Episode #018: Katy’s top 10 places in Italy

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Listen to “My top 10 places to visit in Italy (so far) – Katy” on Spreaker.


Choosing favorite places to visit in Italy is a difficult task. After all, there are so many incredible places to see – from the cities, countryside, lakes and mountains to the coastline. After 30+ trips, host Katy ranks her must-see Italian destinations and tells you why she loves them. We hope you will find some inspiration here and it helps you to choose places you would like to visit.

Show notes
Over the years our travels in Italy have taken us to many, but not all of the country’s 20 regions. We’re often asked what our favorite places are and so we thought we would dedicate an episode each to our Italy top 10. Truth be told, this probably changes with our moods or what’s happening in the world at the time.  But, one thing’s for sure, these places – cities, towns and regions – made a big impression for a number of reasons. Some of these places are well known and popular for good reason. And others you might be hearing about for the first time.

As we walk you through each of Katy’s favorite places in Italy, we talk about why she loves each place and some of the stories and memories that ensured they left a lasting memory. When compiling these lists it was inevitably those places that we had captured beautiful shared memories with our family and friends that made them so special to us.

Every traveler has different interests and wishes for their trip to Italy. Be sure to keep these front of mind as you plan your own travels there. And as you listen we hope you uncover the highlights and some lesser known places and experiences so you can create your own, as yet untold, memories in Italy.


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Katy’s top 10

  • Orvieto (Umbria) – a hilltop town with a magnificent cathedral and Etruscan past that oozes charm
  • Capri – island off the Sorrentine and Amalfi Coast. Katy’s boat tour there was a highlight of her life!
  • Pienza and the Val D’Orcia (Tuscany) – a beautiful area of southern Tuscany known for hilltop towns, wine, cheese > more info
  • Ortigia (Sicily) – the old town of the ancient city of Siracusa. One of our favorite lesser known places in Sicily
  • Lake Orta (Piedmont) – magical small lake close to Milan with a mysterious island in its center > discover more
  • Lucca (Tuscany) – compact medieval walled city famous for its city walls, now converted into a park > learn more
  • Val di Noto (Sicily) – UNESCO listed region known for picturesque Baroque towns rebuilt after a catastrophic earthquake that shook the island of Sicily
  • Rome – needs no introduction! You can learn more about the Eternal City in our travel guide, podcasts and articles
  • Italian Riviera – home to the Cinque Terre, there are many more gorgeous towns to discover on the Ligurian coastline
  • Venice – Italy’s incomparable city built on water will stay in your heart forever > read our travel guide, podcasts and articles


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Prefer to read along as you listen? Below is a full transcript of our episode conversation. Unfortunately it does not pick up our lovely Australian accents however!

Josie (00:05):
Ciao and benvenuti to Untold Italy. I’m Josie and I’m Katy and we’re here to help you plan your trip to Italy. Between us, we have many years of travel experience and we want to help you uncover your own as yet untold stories and adventures in Italy. Each episode you’ll hear practical advice, tips and ideas to help you plan your own trips to the magical land of history, stunning landscapes and a whole lot of pasta. We’ll have interviews from experts and focus on local destinations and frequently asked questions about travel in Italy. Thanks for listening and make sure to subscribe to our show now. Let’s get started on your regular dose of Bella Italia.

Katy (00:51):
Ciao everyone. Hope you’re staying safe and resting in place at home if you need to. Today, Josie and I thought we would start sharing a few of our favorite places to visit in Italy and why we love them. These are going to be our top tens and our favorite places and experiences in Italy and I have to tell you it was pretty hard to choose.

Josie (01:11):
I agree, Katy, I’ve looked at your list and my list is a little bit different, but some major ones that we both really enjoy, are very similar. So I think it’ll be exciting to go through our top 10.

Katy (01:25):
What we’re going to do is share what we love about the place and some of our favorite memories and experiences that we’ve had there. So without further ado, I’m going to start with number 10 and number 10 for me is Orvieto. Now if you don’t know this place, it’s a hilltop town in Umbria, a region to the north of Rome. So Orvieto is a hill town and it’s basically up high overlooking the Terni Valley. And it’s known for its cathedral, which has got amazing mosaics and frescoes and it’s just a beautiful, beautiful town that you can visit very easily on a day trip from Rome. Or actually what I did in November, which was have a stop in Orvieto on our way from Rome to Florence. So it was a really wonderful place to stop. And you can leave your luggage at the train station and then there’s a cable car that you get up the Hill, the funicular, and you go up into this beautiful, amazing town.

Josie (02:34):
Wow, that sounds amazing.

Katy (02:36):
Yeah, it’s really interesting actually because apart from the cathedral, which is probably the main attraction, they’ve also got the well of St Patrick and it’s got a double helix staircase. So if you don’t know what that is, it’s a staircase that goes down and a separate one that goes up in a spiral and there’s 248 steps down and 248 steps up. And so it’s a really beautiful piece of architecture you can go and enjoy. And one of the other things that they have there is the underground tunnels which were built were built by the Etruscans thousands of years ago. And so it’s a very old and ancient city Orvieto and it’s got a lot of things going for it. It’s got the cobbled streets and when we went there, it was fall or autumn and the leaves were changing color and there was someone roasting chestnuts.

Josie (03:26):
sounds beautiful.

Katy (03:27):
Yup. That’s a really good time to visit as well, actually, because it’s truffle season and there’s a lot of pasta with truffles and you can have that with some beautiful Orvieto wine, which is very famous. And it’s a a recognized wine, a DOC wine. And it was a very wonderful day out. And I was very sad that only had a day there actually. And I’d love to go back. So that’s my number 10 – it’s Orvieto. And I think that if you were in Rome for a few days and you wanted to go and see some of the countryside and one of the hilltop towns, it’s a really fantastic place to go. And I really just loved it.

Josie (04:07):
Oh wow. That sounds beautiful. I’d love to have the pasta with the truffle. I think there’s nothing better than that. Authentic Italian pasta from that region with the truffle and the wine. I think that sounds amazing, especially because by the time everyone gets this we’ve all been locked down for quite a few weeks. So anything like that sounds amazing.

Katy (04:29):
It really was. It was really quite, you know, crisp and cold outside. So when we went inside the restaurant, and there’s lots of little restaurants there, and we went inside and we got cozy and settled in with our pasta, it was the type of thing you dream of actually when you’re thinking of Italy. Well I do anyway.

Josie (04:46):
So how did you get there? Did you fly in or did you drive in or did you train it? Which way did you go?

Katy (04:53):
You can get the train really easily from Roma Termini. It’s only an hour from Termini, so it’s really easy to get to on a day trip or as we did just stopping through on the way through to Florence cause it’s on the same train line. So it’s a really fantastic one to get to.

Josie (05:13):
Amazing. All right. So that was amazing for your top 10. What is your number nine on your list now?

Katy (05:19):
Josie, I think you’re going to be a bit shocked about my number nine because.. Look, I think it will be higher up, but I just didn’t spend as much time as I would like there and I’d like to go back. But because I didn’t spend so much time there, I think that it’s a number nine for a reason. But anyway, it was the one of the best days of my life. And it’s Capri, the beautiful Island of Capri.

Josie (05:47):
Yes. I am surprised that it’s number nine and I think that you probably would need to go and spend more time there because I think you’ll find that it’ll go way up the top of your list, but okay. I can’t wait to hear the rest of them up the top of the list. So what did you do in Capri on that one day?

Katy (06:03):
Well, it was only only half a day cause we did go around the Island on a boat tour, which obviously I loved was just, that’s honestly one of the highlights of my life. And that took the best part of a few hours. And you know, it’s one of those experiences you really have to have. And as I think we’ve mentioned several times, the smaller the boat you can get to do that the better because you’ll be able to get closer to the grottoes and also through the Faraglioni rocks, which are the amazing rock formations that Capri is famous for. But after that we went and explored the town, but we only saw the town of Capri and some beautiful views, stunning views and we sauntered around the shops, et cetera.

Katy (06:43):
But we didn’t really have as much time to explore in further detail. I would have loved to have gone to Anacapri and Piccolo Marina and just stayed there and done some beach clubs and watch the sunset from Capri. So I really would love to go back. And I think, you know, that’s why I think I put it at number nine really, because I just want to go back.

Josie (07:06):
Well it’s still in your top 10, so that’s good to know.

Katy (07:09):
It is. And we didn’t even see the Blue Grotto, so maybe if I did see the Blue Grotto then it would definitely be up at number 10 or up higher on my list at least.

Josie (07:19):
Yeah, I agree. So you know, so moving from number nine, cause I mean half the day we get it. So your number eight. I’m interested in that.

Katy (07:28):
Well my number eight, is actually Pienza and the Val d’Orcia, which is a region of Tuscany that’s actually quite close to Orvieto actually. So it’s in the South of Tuscany, which is quite a big region and it’s really famous for hilltop towns and wine. And we went there on a day trip. It was a day trip as well, to be honest. But we drove down from Florence and we stopped at a few places along the way, including Montepulciano. And we eventually ended up in Pienza, which is a beautiful, beautiful town that was recommended to me by a tour guide that I had up in the Brescia region. And I asked her, “what is the number one place that you love to visit in Italy?” And she said, Pienza. So I was like, right, that’s going on my list. So I was very keen to go there and we drove, it was late fall or late autumn, around November I think. And we were just driving through that countryside that is very well known.You know, if you were seeing any pictures of the Italian countryside, for cypress trees and winding roads and these hilltop towns that sort of look out over this beautiful scene. And Pienza was actually designed very specifically to be the ideal town. And it certainly, for me anyway, lives up to that name.

Josie (09:01):
Ah, it looks beautiful. I’ve just had a look at a couple of images and it looks like there’s the food and wine experiences that you would get in Tuscany too there. But it looks amazing.

Katy (09:16):
Yeah, it really isn’t. It’s really cute because there are streets in Pienza, that have names that are like the name of love. So kiss street, Baci street and a lovely place. And there’s also a beautiful palazzo that was owned by the Pope. It was home to one, at least one Pope, I think, maybe two. And the Pope wanted to design this beautiful town and also gave himself, obviously, the best views. And so these views look down over the valley and you can see some of the other towns in the distance and it’s actually magnificent and we really loved it. Now in autumn, what’s really interesting is they have their pecorino cheese festival and it’s quite famous because, apart from eating the cheese (which is always a good idea) what they do is, they roll the cheese wheels down the hill. I think you may have seen that but it’s quite funny. But it’s a very good pecorino cheese and you can go to little shops around the town and taste the cheese. And they’ve got truffle pecorino and they’ve got lots of different flavored cheese. But obviously in that region they’ve got a lot of different wineriesand wine regions. So you’ve got Montepulciano and Montalcino, which are very famous wine regions. So it’s got everything really – hilltop towns, beautiful food and amazing wine.

Josie (10:49):
And with that, did you stay or is it a day trip. Because I can see it’s quite close to Florence. So do you stay in Florence and do day trips or what did you do and how do you recommend getting there?

Katy (11:02):
Well, here’s the thing. It’s a really funny story actually. So a really good friend of mine Luana, she was going to be in Italy from Australia and she hadn’t been there for a long time. And it just so happened that I was visiting Florence for a few days with my husband. And anyway, so it was at the same time, Luana was driving from Rome to I think Montepulciano and we were going to be in Florence and needed to get to Pisa for our flight. And so I just said, “Oh, well why don’t we just meet up for lunch?” And it’s just one of these crazy things that you do in life. And I was like, yeah, no worries. I’ll just meet you in Tuscany for lunch. Why not?

Josie (11:44):

Katy (11:44):
So that’s what we did. And we got up really early and we drove from Florence. And it does take a little longer than probably what you think. It takes at least hour and a half. So you need to factor that in. And a lot of the roads are really windy around there. So it’s not as fast as what you’d think, but we we went to Pienza and then we met our friends, in a little tiny little village called Montichiello and we had lunch at a place called Osteria La Porta and it was a great afternoon I have to say, and I just loved it. And then we drove back through the Chianti countryside to Pisa where we caught our flight back to London. And it was one of those pinch ourselves moments because there’s not many times in your life that you can say you met a friend for lunch in Tuscany.

Josie (12:31):
Sounds amazing.

Katy (12:33):
It really was. Yeah. And I mean, I hadn’t seen my friend for a few years, so it was, it was really one of those crazy travel moments.

Josie (12:44):
Oh, amazing. I hope to one day say that I did that too, Katy. That sounds awesome.

Katy (12:50):
And I’d just like to do it over again, but it might be a bit difficult from Australia.

Josie (12:56):
Especially at the moment. And I’ve, I’ve just found out some interesting information. So Pienza, the small town as you’ve been describing it was actually the name comes from Pope Pius the second who was born there.

Katy (13:12):
Yes, he’s the one that designed these ideal town and he really wanted to make it the most perfect town and I have to say it pretty much is. It’s really lovely.

Josie (13:24):
It looks Beautiful. All right, so we’re up to number seven on your list.

Katy (13:30):
Number seven is, and we’re going completely in the other direction and we’re going to take a jump over the Bay of Naples and we’re going to go to Sicily. And this is another one where I didn’t spend enough time at, but I was absolutely smitten by this place. I thought it was magic. I really just want to go back there as soon as I can. And this place is called Oritigia and it’s in Sicily and Ortigia is the old town of Siracusa and it is just amazing. It’s how you imagine an Italian seaside town to be. And it’s one of those places that just really got under my skin to be honest. So what you do is when you go to Siracusa and Ortigia is actually a little island off the city there. And so you have to go across a bridge to get there and it’s got those narrow cobbled streets that open onto the piazzas and the cobbled streets are tiny. So you can’t get cars down there and they’re strung with washing and you can just smell amazing smells all around you. And then it’s jutting out into the sea and sea breezes are coming in.

Josie (14:47):
I mean, it’s actually amazing. We stayed there for a night. And the funny thing was we drove the car and I had no clue where we were going and I actually had just squeezed this big Audi through these streets and realize that that was not gonna work. So weactually found a little parking bay and said to my husband, this is where it’s going to stay for the next two days. And we literally walked around that city. It was amazing. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

Katy (15:15):
Yeah. And like, I don’t know if you went to the fish market there but they have these amazing market there. And I think now some of the markets can be a bit, I guess not as exciting because they may cater more towards tourists, but this is a true local fish market. And there’s the people shouting and everyone’s haggling over the different produce. And it was just so vibrant and fun and I loved it. And then we, once we’d been to the market, we sort of needed to have a sit down and then something amazing happened. I did not research this one, which is normally not my style, but I did actually find the best cannoli that I have ever eaten in my entire life.

Josie (15:59):
In the piazza? Yes. I think everyone knows that one. Holy cannoli place.

Katy (16:05):
I can’t remember the name, but I’ll put it in the show notes. Oh my goodness. I’m still thinking about that cannoli I’ve got to say

Josie (16:14):
Brilliant. Well, I think one of the things we loved is that you walked around and wherever you ate the food was amazing. And the seafood, if you love seafood, honestly, you can get a little seafood basket. You can eat the best pasta and seafood you’ve ever had. I dream about the food that we got there. So I 100% agree. It’s amazing.

Katy (16:35):
Yeah. I don’t like to use the word authentic so much because I think authentic means different things to different people. But if you wanted to see how Italians live in Sicily, then you can’t have a better introduction to that than Ortigia.

Josie (16:55):
No, I agree with you. I think it’s amazing. I think, yeah, from the old city to the new city, for the walking, for the food and the culture – I think it’s amazing. I agree with you. Well that made me excited again. I love Sicily. I think it doesn’t matter what part or where you go but I think there’s different parts of Sicily and I’ve seen your whole list of 10 so I know that there is another place that comes up later in your top 10, so we’ll get to that. Your number six Katy?

Katy (17:28):
Oh well this is a really special one to me and it’s because I love the Italian lakes and they were the first area that I went to in Italy many years ago. But this lake is really special to me because my cousin suggested that we visit here after visiting her and being in a wedding in Switzerland. So it’s in the North, in the Piedmont region and it’s close to Milan about an hour’s drive away. It is not a very famous lake, but it is absolutely beautiful. And the name of the lake is Lake Orta and there’s a little town there called Orta San Giulio and it is just beautiful. It’s picturesque and I’m getting emotional trying to describe it. Because what you have there is a very compact lake. It’s not these big grand ones like Como or Maggiore or Garda.

Katy (18:24):
It’s a small lake. But in the middle of it, there’s an island and on the island is built a monastery. It’s now an Abbey and it’s covered in medieval buildings. And it just looks absolutely stunning. And you just gasp when you see it, to be honest, because you’ve got the hills all around. And then you’ve got this tiny lake with this Island in the middle that you can get to by ferry. But it’s just gorgeous. And I would go back there in a heartbeat.

Josie (18:53):
How beautiful. And is there much to do for a day or would you stay a night? What would you recommend?

Katy (18:59):
Well, I mean if you had time, I would definitely recommend staying there at least one or two nights because you would be able to just explore. And there’s actually quite a lot of things to do to explore there. But the favorite thing to do is really just wonder around the lakeside and the town. So Orta San Giulio is this really pretty town and has the cobbled streets and the draping wisteria. I mean, don’t get me started on the draping wisteria, but you’re walking through this town and you get those little lake glimpses through the buildings and then suddenly you walk out onto this piazza, which is Piazza Motta and see this island just looking at you and it’s amazing. Now you like I said, you can get the ferry over there, but you need to know something before you go. And that is that the nuns that live in the Abbey, they ask you to go there in silence.

Josie (19:58):
Oh wow.

New Speaker (19:59):
Yes. So because it’s a very tiny Island and basically the Basilica there takes up the whole island and it’s their culture and how they live. Now we had three year old toddlers at that time, so we decided not to upset the balance of that. So I would love to go back and actually go onto the island. But also around the town there’s also a place called suckler, Monte de Orta, and it’s a UNESCO listed site actually, and it’s dedicated to St Francis of Assisi and basically the whole hilltop has a series of chapels and shrines that depict St Francis’ life . So you can actually hike up there and walk around this very special site.

Josie (20:47):
Wow. Sounds amazing. Sounds beautiful.

Katy (20:50):
It really is. And I think from there as well, you could use it as a base to explore Lake Maggiore and other parts of Piedmont. So you wouldn’t have to ask me twice to go back there. I absolutely love that place. It was beautiful. And I think one of the things that made it really special was we got there and we were super hungry and we saw a pizzeria or the restaurant right on the lake shore and you think, “Oh, they’re never going to give us a lakeside view,” but guess what they did.

Katy (21:19):
We got the best view but it is not so busy there. It does get busy with some of the more European tourists. But yeah, definitely worth visiting.

Josie (21:33):
Fantastic. Well it sounds amazing and I’ve, I’ve just been looking at some of the photos as you’ve been talking so it looks amazing. So your number five, this is a place that I have never been and I would love to go to.

Katy (21:46):
So when people think of Tuscany, they think of Florence obviously, they think of Siena and they usually think of Pisa as the main cities that you can go to to explore in Tuscany. But for me, the city of Lucca is really, really special and I think it’s very much underlooked. People should definitely take a look at it because, I’ll tell you why, there’s so many, many reasons to stay in Lucca.

Katy (22:13):
First of all, it’s a beautiful walled city and it’s got the ancient medieval walls around the city and in the middle there’s the medieval towera. So it was actually very well known for high rise towers. Many of them have disappeared now, but there’s a couple of that remain that you can go to the top of. It’s also known for beautiful churches and piazza’s and it was the home of Puccini, the opera maestro and it’s very famous for that. And they hold a nightly concert of his works in a beautiful Baroque church there. And you can go there every night. That only lasts an hour. So even if you’re not into opera in a big way, then you can go and hear a selection of his works in the church. And it’s conveniently timed to be between aperitivo and dinner, which I think is very smart.

Katy (23:09):
You can go there and listen to the Puccini arias. Which if you’ve never heard a Puccini aria, you really need to. I’ll post a couple on the show notes because they’re just beautiful. And the main thing that Lucca is famous for is the city walls. So what they did in the 18th or 19th century, was transform the walls into a park. So now it’s a park. And you can rent bikes and ride around the city walls and enjoy the beautiful views of the countryside around and also just get some exercise. I think it’s a few kilometers and you can bike ride or walk it or do whatever. And so it is slightly different because sometimes in Italy you’re visiting lots of towns and cities and there’s not maybe so much green area to explore, but that’s why Lucca is a bit different because you have this park around the city walls and it’s a really lovely place to explore.

Josie (24:12):
Oh, how amazing. Sounds beautiful. Okay, so that’s my next time I go to Tuscany. I’m definitely going to go there.

Katy (24:18):
It’s really fantastic for families as well. I really recommend families stay in Lucca actually over Florence when they’re going to Tuscany. Because, there’s a few reasons for that. First of all, you’ve got this outdoor space which you don’t get in many of the cities in Italy. So apart from the walls around the city, just down from them there are several little playgrounds that you can stop at. So it’s great for kids and also it’s also got a great train station. So the train can take you very easily to Florence and Pisa by train. And if you have a car you can easily also get to the Tuscan coast. I think it’s only about 30 minutes drive from there and it’s just wonderful. And also around the countryside there’s the beautiful hills of the Northern Tuscan countryside, which are amazing. We had a great lunch there where we we saw the world’s biggest mortadella.

Katy (25:16):
It was really good. And we had a great lunch there and I just loved it. We stayed there for about a week actually, and we had a villa with some extended family members and it was really fantastic. And actually I should mention that while we were staying there my parents and my aunt decided to visit the Cinque Terre. And you can actually do that from Lucca. It’s quite, it’s much closer than Florence actually to get to the Cinque Terre. So if you wanted to branch out a bit and think of a different base in Tuscany, consider Lucca because it is a really fantastic little city.

Josie (25:55):
Wow. Sounds beautiful. Now your next one. Your number four is a place that I have so desperately wanted to get to – again, back in Sicily. So tell us about this place because this is the number one place I want to go. I keep saying that because, but every time I talk there’s always a new place I want to go. But this one I’m definitely into.

Katy (26:19):
Yeah. So the Val di Notois an area in the South of Sicily, which was destroyed after a catastrophic earthquake in the 17th century. And once these towns were flattened, they were rebuilt in Baroque style. And there are several towns, actually, I think there’s about seven or eight of them and they’re called the Val di Noto. So the main town, which is known for the style of architecture is Noto and Catania is somewhat included in that as well. But these are UNESCO listed towns. So that means they’re protected under the world heritage organization. And they are just gorgeous. They’re beautiful. They’ve got beautiful piazza’s and gorgeous churches designed in the Renaissance style. So they’re much more open than your typical medieval towns and cities. And they’ve got the really ornate decorations and gold churches and each of these towns actually has its own special character.

Katy (27:19):
So Noto has beautiful wide piazza’s and stunning marble staircases that go up to grand buildings. And it’s quite stunning actually. But I also like Ragusa, which is built on a hill and it’s quite steep and therefore it’s really dramatic and it’s got much more smaller streets and it’s really gorgeous actually. And I just could keep exploring them forever. We only had a day doing that. And I feel like I need to go back and explore some more because we didn’t get to Modica, which is the home to Sicilian chocolate. Can’t believe I missed that. But yeah, it’s just one of those places where you, you feel like you’ve stepped into kind of like a movie. Inspector Contaldo is a famous Sicilian inspector series detective series and it’s set around there. And they film a lot in those towns. But I know my cousin loves Scicli.

Josie (28:29):
It sounds amazing. I’ve been wanting to go to Noto, but I’ve been lucky to go to Catania. And obviously you’ve seen a lot of Sicily. I just think these little towns are just amazing. From Siracusa to Catania to Noto, these regions are amazing. And I think you’re very lucky to have gone around those ones. I’m very jealous of that one.

Katy (28:53):
Yeah, well I just have these fantastic memories and they keep popping up on my Facebook feed at the moment. Actually pictures of us eating the granita, the Sicilian gelati with the brioche and relaxing in piazzas and it was just an amazing place. Sicily is definitely, definitely the place to go.

Josie (29:15):
I love it. Yeah, no, I’m with you. I keep saying this, that is definitely a place I’m going to go to. So your number three is actually one of my favorite cities in the whole of the world and definitely in Italy. It’s not your number one. I have to say this, it’d be my number one, but let’s go. You give me your number three.

Katy (29:39):
All roads lead to Rome. I love Rome. But I didn’t actually love it at first visit and that may have been due to the company I was keeping at the time. And the fact that I didn’t have much money at all but and therefore didn’t, wasn’t able to experience some of the amazing things that I have been able to experience since. But crazy, chaotic Rome, there’s no place in the world quite like it. It’s just got everything that you want from a city. It’s got the excitement, it’s got the small streets that you want to explore and beautiful fountains and secret ruins. And what I do actually really love about Rome is there’s a really interesting mix of old and new that you don’t often get in Italy. So obviously the ancient part of the city is always there, but you can see innovation everywhere too.

Katy (30:31):
And I talked to Erica Firpo about this on last week’s podcast and I had a think about it and I thought, well that’s what I really do like about Rome. You have those different eras just melding into the city, which has evolved and been present for over 2000 years. And it’s just one of those places that is evolving and is kind of cool for that reason.

Josie (30:56):
Yeah, I think it respects the old and mixes with the new. And I think there is a a beauty about that.

Katy (31:03):
Absolutely. And you can’t sort of get ever get away from the old and somehow that doesn’t matter. Even though they have a frantic pace of the modern life, I think they’ve got somehow they’ve got the mix of blending those, you know, all those different eras together. And there’s nothing that I love more than just kind of wandering around those streets in search of fountains and ruins and just stumbling across the best carbonara you’ve ever eaten.

Josie (31:32):
Yeah, I think that’s what I love about Rome, the diversity of it. The old, the new and the respect of the old. Yeah, I agree. I think it’s amazing. So your number two, tell us about your number two.

Katy (31:44):
Okay. Number two is a place we also spent a week a few years ago and the kids were pretty little, but it was really such a special time. And I think if you want a beach area to go to that’s a bit different to the Amalfi coast you should consider the Italian Riviera. People have been going there for a very long time, especially British visitors actually ever since the 19th century. Maybe even before that. And look, it’s just a really beautiful coastline. Parts of it are quite refined actually, but you can also get the rustic towns that you’re looking for.

Katy (32:25):
So when I say the Italian Riviera, I mean the area South of Genoa in the region of Liguria. And this region is most famous for the Cinque Terre. And Portofino, which is a very, very ritzy town, famous big super yachts and billionaires and et cetera. But we actually spent a week in Santa Margherita Ligure and explored the coastline from there. And I’m a bit of a seaside girl though, I have to say. So I really love the sea breezes and just breathing in that fresh sea air and eating the seafood and enjoying the beach. And I think that’s probably why I love it, but it’s just got some amazing places to visit and it’s a real shame actually, that people just go to the Cinque Terre even though that is beautiful. There’s so many other places you can explore.

Josie (33:17):
Yeah, I think that it’s always good if you’re on a shorter trip to do it. I think it’s definitely not a place to miss. But you’re right. I haven’t done everywhere else on that coast. And I think that that is something that you can always go back to. Cause I agree with you. I’m a bit of a beach lover.,Beautiful weather and great food and I think that offers, it’s in abundance there. So yeah, I agree with you. I loved it. I absolutely loved that area too.

Katy (33:46):
So I’ll share some of the other towns that I can mention that are there, which are really fabulous. There’s a fishing village called Camogli and it’s got that retro kind of vibe going. There is a really cool little beach club and a lido there. And the waves crash onto the little peninsula where there’s a beautiful bell tower and the colorful buildings of that are very typical of that region.

Katy (34:12):
So it’s a really cool little town. And another one that I really like is Sestri Levante and that’s built onto a peninsula as well. But on one side they’ve got this beautiful little Baio di Silenzio and it’s really gorgeous. And I think some of the famous poets, like Keats, they’ve written about it. It’s just stunning. And then on the other side, they’ve got more of a sea beach that’s not as protected, but you get all the beach clubs lined up along there. And you can just sit down and enjoy just the local cuisine, which I should mention as well. Because what comes from around that area is pesto, which is basil and pine nut sauce. Anyway, I love pesto. So lots of basil and olive oil and pine nuts. It’s beautiful. And they had this pasta called trofie and I think our kids were calling it the wiggly womb pasta.

Josie (35:17):
Kids love it. I love it.

Katy (35:20):
Well actually it was there that my daughter got her first kiss from a little cheeky chap called Giacomo. We were in Santa Margherita and there was this little kind of outdoor stage for local concerts. And she was having a little dance to that. And she did look pretty cute, I have to say. And this little kid came up and pinched her cheeks and gave her a kiss.

Josie (35:45):
Too cute.

New Speaker (35:47):
Well she didnt like it very much. She, let out a huge scream. It’s one of those memories that we have from that area. And I really had a wonderful vacation there for a week. I really recommend it to anyone.

Josie (35:58):
Oh, fantastic. And not surprising what your number one. So for those listeners who have heard Katy and I will know, Katy has her number one place in Italy.

Katy (36:08):
Thought I was going to get some more suspense out of that. But I don’t think I do.

Josie (36:11):
Well we all know what you love.

Katy (36:15):
Well we do. We do. You know what I love and it won’t be a surprise to tell you that I do love Venice. And I think it’s probably because I went there on my first trip and I just found it truly magical. And there’s no place like Venice on earth. At the moment we’re not seeing as much traffic through there. So there’s some incredible images of the city coming back at this time while we’re all staying at home. There’s no boats going up and down the lagoon. And it’s very still, and there’s dolphins in the lagoon, which I understand have been there always, but they just don’t come out because the boats are out and it’s gorgeous. Now, while I do love all the big sites and I love going and exploring and seeing Piazza San Marco which is an incredible site. But I really just love going through the back streets, exploring, finding a quiet, campo, which is a little square. And then a bar, to go bacari hopping and eating my cicchetti and just watching the gondolas sail pass. And it’s just one of those amazing places on earth that just makes you pinch yourself and makes you feel glad to be alive. Really.

Josie (37:27):
Yeah, I think it’s amazing. And I suppose it’s interesting because I see Venice through your eyes very different to what I’ve seen in Venice and I’ve been there a few times. And I think one thing that always resonates with me and something that always stays, is that you are right. There is no city in the world like Venice. So it always gives me goosebumps when you say that. And I know how much you love Venice, so thanks for sharing your top 10. That’s amazing. I’ve got a few. I’ve put a few notes down for me to go and visit a few more and really go into different areas. So that was amazing. Thank you for that.

Katy (38:04):
Well, I can’t wait to hear yours, Josie. It’s going to be next time where we’ll share Josie’s top 10 and see what she thought. I think it’s really important to share these different perspectives because everyone’s going to have a different way of looking at building their itineraries and understanding what they want to see. And what I really hope for everyone that listens to this podcast is that you take from it the bits that you need. Like I have a different perspective on what I want out of a vacation to what Josie does and we like different things and prefer different things. And that’s fine. You have to build your own trip. You might have only have one chance to go, or even maybe if you’re lucky, like us, you can go more times. But whatever you’re doing and whatever your trip is, really try and understand the places that you can go that are going to suit you and your travel companions the best.

Josie (38:56):
Yeah, I agree Katy. I think it was interesting last night we were talking about this. I’ve got two older daughters and we went to Italy for a big trip for six weeks when they were 19 and 20. And I think some of my top 10 places come from the amazing memories that we had and the places that we love together. And I think you’re right, if you’re only got a short amount of time, then there are key places which we’ve also spoken about on our podcast when we plan itineraries. But I think that there are other places which, you know, some of the places you’ve been to. I haven’t, but I am dying to go. So yeah, my top 10 are probably going to be more around the ones that everyone’s aware of. I think yours are those very different ones, which I’m looking forward to going to. But I’ve got a few different ones in there as well, so I’m looking forward to sharing that with you.

Katy (39:54):
I can’t wait. Okay, everyone, as always, we’ll put some details of how you can learn more about all of our top 10 in the show notes. And you can also join us to discuss more about this on the Italy Travel Planning Facebook group, our online community. Thanks for joining us. And if you liked the show, please give us a review and subscribe so you don’t miss out on a thing. See you next time.

Josie (40:17):
Ciao for now.

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