Last week I took a few days off to fly to Trieste, in the north-east of Italy, and visit my grandma who’s not been feeling well lately. She is staying in a nursing home in Grado, a beach town spread along a narrow island backed by lagoons and connected to the mainland by a bridge.
Our family owns a small apartment in Grado and I have spent all my summer holidays there, ever since I was little. As I grew older and moved abroad, I’ve spent less time in Grado, though I try to visit at least once a year.
It is the most relaxing place, as my daily routine in Grado consists of walking to the beach, laying in the sun, swimming, eating ice-cream, reading and sleeping.
The gelato in Grado is the best in the world! There are more artisan ice-cream shops than anything else and I always eat at least one a day.
The town comes alive in the evenings, when mostly Italian, Austrian and German families stroll along the pedestrian avenue or the sea promenade, eating ice-cream and listening to live music bands playing.
One afternoon I interrupted my lazy routine and cycled across the bridge which links Grado to the ancient Roman city of Aquileia. The view is stunning, with the sanctuary of Barbana emerging from an island in the middle of the lagoon.
Crossing the bridge and seeing Grado appearing in front of me is a breathtaking experience that fills me with joy every time.
On Saturday evening I went out for dinner with my parents, brother, grandma, two aunts, my cousin and his wife at our favourite local restaurant, Alla Frasca, a farm in the countryside near Aquileia.
There’s something very comforting about eating the same dish in the same restaurant for more than twenty years. They serve amazing meat prepared on the open flame grill, great local wine and homemade cakes.
It was great to take my grandma out of the nursing home and spend the evening with her and my family. She’s a force of nature and the most amazing woman I know.
Aside from the long sandy beach, the beautiful lagoon, the thermal baths and great food, Grado is famous for its medieval old town, a beautifully kept maze of Venetian style calle (lanes), dominated by the Romanesque Church of Sant’Eufemia.
I wandered through these streets on Sunday morning, just before leaving for the airport, and stepped into the church for the end of the mass: the whole congregation was singing Madonnina del Mare, a local song to ask the Virgin Mary to protect the fishermen out in the sea. A beautiful and moving experience, perfect ending to my stay in Grado.
I am so grateful for these four days spent at home with my family. Being in Italy always makes me long for a simpler way of life and reminds me about the importance of family and traditions.
It makes me happy to share these photos with you and I hope you enjoyed them.