I am inviting you to travel slow in Italy. Stay in a hilltop farmhouse surrounded by olive trees, an apartment in a cute medieval village or a villa with seaview. Live like a local. Get to know your Italian neighbours, the baker, the butcher, the old ladies selling zucchini flowers at the market, the men playing cards at the bar. Walk, bike, learn some Italian, pick up local habits like breakfast at the bar or siesta after a lazy lunch. Just go to the piazza and watch Italian life happen.
Do you love those bus tours, when you visit 21 cities in 8 days? Are you travelling with a long list of must see places, running from one tourist attraction to the other? Are you taking a selfie at every corner, posting it right away on social media? Do you often feel like you need a holiday after your holiday, as you feel so tired and stressed by the end? Well, many of us travel like that. We have often stressful, busy lives, and when we finally go on holiday, the crazy rush continues. But it does not need to be this way. I am inviting you to embrace the idea of slow travel, to travel better and in a more responsible way. Italy is surely the best place to enjoy your first ever slow vacation.
Stay in a cute Italian village for a couple of weeks, give yourself enough time to discover the destination and meet local people. Walk, get on your bike or hop on the local bus and visit the surrounding villages at a leasurely pace. Get to know the little shops in the village, the bakery, the butcher, the bar at the corner. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the local market and try cooking a local specialty in your rented apartment. Take a cooking lesson or an Italian course. Try to read a local newspaper while enjoying your morning coffee. Enjoy running on the beach. Take a siesta every afternoon. Read a good book by a local author in your hammock. Go for a swim at sunset. Feel like home in Italy. And at the end, go home relaxed, refreshed and full of amazing experiences.
Yes, I used to be a checklist girl. I have travelled to over 50 countries on 5 continents, to breathtaking places like New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Canada, Costa Rica or the Faroe Islands. I planned every trip carefully and had a long list of things to see and do. Of course it was fun, I was also younger, full of energy, and I could go for weeks with almost no sleep, to make sure there's time for everything. Then every time I got home I was sick and very tired. I was looking at the hundreds of photos I had taken, and I couldn't even remember the names of the places I visited.
Then I started working as a group leader for Intrepid Travel, travelling around Italy for years. It meant I went back to the same places over and over again. The first few times I went to see everything on my checklists, but then when my groups had free time, and I was also done with paperwork, I had nothing to do. And that was the moment when I really started falling in love with the places we visited. I was just cycling around the empty streets of Lucca during siesta time, lying on a rock in the Cinque Terre watching the sea and listening to the waves for hours, sitting in a tiny bar in Positano reading my book, shopping for lunch at cute village markets and chatting with local people everywhere. No churches to visit, no museums to line up for, no famous monuments to take a photo of. Just enjoying this amazing country, making new friends and spending my days everywhere like a local.
Then 6 years ago my daughter was born, and of course this wonderful little girl totally changed my life. I am learning so much from her, she is teaching me to be more mindful, and every day I get better at enjoying the slow moments together. Now we often travel together, and she is the master of slow travel. And with her, I couldn't even travel any other way.
When travelling together in Italy, we just pick one place for 1-2 weeks. We visit the local villages, walk around, get lost in those pretty, narrow streets, have a long lunch on the piazza, where she can enjoy running around as there are no cars and no crowds. In the afternoon a gelato or two, surely her favourite activity. On other days we just try a hidden beach in the area and collect stones or play in the sand and the water for hours. With her it's so easy to meet local people as well. Old mammas just love her, and we connect to other families with small kids in a second. No compulsory programs and no rush. Practicing the art of slow travel.
So if you are planning a trip to Italy, treat yourself. Give yourself enough time to immerse in this breathtaking country, to slow down and be really present. Forget about mass tourism, imagine you live here. Choose quality over quantity. Of course it doesn't mean you can't visit some of the world-famous attractions of Italy, but remember, less is often more.
Instead of international hotel chains, stay in accommodation run by local families. Rent an apartment, a villa, a farmhouse, or if you prefer, a room in a small B&B or hotel. Support local families by staying at their accommodation, eating in their trattoria, booking their tours or buying their homemade souvenirs. Experience real life in Italy, walk a lot, try to connect with the wonderful local people, enjoy regional food in restaurants where the residents go, take a siesta, visit places you have never heard of. Don't plan everything, leave time for the unexpected, go and see what's around that corner. You'll have the best holiday ever, full of magical Italian moments. You'll never want to travel any other way. And if you need help, please contact me through this website, I'll be delighted to help you organise your slow vacation in Italy.