To me, Italy is a country full of colour, full of life. It is a country of beautiful chaos, of the hustle and bustle of busy squares, of Vespas zipping through traffic, of restaurants carrying a cacophony of sounds through the night, people laughing and plates clanking and corks popping. Perhaps this is why I see the colour red everywhere in Italy: the crumbling walls of buildings, the sweet ripe cherries in the hot sun, the swirls of pasta on the plate, the dark oxblood of a perfect glass of wine, the splashes of colour against a rainy sky or a crowded beach. To me, red represents that Italian energy, that vivacity, that beauty.
I’ve been lucky this summer, because it’s been a summer of near constant travel, more-so than usual for me. If we count May, I’ve visited Italy twice (Bologna and Cinque Terre), Spain (to Mallorca, where I stayed in a villa with my mum for a week), Sweden (for a travel blogging conference), and Prague (for a weekend holiday with a friend). I also have a weekend in Brighton coming up, as well as a few days in Paris at the end of the month. It’s been a spectacular string of travels, and I’ve loved every minute.
And, oh yeah, I also fell in love with a drink.
One of the reasons I love travelling so much is because of towns like Lovere. Before visiting Bergamo, I didn’t even know it existed; to my knowledge, I had never read about it or seen photos of it. And yet, when I arrived on that rainy day, it immediately spoke to me: the green and blue shutters on the houses, the cool air coming down from the mountains across the lake, the small coffeeshops in the centre of town serving afternoon espresso. It was the kind of place that made you want to stay longer, made you want to explore its streets through every twist and turn. It was the epitome of why I’ve grown to love Italy so much in the first place.
Because that’s the thing – we have absolutely no control over the weather (short-term, anyway, don’t get me started on global warming). When we go to book a holiday we have little to go on other than what previous years have told us. I may know that a particular season is rainier than others, but even that doesn’t guarantee that I’ll need a raincoat or umbrella.
But looking at that forecast for Bergamo, I decided to pack accordingly. “I’ll bring an umbrella,” I thought. “A pink one.”
I am starting a new series on the blog, which, if you haven’t already figured out, is called “Why I Love ______”. And today, because it’s cold in London and I’m craving pasta (both of those things can be said for nearly every day of the year, to be fair), I’m writing about Basilicata.
I had never heard of Basilicata before I was invited by their tourism board to visit. Not many others I’ve talked to have heard of it, either. But from the moment I arrived in Bari (which is in southern Italy, and only a short and cheap flight away from London) and then drove an hour to Matera, I knew I was going to like it.
This time last year, I could have never predicted where I’d be at this exact moment: sitting on the patio of my family’s rented casa in Nicaragua, a spiced rum and coke beside me, the sun dipping low in the sky before it sinks past the ocean’s horizon and out of sight. I thought that 2013 wasn’t a very big year for me, but it was; it was one of transition, of finally moving to London. 2014 started off slow, with almost no plans – soon it grew into a year of travel, a year of accomplishments, and a year of maturing (both in numbers and in mindset). Here’s a little review of the past year.
Be warned: there are lots of photos!