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Our Mediterranean Adventure: Italy and Croatia

We left England on the 4th June, bound for Italy. Dean and I were both very excited to be going back there as we absolutely love Italian food.

Rome

We arrived at the hotel, checked in and went straight out to find somewhere to eat for lunch – got to get your priorities right! The sun was shining and we were very happy to be there.

This was nice.

Spaghetti pasta with sea food, In a tomato sauce.


Spaghetti pasta with seafood, in a tomato sauce

We both loved Rome, it had such a great feel to the place. It was busy and full of life, the people were generally friendly and of course the food was delicious. There is so much great and varied culture to take in whilst in Rome and we were even lucky enough to see the Pope. We visited the Vatican on a Sunday and he was doing a service in front of thousands of people filling St. Peter’s Square.

One of my favourite sights was the Trevi fountain, it is just so beautiful and seems to be kept so clean. Just a shame about all the tourists!

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Another must see whilst in Rome is the Colosseum. Nothing really prepares you for its scale and majesty. For a monument with such a barbaric past it was actually somewhat beautiful to behold.

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We had lots of pasta and pizza whilst in Rome but the overall highlight for us was actually something incredibly simple and unexpectedly good – fried artichoke! It may not sound (or even look) that nice but it just tasted amazing. It was crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. I urge you to try it next time you’re in Rome!

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This is the amazing artichoke!

This is the amazing artichoke!

Stuffed ravioli with venison and truffle.

Stuffed ravioli with venison and truffle

Florence

We got the train to Florence which was incredibly fast and smooth, much better than our old ones in the UK. We got there in the afternoon so we were already thinking about what to have for dinner. We had be recommend by a local taxi driver to have a Florentine special – the T-bone steak. When it arrived it was massive but was very delicious!

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The next day we were up early to go on a food and wine tour that we booked from home. Our first stop was a gelato shop to learn how the iconic Italian ice cream was made. We tried many flavours and had to guess what they were, some I had never had before. The shop owner made us some ricotta, fig and lemon gelato which was really nice and very well balanced. When we left we got to pick a cone with the flavour of our choice so I had pistachio and Dean had his favourite Amarena (cherries).

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Lunch was provided for us at a local restaurant in the Tuscan hills and it was delicious. Dean loves beef carpaccio and although it’s not my favourite the one we had to start was actually really nice. The main course was spaghetti with tomato, pork and onion and for dessert we had carrot cake and celery sorbet, which was my favourite of the three courses.

Beef carpaccio.

Beef carpaccio

Carrot cake and celery sorbet.

Carrot cake and celery sorbet.

We got to try some nice wine and found out loads about Tuscany along with the food and wine produced there. It was a really nice day out with the only downside being it rained towards the end so we didn’t to get to go to our final stop and hunt for truffles. I’d definitely recommend the tour if you’re ever in Tuscany. It was by a company called Grape Tours and you can find out more here.

View of Tuscany on our day trip.

View of Tuscany on our day trip

These are full of red wine.

These are full of red wine

This is the famous statue of David, by Michelangelo.

This is the famous statue of David, by Michelangelo

Florence was a great place but the weather wasn’t so I don’t think we got to see it as its best, which was a shame.

Bologna

We got the train from Florence to Bologna and it only took half an hour on their speedy trains which was great. It was really hot when we got there which was nice as we had a few days of rain in Florence. We’d been looking forward to coming to Bologna after watching Rick Stein’s show and took some of his recommendations.

Tortelloni is a traditional dish in Bologna and that was one of the first things we tried. It was green pasta and was filled with spinach and ricotta. Another one of Rick’s favourites was tortellini (easy to get confused – tortellini is smaller) stuffed with meat in capon broth. We both tried the famous tagliatelle al ragu, known by us (incorrectly) as spaghetti Bolognese, which was amazing!

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I found my new favourite drink in Bologna – the Italian spritz. Although we’d seen them last time we visited Venice I’d never tried it. You can see why they are so popular with Italians and tourists alike. We even bought a bottle of Aperol (the main ingredient, the others being prosecco and soda water) for when our English weather gets a bit sunnier and we can have one outside with a BBQ.

We hired a car in Bologna as we did a bit of touring around, visiting the Lamborghini and Ferrari factories – Dean was in his element! That day we went out for lunch in a town called Modena where we had a platter of cured meats, cold and hot fish and some lightly battered vegetables. Everything was absolutely delicious!

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The next day we headed for Lake Garda and stopped off in Parma where we had read about a street food festival taking place. It was great but we must have stuck out like a sore thumb as everything was in Italian. With the little that we knew we managed to order some food!

Ravioli stuffed with meat in a tomato and ricotta.

Ravioli stuffed with meat in a tomato and ricotta sauce

Gnocchi with an asparagus sauce with parma ham and cheese.

Gnocchi in an asparagus sauce with parma ham and cheese.

Lake Garda

We finally got to the lakes where it was time to relax for a few days by the pool. We stayed in a place called Sirmione – it was such a picturesque place and the main area was inside the walls of an old castle – full of shops, restaurants and lots of gelaterias.

Here are some of our favourite meals while in the lakes:

Raw fish and shell fish.

Raw fish and shell fish

Lobster.

Lobster

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Black and white pasta,with crab and fresh tomato.

Black and white pasta,with crab and fresh tomato

We also visited the ancient ruins of a Roman palace at the tip of the lake which was very interesting and had some stunning views.

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Venice

We were back to one of my favourite places of all time and it felt like we had never left. We got the water taxi to our hotel down the Grand Canal and I was taking it all in – it’s such an amazing place.

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We got to our hotel and this time we were staying on the water as last time stayed outside Venice itself on the Lido area. We got to the room which I swear felt like it was moving! This hotel wasn’t the best in fact probably the worst on our trip but it was only for the night. We headed straight out to find somewhere for lunch. We picked two dishes and shared.

Scampi carbonara.

Scampi carbonara

Cuttle fish ink spaghetti.

Cuttlefish ink spaghetti

We walked around for hours taking it all in and having some of our favourite things! Gelato, bellini, spritz and finished it off with sitting in St. Mark’s Square listening to the live music. I was really relaxed and quite sad to leave Italy but excited to visit Croatia.

That evening we wanted something really traditional for dinner, Venetian style.

Pesto gnocchi.

Pesto gnocchi

Liver venitien style.

Liver Venetian style

Cuttle fish with polenta.

Cuttlefish with polenta

Croatia

We finally arrived in Croatia after a very early start leaving Venice. We flew into Split and got a taxi to the hotel, we weren’t very lucky with the weather that day as literally as soon as we arrived it rained all day 😫. That night we decided to eat in the hotel’s restaurant as the weather was awful and we were both a little tired. To our surprise we had some great traditional Croatian food!

Platter of meats,fish and cheese.

Platter of meats, fish and cheese

Croatian beef stew.

Croatian beef stew

Fish stew

Fish stew

Pear and apricot strudel.

Pear and apricot strudel

We spent the next couple of days relaxing by the pool and working on the tan. We had some great food, I was really liking all of the fresh fish and seafood and couldn’t get enough of it! We were pleasantly surprised by just how nice the food was there. I must say though I was missing the Italian gelato it just wasn’t the same in Split, neither was their coffee. Here are some of our photos of the food in Split.

Grilled squid.

Grilled squid

Fresh grilled tuna.

Fresh grilled tuna

Lobster with black pasta. This dish was that delicious Dean and I went back and ordered it again!

Lobster with black pasta. This dish was that delicious Dean and I went back and ordered it again!

A black seafood pizza.

A black seafood pizza

Our last stop was Dubrovnik and the sun was shining, finally! We were here for 3 days so made the most of the sun. The food was a little bit different as their menus were very limited and seemed to cater more to tourists than most places we’d been. In spite of that we had plenty of nice meals including a lots of fresh seafood. We also went for our first real posh meal of the trip at a restaurant called 360. Living up to its name it had fantastic views of the harbour and the food was delicious. Here are some pictures of Dubrovnik.

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A pot of fresh fish and seafood.

A pot of fresh fish and seafood

Octopus salad.

Octopus salad

Dubrovnik had a really lovely feel to it and was such a pretty place. The old town is a walled city and on the last day we walked around the walls with fantastic views, you could see for miles.

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And so we came the end of our Mediterranean adventure! We were very lucky to see so many amazing places on one trip whilst eating incredible food. We’ve returned from our trip with loads of ideas for new summer recipes so watch this space!

Have you been to any of the places we visited? I’d love to know some of your experiences, let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Lucy

Hi I'm Lucy and I have always been into eating great food! I love all types of food (apart from bananas - yuck!) and am a big fan of enjoying everything in moderation - so yes I do eat naughty stuff too! My motto is to enjoy life and live it to the full which comes down to travelling all around the world experiencing different adventures - usually involving food!

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