Ava Hallin, an events and hospitality student at Chico State University in California, is currently in Verona for the summer. Her love of travel brought her from Santa Cruz on the west coast and for the past two months she’s been in Italy, travelling to see the sights of Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Venice. Here she talks to City & Beach Magazine about her time in the country and what she’ll miss most when she leaves to return home later this month:

C&B: “Ava, how long have you been in Italy? You look completely at home here!”

AH: “I love to travel so I wanted the life experience of studying abroad; I’ve been in Italy for about two months now but unfortunately I’m leaving next week to go back home to California and I’m very sad about that. However, I’m meeting my family in Portugal for a quick vacation first!”

C&B: “What is it that you like about the country the most?”

AH: “That’s a tough question… the real question is: ‘What’s not to love about Italy?’ However, if I had to pick one thing I love most, it would be the people…they are so welcoming and friendly; even though my spoken Italian isn’t great, they were very patient with me. Everyone here is so loving and full of life! I’ve made a few friends here and I hope to stay in touch with them…”

C&B: “Which parts of Italy have you most enjoyed visiting while you’ve been in the country, and why?”

AH: “I’m beach girl through and through, so I was naturally drawn to the Amalfi coast; however, the ocean in Italy is much prettier than it is in California – it’s so blue and clear! The water is also much warmer, so it’s a lot more pleasant to swim in. My favourite places in Italy are Portofino and Cinque Terre (above left); Portofino is small so the only things to do are wander and enjoy the beautiful town or lay out by the beach. On the other hand, Cinque Terre is more lively; you can take a train to reach all of the five towns – I visited Monte Rossi and Riomaggiore. If you visit Cinque Terre, I highly recommend taking a boat tour; my friend and I had the best time (below left) – it was so beautiful and truly an unforgettable experience. Also, be sure to try the traditional pesto in Cinque Terre! The region is known for it’s pesto so I had to try it, of course; I ordered their classic pesto pasta (below centre) with green beans and potatoes!”

C&B: “Where did you stay and what did you do?”

AH: “I was travelling with friends and it was a challenge to find a place to stay in Portofino, so we decided to stay close by: Chiavari. I was actually really happy to stay there; it’s a very charming little town, and much less touristy. It’s just a short ten minute train ride to Santa Margherita, and then you take a quick bus ride from there to Portofino…”

My friends and I went out in Santa Margherita and we found the coolest club called ‘Covo-di Nord-Est’ (below); it’s built into a rock above the sea, with a gorgeous terrace…”

Ava Hallin

C&B: “The country as a whole is renowned for it’s fabulous cuisine; which is your favourite Italian meal?”

AH: “This is another tough question! You can’t really go wrong with food in Italy, everything I’ve tasted has been amazing. I really liked the food it Portofino because they had fresh seafood – my favorite! I ordered lemon risotto with prawns (below right), which was incredible. Also, anyone visiting must try the pesto! You can find the traditional dish ‘Trofi al Pesto’ (above, left) – that I mentioned before – pretty much anywhere on the Amalfi Coast! I found the best pesto pasta in Chiavari; it was the trofi pesto pasta with green beans and potato chunks, which is the classic dish there!”

C&B: “And which is your favourite Italian cocktail or wine?”

AH: “I know this is the typical answer, but I have to go with an Aperol spritz (above left)! It’s just so refreshing and I’m always craving it in the Italian heat… I also love a good Hugo spritz; I don’t know what I am going to do when I go back to the U.S. – I’m going to have to learn how to make these cocktails on my own!”


C&B: “Ava, what strikes you most about the architecture throughout the areas of Italy that you’ve visited, and Rome in particular?”

AH: “I love all of the classic designs – the columns, domes and arches; it’s cool to see the originals here because many buildings around the world are influenced by Italian architecture.  It’s so special to me to see these buildings that were built thousands of years ago; the details are so intricate too…everywhere you look, you see a beautiful detailed building or monument. Italy is really one of the most photogenic countries!”


C&B: “Venice is entirely unique and I know you visited there also – what did you enjoy most about that trip?”

AH: “I enjoyed getting lost in Venice; it’s actually hard not to get lost, but that’s all part of the fun as when you get lost, you always discover new things! When I was there I also visited the island of Murano, which I highly recommend. This community is known world-wide for the glass it produces (below right); I watched a glass blowing demonstration and it was fascinating – I also bought the most beautiful hand-blown shot glasses while I was there!”

*Images and video throughout by Ava Hallin and from the picture library of City & Beach Magazine

*For luxury travel around Italy, we suggest Tiffany Dowd via


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