It all started when I was a kid during our long family trips around the Mediterranean. I turned 16 in Ontario – Canada, my English was terrible but I was attending an American school, with lockers, burgers and strawberry flavoured milk in the cafeteria, school dances, and daily national hymn singing. Moving back to my geeky, conservative school in Italy was a shock. Fast forward a few years, and I turn 22 in San Diego – California, one of the best years of my life so far, living in a student residence, clubbing in the Gaslamp quarter and spending afternoons at the beach, watching amazing sunsets on the Ocean, with a few cheeky day trips to Mexico. I never pictured myself working in the travel sector, but I am really lucky my career path eventually led me to leave abroad and travel quite intensively. So here I am today living in London, 59 countries travelled, still 137 to go.
Last weekend, whilst out foraging for Porcini mushrooms with my dad on the mountains around Lago Maggiore, I was inspired to write this post but and let me be honest, it was really difficult to shortlist only five destinations that I would love to go back to. Let me try!
When I left my previous job I was given a gardening leave month, and as I soon as I realised it, pretty much three days before my last day, I went online and booked a return flight to Singapore. During that month, I spent a couple of weeks traveling around the Indonesian island of Bali, visited friends in Sydney, spent some days in Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore. It was such a perfect trip I am almost scared to visit again and ruin my amazing memories.
I know some people shy away from Bali for its boozy touristy beaches, but when you leave the madness of Kuta behind, you are rewarded with peaceful paddy fields in Ubud, stunning volcanoes and lakes, incredible Hindu temples, vibrant vegetation, secret waterfalls, wild dolphins in Lovina, and the most incredible coral reef and wild deers on Menjangan Island. Combine this natural wonders with the friendliness of the people, the beautiful flower compositions they leave by the roadsides as offerings, the delicious seafood, luscious tropical fruits and the addictive chicken satay and you probably don’t want to leave. Ever.
This is (thankfully) and incredibly well kept secret and it’s one of my favourite childhood memories, being really close to where I am from. Lake Orta in Northern Italy was an extremely popular destination with 19th century writers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Lord Byron and Honoré de Balzac. Forget Lake Como, this place has a million times more character.
Orta San Giulio is a romantic small town nestled in a small peninsula on the east side of a deep dark blue lake, surrounded by lush green Alpine forests. You can catch a boat from the main square to the picturesque Isola di San Giulio, a tiny little island 275 metres long and 140 metres wide, or just sit at one of the main square cafes and enjoy an aperitivo served with local produce such as polenta and home made lardo or enjoy specilities from Piemonte, such as Salsicce al Barolo or a local delicacy, risotto al pesce persico.
Tel Aviv, nicknamed by the Israeli ‘the city that never sleeps’ is the Miami of the middle east, a sophisticated and vibrant metropolis, with miles of sandy beaches, an incredibly interesting dining scene, crazy nightlife and thousand occasions to shop and to have fun. And of course its conservative sister, Jerusalem, and its magical Old City, a spiritual crossroad for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, home to mouth watering streetfood and middle eastern bakeries. I spent there a few days during Easter this year and had the most amazing time.
My favourite dinner in Tel Aviv was at Mizlala by Meir Adoni, probably one of the most influential Israeli chefs, next door to his flagship restaurant “Catit” and in front of Cafe 48 (where I enjoyed an equally outstanding dinner). Mizlala’s menu is influenced by Moroccan, Iraqi-Jewish and Yemeni cuisine, with a modern and interesting twist.
Exactly one year ago I found myself booked on a very last minute business trip to Dubai. Jumping to the opportunity I decided to spend my free weekend somewhere in the area, possibly with beach loungers, keen to relax and get a glimpse of the local culture, not so evident in Dubai. Muscat, capital region of the Sultanate of Oman is one hour flight from the Emirates, nested on the sapphire blue sea coast of the Omani Gulf, surrounded by the red dunes of the Arabic desert.
After enjoying a relaxing beach life during the day, where if you are lucky you can spot sea turtles peacefully swimming, I was spending my evenings at Muttrah, the old town, shopping at the souq, browsing the overstocked shops selling frankincense, perfume oils, silver and spices; people watching sipping delicious non alcoholic chilled pomegranate beer.
I have recently blogged about how much I am in love with NYC. Over the years it has become a third home for me, after London and Italy. Here are a few reasons why.
Because of its amazing skyline
Because of brunch
Because everything starts here, and the rest of the world follows
Because of Central Park
Because of Manhattanhenge
Because you walk around Manhattan for hundreds of blocks and always discover something new and interesting, because you can eat anything you want 24 hours a day, because you can walk almost everywhere, because of rooftop bars, speakeays, public trasport 24/7, because there is always something new going on and no matter what time of the day or of the night you never feel alone.