You may not know, but Clare is a quarter Italian, with both grandparents on her mother’s side born in Italy. As with most Italian families, there are lots of cousins, and many are living in Italy.

Last time we visited Italy, we dropped in on some of them in the south, where the cousins were holidaying. We have come back to visit the same family again, this time at their home in the north of Italy.

The Italian cousins in 2005
The Italian cousins in 2005

They live in the small town of Cittadella, and with typical Italian hospitality have generously let us stay with them for a week.

Cittadella is situated close to Venice and Verona (where Romeo and Juliet was set). This town is definitely not on the tourist route, but it could be, which just shows the quality of attractions all over Italy.

Cittadella fortress wall

This town had the best preserved city walls in Italy, and possibly Europe. You can climb up and walk all the way around, taking in the amazing views, with historic information at some of the towers.

Exploring the swamp

Using the advice of our local guides, we visited what they called a swamp (we would call it wetlands) with lots of walking trails, and on another day visited a gorgeous river for some outdoor exploration, rock skimming and wading in the cool refreshing water.

Skipping stones at the river

The kids loved spending some time in nature, a good break from all the city tourist spots.

We made the most of being only one hour from Venice, and took a day trip there by train. You can read all about our day in Venice.

Aboard a gondola in Venice

On another day we visited Villa Contarini, a very grand venetian holiday house, with frescos, mosaics, and an amazing shell room with walls and the ceiling covered in shells of different shapes and sizes, creating beautiful patterns. There was also a lovely rustic garden including a lake, and some pet goats!

Villa Contarini

We spent a day in the nearby city of Padua. You can read about our scavenger hunt for graffiti by Kenny Random.

Graffiti Artist in Padua

We enjoyed having a base from which we explored the local area and also a little further afar.

It was also a great experience staying with locals, sharing some meals, and having a personal translator and language coach.

The Italian family

We would love to come back again, hopefully not in another 12 years though.

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