What to See and Do in Turin: City of Chocolate and Coffee

Turin, or Torino as it is called in Italian, is located in the north of the country as the capital of the region of Piedmont.

Turin is a beautiful and classy location for a winter city break, nestled close enough to the Alps to glimpse stunning snow-covered peaks as you fly into the airport.

Turin is famous for its chocolate, coffee, Juventus football club, and for being the home of Fiat and the location of Alfa Romeo’s headquarters; both Italian automotive icons. Most recently, Turin hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 (and will be passing the baton on to my home city of Liverpool in 2023!). Nutella was created in the nearby town of Alba too!

Before Italy’s unification in 1848, Turin was the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, of the Kingdom of Sardinia under the rulership of the Duchy of Savoy (despite being so far away!) and notably the first capital of the Kingdom of Italy after unification. This rich history means that Turin is the third economic city of Italy after Milan and Rome.

We arrived in Turin from Manchester on the 17th December and it was very cold but a dry sort of cold that is actually really refreshing. I bought a pair of gloves as soon as we arrived but I am a fan of cold places, having loved previous trips to Iceland, Stockholm, Finland and Estonia. I’m a January baby from the north of England after all.

A cold Italian city is a lovely place to visit round Christmas and Turin certainly looked festive and cosy at all turns. Italy does sun-soaked beach days well and it likewise does twinkly Christmas very well too, strings of fairylights and candlelight for everywhere the eye can see.

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What to See and Do in Arezzo: The Italian City of Marble and Gold

I’m finally getting round to writing this over three months after visiting Italy as work and life take over!

We’ve just booked flights to Italy again for Christmas where we will be seeing Turin and Pisa (flying into the former and out from the latter 8 days later) so it felt opportune to write about Arezzo before I come back from this next trip and have more to write about!

We were on our third day in Tusany, after visiting Montepulciano, when we decided to visit Arezzo- a small city in eastern Tuscany- on a day of torrential, horizontally-slanted rain.

It was August and still warm enough for vest and shorts but the rain came down cold and we spent a good portion of the day running out of the rain and into shelter. Conveniently, the city is lined with numerous porticoes where we could wait it out before digging back in to see the sights while we could.

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How to Sound Natural When Speaking Italian: 25 Useful Expressions

I have been learning Italian for just over two years now and after five trips to the country and living with a native Italian speaker, I am happy to have made decent progress. I sat a GCSE in Italian in May/June of this year with a colleague; we met up once a week to revise and we did a fair amount of past papers and Zooms with a tutor and other exercises which lead to us both achieving a grade 9 (the highest grade at GCSE now, higher than the old A* I have to add!).

I don’t get much time to study intensively as my job consumes so much time and I have my poetry, social life, family etc, but it is good to maintain as much exposure to the language as possible to keep it ticking over. I still remember a tip a woman gave me when I first set out on my language learning journey which was to keep it in your life in some small way every single day. Even when you can’t actively sit and study, playing music, looking at an Instagram page or Whatsapping someone in your target language.

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Montepulciano: A Medieval Wine Town in Tuscany

Montepulciano.

Prior to this trip to Tuscany, I had only ever associated it with the cheaper-end red wine found on the lower shelves in Tesco, one I long overlooked and definitely wasn’t giving the respect it is due.

Montepulciano is a quaint and lovely hilltop town located in southern Tuscany, in the verdant Siena province.

We were visiting the Tuscany and Umbria regions of Italy for five days and had driven down from Ravenna which took just over two hours.

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One Day in San Marino

San Marino, the 5th smallest country in the world, is located within the geography of northeast Italy, bordering the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche.

San Marino is just 10km away from the popular Italian tourist destination of Rimini. San Marino is not a member of the European Union.

It is officially known as a micro-state and is said to be the oldest republic in the world.

So why is it a country of its own if it is so small (with an area of only 61 km squared) and is surrounded by Italy?

The simple reason is that it wanted to be left alone to live in peace, away from wars and away from the conflicts and politics of other countries, hence it is known as Most Serene Republic of San Marino.

When the Italian states were going through the process of unification in the 19th century, Italy and San Marino signed a Convention of Friendship in 1862.

This remained peaceful until WW1 when Italy suspected San Marino of hiding Austria-Hungarian spies, resulting in Italy cutting off San Marino’s telephone lines.

Their flag is one of the nicest I’ve seen, with white, sky blue and their towers, with the motto in Latin as ‘Libertas’- freedom.

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