July 31, 2013

Highlights from Belgrade, Giardini Naxos & Florence

In all honesty, it feels like a lifetime since the last time I had a decent wi-fi connection. I hope you'll forgive me for not keeping in touch, I've been a busy girl! In the 17 days since my online presence was last felt, I have visited Belgrade, flirted very briefly with Berlin (see the photoset here), eaten and beached in Giardini Naxos, and finally made it to Florence. 
Rather than bombard you with the countless awesome bars and restaurants, here are a few highlights from each of the cities:

The bohemian quarter Skadarlija, Belgrade / July 2013
Belgrade - Belgrade is such a cheap city, I ate like a queen and drank like a fish for next to nothing every day. Navigating the streets and reading menus was a little confusing and difficult considering the Serbian language is written in cyrillic. Take a walk down the bohemian street 'skadarlija,' there are lots of gorgeous little restaurants and bars here. Belgrade is renowned for it's river clubs, known as 'splavs.' Splavs are more expensive than bars in the city, and tourists can expect to pay around 1000 dinar entry fee if not dressed to the security guards expectation.
Eat at Zavičaj, authentic Serbian food and so cheap! I ate here three times because it just hit the spot every time. Drink at Bašta, gorgeous hidden little bar which reminded me of somewhere in Surry Hills. Reasonable prices and amazing service.

Gole dell' Alcantara, Messina / July 2013
Giardini Naxos - In all honesty, my visit to Sicily was very family orientated. I spent most of my time between the beach, or eating at one of my Zia's houses in Francavilla. From Giardini it is possible to make day trips to pretty much anywhere in Sicily, a few different places I visited were Taormina, Parco Dell Etna (yes, I climbed the volcano) and Siracusa. I can't wait to visit Giardini again, the beach is absolutely stunning and it's a convenient spot to base yourself as it's right between Messina and Catania.
It feels like blasphemy to suggest any restaurant when I know how incredible the food that left my family's kitchen was. If you don't want to eat at my zia's house, opt for one of the restaurants along the beach that don't serve on plastic plates, otherwise head into Taormina.
Visit Gole dell' Alcantara, cliffs and volcanic rocks which have been eroded over time by the Alcantara river. There is a huge geological park, not to mention waterfalls and the river which is heavenly to swim in on those typically Sicilian 37 degree days.

Roaming the streets, Florence / July 2013
Florence - Everything I expected of a Tuscan city, Florence is so rustic and simply beautiful. There is so much history everywhere, not to mention some of the most delicious food!!!!!! I went for some really romantic strolls with myself by the river and saw il ponte vecchio, a famous bridge from medieval times renowned for the shops built on it which sell gold. Some famous piazzas you must visit for there beautiful architecture and sculptures include Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio.
Eat at Trattoria & Pizzeria Il Portale. It is located right near the main station in Florence - the food is up there with the best I have eaten in Italy, and when you consider the location (ideal for a tourist trap) it is so cheap. Drink at Rivalta, a cafe right on the river. It is open for lunch and dinner and serves light tapas-inspired meals, but I would come here solely for the  drinks, view and lively atmosphere.