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Guest post by Agata Mleczko, travel blogger at Null & Full and owner of iloveFerrara.it.
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.
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.
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.
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 iloveFerrara.it and book your perfect holiday!
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.