The Mediterranean lifestyle is one of healthy food, plentiful sunshine and beautiful surroundings; the perfect relaxing life. Why not experience it for yourself on your 2011 holidays? After sampling this sublime way of living, don’t be surprised if you find yourself never wanting to leave again!
Here is a simple guide to experiencing the best of all things Mediterranean, whatever your price range:
Food: The Mediterranean diet is rich in oils, fish and vegetables and favours local ingredients, farmed and tended to by those who, through the generations, have learned the skills of their region. Inhabitants of the Med’s surrounding nations are renowned for their healthy diets and long lives, with many locals working past standard retirement age. Diet, along with an active lifestyle, is a key element of this good health.
Why not get an easyJet to Barcelona, one of Spain’s top cities with its excellent markets, and outstanding cuisine and culture. There are many restaurants that cater for all budgets, offering authentic, locally sourced Spanish cuisine in this metropolitan mecca.
Wine: The Mediterranean boasts an extensive history of wine production that is believed to date back as far as 6,000 BC. Whether it is a glass or Rioja over dinner or exploring one of the coastal vineyards, you can indulge with a whole host of different tastes and aromas.
When dining out, don’t be shy in asking staff for recommendations or for a sample of the locally-produced wine. Through these locally-sourced wines, you can experience a genuine taste of the Mediterranean, whilst supporting local vineyards; allowing this historical produce to live on.
The climate on the coastal areas of the Med, where most of the produce comes from, consists of dry, warm summers and mild, wet winters; providing the perfect climate for grape production. You can visit vineyards in a variety of ways including vineyard trekking and bicycle tours; many with the guidance of a local wine expert.
Markets: The Mediterranean market provides a further insight into the region’s culinary delights and the variety and quality of local produce used in restaurants, cafés and by residents. As you would expect, all the food is fresh and produced locally, so not only will you be experiencing a taste of authentic Spanish living but also supporting local farmers and producers.
Some of the top markets across the Mediterranean include the Vucciria of Palmero; the mecca of Sicilian cooking offering a lively and colourful atmosphere scattered across narrow streets. Fresh fish, mountains of olives and freshly-cooked bread will leave you salivating as you worm you way through the stalls.
One great tip is to arrive early for the best choice of food from the stalls, and don’t be afraid to haggle for a good price. Don’t be wary of trying something new and be sure to ask the market trader the best way of preparing and cooking these foods. They are not only traders but culinary experts, and most will be happy to offer friendly advice. You could even follow the locals and grab some market goodies before escaping off the tourist trail and enjoying your feast in a splendid residential square.
Culture: It is sometimes difficult to pull yourself away from the famous sights that many city breaks have to offer, but for a true look at the heart of any place it is wise to stray a little from the beaten track. Keep your eye on local information boards and any posters advertising entertainment for locals. Trips and tours are good value, especially when run by local companies, as not only are you supporting the community but it offers a real insight into local life.
Local festivals and celebrations are always a great way to absorb the culture. You can watch as locals take part in traditional and historical rituals. From the Tomatina tomato festival in Spain to the Tuscan Sun Festival in Italy; there is always something spectacular happening in each town, city and village, you need only look.