Is getting lost a valid mode of travel? Is it logical and safe?
From a young woman who often errs on the side of caution to avoid unwanted attention, I still say yes when travelling. That’s not to say that dangers are magically evaporated and witts can be ignored, but deciding to wander through the lanes and alleys of gorgeous new cities for hours on end can be a fruitful experience.
My first experience of this was with a friend in Venice. We headed out of our hostel looking for dinner without a particular destination in mind. Just like our daytime exploration, we found ourselves off the beaten track, “partially lost” (you can navigate your way back from anywhere via the canal network); away from tourist crowds and amongst the locals on the other side of town.
It was starting to get cold and we heard roaring laughter and the buzz of conversation before we saw the place. A tiny cafe tucked away, brimming with happy locals and delicious smells wafting from somewhere within misted, glowing windows. Without hesitation, we practically bolted inside knowing that we’d stumbled on some gold.
Of course we were in the local area so nothing was in English, no-one understood our accents even when attempting Italian, but somehow I ended up with the best Gnocchi al fungi of my life; fresh, rich and mouth wateringly tasty. The burnt butter sauce, soft, fluffy gnocchi and abundance of mushroom was to die for. There I was, jammed amongst locals and loving the rich, authentic experience and having no idea how to get home but knowing we would figure it out.
So years later and back in Italy, we decided, why not?
Day one in Rome and we decided to skim the surface and discover some food! Wow. So we began to wander and on the way we gathered produce.
I love the cliche but it is true, tomatoes are incredibly cheap everywhere! 0.14 Euro per kilo in one local store, but we opted for market tomatoes in the Campo de Flori square. Purchasing fresh Buffalo mozzarella also, Rome is the heart of Mozzarella!
Further along we stumbled upon one of the many incredible delicatessens with every cured meat you could dream of. The charming Italian owner didn’t speak English but wanted us to sample everything.
Bresaola…and of course, we bought some for the road.
Next we stumbled upon a bakery we had been lured into before. Sweets of every kind made daily and displayed across all surfaces and trays. We said no to metre long pizza slabs and instead chose dark, crusty sourdough
and some sweet treats to accompany or collection of goods. How fun it is to indicate the size of the pieces you want, knowing full well that the staff will up size anyway!
Some fabulous cheap red wine for pre-dinner happy hour and a feast by the picturesque river in the afternoon sun. A few hours well spent. A plan? Unnecessary!!