Allow me to share a short snippet of my encounters in Italy; the food, architecture, and nature.
Being born and raised a Catholic, Rome has been one of those places I valued during my tender years. I still treasure it now; in fact even more. Don’t get me wrong; religious motives did not influence my trip. NO! It is the love of life and adventure.
I land in Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport in Fiumicino, and just like that, I felt I was in Italy already even before I was cleared for entry. I think the atmosphere and the calmness brought the feeling.
Italy is known for its diverse and unique architectural and historic designs influenced by the Roman Catholic Church.
Before I left Nairobi, I had a list of things to do in Italy most of which were located in Rome; the Spanish Steps, St. Peters Square, Vatican City, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Colosseum. A typical tourist, right?
There are more interesting things to do than just visiting the popular- hiking, mountaineering (I will share this in a different post) and village visits.
The best and most important way to experience Rome is to walk, walk and keep walking. With a google map downloaded on your smartphone, you are good to go. Of course, you can purchase a physical map if you like. The only unfortunate thing during my visit was the extreme heat; temperatures were as high as 40 degrees Celsius. (There was a heat wave in most European Countries, late June 2019).
The good thing with Italy is that all building are clearly labeled. Have knowledge about Roman numbers? Yes, you need that, but if you don’t, you can still survive.
Aside from the tourist attractions, I was also interested in environment-related features. Italy and Rome for that matter are known for advanced transportation systems from shared automated electric cars, to electric buses, tramps and tubes. I was fascinated by the magnitude of shared electric cars; you need no driver, just your smartphone and the verified application. I encountered several wind power plants all connected to the main grid. Solar energy, as I was told, is now gaining popularity compared to former years. Renewable sources of energy are being increasingly explored as a way of phasing out the non-renewable sources to curb climate change effects
Liguria to Milano
I hold dear memories of Liguria; because of the food (Focaccia di Recco) and hiking along the Sea to the Gulf. The Hiking part which was done under the hot sun was challenging, given that some areas were rocky, steep, and risky to the extent of using chains for support against falling.
Milano, the capital of fashion as is famously known in Italy comparable to Paris, London, and New York. Unlike Rome, Milano is developed with modern buildings. It hosts high-end designer companies, is cosmopolitan, culture-rich, art, and luxurious. Pizza Del Duomo is the main city square in Milan just before you enter the shopping street.
I had a chance to stop and walk around several villages in different parts of the country. One thing you can’t miss is a church (Catholic). I cannot quantify the number of Italians who are Catholics; however, one can see the massive influence from the Roman Catholic both in the village and cities.
Most villages are concentrated in one place, leaving the majority of the land for forests, parks and water bodies. My partner tells me most villages were built on hillsides during the ancient times to guard against enemies.
The villages are well organized, clean environs and distinctively constructed.
Vineyards and food
Italy is a winery country. It is known for its amazing variety of wines. While I did not have a chance to walk into the vineyards, I saw several of them in various parts of the country.
Exceptional cuisines is also a defining factor among the Italians. I came to realize that every part of Italy has its delicacy. For instance, Focaccia di Recco, whose origin is Recco, a village in Genoa, Liguria is a cheesy variation. You can find focaccia al Formaggio in other parts of Italy, but the original one is from Recco. My partner and I were lucky enough to enjoy the original Focaccia in Recco.
I had a chance to taste other food varieties, including the Milanese specialty. Generally, Italian foods are largely defined by wheat products.
Risotto, which is a northern Italian dish is another variety that I would die for. So delicious!
On coffees, don’t expect a huge cup filled with coffee. Italians serve their coffee in small portions, especially after meals. Who takes coffee after lunch on a hot sunny day? Ask Italians. It is a culture.
Italy is a country you cannot exhaustively explore within a short time. My two weeks seemed like nothing. You need to plan in advance, jot down things you want to do but be flexible to discover rarely explored areas.