My Life In Travel: Francesco da Mosto

'The first thing I do on arrival? Smoke a cigarette and drink an aperitivo'


First holiday memory?

Going to visit my grandparents in Palermo. We always went for the Christmas holidays; the journey was quite long so I missed school for an extra week, which I enjoyed. Passing through Naples was always an adventure in itself. In Sicily, it was a pleasure to find warm weather, and we ate fresh sea urchins on the beach at Mondello.



Best holiday?

Africa: I went on my own to Kenya and Tanzania in the 1980s. I made friends with some Italian doctors who took me on their rounds. It was fascinating to meet people in the villages and see how they lived. Then I met a Maasai and we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together. What an experience!



Favourite place in the British Isles?

My family and I often spend our summers in England or Scotland. We especially love North Devon and the wide sandy beach at Northam Burrows, beside Westward Ho!. The South West Coast Path passes near a tiny village called Welcombe, near the Cornish border, which is evocative of centuries gone by when the coast was the realm of pirates. I spent hours in Ronald Duncan's writing hut, waiting for a wreck. The English law that you can keep what you find is alluring.



What have you learnt from your travels?

As Victor Hugo wrote in Les Misérables: "To leave is like dying, but only to be reborn." Travelling is getting to know other people and other cultures, other ways of being and living, even entering into other people's lives. But it is important to do so with respect; the traveller is a guest, not the owner of the place he visits.



Ideal travelling companion?

When I'm travelling alone, whoever I meet along the way, even though it is sometimes nice to be in solitude and watch everything pass by, like in a film. But I also love going on holiday with my family, of course.



Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Not really any of them, but if forced to choose, I'd be an adrenalin junkie. I love diving, skiing, snowboarding, sailing – and one of these days I'd like to try kite-surfing.



Greatest travel luxury?

Not having to worry about time and taking life as it comes. In Africa, the buses come and go in their own time. For an African, as written by Karen Blixen in Out of Africa – there's nothing better than waiting for someone, since that time is a complete gift, almost out of one's own time. From the Africans, I learnt to think of time in a different way, but all too often I have to forget what I learnt.



Holiday reading?

Books and documents connected with whatever I'm currently working on. But also books, preferably not travel guides, that take me closer to the people of the place I'm visiting.



Where has seduced you?

I was overwhelmed by the desert in Namibia. I went there with my future wife, Jane. We were taken on a tiny plane to see the Himba tribe near the Skeleton Coast, in the north-east corner of the country, on the border with Angola. The sandy hills were covered with glistening semi-precious stones.



Better to travel or to arrive?

I'm always happy to return to Venice, but implicit in that statement is the necessity to leave Venice from time to time. Travelling is a strange sensation, like the character that Martin Sheen played in Apocalypse Now: when he was in the jungle he wanted to be home, but when he was at home, he couldn't wait to be in the jungle.



Worst travel experience?

When the children were tiny, we took them to Legoland near Windsor. On the way back, the scheduled bus never arrived and we thought we'd have to spend the night in the bus shelter or go back to Legoland.



Worst holiday?

There is no bad holiday, since I believe that, above all, a holiday is a state of mind. Maybe because of this, I anticipate holidays with an amount of pessimism – if all goes well, everything is gained, and if not, there's less disappointment.



Worst hotel?

It is a close call between a hostel in Tanzania and a hotel in central Milan, where I found that my assigned and pre-booked room was being used by someone else. I thought I was going to have to spend the night on the streets. I could have done it in Tanzania, but not in Milan.



Best hotel?

I was lucky enough to be invited to L'Albereta hotel in Franciacorta, the sparkling wine-making region of Lombardy, in northern Italy. One of Italy's most interesting and fabulous chefs, Gualtiero Marchesi, is in charge of the restaurant, and there is a French spa in which the starry lights in the ceiling of the hammam slowly change colour.



Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

Scuba-diving anywhere in the world. I was recently taken to see a shipwreck, which was enthralling. I love diving, it takes me to another world where words are almost nonexistent: sometimes our eyes are the only means of expression.



Best meal abroad?

While sailing in the Mediterranean last summer, I loved the octopus salad made in the Greek tavernas: the best was in the port of Naxos in the Cyclades. I also had a delicious kebab in Bursa, Turkey, where iskender kebabs were invented.



First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Smoke a cigarette, drink the local aperitivo, and think, but not too much – otherwise I'd get tired!



Dream trip?

I would love to go on safari with my children in Africa, and see the wild animals together in the savannah.



Favourite city?

I can't help myself from saying Venice.



Where next?

To our island in the Venice lagoon, where I love working on things in the hut, like installing solar panels or mending furniture. Everything (except the solar-energy circuit) is salvaged.



'Francesco's Kitchen: An Intimate Guide to the Authentic Flavours of Venice', by Francesco da Mosto, is published by Ebury Press, £25

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to full-blooded vitriol, no one on social media attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable