Cyprus

I’ve been super busy going through the hundreds of snaps from our holiday and I finally put together a post capturing all our favourite pictures. We visited the stunningly beautiful island of Cyprus for 2 weeks dedicated to relaxation, sightseeing and lots of delicious food. In this article my passion for travel, photography and food combines, so I really hope you enjoy reading and getting a taste for the Cyprus we love.

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Cyprus is a family favourite holiday destination and before this last visit, we’d visited Cyprus twice before staying on different parts of the island. This year we stayed on the western side of the island in the Paphos district. As with all the holidays we go on we love to get away from the tourist trails and appreciate the hidden gems. Our villa was located in beautiful Argaka – a small village with stunning shorelines, beachside restaurants and local bakeries. The area where we were staying was within a short car journey from the lovely town of Polis, where we would drive most nights to get an ice cream to cool down in the evening heat – it’s actually a common thing for most Cypriots to head out for an evening ice cream or cake after dinner. I’ll pretty much take any excuse to eat ice cream or cake!

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We had many picturesque views from our villa

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Aphrodite’s Rock – also known as “Petra tou Romiou”. According to Greek mythology and local legends, this is the exact spot where Aphrodite – the Greek ggoddess of love and beauty rose from the waves and sea. The area is beautiful, with glistening water and stunning rocky views. 

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Views of the Arkamas from the beach shoreline in Argaka 

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Harbour views from Agio Georgios 

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I remembered from our last visit to Cyprus at Agio Georgios there were food and pottery stalls located just outside by the church. And as you can imagine, being a food blogger and loving collecting new bowls, plates and props it was great fun to look around and buy my favourite pieces from the stall. I love the hand painted pottery, it has a homely touch, looks very special and will make a beautiful addition to my kitchen.

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Cypriots absolutely adore their fresh fruit. In the supermarkets there is so many different, healthy fresh fruits to chose from. Watermelon is a particular favourite of ours. The funny thing is as we were driving through some of the towns they have trucks crammed full of watermelons and it’s not uncommon to see the odd melon or two fall off and crack open when it hits the road!

A number of years ago when we visited Zakynthos we dined at an amazing family run restaurant, Gallini’s. It was a family run business and the owners and staff were extremely welcoming and we became good friends. I remember every meal ended with a large platter of watermelon to refresh our palate after an evening of authentic Greek food. I didn’t realise until this visit to Cyprus that a traditional Cypriot summer snack is watermelon and halloumi cheese – sounds like a great combo, with the mix of sweetness and the salty cheese. Halloumi is a Cypriot speciality food and the best way to serve it is fried and then drizzled with fresh lemon and tzatziki!

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We enjoyed many local specialities everyday and I even had the chance to try some new foods like kattimeri (a Cypriot pancake/crepe) and tasted some old favourites like the local village bread – in Greece and Cyrpus they serve this style bread before a meal. As appealing as the local restaurants are serving delicious food, they tend to be very expensive, and every year we self cater and stay at our own villa so most nights we became quite creative with the food we cooked. I made quite a few savoury recipes from the W.J.B.N kitchen including this spaghetti with courgettesGreek-style orzo pasta salad and this linguine gamberi with the fresh local seafood.

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This dish is one of mum actually created. Sypros (the lovely villa owner) had many trees around the property with all homegrown and organic produce (avocado and mango trees) – I wish I could grow mangoes and avocados at home. He came round one day with homegrown tomatoes and apples, he had previously promised to bring round some avocados but I don’t think they were ripened enough. I’d already planned my mornings brekkie of avocado toast with chilli and lemon. However, both the apples and tomatoes were deliciously sweet and I love the fact they were homegrown too because organic produce always tastes better. The tomatoes were amazing stuffed with veggies and orzo for dinner – that is a very Greek dish!

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Mandarins are grown all over the island – you see them everywhere! At first we thought these were limes! 

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Greek salad – the perfect summer lunch served with pita bread. We ate Greek salad every day and enjoy it all the time at home. 

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Above and below are pictures from our visit to Paphos archaeological park at Kato Pafos

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Paphos Lighthouse 

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Views whilst driving through the Troodos Mountains (Troodos Massif) 

It’s amazing up in the Troodos Mountains. There is not a soul in sight, we drove up through the winding roads on our way to the Kykkos Monastery and on the way stopped off at the Mouffalon Enclosure. It’s free entry and if you’re lucky enough like we were you may get the chance to see the moufflon and their babies.

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Beautiful flowers at Kykkos Monastery (Panagia tou Kykko) 

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Sunset from our villa (picture cred to my sis!) – we watched the sunset every single night before heading out for our evening ice cream in Polis or Paphos

It wouldn’t be a summer holiday without ice cream and fro-yo! We enjoyed or fair share whilst away in Cyprus!

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A scoop of each cookies ‘n’ cream and stracchiatella – my favourite flavours! (my dad is great at photobombing – he did that in most my photos this year!) 

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The sorbets are amazing – my favourites were strawberry and lemon! 

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Mum modelling some gorgeous cherry frozen yogurt! Greek frozen yogurt is a must try! 

If you’re looking to find out more about Cyprus or about the places we visited, then be sure to visit the official website – argaka.org and find out more about Cyprus here on the official tourism website visitcyrpus.com 

jess

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Tuscany, Italy

I’ve just got back from 2 weeks holidaying in beautiful Tuscany, Italy! Here I thought I would share a little bit about my holiday and travels with some (or quite a few!) of my favourite pictures.

The last two weeks have been absolute bliss for me, I LOVE everything about Italy, it’s one of my top travel destinations- not only for the amazing food, but also the stunning scenery and cities. I’ve come home, with my case packed-full of delicious culinary treats (too many packets of pan di stelle- those biscotto are TOO addictive!!) and some kitchen untensil’s ready to get back to baking and sharing some amazing recipes for you all. So enjoy my photos guys- I’ve decided to take you through all the places we visited whilst on holiday!

You’re going to fall in LOVE with Italy and this beautiful region!

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Firenze (Florence) 

Florence is one of Italy’s most beautiful and stunning cities. Full of artwork, cathedrals, history and amazing food, it’s a city not to be missed on your Tuscan adventure.

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Italian flag flying high above the Arno river 

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Panino is one of my favourite foods to enjoy in Italy. I eat these all the time for lunch back at home- they’re so good especially filled with spicy and salty salami or some of the famous Porchetta (pronounced por’ketta). But I also love my panino filled with the best fresh, Italian mozzarella, sliced tomato and dried origano. So good to eat whilst enjoying the sights of Florence!

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The most amazing and colourful fresh fruit and vegetables on street corners 

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Siena

Siena, another one of the my favourite places to visit. We enjoyed some of the best Pizza we’d ever eaten whilst sitting in the famous Piazza del campo (square)- one of Europe’s greatest Medieval square’s. Though Florence supposedly makes the ‘best’ gelato in Tuscany, I thought the ice-creams we tried in Siena were very good competition- definitely worth the price! Full again of lots beautiful historic buildings- this city is another tourist paradise.

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Siena Duomo (Cathedral)

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(Not the best looking ice-cream, but strawberry (fragola) and chocolate is one of the best combo’s!)

Pisa 

We visited Pisa for my 18th birthday. I enjoyed a great day, packed full of sightseeing and happily devoured an amazingly good margherita pizza, which was HEAVEN! Though the weather wasn’t too great that day, the fact I got to eat pizza made up for that for sure! The evening was enjoyed back at our private villa with many glasses of proscecco!

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Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)

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As you can tell we ate quite a bit of pizza on this holiday! In this photo, me and my Sister ate classic Margherita, Mum enjoyed Marinara and my Dad ordered proscuitto e funghi. All were divine- but I couldn’t manage the whole thing! 

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Becky enjoying her Pizza!

Also, if you have room for ice-cream, do visit De’Colelli for amazing gelato!

San Gimignano 

We stayed just outside of the medieval town, San Gimignano. The town is lovely and idyllic and is home to one of the world’s best ice-cream shops, Gelateria Dondoli– of which we enjoyed our fair share (probably a little too many ice-creams per trip!). I definitely preferred the smaller towns, to the the more well-known or more visited cities, there was something about wandering off the beaten track or down quiet little streets that I love.

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View of San Gimigiano from St Lucia 

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The famous towers in San Gimignano 

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Gelato from Gelateria Dondoli (the gelato world champion)- my favourite flavours cioccolato and pistachio 

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Volterra 

A beautiful windy, hilltop town, well worth a visit if you’re in Tuscany. Explore wandering off to the many quiet streets. Best known for it’s alabaster (marble) and also the famous Twilight films (and of course Assassin’s Creed!!).

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Palazzo del Priori

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The coolest photo ever!

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I found a little taste of home in Volterra!

 

Monteriggioni  

A small, but pretty Medieval walled town. Views overlooking Siena and great place to indulge in some interesting history. Definitely worth a look!

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Piazza Roma 

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Beautiful sunflower fields on the car journey home 

Chianti (Radda & Castellina)

We visited these two small, quaint towns which lie within the famous Chianti region of Tuscany. I definitely recommend you visit the medieval town of Radda, the town itself is so quiet and peaceful, not your typical ‘touristy’ town, so perfect to walk around and get lost in your thoughts. Walking further through the narrow streets,  you will come across the amazingly stunning and peaceful Church of San Niccolò. The church is famous for it’s Romanesque origins and wooden crucifix from the 15th century. Also, I found lots of amazing pastas and foods whilst walking through Castellina- which reignited my passion for cooking again.

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Church of San Niccolò, Radda, Chianti

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Risotto ai funghi is a Tuscan classic 

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Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (garlic, oil and chilli flakes) seasonings. These are great tossed into fresh pasta for a filling dinner!

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Inspiring artwork in Castellina 

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Colle di Val d’Elsa 

This is the town we visited quite a lot and spent many evenings walking through the peaceful streets, completely away from the tourist trails. It was so beautiful, many amazing viewpoints and you actually get the chance to go down a lift and walk through the underground tunnels, then treat yourself to a gelato, sit by the fountain and watch the sun set. So cool and a perfect end to the day.

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Also, I like to thank the lovely Margherita who writes one of my favourite food blogs, La Petite Casserole. Margherita is from Florence, but currently lives in Montreal. She very kindly sent me an email sharing with me all the best places to eat in and around Tuscany, which I thought I would share with you all too as well.

Gelato: Rivareno ( borgo albizi)
Easy lunch: Macelleria Falorni ( avevo di San pierino)
Easy lunch or easy dinner: 5&5 ( piazza della Passera)
Mercato di San Lorenzo ( they’ve just renewed it, is full of small restaurants and local food productors)
For an aperitivo: Easy Living ( the open bar along Arno river, close to San Niccolo)
Dinner with amazing view (Fiesole): terrazza 45 or Pensione Bencistà!

Ristorante il Pozzo (Montereggioni)

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Thank you for reading…

I really hope to have inspired you to get out there and explore beautiful Toscana! I’m now very excited to get back in my own kitchen and cook lots of amazing dishes inspired by my time in Italy this year. From fresh pasta recipes, to the best homemade pizza and ice-cream- I’ve got a lot of recipes all lined up for you to enjoy in the coming weeks!

Grazie per la lettura!

jess