I recently returned from two weeks in Italy. A blissful holiday to switch off, spend time with family, forget about work and soak up the sun. Perfect!
I’ve chatted about my Italian heritage in earlier posts: ‘5 days in Italy’ and ‘Roadtrip to Italy’ For years, being a Welsh-Italian to me meant huge family feasts, watching the Godfather movies, and heading over to the medieval town of Bardi, northern Italy (pictured below) in the summer for sun, fun and loads of amazing food.
Two years ago, this Welsh-Italian business got a bit more serious. My wife and I took a deep breath, crossed our fingers, and decided to take on my late great-aunt’s house. Yikes.
Built by my great-grandfather, this small, rustic (with a capital R) house is nestled on the side of a hill in a tiny village near Bardi. It’s a life-long commitment. But we couldn’t bear to see it fall to rack and ruin.
So, back to the holiday. Although Bardi is a quiet, peaceful town 11 months of the year, August is different. August is crazy. Hundreds of people head over from Wales (and England/America) and flood the town. Cafes are rammed, restaurants fully booked, there’s nowhere to park and Prosecco’s consumed at an industrial scale.
It’s busy, and probably not everyone’s idea of a relaxing holiday. But we love it. Here’s why:
Food glorious food
This place is world famous for its cured meats, cheese and funghi. This summer, I got a bit carried away with pasta fritta. Little pillows of fried pasta dough, drowned in salt. You won’t find it in any clean eating cookbooks, but they’re sensational.
Every single pizza I’ve ever eaten in Bardi has been a world beater. And I ate a fair few this summer:
Quality time with family
One of the things I love about summer here is hanging out with close family and friends in the sunshine, glass of wine in hand. In the photo below, we’re hosting afternoon drinks.
And there’s no avoiding it. My family insist on topping up the wine glass.
The views here knock you for six. They’re absolutely breathtaking. As our family home is nestled on a hillside a few miles from the hustle and bustle of Bardi, we get plenty of time to enjoy the views. I just wish we could bottle the fresh mountain air and bring it home to Cardiff.
Hikes and walks
There’s only so much eating and drinking we can do. So to mix things up – and burn off some of the pizza – we go for group hikes through the hills.
This year, 8 of us started, and 6 of us finished, a 2 day, 27 mile trek, taking in one of the highest (and steepest) peaks in the area.
Not exactly normal holiday behaviour. And at 35*C it was pretty tough going. But it was awesome fun, and we’re already working out a route for a trek in 2018.
The following week, we also hiked to the top of Mount Pelpi with friends, the area’s highest mountain. Note to self: drink more water! I was dehydrated and had a proper wobble when we got down – schoolboy error.
I wanted to rest and take it easy this summer, but I just couldn’t resist sneaking in a few runs. Beats inner-city Cardiff hands down.
Back to reality
We’ve been back a few weeks now. Looking at these pictures reminds me how lucky we are to be connected with this amazing part of the world. We’re back in October for a few days. Can’t wait.