Tag: just exploring

The Loneliest House In The World, Elliðaey

Visit Website “Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Little place right on the

where can i buy Clomiphene and nolvadex Pacific. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That’s where I’d like to finish out my life, Red. A warm place with no memory. Open a little hotel right on the beach. Buy some worthless old boat and fix it up like new. Take my guests out charter fishing.”

-Andy, The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Elliðaey – The one & only…

When was the last time you felt as peaceful as Andy did at the end of “The Shawshank Redemption”? I bet you have never felt that way. Well, I did. Not because I ran away from prison but, because I could hear the waves which were kilometers away from me, so clearly, that my mind could think of nothing else but, peace. Yes, that’s EXACTLY how I felt. Only if I had the guts to dive down from those tall cliffs of the island into the North Atlantic Ocean, I would have.

Elliðaey is the northernmost of the Vestmannaeyjar Islands in the South Iceland. It’s the first island you see while going on a ferry to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands from Landeyjahöfn (South Iceland port).

Click here to read my blog on the Vestmannaeyjar Islands

Probably, the tallest peak on the island.

Today, I am gonna tell you about Elliðaey, where lies the loneliest house in the world. There is not much information about this island on the internet. Some say that it belongs to an Icelandic singer, some say it’s a haunted house and some say it belongs to the government. None of it is true.

The house shown above, on the island Elliðaey belongs to the Elliðaey Hunting Association. Now, this hunting association does not exist since Puffin hunting was made illegal in South Iceland in the year, 2008. Since then, only on some selected days of the year, it is allowed to hunt Puffin on this island.

Me(Left), My brother in law, Our Angel :p (Right)

Nowadays, the house is locked even though it is all clean and well maintained on the inside. It’s a great house in my opinion.

Elliðaey is basically an island made of rocks and lava. No one is sure whether it came blowing off from another island or a volcano during an eruption and got settled here or the island itself was a volcano and threw parts out of it and created other islands in Vestmannaeyjar Islands.

You can read about Vestmannaeyjar Islands here

I was there with my brother in law and we were scared as hell about the weather being so horrible that day, and we would have to cancel the entire plan and return with disappointment. Although, God was on our side (He always is) and He provided us the finest of the Icelandic weather there is to offer. A clear sunny day. Well, clear and sunny 4 hours, but yeah, it was worth it. Fell in love with it instantly.

I am the guy with the beard.

Now, I have heard and read many strange stories that it is illegal to go on to this island and you can be thrown into prison for attempting to do so. It is all false. I mean, obviously you wouldn’t want to go there all by yourself because it is too risky since it does not have a proper harbor to dock your boat and neither does it have a proper route.

You must sort of jump a little and climb a little and walk (walk cautiously) a little in order to get to the island. Or, in other words, experience the most peaceful time of your life.

Elliðaey was special for me. Not because its one of those places which is hardly touched by humans (Although, it’s a cool reason), but because, the moment I saw the picture of this island on the internet, I knew I had to go there in any possible way.

I literally had to pull some strings, mind it, INTERNATIONALLY to go to this island. I talked to many people from Iceland who made it clear that you will find no one who can take you to Elliðaey  but I was adamant on going there even if I had to do it myself.

Luckily, I found someone who could officially take me to the island and tell me great mysterious facts about it too. He also took me for hiking and rock climbing on this island as well as various other islands among the Vestmannaeyjar Islands.

I will have to ask him to mention his name here, but, if you ever wish to visit any of the Vestmannaeyjar Islands, you can contact me through any of my social media platforms and I will personally guide you how to do so.

Also, I have this audacity to do things which people don’t normally do or to go to places where people don’t normally go to. Its just my thing. So, the day I stepped onto this island, I felt so complete. Like, I could literally hear myself breathing. It was so quiet up there.

Gosh, I feel like going there right now. If you ever go there, promise me that apart from spending time on your phone ,cameras and drones and action cameras, you will give yourself at least 60 minutes to just stand up on the tallest cliff and just listen.

Listen to the waves hitting the rocks, listen to the Piglike grunt of the Puffin birds, listen to the “baa” “baa” of the sheep and listen to your mind talking to itself that how beautiful is this gigantic world where there is so much to see and learn and do. Do this and you will thank me forever.
Þakka þér fyrir Ísland!

Amalfi Road Trips

“A road trip is a way for the whole family to spend time together and annoy each other in interesting new places.”

– Tom Lichtenheld

Amalfi Coast is the place which often pops up in people’s mind when they talk about Road Trips. It is one of the best drives in the entire world beating coasts of Spain, great ocean roads of Australia and the Route 66 in USA. It holds a scenic variety which is stronger than any other road trips in the world. The shadows of Vesuvius and the Port of Naples offers you many destinations along the way where could visit, have a cappuccino, shop a little while you drive along the coast.

Today, I will share with you; the possible road trips you can take during your stay along the Amalfi Coast. They can help you plan your trip (also, road trips) perfectly.

Naples to Sorrento (Road Trip Option 1)

Naples

Naples is considered as the starting point of the Amalfi Coast. Mostly, because it is one of the most important ports in South Italy. Also, one of the biggest. Stopping at each town for a day at least would easily consume your week.

Pompeii and Herculaneum consume lot of your time, therefore, keeping a day for each one of them makes sense. Halting at Sorrento is also another wise choice because that is the best place from where you could reach Capri. Even if you decide against staying at Capri, it is only Sorrento from where you se to witness the entire coast on a clear day.

Click here to read about this road trip.

NAPLES
HERCULANEUM
MT. VESUVIUS
POMPEII
SORRENTO

 

Naples:

N.A.P.L.E.S

The trip begins from the Pizza Capital of the world, Napoli. Once, a transportation hub of Italy, is filled with various ruins from the Roman Era, authentic food and UNESCO listed streets! But, this not-so-beautiful city will probably be your car pickup point, so this is the best place to start your journey along the world-famous Amalfi Coast.

Herculaneum:

Herculaneum

Easier to reach than Pompeii, this city of ruins is your second stop. The city that was drowned in mud is surprisingly well preserved. It is destined to be your 2nd stop.

Mt Vesuvius:

Mt. Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is located in the Gulf of Naples, Italy. This bus-accessible mountain, standing at a height of 1281 meters, having blown its cap more than 25 times, is the reason of the Pompeii disaster. It is still one of the deadliest active volcanos in the world. Around 2000 innocent lives were taken in this God’s act.

Pompeii:

Pompeii

The great volcanic forces that reside deep below the city of Pompeii attracts more than 2 million tourists every year to investigate the remains of what was the commercial center of Italy hundreds of years ago.

Sorrento:

Sorrento

I would call Sorrento, the Base of Amalfi Coast. It serves as the perfect place to explore the Northern and Southern coasts. From Marina Grande to Duomo to Valley of Mills, Sorrento has it all. Sorrento is also famous for teaching the art of making your own Gelato, the world-famous ice-cream. It is also known as the Panorama City because of its ability to provide fantastic views of the coast.

Click here to read about Driving from Naples to Sorrento

Sorrento to Paestum(Road Trip Option 2)

Sorrento

The panoramic city, Sorrento, has a lot to offer. Even this can prove to be a great spot to start your road trip. It could comprise of Capri before you hit the road or could also be your first activity of the trip. Suit yourself! The next stop you would want to make is Amalfi City and Salerno. Both the cities have a lot to offer. Staying there for a day or two would be perfect.

SORRENTO
VICO EQUENSE
PIMONTE
AMALFI CITY
SALERNO
PAESTUM
 

Sorrento:

Capri as seen from Sorrento

I would call Sorrento, the Base of Amalfi Coast. It serves as the perfect place to explore the Northern and Southern coasts. From Marina Grande to Duomo to Valley of Mills, Sorrento has it all. Sorrento is also famous for teaching the art of making your own Gelato, the world-famous ice-cream, and also other Italian specialties.

Vico Equense:

There is not much you can do here but, this cliff-top town looks magical in itself. Crossing it while coming from Sorrento would make it a nice meal-stop at a Pizzeria which is considered to be run by the family who created Pizza in Italy. That’s a BIG YES-YES for a Pizza isn’t it?

Pimonte:

A hidden town among the mountains with narrow streets rolling downwards; this can be your street-shopping stop during this road trip. This town isn’t much of a touristy place so expect some stares for sure. They aren’t used to new people barging in their towns without any reason.

Amalfi City:

Amalfi City

The Amalfi City looks exactly like the paintings we used to see as children. Same old spark along with pretty colors and small houses slanting down a mountain. The scene is immensely beautiful. More than the real paintings. The most important part of Amalfi is that none of the modernization happening in the country has affected its beauty. Be it the construction or technological advancements.

Salerno:

Have you ever seen a perfect Postcard? Yes or No? Salerno is that perfect postcard for you. Even though all the towns and villages along the Amalfi Coast are perfect for creating a postcard, Salerno tops that list. One of the most livable cities in South Italy, Salerno is a major port and a transport hub.

Paestum:

The city of Poseidon is one of the oldest cities along the Amalfi Coast. Although a day trip, there are temples which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Temple of Neptune is the most preserved dating back to 400’s B.C.

Paestum to Sapri (Road Trip Option 3)

This stretch of the drive could take you more than 150 kms away from Salerno through cities like Paestum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Sapri, a Beach-aroma.

PAESTUM
AGROPOLI
VELIA
PISCIOTTA
SAPRI

Paestum:

The city of Poseidon is one of the oldest cities along the Amalfi Coast. Although a day trip, there are temples which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Temple of Neptune is the most preserved dating back to 400’s B.C.

A trading port until Romans finally lost and left. You can see the temples and basilica which is the oldest surviving monument in the city. Ancient churches, remains if various castles and charming streets will keep you all warmed up.

Agropoli:

A tranquil town is what I would describe it as. Agropoli is one of the largest towns along the Cilento Coast, attracting visitors through its sprightliness since decades. Located just south of Paestum, this pleasant town could be an option for your short visit along the coast.

Guardian of the Peninsula is what they call it. A bit unusual name for another unusual name isn’t it?

Velia:

Crossing towns like Castellabate (once used to defend against Pirates), Pioppi and Acciaroli, you come across a town known as Velia. Obviously, created by the Greeks, was once a popular resort for wealthy Romans with theaters and thermal baths attracting most of them. Well, now, only ruins though. Walking inside the ruins is one fun time-travelling activity you can be a part of.

Pisciotta:

One of the most charming towns along the coast, Pisciotta is a senior rule town. Most residents are elderly who kind of think they rule it :p .

Sapri:

This natural harbor could be your lest destination on the Amalfi Coast. A perfect setting for a tourist. This town delivers some high-quality beaches which are just dreamy!!!

 

These are some of the road trip options you should consider while driving along the Amalfi Coast. Road Trips are a great way to be a part of something and yet be able to leave it happily some time later. That tiny amount of happiness you get eating a Pizza in a 400 B.C. medieval town is fascinating. Also, the pizza tastes better sitting beside the mighty sea.

Goditi il ​​viaggio!

Skógafoss – The Mighty Waterfall

“I love places that make you realize how tiny you are”

–          David Attenborough

Aerial View of the waterfall

This mighty waterfall is located around 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the capital, Reykjavik. It is part of the famous Golden Circle route. It left my jaw on the floor when I got there. All of a sudden, everything turned magical for me.

A slight de-route from the Golden Circle can take you to Vestmannaeyjar which is one of the best places to visit in South Iceland, an archipelago.

Click here to read about Vestmannaeyjar

View after hiking up the fall

It was the month of August in 2018; the perfect month to visit Iceland and fulfil my dream of visiting Iceland. There was not the slightest doubt in my mind while making this waterfall one of my biggest priorities in Iceland. Obviously, after the loneliest house in the world. Click here to read about that.

My God!
I was just blown away!!
Look how happy I am!

Skogafoss Selfie

FUNFACT: You can identify this waterfall from the sets of two movies- Thor: The Dark World & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

As you all know, I was born in a small valley, Rishikesh, which lies in the footsteps of Himalayas. It’s not rocket science as to why I have always had a thing for Nature: her mountains, rivers and lakes. This waterfall had a place in my heart even before i lay eyes on it

My mother, posing as always

“ When I saw it for the first time,

flowing down that misty river,

I was stunned! “

It bore an eerie resemblance to a scene from the Batman movie where there was a cave behind the waterfall with a Batmobile waiting for me to drive. This brings me to tell you a fact about it.

My mom posing with the waterfall

FUNFACT: Legend has it that there is a cave behind the waterfall with treasure hidden inside by a settler named Prasi. Apparently, the cave has been blocked by boulders which fell due to natural calamities. Someone found a ring which was supposed to be a part of the treasure. It was sent to the local church and that original ring is now showcased in the Skógar Museum nearby. True Story

Skogafoss as seen from the road. Pretty huge isn't it?

Skógafoss is a site not to be missed in Iceland. Some might say that it is just an ordinary waterfall that you can skip in Iceland. I would wholeheartedly disagree with them. I think Skógafoss has the best setting around it.

•Best for camping.
•Parking an RV and inspiring the majestic view.
•For a small hike up the waterfall for amazing views.
•For having the best LAMB SHANK in Iceland in Hotel Skógafoss Bistro Bar.
‘Es ist Lecker’
This is what our time-pass was, when we didn't have mobile phones

The photo above teaches us a lot. You can see at the back how everyone is busy clicking photographs (including me) and very few are actually experiencing the water coming down. That sound, that mist. But, then you see him playing with the rocks. This is called ‘Enjoying’ my friends. This is it! I am not saying do not click pictures or don’t snap and all. But, do take out time for moments like these when you can seize the opportunity to witness something this beautiful. #JustAThought

The hike up the hill is kind of like climbing up-stairs; just that there are many steps. Nonetheless, the view from above is to die for. Plus, in my opinion, the world always seems more beautiful from above. Be it Paris, Sydney or Reykjavik, it all looks better from a higher vantage point. You can also check out the river flowing at the top of Skógafoss.

There is another place in Iceland where you can experience the most peaceful time of your life. Click here to read about the loneliest house in the world. 

It looks tiny in the pictures but it is a very gigantic waterfall.

An eye-catching feature of the waterfall is that it can give rise to three rainbows at once. HOW? Let me tell you (attempt to tell you) how that happens. The amount of water that comes flowing down is so much that it produces a lot of mist which can produce at least two rainbows at once. The sight is not to be missed, I swear. I saw two of them and I know MANY people who witnessed three rainbows.

Iceland has over 2000 waterfalls but this one is truly special

We (My brother and I) tried to go deep into the fall, as near as we could; in the process, getting soaked to the skin.

30 meters near to the waterfall and you start getting drenched
What a View!
This is the best shot you can take with a zoom lens

Njóttu Íslands !

Places to visit along the Amalfi Coast

“Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have a holy curiosity. Make your life worth living”

 – Albert Einstein

Be it Pompeii, Naples, Positano or Capri, all are the Italy you want to see – A rich and powerful tonic of historical and iconic places. Italy is not just Michelangelo’s masterpieces or the Romans’ fighting arenas, it is much more than that. Most of it can be covered by car. Driving a car, you will discover what you can never even imagine experiencing in your lifetime. The rugged mountains, blue coastal grottoes and ancient ruins – you can do justice to them only if you have a vehicle.

Where to start with?

Here-in are all the destinations (West to East) worth visiting as you drive along the Amalfi Coast.

  • Naples
  • Ercolano & Herculaneum
  • Mt. Vesuvius
  • Pompeii
  • Sorrento
  • Massa Lubrense
  • Capri
  • Positano
  • Amalfi City
  • Ravello
  • Salerno
  • Agropoli
Roads like these are very common along the Amalfi Coast

Naples

Naples is the most delicious city in Italy. You might wonder why I would call a city delicious. Just doesn’t sound appropriate, does it? But it is appropriate. Naples is the creator of the world’s most delicious and the world’s most photographed food item. That, is our beloved PIZZA!

The third largest Italian city of Naples is an archeological treasure. It is among the world’s most impressive and glorious places with Roman-style palaces and churches. The elegance is seen in its fantastic panoramas from various viewpoints.

Built on rich volcanic soil, a gorgeous sea and decades of history, this Pizza capital serves as the backbone of Italy. It’s street snacks and dishes consume half of your time in the city and it is all still worth it.

Panoramic view of the city

Ercolano & Herculaneum

Smaller but well preserved, this inspiring Neapolitan Town could prove to be a successful visit for you. The ruins of Herculaneum runs parallel to that of Pompeii. Destroyed by an earthquake in AD 62, this Roman fishing town can be explored properly with the help of a guide. Herculaneum is often upstaged by a better rival, Pompeii. But, trust me, both are worth a visit. But, if you must choose one. Choose Pompeii.

Herculaneum

Mt. Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is located in the Gulf of Naples, Italy. This bus-accessible mountain, standing at a height of 1281 meters, having blown its cap more than 25 times, is the reason of the Pompeii disaster. It is still one of the deadliest active volcanos in the world. Around 2000 innocent lives were taken in this God’s act in that ancient disaster. The Pompeii eruption converted it into a double peaked structure.

The peak of Vesuvius also offers a great panoramic sight of Napoli. You can either hike up to the mountain’s peak or take a horse-back ride up to the top.

Mt. Vesuvius

Pompeii

The great volcanic forces that reside deep below the city of Pompeii attracts more than 2 million tourists every year to investigate the remains of what was the commercial center of Italy hundreds of years ago. The ruins of Pompeii need a lot of time and dedication. It is one of the world’s most enthralling archeological experiences. Pompeii was not just blown away by Mt. Vesuvius but buried under volcanic rocks. Till date, you can witness the preserved city of Pompeii with its strong foundations, buildings and brothels from the Roman Era.

Pompeii

Sorrento

I would call Sorrento, the Base of Amalfi Coast. It serves as the perfect place to explore the Northern and Southern coasts. The best of peninsula’s untouched countryside is to the East Coast, to the North- Pizza Capital and offshore is the island of Capri. If you want to stay anywhere in Amalfi Coast, Sorrento is undoubtedly the best choice. From Marina Grande to Duomo to Valley of Mills, Sorrento has it all. Sorrento is also famous for teaching the art of making your own Gelato, the world-famous ice-cream, and also other Italian specialties.

Sorrento

Massa Lubrense

Being the very first western town of Sorrento, just about 100 metres above sea level, this town serves you with a great view of the island, Capri.

Sant’ Agata sui sue Golfi, a rusty fraction of Massa Lubrense, offers great hiking options which are fairly easy as compared to other hikes in Italy. These small hikes last for about an hour, making it perfect for one to complete and get back to the hotel early enough in order to have a nice evening view of Capri. Its a place if you want to skip the usual and try something off the style and different.

Capri

One of the most visited islands in the world, Capri has a lot to offer. It has great seascapes, adorable cafes and unspoiled Roman ruins. Accessible via boat from Sorrento, Naples, Amalfi City, etc. This island is a must visit on the Amalfi Coast. Boat inside the Blue Grotto, ride up to Villa Jovis and chairlift yourself to the highest peak on Capri, Anacapri. Often on a clear day, you can see the entire coast of Naples and even other islands such as Procida, etc.

Positano

Undoubtedly, Positano is the most picturesque town among all the destinations along the Amalfi Coast. This colorful town consists of stylish boutiques, glamorous cafes and steep houses. The town claims to be the first Italian town to import bikini ’ from France, hence the name, ‘ fashionable town . It is also considered the most expensive town along the coast due to its seascapes and unbelievable café locations which are not found anywhere on the coast. Hence, the expense. This town with a Mediterranean seascape is a must-visit along the coast.

Amalfi City

Yet another must-visit town along the Amalfi Coast which will leave you breathless, Amalfi City does whatever it can to amaze you as always. Again, one of the most picturesque towns of the coast, it offers sightseeing, hotel views, pizzas and Gelatos. This sweet little town with a tiny square and a church is just so peaceful. Once more I will mention that this is a must-visit.

Click here to read about my Winter Experience in Amalfi City

RAVELLO

Ravello is a day-visit kind of place. Merely a 10 kilometres drive from Amalfi City, this town has an extremely romantic setting. It is home to a live and entertaining street market where fashionable clothes, pure wine and an unlimited variety of pizzas with some mozzarella on it are the highlights. Sites like the Duomo and Vila Rufolo are a must visit. There are also a few music festivals which take place in this town such as International Piano Festival and Chamber Music Week. The venues used for these festivals are remarkable. If you want to stay away from the rush of Amalfi City & Positano, this is the perfect place for you.

Salerno

Have you ever seen a perfect Postcard? No? Salerno is that perfect postcard for you. Even though all the towns and villages along the Amalfi Coast are perfect for creating a postcard, Salerno is on top of that list. One of the most livable cities in South Italy, Salerno is a major port and a transport hub. The vibrant mix of Roman churches will take your breath away. The long coastal strip along the city’s beautiful roads will make for one of the best road trips in the world! It’s a must-visit. Another one!

Agropoli

A tranquil town is what I would describe it as. Agropoli is one of the largest towns along the Cilento Coast, attracting visitors through its sprightliness since decades. Located just south of Paestum, this pleasant town could be an option for your short visit along the coast.

Arrivederci, Addio !

My Winter Experience in Amalfi City

“If bliss could be a color, today would be Amalfi blue.”

–      Anonymous

It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon when we decided to eat real Italian food. After enquiring for 30 mins, we came to know about this cute Italian restaurant that was right in the middle of the main square which soon became our favorite in the beautiful city of Amalfi.

It was Da Maria (Da Maria Trattoria Pizzeria). It was closed the first time we went there because of Italian customs of closing the restaurants (or everything!!!)  in the afternoon. Mostly between 1 p.m to 4 p.m.

 

But we didn’t lose our hope. We survived the afternoon on ice-cream and waited for the restaurant to open and guess what? That night, we came to know what actual Italian food is. As an Indian, my idea and taste about Pizzas and Pastas was entirely different. I always imagined it to be filled with toppings and thin crust bases and what not. But I realized that Italian Food (which I always considered my favorite cuisine) had always been a lie for me.

The reason behind delicious PIZZAS in Italy

Italian food here, was heavenly. Every detail ingredient you can imagine on Pastas and Pizzas was up to the mark, we took away those pizzas and ate them near to the coast (which is another one of those experiences which you should have when in Amalfi City) and let me tell you, IT IS NEVER ABOUT THE TOPPING!

That day, Amalfi City became our favorite destination in Italy.

Main Square of Amalfi City

This restaurant is always busy so it’s better to book a table before you go and whole menu looks so tasty and,

Frankly, is there anything such as bad Italian?

Also, the staff was really polite and were always looking to get into a conversation with us. The setting of the restaurant was obviously Italian. I admired it every time we were there.

All I dreamt of was to learn Italian and move there and never leave!!
How can you not fall in love with a setting like this?

and this is how we mostly found ourselves spending some nice time of our Italy trip in beautiful Amalfi City.

It was my first time in Italy and boy I wanted it more and more. The entire Amalfi Coast is a very popular destination. All the tourists want to visit this place in the summers and the funny part is that, this is the only reason we visited in the Winters!

I don’t regret it a bit.

So Empty and beautifully lit on Christmas & New Years! <3

Winters in Italy are fun in many ways. Most importantly because of the Christmas. You also have the new year coming up so everyone is all jolly-jolly and all the towns are lit up.

It’s just a great time to visit I feel. Well, obviously you won’t be able to bake yourself up under the sun but I am alright to skip that! The most important thing is that the country is less crowded. I hate to go anywhere along with the crowd.

So, basically, we went in off season and that did make us miss a few things in Italy but whatever we saw, it was all worth it with less people around.

The Amalfi City as well as the Amalfi Coast looks exactly like the paintings we have seen as children. Same old spark along with pretty colors and small houses slanting down a mountain. The scene is immensely beautiful. The most important part of Amalfi is that none of the modernization happening in the country has affected its beauty. Be it the construction or technological advancements.

 

You can easily spend a week along the Amalfi Coast discovering towns like Positano, Sorrento, Salerno, Ravello, San Lazzaro, Capri and Minori, etc. All these beautiful towns are hard to be missed. Each one of them has a charm of its own. There are various boat rides you can take along the coast and a few visits to The Grottos should also be on your to-do list.

The word Paradise defines the Amalfi Coast.
The island Capri as seen rom Sorrento

If your trip is around 5 days or a week, click here to know the destinations you should visit.

So, honestly, Amalfi Coast can be quite confusing.

Like, what all to see?

How to travel?

Where to stay?

Where to eat?

Travelling alone or with someone?

Wandering by yourself or going for a guided package?

Too many questions eh?

Well, I can help you out in many ways but at the end of the day, it is all about your choice and all that depends on what you like and how you have been doing this travelling thing in the past?

Some people like lavish stays, some prefer Airbnb’s. Some spend a lot on food and some just pass the day with apples and oranges. But at the end, everyone obviously wants to see as much as they can for as long as they can, and they just do not want to stop it EVER!

So, click here to know about various highlights and the best way to experience the AMALFI COAST!

Wide Angle View of the Main Square at Amalfi City

Goditi la costa!

Day Trips from Florence

Travelling is the ruin of all happiness! There is no looking at a building after seeing Italy”

–        Fanny Burney

Florence is an enchanting place, but Tuscany, as a state is just as astounding. There are so many places and spots around Florence which you would regret to miss out on. Here, I am mentioning some places around Florence which you should visit during your trip to Florence.

Divertiti !!

They are:

  • Giglio & Giannutri Islands of Tuscany
  • Assisi, Cortona & Perugia
  • Montalcino, Pienza & Montepulciano
  • Volterra & San Gimignano
  • Pisa
  • Cinque Terre & Portovenere

GIGLIO & GIANNUTRI ISLANDS OF TUSCANY

Giglio & Giannutri are two different islands on the southern coast of Italy.  They are hidden gems; untouched by the Tourism Industry for the time being and unheard of by tourists. You will not be disappointed.

A boat leaves from the ancient town of Talamone (180 kms or 2 hours from Florence) on the Gulf. The boat ride takes an hour to Giglio Island.

Giglio Island

The best option to explore the island is to rent a scooter. Public transport is a cheaper option. I would suggest renting a scooter and riding off to your own sweet time.

If you make it early to the island, after exploring the island till the afternoon, you can leave for Giannutri Island which is a 40 minutes boat ride from Giglio.

Giglio Island

According to me, Giannutri Island is better than Giglio in terms of beaches and water clarity. There is also a Roman Villa on top of the hill which you can take a guided tour of.

View of Giannutri Island from the plane

These two islands are all about amazing beaches and wonderful views enriched with history and nature. You should surely consider visiting them if you are visiting Florence and have the time for it. Enjoy!

ASSISI, CORTONA & PERUGIA

If you love great landscapes, Cortona (2 hours or 150 Kms away from Florence), a hilltop, is the place for you. Assisi is the topmost point where you can revel in the glory of the great Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi.

A visit to Perugia is a must. The city is famous for its monuments and history. Gaze at beautiful fountains & relish its breathtaking views.

Assisi, Tuscany

The most spectacular monuments of the city are “La Fontana Maggiore” which is an example of medieval sculpture and Etruscan Arch of Augustus which is one of the largest monuments among the Etruscan remains. The Palazzo dei Priori and Rocca Paolina are also must-see(s).

Cortona

I love visiting towns and cities like this- such rich history hidden inside, extremely beautiful and oh-so calm. I JUST LOVE IT!!

The tranquility of places like this always leaves me spellbound. If you are one such person, at least a day’s trip from Florence should be a part of your plan.

MONTALCINO, PIENZA & MONTEPULCIANO

Tuscany is a land of wonderful places but what is it that defines the real Tuscany?

WINE & CHEESE!!

Montalcino

Wine & Cheese – this day focusses majorly on that. Montalcino (2 hours or 120 kms from Florence) is the place where you can sample wines and local delicacies. The city has an astonishing village with a fortress which is a must-see when in town.

There is something that makes you want to stay here forever; perhaps a certain fragrance wafting in the air. Although I don’t drink, the smell of wine is so mesmerizing that you can’t help but like it.

Val d’Orcia, Between Pienza & Montepulciano

Prepare to witness one of the most gorgeous landscapes of your lifetime – Val d’Orcia (The Tuscany you have seen in literally every photo before coming to Italy).

It comes under Pienza (30 mins from Montalcino) and Montepulciano (further 20 mins from Pienza), one of the most important places representing Tuscany.

Pienza is famous  worldwide for its renowned and traditional Pecorino Cheese.

Val d’Orcia

Montepulciano is famous for its local wineries and churches. Walking in the city is like walking inside a fairy tale or a movie with just happiness inside. This day trip was one of my personal favourites from Florence. Try not to miss it.

VOLTERRA & SAN GIMIGNANO

Every 4 out of 5 towns/villages in Italy feel like you have stepped into a dream or a book. Volterra (80 Kms or 90 Minutes) is one of those hill-top towns that would make you realize the actual beauty of small Italian towns. It is called one of the most charmed Tuscany Towns. The boundary walls of the city were built in the 4th century B.C and stand tall strong as ever.

Volterra

Do not miss the Main Square, Palazzo dei Priori, Volterra Cathedral, The Museum of Alabaster (The reason Volterra is famous all over the world) and the Medicean Fortress. You can choose to taste various types of cheeses at local shops. You also have the chance to taste some wine at local wineries just like every other town in Tuscany. 😛

After an amazing time at Volterra, you can go ahead to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Gimignano (40 mins from Volterra) is a medieval city filled with picturesque alleys, various vantage points offering breathtaking Tuscan views.

Piazza Pecori

Also, you cannot miss the Piazza Duomo, Church and Piazza della Cisterna. They are absolute beauties.

FACT: THERE IS A VERY FAMOUS KIOSK FOR GELATO WHICH HAS ALSO WON MANY AWARDS – GELATERIA DONDOLI. GIVE IT A SHOT!!

PISA

Pisa has always been a dream for me. I remember the first time I came to know about the phrase “Wonders of the World”, I have always wanted to visit them all. Currently. I am just left with 2. Cool right?  😛 😉

View from the Tower

Pisa is just an hour away from Florence by road /rail.  I would suggest you to go early in the afternoon in order to witness the Sunset at The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

View from the Tower

Visit the Cathedral, The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Monumental Cemetery. Take your own time to climb the Tower (It’s not a race, is it?) as it can be little tiring and claustrophobic for people.

Another view from the Tower

Witnessing the sunset there is a GREAT option as the White stone of the Tower turns orange as soon as the sun starts to set. It is a site not to be missed and a sight to behold. Below is the image clicked from my iPhone during the sunset.

Grazie!

Michelangelo Square – A Skyline Paradise

“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”

–      Pico Iyer

The Skyline of Florence has always been something Italy has always boasted of. I know it’s not a view of the Central Park of New York or skyscrapers of Hong Kong, but you don’t get to see these many cute red houses with a big red dome at the center either in New York or in Hong Kong.

The Ultimate View from Michelangelo Square

I strongly feel that this fascinating view of the city from Michelangelo Square is surely going to change your idea about what a skyline should look like. Trust me, it’s as beautiful as any other skyline in the world.

Also, it is the best way to end your trip in Florence. You would want that vista to be the last memory of Florence.

You can also hike (basically walk) up to this point but I would suggest you to take a taxi or a bus if you don’t want to suffer a lot.

A Tower Viewer placed there gives you a nice view overall. Of course, only if it is working (because 90% of it doesn't work around the Globe). 😀

What to do here?

  • For photographers, it’s a dreamland. From time-lapses to panoramas, you can capture everything from here. If you have a nice zooming lens, then our beloved Dome is already posing for you.

Have a look at some photos below.

Click here to read about “Best ways to visit The Dome”

Another View
View from almost the top of the hill
  • For Families, it’s a great viewpoint to click your Snaps and Stories- be it with The Dome or Michelangelo.  Also, there are stalls here to shop, to eat ice-cream and birds to play with (chargeable). Your kids will love this place to hang out and you would love this place to have wine with your loved ones at sunset. Couples can also come here and have a nice romantic evening.
There are people giving out birds for some time to get yourself clicked in front of The Dome.
A perfect picture for any family.
Annnnnd a Snap is a must...
Annnnnd one more...
  • For locals, it’s a usual place to hang out, have a few beers and talk about how to go for a holiday to other countries while we sit here and talk about how to efficiently visit Florence. How cool that is? 😛
Addio! Firenze ti mancherà !

Ponte Vecchio – The Oldest Bridge of Florence

“You may have the Universe, if I may have Italy” 

– Giuseppe Verdi

It isn’t always “tall towers” or “large piazzos” that you must see. Sometimes, you have to take time out for something simple and serene; something old; something that has seen seasons upon seasons; something that has been mentioned in books by the Greats. Here in Florence, that’s Ponte Vecchio.

First sight of Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio is the oldest standing bride in Florence. She is one of the most visited attractions in the most visited city of Tuscany.

Why so??

Worry not, I have all the answers.

  • It offers a beautiful view, a lovely sunset to be more specific.  
  • It has great cafes and eating joints nearby. The Cappuccino, OMG!! 
  • It offers great shopping- from branded clothes to local leather and artifacts.  

In essence, it recites to us, the history of the Ancient Roman Empire, the story of destruction during the wars, and how, after all this, it has stood tall as a landmark for the country.

You also get these beautiful masks here on the bridge as part of the local shopping. I know things like these are common in various places and countries, but it is always fun to indulge yourself in experiences like these. You should always bring a memento from a place you visit. That’s my model mother trying not to pose. 😛

According to me, Ponte Vecchio is an amazing spot for tourists as well as for the locals. From shopping to views, it has everything. You can have a nice time here regardless of what genre of travel you follow (just like this couple below).

Here, you can shop for branded clothes, local leather and hand-made artifacts showcasing Italy’s history. You can have a nice meal by the river Arno and sip a tasty cup of Cappuccino in a local café.

I remember Dean Martin mentioned in his song,

 “Italians love to sip a cup of Cappuccino.”  

Live for the experience – be Italian. 😀

International brands like H&M, etc. plus local shops for genuine Italian Leather are very common here.

Earlier on, the bridge would be occupied by butchers and fishmongers, who would prepare their meat right away and throw away the waste directly into the river.

FACT: THE LARGE WINDOWS IN THE CENTRE WAS CREATED FOR ADOLF HITLER’S VISIT BY MUSSOLINI IN 1939. HITLER LOVED THE VIEW SO MUCH THAT HE SPARED THIS BRIDGE DURING THE ATTACK IN 1944, WHILE HE LAY WASTE TO MANY OTHER BRIDGES IN FLORENCE.  

The View, Hitler fell in love <3 with.

Nowadays, there is an area on the bridge where people come and hang a lock there (just like the one in Paris). See for yourself below. 

Leave something behind, eh?
Even my mother gave it a whirl. 😛

There are many angles from which you can look at the bridge. On our way to the Michelangelo Square, we stumbled upon an area from where we got a very nice view of all four bridges on the river Arno, including Ponte Vecchio. Have a look.  

CLICK HERE TO READ MY BLOG ON MICHELANGELO SQUARE.

River Arno with four bridges over it

Ponte Vecchio requires just 1 hour of your time which includes clicking all the Instagram worthy photos.

But you need at least 3-4 hours in order to fully enjoy the spectacular viewsthe coffee, the leather shopping and all the other local experiences. Have a good time here at Ponte Vecchio. 

FACT: THE SHOPKEEPERS SELLING LEATHER LITERALLY TRIES TO BURN THE LEATHER WITH A LIGHTER OR A MATCHSTICK TO PROVE THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE LEATHER. GUESS WHAT? IT DOESN’T BURN. EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED IN BUYING LEATHER (WHICH I THINK YOU SHOULD BE), GO TO THESE SHOPS AND WITNESS THIS AMAZING WAY OF SELLING. I FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS STYLE AND IT COST ME A LOT OF MONEY! LOL!

Ponte Vecchio at its best.
Arrivederci, Addio !

Short Trip to Florence – Cradle of Renaissance

“The Creator made Italy from designs by Michelangelo

  • Mark Twain

Whenever I am visiting a place, I am always confused between the places to see and places to skip because one cannot cover everything and you also have to do things according to your interests.

Therefore, you must prioritize your travel according to your needs and likings.

That is why, here in this blog, you can have a look at the places you should visit during your 2-3 days trip to Florence.

Starting with………..

Of course, there are many other things to see and do in Florence but in a short trip of 2-3 days, you gotta prioritize.

Read further and know what to do in Florence in 2 or 3 days.

THE DUOMO COMPLEX

Undoubtedly, one of the most visited spots in Florence is the Duomo Complex. Without visiting the entire list of things among the complex, your visit to Florence is incomplete.

The list consists of Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, The Dome, The Opera Museum, Giotto’s Bell Tower and The Crypt of Santa Reparata.

CLICK HERE TO KNOW HOW TO SEE THE DUOMO COMPLEX IN 2 DAYS

Therefore, there must be certain way to visit all the monuments efficiently. That’s what I am here for. Go ahead and read.

Brunelleschi’s Dome

The entire Duomo Complex can take a long time to complete. But, your goal here isn’t to complete it but to let it run inside your veins for weeks to come. To efficiently see all the monuments that are part of The Duomo Complex, CLICK HERE.

PONTE VECCHIO

It’s not always “tall towers” or “large piazzos” that you must see. Sometimes, you also gotta take out time for something simple. Something old. Something that has been through a lot and something that has been mentioned by great people from the past in their books. Here, in Florence, that’s Ponte Vecchio

One of the most well-preserved bridges in Florence and Italy is a sight not to be missed. It was Adolf Hitler’s favorite thing to do in Florence. Just sit on its top floor and gaze at the Arno Lake. That’s what he did when Mussolini invited him to Italy. It is one of the important reasons why he spared this bridge during the attack on Florence in WWII.

The View, Hitler fell in love <3 with.

There are many shops, cafes and restaurants around the bridge which can keep a tourist busy for several hours. The area around it is also very lively with continuous live music and musical Merry-Go-Rounds. It’s a great experience.

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT PONTE VECCHIO.

River Arno with four bridges over it

MICHELANGELO SQUARE

Skyline of Florence has always been something Italy has always boasted about. I know its not a view of the Central Park of New York or skyscrapers of Hong Kong. But you don’t get to see these many cute red houses with a big red dome at the center either in New York or Hong Kong.

A Tower Viewer placed there gives you a nice view overall. Of course, only if it is working (because 90% of it doesn't work around the Globe). 😀

Therefore, I strongly feel that this fascinating view of the city from Michelangelo Square is surely gonna change your idea about what a skyline should look like and trust me, it’s as beautiful as any other skyline in the world.

Another View

Also, it is the best way to end your trip in Florence. You would want that view to be the last thing you remember about Florence.

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT MICHELANGELO SQUARE.

DAY TRIP TO PISA (OPTIONAL)

There are many day trips which you can take from Florence. But, a day trip to The Wonder of the World should undoubtedly be on top of your list.

To know other day trips from Florence, CLICK HERE!

Pisa is just 1 hour away from Florence by road or by rail.  I would suggest you go early in the afternoon in order to witness the Sunset at The Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is a sight not to be missed. The image above shows the ‘no filter’ image I click from my phone at sunset. 

View from the Tower

Visit the Cathedral, The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Monumental Cemetery.

Do take your own time to climb the Tower as it can be little tiring and claustrophobic for few people.

View from the Tower

Witnessing the sunset there is a GREAT option as the White stone of the Tower turns orange as soon as the sun starts to set. It is a site not to be missed.

DAY TRIP TO MONTALCINO, PIENZA & MONTELPUCIANO (OPTIONAL)

Montalcino (2 hours or 120 kms from Florence) is the place where you can get to taste the sampling of wines and some local delicacies.

The city has an astonishing village with a fortress which s a must-see place in the town. There is something in its scent that makes you want to stay here forever. Even though I don’t drink but that smell of wine is so attractive that it urges you to like the smell of it no matter what.

Val d’Orcia, Between Pienza & Montepulciano

Val d’Orcia (The Tuscany you have seen in literally every photo before coming to Italy) comes under Pienza (30 mins from Montalcino) and Montepulciano (further 20 mins from Pienza), one of the most important places representing Tuscany.

To know other day trips from Florence, Click Here.

Val d’Orcia

I hope this blog gave you an idea about what to do on a short visit to Florence and you must have also understood that do not make “SHORT” trips to Florence if you want to experience the real Tuscan breeze and beautiful atmosphere.

Goditi la Toscana!

Conquering the Duomo Complex in 2 Days

“Everything about Florence seems to be colored with a mild violet, like a diluted wine.”

–          Henry James

The Duomo Complex is undoubtedly one of the most visited monuments in Florence. Without visiting the different structures in the complex, your visit to Florence is incomplete.

Therefore, there must be a certain way to visit all the monuments efficiently. That’s where I come into the picture. Allow me to enlighten you.

Your series of monuments should be in this order:

  • Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Day 1)
  • The Dome (Day 1)
  • The Opera Museum (Day 1)
  • Giotto’s Bell Tower a.k.a Giotto’s Campanile (Day 2)
  • The Crypt of Santa Reparata (Day 2)

THE BASIC RULE IS…

WAKE UP EARLY MORNING

Make it your mantra in order to experience the fantastic Duomo Complex of Florence in the most efficient way possible. Though all the tours do not begin before 10 AM, still, don’t you want to capture the amazing sunrise from the Michelangelo Square? If you do, wake up early.

Click here to read my blog on Michenlangelo Square.

Make sure you are back at the Duomo Complex by 10 AM to start your day.

Bring your printed or electronic copy to the ticket office in Piazza San Giovanni and collect your tickets from the office. They will tell you about your guide (if you have booked a tour) and where and when to find her/him. Usually, all the tours begin at 10:30 A.M.

To begin your day, assemble at the centre of the square where you will notice a white octagonal monument with large bronze doors. That’s the Baptistry of San Giovanni. You can have a good look at the doors and click some nice pictures until the guide shows up by 10:30 A.M.

NOTE: THE BRONZE DOORS ON THIS OCTAGONAL MONUMENT DEPICT THE LIFE OF JOHN, THE BAPTIST, WHO IS THE PATRON SAINT OF FLORENCE. THIS STRUCTURE MARKS A STRIKING RESEMBLANCE WITH THE PANTHEON IN ROME.

The 2-Day Half-Marathon Begins. :p 

DAY: 1

CATHEDRAL OF SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE

You should start with the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Tourists without a guided tour will have to read about the history of the cathedral in advance to understand it and have an overall better experience. I always suggest taking a guide right there instead of booking one earlier. This way, it’s cheaper (you can bargain) and relatively hassle-free.

NOTE: IF YOU HAVE’NT BOOKED A TOUR WITH ANY TOUR OPERATOR OR SO, REMEMBER TO PRE-BOOK THE TIME TO ENTER THE DOME.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

If you have a tour booked, you will have the privilege of skipping the queue and you’ll save a lot of time! The tour people will obviously be fascinated by the stories told by their guide such as the attempted assassination of Lorenzo and Giuliano during a mass, about the Medici Family and the history of the famous cathedral.

NOTE: YOUR SECOND STOP COULD BE THE NORTH TERRACE, THAT IS IF YOU BOOK GUIDED TOURS THROUGH CERTAIN COMPANIES. IF YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN, SAY GOOD-BYE TO THE NORTH TERRACE

THE DOME (CLIMB THE DOME)

One of the most anticipated and tiring things to do in Florence and in Italy is to climb the 463 steps of the Brunelleschi’s Dome.

Click here to read my blog on Brunelleschi’s Dome.

Brunelleschi’s Dome

463 steps are one too many. You better be prepared to complete it somehow because at some places the stairs get so narrow that only one person can pass. At some points, you might have to squeeze yourself to one side just to give passage to other climbers. After 15 minutes or so of continuous climbing, you will witness a spectacle so enthralling- the skyline of Mighty Red Florence from a height of almost 100 meters.

The Dome

Take your time to digest the beauty of this view.

OPERA MUSEUM

You cannot pre-book anything here to skip the queue. This Gallery has many great collections like documentaries of The Dome and a variety of wood models. The amount of time you spend in the gallery depends solely on you. A person like me can spend hours inside.

Opera Museum, Florence

By the time you exit this gallery, have your lunch and get a Cappuccino, it will already be around 4 or 5 P.M. and by this time, all the other attractions or monuments in The Complex will have closed for the day. That’s where our Day 2 comes into action,

DAY: 2

GIOTTO’S BELL TOWER (GIOTTO’S CAMPANILE)

Only LEGENDS can climb both Bell Tower and The Dome on the same day but normal people tend to do things normally. HAHA! I wouldn’t suggest you to climb both The Domeand The Tower on the same day. The Tower has 414 steps to the top and is a measly 10 meters shorter than The Dome.

View of the Bell Tower from The Dome

Basically, it will give you an amazing chance to photograph The Dome from a very close distance just like you were able to capture The Tower from The Dome.

If perchance, you have to choose, I would suggest you to choose the Bell Tower Climb  as it is easier (lesser and wider steps). Thus, it feels easier in comparison with the suffocating Dome Climb. Plus, The Dome’s presence in your photographs will be more precious or Insta-worthy.

Cathedral, Bell Tower & Dome all in one frame…

It is obviously not compulsory to climb both the monuments, but doing so will make your Insta-game stronger.

NOTE: IT IS OBVIOUSLY BETTER TO CLIMB THE TOWER IN THE MORNING TO AVOID THE RUSH, UNLESS, YOU WANT TO CAPTURE THE BEAUTIFULLY IGNITED DOME DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS IN THE EVENING TIME.

THE CRYPT OF SANTA REPARATA

This is said to be the original Cathedral of Florence; built in 5th Century AD. As it’s a small place, it won’t consume a lot of your time. It’s not necessary to visit this place but if you are a person like me, you will not miss a single site in Florence even if you have less time.

The Crypt of Santa Reparata

Some people have the audacity of seeing everything a city has to offer.

#BeLikeThat

NOTE:  MAKE SURE TO NOT MISS THE BRUNELLESCHI’S TOMB IN HERE. IT IS REALLY DIFFICULT TO FIND. IT IS SORT OF BEHIND THE GIFT SHOP. SO, BETTER STAY FOCUSSED. 😛 DON’T GO THERE IF YOU ARE CLAUSTROPHOBIC, BUT I WOULD SAY. “LIFE IS SHORT, SEE THE OLD ROCKS”.

The Crypt offers various artworks, preserved walls and different architectural marvels.

I hope this method of mine helps you to visit the Duomo Complex in the most efficient way possible. I believe it will.

Have a wonderful time in Florence.

Vita dal vivo, dimensione del re !
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which is kind of the same thing.”

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