While my wife Lauren redhead roamed back to the states for the Thanksgiving holiday, I convinced my mother to meet me in Europe – her first trip abroad. Despite my love for Paris, London, and a host of other potential European locations… I’ve always believed that Italy makes the best “first” European trip for any traveler.
The diverse options offered by Italy of cities, countryside, ocean, culture, history, amazing food/wine, and juuuuust enough of a language barrier to make it fun1 makes Italy the perfect European destination. So we decided that would be how we would spend Thanksgiving.
My goal was to present Mom with four totally different “tastes” of Italy: charm, art, history, and crazy raw natural beauty.
The Charm: Venice
After meeting up in Zurich2 we started our Italian vacation in Venice…. which I love for its laid back feel, unique canals, and somewhat “gritty” charm:
The Art: Florence
We then moved on to Florence so that we could check out the stunning Renaissance art and sculpture and of the Uffizi and the Accademia. The city itself is basically a work of art:
The History: Rome
We ended the trip in Rome – where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a magnificent ruin of the glory days of the Roman Empire. Rome just might be the best city in Europe for tourism… between the Colosseum and Roman Forum, the Vatican,3 and the dozens of beautiful churches and piazzas, you could spend weeks in Rome alone and not get bored:
I had visited Venice, Florence, and Rome before and love each of them for difference reasons (the charm, art, and history, respectively)… so perhaps the standout on this trip was our time hiking the five cities that make up the Cinque Terre – the raw natural beauty part of our trip.
Because the Cinque Terre region of Italy is unbelievably stunning.
This was my first time visiting this region of Italy and it was so beautiful. We were there during the start of the slow season (high time is June/July and September), so we had most of the trails to ourselves. It was awesome – we maybe saw 20 other hikers in our two days on the trails. The downside is of the slow season is that a few restaurants4 were closed but that also meant no waits and great service for the ones that were open.
But I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking:
Click the first pic and it will open a little box that you can scroll through with your mouse or arrow keys.
I know, right?
Other than the gorgeous scenery, the Cinque Terre region is also known for amazing food and wine. Pesto was first made here5 and there is so much fresh, local seafood. Since we couldn’t find a turkey for the US Thanksgiving holiday, we had an amazing dinner of fresh sea bass. Unfortunately I forgot to take a “before” picture:
During our three days we also had stuffed mussels – which were as amazing as you would expect – and also anchovies – which are also a local specialty – served “three ways.”6 Don’t worry, they are not the slimy salty things we have in the US – definitely try them if you go!
I cannot say enough great things about the Cinque Terre and would highly suggest adding it to any Italy itinerary.
Thanks for reading,
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almost everyone speaks English, but they really appreciate it when you take the time to learn some basic words and phrases ↩
which is dramatically beautiful but also dramatically expensive… ↩
technically a separate country…. ↩
and sadly, gelaterias… ↩
the Liguria region, that is… ↩
Grilled, fried, and with olive oil on toast. ↩