Ingrid lives in Germany but spends as much vacation time as possible in Italy. These beautiful photos of Italy are a selection of those she has taken over the years in the Veneto and Tuscan regions. To see some of Ingrid's photos taken in lovely Liguria click here.
Let's start with the photos taken in the Veneto...
The Heller Botanical Gardens in Gardone Riviera are located along the idyllic shores of Lake Garda. These gardens hold an international reputation for their exquisite flora and breathtaking vistas. Whenever I step foot into this enchanting paradise, I am instantly captivated by the sheer splendor that unfolds before me; a tapestry of colors, scents, and textures. Lush blooms of vibrant roses, delicate orchids, and exotic tropical plants where each turn reveals a new discovery, from tranquil ponds adorned with water lilies to secluded arbors enveloped in fragrant blooms.
One secret gem within the Heller Gardens is the hidden grotto, a secluded sanctuary tucked away from the bustling crowds. As I step into its cool embrace, I am transported to a tranquil oasis of cascading waterfalls, lush ferns, and moss-covered rocks. The serenity that envelops me is truly awe-inspiring, offering a moment of respite and reflection amidst the vibrant tapestry of nature.
To enhance your experience at the Heller Gardens, I recommend visiting in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sunlight bathes the flora in a soft, ethereal glow. The gentle breeze off Lake Garda carries whispers of nature's symphony, creating a harmonious backdrop for your exploration.
As you wander through the gardens, be sure to visit the grandiose Il Vittoriale degli Italiani, the former residence of poet Gabriele D'Annunzio. This architectural masterpiece blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape and provides a glimpse into the life and works of this renowned literary figure. The sprawling estate boasts captivating sculptures, ornate fountains, and sweeping terraces offering panoramic views of Lake Garda.
For a truly unique experience, embark on a guided tour of the gardens. Knowledgeable guides will unveil the stories behind the flora, sharing fascinating anecdotes and insider secrets. Discover the healing properties of medicinal plants, learn about the delicate art of bonsai cultivation, or witness the intricate process of hybridization that gives rise to new plant species.
Now, brace yourself for an incredible fact that most people don't know: nestled within the Heller Gardens lies a hidden amphitheater. Carved into the natural landscape, this amphitheater hosts intimate performances, immersing visitors in the magic of music and theater amidst the splendor of nature. Imagine being serenaded by an opera singer or enthralled by a captivating play, surrounded by blooming flowers and starlit skies.
Ancient castles, towering peaks and Lake Garda all come together in the small fishing town of Malcesine (view our guide for more about Malcesine). Considered to be one of the loveliest towns to be found around Lake Garda.
Anyone who has ever had an ice cream (gelato) in Italy will know that it is like nowhere else on earth.
To those who haven't been to Italy and haven't yet tried it: you have a wonderful experience ahead of you...add this to your bucket list now!
Certaldo, a picturesque town nestled among the rolling hills of Tuscany, unveils its timeless beauty and rich historical tapestry to those fortunate enough to explore its streets. While the entire town exudes charm, it is the medieval village perched atop the hill that truly captures the imagination.
The medieval part of Certaldo is a living testament to its storied history, with its well-preserved architecture and fascinating landmarks. It is here that the spirit of Giovani Boccaccio, one of Italy's most celebrated poets, lingers in the air. Boccaccio, renowned for his masterpiece "The Decameron," once called Certaldo his home and found his final resting place within its hallowed grounds. In 1375, he was buried here, leaving an enduring legacy that still resonates within the town's cultural fabric.
One of the highlights of exploring Certaldo is the Funicolare, a funicular railway that transports you from the lower part of the town to the medieval old town atop the hill. Ascending through lush greenery,the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside will leave an indelible impression on you.
Stroll through the narrow alleys and hidden corners, and discover charming artisan workshops, where skilled craftsmen continue age-old traditions. From pottery and ceramics to leather goods and traditional Tuscan delicacies, the artisans of Certaldo showcase their expertise, allowing you to take home a piece of the town's heritage.
To fully immerse yourself in the spirit of Certaldo, I recommend visiting during one of its vibrant festivals. The Mercantia Festival, held in July, transforms the medieval streets into a vibrant open-air theater, with street performers, musicians, and artisans creating a lively and colorful atmosphere. The Boccaccesca Food and Wine Festival, held in October, celebrates the region's culinary delights, offering a tantalizing array of local specialties and wine tastings.
In the lower part of Certaldo, you will find a more contemporary side of the town, with modern amenities and a bustling atmosphere. Explore the vibrant Piazza Boccaccio, named after the esteemed poet, and indulge in the flavors of Tuscan cuisine at one of the charming trattorias that line the square.
Certaldo is a place where history, art, and natural beauty converge, creating an unforgettable experience for every visitor. It is a town that reveals its secrets to those willing to wander its timeless streets, offering a glimpse into the soul of Tuscany.
Not much in life comes much better than wandering the ancient lanes of Certaldo, a new discovery awaits around every corner.
To get up to the Certaldo old town there is a little train that runs from the newer lower town. You can see the tracks, in this photo, at the end of the road.
The rolling hills of Tuscany are a balm for even the most jaded soul. They are best in the fall when leaves turn golden.
As I step inside Antica Fonte, the warm and inviting ambiance immediately embraces me. The rustic décor, with its exposed stone walls and wooden beams, exudes an authentic Tuscan charm. The menu at Antica Fonte showcases the best of Tuscan cuisine, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and traditional recipes. Each dish is thoughtfully crafted to capture the essence of the region, offering a tantalizing blend of flavors and textures. From homemade pasta dishes to succulent grilled meats and delectable desserts, every bite is a celebration of Tuscan culinary heritage.
The restaurant's dedication to quality extends to its extensive wine list, which features a curated selection of exceptional local and regional wines. The knowledgeable sommelier is always on hand to recommend the perfect pairing, elevating the dining experience to new heights.
What sets Antica Fonte apart is not just its exquisite cuisine but also its idyllic setting. The restaurant boasts a charming outdoor terrace, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding rolling hills and vineyards. Dining al fresco under the Tuscan sun or beneath a starlit sky creates an unforgettable atmosphere that enhances the flavors of the food and creates lasting memories.