How to Really Discover Italy
Palio event featuring dancing Renaissance dressed women

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Guest post by Agata Mleczko, travel blogger at Null & Full and owner of

Italy is a perfect holiday destination. It leads in world rankings of places to visit at least once in a lifetime. Some people fall in love with it at first sight while others despise the Italian laziness, exaggerated warm weather, intense traffic or lack of English language skills (to mention just a few stereotypes). I lived in Italy for years and I think that visiting this country is not as trivial as one might think. There are some rules to follow if you wish to meet the Italy that you will love.
One of the streets of Ferrara

Take the Road Less Traveled

The first rule is to avoid touristic spots. It is tempting to follow the crowd and visit the most renown ancient ruins and renaissance palaces but you will get tired with them in no time. Bearing in mind that holiday should bring relaxation and delight I would suggest a different approach. Choose one of the many Italian mid-size towns and stay  for longer than a day. A good example is Ferrara that is located in Northeastern part of Emilia – Romagna. Ferrara is Easy to Love!

Time Your Visit

The second rule is to visit Italy at the right time. My favorite months for a visit are either May or September. Picking these months rather than August you will avoid  the unbearable heat and restaurants closed due to the holiday season (many Italians take holidays in August and close up their shops). Coming to Ferrara during one of these months will give you an opportunity to participate in two spectacular events: Palio and the Street Dinner. You probably have heard about Palio in Siena but I assure you that the one in Ferrara is more enjoyable. Not only is it older than the one in Siena but also less crowded. I participated in it a couple of years in a row and I always find it impressive to watch how engaged the local community is and dedicated to ensuring all the details are in place.

Palio event featuring dancing Renaissance dressed women
Palio event featuring dancing Renaissance dressed women

The Street Dinner on the other hand is a relatively new event but it has already gained  positive feedback from both locals and foreigners. The idea is brilliant: you dress totally in white and come to the city center.  Then wait for the dinner location to be revealed by text message. Ferrara is full of elegant people that night and the culmination of it is dinner eaten under the stars. I participated in it last year and had fun!


Balance Your Time Wisely

The third rule is to wisely balance how you spend your time  in Italy. To spread it among sight-seeing, relaxation, participation in events and  local food tastings is a difficult task. Ferrara due to its friendly size, fascinating history and perfect location in Emilia – Romagna considered a granary of Italy, is the best place to immerse yourself in Italian dolce vita. Excellent restaurants, bakeries, gelateria (ice cream shops), and bars will give you an opportunity to taste Italy at its best. Local food  and well-preserved traditional recipes will marvel you! There are many traditional and modern places to visit and to taste the local specialities. For me Ferrara is a never-ending richness of the best Italian food. At the same time you can participate in many fascinating events and admire renaissance architecture that has UNESCO World Heritage status.

Cathedral at night in Ferrara, Italy
Cathedral at night

All in all, Ferrara is a brilliant place to visit. Not only does it have a very traditional Italian flavor but it also entertains tourists with modern events. Basing on my experience of living in Ferrara for years I came up with the idea of sharing it. You can join me this September and next May to enjoy this beautiful city. Visit today and book your perfect holiday!

Typical local bread called pane ferrarese
Typical local bread called pane ferrarese


About the Author: Agata’s love of Italy started more than 10 years ago.  She moved to Milan to study languages and  eventually moved to Ferrara to fully immerse herself in the Italian way of life. Today she considers Italy  to be her second home. I love being here, enjoying simple things and just living like the Italians do she says.You can follower her adventures on Twitter @NullNFull, Facebook, or on her blog Null & Full, which focuses on travel off the beaten track, or better yet, join her for one of her upcoming tours in Ferrara.


All photos courtesy of Agata.


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July 30, 2014
Such a nice place for visit. thanks for sharing nice views.
July 30, 2014
Love it ! it's a shame I cannot have any time free this September cause it looks like an amazing experience
August 1, 2014
Ferrara just looks stunning with so much to offer. I wish I can join you on your tours too. I'd love to go back to Italy. I've only been to Rome and Venice so I would love to explore little gems like Ferrara. That local bread looks so delicious!
August 7, 2014
Hi there! I'm Italian and as a traveler, I believe for a tourist the best is to ask local people. If you want to do so in an easy way, there the mobile app Ulocal that is meant right for it
April 6, 2015
Beautiful site, I am suitably wowed!. So while your travel list is mighty impressive, I can't help but notice that my countries of birth and residence (Ireland and Malta) are still both greyed out. Next time you're in Sicily, hop onto the ferry - Malta is only an hour away, and it's got some pretty unique charms of its own.
April 18, 2015
@David - Yes, both are missing from my list, but very high on my bucket list. Hope to get to both Ireland and Malta this year.
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September 22, 2015
Hi there! I’m Italian and as a traveler, I believe for a tourist the best is to ask local people. If you want to do so in an easy way, there the mobile app Ulocal that is meant right for it

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