TraveLinkSites.com talks to the cool and funky Tanisha Shulamit, who’s been making quite a name for herself over on her blogs Lattes and Lipstick and Wonderlust Expat. Tanisha talks travel in Italy, where she’s lived and travelled extensively in places like Rome, Bologna, Venice and Verona.
1. Hi Tanisha! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in Italy?
My name is Tanisha and I am editor/founder of Lattes and Lipstick Lifestyle Blog and Wonderlust Expat Blog. I am a latte loving ex-makeup artist, stylist, globetrotting foodie, history loving culturist with a penchant for vintage fashion. The first time I visited Italy I was 19 years old. I was serving in the U.S. Navy when I received orders to report Naval Air Base Sigonella, Sicily. At that time, I had no real knowledge of Italy or Sicily except for the mafia and roman gladiator movies. I was a bit ignorant and naive but I must say that experience changed my life forever. My visit to Florence for my 21st birthday gave me my love for and 15 years later I plan to do my PhD in that very subject. I have just recently returned from 10 months living in Bologna and I spent five weeks studying in Florence in 2005.
2. How does Italy compare to the rest of Europe in terms of things to see and do, its food and its culture? Is it very similar to other countries or very different?
Traveling through Italy, I found the Italian people very friendly, open and hospitable. When living in Sicily, landlords would leave gifts of fresh picked lemons and blood red oranges at the door each season. Since Italy is the home of the Renaissance and opera, architecture is rich and colorful, there is no shortage of art and every summer many cities have open air opera performances.
It is a country bursting at the seams with history and has the most historical sites in the world. If you are into partying, so are the Italians, every large city you go to there are a multitude of discotecas everywhere. Rome is home to jazz and rock and roll and Milan and Florence are partial to hip hop and techno music.
The best food in Italy is most definitely in Sicily where the Italians say one can “mangia bene” eat well there. In Italy you can find the best wines are from Tuscany and the north, the best “bifstecca” (steak) in Florence, the best bread and gelato in Rome and the best pizza in Naples.
3. How much money can someone travel around Italy for? What are the greatest expenses? What things are relatively cheap?
That depends on what you wish to do. Italy is relatively cheap to travel around. My friend Feather of Vegan Around the World traveled through Italy for three months on $3K. The greatest expense is probably housing although that is relatively low and the least expense is food, even if you are eating out. One can buy a large pizza for anywhere between €4- €6. Shopping is also inexpensive. Italy is known for its leather and mercati (markets) where you can always find a bargain.
4. What are your favourite destinations in Italy and why?
My all time favorite city is Florence because it is the home of the Renaissance. Every corner you turn history is staring you in the face. The architecture is amazing, the art galleries such as the Uffizi is brimming with art and the landscape of Tuscany is magnificent.
My second favorite place is Sicily, there the people are just hospitable and friendly. You make friends for life there and please don’t let me wax eloquent on the food, the stuff is a thing of legend and poetry.
Verona and Parma in the north are amazingly historical places and not inundated with tourists. Parma is home to Parma ham and parmesean cheese and Verona is home to the oldest Roman colosseum and Shakespeare’s star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet.
Rome, although a tourist trap and known for its notorious pick-pockets is a must a see if only for its many historical sites.
5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling in Italy and why?
One should see as many historical sites as possible, they are humbling. Celebrate Carnivale in Venezia, the annual Verdi festival in Padova–they consider him their native son, the open air opera performances at the Roman Colosseum in Verona, wine tasting in Tuscany, a day at a cooking school in Bologna–the foodie capital of Italy, swimming in the Mediterranean in Taormina Sicily, leather shopping and Italian language study in Florence, and the famous Palio race in Siena.
There is no shortage of things to experience in Italy. The language itself says a lot about the people proud of their heritage.
6. What is your favourite thing about travelling this country? What is your least favourite thing?
My favorite thing about traveling the country is the beautiful landscape and the people. My least favorite thing is the petty crime such as pick pocketers and crime rings on the trains. You must always be aware when traveling alone on the train. You could be easily drugged and robbed of all of your property.
7. What things do you focus on most when you blog about this country? Why do you choose these things?
The culture, the language, the food, the fashion and the history (art/architecture). I am most passionate about these things in Italy.
8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around Italy without?
My Italian language book. Although Italians are very open and try to meet you where you are, they are not as strict about the butchering of their language like the French, many do not speak English so this book makes life a bit easier.
9. If you could have lived anywhere else in the country where would it be and why?
Florence. I did a brief study abroad there for 5 weeks and it just wasn’t long enough. There is so much to explore in the city and its surrounding areas. History, that I wish to learn and the language I wish to perfect. Florence is the home of the modern Italian language, the Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci and Dante and modern day artists and fashion icons Roberto Cavalli and Salvatore Ferragamo . Its beautiful to look at and I enjoy walking it.
10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone had told you before you started travelling in Italy what would it be?
Honestly? Nothing, that’s the beauty of Italy, the discovering it.
Thanks Tanisha for sharing all your wonderful travel Italy tips! Check out her brilliant travel blogs at Lattes and Lipstick Lifestyle Blog and Wonderlust Expat Blog. You can also follow her on Twitter here.