Several years ago I followed a gorgeous blog that was written by an expat living in Turin, Italy. The blog was just fabulous and I really looked forward to it arriving in my inbox each week. I would take time to curl up with a coffee and read through each glorious word, pore over each photo, and dream about the perfect trip to Torino.
Then one day, poof! it disappeared. Gone as if it never existed. Over the years I have searched to try and find it but I guess she took it down because no matter how I search I just cannot find it anywhere. There should be some rule that fabulous blogs need to stick around in perpetuity for us to always be able to enjoy!
Anyway, not too long ago a friend of mine, Olivia (@livguine on Instagram) fell in love with a handsome Piedmontese fellow and moved to Turin. She leads a dreamy life there full of visits to wineries (she has a wine background) exploring and cooking Northern Italian dishes.
For those of you who belong to my Newsletter Liv has sent me a recipe for a hearty pasta dish specifically for the newsletter. If you are not a member of my newsletter group you can join here.
I asked Olivia to give me a list of 5 things you absolutely must do when visiting beautiful Turin. Here is the list as created by a resident of the city, not a traveler:
5 Things You Must Do In Turin
1. Visit Monte dei Cappuccini
This is a beautiful late-Renaissance-style church on a hill overlooking the River Po near the bridge of Piazza Vittorio Veneto. It was built for the Capuchin Order (an order of Franciscan monks.) Construction began in 1583, and was completed in 1656. From Monte dei Cappuccini you have a stunning view over beautiful Turin.
Be sure to go up there on a clear day though – Turin is famously foggy!
2. The Basilica of Superga
This church on the hill of Superg was built in 1717-1731 to celebrate Turin defeating the French and Spanish in the Battle of Turin. It is home to the tombs of the Savoy family. In 1949 a plane carrying the Turin football team crashed into the basilica, (which was hidden in the fog) killing everyone onboard. There is a tomb commemorating them at the back of the church.
Did you know Turin was the birthplace of Italian cinema? Italy’s National Museum of Film is housed here in Turin in the Mole Antonelliana, one of the city’s iconic landmarks. The museum is interactive and really fantastic. You can also go to the top of the tower and take in the majestic views of this gorgeous city, all th way to the alps.
4. Bicerin And A Stroll Through Quadrilatero
In Turin, the locals don’t drink hot chocolate in the winter time, they drink bicerin! It’s a delicious concoction of chocolate, coffee and milk topped with cream. The best place to sip on this is at Caffe Al Bicerin, before taking a stroll through the oldest part of the city that dates back to the Roman ages.
5 Vermouth And A Royal Palace
Who doesn’t love wandering through a European royal palace?
Turin was home to the Royal family of Savoy and they left their mark with the beautiful Royal Palace in the city centre. Stroll through the beautiful palace before joining the locals at aperitivo hour with a glass of Torinese vermouth.
If you are interested in learning more about things to do in and around Turin be sure to check out my friend Olivia’s website, Livguine.com (A play on her name and linguine – Liv is a fabulous cook and shares recipes from Torino on her website. She also has this post about 48 Hours In Turin. You can also listen to her fabulous interview on the Untold Italy Podcast here. I guarantee you will absoluteely fall in love with her story!
If one good thing comes from the world being shut down due to the pandemic it could be the realigning of how we travel so that when the world does reopen, maybe this time we can get it right.
Mass tourism causes irreparable damage on many levels but the three most pervasive are: environmental damage, social and cultural damage and economic damage. As much as you may think several thousand people dismbarking from a cruise ship boosts a local economy, guess what – it doesn’t. In fact it does the exact opposite.
This post is the final in a series about sustainable travel, what it is and why we need to be part of the solution.
What Is Sustainable Travel?
Before you start thinking Sustainable tourism is about driving a Prius and eating vegan food let’s look at what it really means. Sustainable travel means developing ways to travel that don’t harm the natural and cultural environments, that minimize the negative impact of tourism and ideally are beneficial to the places we are traveling to. The idea is to keep everything in good condition for future generations to enjoy.
10 Ways You Can Become A Sustainable Traveler
We can make a huge difference by just making a few simple changes in the way we travel. Here are 10 simple things you can do that will make you part of the solution rather thn part of the problem.
1. DON’T Book A Cruise!
The cruise industry is one of the worst offenders in the mass tourism game. Cruises have a massive negative impact on the oceans and the ports they arrive into.
The influx of multiple thousands of passengers is bad for the environment, bad for local culture and bad for the local economy.
Here are eight places being completely ruined by the cruise industry:
The Great Barrier Reef
The Galapagos Islands
You can read more about cruise ships damaging impact on the environment here
When thinking about the impact you have on any place you travel to, any city, town, village, beach, national park, at all times be aware of the amount of trash you are generating and leaving behind. Even if you are putting it in a trash can or dumpster.
The worst offenders are single use plastics, like bottles of water. Choosing to use refillable bottles or refilling the one bottle can make a huge difference.
Also think about the amount of trash your food choices create. Making an effort to only eat sitting down in a restaurant/café/food bar can eliminate the trash created by the packaging for fast foods. Try keeping all your trash for two days – you will be amazed at how much you generate! Try imagining that volume of refuse multiplied out by the number of tourists in that town that day. For example if you are in Venice and buy 3 bottles of water you may not think that’s much waste created, but multiply that out by the 20,000 passengers from the 5 cruise ships in port that day and you start seeing what a huge deal that really is.
3. Avoid Major Chains
Outside of your home country or traveling to the U.S or U.K avoid staying at major chain hotels. When you book with a major international chain approximately 16% of your nightly hotel fee won’t go to the local economy, it will go to the conglomerate. Booking a local hotel keeps the money in that specific town.
The same applies to your dining choices. Avoid the major U.S fast food chains – you didn’t travel across the world to eat McDonald’s and drink Starbucks. Eat at local cafes and restaurants where the food is locally sourced and prepared by locals and where all your dollars are going back into the local economy.
4. Book Direct
When you book a hotel reservation (or any reservation) through a third party booking service like Booking.com or Hotels.com 25% of the value of your booking doesn’t make it to the local economy. Find out what the price is with the consolidator then call the hotel and ask them to match it. 9 times out of 10 they will, and now once again you are putting all the money back into the local economy.
5. Choose Less Traveled Locations.
Rather than choosing the most touristed places for your vacation, choose a place less traveled. Rather than Santorini choose one of the hundreds of equally beautiful Greek islands that don’t get cruise ships. Instead of Barcelona venture to one of Catalonia’s equally magical smaller coastal towns. Seeking out smaller, less touristy locations helps dilute mass tourism.
If you must go to (a.k.a. don’t want to miss) the most touristed cities and islands try to go during the off season when then are fewer people around. I love Barcelona but only go between November and March when the cruise ships aren’t running.
6. Get Off The Beaten Path
This goes with number 5. Even in the big cities you can still get off the beaten path. Avoid the areas that are full of tourists and explore some of the lesser known sights. You’ll have a much more enriching and fulfilling experience. My rule is spend 25% of your time at the big sites and the other 75% at lesser known, lesser visited places, or “off the beaten track”. Of course you have to see the Colosseum in Rome – it would be madness to miss it. But then go explore the less visited sites and you will fall in love with the Eternal City.
Rather than shop in high street stores which you have at home anyway, or buying junky trinkets in made in China souvenir shops, support local artisans.
Apart from helping keep the crafts and cultures alive shopping from local artisans significantly impacts the local economy.
8. Check Your Sunscreen
Believe it or not something as simple as your choice of sunscreen can have an environmental impact. Sunscreen gets into the ocean and other waterways when you swim or shower it off. You don’t need to be vacationing near the coral reefs for your sunscreen to have an impact.
In 2015 scientists estimated that annually 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash into the world’s coral reefs.
Some of the most common sunscreen ingredients, oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano zinc oxide and nano titanium dioxide can harm both sea creatures and coral reefs. The damage is significant enough that some places are banning sun tan lotions containing them. In 2018 Hawaii banned the sale of sun tan lotions, sunblocks and suncreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate.
For a list of easily available and affordable reef safe sunscreens click here
9. Travel By Train
Trains have been shown to be the most environmentally friendly mode of travel. Where possible use trains to travel through Europe rather than cars or planes. Using car only on the days you can’t get places by train has a significant impact on the environment.
Animals shouldn’t be used for entertainment and should be able to live with as little human interference as possible. If you need to see animals in the wild take your tourism dollars to wildlife sanctuaries and refuges and marine conservation projects.
Be aware that animals are mistreated and abused in the name of tourism. Don’t take an elephant ride – riding elephants can be extremely harmful to them and the process for getting an elephant ready to be ridden is inhumane. (Rescued elephants go to sanctuaries to escape a life of being ridden and abused.)
Avoid all experiences where animals are not behaving naturally. Also be aware that animals are being torn from the wild to be made available for tourists to take selfies with.
Want to know more? Listen to the Any Given Runway Podcastepisode where we talk about sustainable travel and how you can make a huge difference by doing very small things. You can check out the webpage here
Everyone has heard of Naples and the Amalfi Coast but few seem to know about one of my favorite islands there, the picturesque island of Procida.
Procida is part of the Flegrean island chain in the Gulf of Naples, and sits just behind Ischia. Exquisitely beautiful and relatively untouched, Procida is one of the 10 most colorful places on earth.
Luckily the island is off the main tourist radar and hasn’t been ruined by mass tourism. It is mostly a weekend getaway for the people of Naples, which is just 40 minutes away. Many of the homes on the island belong to Napolitans. With the exception of August (Europe’s summer vacation month), for the most part if you are coming Monday through Friday the island isn’t too busy.
On January 18th 2021 the island was named Italy’s Cultural Capital for 2022.
Procida is tiny. It only measures 4 square kilometers, its longest stretch of coastline is a mere 16 kilometers long. Its highest point, Terra Murata is only 91 meters high.
Unless coming by private boat you arrive into Marina Grande, famous for its lively and vibrantly painted pastel houses. The same color scheme is visable on the opposite side of the island, with the houses painted in bright colors so fishermen can see their homes from far away.
The houses along the marina have a tall archway on the ground floor to store the family’s boat during the winter months, and an outdoor staircase gives access to the upper floor, saving interior space.
The main square along from the marina is home to the incredibly pretty Santa Maria della Pieta church. Built in 1624 and notable for the clock on all four sides of the tower, the lemon and white church is one of the islands most recognizable landmarks.
The body of the island is made up of a web of very narrow streets. Locals come whizzing through on vespas and the occasional 3 wheeled ape. Everywhere you look you are surrounded by vibrant, pretty colors.
Because the island is so little you can easily see a lot in one day. The walk from Marina Grande (where you arrive) to Marina Corricella on the opposite side only takes a few minutes.
The crossroads between the villages of Marina Grande, Marina Corricella and Terra Murata meet in a piazza known as the Terrace of Procida, (Semmarezio, la terrazza di Procida) also known as Martyrs Square. The terrace is anchored by another lovely yellow church, this time the baroque Santa Maria della Grazie, built back in 1679. From here you can turn left and wander up to the Terra Murata with the fortress, Palazzo d’Avalos and another church with an amazing view, Santa Margherita Nuova. Palazzo d’ Avalos was built in 1500 for the d’Avalos family who ran Procida until around 1700. In 1830 the palace became a prison, up until 1988. You can visit and take tours but need to book ahead online.
Alternatively you can turn right and weave your way down the hill to he lovely little Marina Corricella, passing houses and clothes hanging out to dry along the way. Corricella is the oldest part of the island.
Marina Corricella is a working fishing marina. On the hill above you can se the fortress and at the end the church of Santa Margherita Nova. Not only is the waterfront punctuated with colorful fishing boats but you also see piles of fishing nets drying in the sun.
This stretch of the marina is full of fabulous little eateries. The food is excellent and very inexpensive. The movie Il Postino was shot here, and you can sit out under the umbrellas and take in the views from the movie while you eat.
Portions are huge, so beware when you order. This seafood platter was an antipasti for one, but fed 3 of us. I think we paid about 10 euros.
There are several beaches to choose from. There are a couple at the tip of Marina Grande, but you have to figure all the detritus from the ferry and the hydrofoil is also floating in that water.
The most popular beach is probably Chaia beach, a long sand tongue further along from Marina Corricella. You can reach it by sea or by foot. From piazza Olmo you duck down an alley and then take 186 steps to the sand, earning yourself a gelato when you get back! From the beach you can look back to Terra Murata at the other end and the marina below. There is a restaurant and a bar at the far end of the beach. You can take the C1 and C2 buses to and from Piazza Olmo
Chiaiolella and Ciraccio Beaches
This is a gorgeous beach at the far end of the island, shortly before the causeway to Vivara island. It is separated by two huge tuff rocks from another beach, Spiaggia Ciraccio. Prior to a landslide they were one single long stretch of beach.
Behind Chiaiolella beach is the Marina Chiaiolella. There are 3 hotels and 2 restaurants, and this is the marina used by most private craft coming in from Naples. You can use the L1 and L2 buses to get to and from Chiaiolella.
Pozzo Vecchio Beach
Also know as Postman’s Beach or Il Postino, this is the beach used in the movie. This horseshoe shaped beach has both private and public sections, and due to its position and typography is known also to have incredibly blue water. As with Chiaiolella beach it gets non stop sunshine all day. It is on the west side of Procida and can be reached with the C1 bus.
When you arrive on the island take a few minutes to stop for un caffe and una lingua di procida. These “tongue” shaped pastries are light and fluffy and are filled with a custard cream made from Procida lemons. This is definitely not to be missed! See more here at NoChef.it.
Every restaurant offers endless seafood. Everything is caught fresh that morning and I have never had anything that is less than outstanding.
Also not to be missed, anything made with Procida lemons. Try the fresh and light summery lemon pasta made with fresh mint, lemon zest and a little chili pepper (it’s unbelievably good!) and be sure to try the famous Procida Lemon salad pictured above. Procida lemons have a particularly thick pith under a very sheer rind. This thick white mass is known locally as lemon bread due to its texture. The salad is prepared with lemon slices that have softened in a coolwater bath before being mixed with fresh mint, garlic, pepperoncino and local olive oil. It is out of this world.
Procida is a lovely day trip from Naples and is a great place to not only escape the tourist crowds but to also absorb some authentic Italy. There are a few small hotels on the island as well as some airbnb’s, should you fall in love with the island and never want to leave! (or if you want to plan ahead and stay for a few days.) Procida is very close to Ischia, so you can combine the two islands over the course of a few days vacation.
Getting there: From the Beverello port in Naples you take the hydrofoil to Procida. It takes about 40 minutes and costs 15 euros.
Want to know about more fabulous places to visit in Italy? Join my private members newsletter for a monthly email about a secret place you’ll want to add to your itinerary! You can join the newsletter HERE