My Italy

Holidays are the kind of thing I enjoy thinking about whilst outside my window it’s pouring down with rain. Dreaming of sunny beaches, ice cream, sun cream and ‘Yikes, I’d best go on a diet now so I’m ready for it.’ My mother has taken this to the extreme bless her and during December’s nightmare snowfall that had us all shovelling heaps of snow from our doorstep, she called to tell me she’d booked a winter break for her and her husband.

‘Oh, how lovely!’ I said whilst thinking – wish we could! ‘Where are you going?’

‘The Maldives, darling! Well we were getting so depressed looking out at all that snow that we just had to book something.’

‘Very nice too mum!’

So whilst the Maldives are a long way off for me and my brood, there are plenty of other opportunitues around for us to enjoy in the meantime, which brings me to today’s idea. Having an extensive knowledge of Italy after almost 20 years there and then having worked for the Italian Tourist Board in London too I am going to focus on one resort each week and tell you everything I know about it, if I’ve been there I shall show you my photos (promise not to bore you!) and being a lover of good wine and food I shall tip you off as to what to order where because Jamie Oliver was perfectly right when he did his Italy program, what they eat in one region will not be offered in another.

Italy is divided into 20 regions, each has its own USP (Unique Selling Point – I’m just trying to be clever) the peninsula offers, sea, country and mountains and has a 12 month tourism industry. Its capital and most of its major cities are renowned for their art, culture, history and beauty and the country has so much to offer that it’s a struggle to know where to start.

Should we start with the ski resorts? As they’re enjoying a bountiful season and I’d eat my blog to get some skis on now and whizz down a couple of pistes – oh the good old pre-twin days! Or should we start with city breaks? There are so many of them and each one  more interesting than the last…Rome? Venice? Florence? Trento? Or how about the beaches as we’re sitting in the cold and dreaming of warm, barmy sunny evenings, a glass of chilled wine and a nicely coming on sun tan.

After much thought, I have decided on a 1st post on Sardegna, or rather a part of it – The North of the island where I spent my First Italian holiday and my last before moving back to the UK and funnily enough where we are booked to go this year.

Of course, we all love a little general information to read before deciding and many of your questions can be answered on the ITB web site so please look out for My Italy posts in the future, Sardegna coming this week.

Lake Garda Italy

lake garda


We arrived on Lake Garda Italy on a Friday afternoon in the most incredible heat, apparently they were the hottest days of the year so far and didn’t we know it!

Our Keycamp rep took us to our mobile home where we discovered there was no air conditioning. Having booked Spain last year with AC I had assumed all homes in hot countries had it. Wrong.

We opened every window in the home and turned on the fan whilst we set about settling in. The home was a three bed and they had set up travel cots in one for the girls, it had a lovely decking area outside with a gas BBQ and the road in front was pedestrian meaning the girls could roam on the grass and surrounds enjoying a tiny bit of freedom.

I had ordered two baby packs which included, cots, high chairs, baby bath and a potty (which I never saw) which allowed us to free up a lot of space in the car which was packed to the hilt anyway.

Keycamp mobile home Lake Garda

Our campsite was on the southern end of Lake Garda in Peschiera a pretty fishing town with a wonderful Monday market! During our stay we managed to visit Sirmione, Bardolino, Lazise and Desenzano del Garda. I think my favourite still has to be Lazise.

Gelateria Peschiera Lake Garda

Ice cream counter -mmmm

One of the most enjoyable pleasures for me in Italy is the ice cream parlour. The one photographed here is in Sirmione and has fridge after fridge of trays of piled up high ice cream in every flavour imaginable, of course I had one and on another occasion I treated myself to an Eis Cafe which is sublime…a tall sundae glass, with scoops of vanilla ice cream, drowned in a hot espresso coffee, topped with whipped cream and a squirt of chocolate sauce. To die for. I think I ate mine so quickly that Other Half didn’t even get to taste it. Ooops!

Peschiera market Lake Garda

I came home with some beautiful ceramics from Peschiera market, some clothes (Of course! we’re in Italy) some no make that lots of wine and a sun tan.

Me and friends in Italy 2010

I managed to catch up with some of my very dear friends who I know I won’t be seeing for a long while again but isn’t it lovely how you just pick up where you left even if it was a couple of years ago?

Swimming pool Lake Garda camping

The girls adored the swimming pool and our camping, Camping del Garda had a fantastic pool perfect for toddlers as it went from very shallow to a foot or two allowing them to move around freely and safely. Admittedly we started off with arm bands and rings but as time passed they got more confident and the bands came off.   They didn’t even mind the compulsory swimming hats as seen above!

Trombe d'aria Lake Garda Peschiera

All in all a wonderful holiday. The only snag being the dreadful weather we had half way through including a ‘tromba d’aria!’ Which literally blew our garden furniture away. When there’s bad weather on the lake you certainly know about it.

The girls playing with Gracey on the slides in the park

children on slide

And one last photo – all my four children together

My children taken June 2010 Lake Garda

Pasta, pizza, pesce Italia!


The lake has numerous restaurants, pizzerias and gelaterie offering vast menus making decisions difficult with so much on offer. Fresh water fish is abundant as is sea water fish being so close to the Adriatic. Pasta mare e montagna, (sea and mountain) usually combining mushrooms and fish and a speck and raddicchio pizza, a firm favourite of mine ,which cannot be found here in Ol’ Blighty.

ice cream

However, I shall try my damned hardest to cram as much in as possible. One lovely thing about italians is they are very child friendly and welcomed in many eateries so lack of babysitters is no excuse.

I shall also be scouring the local supermarkets for products to bring home with me and that list will definitely include some wine, some balsamic vinegar and olive oil.


And then the souvenirs, the beautiful towns of Lake Garda are packed with leather shops, ceramics, food, art and of course fashion. I can’t wait!

I shall also hope to be getting one of the water taxis on the lake to take day trips to the opposite shores and visit some of the other towns dotted around the edge such as Malcesine with its Scaligeri castle, Riva at the top, Lazise and Sirmione at the bottom famous for its therapeutic spa water that comes from the bottom of the lake.

Wish you were here? :)

Lake Garda Peschiera

Map of Lake Garda (Lago di Garda), Italy Designer: Markus Bernet)

…and I cannot wait a moment longer :)

Lake Garda Peschiera at the southern end is our destination and I am a woman of many lists right now.

Ours is a Keycamp holiday and we’ll be staying in a three bedroom mobile home with all home comforts to make sure we have an enjoyable stay. Luckily through Keycamp we were able to book travel cots, high chairs, a baby bath and a potty which cuts our luggage down dramatically, however I do need to think about the following

  • clothes, shoes, cardis, jackets etc x 3
  • Bed linen and travel cot mattresses for the girls, pyjamas, teddies, baby monitors, egg room temperature thing
  • Kitchen – sponges, tea towels, barbecue tools, mugs, salt and pepper mills, multipurpose cleaner, plus more
  • beach gear –  2 bags! Plus toy bag
  • Toys, books, puzzles, Twin DVD player plus DVD’s, My first Scribbler
  • blow up swimming pool plus bag of balls and bubbles with bubble maker
  • Portable docking station plus iPod, cards, Yahtzee (still can’t find it!)books, needlework and laptop plus dongle
  • First Aid kit ie plasters, savlon, germoline wipes plus our stuff ie Nurofen

and much more will be thrown in the car – just in case – as we’re packing.

We’re driving down through France and stopping off for a night in Hotel L’Escale in Brumath which we found on The journey is 810 miles and we downloaded it from Keycamp’s routeplanner. We’ll also be using the Eurotunnel for the very first time and I’m really looking forward to the experience.

We shall be leaving home at the crack of dawn for our 7.20am crossing and I have a picnic planned for breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day. I love the ‘Aires’ in France along the motorway which make for perfect stopoffs allowing a toilet stop, a run around in a green grassy area, tables to eat at and even showers at some!

To keep the little ladies amused I have invested in 2 x My First Scribblers from the Early Learning Centre and a bag full of books, teddies and little people which seem to be a firm favourite right now.

I am sure to have forgotten something as I have been packing our house up contemporaneously so as I seem to have lost the Yahtzee I will most likely forget other bits too but the important thing is going and once we’re there getting on with having fun together as a family. Of course, it mustn’t be forgotten to mention I’ll be seeing my other two children, my granddaughter and many many friends who I haven’t seen since last August.

Ciao ciao :)

Here’s what we thought of our Keycamp Holiday

What Roberta did next..

Roberta and I met many many moons ago. We were both in our early twenties, full of life and love and enthusiasm for out futures.

Roberta already had a little boy from a marriage that had already collapsed and was a single mum juggling childcare, dreams and general life commitments like the most of us.

A brilliant skier she and my ex husband would find themselves every year up at Passo Tonale fighting for a place on the Maestro di Sci course (ski instructors) which was incredibly difficult to obtain. Please rest assured should you ski in Italy the instructors are incredibly talented as only the best get through to the numbered places.

She did get there eventually, she also had another little boy from a different relationship that also collapsed even if this time it lasted a little longer.

During one of her last relationships she was convinced by her then partner to sell up her house in Northern Italy and invest in a farm in Tuscany, an agriturismo as they are known in Italy. Against public opinion, she sold up and followed her heart and her man and moved down to southern Tuscany with children in tow uprooting them and starting afresh with a new dream.

I had lost touch with her over the months and years and on the breakdown of my own marriage and my decision to return to the UK I took my own children for a holiday in Sardegna before I left Italy for good. On our way back the ferry dropped us at Piombino so I drove over to Roberta’s to check up on her.

I found her in a dreadful state, the evening before there had been an incredible argument and he had walked out again leaving her to cope with everything. The farm had had some work done on it but was nowhere near completion and what she needed was funding as she had run out of money.

She showed me around the place, I could see where the apartments were going to be, I saw the room where she made honey and she patiently explained the process to me. I listened to all of her plans and helplessly shrugged my shoulders at her dilemma, I had no money to invest and couldn’t help her even if I wanted to my own life sitting on a precarious line as it was.

When I worked at the Italian Tourist Board I wrote a monthly newsletter and would include her farm as often as I could but still felt it wasn’t enough until now.

Recently she sent me an email with this link and I am so proud of her. She has turned the place around and it looks beautiful There are four different apartments to choose from at Pian d’Acquaio each expertly designed with all the latest mod cons.

Please go and have a look at what she has achieved, a remarkable woman. She gets my 1st womanomics award! But I have yet to create a badge for it :)

If you haven’t been to Tuscany I would truly recommend it. Situated in middle Italy it offers the sea, the country and the beautiful towns of Florence, Pisa, Grossetto, Siena and many many more. The food is beyond culinary paradise and I’d heartily recommend a Bistecca Fiorentina washed down with a bottle of red Tuscan wine, an experience to die for.

I don’t have a mammoth readership but if you do like what you see, please pass it on. She’s worked incredibly hard and someone might like to take a visit there. I know they will love it and I’m booking for next year.