Ti Amo, Italia (Part 1)

Hey, dolls!

 

I know that it’s been a while since my last post. (Did you miss me? I sure hope so!) But you know what they say: absence makes the heart go fonder.

 

Remember in January when I shared with you that this year, I want to try new things and live my best year yet? In my continuing effort to be true to my personal goal, last month, I packed my suitcases, hopped on a jet and flew to Europe! (Relax, dolls, it’s not a spur of the moment decision. My friends and I planned this trip last year.)

 

Those of you who follow my blog know that I love to travel. I’ve already visited North America, a great part of Asia, the Middle East but I have never set foot in Europe. So imagine my excitement to discover the old world charm the continent is known for – not to mention its eclectic and sumptuous cuisine!

 

Our trip consisted of three legs: Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. Dolls, expect several blog posts on each city but first up is ITALY!!! What did my friends and I do in this beautiful country? We visited as many cities as we can of course! Ferrara, Florence, Milan, Venice, and my most favorite town in the world, Cinque Terre. Each city has its own unique offering – but all equally beautiful – making this leg of our trip very, very memorable.

 

Ferrara. Italy

 

Qualified as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage site, Ferrara is home to the famous medieval Castle Estense and Ferrara Cathedral. The town is built during the 16th century with several massive Renaissance structures that are well preserved. Dolls, have you ever felt in awe of a place’s beauty that you just want to stare at it to take it all in? That is Ferrara’s effect on me. (Don’t worry, I also took lots of photos!)

 

Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara
Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara

 

Basilica Cattedrale di San Giorgio Martire, Ferrara
Basilica Cattedrale di San Giorgio Martire, Ferrara

 

Castello Estense, Ferrara
Castello Estense, Ferrara

 

Welcome spread by Dominic & Gabrielle. Grazie!
Welcome spread by Dominic & Gabrielle. Grazie!

 

With my lil sis M :)
With my lil sis M :)

 

Ferrara sunset ;-)
Ferrara sunset ;-)

 

Aside from its beautiful sceneries, what made our stop in Ferrara even more memorable is the graciousness and warmth of our very accommodating hosts, Dominic and Gabrielle. We are boundless with gratitude for their friendship.

 

Florence, Italy

 

The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence, is considered as the birthplace of the Renaissance. One should not be surprised with the wide array of art and architectural masterpieces situated around the city. And, dolls, you all should not be surprised that I instantly fell in love with Florence.

 

 

When we think of Italian fashion, we automatically think Milan, right? But Florence is also famously known as one of the fashion capitals in the world. It is a shopping mecca for fashion enthusiasts. So if you love, art, architecture and fashion (show me a doll who doesn’t), then make sure you include Florence in your Italian itinerary.

 

Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria

 

Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria

 

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Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

 

In complete awe with the intrinsic Neo-Gothic design and terra cota palette of the Duomo
In complete awe with the intrinsic   Neo-Gothic design and terra cota palette of the Duomo.

 

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Gelatto break at Vivoli. The best in Florence.
Gelatto break at Vivoli. The best in Florence.

 

Meet my awesome Italia group: Sarena, Ana, M and Pao. :)
Meet my awesome Italia group: Sarena, Ana, M and Pao. :)

 

My favorite: bleu cheese and honey. At Gusta Osteria.
My favorite: bleu cheese and honey. At Gusta Osteria.

 

Bistecca ala Fiorentina at Gusta Osteria
Bistecca ala Fiorentina at Gusta Osteria

 

Beautiful panoramic view of Firenze at Piazzale Michelangelo
Breath taking panoramic view of Firenze at Piazzale Michelangelo

 

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by Michelangelo
by Michelangelo

 

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Photo by Paolo Porquez
Photo by Paolo Porquez

 

Cinque Terre, Italy

 

Thank God for well-travelled and well-researched friends, I get to experience the string of centuries-old Italian Riviera coastline charm known as Cinque Terre. Dolls, This, for me, is the highlight of my European trip.

 

Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Cinque Terre (aka Five Lands) comprises of 5 towns namely Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Each town is adorned with colorful houses in steep landscapes overlooking the vast sea. The towns manage to keep its idyllic beauty by only using trains and boats to connect each village. Adding to Cinque Terre’s charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Dolls, To describe the place as enchanting is a huge understatement.

 

Our two-hour trail hike from Vernazza to Monterosso is worth it due to the spectacular view ahead of us. Life is simple in these towns and locals are friendly with tourists. I vow to be back with my family next time. It’s one of those places that make you feel grateful to be alive.

 

Welcome to Vernazza!
Welcome to Vernazza!

 

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Postcard worthy view.
Postcard worthy view.

 

One of my favorite photos captured by Paolo Porquez.
One of my favorite photos captured by Paolo Porquez.

 

Our trail path.
Our trail path.

 

During our hike.
During our hike.

 

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Almost there!

 

Finally reached Monterosso.
Finally reached Monterosso.

 

Welcome to Monterosso! :)
Welcome to Monterosso! :)

 

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I have read somewhere that we travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the tonic to creativity, when we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and that changes everything. Dolls, I will be sharing more about my European adventure in the coming days. Meanwhile, let me leave you with this thought:

 

The world is a big and beautiful place – explore it, not just to discover new things but to discover more about ourselves.

 

Talk to you soon!

Kathy

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