Each month I take part in a travel linkup (details below). This month is all about foodie experiences...
Food is one of the most important aspects of travel. Each destination has its own tastes and traditions that create a more meaningful experience when discovered. Whenever I decide on my next adventure, I automatically begin dreaming about what I'll eat, researching the best cafes and not-to-be-missed bites.
When I think back over my travels and the many dishes I've devoured, the experience that means the most is my time in Italy.
Anyone who knows me can tell you about my obsession with Italian cuisine. Fresh pasta, mozzarella and basil, a bottle of chilled Prosecco... in the two weeks that I spent travelling around Northern Italy with my best friend Laura, I was in heaven.
Florence was our first stop, perfect for people watching... bustling coffee shops for a quick cappuccino and pastry or fresh pasta and wine in one of the many packed squares.
I ate my weight in gelato, discovering a new found addiction for pistachio and classic stracciatella. I also had my first taste of homemade Italian pizza, a perfect thin soft dough with crispy coating and gigantic slices of spiced pepperoni.
Lake Garda came next, a relaxed, slow-paced break from the city life. Peschiara, the nearby town, was full of cobbled streets lined with fresh bakeries and deli counters stuffed to the brim with cheeses and meats, a foodie haven.
We enjoyed lake-side dining with fresh pasta and cool cocktails as we cycled and strolled around the water's edge.
Our favourite way to spend the evening was with a takeaway aubergine pizza, eaten by the lake with a cheap bottle of delicious Italian red wine.
Those sunset evenings watching the water turn a deeper shade of blue will forever be a treasured memory.
Moving on, we travelled to Verona, a city I hold close to my heart. My first bite of a calzone, bought from a market stall in a square... I can still taste the rich tomato sauce.
But when I think back to Verona, the moments that mean the most are the evenings we spent in our trendy Italian apartment, cooking up a feast with the fresh ingredients we'd bought in the town just hours before.
I remember many humorous occasions of giggling away as we pointed at various meats, trying our best at the Italian language.
We ended our Italian adventure on a bang with a few days in the floating city.
Venice was everything I'd imagined and more. I wrote a post a while back about how we discovered the true city by getting lost, and it was in this way that we also experienced a taste of local Venetian cooking. Here I had my first cicchetti, small plates of bar food often complimentary with a glass of wine, including fresh crispy calamari.
Venice is a labyrinth of narrow towering lanes, dotted with cosy bars and tiny trattorias. We found a lovely family run restaurant, where a husband and wife served their parents classic dishes to a select few outdoor tables. My zucchini and shrimp pesto pasta was one of the best dishes I've ever had, one that I've tried to recreate on many occasions.
Eating in Italy was not just a meaningful experience because of my love for the cuisine. It taught me to discover new places, explore the local areas and even better, that the most special moments can be the simplest.
For more on Italy check out the below posts: