We love to travel. And while we’ve been travelling, because we tend to veer off the tourist trails, we realised that we were discovering so many hidden gems, having amazing experiences and picking up tips and avoiding near-disasters, that we thought it would be a nice idea to have somewhere, where this could be shared. In March 2017 we finally realised our dream to relocate to the sunshine and are now living in Istria, in northern Croatia. We continue to travel, although currently (2021) our travels are more Croatia-influenced. As well as the ongoing global pandemic, which is obviously restricting travel, we are moving onto our second Istrian renovation project and so are taking the opportunity to explore our new home country. Of course, we still remain very linked to the UK – our families are there, our We Are Life Design clients are there, and our friends are there, so we will continue to keep our close links to the areas in UK in which we have lived. And will still return to on a regular basis.

What we blog about will be a good mix of wherever we go. So whether that’s somewhere not too far from where we live in Istria, a UK destination or a bit further afield, it’ll be here. If you love quirky places and things maybe a bit different from the norm, hopefully you’ll like what you find here. You can also pop over to Twitter, for the brief version!

And, we’re not being paid to mention hotels etc, & none of the blogs are sponsored – although, if one day, I could make a living out of travelling to gorgeous places…

Latest Blogs…

The Dolphin Suites, Veli Lošinj

The Dolphin Suites, Veli Lošinj

After a long hiatus from travel, and after getting our second vaccinations, we decided to do a bit of exploring this summer. Croatia has managed the pandemic well, so far and so we felt comfortable about beginning to explore where we live. Travel in the past has...

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Brondo Architect Hotel, Palma

Brondo Architect Hotel, Palma

Over the last few years, we’ve been very lucky to be able to pack in a huge amount of travel – as well as actually move abroad, relocating from Manchester to Istria, in northern Croatia. We’ve spent the last couple of years renovating a stone house and exploring our...

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Mallorca : One To Avoid…

Mallorca : One To Avoid…

It’s hard to imagine that there could really be anywhere to avoid on Mallorca. We’d discounted Magaluf, as unfortunately we’re no longer in our early twenties, and so, when booking places to stay, we were pretty confident that every place we chose, would be a winner....

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Vrbnik, Krk Island, Croatia

Vrbnik, Krk Island, Croatia

This was originally posted in August 2019, so all pre-Covid, when we could all travel much more freely... As well as family and friends coming out to visit us in Istria, we now have the opportunity to meet up with people who come to Croatia on holiday. We still find...

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Lluna Aqua Hotel, Sóller, Mallorca

Lluna Aqua Hotel, Sóller, Mallorca

When we last visited Mallorca, one of the hotels we booked was the Lluna Aqua Hotel in Sóller. Housed in a traditional Mallorcan townhouse, which we were told had been empty for over eighty years, the renovation had only recently been completed and the hotel only...

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Cathedral Tours

Cathedral Tours

It wasn’t intentional, but over our Christmas roadtrip, we seemed to visit quite a few cathedrals. Not for spiritual reasons, you understand. We love a cathedral for its architecture and gloriously over the top rich interiors. First stop was one we know very well –...

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Salts Mill, Saltaire, Yorkshire

Salts Mill, Saltaire, Yorkshire

It turns out Christmas Eve was just about the most perfect time to visit Salts Mill, in Saltaire, on our way up to the North East for our festive break. Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, like the very beautiful Port Sunlight on The Wirral, Saltaire was an industrial...

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Christmas in Metz, France

Christmas in Metz, France

We first discovered the beautiful medieval city of Metz, two years ago, on our first road trip from Istria to England, for Christmas. Positioned where it is, in north eastern France, it was a good place to stop and break up the journey to Calais. We’ve stayed a few...

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The Falstaff, Canterbury, Kent

The Falstaff, Canterbury, Kent

When we drive back to England, we tend to do a much needed stopover in the south-east after the ferry crossing from Calais. This year, we plumped for The Falstaff in Canterbury, which, according to its website – …has been a focus for hospitality in Canterbury for over...

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The Village in Istria That Time Forgot…

The Village in Istria That Time Forgot…

We had hoped that over Christmas we’d be beavering away, updating our websites and that we’d jump into the new year with a whole new look. Well, you know how these things go – a road trip back to England, much catching up with family and friends, and far too much...

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Riley’s Fish Shack, Tynemouth

Riley’s Fish Shack, Tynemouth

Although it’s been a while since I lived in the North East, we do still get to experience it when we visit family. It’s become a bit of a tradition that we do a bracing post-Christmas walk, usually on the coast, and this year was no exception. On the day after Boxing...

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The Frescoes of Draguć, Istria

The Frescoes of Draguć, Istria

In northern Istria, is the small village of Draguć, somewhere I’d never heard of, let alone been to, until this summer. That’s the beauty of Istria. It’s a small peninsula and so I guess that once people who visit have been to the big-hitters – Rovinj, Porec, Pula,...

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Treviso, Italy

Treviso, Italy

Amanda and Steve, friends who come and visit us from Manchester, usually fly into Treviso, north of Venice, spend a couple of days there and then hop on the train to Trieste where we pick them up. They keep telling us that we must visit Treviso, because we’d love it....

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Hotel Navis, Opatija Riviera, Croatia

Hotel Navis, Opatija Riviera, Croatia

What a treat, a day and night away at Hotel Navis, in Opatija, is. Built into a cliff-face, and with all rooms overlooking the sea, it is situated between Rijeka and Volosko, on Preluk Bay – and for us, not too far away from our home in Istria. We spotted the hotel on...

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Petit Sant Miquel, Mallorca

Petit Sant Miquel, Mallorca

After spending time on the western side of Mallorca, we decided to explore the eastern side of the island and found a gem of a hotel, called Petit Sant Miquel in the very pretty and very traditional village of Calonge. Renovated and opened in August 2018 by a...

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Hotel Grand Wiesler, Graz, Austria

Hotel Grand Wiesler, Graz, Austria

Sometimes, you see somewhere online and you just have to go. No matter what. This happened recently when I discovered the website for the Hotel Grand Wiesler, in Graz, in the Styria region of southern Austria. When we lived in Manchester, the thought of seeing a hotel...

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The Backstreets of Bergamo

The Backstreets of Bergamo

Bergamo, located west of Milan, in the region of Lombardy, is beautiful. Often overlooked for the more glitzy (and possibly more brash) Milan, it has everything. There is the lower, more modern town (Citta Bassa) – although, as well as your retail therapy kicks, you...

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Maribor, Slovenia

Maribor, Slovenia

Maribor is Slovenia’s second largest city, but that doesn’t mean it’s big, by any stretch of the imagination. Up until now, we’ve overlooked it, in favour of the capital, Ljubljana, whose appeal is immediate. It’s beautiful, full of well restored and well maintained...

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Officine Cavour, Padova

Officine Cavour, Padova

Our second accommodation on our weekend stopover in Padova was an apartment, slap bang in the historical centre, called Officine Cavour. Directions to the car park were great – but we struggled a little bit initially to find the actual apartment. It’s located in a...

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Best Western Plus Net Tower, Padova

Best Western Plus Net Tower, Padova

We often drive around the outskirts of Padova (Padua) when we travel back to Istria from Italy. We’ve always found it – even with Google Maps – quite a perplexing city to get out of. It’s not a big city, but the outskirts are a bit on the confusing side, so we...

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Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen

Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen

We love Copenhagen. Everything about it just oozes understated style and sophistication. It is effortlessly cool. Bars and restaurants (or at least the ones we’ve visited) are contemporary without being up themselves. Shops are largely of the independent variety, and...

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Il Circolino, Citta Alta, Bergamo

Il Circolino, Citta Alta, Bergamo

On trips to Bergamo, we’ve regularly meant to eat at Il Circolino, just off Via Colleoni, up in Citta Alta. But, we’ve never done it. It’s always looked interesting. The menu has always appealed. It’s definitely inexpensive. But, in such a small city, with just so...

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Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire

Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire

Although we know most of the north of England fairly well, we weren’t aware of Brimham Rocks. How did we not know about them? Found on Brimham Moor in North Yorkshire, England the rocks began taking their shape roughly 320 million years ago, when water, grit, and sand...

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London Road Trip

London Road Trip

Not too long ago, when we still lived in Didsbury, we often thought about having time away in London, but never got round to it, because, well – London was just too far away from Manchester. The traffic would be awful. We’d end up sitting on the M6 or the M25. It was...

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Windswept Whitby, North Yorkshire

Windswept Whitby, North Yorkshire

Split by the River Esk, Whitby is one of my favourite spots on the Yorkshire coast. I always seem to have visited in the winter months, and although I am sure spring and summer are glorious (mostly!) – my impression of Whitby is of brooding and dramatic skies, and...

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Andalucia in November

Andalucia in November

For obvious reasons, there’s no celebrating of 5th November out here in Andalucia. But the absence of a bonfire and fireworks weren’t the only reasons why the 5th November – to me, the real start of winter – seemed a bit odd yesterday. What seemed odd, was spending it...

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Vineria Cozzi, Citta Alta, Bergamo

Vineria Cozzi, Citta Alta, Bergamo

If you follow this blog or our Twitter feed, you’ll probably we know love Bergamo in Northern Italy. And Vineria Cozzi, on via Bartolomeo Colleoni, the beautiful cobbled thoroughfare off Piazza Vecchia in the old, upper town, is just stunning. It’s a family run...

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Castello della Botta, San Pellegrino

Castello della Botta, San Pellegrino

Nothing excites us more on our travels than finding unique and unusual places to stay, and Castello della Botta, high up in the hills above San Pellegrino Terme, is very definitely both! We were staying in Bergamo but decided to check out the spa town in the Brembana...

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An Italian Roadtrip

An Italian Roadtrip

One of the great joys of traveling through Italy is discovering firsthand that it is, indeed, a dream destination. – Debra Lavinson We are pulled to Italy, time and time again. In September – October 2013, we did quite an extensive trip, planning as we went along....

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Padre Pio : The Superstar Saint

Padre Pio : The Superstar Saint

Having driven around much of Italy, I think we can safely say that this guy – Padre Pio – is very definitely a superstar saint. You can hardly escape him – statues, images, grafitti, even a whole TV channel dedicated to him. I had heard of him before & had been...

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Holiday Fever, Alghero, Sardinia

Holiday Fever, Alghero, Sardinia

Fortunately, when we booked a night’s accommodation in Algehro, Sardinia, I was looking more at the room/bathroom/reviews than the name, and so really only realised when the confirmation email came through that the name was so awful. I mean, “Holiday Fever“… However,...

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FC Rooms, Piazza Yenne, Cagliari

FC Rooms, Piazza Yenne, Cagliari

FC Rooms, Piazza Yenne 24, 09124 Cagliari, Sardinia Tel: +39.070 0992101 || Mobile: +39.3455576755 || Email: info@fcroomscagliari.com FC Rooms was discovered online, when we were still in Sicily. We had a flight booked from Trapani to Cagliari, but no accommodation...

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Riad Mimouna, Essaouira, Morocco

Riad Mimouna, Essaouira, Morocco

ten by Helen This is riad is quite simply, stunning. Located right on the sea walls, and converted from a very grand 19th century residence, you just could not have a better place to stay in Essaouira. The entrance to the riad is breath-taking – hand carved thuya...

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Villa Mercede, Frascati, Italy

Villa Mercede, Frascati, Italy

Villa Mercede is a bit different to many of the hotels we choose to stay in on our travels. Personal choice, but we prefer quirky, boutique style (although not those with silly prices), old, traditional etc to modern and quite functional. Which is what Villa Mercede,...

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Hotel Rocca Della Sena, Tropea, Calabria

Hotel Rocca Della Sena, Tropea, Calabria

When we were in Italy, last year, we had an awful experience with a hotel in the beautiful Calabrian town of Tropea. We’d booked into Hotel Valemare for four nights, but it was so terrible, we left the next morning, not knowing if we’d get a refund*. We’d heard of...

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Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily

Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily

On our travels through Italy last year, we made the decision to explore the eastern coast of Sicily and having done some online research, decided that Ortigia (in the region of Syracuse), sounded like our kind of place. We took the car ferry from Reggio Calabria to...

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Costa Smeralda, Sardinia

Costa Smeralda, Sardinia

Having heard lots of people rave about this north eastern Sardinian  coastline, we thought that a slight detour was definitely in order. We’d been staying at an agriturismo in the Saltara region and were heading to a second, a little further south (but still deep in...

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Favignana – The Butterfly Island

Favignana – The Butterfly Island

Trapani (or Birgi Airport, located about 19 km south of the city) is easily accessible by Ryanair from the UK. Once in Trapani, the Egadi Islands – Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo – to the west, are as easily accessible by ferry. We chose to spend six days on...

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The Marrakech Express

The Marrakech Express

For anyone who’s not been to Marrakech, you need to know that everything you’ve probably ever heard is true. It is hot (even in early Janaury when we were there). It’s dusty and dirty. It’s a city of vibrant colours, aromatic aromas, constant hustle and bustle....

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Tropea – A Calabrian Jewel

Tropea – A Calabrian Jewel

On our travels in Italy last year, we were so lucky to find some real off-the-beaten-track places. We’d hired a car and had no real plan, apart from having a couple of weeks to get from Rome to Ortigia in Sicily on the first part of the trip. So, with trusty road map...

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Semana Santa, Seville

Semana Santa, Seville

Easter may be well over now, and it’s a couple of weeks since we returned, but memories of Seville are still burning very, very brightly. We were lucky enough to be there during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and, oh my word! What a spectacle! The week features the...

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Nerja, Andalusia

Nerja, Andalusia

So, thanks to a friend, we’ve managed to get away from walls being smashed down around us as our house/office is refurbished & have found a beautiful piece of Andalucia where we’re currently working – and using as a base to explore Southern Spain. Perfecto! We’re...

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The Iron Men, Crosby

The Iron Men, Crosby

Every time we pop over to Formby, a visit to Antony Gormley’s Iron Men on Crosby Beach is a must. Every single time we visit, I see them in a different way, depending on the time of day, the light, the weather or the height of the tide. I’ve never gone and not seen...

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Castellabate, Campania, Italy

Castellabate, Campania, Italy

In my book, a “cool” place to stay doesn’t need to be hip and trendy and cutting edge. It just needs to be somewhere that isn’t bog-standard. And this place we stumbled upon – quite literally – in Castellabate, Campania is very cool, if like us, you like things that...

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Moroccan Doorways

Moroccan Doorways

That’s right. A blog about doorways. But not just any old doorways, you understand. These are Moroccan doorways. Some astonishingly elaborate, some mosaic framed, some brightly coloured, some literally hanging off their ancient hinges, some huge, some hobbit like. But...

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Marrakech Menara

Marrakech Menara

We’ve been so lucky recently to be able to do a lot of travelling and so have seen quite a few airports. Much are much of a muchness. There’s often very little that really sets one airport apart from another. But, the latest airport we flew into and out of, is...

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The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North

Weather-wise, our Christmas journey north didn’t start off too well. Howling gales & lashing rain – awful driving weather, but probably a quite typical English Xmas drive on the M62 & A1… However, Boxing Day saw a real change in the weather and so a trip to...

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Le Petit Dejeuner, Montmartre, Paris

Le Petit Dejeuner, Montmartre, Paris

Although Paris is packed to the gills with the most gorgeous places to eat, sometimes its the unexpected ones you stumble upon that are the most memorable… We recently stayed in Montmartre and Saturday morning was cold and grey – much like a home from home, so it was...

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Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Of all of the places we visited recently, Venice has to be one of the most memorable. We arrived on a cold, misty afternoon and were prepared for the weather to stay this way as we’d been under thick cloud all the way from Rimini… The lagoon, on either side of the...

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Hotel Basiliani, Matera, Basilicata

Hotel Basiliani, Matera, Basilicata

The amazing Matera, in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy, is going to have a blog post all of its own because it is quite simply, one the most incredible places we visited recently. This blog however, is all about Hotel Basiliani – a real modern jaw dropper,...

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Rimini, Emilia-Romagna

Rimini, Emilia-Romagna

Rimini – Hotel DuoMo… a pretty spectacular find of a hotel, right in the heart of Rimini. Surrounded by historical buildings and vaulted, arched walkways, sits the very striking Hotel DuoMo - almost brash compared to its neighbours, but somehow it fits. Bold, cherry...

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Sperlonga, Latina, Italy

Sperlonga, Latina, Italy

We’d not previously heard of this place, but now we know about it, it’s very definitely somewhere we’d revisit next time we’re in the province of Latina. Halfway between Rome and Naples, the very pretty village, perched high on a hilltop overlooking the sea, is a...

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Ragusa Ibla Buskers’ Festival, Sicily

Ragusa Ibla Buskers’ Festival, Sicily

We hit lucky when we were staying in Ortigia, Siciliy – a friend tipped us off about a Buskers’ Festival which was happening in the inland town of Ragusa, and so with very little knowledge about it, other than it was happening, we hit the road… The road over to Ragusa...

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Tarsia, Calabria, Italy

Tarsia, Calabria, Italy

We needed to break the journey up from Villa San Giovanni (where you cross to & from Sicily) to Matera and so consulted our trusty oracles – a well thumbed road map and google. Tarsia seemed to be a place that was just about equi-distant, but very remote. As...

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Sunny Salford

Sunny Salford

As beautiful as the iconic L.S.Lowry paintings of Salford are, thankfully it’s no longer quite this grim up north. Wonder what Lowry would make of the regeneration of Salford Quays? No longer a pretty desolate wasteland, it's now home to the BBC North, the Imperial...

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The Georgian Townhouse, Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

The Georgian Townhouse, Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

Recently, we travelled south to Essex to visit a We Are Life client and decided to make a bit of trip of it. Not having ever been to Essex before, assuming it was all brash a-la “The Only Way is Essex”, we weren’t really sure what to expect and I certainly didn’t have...

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Roma : Part One

Roma : Part One

We were lucky to have two days in Rome before flying to Corfu. It has to be one of our favourite cities in Italy – how could it not be? For this part of our journey, we chose to travel by train from Pisa. Now, in England if you were to book a first class train ticket,...

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Anti-Paxos, Ionian Islands, Greece

Anti-Paxos, Ionian Islands, Greece

Anti-Paxos is a tiny island, about 2 miles to the south of Paxos, in the Ionian Sea. It is reached by a speedboat service from Gaios on Paxos – but don’t miss the last one back at 5.30pm as you’ll be stranded. The two or three beach tavernas close when the last boat...

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Tuscany in September

Tuscany in September

Tuscany is an area of Italy I’ve never really discovered -I’ve visited & stayed in Florence and Pisa, but have never before experienced the rolling hills and fields full of sunflowers, which seem to be so associated with this part of Italy. But, in the first week...

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Siorra Vittoria, Corfu Town

Siorra Vittoria, Corfu Town

UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2014 Once again, we found ourselves pulled towards the magic of Paxos, after travelling around Sardinia, and so when we had a night’s stop-over in Corfu town, we couldn’t resist Hotel Siorra Vittoria again. Sometimes, when you don’t have long to...

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Ortigia Market, Syracuse, Sicily

Ortigia Market, Syracuse, Sicily

The early morning market in Ortigia, Siracusa (Siciliy), is a sight to behold. Whilst we do have some excellent fresh produce markets here in the UK, this Sicilian one blew us away… Every kind of fresh vegetable and fruit seemed to be available, along with fish caught...

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A Festival in Frascati, Italy

A Festival in Frascati, Italy

A one night stop over in Frascati turned out to be more of a spectacle than we imagined. Sitting in a little square on a Sunday evening, we became conscious of some very beautiful singing way, way off in the distance. This gradually got louder and louder and more and...

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