Gubbio, Umbria, Italy

Lots of people I recently talked to, even some experienced travellers, never heard of town called Gubbio, one of the great Medieval stone towns in Italy. I don’t know why it gets overlooked by all sorts of tourists guides?

If you like history, Medieval architecture, Gothic palaces and churches, cobblestone streets, markets and good food, plus all in a beautiful natural setting, but far from the mainstream tourist flows, you don’t need to look any further. Go to Gubbio!

 

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Bellagio, Lake Como

Lake Como is a timeless classic. For hundreds of years it’s been a popular destination with the rich and famous but there are plenty of things to do at Lake Como for the humble tourist. I found that it doesn’t matter how lavish looking are the hotels and restaurants around, the natural beauty of the Lakes and surroundings are taking advantage and overshadow everything else. So much beauty in one place!

Lots of people can be put off by thinking it’s the exclusive place of holidaying oligarchs and film stars (George Clooney has a place there). I also thought initially that it’ll be too much for our budget. But if you opt like we did for self-catering, it can be very affordable, because all the best things there, like breathtaking scenery, fresh air, swimming in the lakes, wonderful walks around are FREE!

We stayed in Bellagio – perhaps the most well known town on Lake Como, but the house we rented situated just outside of city centre, perched on very VERY steep hilltop. And although the walk to the town and back required physical effort at least twice a day (well, we have to burn off all these Apperitivi and gelato some how!), we were rewarded with peaceful surroundings and the most stunning views.

 

Trattoria Vino e Cibo

This little hidden Trattoria and the meal we had there, wasn’t just a highlight of our recent trip to Italy, it was the best fish place I ever visited so far. Had we not been taken there by our dear friends we wouldn’t even have found it, let alone tried it. But we were so glad we visited this place, because here is where we had our best food moments.

Trattoria Vino e Cibo turns out to be a delightful tiny restaurant (very few seats) where you can taste the real cuisine of the Marche. The décor of this place is nothing out of the ordinary, even a bit tired. But don’t go there for the interior, go for the cooking and great wine!

The menu is unique and varies day to day. It all depends on what is caught at the nearby harbour. There’s no table top food menu, instead the owner comes over to the table with an A frame board, where you get to read the days creations. (Talk about locally sourced produce and reducing your carbon footprint! Seems they’re doing it right in Italy, you catch what you catch and eat what you catch. They’re not trying to meet quotas for supermarkets)! Ambiance is very cozy and the service is splendid and friendly.

We also had a local white wine, which we all loved, completely different from anything we’d ever tasted, so many different layered flavours. Often wines we buy in the UK will make me sneeze, like an allergic reaction, maybe because of certain sulphites or preservatives. This Italian wine, nothing!

We trusted our Friend who is local to this area with the food choice and everything he choose was amazing.

Pane e scombro

Pane e scombro

Tartar de Tonno

Tartar de Tonno

Cannocchie limone e rosmarino

Cannocchie limone e rosmarino

Seppioline ripiene al forno

Seppioline ripiene al forno

Rombo al forno con pendolini, olive e basilico

Rombo al forno con pendolini, olive e basilico

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Trattoria Vino e Cibo

Via Fagnani, 16

Senigallia, Italy

Monastero di Fonte Avellana

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We’ve just come back after short but lovely break to Italy. Without mentioning the food, one of the highlights for us was a trip to Monastero di Fonte Avellana, a  Roman Catholic hermitage in Marche region. It is truly a peaceful place with a few well preserved buildings and the natural surroundings are beautiful and tranquil.

The location is a bit remote and, I have to say, driving on the road up to the monastery was a bit adventurous and not very enjoyable. Both my sister and I felt a bit ‘fragile’ after reaching the top, however, soon after we were rewarded with the most stunning views, spectacular surroundings and authentic hospitality.

Apparently, you can stay there over night on a sort of B&B basis, but some people (like us) are coming here for hiking in the mountains, especially this time of year it is absolutely beautiful.  The only regret we had is that we could not stay longer.

I loved the harmony and peace of Fonte Avellana and thought that we must come back to explore more hiking trails in the area, breath the clean mountain air and listen to the silence.

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Mark’s highlights included catching multiple Italian grasshoppers, a lesser seen green spider, and a very speedy lizard.

Before leaving we visited the store where you can buy different goods produced by monks whom live there, including herbal teas, bitters, sweets, creams, soap, and for more adventurous their honey liquor, which  has 90 percentage of alcohol!

We tried this bright yellow ‘paint stripper’ on our last night after a proper Italian meat feast. If you like Pernod Anise, maybe you’d like this. Very fragrant, very yellow and very very strong. The best way to kill off any seasonal cold germs!!!

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Gola del Furlo

I visited Gola del Furlo during recent trip to Italy. This is truly an amazing place for nature lovers – naked limestone cliffs rise up on either side of the bright green waters of the Candigliano River, leaving just enough room for a narrow road pass. A couple of years ago there was a dramatic land slide and road collapse, (see pictures below), since then road is open for pedestrians only. The area is now a natural park and home to rare flora and fauna. There are plenty of perfect places to find for a picnic along the way or to climb up to the top of the gorge. Apparently, the small village of Furlo at the mouth of the gorge is a good place to eat truffles in season. However, when we were there, the village and the eatery places looked rather sad and derelict, some of them without any signs of life and when we stopped in one of the trattorias for a drink, the owner jumped at the occasion to share with us his worries about the future of the this place, his trattoria, his neighbours’ establishments, and how they were affected by the recent accident (road’s fall forced the closure of the main road between local villages) and the lack of the passer-by.

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