Tourism; whether you’re the holiday maker taking some vital vacay or the local ducking and diving in between dawdling visitors, you can’t deny the benefits it brings to an area. My time in Florence certainly highlighted that. After Rome and Venice, Florence is the next most popular Italian tourist destination and why not? It houses over 60% of the world’s art heritage, boasts architectural feats such as Brunelleschi’s Duomo and is the birthplace of luminaries, Michelangelo, Dante, and Niccolo Machiavelli. Sixteen million visitors a year flock to the city to pay their dues and Florence’s economy thrives on it! Restaurants, hotels, museums and tour agencies all revolve around attracting foreigners to make big money. But it’s not the just the conventional establishments that are capitalising. There is a growing group of young and intrepid entrepreneurs riding the wave. I talk to three such locals, restauranteur Federico, Martina who manages holiday apartments and historical tour guide Andrea who have started their own businesses in tourism and are doing bloody good job at it too!
I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. If I commit to a task, no matter how arduous, I claw my way to the end. Only a handful of times have I not. Like when I started reading “Crime and Punishment” by chapter three I was so confused that I conceded defeat. Then that time I was determined to watch “Reservoir Dogs”, the tiresomely long conversation at the opening drove me to boredom…and the stop button. Petty things aside you get the picture! But alas my one year sabbatical in Florence now joins this list and it certainly wasn’t a minor moment to shrug off. Readers may remember my appraisal two months in to my year out in Florence (60 Days and 60 Nights) and now that I’m back I going to update you on the realities of Italian life, it may well just give you something to think about…
I’ve resurfaced to tell you that I’ve made it. I’ve completed 60 days of my one-year Sabbatical- dropping work to help myself to a slice of the Vita Bella in Florence. In a tweet I’d say “weather intense, flat hunting tough, made some friends”. But instead of taking the easy way out I’ve decided to put my money where my big fat mouth is and let you know how I’m finding it. I’ve been hyping myself and others about this experience for a good few years and now that I’m here, I bet you want to know if I’m sold on the idea of living here or not? I’m still unsure. The bouts of homesickness are still frequent but what I can tell you is that from finding an apartment to making friends, dating, I’ve learnt a lot and gone through a raft of emotions. So for those curious to take a leaf out of my book, here are my initial observations of Florence 60 days and 60 nights on…
Every Easter I earmark a trip to Florence, in fact I have been there 7 times. Friends ask why I give up a chunk of my annual leave to the same place year in year out. Why?? OK I admit it; I’m obsessed. But it’s criminal to shrink this wonderful city down to the obvious highlights. Without playing down the rich Renaissance art, food, and history, there’s so much more to unpack that has niente to do with following the tourist trail. Each time I come to Florence I go off piste and it’s showed me a vibrant way of life, an envious way of living. But after a day or two, I want to explore and what you may not realise is that being in Florence puts you in an ideal place to spend what little time you have to open out and experience Italy as a whole.
Hold up, she said what? Yep you read right. After all for a region that is called the playground of the rich, you can expect Amalfi Coast to be over priced, poncy and a bit pretentious. But let’s face it, when you’re on the doorstep to some of the biggest stars, Sofia Loren, Armani to name a few, it’s no surprise! Yet look passed the glamour, glitz, 5-star restaurants and cliff-top views, there’s a more down-to-earth beauty about the Amalfi Coast.
This I came to learn after a 5-day visit in July ( high season) to celebrate my dad’s 69th birthday. As my sisters and I were paying for everything, budget was relatively tight so we could not indulge in too much. But it meant we had to be more creative and as a result we got a more authentic insight into this gorgeous part of Italy and the not so obvious beauty of Amalfi.
So here they are, my 5 reasons not to go Amalfi teemed up with 5 reasons you really should:
Do you know where Puglia is? I was astounded at how many of my friends didn’t! I could not help but hear it everywhere because most of my Italian friends are originally from there. The word Puglia kept beating like a drum inside my head: Puglia. Puglia. Puglia. So much so it went on my to-go list. However it was only when I met Puglian local Simona, that I decided it was time to explore.