How I Learned How To Fall Back In Love With Travel: My Best Holiday In Italy
I remembered the last time I kissed my Grandma on the cheek, it felt like paper parchment that was lacerated with wears and tears, fragile underneath my touch, I didn’t know that it was the last time that I would ever see her again. I didn’t know that she would be ashes and dust in a matter of moments, for now I relished in the moment of living, clasping her hand in mind, mottled withered flesh renewed once more. That was the last time that I went abroad, 6 years ago when my Grandma died and the world around me came to a deafening still, where even the birds hid their magnificent plumage and shielded their voices, from the devastation and havoc that had littered itself like Autumn leaves outside my door.
There was an ember inside me that had gone dormant in the years to come, craving a holiday, but making excuses for why I couldn’t go, remembering the person who I had loved and lost, a figure in the distance, in the land where the veil between the dead and the living was barely transparent. A friend of mine died two years ago in a car accident, a beautiful 25 year old woman who lived life vicariously through stories of her adventurous tales, trips abroad in China with expats, she was full of life back then, she fell in love with Morocco she told me, in Morocco she drew her last breath. Born at sunrise, dead at sunset, the orange glow framed her in a golden light, a mirage who was so full of life even in death, I remembered her words of wisdom. Her death taught me to see life through rose tinted lens, to rekindle my wanderlust spirit that had lain in temporary slumber all these years, I would travel once more and my heart would be full. I realized that like a rose, our lives might only be temporary, but in the moment that we are here on earth, we should cherish the experiences that life would bring us, not turn them away with cautious hesitation. So I started saying yes, I said yes to travel, forgoing my inhibitions. I stopped making excuses, the time had come, the world was waiting and I was ready to take its outstretched hand.
“Italy Helped Me Fall Back In Love With Travel, It Opened My World Up To New Possibilities”
It was in Italy that I found the salve to my wounded heart, a Philosopher’s potion that I drank in one glorious gulp. The world around me bloomed with colour once more, the lush green hills of Tuscany wooing me into its picturesque fold, I could taste the natural beauty on my overbitten lips. We stayed in La Stalla Montebuoni in Lecchi, a village laced with childlike wonderment and anticipation, I was caught on the cusp of its enticing spell that lured me in, like a cat toys with a mouse. Our villa had a pool, and despite the rain I smiled, entranced by the green fields that stretched out for miles, was that a castle that I saw atop the hill, turrets cascading in architectural delight? But for now our attention turned back to the villa, a rustic home with endless possibilities. We feasted on cheese and tomatoes, plump red tomatoes bursting in hungry mouths, washed down with copious amounts of free flowing wine that poured down our throats with determination and grit. The smooth velvety liquid soothed my insides, and I felt reborn like a phoenix that had risen from the ashes, standing proudly among the locals.
I felt reinvigorated, the scent of grapes trodden underfoot in the nearby wineries, the adventure was only just beginning. There was wine and chocolate baths in a farmhouse near Chianti named Borgo Casa Al Vento, a wonderfully quaint set of cottages and apartments, framed by flower trellises and wooden gates. We danced around in our finery with joviality and lack of grace, resplendent gold and red chairs a seemingly odd fit for such a farmhouse aesthetic but it somehow worked in the moment, walking a fine line between royal elegance and charming countryside chic. There were wine and cheese tasting sessions, and dinners aplenty, creamy burrata washed down with honeyed dessert wine, taking cooking classes at the nearby cookery school, I was a novice at best. But it slipped down my throat with effortless grace, a smooth mix of pasta and cheese, a delightful glorified version of Italian cuisine. It was a holiday fit for a pair of foodies, as we tasted artichokes glazed in red pepper tapenade and mopped up rustic crusty farmyard loaves with Tuscan bean soup, fragrant with pepper and spice.
It was a holiday of firsts: the first time that I had gone to Italy, the first holiday with a friend, the first holiday in six years, I felt truly blessed. Our friendship deepened and the ties of our connection was sealed, as we became close friends, navigating the beautiful waters of travel together, where dips in chocolate and wine baths were a thing, and we would wander for endless hours in Italian Cities and rural villages, until we could walk no more. I was hungry for travel, I wanted more, and I craved a world where there were no limitations and inhibitions. I remembered two friends drinking Aria ‘Chianti Classico’ Wine in Jacuzzis, while red wine was poured in to cleanse our skins, it felt like heaven as the jets and the wine mixed together, in a deliciously hedonistic manner. There was the chocolate bath too, a chocolate scrub rubbed onto tanned skins, giggling like school girls at the smell of edibility. The rain showered down upon us for much of our stay, but we didn’t let the weather dampen our spirits; we went sight seeing in Siena, a small specter in the city center, standing in awe at the Piazza del Campo that lay before us, tourists bemused by the girl with the khaki hat and the forest green platforms, who was tottering around on steep cobbled slopes. We danced under the invigorating force of the April showers and smiled at the tourists weaving in and out of museums, my friend laughing at my awestruck expression, outside Siena’s infamous Fortezza Medicea, a 16th Century Fortress.
It was a towering pillar of strength, a virile symbol of status and power, but nothing was as glorious as the charming Greve, an ancient town that was as whimsical as it was cultural, as we weaved in and out of stone pillars clutching plant pots, while we sauntered into a quiet road near the village center, where an Instagrammable pink house awaited us in all its picturesque glory, crumbling facades only adding to the magic that Tuscany had to bring. It was a glorious week away in the land where magical surrealism had come to play, a wonderful riot of flowers interlaced with medieval buildings. It was a culture lover’s paradise, a history enthusiast’s mecca, a nature wannabee’s playground. And when it all came to an end, that fateful Saturday morning, I vowed that my wanderlust’s spirit could no longer be tamed and I would free the beast to roam the world once more. There would be trips to caress a new found lover, locked in a passionate embrace, like newlyweds on their wedding day. I would dance among the spirits of the kings and queens that roamed the castle grounds in Edinburgh, watching my friend say ‘I Do’ to the man of her dreams and my heart would melt at the majesty of the elephants and tigers that I could see before me, proud majestic creatures in Tanzania, the land that was calling me next.
I had never been any further than Europe, but I wanted that fact to change; I wanted to feel the African heat on my shoulders, basking in its glorious golden embrace. I wanted to feel my heart swell with pride as a new born cub took its first step, animals protected, adored and cherished as they should be, an animal lover at heart. It would make me look to the future and picture how life should be always, an endless adventure of my wildest fantasies come to life. We would camp underneath the stars, watching Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka twinkle in the night sky, toasting vegetarian marshmallows in the roasting firepit. We would swim without grace and finesse lost in the moment, heady breaststrokes across the deep blue infinity pool. Most of all we would learn to breathe, as we cast our dark brown eyes across the horizon, where we ate Ugali, dipped and devoured in coconut milk, accentuated by the spiciness of the Maharagwe, red kidney beans that are a staple in the Tanzanian’s diet.
There would be timely breakfasts overlooking the Serengeti, where two million wildebeest would lead the thundering procession, the lions charging behind in the action led display of The Great Migration. You would marvel at the majestic beauty of the wild animals in their natural habitat, a childhood dream come to life, on a game drive that would quite literally change your life. In the moments of stillness you would seek quiet contemplation in the plunge pools, a floral swimsuit in a sea of blue, feeling the water droplets cleanse your face in a purification ritual. It would be a hodge podge of action, but even in the moments of an action packed itinerary you would still find time to breathe, smiling as you sought relaxation in the Lemala Camps, where the Mpingo Ridge and Kuria Hills awaited you.
And that is why I want to win a Holiday to Tanzania.
What Is The Best Holiday That You Have Ever Been On?
Please note this is a competition entry to win a holiday to Tanzania, you have no idea how much I would like to win. To be able to escape my own bubble of reality and experience something new would be mind blowing. I want to broaden my travel horizons and see the world in all it’s naked glory, dancing under the stars, until I can dance no more. They say that when someone is tired of travelling, they are tired of life, and I couldn’t agree more. For I cannot get enough of the sensation of going to far flung lands, where culture and education collide in one marvelous experience. And I want to have that chance to experience Tanzania, I want to be open to new cultures, to explore new worlds. Most of all I want to live in the moment, leaving behind the bills that litter my desk, forgoing adult responsibilities to live out my true passions. A nomadic explorer who has re-started her journey to find herself again. And its a beautiful feeling.
P.S if I do win, you can expect lots of magical photos on my journey to discovering Tanzania, including Instagram stories, blog posts, photos and behind the scene shoots.