Thursday, 24 January 2008

Italy - not for travel snobs

Yep, travel snobs will probably be closing this page….about ... right now… at the sight of the 'I' word. I'm glad. I’d rather send them through to this 'Cycle Iraq' article Click if you're too well travelled for Italy than try to convince them that The Boot will always deserve as high a position on the 'must visit' list as possible.

And Italy isn't just a 'must visit' destination. It's a visit, visit again and keep visiting until you’ve visited it all - and then go live there - destination. I've been indulging my Roman Catholic by inheritance-meets-food, fashion, art loving side in the homeland of the Pope, on average, about three times a year for the last eight years. And it all began on a slow day at a former workplace (Travelbag: Nov 00) when Colette booked cheap flights on a whim... Buzzair (swallowed up into Ryanair empire) to Milano Linate airport. (Linate airport is actually in Milan). These days Ryanair drops off at Milan-Bergamo; an hour-ish coach journey from the central Milan.

Me. Hooked? Yes - not to the degree of a surgeon who could afford to buy a retreat in Tuscany - but enough to have sat beneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa three times; walked the Duomo roof in Milan at least four times; watched Inter Milan and Juventus play; critiqued da Vinci's The Last Supper, Michelangelo's David and Sistine Chapel, Botticelli's Venus and enough works of art and architecture to fill the British Gallery five times over.

Then there’s Mussolini's train station in Florence and the square where he was hung (yep, in Milan); the night I drunkenly steered a passenger ferry across Lake Como, invited by the captain because we (three girls) were wearing England shirts with Beckham on our backs; walked the rooftop test track in Turin, the one from The Italian Job; climbed Mount Vesuvius and tiptoed around Pompeii’s ruins.

I'll go again this year I’m sure, and experience something completely different all over again. Travel snobs. You miss out. You are not missed.

(I hate this verb in relation to travel) ‘Do' Venice, Rome and Florence. Then go back again and again; Turin, Bologna, Genoa, Milan, Cinque Terre, Positano, Amalfi, Capri, Naples, Verona...