Verona, Venice, Pisa

I’ve recently visited two very distinctive Italian regions: Sicily in the South and Veneto with Verona and Venice in the North. The food and drinks available in each of these regions are inseparably connected to their climate, landscape and of course the people. This is my third visit to this country and definitely not the last. The first time we spent a long weekend around the Tuscany region. I will share some highlights/recommendations for Verona, Venice and Pisa.

Verona

We found a little gem hidden only 5 minute walk from the crowds around Arena di Verona and Piazza Bra (La Tradision). This place is inexpensive, which is a perfect excuse to try several types of Prosecco from the region.  There is also some outdoor seating in the back, away from the scorching sun. In brief, we loved this place and would recommend it for location, venue, price, meat and cheese boards and of course Prosecco.

Restaurant by Arena di Verona and Piazza Bra.

La Tradision

We also visited an ice cream parlour just off piazza Delle Erbe (the main square). I was in heaven! You can choose as many flavours as you like with a cone size of your choice. I went all out in terms of flavours as you can see on the picture below. The place is called Amorino. The staff is very friendly and speak various languages.

Gelato from Amarino

Venice

Having seen the main highlights of Verona, we took a train to Venice. We found a picturesque restaurant with its romantic balcony tables overlooking a canal in San Polo (Trattoria Dona Onesta, on the right on the picture). The setting was stunning and the food was ok.

Dona Onesta Venice

On our final day we found a nice Trattoria in the peaceful Cannaregio and were lucky to find seating just by the canal. My seafood pasta was delicious and the prices were reasonable. (Trattoria Misericordia) Finally, a place I also recommend for foodies, is the Rialto market, where you can get fresh produce.

Trattoria Misericordia

Pisa

One recommendation I would like to make for Pisa is La Pergoletta. You can enjoy delectable food in an elegant and romantic environment. The prices are slightly higher and the portions on the smaller side, however we very much enjoyed our visit and would visit again.

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Days 5-7: Palm Beach

At 3pm on Thursday, we were picked up by Jeanne in Miami and driven upstate to Palm Beach. Jeanne and her sister Mary-Anne are in their 60s, and Sarah met them on her flight over to New York from Dublin. Sarah went to sit in what she thought was her seat, and Mary Anne said “excuse me, I paid $3000 for that seat, it’s not yours.” After finding her correct seat, Sarah asked why she paid so much money for a seat, and from that point onwards they were friends. They spent the rest of the journey talking to each other and once they were off, they communicated via email. When Sarah mentioned that we were planning on travelling down to Florida, Jeanne and Mary Anne jumped on it, and offered us all a place to stay for a couple nights in Palm Beach. And so here we are.

These two ladies are the chattiest people I have ever met. They are your typical Americans who never stop talking, and they had the most incredible stories. Jeanne told us a story from when she lived in Gainesville, Florida and there was a serial killer on the loose. He used to break into women’s apartments at night and kill them, then cut off their limbs and leave them in different areas of the house. Jeanne told us how she was so scared that she used to call the Sheriff who lived next door when she was coming home and get him to go and check there was no one in her house before she got home. They eventually caught him because of a speeding ticket or something, and it turns out he’d been hiding in the woods behind Jeanne’s house the whole time.

We were told stories like this and so much more about their lives while Jeanne drove us from Miami to Palm Beach. Once we arrived at their condo, we had a short break before heading to Cracker Barrel for dinner. I had shrimp with mashed potatoes, broccoli and carrots (I had never been so excited for potatoes and vegetables in all my life – vegetables were scarce at camp) with Hush Puppies (little battered potato and onion things) and corn muffins. It was SO good, and they were so sweet that they paid for all of us.

That night we had a look through Jeanne’s bracelet collection. She makes jewellery which she takes to Christmas markets etc to sell, and it’s so beautiful. She let us pick out some for our friends and family and I even made a few myself.

The next morning we got up and had a lazy morning. Mary Anne cooked us bacon and fried bread with egg in the middle of it which was amazing. Then Jeanne took us on a driving tour of Palm Beach. It was INSANE. Jeanne and Mary Anne live very close to Serena Williams, and told us stories of an accident Serena had, in which a man died, while driving out of her house right before a Wimbledon tournament.

We also drove past Donald Trump’s summer home, which was huge. When he comes to stay, no one is allowed onto the island on which he lives or allowed to fly into the nearby airport, and it costs over $1 million in security. They also drove us past the house where the Kennedys used to live and pointed out the church that they used to go to.

The beach itself was stunning – even more so than Miami. A lot of it was private due to the mansions nearby but the public stretch was gorgeous.

After our tour we went back to the house to get ready for the water park which was only five minutes from their house. It was my third water park of the summer, but still so much fun. And 4-7pm it was half price on tickets, which was a bonus.

That night Mary Anne cooked us dinner – chicken and dumplings with peas and carrots, and then a traditional Cuban cake for dessert. We ate so much food and we’d never been happier!

This morning we got up at 7am to get the train to Orlando, with the intention of spending a half a day in Orlando and then getting the overnight bus to Charleston. However, when the ticket guy came along and we were telling him our plans, he said “you girls know this train goes right through Charleston right?”. We were SHOOK. And so after a bit of debate about what we were going to do, we decided to ignore the bus we had booked and stay on the train all the way to Charleston – and the ticket guy was so nice that he let us ride the rest of the way for free!

So now after frantically sitting for a couple of hours trying to find accommodation for tonight, we are booked into an inn near the train station, and only have 6 hours of the 11 hour journey left.

Since we began travelling, Americans have been so nice to us. I don’t know if it’s just because they can tell we’re from out of the country, but we’ve had people help us with our suitcases, asking how our trip is going, and now of course we’re being allowed to ride for free on the train. Happy days and God bless America xox

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