My Love For Pizza & Beer - Italy & Austria!
Updated: May 24
This is one that I’d been dreaming of for ages! I set off to Europe with my family after not being on a holiday for a decade. So you can take a guess as to how excited I was! I zigzagged across Italy and Austria during the 20 days that I was there.
Rome – Sorrento – Florence – Venice – Innsbruck – Salzburg – Vienna – I hit them all!
Let’s start off by describing Rome first. Known for its history and architecture, I felt as though I’d been transported through time, with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display, the entire city felt like an open air museum. Ancient ruins like the Forum and the Colosseum gave you a sense of the power and sophistication of the Roman Empire. And like a jewel within a Faberge egg, you have the Vatican City, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. A country within the city, it has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Touring around the beautifully historic city, with my camera and my backpack, trying amazing food and making conversations with the locals. (who aren’t the friendliest in the world)
From Rome, we set out for Sorrento, an adorable little coastal town in southwest Italy. Sorrento offered a lot of scenic paradises to tour around, so I started off with the island of Capri. Capri might be a small island, but it has a whole lot of things to do. From trying different cuisines by the beach to water sports and boat rides touring the whole island, to shopping and just wandering off and exploring the magnificent locations.
We spent a whole day there, starting with a boat ride around the whole island. The crystal blue waters and the bouncy waves made it quite the experience. On the coast of the island is the Blue Grotto, a tiny little sea cave where sunlight passes through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, creates a brilliant blue and emerald reflection that illuminates the cavern. Since the cave is only 2 meters wide and one meter high, it is very difficult to enter if the waves aren’t calm enough. Luckily, I don’t occupy too much space and had the chance to enter that beautiful world by the sea. We tourists began to sing songs inside since our voices echoed so well in the dark, blue hole. For you movie buffs out there, this is the island where a whole bunch of James Bond movies were shot.
The next day we hit the road for the famous Amalfi Coast drive, one of the most scenic coastal drives in all of Europe. The scenery is superb, looking out over the Mediterranean and along the coastline as the road twists and turns its way towards Positano. The town of Positano looks like a waterfall cascading down the rocks to the sea.
After reaching our stop, we visited the city’s magnificent 9th century cathedral, wandering the narrow meandering streets and browsing through the many shops and coffee houses. We visited a beautiful restaurant called Scala for a lunch, which overlooked Revello and the Amalfi Coast. The food there was as exquisite as the view.
Since it’s Italy and you can’t throw a rock without destroying a priceless piece of history, our next stop was the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Now more accurately referred to as the ruins of Pompeii, since it was destroyed and buried under metres of volcanic ash and pumice after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
I trekked all the way up to the crater of this still active volcanic mountain, which is currently regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.
The vacation got lovelier by the day, as we progressed to our next stop: Florence! While Florence may be very much like Rome, as a large, bustling metropolis, it has its own distinct historical charm. As a center of art and learning, it was instrumental in the blossoming of the Renaissance period, and gives off a distinctly dreamy vibe. I stayed at a beautiful hotel called ‘Hotel Home Florence’. The entire hotel was pure white, with everything from the furniture to the walls and the bedrooms, bathrooms, and dining area, all done up in white. It was soo beautiful, and made me feel like a queen in my white palace.
These two days were spent amidst art, culture, wine and delicious food. An unforgettable experience in the most impressive places in Tuscany, from Siena to Montalcino to Pienza to Montepulciano and finally to the beautiful sea-side villages of Cinque Terre!
The days were spent exploring various towns and their attractions, encountering exceptionally scenic locations as well as sampling multiple wines and cheeses produced with delicious locally-sourced snacks.
Here are some images from this day.
Now we come to my favorite part. Ever since I visited this floating city, I’ve been totally in love with it. Venice is like a dream filled with loads of love, gorgeous music and, of course, tons of water. Every minute spent there was soo amazingly beautiful and I feel soo grateful! We stayed at a vintage Venetian hotel called ‘Hotel do Pozzi’. It had some of the best vintage furniture and décor, and a great breakfast to go with it.
We spent two days there exploring the whole town. On my last day I felt like I had still not seen enough so I woke up early, got dressed, packed my bags and left for my last walk around before my ride to the station arrived. Within minutes, the skies opened up and it started to pour, so I took shelter in the shop in which I’d been going through some local ornaments known as Muranos (protip: Murano is an island off Venice known for its incredible glasswork). By the time the rain subsided I was already running late and had to rush back to my hotel to check out. I ran down the steep slopes of the city to get to the main city square, from where I had to cross over a tiny bridge to reach my hotel. I then found out that people weren’t kidding when they said Venice is constantly sinking, since what used to be a footpath had turned into a waist deep pool of water after the shower.
I was completely paranoid! I couldn’t afford to get wet as I only one pair of shoes to last for the whole trip. To add to that, my bags were packed, my dad would be hopping mad and my ride to the station had arrived. In a city as romantic as Venice, it’s only fitting that I was rescued by a cute Italian cop, who saw me on the verge of tears. He came over, saw the problem, and without a moment’s hesitation told me to hop onto his back! I couldn’t understand his language and he couldn’t understand mine, but in a situation like that words aren’t really necessary :)
He carried me all the way to the bridge that led to my hotel and finally put me down. What did I have to give him in return? Just a quick kiss on his edible Italian cheek! I got so shy as I thanked him that I ran away. He must’ve thought I was a child.
Certainly not a memory I’ll forget anytime soon.
“TO BUILD A CITY WHERE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BUILD A CITY IS MADNESS IN ITSELF, BUT TO BUILD THERE ONE OF THE MOST ELEGANT AND GRANDEST OF CITIES IS THE MADNESS OF A GENIUS“
So that was Italy for you. Now moving on to Austria. Normally tourists only visit Vienna – the capital, but that means they miss out on seeing the real beauty of the country, which lies in the town of Innsbruck. Kind of satiated from eating pizzas for 10 days straight, it was a delight to dig into some real meaty dishes.
The steaks and ribs that you get there are super! And so are the portions. I’ve never eaten anything better.
We visited the beautiful Swarovski factory where I learnt about the making of the crystals. My mom went crazy shopping tiny tiny pieces of jewellery from there.
Some images from there:
The city of music! The most renowned musicians came from this melodically historic place. There is a famous tour here called ‘The Sound of Music Tour’ that’s an absolute must-do if you visit Salzburg. You can enjoy a wonderful bus ride with breathtaking views of the landscape where the opening scenes of the movie were filmed.
You’ll see lots of highlights from the movie and learn about the many historical and architectural landmarks in the city. And of course, there’s a whole lot of singing and dancing that takes place throughout the bus ride, which too is extremely enjoyable.
The next day in Salzburg we visited a number of towers, castles, and churches. Not to forget Mozart’s home and study where he sat and made history.
Don't forget to visit the Salzburg zoo to see some magnificent wildlife!
Here are some images:
I was already depressed by the time I reached the city. I knew I was coming towards the end of this splendid vacation. Vienna was beautiful too, with its grand buildings and huge palaces. We did a city tour which give us an overall impression of the most significant historical sights of Vienna. Along the Ringstrasse we saw numerous grand buildings, such as the MAK, the State Opera House, the magnificent Museum of Fine Arts (with its world famous art treasures of the Habsburgs), and the Natural History Museum.
The highlight of this tour was a visit to the showrooms of Schönbrunn Palace, once the summer residence of the Habsburg family and home of Empress Maria Theresia.
Vienna makes the best cakes in the world! On your visit, don’t miss out on trying the legendary Imperial Torte. Deliciously exquisite, light cocoa crème is filled in between six ¬layers of delicate almond wafers. Finally, fine chocolate glaze covers the sublime marzipan beneath. Truly, an imperial treat.
Some Tips for you guys!
• Eat a lot of gelato, it’s the best in the world and flavours you cant even imagine • Keep hopping to different wine bars every night in Italy • Definitely make the most of the little confectioneries by the side of the streets. • Must do the Gondola ride in Venice • Try speaking to the locals for suggestions • Climb Mt. Vesuvius if you visit Pompeii • Spend your money on experiences, forget about the shopping! • Buy bottles of Limoncello from Sorrento, its delicious! • Try the meats at local stalls for a different dining experience • Try all the possible locally brewed beer in Austria • Don’t miss out on trying the 6 layered legendary Imperial Torte in Vienna • Do a royal carriage ride in Innsbruck • Pick up a few beautiful Murano ornaments from Venice • Travel from city to city by train, you will get a chance to see the most beautiful countryside. • Most importantly, take a few minutes off and truly breathe in every experience.
Where to stay!
Innsbruck - Hotel Weisses Kreuz
Salzburg - Hotel Hofwirt Salzburg
Vienna - Westbahnhof to Hotel Erzherzog Rainer
Rome - Ambra Palace Hotel
Sorrento – Villa Maria Hotel
Florence - Hotel Home Florence
Venice - Corte Dei Greci Hotel
What to eat!
Rome • Try the delights of creative gourmet cuisine at restaurants such as Quinzi & Gabrieli, Alberto Ciarla, and Le Sans Souci. • Trastevere for amazing Pizzas, and Vaticano for the best Gelatos, coffees and Paninis.
Sorrento • Here try the rich seafood and dishes like "cannelloni" gnocchi alla sorrentina, pasta with beans, stuffed pepper caprese salad, pasta with courgettes, parmigiana di melenzane.
Florence • A typical Florentine antipasto dish is a recipe called crostini di fegato, pieces of Florentine bread which have been baked and dunked in soup, and then garnished with chicken liver pate, capers and anchovies
• Another traditional Florentine specialty is the famous bistecca alla fiorentina. The steak comes from Chianina It is thick cut, weighs not less than 800g, cooked on the grill, served rare and, on occasion, with a wedge of lemon on the side.
• Some of the more famous, traditional restaurants include: Il Latini, Trattoria Mario, Coco Lezzone and La Casalinga
Venice • For high-quality Venetian dishes, visit Da Pinto. There are many popular wine bars that have become real institutions, try Da Fiore, Harry’s Bar and Antico Pignolo.. These Café’s will surely make you merry!
Innsbruck • When it comes to a quick bite to eat the typical Austrian Wurstelstandl (sausage stands) are a good alternative to the many McDonald's branches littering the city. • For some amazing gourmet food try less expensive establishments offering good solid Austrian and Tyrolean food such as Stiftskeller next to the Old Town or the Ottoburg restaurant. • Café Katzung & Café Central are traditional rustic establishments where you can gobble down your hot dog with a can of beer or also have a relaxed cup of coffee and a piece of cake. • Some more modern large cafe-restaurants, are Stadtcafe, Segafredo Sky Cafe and Unicafe. • Finally, a broad range of bars await you for an evening drink. Kir Royal, for simple cocktails, Toscana - a charming cafe-bar next to the Kellertheater. Fischerhausl's garden is really quite comfortable and is also open in winter
Salzburg • The most famous brewery here is the "Stiegl Brauerei," which has its own museum, where visitors can learn about the art of beer brewing. • For great local food check out Krimpelstatter, located in the Mulln district or Stiftskeller St. Peter located on the grounds of St. Peter's Monastery
Vienna • The omnipresent Wurstelstand (sausage stands) are always worth a visit, serving typically Austrian sausage. • There are also Austrian chains like Schnitzelhaus or Wienerwald. And, for those with a penchant for excellent food, Vienna offers plenty of fine restaurants, especially in the inner city. A word of advice: it might be wise to carry cash in Vienna, as many restaurants do not accept credit cards. • Another gorgeous coffeehouse that you should take a look at is Sperl, located in District 6. It's the oldest coffee house in Vienna (established in 1880), and it has some of the most beautiful old furnishings.
There is nothing more delightful than a trip to Europe! Few sites down, and still counting… until my next adventurous visit. :)
This world is way too big, and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.