Exercise and eating when Traveling in Italy

Monterosso, Cinque Terra.

Our first child free day(s) since Harley…Having visited the Cinque Terra area briefly in 2007 for my then sporting career, it was a place I had always wanted to get back to and enjoy as a tourist. That happened recently as I went back there for 5 days of total relaxation and baby free peace.

Flying from Stockholm into Pisa and getting the train to Monterosso was surprisingly easier than I remember Italian travel been- great result! This was to be the first time Wilda and I had not been with Harley for all of his 9 months, we have never been without him for longer than 4-5 hours previously! Harley stayed Stockholm with his grandparents while we got to enjoy some lazy days by the beautiful beaches.

If you love your meats and easily accessible protein, Italy (well definitely Monterosso and surrounding areas) doesn’t make it easy for you. Everything is pastries, bread, and pasta. As delicious as they are, I can’t survive on focaccia and thin pizza for my every meal! The hotel was taunting me, leaving all of the breakfasts un eaten fresh croissants in a huge bowl next to my door every day,  I confess I ate at least 50 for the trip, yes, FIVE- ZERO. But, protein…. How did I survive?

For one thing, I wasn’t as active as I normally would be and 5 days wasn’t going to kill me so:

  1. I used IM (Intermittent fasting, which I have written a blog post about previously and you can see here)
  2. I loaded up on the boiled eggs at breakfast and snacked on them during the day
  3. I found the only semi-easy “quick” protein fix available- lightly fried calamari to snack on often. I say quickly because if you know Italy, nothing happens quickly, quickly was 20 mins!
  4. My protein intake would have been slightly lower than normal, but for 5 days, I wasn’t too worried.


Each morning Wilda and I would do a short Bodyweight Built HIIT circuit which would combine full body strength and cardio into one 30 minute session, the views for our morning workout spot were something you don’t often get to experience so the pain from the sessions was easily numbed!

We also did the hike from Monterosso to Venezza which is a beautifully scenic, steep, cliff-hugging walk that takes about 1.5 hours one way. The trekking path is pretty rugged and has some very steep stair climbs so it was definitely a workout! Spending an hour swimming in the beautiful little town of Venezza we set off on the return journey back to Monterosso.  It was the type of exercise where you know you’re exercising but the views and surroundings are so beautiful you don’t even think about the workout! I highly recommend doing it, just make sure you set off with some cash, its 7 euros per person for the return trip (you enter a national park, apparently)

I didn’t find any outdoor gyms but I did find a children’s swing set by the beach that I used for a few afternoon sessions of pull ups, chin ups and muscle ups in between getting yelled at by a grumpy Italian grandma for the possible chance of me “breaking” it, Don’t know how she thought I would break a 10 inch thick steel bar but maybe it was a compliment? 😉 I also found a reasonably steep hill where we did some hill sprints at, now I know I said I wasn’t as active as normal and I have probably made it sound like we did nothing but exercise and go on hikes, but the workouts were short and if I am going to be completely honest with you guys, not always at 100% intensity (we all do it sometimes). I swear the rest of the day was lying by the beach, not my favorite thing as I get bored and need to move, but it was a good chance to relax, read a book and listen to some cool podcasts.

I did treat myself to pizza, pasta and their famous red wine each night, oh, and ice cream too of course- lots of it! I wanted to enjoy myself and the different foods and really experience this opportunity, it’s not always about restricting yourself and not allowing yourself to eat what you want to eat, life and especially holidays are meant to be enjoyed. I managed to do this all without piling on the fat by training smart and planning ahead. Having a plan with anything sets you up for success and for all to (hopefully) run smoothly. The pizza and pasta were nice, but nothing amazingly special. Melbourne does have a huge Italian population so maybe I have been lucky with growing up and getting used to brilliant Italian food. The ice cream, however, was AMAZING! I don’t think I had a night where I didn’t go back twice, that’s something they did very well- and at less than half the price that it would cost in Australia, I had to eat a lot right?

Five days, like all holidays they flew by. The Cinque Terra region (translates to the 5 lands) is made up of 5 villages that hug steep cliff faces and are famous for their color homes that hang down the cliff edges almost right down to meet the water. I would highly recommend seeing this amazing region if the chance ever came by, don’t forget to pre plan your dieting habits and load up on protein haha!

Back to Stockholm to get in some solid training sessions and work off those croissants! One of the most important bits of advice that I can give you when it comes to enjoying yourself on holiday is to do just that- enjoy it! Eat some nice foods, experience different cultures and don’t get down on yourself for eating things you normally wouldn’t eat, if it’s not forever, don’t stress. I don’t regret indulging in Italy, I know what needs to be done to get into the shape I want to be in because I have a plan, and as I previously mentioned….. It all comes down to having a plan, do that and you can’t fail!