Stealing Summer from our South African mid-winter. A holiday in Italy.

My husband and I treated our entire family –  three children, their spouses and four grandchildren to a memorable fortnight in Italy. We started out with our younger son and his fiancée in Venice; staying in a penthouse apartment in Cannaregio overlooking the busy streets and canals.  We reveled in the food and culture - cramming loads of sightseeing into the long sunny summer days (getting ample walking exercise).

Tip: Don’t have a lot of luggage when holidaying in Venice! You have to drag your bags over cobbles, arched bridges, up and down narrow flights of stairs as well as in and out of water taxis!

We met up with the entire family at spectacular Lake Como, spending the week in two adjacent top floor apartments in picturesque Vareena, perched on the edge of the Lake and the busy road.  We even had our own little beach.

The second half of our vacation was on the magnificent sun-drenched island of Sardinia which is lapped by the azure Mediterranean Sea.  We rented a lovely home on the slopes of the outskirts of Cala Ganone. We all thoroughly enjoyed the long, hot mid-summer days.  Our grandchildren loved being able to swim in the sea by themselves without being knocked over by huge waves – which is what they’re used to when swimming in the Indian Ocean in South Africa. Our first full day was spent on a lovely boat which we hired for the day.  We were dropped off at a few of the beaches; and we also dived off the boat to swim in the turquoise, uber-clear, cool Mediterranean sea.  The cave-studded cliffs are spectacularly white. Most beaches are only accessible by boat or hiking across the mountains. The glare off the sea, the cliffs, the white beaches as well as the reflection off the white deck of the boat made for a day where we were exposed to incredible heat.

The sun is the Earth’s huge battery and nothing would exist on Earth without it.  Twenty to thirty minutes of daily exposure to sunlight is vital for our wellbeing and we can only tap into the value of what the sun delivers to us if it can actually reach our skin.  If the skin is covered up with sun creams and sun blocks then the natural process of vitamin D production in our bodies is prohibited. In addition, sunlight which is absorbed through the pupils of our eyes, ‘feeds’ the pineal gland – naturally regulating our sleep patterns (without lenses in front of our eyes). It’s vitally important to ‘tune in’ to the messages that your body is giving you.  When you feel really hot – get out of the sun!  We had a covered section at the stern of the boat to which we retreated in the heat of the day.  Wear a hat with an ample brim to shade your face, neck and shoulders.

I like to use coconut oil or a blend of coconut oil and cacao butter to protect my skin. Coconut oil has a natural sun protection factor in it.  It allows the beneficial rays of the sun through; its ‘breathable’ (you are still able to perspire naturally) and is super-nourishing for the skin.  I use the Superfoods Body Butter brand.  I reapplied the body butter after swimming.

Very importantly, you can also protect your skin from the inside out by choosing to eat orange-coloured, carotenoid-rich foods like oranges, carrots, mangos and apricots. 

Drinking good quality water is also vital for hydration on a hot day!

I stuck to my coconut oil regime as my skin protection for our whole holiday.  I developed a lovely tan and didn’t have any sunburn at all.

We all have wonderful memories of this amazing family holiday!