Kiiri @ Italian Fix

Book your 2017 girlfriend trip of a lifetime to the Cinque Terre Italy with Italian FixPlanning a trip to the Cinque Terre can be enough to do your head in, amiright?

All you have to do is check out the comments section in our Beginner’s Guide to the Cinque Terre to see how complicated people seem to find traveling to these five towns.

(There are literally hundreds of Cinque Terre travel questions from readers on that one blog post alone!)

It’s not like going to Florence or Rome, where you basically know what to expect. Even a jaw-droppingly gorgeous city in Italy is still a city — you figure out what you want to see and where you want to stay, and you go from there.

But the Cinque Terre is a place like no other, so before you even begin to plan, you have to wrap your head around this area’s sometimes seriously confusing logistics.

The answer to a simple question like, “Can I drive there?” is:

“Well yes, but also no. You can get there by car, but you can only drive down into the villages during certain hours of the day. And you have to park up at the top of town, not right at your hotel. And that’s only if you can find a space because the parking lots are small, so you might want to park in La Spezia or Levanto instead. In which case you’d have to take the train in anyway, and you’ll want to take the train between villages as well. So yes, you can drive there. But that doesn’t mean you should.”

Some others we get asked over and over again:

“How do I choose which town to stay in?”

“How do I know which trails I’ll be able to hike and which will be closed?”

“Should I stay in a different town each night?”

“Are there any restaurants where only the locals go?”

“What are the best spots for taking amazing photos?”

“Is it safe for women traveling solo?”

“I want to go for 4 days and 3 nights — what’s the best itinerary for me?”

“Can you PLEASE help me plan my trip???”

That last one is a biggie, because don’t you just want someone to do all of this work for you? Continue Reading…

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what to eat Florence

It made me jump every time — a fist coming down on the card table, a menacing lunge forward, sudden raised voices, everyone’s hands doing half the talking. I always stopped what I was doing to listen, and try to make sense of what these little old men would get so heated about day after day outside the gelateria where I worked when I first moved to Italy. It had to be something important, right? Like politics or ideology or some ancient wound, a betrayal that kept getting dragged out.

And then my Italian got better. Little by little words began to surface that I could recognize, I started to be able to string a few threads together here and there. It took some time, but I eventually discovered what all the hand waving and passionate speeches were about. And though it had nothing to do with current events or old double-crossings, it was no less important to the little old men, no less deserving of their fire and zeal. All along, they had been talking about food.

Whose nonna had the best recipe for ragu, full-on debates about what goes into a proper pasta al pesto, a play-by-play of everyone’s dinner menus that night and exactly how each dish was going to be prepared… These guys would go on and on for ages — about food! And the thing is, they weren’t unique to the little town in the Cinque Terre where I was working at the time. I had studied in Florence the summer before and had witnessed the same intense conversations there. In fact, I find that Florentines are passionate about food on a whole other level — they take pride in what they prepare and eat because family traditions in both the city and the surrounding countryside are rooted in a strong attachment to the land and what it produces.
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The Beginner’s Guide to Portofino

by Kiiri @ Italian Fix

what to do in portofino

Looking for what to do in Portofino? Get straight up advice from someone who lives in that neck of the yachts.

Portofino is a fab day trip from the Cinque Terre. You can easily hop on a train from any Cinque Terre village and head north. More insider train information in our guide here.

We’ve asked Portofino insider, and Italian Fix guest contributor, Kaitlin King to spill the fagioli. Kaitlin writes …

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I first arrived in Portofino aboard a private, 5-story yacht sailing from Monaco. I ate at the finest restaurants, played in one-thousand-euro-a-day beach lounges, and popped champagne with celebrities. “Wouldn’t it be a dream to live here?” my travel companion sighed, dreamily. “Yes, it would.”

Today, I do live here — kind of. My small flat is just down the road. I get to Portofino by bike sharing, spend my days hiking, and splurge on 9-euro Aperol Spritz aperitivi so I can get the free snacks. Truth be told, I came to Portofino the first time as a tutor for a world-traveling European family. I lived the high life with them, enjoying a fairytale tourist experience. Then I fell in love with my waiter, returned after my tutoring gig was over, and today enjoy more of a local, Italian lifestyle.

Here’s a peek into the affordable side of this beautiful former fishing village, and the secret spots that both the posh and the proletariat frequent.
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