Sunday, July 13, 2014


the basilica di santa maria del fiore, or florence cathedral

after istanbul i spent about 10 days driving through italy with my parents. we flew to rome and drove straight to a little town called impruneta outside of florence and from there we spent time in lucca, modena, lake garda, verona and venice as well as several places along the way. here are my photos and memories.

driving all over the italian countryside with sunlight streaming through the clouds, past crumbling farmhouses, huge tree covered hills, shallow streams flowing over white pebbles, wineries with rows and rows of grapes, tiny mountain towns and big cities full of sherbert-coloured houses. neon yellow egg yolks and the best tomatoes in the world. gelato every day (sometimes twice). beautiful vine covered buildings and flower filled balconies.

florence: the best pizza i had in the whole of italy from i tre pini in impruneta on our first night. the winery we stayed at in the hills of tuscany which had a hedgehog as its emblem. stopping on our way into florence at an outlook with a view of the whole city. florence cathedral and pont vecchio.

lucca: delicious fudge and truffles from cioccolato cavalsani and ice cream from essenza del gusto. climbing the rickety 207 stairs of the clock tower for a view of the city. walking into a church just as a choir started practising. driving to forte di marmi for brunch and buying silk scarves with flowers and cats on them.

modena: my favorite gelato from anywhere we visited was from a little place called paradice. our waiter at dinner who spent six months of every year in south africa and who liked us because we were from the same hemisphere.

the view from lucca clocktower

lake garda: getting lost on the way there and having to get on and off the autostrada three times. eating cherries on our balcony overlooking the lake. a simple but delicious dinner at hotel ristorante miralago with a lovely man who served us four plates of extra vegetables at no charge. wandering up to moniga castle in the unusually long dusk with a big moon overhead. finding a little bar with a beautiful view over the lake that played the same CD on repeat and served chips and bread and cheese for free with your drinks. catching the ferry to the magical town of sirmione and wandering around the castle with white swans in the moat that opens to the lake. making friends with a bug-eyed chihuahua named benny. gigantic ice cream cones dipped in chocolate and sprinkles and nuts. coming across the tiniest pebbled beach with swans walking on the shore and ducks and fish swimming two steps into the water. catching the ferry back to moniga and swimming in our pool in the late afternoon.

verona: visiting juliet's balcony at the casa di capulet. lavender crème brûlée for lunch dessert. the arena di verona which is older than the colosseum.

casa di giulietta, or juliet's balcony

venice: buying fresh eggs and fruit and vegetables from the markets near the rialto bridge. piazza san marco and the basilica. a gondola ride through the canals. exploring the other, less tourist-filled side of the rialto. eating gelato in a cone-cup from gelatoteca suso. buying pretty white embroidered linen shirts. eating dinner at a flowery restaurant on the grand canal on our last night.
the view from the rialto bridge

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


sultanahmet camii (the blue mosque)

making friends on my first night in istanbul before my parents arrived. hearing the call to prayer resound in the streets several times a day. visiting the blue mosque and ayasofya. seeing the beautiful tiles in the harem and the rose gardens of topkapi palace. shopping at the grand bazaar and takism square and buying tea from the spice markets. haggling with confidence after getting some experience in egypt. friendly dogs and cats everywhere in the streets. my mum waking up from a two hour nap thinking she’d slept the whole night through. crossing over the bosphorus bridge and visiting the asian side – one of the only places in the world where one city spans across two continents (europe and asia). seeing the medusa’s heads in the basilica cistern. eating testi kebab, cooked in a clay pot and cracked open in front of me by the waiter. seeing donduma (traditional turkish ice cream) being stretched out, and eating it of course. apple tea served at the end of most meals (it tastes just like hot apple juice). street carts selling hot chestnuts and grilled corn. several visits to hafiz mostafa who has been in business since 1864. i can personally recommend the coconut, hazelnut, almond and pistachio baklavas and the little fruit tarts.

bosphorus bridge


topkapi palace