A Travel Blogger’s First Experience with Fresh, Home-Cooked Italian Cuisine

A Travel Blogger's First Experience with Fresh, Home-Cooked Italian Cuisine

In February 2015 I was offered the job of a lifetime; to use my skills in theatre and drama to tour Northern Italy teaching at a different school, in a different location each week. The best part of this job was that for each school I worked at, I was hosted by a family of one of my students or teachers!

As you can imagine, this was a once in a lifetime experience. I saw some amazing cities, from Verona to Venice, Milan to Marotta. I also met some beautiful people and enjoyed beautifully authentic, home-cooked meals made for me by the families I stayed with or the quirky, rustic Italian restaurants in a far-off village somewhere like Emilia-Romagna.

My embarrassingly clichéd idea of Italian food was based around the two “P’s” (Pizza and Pasta). Which, to an extent is very much at the heart of Italian dining (although the Pizza’s in Northern Italy are far from a Dominoes Deep Crust! And Spag Bol doesn’t exist!) 

But after learning to avoid faux pas such as cutting my spaghetti or coffee with milk after dinner, I settled into Italian dining most comfortably. I learnt to love herbs such as sage which is amazing after being crisped-up in the oven or pan. I tried horse meat for the first time (which was an interesting experience, being such a horse lover). I learnt how to make gnocchi from scratch and which cheeses go best with pasta and how to store them. I found a love for authentic homemade tortellini and which pizza toppings are my favourite to top the crispy stone-baked bread (Quatro Stagioni or anything with rocket, goats cheese and prosciutto).

When I was by the sea in Marotta-Mondolfo, I stayed with a family who owned a sea food restaurant, so one evening we indulged in a fishy feast, something I had never experienced before!

I learnt a lot about “real” balsamic vinegar when staying in Modena. I had no idea that the runny, tangy stuff we buy in the supermarket is not real balsamic! Real balsamic vinegar is thick, sweet and €20-€50 a bottle!

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the best kebab in the whole world overlooking Lago Maggiore, just outside of Milan. I was exploring by myself for the day and found myself in this little kebab cafe near the train station. I took my meaty sandwich to the lake-side and tasted one of the best things I have ever tasted in my life! It was a delicious doner kebab filled with salad and sauce.

I even got to sample the delights of an Italian “school dinner” with my frequent in-school dining experiences with the children. In Italy, Lunch is considered the main meal of the day and usually consists of two courses. The main meal is often carb-based with a meat option. For example, chicken and potatoes with vegetables or salad plus some fruit and bread rolls on the side. And if I was lucky, I’d even get dessert.

Speaking of dessert, I haven’t even mentioned the dreamy, creamy Italian gelato that I often still lust for! From Kinder Bueno flavour in Marotta and Rome, to Vanilla in Venice, I love the Italian ice cream. There are often many flavours to choose from and are extremely inexpensive when compared to a similar shop in London!

After three months of travelling, the most surprising discovery for me, was a new found love for coffee. I had never ever liked coffee before Italy. I had tried it and disliked it from a very young age. However I felt that if there was going to be anywhere I liked coffee, it would be Italy! I found that the “macchiato” was my favourite with a little sugar. I took home some bags of proper Italian coffee along with a moka pot and little espresso cup set! 

What an adventure for my career and taste buds! I can't wait to re visit Italy and maybe head further south for a different kind of cuisine. 


Read more about Eboni's travels on her site here, or get social with her on Facebook l Twitter l Instagram l YouTube

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Spotlight on: Marotta-Mondolfo, Italy

Spotlight on: Marotta-Mondolfo, Italy

So last February, I was working on tour in Italy for three months and experienced some really lovely cities and met some wonderful people. One of those people was my good friend Alice who I was working alongside. Last September, we decided to return to Marotta, a place we had worked together, to visit our old host families and to take a little break away from London. Marotta isn’t one of the places that initially springs to mind when you think of Italy, which is why I want to do a “Spotlight on” this quirky, costal town. Flights to Marotta are very inexpensive. With Ryanair flying directly to Marotta airport, and things to do all year round, there is no excuse not to visit Marotta!

With that said, here is a round up of things to do in Marotta-Mondolfo, Italy!

1. Hit the beach

The town is parallel to a long beach that stretches for a few miles. Where I was staying was just a short walk from the beach. In fact, the train station is about 30 metres from the beach!

The beach itself is extremely long and not very wide (so the sea is fairly close). It is a sand beach, so perfect for long walks, sunbathing, or playing a game or two. In September, the weather was still hot enough to be in t-shirts and shorts, with the best “beach-time” being mid day. We even had a swim in the sea!

2. Rent a Bugsy Malone-style rickshaw

Just a short walk from the station, I came across a hotel that was renting out these pedal cars. I loved the idea of renting one and driving along the beach so we had a look at prices. As September is technically “off-season” (even though the weather is great, it is a really quiet time of year) the prices to rent the rickshaws were really low! It was €5 for an hour’s ride!

Neither myself, nor my companion drives, but that didn’t matter! We were able to take our new toy out for a little cruise along the strip, right with the cars and everything! We felt so grown up! It was a really fun experience that we loved so much we even went back and purchased another hour! You do have to be very careful as you are pedalling alongside cars and pedestrians so a little knowledge on road safety goes a long way. Also, don’t do what we did and accidentally end up on a motorway slip road :/ oops!

3. Shopping Mall

If you’re like me, a little bit of a shopaholic, you will definitely need to head to the local shopping mall for a browse around Italy’s hottest high street shops. From Kiko to Calzedonia, the “Le Befane” shopping centre has a great range of things to see and buy. It makes for a perfect trip on a milder day or just an escape from the mid-day sun. There is even a cinema inside if you are in the mood for a chill activity.

4. Corn Labyrinth

Our host Nicole and her boyfriend Andrea were really kind to take us to this amazing Corn Labyrinth experience just outside of town. It is basically a huge corn field (with corn twice your height) that has had paths cut out of it to create a maze (think Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when RPatz dies type thing- without Voldemort, obvs).The Labyrinth costs just a few Euros to enter, then you are left to find your way out! We went in the evening when it was completely dark, which gave it a scary feel, however if you are more inclined to a ‘sunshine and daisies’ experience, you should check it out during the day. The maze is not easy to navigate at all (which is great as you want to be challenged). There are lots of “left or right?” decisions and I think a group of four of us was perfect. It took us just over an hour to complete, which I felt was just right.

Tip: If you are a horror fan or like scary attractions, this Labyrinth did have a themed night the next day with actors hidden around corners to jump out and scare!   

5. “Il Chiostro Dell’ Avis” Restaurant

I couldn’t recommend this restaurant enough! I have been twice now and they are always so welcoming. The restaurant itself is really traditional of all the proper Italian, family run, no tourist to be seen restaurants. The host is so funny and speaks perfect English. He always makes us laugh.

The pizza is traditional Italian stone-baked pizza with a huge selection of toppings. I always go for the 4 Stagioni topping or anything with goat’s cheese and rocket. Yum! They even cater for gluten free diets, just call up in advance : )

Tip: This restaurant serve some wonderful desserts, so make sure you leave some belly room!


My Hints and Tips


  • Travel – If you have no reservations about travelling with Ryanair, I would suggest booking with them for a short stay as they fly directly to Marotta airport. You can fit a week’s worth of things into your free carry on and it is only a short couple of hours on the plane. Ryanair fly from Stanstead airport which is super easy to get to from London via train, taxi, coach or the “Easybus” which I usually use for a low cost journey. A great thing about Easybus, is your ticket is valid for the trip directly before and after your booked trip (as long as there is a space for you). So if you are running a little early or late, they will still let you on.

  • Self Catering Tips – My tip for anyone staying in a self catering place like we were, would be to stop off at the large Conard supermarket on the way from the airport, or take a short walk to the Lidl which is on the same main road as the train station. It is a large Lidl with everything you could need from food to toiletries.

  • When to Stay? – As I said before, I arrived in September for the short break, and before that I was staying in March; both off-season. Although it was really quiet in September, the weather (for a Brit) was more than satisfactory. It was sunny with a light breeze most of the time, and the beach was always really quiet. The flights are also significantly cheaper, as well as better accommodation options. If you want guaranteed burning-hot sun, I guess I would suggest a summer stay.

  • Visiting Nearby Cities- Italy have a great train system and it can be really affordable to visit nearby towns and cities. Check to see where you can go.


I hope you enjoyed this post and feel inspired to check out beautiful Marotta Mondolfo!

For more Travel posts, including a full Northern Italy Sum-up, check out my Blog EBONI + IVORY:


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The Most Romantic Things to Do in Venice

The Most Romantic Things to Do in Venice

Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world. If you are to spend your honeymoon, or even just a vacation there with your loved ones, you should consider yourself very lucky! Here are some of the activities that you can do with your romantic partner- let us know if you have any recommendations in the comments below!

1. A ride on the Gondola on the Grand Canal

While a Gondola ride may sound like a very touristy thing to do in Venice, it is still inevitably one of the most romantic things that you can do with your partner and definitely something to tick off the bucket list. Breeze down the river and enjoy the sights in this two-person romantic capsule. One of the more popular paths to take is the route from Barcino Orseolo, through the more scenic smaller waterways and then arriving at the Grand Canal.

2. Watch the sunset

Be sure to catch the sunset in Venice if you are there for a romantic getaway. The golden hues of the sunset can transform Venice into a perfect backdrop for a proposal, an early dinner or just a cuddling sesson with your other half. Catch the sunset from Giardini Pubblici in Castello ot from the park at Sant'Elena. Even better, kill two birds with one stone by watching the sunset while on your gondola ride.

3. Take a stroll in the evening

Stroll along the Lagoon or wander along the streets or piazzas in the evening after the crowd has receded. The night will transform Venice into a magical kingdom. The shimmering reflection of light from the water, music playing from Piazza San Marco and the tranquil atmosphere are the reasons why Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world. Waltz or slow dance to the music at Piazza San Marco by the river to end your night.

4. The Stone Heart at Sotoportego dei Preti

Venice is a city full of stories, histories and legends. This stone heart is a result of an old Venetian love story between a fisherman and a mermaid whom he caught during one of his fishing trips. The two fell in love, got married and had three kids. However, the mermaid was cursed and would turn into a viscious sea serpent once every week. She died but rose from the dead and still returned everyday to clean and cook for her husband. However, not knowing that the sea serpent was his wife, he killed her. The stone heart is a symbol of their eternal love at their love nest. Couples come here to touch the stone in hopes of blessings for eternal love whereas singles come here to find the love of their life.

5.  Enjoy a private dinner on a rooftop

Nothing kills the romance more than a crowded restaurant filled with buzzing tourists. You will feel like you are sharing your special moment with a hundred outsiders. Even worse, you might be asked to share a table with someone else. This will not happen if you have a dining experience with Walter at his private rooftop. As a professional chef, the dishes prepared by him display the long and rich history of Venice. You can have the choice of customizing your menu as he will prepare dishes based on what is fresh in the market. Do tell him that you want a romantic experience and he will decorate accordingly. 


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Exploring Venice as a Vegetarian

Exploring Venice as a Vegetarian

It is not easy to find vegetarian restaurants in Venice amidst all the seafood, pizzas, cicchetis and gnocchi. But We like a challenge here at BonAppetour, so we have dug up the best vegetarian restaurants to satisfy all your veggie needs.

1. La Zucca


With a rating of 4.5 on Tripadvisor, La Zucca is easily one of the best restaurants that offers vegetarian food. You can start your meal with a Tagliatelle with tomatoes and eggplant from its ever changing menu and finish with mouthwatering strawberries and cream topped with chocolate sauce. If your companion isn't a vegetarian and would love a fix of meat, there is also the choice of a juicy duck thigh with apples.

2. Bar Rialto da Lollo 

This is the place that you need to go to for breakfast if you are in Venice. Bar Rialto da Lollo has the best tramezzini (sandwiches with white bread). Located near the Rialto Bridge, it is the perfect place to start your day of adventure. It has a wide array of sandwiches with very affordable prices of around 2 euros. Not to mention the serving size is huge too.

3. Bone Robe


In a cozy cafe setting, each order is cooked on the spot. With fresh and seasonal ingredients, their food is healthy and hearty. Their handsome chef is an added bonus. *wink wink*

4. Le Spighe

This is one of raved-about vegetarian places to eat. Le Spighe is not solely a restaurant. It is mainly a health food store that also sells vegetarian foods. You can choose from the dishes on display which changes everyday according to what the chef cooks. It is priced based on weight. If you have a specific allergy, don't be afraid to tell the chef so that you can work out which is the best dish for you.

5. Walter's Cooking Class

Why eat out when you can customize and learn to whip up your own venice-inspired vegetarian concoction using the freshest ingredients right off the market. Walter, a professional tour guide, chef and blogger, can take you on a tour of the local Venetian markets, choose the best vegetables and teach you how to make your own gourmet vegetarian meal. Doesn't that sound fantastic?

Image credits: 1|2|3|4|5|6

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