Italy, the land of my family, is a place I will never tire of visiting. I love so much about it, so here are the top 10 reasons I love Italia:
- The best food
Obviously, food is at the top of my list! I’m a foodie, I can’t deny it, and Italian food is my favourite. Being part of an Italian family, I was brought up on Italian food. When I was little, you would more often see me munching on olives, parmesan cheese or mortadella rather than sweets. I was practically weaned on parma ham and pasta. I see it as comfort food and I still love it. In Italy, family life is centred around food. It is at the heart of family gatherings and occasions because Italians are passionate about cooking, eating and sharing good food. And there’s plenty of good food to go around. From pasta to pizza and gelato to tiramisu, I’m yet to meet a single person who doesn’t like Italian food.
- Great weather
Sun, sun and more sun… Italy has almost as much sunshine as food! The warm weather rarely disappoints, although I have been caught out by unexpected and sudden rain storms a few times before. The climate in Italy varies from region to region, but you can guarantee that it will be warmer than in Wales (unless you visit the mountains during winter time!). It is always so nice to be able to enjoy the al fresco lifestyle but beware of the mosquitos!
Family are even more important to me than food, and that’s saying something! My grandparents migrated from Italy to Cardiff to find work after the war. They had never met each other before, despite being from nearby villages, but they became part of the Welsh Italian community and we have never forgotten our Italian roots. We still have a lot of family living in Italy near Parma and Naples and we try to visit them every couple of years. Whenever we visit, they argue over who is going to feed us and we end up eating a feast every lunch and dinner time… but it’s great, and I wouldn’t change a thing!
- The language
Italian is a beautiful language. I don’t know that much yet, but I am still trying to learn. We have always used Italian words for certain things at home, like buona notte, ciao and fagioli (beans), but apart from that, I didn’t learn Italian until I went to university. Now, every time I visit Italy, I want to know more and I can understand a little more each time. Maybe I should just go out to Italy and stay for a while to immerse myself in Italian. It’s the best way to learn a language and perhaps one day, I’ll be able to have a full conversation in Italian without a relative translating bits for me.
- The lakes
If you have ever visited the Italian lakes, you will understand why they are included in my top 10 reasons to love Italy. I’ve visited Lake Como, Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore – the three most well-known Italian lakes. They are all beautiful parts of the world, with clear blue water and surrounded by mountains and quaint villages. It is the perfect place for a holiday, with sandy beaches to relax, or boat trips and water sports if you’re feeling more adventurous. You can wander around the lovely little towns with a gelato in hand, or hike into the hills to admire the natural beauty of the area. Trust me, it is worth a visit!
- The mountains
Just in case you didn’t already know, I love mountains. That’s one of the reasons why I love Wales, so of course, it is also a reason why I love Italy, in particular, the Alps. If you climb into the Alps, you can find snow in the middle of summer, with breath-taking views and crystal-clear air. The mountains are refreshingly cooler than the cities, which is very welcome in the height of a hot Italian summer. When I’m talking about mountains in Italy, I also have to mention Mount Versuvio. It is very different to the Alps, but an exciting adventure at the same time. There is just something amazing about climbing an active volcano and gazing into its crater…
- The coast
I haven’t visited much of the coast of Italy yet, but the parts I have seen are incredible. In the north west, you can find the colourful coastal towns of Cinque Terre with their brightly painted houses scattered along the coast and charming harbour and beaches on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. If you travel further South, you could visit Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, surrounded by lemon trees and famous for its seafood. Further north, on the East coast of Italy, is one of Italy’s most famous cities – Venice. It is like nowhere I’ve been before, with its winding waterways and bustling streets. There is so much to explore in Venice and you can’t miss the pretty islands of Burano and Murano.
Italy is undoubtedly a historic land. Home to the ancient Romans, the story of this nation is painted across the landscape. From the heights of the Colosseum in Rome to the subterranean city of Naples and the snapshot of history you can see in Pompei, Italy is like taking a step back in time. I am intrigued by the tales these ancient sites tell and I adore the architecture across Italy with old churches, amphitheatres and bridges all around. Just imagine the stories they could tell…
- Café culture
Coffee is a staple in an Italian’s diet. First thing in the morning, drink coffee; Visit friends and family, drink coffee; Just finished a meal, drink coffee; Out and about, drink coffee. You can’t escape it and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to. It’s so much better than the coffee we get at home. It is smooth, less bitter and less fussy. I can even drink espresso now, so that kind of confirms that I’m Italian.
Another thing I love about Italy is that each and every region, town and city has its own character and personality. Florence is romantic and beautiful; Rome is historic and bustling; Milan is modern and fashionable; and Naples is chaotic and loud. No matter where you go, you will find speciality foods in each region and maybe even hear different dialects being spoken. I’m slightly biased, but for me, the region of Parma is one of my favourites with its speciality Parma ham (prosciutto), and Naples too, for its perfect pizzas and sfogliatelle. There are still so many Italian cities and towns that I want to explore, and I can’t wait to discover what they have to offer.
So that’s just 10 of the reasons why I love Italy. What do you love most about my favourite country?