A day trip to York

This year I have decided to visit the UK more, and York was my first port of call.

I know there’s a lot to uncover aside from my usual spots of choice, so I’m trying to see the most possible this year by applying the rule that it has to be someplace that I have never been before (within a reasonable budget and distance from London and of course holiday permitting, lol). Therefore, last Saturday,  I’ve hopped on a train and headed to my chosen destination for the day.

A train ticket from London to York costs around £50 return (a bit cheaper if pre-booked in advance) and it takes roughly an hour and 50 minutes to get there, so it’s a good place to choose even if you are just looking for day trips.

Once arrived there, and since I had only 6 hours to spend in the city, I made a plan to see at least the most famous tourist attractions.

What to do

At 11 am my train arrived at the station and I started my day visiting the York Minster.

 

York
York. Photo By Roman In Londo

Dominating the City there’s York Minster Cathedral  (Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York), one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. The ticket costs £10 plus £5 more if you are willing to climb the 257 steps to get to the top (which I obviously did). The day was lovely, sunny and the view from the top was grand so I’m glad I’ve made the effort. However, it made me realize how actually unfit am I gave that it took me a while to regain my breath once on top.

View from the top. Photo by Roman In London

A prize for the courageous climbers is a badge of the Cathedral reading *I made it to the top*.

If you’re travelling with a partner you should stop for a kiss by the Heart of Yorkshire stained-glass window, as legend says if you do you’ll stay together forever 🙂

Walk the walls. Definitely, a must if you go to York,  is a walk on the walls. It takes circa 90 minutes and the view is breathtaking, especially around this time of year.

 

Photo by Roman In London

Stroll around the Shambles. The narrow cobbled streets that surround the Minster are hard to resist and full of nice shops and bars, in the late 14th century The Shambles housed a street full of butchers shops, today you will find sweet stores, antique and jewellery shops, tea rooms etc.

GhostTour. One of the quirky traits of this City is its reputation of being one of the most haunted cities in Europe, so if you fancy the idea of a Ghost Tour you’ll have an array of options to choose from.

I have finished my day sipping a tea in a lovely tea/coffee shop called the Vanilla Cafe (pictures below) its old-fashioned interior decor has captured my attention and the tasty almond cake I had has proven it to be a good choice. The Betty’s Café is also another option and has the reputation for being York’s most famous tea spot (with the queues to match),

Vanilla Cafe. Photo By Roman In London
The Vanilla Cafe’. Photo by Roman In London

York has definitely a lot more to offer though: with influences from the Romans, Vikings, Normans, Tudors, and Victorians, you’ve got a whole snapshot of history in one city. All of which has made it one of my favourite UK city break destinations and (perhaps next year) I’ll definitely head back to see more of it!

 

 

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Santa Severa: one of Rome’s prettiest beach

A beach close to Rome, with clear water, a medieval castle, and some Roman ruins: why not?

Santa Severa, even though is not really a destination widely considered by foreign tourists, is in my humble opinion, a proper hidden gem that’s worth to visit especially if travelling during the summer months. If you need a break from the heat of the City, you might be surprised to hear how easy and close is to slip into the clean Mediterranean waters.

Santa Severa, amongst other destinations by the sea, is only 50 km from Rome.

The beach that surrounds the Castle is free, which is quite rare given the fact that in Italy most of the beaches are taken over by private owners (Stabilimenti).

Santa Severa. Photo By Roman In London

Named after its homonymous martyr, is believed to have been an ancient Roman port under the name of Pyrgi. Like its bigger neighbour Santa Marinella, it was a popular summer resort for the Romans as well as a fishing settlement supplying fish to the mainland towns and Rome itself. The outline of the Roman settlement is still visible, if you walk around the borgo (walled village) you will notice that the Roman-era foundations are made of massive cyclopean masonry. On top of this, the medieval borgo walls were built, from smaller stones, covered in plaster. Inside the walls, there is a small museum, a church and some small artsy shops.

Santa Severa. Photo By Roman In London

Here is the castle’s official website, where you can also pre-purchase the entry ticket: http://www.regione.lazio.it/santasevera/

Santa Severa. Photo by Roman In London

How to get there from Rome: https://www.rome2rio.com/it/s/Roma/Santa-Severa

Santa Severa is about 45 minutes away by train from either Termini or Trastevere station. The train ticket costs about €5, but access to the beach is totally free.

 

 

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A Weekend in Rome

When it comes to travelling to my hometown every excuse is a good excuse, really 🙂

A Weekend, a whole week or even a fortnight, regardless of the amount of time I spend there, every time never really seems to be enough. On the other hand, I can’t really complain, Italy is only a couple of hours flight away from London and offers a plethora of opportunities and places to go depending on the season.

My favourite, though, is…

Spending a Weekend in Rome

Sunset nearby Largo di Torre Argentina. Photo by Roman in London

Here remnants of the Empire meet Renaissance masterpieces, cobbled piazzas and wonderful churches, it’s all thrown in with an increasingly cool contemporary art, food and drinks scene.

But since you’d need an actual eternity to see everything in the Eternal City, I’ve shared with you some pictures I’ve taken while walking around Central. It took me a couple of hours (with something like 300 stops to take pictures) to walk from Piazza del Popolo to Largo Argentina.

During this short walk, you can see the major landmarks: Piazza del Popolo, via Del Corso, Piazza Di Spagna and the famous ‘steps’, Pantheon, Galleria Colonna, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza del Parlamento, Altare della Patria and Largo Argentina.

History is around every corner of Rome. From the Pantheon and the piazzas to Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel, the ‘Eternal City’ is one of the world’s most historically significant destinations.

In fact, in Rome, classical ruins and early Christian places of worship stand just next to Renaissance palazzos and Baroque fountains, but also to great – and contemporary – neighbourhood trattorias, quirky shops and a crowded aperitivo scene. Happy hour for us is a way to meet with friends, have a glass of wine (or two) and eat some starters from the buffet.

The city’s mild Mediterranean climate is another persuasive reason to visit (aside from December – February that can get a bit chilly there too).

Piazza del Popolo. Photo by Roman in London

 

 

A private Courtyard in central Rome. Photo by Roman In London

 

 

Via del Corso. Photo by Roman in London

 

 

Corner of Via di Gesu’ e Maria. Photo by Roman in London

 

 


 

 

Details of a post box. Photo by Roman In London

 

Bakery Sign. Photo by Roman In London

 

Private Courtyard. Photo by Roman in London

 

Old Metropolitan Cinema. Photo by Roman in London

 

 

Piazza Navona. Photo By Roman In London

 

“M’hai provocato e mo me te magno!” #hometime #romanholidays #romaninrome #getaway

Un post condiviso da Giulia (@giulia_a_roman_in_london) in data:

Some information:

Visitor passes

The Roma Pass (romapass.it) discount card, currently priced at €36 (three day) or €28 (two day) and available online or from tourist information offices, gives free entry to two museums of your choice and reductions for many others, plus unlimited use of citywide public transport.

International dialling codes

0039 06 for Rome numbers from abroad
06 from inside Italy
00 to get an international line

 

A Roman In London

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36 Hours in Bilbao

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Bilbao, in the heart of the Basque Country in Northern Spain, has become more and more famous through the years with the opening of the Guggenheim in 1977. Aside from its notorious titanium-clad museum, Bilbao is also well renown for its fine gastronomy. Food is, apparently, a religion in the Basque Country. Art & Food, do we need anything else?

We stayed at the NH hoteles a hop away from the centre, a very convenient and a short walk and we were able to reach the top attractions within a maximun of 30 minutes walk.

 

 

 

Bilbao
Photo by Roman in London

This is Frank Gehry’s masterpiece.  Stunning from the outside but also houses some of the finest art in Spain. The entrance is guarded by a Puppy made of flowers, a creation of the American artist Keff Koons which has become practically, the mascot of the City.

 

Guggenheim. Photo by Roman in London

 

 

Guggenheim. Photo by Roman in London

The interior of the Guggenheim is just as amazing as the exterior, where the contours are made of fish like titanium scales.

 

Richard Serra’s ‘The Matter of Time’ Guggenheim. Photo by Roman in London

Richard Serra’s ‘The Matter of Time’ is made from 1,000 tons of weathered steel and is designed for visitors to move around and through each piece.

 

Photo by Roman in London

Coming from London we were delighted to find a ‘warmish’ almost spring couple of days of sun.

 

Guggenheim. Photo by Roman in London

 

 

Roman in London

 

The food is amazing, many places to eat and Micheline’s starred restaurants but no tapas here, Pintxos instead. Fine, delicate but epic in taste. I’ve tried the classic montadillo con jamon serrano and queso, chorizo and tortilla as I’m a creature of habit..but there’s a lot more that tempted my palate so I’ve basically spent most of the 36 hours bar crawling between pintxos cafe’, a ritual known as a txikiteo which involves lots of pintxos with your kuadrilla (group of friends) and xakoli, the local white or rosé wine.

 

A bar at Plaza Nueva. Pintxos. Photo by Roman in London

 

Street art. Photo by Roman in London

 

Bilbao architecture. Photo by Roman in London

Once, an industrial City, now it’s 19th Century facades have been renovated and give colours and add prettiness to the City. The Gran Via is a mix of old and new and there are lots of green areas.

 

Bilbao architecture. Photo by Roman in London

 

 

Bilbao architecture. Photo by Roman in London

 

 

Bilbao architecture. Photo by Roman in London

 

Bilbao at night from Mount Arxanda. Photo by Roman in London

As a conclusion of the trip I recommend taking the Funicular to Mount Arxanda as the view is breathtakingly beautiful. From Bilbao to the middle of nature.

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Tuscany’s Monte Argentario getaway weekend

Tuscany
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Photo credit By Roman in London.

 

During my recent trip to Italy, I’ve decided I needed a proper break from the hectic City life back in London, and, Tuscany  seemed the best fit so, I’ve made my way to Monte Argentario.

Monte Argentario is in the Maremma area of Tuscany, a former island turned sort-of-peninsula, with two stretches of land connecting it to the Italian mainland. Porto Ercole, the town where I was staying, it’s only a couple of hours drive from Rome and it definitely gives you the feeling of leaving everything behind.

I managed to book my stay in a beautiful hidden gem, the beautiful Relais ‘La Mortella’. Even though at first I thought that I ended up in the middle of nowhere, it actually is located at a very convenient distance from both the beach ‘La Feniglia’ and the harbour where all the night life happens.

 

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Relais La Mortella. Photo by Roman in London
Toscana
My Room. Photo by Roman in London
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My room. Photo by Roman in London

Before dinner my friend and I decided to take a stroll at the harbour and to indulge with a before-dinner ‘Aperitivo’ while watching the sunset. (Aperitivo hour is a sacred hour and basically means a cocktail or a glass of wine with some nibbles on the side).  After one too many Mojitos we had dinner at ‘Pizzeria El Pirata’, located at the harbour which offers a lovely view. Although, I must say,  the food wasn’t exceptional.

The next morning after an awe-inspired look outside of the amazing view from the window we headed to the breakfast patio.

Breakfast is usually my favourite meal of the day. Having a sweet tooth, I must admit, there’s nothing better than a meal that can potentially include all sort of sweets. The breakfast at ‘La Mortella’ definitely didn’t disppoint me on that perspective. It included yogurt sourced locally from Maremma, same with the honey and jam,  home-made apple pie, croissant, cakes etc. An absolute joy for my eyes and my palate.

 

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Breakfast! Photo by Roman in London

 

After a sumptuous meal we headed to the beach.

One of the most charming beach of the coastline is ‘Le Viste’.  Located between Forte Stella and Rocca Spagnola, also known as Spiaggia delle Suore ‘Nuns Beach’

 

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At the beach. Photo by Roman in London

 

In love with Tuscany 😍

Una foto pubblicata da Giulia (@giulia_romaninlondon) in data:

 

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Photo by Roman in london

 

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Photo by Roman in London

 

QUICK DETAILS

 Distance from Florence to Monte Argentario, from 2 1/2- 3 hours. 193.1 km,  via Raccordo Autostradale Firenze – Siena and SS223.

 Distance from Rome to Monte Argentario, from 2/ 3 hours. via Strada Statale Via Aurelia E80

Where we stayed: Resort la Mortella:

Country Relais La Mortella is surrounded by the splendid 18 hole golf course of the  Golf Club Argentario, offering not only beautiful views but a great experience.

Surrounded by the Argentario Sea, with its little harbours, hidden coves and rocks, Orbetello lagoon with the beaches of Giannella and Feniglia, and the Parco della Maremma offering itineraries for enjoying natural beauty, culture and adventure. Via dell’Acquedotto Leopoldino, 54
Loc. Terrarossa – Monte Argentario
Grosseto

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When in Rome…

… Do as Romans do!

It’s that time of the year when I finally manage to book myself into one of these cheap flights and travel to my beloved hometown: Rome.

But before doing so, I thought I should give you a heads up of what Romans, usually do (or go) when visiting their hometown. Even if only for a few days…

First things first: let me eat! And my taste buds will be eternally grateful.

Eating out in Rome is not a secondary activity, something that you leave in between other things. eating out is the Core activity! It is one of the main thing we’ll end up doing most of our time during the vacation.

Whether it’d be with my family, friends or by myself you’ll see me spending most of my time seating on a table and happily tasting all variety of delicious food. And I promise that I will be enjoying it every time as much as Julia Roberts did on her Italian vacation in the movie “Eat, Pray and Love”!

 

 

Recently, I have been to La Zanzara, Ristorante il Fico and Porto Fish and Chips.  Nice places in the centre of Rome where you can eat fresh seafood and drink good wines.

Sightseeing is not difficult when  free art and architecture is everywhere around you  in historic and ancient Rome. In fact, you’ ll easily find yourself stumbling upon few “hidden” gems such as beautiful Churches (Santa Maria del Popolo, Santa Maria della Vittoria), and ancient ruins (I Fori Imperiali or the Palatine Hill). You can pass by ruins, gardens, and fountains. Rome is a “compact” city and easily walk able

 

Colosseum_at_night

 

Taking a day trip with my friends or alone to the nearest beach. Ostia, Fregene or Maccarese are the ones I usually end up going when visiting for a short period of time.

They may be not as glamorous but are the closest to Rome. All of them are equipped with some nice private sandy beaches as well as free to the public ones

 

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Shopping. As weird as it may sounds I am talking grocery shopping. My luggage on the way back to London will be full of things I crave to eat and rarely find troughout London (spices, vegetables such as artichokes, sometimes meat and wines).

 

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That’s all for now, but I’ll be updating you soon on what’s on the Roman Agenda.

 

 

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