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Expat Spotlight: Anna’s Top 3 Tips for the Cinque Terre

I first came to Italy from England in 2000 to study art and fifteen years later I am still here, married to my Italian husband and bringing up our two children in a small rural mountain village called Sasetta near the Cinque Terre in Liguria on a small azienda agricola (farm) where we grow fruit and vegetables to sell to local markets. I also paint and sketch landscapes of the surrounding area where I live and you are welcome to read my blog, annadennisart, to see recent paintings of Italy and see what I get up to! When I first came to Italy I dreamt to stay as long as possible because as they say it is a beautiful country, I am thankful I am still here because the experience of living in a foreign country like Italy is one not to be missed!

Top 3 Favorite Restaurants in Italy?

1. Le Pia in La Spezia where you can dine like a local and devour wedges of steaming hot Pizza and Farinata straight from the wood oven,
2. La Cantina dello zio Bramante in Manarola, Cinque Terre – This bar has a fun atmosphere and you can order a local white wine called Vermentino to eat with tagasce olives (another speciality from the Cinque Terre) and the popular mouth watering crostino with anchovies. All very delicious and after a few you are full!
3. U Fusigia in Sasseta near Brugnato. If you feel like an evening trip out into the fresh air of the Ligurian mountains then this is the place! Eat as many pannigacci (a typical ligurian dish) as you can with the locals around a roaring fire. Traditional home cooked food for a good price.

Top 3 fave foods in Italy

1. La Farinata: is made by stirring chickpea flour into a mixture of water and olive oil to form a loose batter, then poured into a tin plated copper baking pan and baked in the open wood oven when it is then cut into irregularly shaped triangular slices ready to eat. It is addictive especially when it is eaten hot.
2. Trofe al pesto: Liguria’s famous basil pesto uses the small and young basil leaves from Genoa, mixed in with pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, garlic, salt, and olive oil. I like it best served with Trofi, a Ligurian speciality twisted shaped pasta and thinly sliced tender runner beans.
3. Panigacci is a type of unleavened flat bread cooked in terracotta discs previously heated on a wood fire. When it is cooked it is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, it is then folded in half in the palm of your hand and stuffed full of salame, proscuitto and soft cheeses like strachino or gorgonloza. To top it all off at the end of the meal it is always good manners to !ll one with Nutella!

Top 3 tips for new expats

1. For minor aches and pains, cold or flu you can go to your local Farmacia or L’erboristeria. As well as good quality shampoo and soap the L’erboristeria will sell you homeopathic remedies using traditional herbal recipes, One thing I have found in Italy is paracetamol is very expensive compared to other countries so I usually remember to buy a packet when visiting the UK.
2. Eat and buy local products wherever you are. Every region in Italy is proud of their own traditions and food can be different to other regional produce. Support local farmers in the markets because Italy is famous for it’s high quality food grown on Italian territory.
3. Don’t wear flip flops in winter, you need to dress like an Italian to mix in with the locals. i.e. on the 1st day of autumn you need to have a warm winter coat on EVEN if it is still 25 degrees!

Top 3 tips for travellers visiting Italy

1. Italy is expensive especially if you are traveling. Instead of having dinner out, have lunch instead, choosing restaurants that have special workers menu’s. In some places you can pay up to as little as 10 euros for a 3 course lunch.
2. Sit down for a moment and sketch even if you haven’t done it before. you will be surprised at what you see if you stay in the same spot for a couple of hours!
3. Trenitalia – Italy’s national train company – has deals if you book in advance on their website,and the info is in English. You can also use ATC which is a reliable and cheap bus service and it is much cheaper than the trains which can sometimes be late, hot and expensive.

Top 3 tips what to pack for Italy

1. Pack lightly in a back pack, that way you can get around easily. there is nothing worse than wheeling a suitcase up and down windy streets with cobbled stones. With a backpack you have two hands free to take pictures!
2. Pack a sketchbook and a pen to capture everyday moments because you get more out of Italian life than just by the click of a camera!
3. Pack a comfortable pair of shoes but be careful in bringing trekking poles into shops, they can cause damage to some shop keepers state of mind!

Top 3 favourite places in Italy

1. Florence: It has great shops and museums and I love going to visit and buying art materials from some of the worlds best art shops!
2. La Spezia: Many little colourful villages cling to the mountains and the coves all around the gulf of la Spezia, (named the Golfo dei Poeti), those by the sea are easily accessible by a small ferry that you can take from the centre of town. My favourite ferry ride is to the Palmaria Island across from Porto Venere in the summer, it is not too touristy and has great places to eat and drink while watching the sea lazily roll by.
3. Cinque Terre. With the dramatic coast lines that drop right down to the turquoise and transparent sea below the water here is warm and inviting. My favourite thing to do when visiting is to buy a focaccia from the panifcio (bakery) and walk down to the sea and find a place to sketch. Be prepared to walk up and down steep hills if you want to stay out of the crowds and !nd a quiet spot!

Top 3 neighbourhoods around La Cinque Terre, Liguria

1. Le Grazie: A pretty little fishing village just outside La Spezia and hidden behind Porto Venere. It has a local shipyard and many beautiful fishing boats to look at as you walk along the harbour, if you are lucky you may come across the daily catch bought in by the fishermen! In the summer there are many religious and other local fiestas organised in the village so you can eat and drink to your hearts content while mixing with the locals and watching the boats rock by.
2. Lerici: A great place to go all year round, it is a seaside fishing village that has many delicious restaurants, my favourite being the Ciccilo al Mare, a seafood restaurant behind the castle that has a breathtaking view of the golf of La Spezia. Walks around the town and up to the castle are not to be missed and a couple of times a week a good market springs up along the seafront for your everyday needs.
3. Brugnato: In the green valley behind the Cinque Terre that is surrounded by mountains and rivers you can take the opportunity to go rafting on the river Vara. My favorite trip is to take a family canoe out onto the river and spend time taking in the beautiful scenery along the river, if its hot enough the water is clean and tempting to swim in. After building up a good appetite there are plenty of restaurants to choose from in the surrounding villages such as Brugnato with its pretty coloured houses and narrow alleyways,

For more tips from Anna on Italy, watch for upcoming posts on the Italy blog and follow her blog annadennisart .

Interested in sharing your top tips? Contact erin {at} insidersabroad {dot} com!

Published March 8th, 2016 by Anna Dennis
Posted to Inside Secrets to Italy

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