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Episode #119: My favorite Italian Places with Ishita Sood

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Did you ever fall in love with a place or country at first sight? In this episode, we talk to a committed Italophile who, entranced by Italy on her first trip, continued to visit year on year, exploring all across the country. She tells us about her favorite places and experiences in Italy.

Show notes

We talk to Ishita Sood from the blog Italophilia who is from India and lives in the bustling metropolis of Delhi. A whole world away from the Italian towns and villages she fell in love with, Ishita keeps her connection to Italy alive in some very surprising ways. We hear about cultural surprises and similarities, making lasting friendships from travel, and getting an invite to a castle.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  1. Ishita first went to Italy in her 20s and in a short space of time, zoomed all over the country at a crazy pace. She has since learned to appreciate the slowness of life in Italy. In India, they don’t take a moment to pause and she feels like Italy really taught me to just stop, pause, and reflect. 
  2. After her first trip, she fell in love with Italy and has gone every year since, sometimes twice a year for a few weeks at a time. Mostly she has traveled solo, except for the last time when she went on honeymoon with her husband who as a foodie, has also fallen for Italy’s charms (and especially the food)
  3. Perugia is the first place Ishita traveled solo to and has a special place in her heart. She first arrived in the summer at 9.30pm, not realizing the late sunset times in Europe in the summer and she witnessed a beautiful sunset over this beautiful city. She loved the medieval walled city with its aqueduct and gorgeous piazza, felt the warmth of the locals and even met an Italian friend for life there
  4. Gubbio, in Perugia province, has a cherry festival each year on May 15th – Festa dei Ceri, where the locals race with heavy, giant wooden candles (13′ and weighing over 800 lbs) the ‘ceri’ to mark the anniversary of the death of Saint Ubaldo
  5. Ishita ended up connecting with a lady who has a beautiful palazzo in the small village of Mercatello sul Metauro in the Le Marche region. This small community welcomed her with open arms and gave her lots of tips on what to look for and where to go. In particular, the palazzo owner, Luisa, took and connected her to a whole bunch of wonderful local experiences, from ceramics and art to of course wonderful local restaurants
  6. Trieste is another overlooked city in Northern Italy with an interesting history and a grand, Austrian/German vibe, which was popular with many authors over the years. It also has a University of Coffee!
  7. Not far from Trieste is a port town called Muggia – a beautiful town, with amazing pastel-colored buildings. It was ruled by the Venetians for centuries. So it has the symbolic lion on the church, and there are traces of the Venetians everywhere. There’s a tiny little castle on the hill and it has great seafood
  8. Inspector Montalbano is a famous series of books (and popular TV series), set in Sicily which led Ishita to explore the Val Di Noto area of Sicily, around Modica, Ragusa, and Scicli. The landscape is rugged with these intensely beautiful cities, with a fascinating mix of cultures and history and delicious food
  9. After a massive earthquake in 1693, these cities had to be rebuilt from scratch and were rebuilt in this amazing baroque style
  10. Liguria is another overlooked region. Cervo is a stunning village, made up of pastel houses, with winding alleys and perched atop of a hill overlooking the sea
  11. Speaking Italian really enriches and opens up your experiences in Italy. Ishita learned from scratch in classes that the Italian embassy in New Delhi offer
  12. Honorary mentions – Other places Ishita adored and can’t wait to spend more time in are Lake Orta – a lesser-known but truly magical lake not far from Milan, Palma in the foodie region of Emilia Romagna. In Puglia she loves Monopoli and Polignano a Mare
  13. Ishita feels like Sicilian culture and much of the South of Italy is very similar to Indian culture in that they are hugely family-oriented. It’s not uncommon in either country if you’re in your 30s or 40s and still living with your parents. There’s, of course, the obsession for food and every region claiming that our food is better than the others and there’s also huge regional diversity in both countries or even between down to each little town, or village having something specific that they’re offering (and that they think is the best!)
  14. For future trips, she wants to revisit many places as well as explore other new destinations such as the Campania, Calabria, and Basilicata regions in Southern Italy, and the Tuscan towns of Pontremoli and Lucca

About our guest – Ishita Sood

Ishita Sood is an Indian Blogger who fell in love with Italy on her first visit. Since then she has been penning down her travels and experience of learning Italian on her website “Italophilia“- the Biggest Indian Blog on Italy.

 

Ishita lives in Delhi NCR and visits Italy every year.  She is extremely passionate about Italian music and books set in Italy.

You can find Ishita on these channels:

Places mentioned in the show

  • Emilia-Romagna – northern region highly regarded for its gastronomic and wine-making traditions
  • Liguria – crescent-shaped region in northwest Italy
  • Perugia – a medieval city in Umbria
  • Piazza Novembre – lovely main piazza in Perugia
  • Mantua – gorgeous city in Lombardy with a stunning piazza and a yearly literary festival. The city is surrounded by 3 artificial lakes
  • Gubbio – town in Perugia, Umbria located on the lowest slope of Mt. Ingino
  • Castello di Montegiove – a castle nestled in the peaceful hills of Umbria, with an incredible vineyard
  • Mercatello sul Metauro – in Le Marche region 
  • Palazzo Donati – a beautiful palazoo located in the main square of the beautiful village of Mercatello Sul Metauro
  • Urbania – a lively medieval town in Le Marche
  • Urbino – a walled city in Le Marche, known for the turreted, 15th-century Palazzo Ducale
  • Recanati – a hilltop town in La Marche, known as the city of poetry due to its famous sons – philosopher and poet Giacomo Leopardi, Giuseppe Persiani, a composer and Beniamino Gigli, an opera tenor
  • Sirolo and Numana  – beach towns in Le Marche
  • Turin – the capital city of the Piedmont region
  • Trieste – grand city in Northern Italy with an interesting and complex history
  • Locorotondo – town in Puglia, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy
  • Ljubljana – capital of Slovenia, which Trieste is a great hopping off point for
  • Muggia – port town in the province of Trieste
  • Modica, Ragusa, Scicli –  towns in the Val di Noto area of Sicily
  • Fiesole – beautiful city in Tuscany where the book and then movie ‘A Room with a View’ were set
  • Savona – Ligurian port town
  • Cervo – stunning Ligurian town perched on the edge of the rocks
  • Genoa (Genova in Italian) – the capital city of Liguria
  • Genoa Acquarium – impressive aquarium in the city
  • Finale Ligure – area of natural beauty popular with climbers
  • Lake Orta – picturesque and less visited lake not far from Milan
  • Palma – city in Emilia Romagna famous for its ham and other fantastic produce
  • Monopoli and Polignano a Mare – beautiful towns in Puglia
  • Campania, Calabria, Basilicata – regions in Southern Italy
  • Pontremoli, Lucca – Tuscan towns

Resources

  • Margie Miklas – Italy enthusiast and author
  • Inspector Montalbano – fictional character in a series of books by Andrea Camilleri and a popular TV series set in a fictional town in Sicily
  • A Room with a View – 1908 book by E. M. Forster, and adapted to a Merchant Ivory film
  • focaccia genovese – the flatbread from Genoa, which is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside
  • Karen Haid – expert on Calabria with the website The Other Italy

Resources from Untold Italy

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