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 :)!!

IMG_1021 IMG_1000 IMG_0994 IMG_0814 IMG_0679 IMG_0660 IMG_0468 IMG_0450 IMG_0252 IMG_0242

 

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!!!

Leave a Reply

Follow @ traveljunkiediary
  • One of the most liberating feeling in the world is being able to come back here over and over again and feeling so comfortable and happy. I took this yesterday while flying over tromso and although it was just taken with a phone camera, I think it still looks magical. I woke up at 4am today, excited to start the day, getting ready for the team of @travelwithtjd to start arriving and we set sail tomorrow in the Arctic wilderness. #travelwithtjd
  • The heaviness of the moon this month... so I say this: It’s ok if you lose yourself, I’ll be right here to help you find your way back 💫
  • It’s only February and I’ve already started thinking about planning my summer trips! Are you a last minute kind of person or do you plan months in advance like me? 😊
  • How far would you risk to get to where you want to go? 
KYOTO, JAPAN: Each of the famous torii shrine gates has been donated by an individual or a Japanese business in the hope of receiving good luck and fortune. The name of the donor is inscribed in black ink on the back of each gate.
  • Today I met someone who didn’t know her self worth and it left me with a heavy heart. She admitted she wished for a lot of things and dreamed of accomplishing all her NY resolutions. 
It reminded me of a story I read how we tend to create a big gap between expectations and reality and we cannot see it. How young women daydream for a perfect life and compare themselves with stuff such as ‘body goals’ or ‘couple goals’ rather be known for their accomplishments and how smart one can be. 
It made me realize how much we always have to remember to be kind to ourselves and practice love. It’s an easy thing to ‘be yourself’ but quite another thing to know who you truly are. 
I hope you stop counting your mistakes and stop torturing yourself with regret. I hope you love so strong, where you will always find the courage to say the things you wanted to say. I hope you never ever have to compare yourself to anyone but keep growing into the strong, smart and beautiful woman you are. 💫
  • This isn’t the ‘perfect instagram picture’ but I was never one to post for the number of ‘likes’.
Every picture I post on instagram is because it has a story behind it, and... an unforgettable memory. I didn’t even realize @dennisstever was taking a photo of me, and, to be honest, I think it might have been a fluke, because, if you were on that zodiac with us, you would understand how maintaining our balance was our first priority, otherwise it would have been be a dip in the freezing arctic waters. 
We anchored our sailboat in the middle of nowhere, they call it the arctic wilderness, miles away from tromso’s port. We took the zodiac to reach an uninhabited island and all I could remember, was the water level at my boots, and I was holding on to 3 camera bags and equipments and remember asking Dennis to repeatedly say “If MICHELLE falls off, save her cameras first” 😂
I’ve asked him so many times to acknowledge the fact that I’ve given him full permission to save my equipment first before anything else, and it just makes me laugh so hard on how far I am willing to go to save my gear. 
This photo reminds me of life. The adrenaline rush, the subzero temperature winds at the break of dawn, the unknown, the love, the risks we take, the crazy decisions we make in life and for our passion, in my case, it’s my love for photography. 
Can’t wait to return in two weeks on a @travelwithtjd 💫
  • It wasn’t so long ago when I made this dream a reality. Over a year ago, I made it to Harads in Sweden while driving, crossing the borders from Finland. One of the most incredible experiences of my life. This is the UFO at Tree Hotel. What you don’t see, is the incredible views of the Lule River valley and miles and miles of unspoiled forest lands. ❤️
  • Felt on top of the world...
Can you guess where in Portugal this was taken 2 years ago?
  • A week ago, I was walking barefoot on an island 🌴... Today, I’m recovering from the flu in bed... and in a couple of days I’ll be back to winter mode ❄️. How is your weekend looking so far? 😊
  • Truth: A lot of you question how I have things figured out... it’s far from the truth. I promise. 
The truth is, I take risks in the things I believe in, personally and my business life... and learned not to try and overthink when making the decision, because I remind myself how hard I worked for my career and passion to come together. 
I take risks not because I’m brave, but because I really believe that it could be SO good when it works out, or when a project I pitched for succeeds... I look back and realize how far I have come and remember thinking that things were such a mess I would never recover. 
I have never led an ‘ordinary life’ nor a life that would suit everyone maybe...but that is the only life I love despite the sleepless nights working and my heart racing all the time. “That’s the sleepless life of an entrepreneur” they say. 
I am determined to be the best of what I only believe I can be, even when I may lack in other things or even when I fall... But my life is about breaking my own limits and not let the outside noise affect my judgments. That’s how I make it through... 💕
  • Here is a little bit on how this picture was taken... As drones are strictly not allowed @sixsenseslaamu - I had to find a way to climb on the roof patio and hook my camera  on a balcony pole so it doesn’t get blown away or fall right into the pool. 
When I finally thought I had the settings set on and the camera hooked properly, I ran down the stairs, out the backdoor, into the front door of the pool deck and sat there with my remote control. The sun’s light has increased slightly then and my settings were all wrong again 🤦🏼‍♀️, if you were my Neighbour, you would see a crazy lady, with her hat flying away, running up and down the roof top. 
Luckily, my remote’s connection to my camera and the light was finally set and I took the shot. Then I just sat there. Watching the sky turning from pink, to orange to clear blue. 
Only then, I realized my camera was still hanging ever so lightly... so, pulled myself together and rushed back on the rooftop. 😊 That’s the story 🌴
  • I worked out what would make me happy, and I worked out what I wanted to do, and I trained myself to do the job that would make those two things happen. ‘You make it sound so simple...’ Everyone said 
It is simple...The thing is, it's also a lot of hard work. And people don't want to put in a lot of work. But I didn't get here simply by wishing for it.