Living la dolce vita

Earlier this month I went on the absolute dream holiday! I’ve wanted to visit Italy for as long as I can remember and, finally, the time came. It was the most beautiful week and had a wonderful mix of chilled time and one of the most exciting days ever. Keep reading to hear more about what I got up to and to see the stunning places I went.
Be warned, I got up to a lot of things so this is a long post – feel free to skim x

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First off, I went to Venice to visit my brilliant friend Matilda who is currently there dancing in the Biennale (an international arts festival). It is always a joy to be reunited and spend time with Matilda, but to do so in the sunshine was such a treat.
We started off by visiting the Teatro La Fenice which, as you can see is totally stunning. We had an audioguide which was a little dry but spending time in the gorgeous auditorium was worth it. Just look at the heart eyes I have in this pic ↓

Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch overlooking a piazza before Matilda had to nip off to work. Left to my own devices, I went on a massive wander. I took a stroll through the San Marco Piazza and glanced at the scaffolding-covered basilica. I sat by the water for a bit taking in the vibe and the vitamin D, then headed into the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). This is the old parliament building, it’s so ornate and full of art. It is also attached to the old prison which was cool to see and a nice place to get shade from the sunshine. I continued my jaunt, heading over to the Rialto Bridge, grabbed a lemon gelato and perused the market stalls all the way up to the Canreggio neighbourhood and then went to check in to my hotel. A wee bit later, I headed back into the centre to meet Matilda for takeaway pasta which we ate by the canal. That evening, we also went to an osteria for tiramisu and wine before zooming home on the vaporetto.

The next day I had Matilda all to myself, so we kicked off with a pastry and arancini breakfast at Majer in Gianluca. We visited the famous bookshop Libraria Acqua Alta which has books stacked up inside gondolas and bathtubs! We were feeling touristy so decided to fork out on a gondola ride which was really lovely and serene (if overpriced). Then we took a bigger boat over to the island of Murano and spent our afternoon browsing in the glass shops looking for the perfect piece of jewellery to buy (Matilda succeeded, I did not). After all that activity we were feeling the need to chill out, so came back over to Sant Elena, grabbed a gelato and a spritz and sat on the grass beside the sea to play some card games.
Overall I found Venice quite pretty but very touristy, it is really nice to be beside the water all the time but the best part was being able to share the holiday with my dear friend.

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I then started my journey west across northern Italy, taking the train from Venice to the riviera but stopped for a 3-hour layover in Bologna where I got off the train, ate everything, then got back on the train. Because I was limited on time, I felt a bit nervous not to linger anywhere for too long. My first priority was to get some legit tagliatelle al ragu from the home of bolognese and it did not disappoint. I also tried mortadella, local barbera wine and a maritozzi bun which was so delicious. I wandered through the food markets wishing that I could take everything home to cook, but in the end, I just picked up some balsamic vinegar, parmesan and salami.

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After a long day on the train, I finally made it to Monterosso – one of the five coastal villages that make up the Cinque Terre and our home for a few days. I practically ran to our Airbnb to dump my suitcase, throw on my swimsuit and get in the sea. Which felt so refreshing after travelling all day and it was so exciting to unite with Hanna and Laura after our separate journeys. There was lots of catching up to do over dinner, wine and gelato.

The next day we started our morning perfectly with breakfast and a dip in the sea. After getting ourselves sorted, we took a boat from Monterosso over to the farthest village Riomaggiore which was a super beautiful ride. Stepping off the boat and seeing those stacked pastel buildings leading down to the glittering blue sea was totally dreamy. We grabbed some lunch, then walked up the hill to check out the view. We then got the train over to the next village Manarola and sat by the sea in the toasty sun really regretting not taking our swimsuits with us. That evening, we had the most gorgeous antipasti platter for dinner with a view of the beautiful town and the sea as the sunset.

Our final day in Cinque Terre was also spent exploring and lolling. We started by getting the train to Corniglia which is the smallest and highest village. You need to get a bus up the hill from the train station to reach it. We had a wander through the winding streets and looked in the wee shops but there wasn’t much else to see there. Laura and I decided to do the hike to the next town Vernazza on the Azure path which was really lovely and gave us some stunning views of the coast. Upon our arrival, we found Hanna on the pier and went to grab some prosecco and lunch. The natural next step was to pick up some aperol spritzes and head to the sea. The water was so beautifully cool and there’s nothing more blissful than drinking a spritz in the sea while the sun hits your face. We had a great time people watching on this beach. Vernazza was probably our favourite day on the riviera, I think, because it was so chilled out.

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We then hopped on the train and headed up the coast a little bit to Santa Margherita Ligure. We checked in to our hotel then went out in search of some late night dinner which ended up being really late but it was tasty.
The next day we got up and on the wee bus to Portofino, the town widely considered the inspiration for the Disney movie Luca, it is really beautiful there but definitely more bougie and expensive than the village we’d been used to the days before. We had breakfast, wandered around the marina, grabbed lunch and then walked along the seaside road to a wee beach called Paraggi. It was in this gorgeous cove with blue/green water and was so peaceful we practically had the beach to ourselves. Is there anything more luxurious than days where all you have to do is eat and swim? The dream.
And then it was time to catch the train to go to Turin!

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Arriving in Turin, we quickly went to check-in at our (great) Airbnb and dump our bags so we could get out and find some dinner. It was quite late and a lot of the restaurants in the neighbourhood were full but it turned out great because we ended up with one of the nicest dinners of the whole trip. Afterwards, we took a wander down towards the Eurovision Village to see what was happening and even just feeling the vibes of the neighbourhood buzzing on Eurovision Eve was so cool. The next morning we grabbed some coffee and pastries, and picked up some fruit at the market before getting ready.

So, for those who don’t know, for each final at Eurovision there are three shows (the jury show the night before when the juries vote, the family show in the afternoon and the live televised final in the evening). Because it was way cheaper, we decided to get tickets for the family show of the Grand Final which meant we were in the arena for the afternoon’s dress rehearsal. It was so amazing to be in the room, to feel the energy of the crowd and to see the show come together instead of just watching on my TV. I actually got quite emotional when the music started playing and it hit me like ‘omg I’m actually here!’ It was a total dream come true for me and anyone who knows me knows how much I love Eurovision. We had a lot of fun watching the show, cheering for our favourites and made friends with the lovely people around us. As well as the Eurovision acts we also had the pleasure of seeing Mika perform too which was so cool.

In the evening, we tried to get into the Eurovillage but it was full so we ended up watching the live final in a very sweaty Irish pub (shout out to The Royal Princess), mostly full of UK fans dressed up as spacemen in honour of Sam Ryder. It was such a good vibe and everyone was so supportive and friendly. What a year to be there too! Those results were unbelievable, I just kept saying what the heck is happening?!
If you’re interested, my personal faves were Spain, Sweden and Greece, but of course, I had a lot of fun with Moldova and Norway. Sad we didn’t get to hear Latvia in the final, being green is hot!
The Eurovision experience was everything I wanted it to be and I can’t wait for the next time!

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Tired, hungover and dehydrated, the next morning we had to check out and get our train to 30° Milan – agh! We were finally revived when we found a spot for lunch, accompanied by multiple liquids. Afterwards, we headed to the Duomo which is just stunning and bought ourselves a ticket to access the rooftops. As Laura said, we got to feel what it’s like to be a pigeon (hahah) and what that feels like is really frickin hot in direct sunlight. Upon our descent, we got a much needed slushy to cool down then found somewhere for dinner before Hanna had to head to the airport.

On the last day, Laura and I had time for one last lunch, a wander around the piazza, and a trip to the Teatro alla Scala which was beautiful. I’d definitely recommend, if you want to visit the museum, to check which times the auditorium will be available and fully illuminated because I think that would be much more beautiful to see. And then finally it was time to head to the airport and go home.

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And now, welcome to the drool section! Here are my food and drink highlights of the trip:

alla prossima volta!

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