Vegan Traveler Blog - Ciao Italy

Hey, Vegan Travellers!

I am writing to you today from what I think might be a dream. I am in Italy. I have always wanted to be in Italy. I am almost not in Italy anymore. I will soon be somewhere else. But for right now, and for the next few days, I am in Italy!

Okay, I know that was a really bizarre opener, but listen- Italy is basically a dreamland and my sense of reality is all out of whack because I just can’t believe I’m finally here, so I think I have a right to be a little weird about it. I think my first inspiration for wanting to visit Italy probably occurred when I first watched the Disney classic, Lady and the Tramp. Then again, I also read a lot of YA (that’s, “young adult” for library frequenters) fiction novels which took place in Italy and which made it sound like a magical, musical, mysterious paradise. (Spoiler: it is.)
Although I was only able to explore Venice and Florence in the little bit of time that I had/have here, there’s still so much good stuff that I’m gonna have to break it down for you a bit. So, what’s so fabulous about Italy. Well…
The Food:
Oh my god, the food.

Depending upon where you live, you may well sympathize with the struggle and trouble I have had finding vegan Italian food. Usually, if a group of my friends and I are going out I know that I’ll be doomed to eating a plate of lettuce if they decide to go Italian. Everything has egg or mince or fish or cheese. You just can’t escape the nasty stuff. And if you do manage to escape it, your dish ends up being half-dissected, too expensive for what it is, and boring. I thought that Italy was going to be a bit like that for Ross and I. I knew that there were vegan restaurants, aye, but those are usually more expensive. I thought that outside of eating at vegan places we would have no options and have to subsist on rice and beans once again (been a while since I brought that one up. It’s really not that bad! Use spices!). I was very very wrong.

It was a couple of days before we even tried a vegan place. We were in Venice at the start, waiting to pick Ross’s mum up from the airport so we could spend a little time with her in Italy, too. Venice is not nearly so vegan friendly as Florence. It’s also not very “I don’t know my way around here friendly,” as it’s made up entirely of an advanced Sunday paper maze and water. I can’t tell you how often we got lost (even when we had a map, Apple maps, directions, and tourist signs) or how long it took to get anywhere at all. We didn’t really need to be able to find the one vegan restaurant, though. Venice is one of those places where people know what vegan is and they are willing to help you figure out what on the menu you can have, or even go off menu for you and make you something totally different. Ross and I fell in love with pizza marinara and have mostly just been eating that when we’re not going for the more exciting and definitely more expensive specifically vegan options. It’s a pretty standard pizza with just tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, and olive oil on it. It is surprisingly delicious and somehow different in every single pizzeria. We could’ve just eaten that for every meal, but we didn’t have to, because then we went to Florence.
Florence was vegan heaven. I tried gnocchi for the first time and loved it, and had gelato for the first (and probably last) time in years and also loved it. I got myself a big hefty bowl of tagliatelle bolognese with incredible vegan parm on top and felt I had truly reached the pinnacle of vegan food. Yum.

IMG_4463Anyway, I had been taking about how much I was looking forward to vegan Italian food since we were in Peru almost four months ago. It did not disappoint. I did say I was going to talk about some of the other things that are great about Italy, though, so I guess I’ve got to move on now.

The Sights:
I’m really tempted to simply fill this bit with photographs and not say a single word about the sights. I won’t do that, though, as I’m finding that a lot of places look really similar in photos but are so incredibly different when you experience them in person. Basically, you’ll need the text to get the context. I went on for ages about Prague last week. I wrote about how you couldn’t turn around without bumping into something beautiful to drink in and photograph. I still think that Prague is a beautiful city, but I would say similar things about Venice. Except that with Venice, the colours of those beautiful buildings which look like they’ve come straight out of paintings, are faded. They are not faded in a way that diminishes their splendour at all. Rather, they are faded in a way which tells a story and speaks to a long, rough, ever-sinking-into-the-Mediterranean history. It also seems to be a lot easier to get lost and enjoy being lost in Venice, which adds ever so much to the romance.
Florence is beautiful in its own way as well. Florence, for me, is more about the big squares that are around every corner than it is about water or faded pastel buildings, although it has those, too. When it comes to attractions, the city has a lot to offer, but at quite a price. A museum of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions, an exhibit in Dante Alighieri’s house, and Michelangelo’s original David can all be found in Florence. Unfortunately, it would cost a pretty penny to see them all. This is fine if one is on a short-term vacation type trip, but as for Ross and I, we opted for the free art found in cathedrals and in squares and a gorgeous view of the city that I will never get out of my head.
To sum up, Italy is one of those places which makes me wish I had a faster metabolism, a bigger wallet, and the ability to do really impressive water colours.
If you have any of those things, visit Italy.
If you have none of those things, visit Italy.
If you can, visit Italy.
Ciao ciao for now,
Ellie Lebo

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