Categories Italy Travel Junkie Diary of

Dana Al Adham

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Dana Al AdhamLike0

A cooking class trip with Dana Al Adham, an analyst by day, artist by night and a fitness lover, who blogs occasionally about Art (www.danzartique.com) and why Italy was her pick for her inspiration trip of her life!

Dana also shared her favorite recipe!!!!

Destination Italy

I traveled to Florence for a 3 week language and cooking program where I stayed at an Italian family’s house (who speak zero English!). On weekends, I traveled to Rome, Venice and visited Pisa and the town of Montevarchi. I was totally alone and this challenged me to be completely independent in a country where there is a major language barrier. Learning the language while I was there helped me to really connect with the culture and understand the people better. I did not feel like “a tourist” in Florence, especially after I really got to learn my way around the cities I visited and after I learned to read maps properly (this was very big for me – I’m terrible with directions!) Second, I met GREAT people while I was there. In my language classes everyday at 9 am, I got the chance to meet like-minded people who are there to learn and who have traveled by themselves to try something “different”. We spent lots of time together exploring the city and meeting different people, and even traveled together by train around Italy. Third, the family I stayed with in Florence was absolutely amazing – they were incredibly kind and although we did not understand each other (especially in the first week) they made me feel like I was at home. The organizers of the school I went to CLIDA were the most genuine people I have ever come across. They invited me to their beautiful home by the Arno, and taught me how to cook beautiful Italian meals using fresh ingredients from their very own garden.

Stayed at Funny story – I booked my hotel in Rome but it turned out I booked it in a different branch which was somewhere in the North of Italy. So when I got to Rome, in mid-May high season, I had no hotel booked and rushed around with my luggage like a crazy woman trying to find a hotel room stay that’s safe and that does not require me to sell my kidneys for! I ended up staying at a lovely hotel that’s only a 5 minute walk from the Colosseum. In Venice, I stayed at a hotel called Hotel Bel Sito & Berlino – this hotel was super cozy and the service was great. I highly recommend it. 

Month  May – Weather was perfect however it rained in Florence so pack an umbrella and rain boots just in case..

In your suitcase If you’re going in May, pack summer dresses, sandals, jeans, t shirts and comfortable walking shoes. Avoid walking around in uncomfortable flats! If you’re going to Florence make sure to pack rain boots and an umbrella just in case – it rains a lot over there and it’s not as hot as Rome

Dined at Food in Italy is great everywhere that’s NOT touristic! I went to a few good restaurants along the Arno river with a great view and awesome food. Golden view open bar is my most recommended, however, you won’t be disappointed anywhere you go where they have authentic Italian food. I recommend taking a few cooking classes while you’re there. If I had to choose, the meal I cooked with Gabriella and Alberto (organizers of CLIDA) was probably the tastiest meal I had. We made creamy asparagus rice, Parmesan chicken, and pasta with sun dried tomatoes and almond paste. I also learned how to make tiramisu in the real Italian way! Apparently it’s not supposed to be refrigerated at all…

Shopped In Florence, definitely avoid the touristic shopping area. Prices there are more than quadrupled! I found amazing shoes for 100 euros that I wanted to buy, but left them on hold and kept walking until I reached a residential purely Italian non-touristic area and found the same exact shoes for 15 Euros! Also, the Prada outlet in Montevarchi was amazing! Take a train from Florence to Montevarchi, which is only a 30 minute ride – with great views – and once you’re out of the train you will find taxis lined up to take you to the Prada outlet. Make sure you call a taxi before you leave there because you won’t be able to find any outside, and just like my friend and I did, you might get lost in a town where no one speaks English! I bought a beautiful yellow Prada bag and purple wallet (both of which they called last season – but I remember seeing them in Dubai shortly after I returned from my trip for a lot more than they sold it in the outlet). This outlet is a gold mine!

Diary In Florence, I’d wake up everyday in the early morning and walk to school that was about 20 mins away from where I was staying. The school was in Piazza Della Republica, which is in the middle of Florence where all the shops, restaurants and the touristic area is. The school offered other classes including fashion and different levels of language. I met 2 of my friends in my class, who came from Columbia. I spent my entire day out, visited tons of museums and touristic areas in Florence, but eventually in my 2nd week I felt like a local since I started jogging in the park and speaking Italian 🙂 One of the main highlights was visiting a small town called Montevarchi to go to “the PRADA OUTLET” – I’m generally not the shopping type when I travel, but when you’re in Italy, and you here of a Prada outlet – you have to go! I went there with a friend of mine and we both went crazy in there! It was such an experience – the town itself is really small, no one speaks a word of English and it felt like being in The Sound of Music because of all the greenery there. On the first weekend that I was there, I took a train to Rome and I spent my days touring around from 8 in the morning till midnight! There was so much you can do. I visited the Vatican, did the Colosseum tour, learned about the Roman history, visited the Spanish steps, and of course the famous fountain and had TONS AND TONS OF GELATO! In my second weekend, I visited Venice. It felt like a dream city. It felt unreal. The highlight of Venice was visiting Doge’s palace. I was very relaxed in Venice and took my time in art galleries, and also took my sweet time buying a Venetian mask (a must-do!). I also visited Pisa on a weekday with a few friends I met in Florence. Pisa is a major touristic point, we spent hours taking the perfect photo with the leaning tower and it was so worth it!

Tips Learn the language at least a bit before you go. It will definitely help you get around in terms of directions.

Mode of travel I took Air France to Florence. I have no complaints 🙂 To get around Italy I pre-booked my train tickets on Trenitalia which was so easy and the rides are always on time.

This trip meant so much to me and it’s something I will always remember. It was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I recommend for anyone who is looking to do something different to challenge themselves with a trip like this. I learned a lot, more than just language, I learned about different cultures and met tons of different people who shared with me their stories. I taught myself how to be totally independent and to take risks and be adventurous. I learned how to use a map properly and to use every minute of my day to explore cities I visited. I would definitely do it all over again!

Here’s the tiramisu recipe (enough for 3-4 people so you can double the amounts if you have more people):

{In two separate bowls, break 1 egg and separate the egg yolk from the egg white in each
With a cake mixer, beat the egg white until it becomes foamy
In the other bowl, add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the egg yolk and beat them together until it becomes a very pale yellow
Add mascarpone to the pale yellow mixture (I usually add 3 quarters of the bigger tub of mascarpone – can’t go wrong with mascarpone… beat the mix together then add the previously mixed egg white to the mix and beat everything together, your cream is now ready and in a Tupperware add room temperature water with one teaspoon of Nescafe
Dip each lady finger and place it in the plate that you’ll be putting the tiramisu in.
Add the cream on top – for this part it’s up to you if you’d like to add 2 layers of lady fingers, I usually add only one layer because I prefer the cream over the cake
Sprinkle cocoa powder on top}
Buon appetito :)!!

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Travel Junkie Diary

A bohemian traveler

3 comments

  1. nawal says:

    Nothing to say but I looooooovvvveee Italy. ..I dream about it everyday since ive been back in 2010…. and this article just almost brought tears to my eyes…I wish I can live there …♡♡♡

  2. Soubra Kamel says:

    Do u have more recipes? Thank you Team Travel Junkie for such great post!

  3. Dounia says:

    Inspiring!!! Next trip will be a culinary trip!!!

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