What is the best way to see Italy?
Is it a rapid fire visit to each major monument?
Is it clutching maps on street corners trying to “find stuff”?
Is it consulting Trip Advisor for every hotel decision?
Is it ingesting mediocre food cause you can’t read the menu properly?
I think there are better ways.
But you gotta shift your travel priorities.
You gotta stop trying to SEE Italy — cause you’ll die trying.
Instead, try to FEEL Italy.
Choose nuanced and experiential travel.
Choose FEELING Italy over SEEING Italy.
Because then you will never loose.
You just gain. You gain everlasting memories, friends that can’t wait to see you again and places that you want to return to with your lover. Because they made you feel good.
Travel (done right) can stoke your internal fire.
Travel can make the little ember inside of you burn brighter: it can remind you of life’s true priorities. You want to live well. You want to be inspired. You want to embrace an authentic vision of yourself. You want to love your job, your relationship, your family.
You want to be in love with your life.
Travel can remind you of that.
So, can a week in Italy change your life for the better? Absolutely. And I’m on a mission to make that happen for you.
I just spent three weeks in Italy.
It was incredible. No – better.
I was hosting a group of nine women in the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. I showed them how to Fall in Love as well as the beautiful nooks and crannies of a corner of the planet that was my playground for the two years that I lived in Italy with my Italian hubby.
The group of women was incredible. Most were strangers two weeks ago. But bonds were made and invitations swirled among them, “Come visit me! My house is your house”. I needed a tissue saying goodbye to each one of them. Seriously. Jackpot.
We stayed in the small seaside village of Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre in rooms with verandas carved from the steep hillsides with views of village life and grape terraces.
Many people don’t get off the train there. There are no big fancy hotels. No iconic Renaissance paintings. No Gucci, no Pucci, no Ferragamo. Just men watching boats in the harbour with deeply lined faces from a lifetime of hard work. Laundry hanging out of the windows. Geraniums’ stealing what little space exists on balconies and in doorways. The travellers were fewer in number in Italy this year – Eurozone economic woes are on the lips of every shopkeeper in the country. In comparison to years past, we practically had the village to ourselves.
Here is a drop kick of the highlights of the trip
- Day one was spent in a hilltop village in the middle of nowhere. We tasted local wines with a sommelier and art lover and ate a lunch that never ended in her husband’s family home come kick-ass restaurant. Yes — a four hour lunch is leisurely even by Italian standards. But jet lag needed to unfurl. And it did. Deliciously.
- A cooking class on our veranda with ravishing co-host and best friend Tim Mcdiarmid who runs her mini empire of all things delicious and arty and beautiful out of San Antonio for the lucky peeps that get to eat at her Pop-Up restaurant. See the feature article on the Kitchn about this class.
- A cooking class in a family’s 17th century villa they’ve had for generations. They have their own minuscule church, incredible views of surroundings hillside villages, cherry trees and a wisteria covered patio. We made delicious things, like pesto with mortar and pestle with the best cooking teacher a gal could ever want: Alberto — a multilingual good looking gent who loved to cook while chatting about food, love and told us charming story after story about…..his kid (sorry ladies – sounded too good to be true didn’t it).
- A shopping trip to Genova. I scored local shopping queen Rosa Batelli to show us the coolest things in this totally gritty and beautiful city that most people skip in favour of the more famous Italian spots. One women (I’m not naming any names!) was so successful in her treasure hunt that she had to buy rolling luggage mid-day just to carry her bags around. Big laughs all around.
- What is a way to make a women feel totally gorgeous and special? Get her in front of the lens of Milan based fashion photographer Filippo Mutani. Yes, he works with beautiful women everyday in cities around the world. And he also came to our village to capture each woman in her own exclusive portrait session. File that under once in a lifetime experiences. Especially after he just scored a big Armani gig (caution: openly bragging). That just might make him incredibly hard to book for next year — which makes me wonder what magic I’ll have to work.
- Dinners eaten together every night like a big family. I loved that. It was a chance to connect, laugh, and be friends. And where else in your life do you get to do that nightly for a week with no dishes, no spouses, no TV and no kids? Eating meals together is battery charging. We need more of that.
- Outdoors. Fresh air. Every day. Hiking on trails. Walking in villages. Yoga class with Miranda. Workouts with Josh. No cars. No noise (except for those crazy morning church bells). Steep cliffs overlooking turquoise seas. And more stairs than you thought possible. Breathing is good.
- The whole week captured by the massively talented photographer Leela Cyd Ross. See her stunning trip photos here. Leela is Apartment Therapy’s photo editor and her clients include beauties like the New York Times and Wayfare Magazine. Her super feminine and optimistic aesthetic was a perfect match for the Italian Fix brand and watching her work from dawn to dusk as our photographer was incredible. If you like her style then you won’t want to miss next year’s trips. That’s all I’m going to say for now.
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Images by trip participant Bernadette Cay