Live and learn, part II

I’m not a fan of tours to Italy (or anywhere else for that matter) where everyday is programmed ahead. My life doesn’t work like that at home when I’m trying to run a business and a child and get to the shops every other day.  So it’s the last thing I’m looking for when I’m taking time out.  But neither am I happy anymore to roam without a plan of sorts.  I like the idea of achieving something when I travel but leaving plenty of space for serendipity too.  My best times in Italy have happened when plans just take a turn for the better and I end up doing something I would never have guessed.  Sound familiar?

My neck of the woods....via Appia, Perugia

So, I’m giving myself till the end of November to design my first in the ‘live like a local in Italy’ real life travel experience collection.  I’m thinking a collection of small unique ‘everyday adventures’ you can string together like beads in whatever order you want.  Like learning to make torta al testo or strangozzi (another Umbrian specialty albeit one with a rather violent backstory involving shoelaces…) in a typical home kitchen. Or getting your hands dirty harvesting olives and tasting the spoils. Or wine appreciation in a small cantina where the winemaker runs the show. Then there are the Sagre.  I love these!  Local festivals celebrating a  theme or a local delicacy like truffles or chestnuts.  Nothing extravagant, everything in tune with the seasons. Something locals do all the time. Experiences remarkable more for how real and ordinary and part of the fabric of life they are than anything else.

Perugia awakes....looking up Corso Vannucci from the fountain

But this is where I need your input.  If you’re reading this, chances are you know Italy too.  So, whether you’re a curious novice or a seasoned traveller, your response to the question ‘what’s the main thing you’re looking to get out of your time in Italy’ is priceless to me.  It might be about art, food, people, learning something new, finding inspiration, trying a destination hotel you’ve read about.  I’ve got a thousand ideas but I would love to hear about yours.  Just leave me a comment.


Comments 8

  1. Bev Ryan November 5, 2011

    This makes me want to go too – I love your table image on the ‘about you’ page – it inspires me to bring together a street party like that here in Brisbane. Table cloth, wine, cool of the afternoon, neighbours. Lovely site!!

  2. Siobhan November 5, 2011

    Hi Janine, your blog is wonderful and I’m thoroughly enjoying reading your posts. I visited Italy for the first time earlier this year and it exceeded all of my expectations. Your posts are inspiring me to visit again sometime soon. For me, the culinary experience of a destination is such an important aspect of the journey. I’m quite happy to stay somewhere clean and simple (good locale of course), but will exhaust every avenue to find the best local cafe, produce or dining experience. I took many photos of the food I tasted in Italy and they give me such wonderful memories – some I’ve even tried to recreate here! For me it’s all about the food. Siobhan x

    • janinevasta November 5, 2011

      What a delicious way to way to remember your trip Siobhan! Food is such a huge part of the pleasure of everyday living in Italy. I would love to see your photos!!! Jx

  3. mhairi6 November 6, 2011

    Hi Janine
    I love Italy but really only know Tuscany well although did some walking in the Dolomites this year. For me it would be a combination of Art and pasta – love the idea about learning to cook in someone’s kitchen rather than fancy cooking school. Mhairi

    • janinevasta November 6, 2011

      Thanks Mhairi! Sounds like you would find lots to love in Umbria then… Great too that you like the idea of home cooking lessons. I finally learnt how to peel an artichoke properly by watching my friend’s mother as she cooked us lunch! Jx

  4. Nadine November 6, 2011

    Hi Janine I am yet to travel to Italy although my grandmother Caterina Zampese was from a wee village called Conco in Rubio and my Dad has travelled there a number of times. When I finally get to visit my ancestral home I really want to experience the essence of the people, those beautiful experiences with locals who give you a glimpse of their life through sharing themselves with you. Vignettes, short stories that you never know the ending to and dont need to because as you note you can write your own ending or is it just a beginning … this is a wonderful concept so keep going Italy Girl!

    • janinevasta November 6, 2011

      That’s lovely to know Nadine. And thank you for your lovely words. Have you still some family in Conco? I spent some time in Veneto, in Asolo, a small mountain town. Can’t be too far from your nonna’s village. Absolutely gorgeous part of Italy. You’ll have to start planning my dear. When you have a personal connection, Italy becomes all the more wonderful I think. Jx

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