Amore! Aurora hearts Italy.
I recently had a deep experience of love in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, which made my stay both memorable and unforgettable. It was the kind of rich experience we yearn for when travelling.
My love affair with Italy goes back to my teens and one of my favourite memories with my dad. We sat for hours on a dock at Lago di Garda in Northern Italy, watching the sun slowly set over the lake and mountains, gobsmacked with wonder and awe with the world in general, and Italy in particular. My wanderlust and spirit for travel came from my dad and early experiences like this and the passion we both shared. I find myself always circling back to that region of northern Italy, and have celebrated my birthday every ten years in Venice. This is quite unusual for me. Given my drive to experience as much of the world as possible, I rarely go back to re-experience places.
Sunset over the city
My recent trip was based in and around Verona and started with a languid week with my lover sipping aperol spritz in Piazza delle Erbe and watching the world go by. We wandered around the gorgeous marble streets and old alleys, stopping to chat with locals in cafes and bars about the topic on everybody’s mind – how Italy was changing so fast. Italians are very worried about their future and lack of opportunity for their children. I was struck by how, paradoxically, it looked exactly the same to me.
Our time there was delicious as we slowed to the local pace and enjoyed the early evening passeggiata (the Italian art of taking an evening stroll). We were enthralled by the revelation of a slow paced city. I’ll never forget the image of women cycling in high heels and dresses and carrying an umbrella. Even the pace of cycling was leisurely compared with the other European cities I had been cycling in (particularly the breakneck speed in Amsterdam).
Deli Italian style!
There were many surprises and delights all week. Great tips (and incredible hospitality) from our airbnb host, Ilaria and a few interesting finds of our own. Delicious fresh truffle gnocchi in a bar for €11 (BarRoma33) and fantastic local wine in a number of small bars. Whilst buying fresh mozzarella for a picnic at the local supermarket we were delighted to find that the two most popular items on the self serve register were artichokes and newspapers! So Italian.
We noticed padlocks everywhere we walked. They have become the symbol of lovers leaving their mark after visiting the home of Romeo and Juliet. We couldn’t help but compare them to the shoes we see in every other city flung over electricity wires. Locks are definitely more beautiful. Thousands of them swung in the breeze attached to wires strung over the beautiful Adige River.
Sunset from Castelvecchio
The following week I went into the countryside just outside of Verona to help staff an amazing transformative retreat called the Path of Love. The venue was an incredibly lovingly restored farmhouse surrounded by fields and snow capped mountains. Bliss indeed. It was the perfect location for personal transformation. It was an unforgettable week full of passion and breakthroughs that added yet another dimension to my experiences of love in Italy. A tangible experience of BEING love. When I returned to Verona after the retreat it was even more heartbreakingly beautiful through my clearer eyes. Each evening I watched dusk descend magically upon the city from the rooftop of Castelvecchio above the Adige river. The colours illuminating the sky and city brightly and then softly fading into the cool evening. I delighted in seeing the same look and clear, alive eyes in a number of the retreat participants exploring the city with their new completely transformed faces.
Milano’s incredible Grand Central Station
And then when my time in Verona had to come to an end, and as if this hadn’t been enough already for my soul and heart, I witnessed something completely magical. I stepped outside of Milano’s spectacular central station and looked up to see the most enormous flock of birds twisting and turning above me, changing direction and shape in perfect synchronisation. To my incredulous delight they formed a giant heart and I could feel mine exploding with gratitude. It wasn’t missed by the Italians around me, rushing home from work. We had all stopped and noticed it. Amore. I jumped on the train to Paris, looking forward to my dinner the following night at fabled restaurant le train bleu in the city of love, but knowing in my heart that my love affair will always be with Italy.
I stayed at …
ComeCasaTua, Verona airbn host Ilaria. Wonderful host, stylish apartment and great location.
I ate and drank at …
Via Roma 33 delicious bar across the road from Castelvecchio
Antica bottega del vino
Osteria del Bugiardo
Corso Porta Borsari 17 +39 045591809
Il Coloniale Piccolo, via Roma 28Aa for morning coffee & chat
Don’t miss Verona’s famous architecture …
I transformed at …
Path of Love
And in Paris, letrainbleu has to be seen to be believed.
Aurora Kerr – On the Road
Aurora is a traveller first, then feminist, writer, therapist, holiday retreat owner (www.mettaatmyola.com.au) nature lover, recycled design lover and adventurer, who lives in Jervis Bay on the beautiful south coast of Australia. She has a suitcase, always packed, at the front door ( also helpful for bushfires!)
Life Balance = Travel. Nature. Nurture.