Ciao from the Italian Countryside!

We took a train from Venezia Santa Lucia to Susegana. I decided to sit by the window, and there I witnessed the light from the sun slowly painting the sky with beautiful hues. Sunrise marked the start of a beautiful day. Halfway through our destination, it started to snow. Oh how unpredictable and magical life can be.

Not long after, we heard a voice announcing our stop.. I think someone told us that the platform was not long enough. And because we were sitting at the far end of the train, we had to hurry and move! So there we go again, running for our lives, together with our luggage. It felt like we were in an action movie, really. Imagine a vigilante-catching-the-villains-on-the-train scene. We were the villains trying to get away. We are skilled so we got off the train in one piece. Haha. Then, we met our Italian guy, Marco Bozzo!! It was a breath of fresh air seeing him after all the hardships we went through. Ahhhh, finally, we would have some rest in the Italian countryside!

The girls with Marco Bozzo - Italy
On our way to Marco’s home!

P.S. Marco lives in Farra di Soligo, a commune in the Province of Treviso in the Veneto region, Northern Italy. If you’d like to pay him a visit, do let me know! Haha. Kidding aside, he has a very cozy Airbnb room where he let us stay for free. Well, that’s what friends are for. Haha thanks Marco!

Exploring the North

A taste of paradise

It was a beautiful sunny (but cold) day, so to make the most out of it, Marco took us to a peaceful and incredibly beautiful place called La Rondine located in Santo Stefano village, in the town of Valdobbiadene. My goodness, it is a paradise! A paradise of vineyards! The view was incomparable. I was happy to be there, taking in that moment of plain bliss. I felt nothing but genuine happiness.

Me crying tears of joy - Italy
Yes, I cried. Nara caught me and thought it would be nice to preserve that memory. Haha
Me crying tears of joy - Italy
Look at those happy tears!
Vineyards - Italy
Welcome to my crib!
Vineyards - Italy
Vineyaaaaaaards ♡
La Rondine - Italy
Let’s sit and have some wine, shall we?
Nara modeling - Italy
Narmina the supermodel

We met Marco’s family friends and owners of La Rondine, Nadia and Vittorio. They’re the best! A lovely happy couple! They warmly welcomed us with wine and more wine. White and rose, why not??! Not only that, they filled our tummies with GOOD food. It was heavenly.

With the owners of La Rondine - Italy
Meet my Italian grandparents! Haha
La Rondine wine - Italy
THE BEST!
La Rondine wine - Italy
Nothing but love ♡
The Italian first course - Italy
The Italian first course

A taste of history

Marco the tour guide took us to our next destination – Asolo.

Trivia 1: Known as “The City of a Hundred Horizons,” Asolo is a charming medieval town surrounded by lush mountains and hills. It was once ruled by Queen Caterina Cornaro who married the king of Cyprus, James II. Venetians wanted to take hold of Cyprus, but Caterina fought in resistance. Real queen, ey? However, she eventually surrendered the island after ruling it for almost 16 years. In return, she was given the town of Asolo, where she established a court for poets, scholars, and artists.     

Trivia 2: Freya Stark, Ernest Hemingway, and Robert Browning lived in Asolo! 

Garibaldi Square, Asolo - Italy
Piazza Maggiore. The fountain in the center has a winged lion detail which symbolizes Asolo’s former allegiance to the Venetian Republic.
Caught this cute and very adorable little girl calling her friend! - Italy
Caught this cute and very adorable little girl calling her friend!
Duomo di Asolo - Italy
Duomo di Asolo
A part of Castello della Regina Cornaro - Italy
I wasn’t able to take a good shot of the whole castle (Castello della Regina Cornaro/Queen Cornaro’s Castle), but here’s a part of it.
This idyllic view of Asolo left me in awe! - Italy
This idyllic view of Asolo left me in awe!
Another stunning view of Asolo - Italy
Another stunning view of Asolo
Narmina the supermodel - Italy
There she goes.. there she goes again ♪
Asolo in perspective - Italy
Asolo through my lens

It was an unforgettable first day exploring Italy’s other side! The best way to end it? Eat delicious pasta; have some more wine, cheese, and meaningful conversations. Cin cin!

Oh by the way, I’d like you to meet papa Tony, Marco’s dad. He’s a very funny guy! I remember that moment when he scared me wearing a creepy mask! I almost had a heart attack. Lol. Oh, Tony!

Marco's dad giving us a lesson about the history of Venice - Italy
Professor Tony giving us a lesson about the history of Venice
Chef Tony making sure we're eating well - Italy
Chef Tony making sure we’re eating well
Papa Tony just being.. well, papa Tony - Italy
Papa Tony just being.. well, papa Tony

A taste of (more) history

On our second day exploring, Marco took us to Abbazia di Santa Maria and Castel Brando. Oh what charming and lovely places! I felt like I was living in a fairy tale.

Trivia 3: “In keeping with the custom of the Order of Cistercians, the Abbey of Santa Maria in Follina stands near a water course, between a mountain and a plain. The monastic complex has been a national monument since 1921 and dates back to the 12th century. In 1915, the Servants of Mary settled in the Monastery of Follina and they still live there today.” (Source)

Abbazia di Santa Maria - Italy
I want this for my future garden! Lol
Abbazia di Santa Maria - Italy
This is my future home. Let me keep dreaming..
Abbazia di Santa Maria - Italy
The clock tower
Abbazia di Santa Maria - Italy
What a beauty!

Trivia 4: “Set on a promontory overlooking Valmareno, with a mild climate typical of the Treviso hills, Castel Brando is a splendid example of the historical and artistic restoration of one of the largest castles in Europe.” (Source)

Castel Brando sign - Italy

Gorgeous view from the castle - Italy
Gorgeous view from the castle
Gorgeous view from the castle - Italy
Anywhere I look, I see a beauty like this!
Castel Brando - Italy
Ahhhh, too much charm for my eyes

Castel Brando - Italy

Castel Brando - Italy
A different perspective
A beautiful tree in Castel Brando - Italy
The most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen!
A forest by the castle - Italy
A forest by the castle

We ended our day cooking for Marco and his family before we set off for Venice and Rome. Nara made her specialty Russian salad (I miss this huhu). Trang cooked beef strips with pineapple chunks, paprika, and broccoli (Missing this girl’s cooking </3). And I cooked nilagang manok (Filipino boiled chicken soup).

Dinner time - Italy

A taste of heaven

After Venice and Rome, Trang and I came back to Farra di Soligo for our trip to the Dolomites!!! I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited! That’s a lot of o’s, I know. Our early morning road trip was amazing! Talk about good friends, good music, and good conversations. Okay, I think I’ve overused the word good. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Oops.

Road trip to the Dolomites - Italy
Seeing snow-capped mountains is one of the best things in the world! Ahhhhh

Trivia 5: One of Italy’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Dolomites, constitute the eastern part of the Alpine Mountain Range.

“The Dolomites have always had an enormous impact on the imagination of all those who have seen them. No one has remained immune to their extraordinary fascination, to the extent so that they are universally considered ‘the most beautiful mountains on Earth.’” (Source)

Dolomites - Italy
Yes, this is real.
Marco and Elsan, our tour guides - Italy
Marco and Elsan, our tour guides

Now, the challenge. Hiking in winter. At first, it was easy peasy, but as we progressed, I didn’t think I could make it to the top. But did I have a choice? NO. </3 I wanted to give up because my legs were telling me to do so, but I had to go on and push myself. I must admit, there were moments my heart skipped a beat just by looking at how high I was from where we took off. I have fear of heights, but I didn’t let that break me. That’s the spirit, right? Haha. After moments of doubt, I finally did it! I reached the top!!! The view??? SURREAL. INCREDIBLE. MAGICAL. What I used to see in movies, photographs, and paintings was there RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES!!! Did you ever have that moment when you feel your eyes glowing because of seeing something so beautiful for the first time? That happened to me. A lot of times.

“..since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive.” – The Pilgrimage (Paulo Coelho)

Dolomites - Italy
Not a painting at all

Dolomites - Italy

Dolomites - Italy
Background NOT photoshopped haha
One happy kid - Italy
One happy kid
Trying to model hahaha - Italy
Trying to model hahaha
Trang sleeping on a bed of snow.. - Italy
Trang sleeping on a bed of snow..
Dolomites - Italy
Oops……

The way down was kinda slippery, but nonetheless, fun. Having hot cocoa after that hike was a treat. Life’s good!

Why I love the Italian countryside

I think it’s natural for me to feel a strong love for the countryside because I was born in one. It gives me a sense of peace and belonging.

I don’t like crowded places. Hence, exploring the Veneto region, where there are definitely more locals than tourists, was extra splendid! Another good thing is you get to discover hidden gems! I feel a deeper sense of connection to places not a lot of people have been to, places not everyone is talking about. And of course, nothing beats the laid-back vibe, the alleys, the fascinating nature, and the terrific food and wine of the Italian countryside!

P.S. If you ever go to Italy, live with the locals. Your tummy will be happy with all the hearty food and overflowing wine. Not to mention, you get to learn some Italian too. 😛

 

The trio in Italy
Il trio in Italia ♡

 

Continue Reading

What’s not to love about ITALY?

My home away from home, my dream come true, oh Italia, ti amo tanto!

Funny how I used to be amazed by your beauty in photos and movies. Then, you suddenly became part of my reality.

If you’ve read my 1st post, you’d know how unforeseen/spontaneous my travels were!

I remember watching Eat, Pray, Love; Roman Holiday; and Lizzie McGuire the Movie (10x or more haha). They all intensified my desire to go to Italy. I used to tell myself that one day, I would also throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain (I did it!! It’s a beautiful fountain!!), eat authentic Italian pizza and pasta (+gelato!! THE BEST. JUST THE BEST!), ride a gondola in Venice (With random people, it was a fun experience haha), and ride a vespa in Rome (Still have to do this with my one true love haha).

2016-05-15 Pizza scene from Eat, Pray, Love Vespa scene from Roman Holiday  Trevi Fountain scene from Lizzie McGuire the Movie

It was January 2016 when I realized Italy was no longer a picture, no longer a movie, no longer a dream in my head.

Here’s the story: before we went on our separate ways, Nara (my Azerbaijani friend), Trang (my Vietnamese friend), and I decided to go on a trip to Italy. I was TOO EXCITED that I didn’t really think about how little money I had left. But thank goodness, I survived. Haha. Special thanks to promos, connections, friends, Couchsurfing, and Airbnb. Lol.

First stop, Milan.

Of course, I was looking forward to having a good Italian meal on our first night. Il Capatosta’s brickoven pizza paired with red wine did not disappoint…

Love at first bite
Love at first bite

However, I think NOTHING COMPARES to Fresco & Cimmino’s pizza and pasta!

Parmigiana pizza
Parmigiana pizza
Spaghetti alla Nerano
Spaghetti alla Nerano

I’m craving now.. </3

And last but not the least, Cioccolat Italiani’s gelato is just heaven. Nutella + vanilla + pistachio is the perfect combo.

OOH LALA
OOH LALA
Gelato in winter? No problem!
Gelato in winter? No problem!

Okay, enough about food..

Because of the limited time we had, we weren’t able to see much of Milan. Nonetheless, we made sure not to miss seeing the Duomo – one of the largest gothic cathedrals in the world! I remember studying this sacred structure in Art Appreciation class back in college. Seeing it in person made my jaw drop. Literally. What a magnificent work of art!

The Duomo as our background? No big deal.
The Duomo as our background? No big deal.
Staring at that beauty..
Staring at that beauty..

One of the things I will never forget about Milan is the night we partied. Believe me, I really didn’t want to, but I ended up having so much fun. Haha. Luckily, we found the right place- Tocqueville 13. The good mix of music was enough to make us dance (and sing) the night away!

Partying in Milan

Second stop, the Italian countryside.

Since this is my favorite, it deserves a separate post! To my favorite Italian, Marco, wait for it! :p

Third stop, Venice.

Italy - Venice

Out of the 3 cities we visited, Venice has got to be the most charming for me. The people, the alleys, the houses, the bridges, the gondolas, ahhhh, everything that makes up this city is lovely!!! Let these photos speak for themselves:

Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset

Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset

San Marco Campanile

Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset

Processed with VSCO with k3 preset

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Processed with VSCO with k3 preset

Fourth stop, Rome.

We didn’t have enough time and money to visit the must-see places in Rome, so we just went our own way.

The Colosseum is stunning. And because we always have luck by our side, we weren’t able to see the inside since it was already closed.

Italy - The Colosseum
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

The largest Baroque fountain in Rome and one of the most beautiful in the world is the Trevi Fountain!!! I told my girls how badly I wanted to see it so they covered my eyes while we were walking towards it. Haha. When I finally opened my eyes, I felt like I was in a dream. Yes, I’ve had too many dream-like moments in Europe.

Italy - Trevi Fountain
Isn’t it lovely?
Dad (in the middle) with his friends just chillin' by the Trevi Fountain back in the day
Dad (in the middle) with his friends just chillin’ by the Trevi Fountain back in the day
Look, daddy! I made it!!
Look, daddy! I made it!!

Legend says, when you throw a coin into the fountain, you’ll be back in Rome. Frankly, I threw a coin for the hell of it. I think I made a wish, but I’m not so sure what it was. Haha.

Rome at night is alluring. As we walked over the Ponte Sant’Angelo or “The Brigde of Angels”, I looked at each angel sculpture and remembered the angel figurines I used to collect as a kid; I smiled.

Italy - Bridge of Angels
Ponte Sant’Angelo at night
Italy - The Angel of Sponge
“Portaverunt me aceto”
Italy - street artist
A talented street artist who badly wants to go back to the 50’s

Rome was the last city that we visited together, the city where we had to say goodbye. As a souvenir, the three of us got a spray paint art that will remind us of Italy and the memories we made.

To my loves, Nara, Trang, and Marco, thank you for making this trip possible!

I have yet to see more of Italy, but for now, ARRIVEDERCI!

Processed with VSCO with k3 preset

I Truly Absolutely Love You.

Continue Reading