Big dreams that come true always start with a simple If”… It’s the ones who dream and have strong desires and visions that are the lucky ones. I always used to say dreams are the best gift ever given to us. They make you feel good, they have no boundaries, they’re free and… they might just come true. So when I was invited by Money Supermarket to enter The Grand Adventure competition and share with you all my £1000 If Trip so to say … I knew I was in for a fantastic journey. And it all started with where would I go and what would I do if I had £1000 to spend on a holiday anywhere in the world? One condition: make the money last as long as you can. Basically make the best of it! Now I love traveling, there’s just something so empowering, so humble, so enriching and exciting about exploring different places & cultures that I think it resembles no other experience in the world. Journeys can heal, can make us grow, can answer questions… ‘Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer’! So where will my journey go? Thought about India, Thailand, New York, Los Angles, Australia, Bora Bora… And as much as my mind and spirit come alive at the very thought of these fantastic cultures & countries/cities I will go a little bit closer to home… to a place that means the world to me, that as close as it may be, I have never gotten around to visiting it… ITALY! Ciao a tutti! Being Latin I owe it to myself to go back to my roots, to discover what this amazing country has to offer. Besides there are 2 things I am absolutely crazy about: food & fashion! What better place to indulge in these pleasures other than Italy! And I do speak a bit of Italian… so after 3 weeks in Latin land… I’ll be fluent :) Ah… can already hear “when the moon hits you eye / like a big pizza pie that’s amore…/When the stars seems to shine / like you’ve had to much wine /your in love…” as I walk the narrow streets of Rome or laugh my heart out on a warm night in an old Italian town’s piazzeta. My Italian adventure will take me through this amazing country, starting with the North (Milan) and concluding with the South (Naples & Sicily) and in each city, region and town I will stop for at least 3 nights, to have enough time to visit, eat tons of pizzas & pastas (I got to terms with the cruel reality: I will return with just a bit too many extra pounds, but it’s a small price to pay) have the best espressos in the world, drink Tuscany wines, stare at the beautiful people, make friends (Italians are the most friendly people out there, and finally I will not be the loudest person in a crowd. Ha!) and no… I will not shop, just window shop and catch some street style snap shots for future fashion inspiration. I’ll try to make the most of my money and will save a few Euros, due to the conversion rate (GBP to EU) and to 3 friends of mine that live in Padova, Tuscany & Sicily. So for those regions I’ll be saving the accommodation expenses. (as for transportation I’d get a train monthly pass).
As my plane lands to Milan I put on my shades and prepare for a super cultural, art, fashion & posh experience. My rooms are all booked in advance (I payed around £80.00/3 nights at pretty decent hostels in most of the cities I stop) and my spirits are high with excitement Everyone is loud, talking with their hands and throwing smiles at each other. I need a strong espresso and a bite of soft pastry to get me in an Italian mood. So I head right down to Piazza del Duomo, city’s main & most central square, for a walk, visit and that traditional coffee at a local coffee shop. Besides, Milan Cathedral, Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery & Royal Palace of Milan are all close by. With Milan being my favorite European fashion capital I will be on the look out for all those glam luxurious styles, shops and fashion bits. And each day treat myself to a traditional breakfast (espresso & pastry – £2.00) a small lunch (small pizza/calzone – £4.00) and a big dinner (pizza/pasta/risotto, soup, dessert & wine – £10.00). La vita e bella so we might just as well enjoy life’s pleasures, be more bohemian, artsy & romantic… which brings me to love. I have got to see the famous balcony where Juliet stood as Romeo sang to her and they fell in love. So I’m headed out to Verona and from there to my friend Ghinty in Padova (she studies at Europe’s 820 years old famous University of Padua). So excited to finally mingle and have a beer & a pizza in the communal piazze & see for myself the town where Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew action was placed. Plus I’ll be saving some money as I’m staying at my friend’s place and cook some Italian meals in. My Grand Adventure then takes me to Venice, the place I so long to see, the city on water, the San Marco Square, the old narrow streets, the Grand Canal, the beautiful gondolas, the colorful buildings that bare so many tragedies, life stories & memories within. I shall walk the same streets as Veronica Franco my favorite film’s heroine walked in the 16th century. ”Dangerous Beauty” movie so voluptuously depicts the life of Venice’s courtesans in the richest and most decadent period in time. All is art, beauty, pure architecture, amazing people and so much history. If there was ever a place I could choose to live with my husband when we’re 50 and rich… I’d consider Tuscany (actually still debating between this region or the South of Italy:))! Oh the beauty of the vineyards, the hills, the old castles & houses, the organic and most delicious food in the world, the warmth of the people. This is where life is truly all about that dolce far niente over a glass of red wine & panzanella, prosciutto, cheese & tomatoes with olive oil served on the terrace of an old mansion & overlooking immense rich vineyards. There… life is still. There I could start writing a book. There you get closer to the real things in life. We’d be living the rich bohemian dream of any artist! And when I’d miss the town… I’d drive to Florence (one of Italy’s most beautiful cities) and have a taste of the cosmopolitan side of Tuscany. It’s the city of art, Renaissance, culture. fashion, cuisine, with it’s grand ancient cathedrals, Leonardo da Vinci , Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi, Pitti Palace & Piazza de la Signoria. And as I say Arrivederci a Toscana I’d get ready for one of Europe’s most cultural & beautiful capitals: Rome. With its fabulous architecture & cathedrals, Fontana di Trevi, piazzetas, posh restaurants, The Colosseum, Piazza Navona, The Vatican, San Pietro, Rome stood the test of time and will probably have me head of heels over Italy and its people.After 4 days of all art & culture I would love to conclude my Grand Adventure in the South of Italy (Naples & Sicily) where life takes a step back and enjoys itself. Naples was the place where the 1st pizza and ice-cream shops were opened, so it does not get any better. If you want to see old ladies or Italian mothers cooking home made pastas right in their house front yards, inviting you over for lunch and telling you all about their family history, this town is the place to be. It’s where pure Italy happens! With the Mediterranean sea right at my feet I’d finally get a glimpse of the land & traditions that inspire Dolce & Gabbana and see those amazing places where Sofia Loren‘s fashion editorials were shot back in the day. If you ask me the South of Italy is pure heaven, it celebrates life and its richness, beauty, taste, art & tradition… At the end of this Grand Adventure I’d take a week off and end it all in the most beautiful place on earth – Sicily! Spend my days sunbathing & swimming, reading books on secluded beaches, sailing boats, eating healthy food, sipping wines in warm nights by the sea, partying with the locals at those trattorias, loud, happy and thankful for I’d feel richer, more grown up & proud to be Latin.