What’s your favourite kind of vacation?
Personally, I love road travel because the car gives you the opportunity to stop or change itinerary when you want without respecting schedules; it’s just you, what you want to do and your car.
There are many destinations for a perfect road trip with breathtaking landscapes and things to discover, but then I thought why not discover Italy by car. And so I started my little road trip to Italy.
I spent a week organizing. First of all, I made a list of the things I absolutely wanted to see, then I checked the roads and where it would be more comfortable to stay in the end I made a program that would allow me to have precise directions on the itinerary. Although I would not follow the planning in every single detail, it was helpful because it allowed me to have a general idea of the area and not to waste unnecessary time.
I chose the car for two main reasons; the first was for the freedom to go wherever I liked and have the opportunity to stop if I saw something that deserves a photo or a visit and the second was because I think it is the best way to travel in Tuscany because it has a lot of hills and cities not connected very well by public transport.
If you need help on How to organize a trip check out my post about road trip planner with google maps.
Best places to visit in Tuscany by car
As I was explaining earlier I only spent a few hours in Florence since this was not the first time for me in this city, but every opportunity is wonderful for me to take new photos, especially now that I think I’m a bit improved, and also I never mind coming back to see wonderful cities.
I have always heard of Siena for the famous Palio di Siena but more than Piazza del Campo I had never seen anything else and I was really surprised by this beautiful city. On top of a hill surrounded by walls and gates, the only way to enter the city is the beautiful medieval city of Siena. I have to say that the first day the entry into the city was a nightmare; my hotel was in the centre near the Duomo and most of the streets inside the walls are traffic-limited; although the hotel had given me a special pass to enter I could enter by one specific door and if you are strangers to this seems complicated the first time. Anyway, after this little setback, everything was amazing, hotel, people, places and, of course, food.
From Siena, I did some day trips always in Tuscany. Siena is the perfect place where to start these trips because they are all less than one hour drive.
You probably know Volterra for the Twilight film because the film New Moon was set with Volturi in Volterra. From Siena, after 1 hour by car, I reached the city of Volterra on a splendid Tuscan hill. Surrounded by walls the city is a medieval town to be discovered; Its history began around the 8th century and you can see the remains of the Etruscans, the Romans and then the Middle Ages. Volterra is also famous for alabaster; in fact, you can find beautiful pieces made with it, I know because my parents bought a beautiful chess board made with alabaster and I’ve always seen it at home since I was born.
2. San Gimignano
The second day of travel was in San Gimignano. It took me only 43 minutes to get from Siena and I spent half a day in the city. Also, San Gimignano is located on a hill and also this is a medieval town; the city is really well preserved and is famous for the twelve towers in perfect condition.
Another city to visit in Tuscany is Certaldo. 41 minutes from Siena this city is famous because Giovanni Boccaccio was born here. Certaldo is divided into 2 Certaldo Alta and the Certaldo Bassa. The most authentic part is Certaldo Alta and you can reach it on foot, by car or by cable car.
4. San Chiusdino
The best day trip in my opinion was to San Chiusdino. San Chiusdino was unexpected. I was planning to visit the Abbey of San Galgano but with the price of the ticket, there was also a ticket to visit the museum of San Chiusdino. So, I did a quick search and found that it was a beautiful country and that it deserved to be visited; also as the cherry on top I also had the most delicious lunch of all holidays.
The last day trip to the beautiful region of Tuscany was to Monteriggioni. Wow, I can’t describe the beauty of this place because it’s too much. Above a hill surrounded by walls and towers, small but incredible this city is the ideal place for an afternoon trip. I highly recommend (like all the other places I visited) Monteriggioni because it is a little gem in the Tuscany countryside.
After these beautiful days in Tuscany, it was time to move to another region to find out more about the beauty of Italy. I decided to discover Liguria a small and incredible region bathed by the sea with beautiful locations right in front of the Ligurian Sea. From Siena, in about 2 hours by car, I arrived in La Spezia which I used as a starting point for all the other places.
In Liguria I decided to visit the Cinque Terre and Portovenere and for convenience, I decided to book a hotel in La Spezia. From La Spezia, you can reach the Cinque Terre by train and these are the stops I made.
How do you get to Cinque Terre?
From La Spezia are very easy to reach; you can go by car (more difficult) or my advice by train. There is a railway line that very often crosses all the Cinque Terre and is the best option to visit these places.
What are the 5 villages of the Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre meaning Five lands; in particular we are talking about Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Monterosso Mare and Corniglia. To my tour, I also added Porto Venere not so far from the other towns. All these six with two other islands have become part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1997.
The vacation was over after seven days but before going back to Venice I decided on the last stop to Parma. Parma is in the Emilia Romagna region and it is really well known for the prosciutto di Parma.
Do you want to read more about these beautiful landscapes and cities? Sign up and do not miss any posts.
Do you like road trips? Where were you last?
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.
October in Iceland
Everyone has to go at least one time in beautiful Iceland. I went to Iceland in October for just five days, and I had a fantastic time between breathtaking landscapes and nature's power. I booked my flight tickets to Reykjavik because, from Dublin, they were very cheap but I didn't expect to fall in love with this land and to spend one of the best holidays I ever had. Still, It happened, and I can't be happier. This vacation is also to remember because it was the first holiday that I did just with my dad and It went amazing.
What is the best month to visit Iceland?
It depends on which kind of activity you want to do. I decided on October because between October and March is the best period to see the North of Light but if you are looking for not cold days and more light during your day you should definitely go in summer between July and August.
What to see in Reykjavik?
We arrived in Reykjavik Friday morning, and we spent the first day visiting the capital; the city is friendly as a small bonbonniere, our apartment was in one of the principal streets, so everything was straightforward to reach. Our first stop was Hallgrimskirkja Church, it is the biggest Lutheran church in Iceland, and it is mainly known for its form; indeed, it seems that a waterfall in the south of Iceland inspires it. The church is open to the public, and it also has a tower where you can have a 360 view of Reykjavik but attention! And don't make our same mistake; we couldn't reach the top of the building because there was a music concert and they closed the church before the closing time.
After visiting the church, I decided to walk among the principal street between souvenir shops and typical clothe’ s shops. The centre is nice with small only pedestrian streets and colourful sheet metal houses that give to the setting a particular warm sensation even if the sky is usually grey and dark. If you walk a little bit closer to the port, you will also find a magnificent panorama with the Harp Concert Hall and the ocean. It is mostly during the sunset that the view became stunning with a lot of colours from different parts, the sky, the sea and the same Harp Concert Hall.
The following days we decided to do some excursions outside the capital. All of the tours have been magnificent, and all our expectations have been exceeded in full; all this landscape that probably you will find only here and the power of nature make this trip superb and beautiful.
Things to do in Iceland
Unique Things to do in Iceland
For the first full day, we decided, also thanks to the sun, to have some relaxation and which better place than a natural hot pool? We choose to avoid the Blue Lagoon because it is very touristic, artificial and also costly. We rented a car, and we went to Reyjadalur; we were pleased about this decision because our day has been unique and relaxing; it is just a 1h drive from Reykjavik and around a 1-hour walk to reach the river with the hot pool. The walk is lovely and relatively easy, it is a little uphill but not too difficult and everyone can do it. After almost one hour we arrived on a river of hot water. I immediately pull off my clothes and jumped into it. We spent a fabulous relaxing day basking in this warm water with beautiful nature around, and the best part was knowing that outside the water the temperatures were low, but you could not feel the cold. I think that this doesn't need a description because the pictures speak for themselves. I have to say that the relaxation that you have in your body after some time here is something unique even if my legs turned into jelly and walking back to the car became so complicated.
The second day I booked a private tour to the Golden Circle. Do you know what the Golden Circle is? If you want to discover more about it sign up and I will send you all the information.
Iceland Road Trip
The next day we did another tour with a stunning and utterly different panorama from what we already saw. I decided that I wanted to visit the South of Iceland so I booked a tour with a big company and for this, at the beginning I was a little bit afraid, but in the end, the visit has been memorable, and the tour guy was so happy to show us around and also so funny (he also sang some Iceland songs).
The south of Iceland is entirely different from the rest of the island. You start driving on the road surrounded by mountains, green musk and greenery and at some point the landscape changes completely and becomes more like a desert with dark terrain/sand, no trees, lots of farms and very few houses that are usually close to the small village. It was incredible to see such a drastic change in a small country that is Iceland; luck wanted me to find an incredibly sunny day that would make this island even more magical.
Skógafoss. They are formed from in the Skoga river which runs through the Skogargil canyon until descending from the Kambfjoll mountain. In this canyon, there are up to twenty waterfalls of various sizes, and different ranges and all together are a natural heritage since 1987. Skogafoss waterfalls are 15 meters wide and 62 meters high and thanks to their height when they descend they create a wonderful rainbow. You can see the waterfalls from the bottom or with a walk, a bit uphill, and you can visit them from the top. I’ve never seen such a wonderful spectacle as this waterfall.
Iceland has twenty-six glaciers and the fourth bigger, Sólheimajökull, is only two hours away from Reykjavik, so it is a must on your trip. This glacier is the easiest to reach because it doesn't have high mountains around it, but some grand volcanos surround it, probably you all know about the eruption in 2010 that stopped most of the airports in all of Europe, well that Vulcan is here. The glacier is 11km-long, but of course, it can suffer variation with climate change, and if the climate continues to warm up, there is the possibility that the glacier will disappear in around 100-200 years. We parked close to the glacier, indeed after a 10 minutes' walk we arrived at the most incredible view, I was astonished by the gorgeous panorama of a white expanse of ice and nothing else around.
After a few stops for photos and following a lunch in the small village of Vik we moved to the famous and beautiful Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. It was a bit crowded but not too full to not enjoy the view. The beach is famous for three main things: the black sand due to the volcano eruption, the mountain Reynisfjall and Hálsanefshellir cave formed by the erosion of the sea and today typical Icelandic birdhouses and the roar, of course, of the Atlantic waves.
The last stop of this other wonderful trip has been the waterfall of Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall is particular because it can be fully encircled.
Northern Lights Iceland
All Iceland has been beautiful and surprising, but the best thing that I saw was the unforgettable spectacle of the North Light. I decided, even here, to book a private tour because I wanted to be sure to have the perfect spot to see them and also because I love to discover the story and legends behind them. I originally booked the tour for the first night that I spent in Iceland. We went to a perfect location with no light, no houses and no people; the place was excellent, but unfortunately, it was too cloudy, and the lights were a little bright, and we didn't have the chance to see the Aurora properly. After speaking with an expert tour guy I re-booked the tour for Tuesday, we went to another place and finally at eleven o'clock the most beautiful show appeared; and what a fantastic experience, which I will remember forever! Do you also know why I'm going to remember it? The jeep got stuck in the mud, and we had to push the car to get home.
Have you ever been to Iceland? Which month do you think is the best?
I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it on Social Media and leave a comment below!
Also, follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my email list so that you will never miss a new post!
If you would like to book travel insurance for your trip to Iceland, I recommend checking out Travel Insurance Master!
Looking for activities and tours in Iceland? I suggest you check out Get Your Guide. To find out more follow the link below and be inspired :)
I woke up one Saturday morning wanting to do something, full of energy and ready to find out something, but, it was raining and the weather really bad, so what to do? Stay at home to do nothing or get out anyway? Suddenly I had a stroke of genius and I remembered FICO. What could be better than eating fantastic food and drinking delicious wine or a beer on a sad rainy day, and discovering new things?
What is FICO?
Fico is a gastronomic theme park. To be more specific I can say that FICO promotes the culture of food and excellent products; you can find restaurants, shops, factories and demonstrations to learn more about this huge thing that and food for Italy.
Where FICO is?
The big food park is situated in the region of Emilia Romagna in particularly outside Bologna. I am from the Veneto region so, for me was really easy and quick, with the motorway in 1 hour and 50 minutes I was there. Anyway, if you take the motorway you need to take the exit Bologna Arcoveggio and from there, there are plenty of signs for FICO.
What to do in FICO?
As I already say FICO focus on Italian food products; it helps you discover some gems of our cuisine that are excellent and renowned. But not only there are also some outside spaces where you can see various crops, such as the olive grove, the vineyard, the orchard and also a greenhouse of citrus. Also, there is a farm with various friendly animals to which you can feed them.
You can discover FICO with a tour guide. I highly recommend doing so because it gives you a full idea of the aim of the park and also they explain to you things that not everyone knows. The tour took 45 minutes and it started with an explanation of why food is important for our body and why the pyramid alimentary is important for us. It continues around the park with the explanations of the products; from mortadella to wine through the wonderful and renowned balsamic vinegar finishing with a roundup of sweets and confetti of all kinds. Not to mention the queen of all Italian tables; her majesty the fresh pasta. The tour moves also to the outside areas talking about the various crops and also about the animals that populate the farm. My tour guide was amazing; very charismatic, enthusiastic and very interested in food.
And, after the tour, it is time to eat something. FICO is divided into sectors, fresh pasta, cold cuts as mortadella, salame Calabro, sweet like cassata siciliana or confetti, wine, beer, oil, Aceto Balsamico and Tartufo; you can taste everything! There are places where you can seat and others where you can buy and bring the elite Italian products at home, the prices are a little bit more expensive than other places but you are going to pay the full experience and this for me has no price.
I am going to tell you a curiosity that the tour guide told us because it is very interesting and it is one of those things that I will always remember.
In the beginning, Mortadella was just for rich people because was a grind of pork meat and pork fat made by hand; only in the ‘800 did the Mortadella start to be cheap and more people could afford it. It is narrated that for this reason, noblemans decided to add to the pork meat also some pistachio known as an expensive ingredient. For this reason, we have smooth mortadella and mortadella with pistachio.
Do you like Italian food? Which is your favorite dish?
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.
As I wrote in the article "Travel alone to Sofia" I spent 4 days in Sofia; the first day and the last day were also the days of Arrival and Departure so most things I saw in 2 days with the help of two tours. The free walking tour and the Communist tour that I highly recommend.
The 18 best things to do in Sophia
1. St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral
Number one tourist attraction and impossible not to visit St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral. This beautiful Orthodox cathedral is the biggest of all Bulgaria and one of the tenth the biggest churches in all Eastern. The first stone of the cathedral was put in 1882 but it was built around 1904 - 1912 in neo-byzantine style with material arrived from all over Europe. The church is dedicated, as the name says, to Alexander Nevski and to all the soldiers (Russians, Bulgarian, Ukrainian and Belorussian) that set Bulgarian free from the Ottoman in the Russian-Turkey war. The church in white, gold and green roofs is the top attraction to visit in the Bulgarian capital.
2. St. Sofia Church
Right in front of the largest Orthodox church is St. Sofia Church. The church of St. Sophia is the second oldest in Sofia; it dates back to the 6th century and was built by the Byzantines. Originally a Christian church, it was later converted into a mosque by the Ottomans and today it is an Orthodox church where you can still see the remains of previous buildings. This church is special for one thing: it gave its name to the Bulgarian capital. At that time there were many pilgrims who came to Hagia Sophia and after a while, people began to call the city, which actually was called Serdica, Sofia instead of just calling the church. It was then decided to change the name of the city.
3. The Church of Saint Nicholas
From the Cathedral of Alexander on foot to the main street of the capital we can find the Church of Saint Nicholas also called the Russian Church. The site was built after 1882 by the Russians and was used as the church of the Russian embassy, which was located next door, to from the entire Russian community to Sofia. The church is named after the Emperor of the time in Russia, Nicholas II. When the emperor died near his sarcophagus, he was placed a box to fulfill his wishes. Even today people write and post wishes on the box hoping that Nicholas will grant them.
5. Ivan Vazon National Theater
The first thing that I saw on my first day in Sofia was the Ivan Vazon National Theater. This beautiful theatre is situated inside the Garden City and in front of it, a fountain with water games. It was founded in 1904 and was called like the famous writer Ivan Vazon that was also the first one to exhibit in the theatre. The theatre was rebuilt after the Second World War and again in 2006, with the last renovations has been added a lot of gold.
6. St. George Rotunda
Situated inside a courtyard near the Presidency Palace we can find St. George Rotunda. St.George church is the oldest intact building in Sofia. It dates back around the 4th century with the Roman Empire in particular with the emperor Constantine The Great that loved Sofia to the point that he said “Serdica, that is my Rome”. The church originally was the private bath of the Emperor, you can still see the ingenious mechanism with canals to pass the water built by the Romans; the church was then converted to a Baptistery when Constantine declares Christianity as the only religion and finally to a church. Today St.George Rotunda belongs to the Orthodox church.
7. Presidential Palace
Since we are in San Giorgio the next stop must be the Presidential Palace. The history of the President of the Republic, in Sofia, is quite recent; its institutions began in 1991. The President is the head of the country and has only powers of representation as there is the President of the Council. Very interesting the change of guard that happens every hour.
8. Independence Square
In the heart of Sofia, we find, covered with a yellow cobblestone, Independence Square that houses among other things the Largo. The Largo is a set of three buildings built during communism. At that time much of Sofia was destroyed by World War II bombs and in 1952 it was decided to build the Largo; in just five years everything was over. These buildings are used today as offices of the President, Ministry Council and the National Assembly.
Little parenthesis about World War II bombs. The guide explained this to us and I want to share it with you because I found it very interesting.
During World War II, the Bulgarians were German allies, but they did not participate much in the war. For example, the Bulgarians stopped three times the train with the Jewish population heading to the concentration camps and saved all the Jews who lived there. Another example is the "symbolic" war they wanted to start with the United States. The guide told us that Germany was a bit angry with the Bulgarian non-participation in the war so, the Bulgarians had to start a war to show that they also did something. The Bulgarians thought of a symbolic war that they did not really want to fight but with whom? Russia was too close so they opted for the United States thinking they were far away and probably didn’t even know where Bulgaria was. Wrong! The United States knew where they were and dropped a lot of bombs, so Independence Square was destroyed.
9. Roman ruins: Serdica