Five Dishes You Should Absolutely Try While in Italy

Everyone will be familiar with the popular Italian cuisine – pasta and pizza – but if you are visiting this beautiful country you should be aware that there is a rich variety of local cuisine to be discovered in the restaurants and cafes of the towns and cities. We have singled out five delicious Italian dishes that you really must try when visiting Italy, and we believe they may amaze you with their diversity

Everyone will be familiar with the popular Italian cuisine – pasta and pizza – but if you are visiting this beautiful country you should be aware that there is a rich variety of local cuisine to be discovered in the restaurants and cafes of the towns and cities. We have singled out five delicious Italian dishes that you really must try when visiting Italy, and we believe they may amaze you with their diversity

Bistecca all Fiorentina – what better way to start than with Florentine Steak, a deceptively delicious yet simple steak dish originating in Tuscany. Bear in mind this is a full size steak, weighing one kilo or more and some restaurants will charge by the weight, often indicate by “Etto” which means in 100 grams  increments. Cooked on a wood fire or “alla griglia”  and seasoned only with sea salt, the luscious juicy steak is usually served primarily on its own, and makes for a quite spectacular dish that steak lovers will relish. You should never ask to be “well done” as it is only served “rare”. If you are in Florence one of the best places to eat this dish is La Spada.

Tortelloni Burro e Salvia – a traditional ricotta and green leaf vegetable stuffed pasta dish, this is butter and sage tortelloni, and is typical of pasta dishes in being simple and yet delectable. The rich taste of the butter and sage sauce combined with the soft texture of the tortelloni makes for an excellent lunch; picture yourself in a pretty town square eating this at a traditional trattoria, and you have a picture of Italy you can’t ignore. Tortelloni are typical in Bologna and you should try them at Anna Maria.

Tortellini in Brodo di Cappone – Tortellini are small egg pasta parcels stuffed with pork and cheese. Then cooked in the capon broth which is fattened up rooster traditionally used in dishes in Emilia Romagna cuisine, makes for a quite spectacular meal in this fine traditional dish. The rich broth is a beautiful contrast to the meat stuffed egg pasta, and the result is a rustic style meal that you simply must try in one of the many fine osteria across the country. Don’t forget to ask for the recipe so you can make it when you get back home! The origin of the dish is contended between the cities of Bologna and Modena. If you happen to be there you can try the caffe concerto in Modena.

Orecchiette con le cime di rapa – Another of the many dishes that grew from peasant traditions, this is a simple yet very tasty pasta dish utilising orecchiette pasta (literally little ears) and turnip tops. Depending on where you are you will find local variations including the use of anchovies, the inevitable garlic, sometimes shallots and many other details, but the basic flavour of the pasta and the turnips is simply unbeatable. Typical of the south of Italy you can enjoy orecchiette the picturesque village of Alberobello. Try La Perla dei trulli.

Zuppa Inglese – we couldn’t leave without recommending a dessert, despite the translation – English Soup! – this really is a quite delicious pudding that may be somewhat familiar. It has its roots in the traditional English trifle, enhanced by local ingredients that give it its own unique flavours, and is truly spectacular and enjoyable.

There are few countries in which cuisine plays as important a part in the culture as Italy, and it is displayed perfectly in the above dishes. You will likely have sampled Italian meals at home, but we can assure you there is no comparison between those and the home cooked version, no matter how authentic it may have been. You simply can’t go to Italy and not sample their amazing food, so make sure you take the time to seek out the above examples, and the many other fine dishes you will find available.

Pet Travel – UK Dog Friendly Hotels

Pet Travel - UK Dog Friendly HotelsDogs are part of our family and it is hard to leave them behind, even if it is to jet off to the sun for a week or two! Particularly when they give you those puppy dog eyes; the ones that quietly beg to be taken with you and ultimately make you feel like the worst doggy parent ever when you don’t.

But what if you didn’t have to leave them behind? Pet travel is currently one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel market, with many hotels now not only welcoming dogs, but also offering unique packages to make their stay as comfortable and enjoyable as yours.

If your holiday just wouldn’t be the same without your four-legged friend, here is a taste of some dog friendly hotels across the UK, so both you and your pet can have a break this summer!

If you are after a city break there are several hotels across London that not only welcome dogs, but ensure they are treated just as well as you are. If you are looking for luxury then The Milestone Hotel is the place for you and your pup! In the heart of London with views across Kensington Gardens and Palace, The Milestone provides you with a pet preference form in advance so you can request their favourite food and book grooming services.

Your dog will also be provided with a comfy bed and turndown treat, as well as concierge services such as dog walking. However, if it is a budget stay you are after the Travelodge in Battersea or Waterloo welcome animals but with no extras available so you will need to take everything they need. The cost will be £20 for the stay, far cheaper than that of kennels or pet sitters.

The Cotswolds
If you are looking to head out of the city and enjoy a countryside break with your hound then The Cotswolds is the perfect place. Surrounded by meadow walks is The Old Swan and Minster Mill, situated in the pretty village of Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire. Here your furry friend can dine with you and even take part in Canine Etiquette Classes if you wish.

If you like to be beside the seaside and take your four-legged friend for long walks along the beach, then check out The Cary Arms in Babbacombe. The area boasts dog-friendly beaches and costal walks, your pup can join you for meals in the bar and they will even be provided with a bowl, bed, treats and meals themselves.

Fancy a spot of golf at the host venue of last year’s Ryder Cup? Why not take your pooch to Gleneagles so they too can experience the best golf resort in the world? Here your dog will experience complete luxury staying in a state-of-the-art indoor heated kennels, with a king-size bed complete with a deep, comfortable mattress. The staff will clean out, feed and water your dog as well as walk it if you wish. Or alternatively use your personal kennel door key to access your pooch and enjoy a walk across the beautiful countryside that surrounds the hotel. It’s a dog’s life!

How about a spa break at Lake Country House Hotel and Spa in mid Wales? The beautiful rural setting is perfectly situated to explore the countryside with miles of walking routes around the ground for your dog to enjoy. Resident dog Molly is always on hand to play chase around the 50 acres of ground or to lie by the fire in the evening.

Lake District
Overwater Hall was named in the ‘Top 10 Places to Stay with your Dog’ by the Telegraph in 2014. It is set in 18 acres of grounds and surrounded by spectacular scenery and lakes, perfect for long dog walks! Dogs are allowed in all areas on the hotel, but a dog sitting service is also available. There is no extra charge for bringing your dog.

If you don’t own a dog but have been eyeing one up in Freeads, now is the time to add that new addition to your family. Then you can book dog-friendly hotels and add extra enjoyment to your British breaks.

Have you discovered the perfect pet friendly get away?

If we wanted a short break where do you think is the best place for us to go with our two hounds?

* This is a collaborative post.

Why are families choosing to venture further afield when holiday planning?

If you’re thinking about jetting off somewhere unique and exotic this year, you’re not alone. Many of us are now choosing to go further afield when holiday planning but why is this? What has made a large proportion of us want to pack up and travel long distances for an adventure?

Why are families choosing to venture further afield when holiday planningWell, there are several reasons, including:

Excellent family-friendly accommodation

When you first became parents you might think your days of going on holiday were over –after all, leaving the house becomes a mission in itself. Luckily, this phase quickly passes and you soon realise that it’s possible to go almost anywhere in the world with kids in tow – especially as companies like Tots Too offer a range of luxury family holidays which really are worth travelling to. Countries that might have once seemed too far away or daunting to visit with youngsters have now become not only much more accessible but actually preferable holiday destinations thanks to the array of family-friendly resorts and package deals available.

Many countries are cheap to visit

While many long-haul flights can be costly, it is possible to grab a bargain if you get an early bird discount or keep your eyes peeled for offers. What’s more, aside from travel costs, many people are becoming more adventurous as countries further afield tend to be cheap to explore. Take Thailand, for instance. Food and accommodation is cheap there and it’s easy to see the country without breaking the bank. The same applies to many Asian countries meaning you don’t have to spend years working hard and saving cash just to have an adequate amount of spending money.

The pound is strong against the Euro

Back in the day, many families used to holiday in the UK. Britain’s coastlines were a haven for people longing for some fun in the sun but now many Brits are heading elsewhere in the Eurozone. Why? Well, it might just have something to do with the fact that the pound has just hit a more than seven-year high against the Euro. Sterling has recently risen one per cent to hit €1.40 for the first time since December 2007 meaning UK holidaymakers will have just over 15 per cent spending power compared to a year ago. This is good news for anyone with a sense of adventure as now is the perfect time to visit countries like France, Cyprus, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Better transportation

These days, there are many different airlines, train/bus companies, taxi firms and other forms of transportation to choose from, meaning people can compare and contrast prices to find something within their budget. What’s more, with low-cost airlines flying to many destinations worldwide, people are more inclined to get out of the UK and explore somewhere new. Sure, many of the cheap flights offered are short-haul and within the Eurozone, but with companies like Ryanair offering an extensive route map it gives budding travellers more of an option than a few decades ago.

Travelling is fun, exciting and an excellent way to learn about the world, so why not get thinking about your next adventure?

* This is a collaborative post.

What makes Sydney so dreamy?

What makes Sydney so dreamy

There are a lot of wonderful places around the globe and some of them stick in our memories more than others. Some we simply like some we don’t but there are also the ones we love; the ones that given the opportunity we would never leave; the ones where we could see ourselves living happily ever after…

One of those places for me is Sydney.

So why is Sydney so dreamy you might ask?

Well… there is the outstanding architecture, weather to die for, good food and even better drinks, 100s of great pubs with live music and so on and so on… but once you actually look behind the obvious, there are few hidden reasons which make Sydney one of the kind.

Jogging along Port Jackson Bay

Jogging along Port Jackson Bay

Wide sidewalks with stunning views of the harbour and the sea breeze wafting over you. This is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day. You are still seeing and feeling the city, but at the same time you are in sync with nature. There is something magical about that. It is a deep soul stirring moment that is quite hard to describe. The best time for a jog is just before sunset, when the “white sails” of Opera House are changing its colours and the whole city is slowly lighting up ready for the night.

Coastal walk form Coogee to Bondi Beach

Coastal walk form Coogee to Bondi Beach

One of the most wonderful things about Sydney is its location. Living there you really have no need for holidays. All you have to do is to start walking… The Coastal walk form Coogee to Bondi Beach takes about 2 hours; during this time you can see some beautiful nature, feel the warm sand under your feet, admire the sharp cliffs but you can also see this magnificent city with a whole new perspective. Far away from the noise of the city centre, from our busy lives and daily troubles… this walk can give you power and inner peace and should you make it to Bondi Beach you can admire surfers battling the force of nature.

Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney Mardi Gras

In general Mardi Gras refers to events during Carnival, but the Sydney Mardi Gras is a bit different. The Sydney Mardi Gras celebrates gay rights. The Sydney Mardi Gras Parade is one of a kind, not only is the organization perfect but the atmosphere is truly wonderful’ you can really feel the love. This festival really underlines the character of the people of this city, their open-mindedness, tolerance and love of good times!

I love Sydney

*This post is my entry into “A Tale of three Cities” competition run by Accor