Florence, I just can’t quit you. After an adventure in Northern Italy, Austria and Slovenia, I found myself in my favorite Italian city for the second time last year. I had already posted on many of my favorite places in Florence in my previous posts, yet, until this trip, I still hadn’t ascended the Duomo or the Campanile, nor had I been inside the Battistero. These are perhaps the most touristy of tourist things to do in the city, undoubtedly the “top attractions in Florence” (there’s a lil’ sum’n sum’n for the Google keyword crawlers #transparency).
How to build my perfect European town.
Add to one part old world history a dash of chic modernity. Let it age into a unique culture. Drizzle in a beautiful river and sprinkle with romantic night lights. Top with an epic castle. Keep cool with comfortable weather and serve at reasonable prices.
Order up: Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.
Imagine a beautiful, small town surrounding a lake. The water is pristine and the trees surrounding it are a vibrant green. High above sits a majestic castle overlooking the scene with a quiet grandeur. At the center of the lake is an island, and on this island is a church with a bell that grants wishes…
Sound like a fairy tale?
It started to rain a day after I arrived in Villach, a small town in Austria near the Italian border. Having just arrived from a very muggy Udine, I was more than happy to spend some wet moments in the brisk chill. As many of you know, the music you choose on a trip can stay with you forever. On this stop, I opted for Radiohead’s most recent album, A Moon Shaped Pool. Listen to “Glass Eyes” and note the travel-centric lyrics as you look at the photos below to experience Villach as I did.
The Castello di Miramare is one of the highlights for anyone visiting Trieste. The historic building (more a “mansion” than a “castle”) includes a museum and an expansive park and marine reserve located around it. It can easily be a full-day affair if one decides to enjoy the premises slowly. It’s so lovely, I chose to visit it twice on two separate trips to Trieste within the year. (For more info on what to do in the city, check out my past post on top attractions in Trieste.)
Located far in Italy’s northeast, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a unique region. Its proximity to the Austrian and Slovenian borders gives it a unique flavor respective of classic Italian cities like Rome or Florence. This is especially true of its capital city, Trieste, which I visited twice in this year alone. Similarly, Udine, FVG’s second largest city in terms of population, has its own style. Friuli, the area of which Udine is the historical capital, has its own distinct wine country and language (not dialect; language).
“Two households, both alike in dignity / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” So begins Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set in Verona in Italy’s northern region of Veneto, a city so beautiful it inspired the greatest of bards.
One of my favorite memories of my time in Trieste was simply sitting along the pier, feet dangling over the Adriatic as the rising tide splashed water upon my shoes, jellyfish floating below us like ethereal dancers in a separate universe. The Italian word for “jellyfish” is medusa, yet I kept mistakenly saying lampedusa after the Italian island that was at the center of the migrant crisis. It just goes to show how much my language skills need work.