Cinque Terre National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1997.

Historically, the villages were walled to protect against attacks from the sea, because this area of the coast was often attacked by pirates.

This constructed fishing villages can bolster the most jaded of spirits.

Sinuous paths traverse seemingly impregnable cliffsides, while a 19th-century railway line cut through a series of coastal tunnels ferries the footsore from village to village.

The tiny harbors features boat ramps, picturesque buildings tripping down the ravine and the town’s swimming hole. Although there is mostly no real beach here, it has some of the best deep-water swimming around and you can climb up the rocks and dive in if you love a little adventuresome swimming.

The Cinque Terre is a destination with timeless appeal, and it’s impossible to do it justice in a day trip. It really is the kind of place that rewards taking it slow, I suggest to spend about 3-7 days to get lost in those pictures towns.

With last minute plans to visit, I had no time to research the best hotels to stay in. So I decided to book an apartment on Airbnb and was totally worth it: waking up every single morning with the dawn which makes the colored houses even more colorful. If you decided to go there during the high season (summer) and you could not find where to stay because it’s fully booked everywhere, don’t panic, you can always search something in  La Spezia, that is not so far from there (15 minutes by train).

About the villages

Monterosso al mare, is the most popular town, the first one you can reach from Genova, it has the best beaches of the Cinque Terre.

Vernazza, is my favorite town. Its a natural pier with an amphitheatre shape making it perhaps the most picturesque village (and harbour) of the Cinque Terre. Even if always crowded the village’s trademark caruggi (narrow lanes) are full of life during every part of the day.

Corniglia, is the only one of the five not right next to the water. Instead, it’s pearched high up on the cliffs, and you have to make 365 steps to reach the center of the town. Once you have got there you can enjoy an amazing view from above all the other towns. It’s quieter and smaller than the other villages, far from the crowds of tourists.

Manarola, is surrounded by vines and is situated along a stream. This town is a near-vertical cluster of tall houses piggyback up the hillside. Because it has no harbor, just a landing, its main drag becomes a parking lot of boats that are hauled up each day after the morning fishing’s done.

Riomaggiore, is the most eastern and the nearest village to La Spezia. This village, the biggest one, acts as the Cinque Terre’s unofficial capital and presents typical features reflecting its history and traditions. The town stretches along a vertical axe where steep staircases are the only means to move around the town.

What to eat:

The Cinque Terre aren’t just beautiful, it has some great food, too! Because Liguria, is on the coast, seafood and fish are a big part of the diet here, and many of the region’s famous foods and recipes were first invented, or eaten, on ships or by fishermen.

You must try pesto pasta, a typical dish of the Italian Riviera. It’s D.O.P. protected, meaning it can only be made in a very precise way, with specific ingredients, to be considered the “real thing.” The ingredients themselves are simple: basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, salt, and olive oil, and when it’s done properly, it’s absolutely delicious over pasta!

This part of Italy is also famous for ‘Focaccia’. A flattened bread (like a pizza without tomato sauce), it’s meant to be eaten straight from the oven. And it’s a street food, so don’t feel as if you have to be sitting down at a restaurant to enjoy it. Fritto misto, fried fish served in paper cones fitted to eat on the seaside rocks

And obviously, you are in Italy so don’t miss to eat some ice-cream.

Where to eat:

Nessun Dorma Cinque Terre, to enjoy the most beautiful view of the most romantic village among the five, delicious drinks and yummy appetizers, you can’t go wrong.

Ristorante Belforte, in the Village of Vernazza, built inside a historic fortress overlooking the ocean. The food and the view is heaven.

Da Eraldo, to taste antipasto platter and pesto pasta with some local wine. A tiny little restaurant with authentic, fresh Italian food. Lovely Italian music created a romantic and fun atmosphere.

Gelateria Vernazza o Gelateria il Porticciolo for some ice-cream.

What to see and do:

To explore further south to Portovenere, you will need to take a boat. Portovenere is not a part of the Cinque Terre, and it is impossible to reach to it by train. But it is as beautiful as any borough of the National Park.

For centuries walking trails were the only way to travel between the villages of the Cinque Terre and often provided the only link to the outside world. The walking trails remain the main attraction of the Cinque Terre.

Famous destination for young lovers from around the world, The Way of Love (Via dell’Amore) is part of the complete path, called the Blue trail that links all the five villages. The best time to walk through this footpath is in the early morning or around sunset, not only to avoid overcrowding of visitors, but also to enjoy much better light and weather conditions.

If you take the trail between Vernazza and Manarola, the perfect reward after the most difficult part of your hike is absolutely the view over the village of Vernazza. This view is stunning, you couldn’t forget it and makes your trip to Cinque Terre worth it.

Some trails are not always accessible during winter and autumn, as it rains a lot during this period. You should keep in mind that during July and August the weather usually gets pretty hot, and it is not so easy to walk around in mountains.

Don’t forget to see the towns by boat and watching sunset every evening, especially from the rocks in Riomaggiore where you can see the sun disappearing below the sea.

If Cinque Terre is not on your bucket list, add it now.

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