Jenny's Blog


Leave a comment

Lignano-Rome-Saint Petersburg-TBA

I love this feeling, when I’m writing a post while almost boarding a plane to somewhere new. Because I know that once I am there – I’ll have so many fresh impressions that going back to previous trips will be tough.

So, a quick recap of my August before the last trip of this summer (unbelievable!) starts.

Lignano, Rome and Saint Petersburg, together with Barcelona and Venice where I went just before, are my most visited cities. Nevertheless, I am no less excited to go there every summer again and again! Lignano is like my second home now, a short vacation getaway at any time when I need it; Rome, Venice and Barcelona are just my perfect cities for a weekend, despite tourist crowds and all that what the locals hate, for me their energy I get charged with is worth making my way through any crowd; Saint Petersburg… well, I used to call this place home. And it still has a big part of my heart that I left there forever. It’s nice when it’s not broken but is left with my best friends who live there, and I can always visit and dive back into how it used to be; priceless opportunity.

This time in Lignano was special, because I went with Dani. It’s amazing to bring along someone you love and show them “your” place, with special corners, favourite restaurants, tennis courts from where I sent him so many pictures with parents. For him it is also a special area, where he spent a big deal of his childhood. Chilling on the beach sipping Aperols, stuffing ourselves with the best foods, reading on the rooftop while he is getting his sleep recap for the past year. I already can’t wait to be there next June again and reopen another amazing season!

Trip to Rome was also very cozy and full of comfort. You see cities completely differently once stop being a first-time tourist there. When this rush to see/eat/photograph all the musts is over, comes the time to fully enjoy the city. I was also very glad to go with Lena and spend some quality time together before she moves to Moscow.

Regarding the places, we were mostly sticking to my favourite route that I described last year, with mandatory meals at Urbana 47 and Cantina e Cucina, adding Campo de’ Fiori, rooftops at Forum Hotel, Monti Palace Hotel and Capo d’Africa, pizzeria Emma and cultural stiff outside of Vatican for the first time: MAXXI Museum of Modern art impressed us a lot; whereas Galleria Borghese where I wanted to go since many years turned out to be a big disappointment. Everything is relative!

We visited during Ferragosto, so a lot of places I wanted to visit were closed. It’s like I could’t manage to see Trevi Fountain for like 4 years in a row while it was on reconstruction, same is happening with Mercato Monti for me now. Next year, maybe!IMG_3894 2 Going to Saint Petersburg had even more wonderful purpose than eating and looking at Caravaggio. I was invited to my dear friend’s wedding. Skakun is Skakun no more! This was so beautiful and full of love that I couldn’t be happier for my friends.

Saint Petersburg is a place full of love for me even without such magical events as weddings, thanks to my friends and the memories there that don’t fade after more than 7 years.

I got to meet many more people than are in the pics, which makes it an absolute strike in terms of amount of cathing-ups in 36 hours. I love you, guys!

So do I love crab meat! Lisa, as always, took me on a gastro tour. Last time shawarma was what impressed me the most, together with Subzero, which I hit again for breakfast (because why not sushi for breakfast). The new discoveries were Harvest and DuoAsia, and they brought to an absolute ecstasy state.

As hard as it always is to say goodbye to my friends in Russia, was saying goodbye to those who are leaving Vienna now. Too many goodbyes at once for me!

As always when writing a post on the go, I have no time to properly wrap it up now. But maybe it’s even better this way, before I get too sentimental. Time to pack suitcases! For someone it’s bringing a new stage of life, may it be marriage or moving from Vienna, to me it will be opening a door that I closed 10 years ago.

Yup, I am finally going to New York!


Leave a comment

Summertime’19

Another original title to the post, huh?

In fact, this is a note devoted to Lignano – a lovely seaside town in Italy that has become our summer home in the past 2 years. But it IS my summertime so far. I went there already 5 times this year, planning to go again in a couple weeks. IMG_6882_Facetune_31-03-2019-13-27-15Lignano is a typical summer resort, crowded in July and August and turning into a ghost town between October and April. The most beautiful time is, however, off season. First time this year we hit it with the girls as early as in March, and loved it!

Empty beaches, yet already warm sun (the header picture is taking during my visit at the beginning of April), no people, tidy streets, absolute peace around…and most restaurants still closed. You have to know where to get your food off season 😉 Bidin and La Botte are open almost all year round (on some weeks only Friday to Sunday); places on the main shopping street in Sabbiadoro also have longer operating season. I really like  O’Sole mio, but better go for pizza there (Diavola is amazing!), we were more impressed than by pastas. Agosti and a restaurant at Hotel Blue Marine are one of the best fish places in Sabbiadoro, if you ask me. But off season a picnic with prosciutto, mozarella, fresh bread and some wine on the beach will do, too!

I am sure I mentioned it about 20 times in my previous posts about Lignano, but my favourite restaurant there is still Sandrocchia ❤ From their tartares and crunchy focaccias to red prawns and burrata (!) pasta and mussels in wine sauce. Incredible! We chose it to celebrate Birthday of our beloved Anna when went there another time with the ladies; it also happens to be one of the restaurants open until really late (1 am), and their tiramisu is delivered straight from heaven.

In June parties are already starting, all restaurants open up, and the sea, as it’s not deep in that area, warms up very fast. So far June is my favourite time to visit. September is great, too, but it can occasionally get rainy, like 2 years ago. We came for the first time back then and still fell in love with the place. So much that we decided to stay. I’m really happy to have Lignano just 4,5 hrs drive away, get away for long weekends there, be so close to my parents, pine forests which I could ride with a bicycle for hours; tennis courts I am ready to hit at 7 am every day (and then polish with beers and croissants),warm silky sea and all those amazing foods. I’m super glad when friends come visit, too, so if you happen to stay in Lignano – give me a note 😉

There’s a lot to do in the area, from foie gras farms in Palmanova and fishing markets in Aprilia Marittima to golf clubs, bicycle routes, cruises to Croatia and Slovenia and just exploring ancient villages filled with artefacts around. But for me the main attraction is still Venice.

I go to beautiful Venice every time I’m in Lignano, may it be even a 3-days stay. Never thought a place this touristy can get my heart. It’s always crowded, just live with that and search for secret routes, like I mastered after about 25 visits there. Yet, it is always so new and unexplored. Charming during any season and even weather, I’d say.

On my pre-last visit I was lucky to catch up with Polina there! We checked out Fondaco dei Tedeschi: a place with one of the best views, where you don’t even pay for entrance, but have to register for a time slot in advance, Isn’t this place just magical from any perspective???

Lignano, thanks for making my summer that I spend in Europe this year for the first time bearable! See you soon ❤


Leave a comment

#Lignano

Снимок экрана 2018-11-13 в 22.14.26Italy! I get so many emotions when think about this country. I’ve been there definitely more than 50 times and it simply doesn’t stop being exciting. My favorite city in Italy where I lived the longest is Florence. I also have a hashtag for Milan, where I lived during my Bocconi program. Now I think it’s the time to create a new hashtag for the place that is becoming our usual summer destination, and will remain one for the years to come – Lignano.

I went to Lignano already 4 times this summer, whereas wrote only about the first trip. Catching up a bit, now after my last visit last week I can claim I love it during every season! May-June is already warm but the official season isn’t open until the end of June, so the town is waking up, beaches are being set up, restaurants wake up after winter break (which 99% of them have); there are almost no visitors yet, just some Austians who also want to get the first warm sunrays of the year.

The summer is quite crazy there. Crowds of people. parties every night and long queues to get into restaurants last until the end of September. On the last weekend of September restaurants close down and the town changes so much that it’s hard to recognize. Completely empty streets, one-two cars passing by during the day, yet everything neat and clean but quiet and empty – that’s quite an utopistic view. Some can feel a bit freaky walking the streets where you might not meet one person, but we loved it. The town is all yours! You can shamelessly look into the gardens. No idea how the municipality fights marauders because I didn’t see any police patrols, but it seemed very safe and we never heard of any incidents during winter time from the locals. The only problem can be finding a place to go to dinner, since there are just a few functioning. But we solved it by cooking ourselves: seafood is still the freshest! Out of the season it’s better to stay in Sabbiadoro though; Pineta is indeed abandoned. In November you can still sit outside and sip your Aperol watching the real locals walking the main pedestrian street – a luxury not to be found anywhere in Italy during summer!

I wrote a lot about food in Lignano and around; you can find some recommendations under the newly created hashtag. The most delicious place for me is still Sandrocchia; and Agosti has an awesome location and great seafood. Lobster pasta remains my dish-to-eat-as-many-times-as-possible-when-in-Lignano, and those two places make the best one!

Another awesome thing about Lignano is that you can travel to so many places from there, from Slovenia, Croatia and Austria 1 hour away by car, to traditional Italian jewels like Verona, Trieste and of course – Venice.

I never thought I would fall in love with Venice when visited it as a child and then came back few times as a tourist level “buy a carnival mask” with friends during our Italian holidays. We were always in such a rush because it takes quite long to reach San Marco from the train station or car parking lot. And I had a feeling showing people San Marco is an absolute must, so we never really had the time to explore Venice out of that Santa Lucia – San Marco route that is marked on the houses with arrows. Now Venice is a place where I drive from Lignano for lunch, where I walk slow, where I know how to take Vaporetto and how to use those confusing parking garages. I take a direction opposite from the marked route, find myself at amazing hidden inner yards with dead ends into water. And I simply love going there.

I really want to go to Burano island, but last week Venice was flooded and direct transportation line there was closed. A goal for the next visit – lunch on Burano!

Small towns of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia-Guilia are really undervalued. Cervignano and Pordenone taught us more about everyday life of Italians from non-touristic cities, and it’s so different from those in Rome or Milan! This is how long it takes to really know the country – years traveling between all kinds of daily routines.

I am glad this chapter of Italian days in my life has started. Lignano, see you soon!


2 Comments

Lignano vol. II

And we are in Lignano again! A small charming town in Friuli-Venezia Giulia we fell in love with last year. This time I drove from Vienna, which took me only 6 hours together with a stop at Wörthersee. A very comfortable and fast way, I couldn’t be more satisfied! Processed with VSCO with c1 presetSeeing the town during high season was a new experience. Last September everything was quite empty already, a lot of restaurants closed down, the streets were quiet. This time we caught the official opening of the season, which is every year a huge deal, with concerts, loud parties outside until late and people constantly arriving. It was wonderful, how Lignano woke up and started shining! IMG_1686Now let’s get to my favorite topic which becomes even more intense when I reach Italy: food!

During our stay, there was an Easy Fish Festival: streetfood markets serving anything from fish croquettes and ceviches to oysters and raw tuna; wine tasting areas, masterclasses, and a great vibe on Sabbiadoro coastline. I love such events! Food there is usually better than in the finest acknowledged restaurants, and one can learn so much.

Last year I already wrote about our favorite restaurants in Lignano. Brigantino, to my greatest regret, closed down. But we found a new great location outside of town which has amazing seafood and delivers a proper Italian gourmet experience: al Fiume Stella is a beautiful hidden place with a great view, romantic area and the freshest raw prawns. Ask chef to prepare a plate of raw seafood for your company – and you will squeal from pleasure. We as well entrusted the choice of primi piatti to the chef, getting a red prawn risotto and a crab pasta – two of my favorite seafoods, how could they have known 😉

In the town itself, there is also a trouvaille that I loved from the first evening on – Sandrocchia restaurant. Take a tuna steak! A very generous portion. Good pizzas, amazing cheap wines and sparkling wines (order by decanters!). Definitely a must-try. Don’t be scared by the waiting line outside, it moves fast and is worth it!

We went for Bidin (fancy gourmet) and la Botte (hugest portions in the world) again and had the same pleasant experience as last year. La Botte would probably become my all-time favorite if I lived in Lignano: not expensive, fast, delicious; you can feed the entire family with one dish.

Coming with a car was great because we got to explore the are a little bit more. Last year we rented a car for couple days to go to Venice and to Croatia, but having it parked downstairs the entire trip gives this wonderful freedom of going to another small town for lunch. We went for Grado and Marano.

Grado is quite a big town, but surprisingly not very touristic and rather an authentic one. A lot of elder people drinking vine from 10 a.m. on, narrow streets which have never been renovated, excavations with real artifacts sticking out on the main square, a lot of bicycles, small dogs and bakery shops. This is a town you expect to see somewhere in the depths of Tuscany, but not on the seaside which is usually all about beaches. Quite a nice surprise! Will definitely come back for a lunch here.

Marano Lagunare, on the contrary, is tiny. Local navigation has a lot of berths there; fishermen are to be seen everywhere. We drove up to the wild beach which could be a great escape from crowded expensive ones of Lignano and Bibione. I am sure one can buy the freshest fish and amazing products directly from farmers there. And where else do you see 7-year olds playing football on the main square? L’Italia vera!

We are planning to be back to Lignano more times this summer. Can’t wait ti see how it looks like at the peak of the season, play more tennis in local club, eat tartars followed by oily pasta dishes, then grab that ridiculously huge ice cream where you can put as many extras in as you want; have digestives at the local bar where we already run into people we know. Lignano is our place!


1 Comment

Lignano-Venezia-Istria-Palmanova

Снимок экрана 2018-07-10 в 23.48.25Where to go if you are on vacation in Lignano?

  • Venice.

The first most obvious choice. A one-hour drive, maybe a slight difficulty finding a parking spot at the city entrance – and the pearl of Italian history and culture is there to be explored and admired. I love Venice in summer, in winter, again in summer – doesn’t matter, it’s always gorgeous. In fact, if you open up my hashtag devoted to Italy, there might be even more posts about Venice than about Florence (for those who don’t know me long: Florence was my second home for some time and I left my heart there, so there is a lot I had to say about the city… but just maybe not enough words sometimes in the past). During our stay in Lignano, we used the chance and drove to Venice, of course. I loved it in September! Definitely less tourists than in summer on in February during the carnival; the weather was sunny and hot; restaurants don’t close down off season like on the seaside.

 

  • Croatia: Istria, Umag.

Croatia is so close to Friuli-Venezia Giulia that going there for some seafood is a must-do. The closest towns are Istria and Umag, but driving down for more really doesn’t take long. I already went to Krk and Kraljevica earlier this year, so we didn’t take a very long drive and stopped at Kempinski, Istria. It is a beautiful area. but I found it too cut off from civilization. Definitely a perfect spot for family vacation or a romantic trip for two, but not something for those who love active tourism an parties. But the food! Go for raw red prawns wherever, whenever!

  • Palmanova

The cool thing about this town is its shape: its perfectly symmetrical. Check it out! A pure pleasure to walk and a disaster to drive – all those gates through the former fortress walls are exactly the same! But the town is cool, very authentic. People also come there to buy foie gras.

Next time we will definitely continue exploring the area around Lignano! Yes, there will be another visit, I am sure! 😉


Leave a comment

Lignano

IMG_8533This is a very special post. It covers my first (and I am sure that more will follow) visit to a place that became special from the first days. Lignano is an Italian summer resort town on the Adriatic coast. I have been to this side couple times, but it couldn’t compare to Lignano! If I found myself there out of a sudden, I wouldn’t even guess that it’s Italy at all. No offense, Italy is the best country in the world for me, but Lignano is just very different from typical seaside resorts we are used to. Maybe I was so impressed because we went out of season, of course. Mid-September turned out to be just perfect. Yes, many restaurants and shops get closed for winter already; it rained few times, but it was a proper velvet season vacation.

Empty beaches with all facilities still available; no need to reserve a restaurant when the child is born to celebrate their 18th birthday there; empty sidewalks and bicycle ways (which we chose as main means of transportation even though we rented a car), pleasant deals in luxury hotels, etc. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The town itself is very neat and unbelievably green. We lived in Sabbiadoro district which looks more touristy and loud at night. It is separated from Pineta full of private houses rather than hotels by a beautiful forest. There are all kinds of sports facilities hidden in the green area, as well as a huge tennis club, two multiple yacht piers with oysters growing right on concrete docks. It’s a heaven on Earth. That rare case, when there is something to do for the young, the retired and the big families, too. Lignano is a miracle.

 

I could praise the place and its smart administration for long, but I am just impatient to switch to my favorite topics of all times: gastronomy. Italy is for eaters. Let me share some personal experience of my Eataly:

  • La Botte: the name means “barrel”, and having visited the place, I understand why. This is how you are gonna be feeling at the end. I have never in my life (and I ate a lot!) seen such huge portions. When you order a small portion of ravioli, you expect 3-5 pieces. Scroll down to food pics and check our small portions out. We were aware that the portions are quite big, but underestimated the scale because of relatively low prices. I honestly didn’t expect a bucket of pasta, good pasta, for 10ish euros. The thing is, everything is so delicious that you can’t part with the dish and give it away, doesn’t matter if you can’t breathe anymore. If you want to have simple but real tasty Italian food and stay on budget – visit La Botte and share one bucket portion with three friends.
  • Bidin: an elegant evening restaurant. Typical good Italian style of serving and design, wide wine choice, extended waiting time which makes the experience indeed special, too. Don’t come too hungry before the opening as we did, because the staff and the chef ain’t gonna hurry. The owner/manager was very attentive, though, and offered us a seat and drinks before the restaurant even opened. The food – excellent! Cold raw meat/seafood starters of excellent quality, proper Italian pastas of classic styles as well as with fresh seasonal seafoods. Very nice, definitely worth the price range.
  • Brigantino: a kind of place that I usually call “that local one”. Behind this I mean that the locals go there. Indeed, even during siesta, some people always sit outside chatting and will all get up to open up doors for the visitors, even if they are not the management and just happen to sit there with their buddies. An Italian place with some Austrian influence, everyone is speaking both languages (well, everyone in the region does, but the chef of a “una vera osteria italiana” is not gonna address his clients in German; there it doesn’t matter. Very cosy atmosphere, more of a family place than a posh date choice. I highly recommend beef tartar! They prepare it freshly the way you want right at your table, and it’s incredible!!! Everything else is very tasty, too, but the tartar just got our hearts. The staff is super nice and flexible: when we suddenly decided we want extra spaghetti aglio e olio as a side dish to the steak, but the meat was already done, our awesome waiter literally rushed to the kitchen and made sure we get spaghetti within 5 mins. We came back for that tartar 3 times, but on the third try the restaurant was already closed, I guess due to the end of the season. So, I have a reason to come back asap!
  • Sabbiadoro: probably the most “chic” restaurant of the resort. Haute cuisine in the flesh. Small portions of the things that one eats not to eat but to feel. The game of the tastes of everything I tried was inexpressible (is the word even in use?) but at the same time it wasn’t too much, if you know what I mean referring to gourmet. There are some presentations that sometimes simply don’t look edible, the taste doesn’t even matter that much then, if your mouth doesn’t water once you see the dish. Sabbiadoro restaurant is on point there. Raw seafoods plate, foie gras, slightly cooked scallops and red-prawn risotto were just as you can expect them in a restaurant of such class. What I didn’t like was the atmosphere. Completely empty and way too quiet I’d say. But I guess it must be like that just during the low season. Most of our dinner we were the only visitors to the place which makes me feel uncomfortable. All other places were semi-filled, even though Bidin is also quite price and situated far from tourists areas. I really hope that this one is full, loud and smelly of excellent food during the season!
  • Agosti: you can find this one in the very heart of the pedestrian area of Lignano Sabbiadoro district, which is usually not a good sign. For the first week, we avoided checking it out simply because we don’t trust such locations and go for the places where you have to jump over volcano and swim waters full of piranhas in order to get there. The more hidden – the more “local” is usually a rule with few exceptions. We gave it a try on one of last evenings, so good was the smell when we passed by daily. It was full, we hardly got a table despite it being end of September, so I guess I should recommend to reserve. We expected some simple but good seafood. However, what arrived to the table was quite a masterpiece! I always say that sauces and oils make the food. It just has to be fresh and with proper spices – then it’s already good food. Exactly the case: very fresh (something didn’t arrive on that day and the waitress honestly told us that it was available only frozen and we should better take the other one) and combined with proper breads and oils, side-dishes and sauces. I don’t really have more words to describe the food, we ate too much there to go into detail, can just say that it was an enjoyable experience.
  • Rueda Gaucha: last but not least which is worth mentioning. It’s a different type of a place, more Austian. A meat restaurant with several pasta dishes. There are Austrian speck-style starters and sausages for those who get tired of pastas, if it’s even possible. We hit it for proper steaks, they were expensive but extraordinary. I mean, I live in Austria, Austria knows good meat, it’s very accessible and the quality   can’t be doubted. But this is more of a usual steak because of the way it’s prepared, I think. No pans and grills in the kitchen. They throw your meat on the iron lattice right in front of a huge chimney of the main restaurant room. You watch the meat becoming your dinner. Definitely not a vegan kind of place. I don’t know if it’s firewood instead of gas or the meat is just very good, but all three kinds of steaks that we took were VERY good.

 

I must say that even though #italiansdoitbetter, there can always be disappointing dinner experiences everywhere, especially on popular resorts. Lignano was an exception: I didn’t have a single average meal in more than a week. This fact would already be enough for me to come back, but I fell in love with the town itself as well. Would be curious to see it during high season and then come back again when it gets empty.