An Italian Escapade
April 27, 2016
My decidedly quixotic holiday of Italy began in the wee hours of a Sunday. My husband and I were ecstatic at the treatment we received on board our flight to Rome, and pleasantly surprised to learn that a cake had been arranged in honour of our anniversary. We could feel the excitement building as we descended into Rome and the view from our plane served as a quick snapshot of what we could expect from this culturally intense nation. Soon after we landed, we headed to Florence and spent the day settling in.
The next morning, was productive with a wine tasting session coupled with an authentic, 7 course, Tuscan lunch. What really blew us away was that the owner himself steered us through the session providing exclusive insight into the region’s treasured beverage of choice. After our fulfilling lunch, we headed around the city just drinking in the sights. The following day, we were supposed to head out to Chianti but thought the better of it and spent the day further exploring Florence. The highlight of our day was definitely the wine tasting and it was such a unique experience that I am sure most tourists fail to experience it, but Footprint Holidays knows what they are doing.
From a culturally driven city, we travelled to the coastal town of Sorrento, Naples. The comfortable train journey offered up an abundance of breathtaking views as we travelled through the Italian countryside. The prevailing high tide dampened our plans of visiting the island of Capri, but Sorrento had me entirely consumed. If I had to pick my favourite place of the whole trip, I would have to say it was Sorrento. Sorrento, in my opinion, showcases the quintessential Italian coastline with houses hanging precariously off cliffs that fall sharply into the Mediterranean Sea. A sight to behold indeed. Another of my memorable experiences was a visit to Chaplin’s Irish Bar, a wonderful pub bang in the heart of Sorrento; a great place to interact with the locals. Our stay at the boutique hotel, Maison Tofani, was also exquisite.
After a couple of relaxed days in Sorrento we headed to Ostuni through Bari, where we were put up at La Sommita. This place definitely tops the list of all the places I have stayed in through my extensive travels. The Ricardo Ostuni, an elegant pub next-door was also a highlight of the trip. Dining at the Michelin Starred Osteria Del Rosa Ostuni is an experience I would absolutely recommend to anyone visiting this place.
As an avid cyclist, I was looking forward to the Ostuni itinerary, as I had heard so much about the place. Footprint Holidays had put together a veritable gem of a route, cycling through the countryside. I was especially keen to experience the 2,000-year-old olive trees and ride around their bases, if just for a moment of contemplation. These trees have seen the birth and death of civilizations! Due to unforeseeable reasons, our itineraries were changed but plans seemed to unfold seamlessly, thanks in large part to Footprint Holidays. We were provided transportation that took us to the outskirts of Bari, for grand views of the countryside and olive oil farms. We also had an olive oil tasting session thrown into the mix. To our surprise, cake and a round of champagne also awaited us at the end of the tour, which was a lovely, personal touch. All in all, a very enjoyable experience. Ostuni was such a delight that I felt like forgoing Rome just to spend a couple more days there.
The next day, we travelled to Rome, where we stayed at a unique hotel of delicate charm that was unlike any of the mainstream hotels one would see at a tourist hub. The cute, little fountain in the middle of the courtyard was striking. The hotel was especially accessible to the main tourist attractions in the city, allowing us to make the most of our time in Rome.
In closing, we have only good memories of our time in Italy, made all the more special by it being an anniversary trip. We certainly have Footprint Holidays to thank for putting together a wonderful itinerary and ensuring a smooth ride on what was a potentially bumpy road. Their special offerings of a dedicated cycling itinerary and experiences in little known Sorrento & Ostuni, were crucial to making this an extraordinary journey.