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Audley specialist Maria


Italy Specialist

Some of my fondest memories as a child come from being squashed into the back of a Peugeot 806 with my siblings and driving from London to Abruzzo. My parents always made a point of stopping along the way in cities or quaint towns, in part because the Sat Nav would overheat, and in part to imbed us with a thirst for culture and history.

I read languages and medieval history at university, always saving every penny to travel to the places I researched. My particular interest lies in medieval interfaith relations and shared places of worship across time, with the Mediterranean being abundantly rich in its layers of history.

I joined Audley's Europe team as an Italy specialist and had the opportunity to travel all around the country, getting to see some amazing cities, views and eat all the pasta imaginable.

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Audley specialist Maria

Start planning your trip to Italy with Maria

Q&A with Maria

Bologna, Bologna

What is the best local dish you have tasted

Trying actual ‘protected designation of origin’ balsamic vinegar changed my life. The city of Bologna is not as visited as other Italian cities, but the region of Emilia-Romagna has more DOP foods than any other region. The vinegar was truly liquid gold, a rich colour, deep in flavour, oaky and sweet. You could eat it by the spoonful it was that good.

Kings' Highway at Wadi Mujib

What's your most vivid travel moment?

My most vivid travel moment is getting stuck in the sand on the side of the Jordan Valley Highway and being dug out by the Jordanian army. We were so stressed but they were so caring and helpful. I eventually got home safe, with more Arabic practice under my belt and one hubcap bolt lighter.

The Great Mosque of Tlemcen, Algeria

Where would you love to travel next?

I would love to travel more around North Africa. I've been to Tunisia and absolutely loved the Mediterranean fusion and its rich cultural history. I love travelling to Italy, Spain and Portugal and getting to walk through cities that have passed through multiple North African dynasties, cultures, and religions. As a history buff my next stop is definitely the Fatimid and Almoravid architecture in Algeria.