Places that make my heart glad: Italy

I love Italy. I did a joint French and Italian degree – I picked up Italian at university, due to far too many viewings of Room with a View and I was pretty much immediately smitten with the beauty of the language. Being smitten with the country came the following summer when I went for the first time.

The kiss that sparked an Italian degree

Italy is a beautiful country, full of beautiful people. Seriously, the Italians are gorgeous and their language is gorgeous too. They dress beautifully – I felt like such a slob when I lived there.

I found this dress in Capri…I haven’t forgotten it!

Things I love about Italy. The food. It’s a cliché but it’s true…their pizza, pasta and ice-cream is just glorious. I love the Passeggiata – the early evening stroll down the main streets of each little town, where you turn up to see and be seen. It’s people-watching at its finest. I love the unfathomable amounts of history wrapped up in this country – the Roman ruins dotted around, the beautiful hill town with their ancient churches and the elegant cities. I love the wine – the deep red Barolo of the north especially. I love the dialects – so many regions have distinct accents and dialects and the language student in me adores this!!! The museums in this country are astounding – its art galleries are second to none.

A typical passeggiata

There are many, many parts of Italy that I haven’t seen. Sicily is top of my list of places to go, and generally the south is an unknown land to me. And the Abruzzo region is calling my name too. But these are my top four places. (As ever, most of them are tourist hot-spots which is annoying…but sometimes those tourist hot spots are hot spots for good reasons!)


I have been lucky enough to spend three summers and a four-month period studying in this glorious place. It’s a total tourist magnet, but it’s magical. History walks its streets and romance seeps out of every building. I love this place so much. I took the Husband back for a visit about ten years after I studied there and it felt a little like coming home.

The old centre from the top of the Dome
Me and the Husband at the church of San Miniato al Monte
I just love this – the glamorous police ladies getting eyed up by an old guy
San Frediano in Cestello…a lovely church away from the crowds that I used to cycle past on my way home after a night in town.

The Cinque Terre 

This chain of five tiny villages perched on the cliffs of Ligura (near Genoa) are magical. They’re carless, you take the train to each village or you hike the wonderful trail between them. They got badly damaged in some floods last year and I haven’t been back since, but I will go back and I already can’t wait.

Vernazza, my favourite of the little villages
The little hiking trail that links the five villages

The Amalfi Coast and Capri

We spent a wonderful week here about five years ago – visiting Pompei, Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast villages. I nearly tried to smuggle a tiny ginger kitten back to the UK and had to be forcibly wrestled away from it by the Husband. It’s a beautiful part of the country. See more Capri ravings here.

Lovely Positano
The Amalfi Coast road. Beautiful to see, terrifying to drive

Bolzano and the Dolomites

When I was a penniless student in Florence, I went to Bolzano with an American friend – and fell madly in love with this tiny, Germanic little town in the Dolomite mountains. The language spoken is German, it looks like a German or Austrian town and when we went, in December, it had the most wonderful Christmas market. I was in love immediately. And the Dolomites are probably the most beautiful mountains in the world.

Bolzano town centre
Bolzano Christmas Market
The Dolomites, often turned pink by the sunset.

I also loved Turin, Milan and Venice – Venice will always have a special place in my heart because we got engaged there. You could spend a month or two in Italy and not have seen it properly….but do go at some time, it’s so lovely.

(Unfortunately, many of these photos are from the interweb because I was very reluctant to switch to a digital camera and many of my trips to Italy were before the days of digital cameras, and all my old photos are in someone’s shed in the UK.)

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Well luckily that movie is on Netflix because I immediately have to watch it after reading this. When we move to Europe one day, I’ll use your blog as my tour guide.

    1. Cathryn says:

      It’s such a gorgeous film!! And when you move to Europe I will send you a list of places to go!

  2. XLMIC says:

    Go get your photos!!!!! They are your memories captured 🙂
    We honeymooned in Florence…so beautiful. My family is from north…about an hour and a half north of Venice. Someday I will go and see their village 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      I love Florence so much!!! And lucky you, having family out there! I wondered about the Italian bits in your blog!!! Do you speak Italian?

  3. Kristen says:

    So beautiful! Fingers crossed the husband and I are going to try and make in to Italy in March! It would be my first time to Europe!

    1. Cathryn says:

      You’ll love it! Give me a shout if you need any info or recommendations!

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