Our Travels in Italy: Summer Fun

Ah!  It’s November!  There’s so much I haven’t shared, so much that I want to share.  I worry about the fun facts, observations, reflections, and funny moments that might go unshared because I haven’t written them down, or the foods and places that may be forgotten because I haven’t photographed them.  At the same time, I’m happy to have disconnected from social media for a while to focus on savoring the people and places in front of me.  We’re fortunate to have the problems that we do — too many beautiful places to visit, too many family and friends to entertain and keep in touch with, too much gelato to eat, too many new foods to try, and not enough time to document it all.

I’ll be doing my best over the next couple weeks to catch you all up on our latest adventures — starting this week with a photo recap of our summer travels. We had an amazing summer full of family and fun travels.  We had family visiting for nearly two months straight — from the last day of June into the last week of August.  It was great to be surrounded by so many familiar faces and the perfect antidote for homesickness.  Our travels took us all the way from one of the most southern points in Italy — Sicily — to one of the most northern — the Dolomites.  It was amusing to see the contrast between these two regions back-to-back and solidified for us that Italy is more like a collection of small countries than a single entity.

Without further ado, here’s a recap of Summer 2013:


We had seven of Luke’s family members visiting in early July for a family reunion-Italian style. We showed them our favorite spots in and around Bologna and then moved the reunion to the Ligurian Coast. We stayed in Portovenere and stopped in the nearby Cinque Terre. We dined on pesto pasta, focaccia smothered with cheese and pesto, testaroli pasta, fried sgabei bread, and mussels straight from the ocean.

Portovenere at night

Portovenere at night

Water, ASAP!

This summer, we returned to the Santerno River outside of Imola for a day trip to cool down when the city heat became too much to handle. Another weekend when the temperature hit over 100°F, we escaped the scorching temperatures in our non-air conditioned apartment and pampered ourselves at the Skiuma Pool outside of the city.

Il fiume Santerno

Il fiume Santerno


In mid-July, we joined forces with my cousin visiting from Brazil, who is on a six-month European backpacking trip. My cousin and I trained to Naples to cross one very important task off my bucket list — to eat a vera pizza napoletana. I almost failed my mission because after snacking on babà and sfogliatella pastries all day, I wasn’t hungry for dinner — but I persevered! And let me tell you, the real deal is as good as they say.

Pizza naples

We had the best pizza of my life at Pizzeria Di Matteo.

ferry to sicily

Then my cousin and I jumped on a 10.5h day ferry (a surprisingly enjoyable experience) and we headed to….


For our “official” summer vacation, we spent a week in Sicily along with Luke and some more family and friends. Our base for the week was Scopello — a seaside town an hour outside of Palermo which borders the nature reserve Riserva dello Zingaro. We tried to relax as much as possible, but couldn’t resist seeing some of the stellar sights nearby.

Riserva dello zingaro

We spent at least three mornings at the Riserva dello Zingaro, a nature reserve with about 7 kilometers of pristine coastline. Two times we arrived when the park opened at 7AM and had one of the beach coves to ourselves for at least an hour before the rest of the summer crowds arrived.

Sunset Scopello

We tried to watch the sunrise every morning.


We ate eggplant caponata, pasta alla norma, spaghetti with pesto trapanese, and plenty of cannoli (a cannoli almost daily).

monreale mosaics

The Cathedral of Monreale


Ancient Greek ruins in Selinunte


After returning to Bologna, my sister, cousin, and I joined a friend for a long weekend in the mountains. We stayed in a small town called Polcenigo and did a day trip up to the Dolomites to hike Monte Piana near Lake Misurina. The view, if you ask me, is about as good as it gets. We video-taped ourselves singing “The Hills are Alive” on top of the mountain and e-mailed it to our Grandma.

Monte Piana Dolomites

Monte Piana


For the last weekend of August, after our last visitor left, Luke and I made improptu trip to Učka Mountain in Croatia to camp and hike. The hike up Učka was more grueling than we bargained for; and it torrentially down-poured on us our last night, which made for a comical escape from our campsite mid-storm.  We were physically exhausted and covered in mud —  it was oddly the perfect way to end our summer travels.  When we returned to Bologna, it felt a little bit more like home than it had before we left. And we were happy to be home.

Hiking Učka Croatia

Učka Mountain

I wish we could have stayed in each place longer. I wish we could have frozen time and made each day last a few hours longer. I feel like we’re just coming down from the high of summertime. Looking back at these photos makes me realize what a fantastic summer it was and how lucky we are to have this opportunity to share these beautiful sights and fun adventures with our family.

wolf pack

Goodbye, wolf pack! Thanks for visiting.


2 thoughts on “Our Travels in Italy: Summer Fun

  1. Michelle

    Hi Audrey- I’m not sure how I haven’t discovered your blog before now. I’m looking forward to reading more. This post caught my eye. I feel the same way sometimes- how I have to write everything down for posterity and take pictures “or else”. That feeling was stronger in the past and I’ve relaxed a lot about that- you’re right that it’s nice to just enjoy the experience. The experiences you wrote about from this summer sound wonderful. I’m glad you had a good trip, and with family too. Happy traveling!


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