Italy's once beautiful Cinque Terre has been ruined by mass tourism. The buses and trains are bursting, pickpockets roam the trains, walking tracks are closed due to landslides that haven't been repaired and the charming towns are overrun with tourists. Locals look either bored or grim, tourists look harried and gelato costs a bomb. It's... Continue Reading →
Romania’s last stand
This dot on the map is Sfântu Gheorghe. It’s Romania’s last stand before the Black Sea. To the east is Russia and to the right is Turkey and the architecture reflects that: homes with Ottoman Empire features, Orthodox church and, being Romania, communist era apartment blocks. It doesn’t much feel like Europe here with its... Continue Reading →
Prague’s classical comeback
Mozart loved Prague and used to visit for months at a time. Beethoven and Vivaldi also loved Prague. The Czech Republic’s premier composers, Dvorak and Smetlana were both proud Praghistas. But when you think of European classical music capitals, Vienna springs first to mind. However, I was surprised to learn that Prague has an... Continue Reading →
The Bella Black Sea
The road to Constanta is unlike most other Romanian roads: smooth with no potholes. It’s the first indication that Constanta is different. Owing to its Black Sea position, it’s more multicultural – a mélange of Turks, Greeks, Ukrainians, Russians – and the dialect too is a little different – they say merci for thank you... Continue Reading →
Burgundy wine and girl power
Vive la difference! In bucolic Burgundy they have come to their senses and realised that women taste wine differently to men. Often women can detect different aromas, subtlety and nuance in wine that, as a general rule, men, even professional winetasters, do not. Also the wine itself can be feminine or masculine. Feminine wine in... Continue Reading →
Au revoir Le Hop On Hop Off … Vive La Navette!
I'm an unreconstructed Francophile and my favourite Franco town is Dijon. It's one of France's loveliest walking towns. If you tire of the medieval riches then there's the food. If you tire of the food there's the wine. But we wanted more. We wanted to see more of the city without breaking into a sweat. Sweat is... Continue Reading →
Buonissimo! Break out the Barolo, Bella
Piedmont is The Quiet Italian. (Yes, there is such a thing). While tourists flock to Tuscany, Venice, Rome and the Amalfi Coast, Piedmont is steadily emerging as the go-to place for authentic cool climate Italian food and some of the world's most respected wines. Here you can try big boys like Barolo and Barbaresco as well as... Continue Reading →
Learn a language in 2015: it’s easier than you think
Is one of your New Year's Resolutions (or general aims in life) to learn a language? If you haven't learnt a language since the good old school days, now, thanks to the internet, it is a lot easier and way more fun. I am always in the process of brushing up on my French and... Continue Reading →
A new pasta to combat depression
Yes, it's true! Paste nuove per combattere la depressione (allungano la vita!). According to this pasticceria in Bologna these new types of cakes will relieve depression and lengthen lifespan. I like this shopowner's sense of humour!
Chocolate Box Bike Ride
It may be on the other side of the world to me, but this is hands-down the best bike ride I've ever done. The Romansh-speaking villages (an ancient Roman mountain dialect) on the Swiss-Italian border are chocolate box perfect and, combined with perfect weather, a glorious place to cycle. Take a look!