Guest Traveller Marjolein Kuntzelaers studied educational science in the Netherlands before coming to Australia in 2016 to nanny. Being away from home made her realise how lucky she is to be able to travel so freely across so many European countries and sparked her wanderlust to see more of the Continent. On a recent trip back to Europe, Marjolein visited Tuscany in Italy…
Marjolein fell in love with Italy’s historical and cultural richness, its scenic qualities, and the kindness and generosity of the Italian people. On her whirlwind tour, she spent a day in each of the Tuscan towns of Poppi, La Verna, and Siena. She has already booked her next Italian holiday – to Sardinia. Enjoy her beautiful pictures and memories from her travels in Italy…
Yellow, brown and green are the colours of Poppi. Yellow sunflowers growing by the roadside. Sand-brown chalets nestled close to each other down narrow streets. Green fields surrounding the small village. Friendly locals enjoy coffee and newspapers outside the only shop in town. Coming up the hill, you see the castle built sometime between 1169 and 1290. When I visited the castle later in the day, the sunset was as stunning as I hoped it would be.
Christian pilgrims from all over the world come here to pay a visit to the monastery dating from 1213, on the top of the hill. It was rainy when I arrived, but it gave the view a mystical touch. The ruin-like walls and buildings made it feel like you’re walking in the Middle Ages.
Not long after arriving in Siena, I stumble upon a parade of men in tights carrying flags as they make their way through the town. An old lady tells me it is a rehearsal for a procession. When the men have passed by, I make my way to the Duomo di Siena, a massive white Cathedral, and on to the Piazza del Campo – the town square. Every 2 July and 16 August, Il Palio, a famous horse race dating back to 1650, takes place in Siena’s town square. The trophy given to the winner of the Palio is a banner which is affectionately known as the rag, or “palio” in Italian.
Marjolein’s Top Five Tips for Travelling in Italy:
- If possible, go by car. Although the Italians are not the most graceful drivers in the world, it’s the most easy transport trough the country and takes you to unexpected places.
- Go for gelato! It’s a holiday so take time to treat yourself with an ice-cream. The most insane flavours with the most rich and beautiful
taste. Italians know their ice-cream.
- Don’t stick to the main streets. The main streets attract just more tourists and not the local people. If you wander off just a bit, you will
discover the best restaurants and incredible scenery.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to local people. If you learn the basics – “ciao” for hi, “come stai?” for how are you?, and “che bel tempo” for what nice weather – they will love you for it. The people are generous, friendly, and willing to help you out with lunch and dinner. It’s a chance to get to know this beautiful culture in its purest form.
- Take your time. Try not to rush. It took years to build Italy, so take your time to let it all – the history, art and mystery – in.
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