Bella Italia

I’ve been back to Italy a few times since the first trip in 1978, but never really made comparisons between then and now.

There have been such incredible changes to the whole travel experience over that time. Now we can book everything online, download tickets to our phones, have the convenience of credit cards and cash machines and use Google maps to find our way.

In 1978 we arrived in Italy on the ferry from Corfu to Brindisi and drove to Naples and then to Rimini where we ran out of money and had to sprint non-stop back to London.

Driving through Italy back then was fairly nerve-wracking (as ever) and you couldn’t leave the car unattended for fear of it being broken into or stolen and had to fork out for security parking.

Cash was king then (1624 lira to £1 according to my little notebook) and let’s not forget that every time you crossed a border there was a new currency to contend with. Banks were more trusting and we cashed British cheques in banks all over Europe.

Our map book covered the whole of Europe, so we were perpetually lost. We fairly much had to make do with where we ended up, which led us to unexpected places and meeting people through constantly asking directions.

What is constant is the incredible Italian food and the wonderful architecture. Even the most humble B&B has spectacular marble floors and staircases. In Verona the pavements are made great slabs of ancient pink marble and in Bologna the arch covered pavements are different patterns of terrazzo.

To me, Italy still as magical as that very first visit.

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