S: Italy Trip March 2011
BC: Arrivederci Italy
FC: Our Trip to Italy with Tina and Bill March 9th - March 23rd 2011
1: Ciao Italy | Cortona, Florence, Pisa, Chieti, Vatican City, Siena, Loro Ciuffenna, Pacentro, Civitella del Tronto | Rome, Sulmona, Capistrano, Lucca, Campli,
2: Cathy Nicolas 5 South Grandview Dr. Latham, NY 12110 | We arrived in Italy at 7:30 am and picked up our rental car. Driving through Rome to our hotel was an EXPERIENCE! Roman drivers are crazy! We dropped off our luggage and then walked around. Pizza for dinner and then to bed early! | Thursday- Day 1 - Rome | Hotel de Petris - 2 nights
3: Trevi Fountain | Rome | Rome
4: Our first Italian meal, salads and sandwiches YUMMY !! | Our favorite little shop around the corner from our hotel
5: Roman Forum | Kara Nicolas 5 South Grandview Latham, NY 12110 | Here we are at the Forum, the center of political, judicial & commercial life in ancient Rome. The Colosseum was Rome's greatest amphitheater. commissioned by Vespasian in 72 AD and built on the grounds of Nero's palace. It has 80 arched entrances and held 55,000 spectators.
6: Spreading of the Roman Empire | The Spread of the Roman Empire | All around Rome
7: Vatican City and St. Peter's Cathedral | Friday - Day 2 - Rome
8: St. Peter's Cathedral
9: Sistine Chapel, Museum, and Vatican City
10: A great dinner . Lots of; laughs, great food, wine, & limoncello
11: Saturday - Day 3 We drove from Rome to la Ferriera. It is situated on the banks of a small river that passes through the medieval village of Loro Ciuffenna. We stayed here for a week and traveled to different areas in Tuscany every day. | In the 1700's the inn was used as an iron works making such things as spades and ploughs. In 1875 a wealthy family took over the mill and started to make flour there. At the end of the 1800's the building was sold to a town family who added textile production, producing silk. In 1930 an electric turbine gave power to the entire town. In 1969 all manufacturing stopped and the property was converted to an inn.
13: Loro Ciuffenna is situated on the "Seven Bridges" road, at the foot of the right hand slope of the rocky bulk of the Pratomagno. The peaks of the mountains act as a shell, of which Lora is the pearl. Numerous courses of water run from the mountain peaks into the Arno: the most important is the Ciuffenna, that crosses the Loro river. Many mills used to be found along the river but today only two are still standing. In the area there are many chestnut trees, olive trees and vineyards.
14: Sunday - Day 4 - Pisa It was a rainy day today for our trip to Pisa which is in northern Tuscany. We spent our time enjoying the leaning tower, the Duomo and Baptistery. We did a little shopping and had lunch from a street vendor. | The Leaning Tower of Pisa was started in 1173, but was stopped when the ground began to subside, causing the tower to lean. It was finally finished in the 2nd half of the 14th century. Inside there are 294 steps to the top where Galileo carried out his famous experiments.
15: Inside the Baptistery | Inside the Duomo | Breakfast and dinner each day were at the condo. Breakfast was a typical European breakfast of fruits, pastries, yogurt, cereal, hard boiled eggs, juice and coffee. Dinners were four courses - appetizer, pasta, entree, and dessert. Most of the food was very good!
16: Monday - Day 5 Local farmer's market and Siena | Every Monday morning there is a market in the town. Since there are few stores in the area the market sells everything from fruits and vegetables to underwear and chain saws. We experienced a number of different markets as we visited different towns. | It took us a while to learn the street signs - this means no stopping. | Olives and cheese from the market - best olives EVER!! | Cathy and Nick enjoying vino, olives and cheese in the condo
17: Hi Mom - We went to Siena today.It is a classic medieval hill town known for its large fan-shaped piazza, Piazza del Campo, and summer horse race. The tall bell tower dominates the piazza. We had great pizza for lunch. Having lots of fun! | Genevieve Coghill Maple Drive Latham, NY 12110 | Siena
19: Manfred Nicolas 5 South Grandview Latham, NY 12110 | Tuesday - Day 6 Greve & Wine Tour After breakfast we learned that we were scheduled for an 11 am wine tour. We hopped in the car and drove to the Castle of Verrazzno in the Chianti region for a spectacular wine tour and tasting. | The Castle of Verrazzano is situated on the top of a splendid hill between Florence and Siena in the heart of the Chianti Classico region. It was originally an Etruscan settlement, then a Roman one, until becoming the property of the Verrazzano family in the 7th century. Giovanni Verrazzano was born here in 1485. The castle has an ancient tradition of winemaking dating as far back as 1170.
21: Greve is located in the middle of Florence province at what was the crossroads of an important axis in past times. It developed predominantly as a market town, with a large market being held in the unusual triangular piazza lined with porticoes.
22: Wednesday Day 7 - Florence We had another overcast day for our trip to Florence. After parking in a garage for 40 Euros we walked around the city and especially enjoyed the market & our Rick Steves podcast tours. | Ponte Vecchio Oldest and most famous bridge in Florence. Built in 1345, it was the only bridge in Florence not to be destroyed when the German army retreated in August 1944.
23: Michelangelo's David 17' marble statue carved between 1501-1504 | Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore | Palazzo Vecchio | Doors to the Battistero di San Giovanni | Campanile di Giotto
24: Thursday - Day 8 - Lucca Lucca is a walled city with one of the best-preserved walls in Italy. Atop the walls are walking paths which we took around the city. While in Lucca there was a big celebration of the "150 year anniversary of the Unification of Italy" We enjoyed a lunch of pizza and wine in a nice little restaurant. | The water was really rushing when we left today , too much rain!!
25: The doors in Italy are beautiful and most are VERY large!! Bill looks like a munchkin next to this one.
26: Finally some sunshine | Back at the La Ferriera
27: Cortona is the Tuscan hill town made famous by Francis Mayes in her book. It is surrounded by Etruscan walls, around 3000 years old, and retains much of its history through its architecture, layers of history built upon the Etruscan core. | Friday - Day 9 - Cortona and Farewell Dinner
29: Bill, Cathy, Nick and Paul & Louise Marahrens | Olives and wine at the top of the property ~ beautiful views!
30: We really loved our week at La Ferriera. The last night we had some new friends up to our place for a glass of wine before we went to our farewell dinner. Now we are off to Abruzzo for three days. Arrivederci La Ferriera!
31: Saturday - Day 10 Driving to Civitella del Tronto We left Loro Ciuffenna and drove from Tuscany to the region of Abruzzo. The scenery was the most beautiful I have ever seen. There were beautiful rolling hills filled with olive trees and vineyards that transitioned to majestic snow topped mountains. Spectacular! | We stopped in a little town for lunch and found a cute restaurant. The entire menu was in Italian and when we asked if anyone spoke English we got blank stares. We figured out the menu and wanted to order water with our meal so we pushed the appropriate phrase on the Droid for the waitress to listen to. She burst out laughing and said "you can order in English" and rushed off to get the water. She had spent some time in the States many years before. It was a great lunch! | We were so thankful we had spent the money to purchase maps for the GPS. She did well!
32: As we were driving Cathy looked up to another hill top city and exclaimed, "I am glad we are not staying there, it is too high up." Well, it turned out to be our next stop - Civitella del Tronto. It is an ancient medieval village, which developed around a Bourbon fortress built during the Spanish domination between 1564 & 1576. The town offers landscapes of unparalleled beauty among the North-Eastern edge of the Monti della Laga and Monti Gemelli, in the natural Reserve of the Gole del Salinello. The views from our balcony were breathtaking ~ reaching all the way to the Adriatic Sea.
34: Our second appetizer was the softest, juiciest, mozzarella covered with sliced truffles. I think it was the best thing I have ever eaten. | Before we left on our trip Tina saw a message about a special dinner at the hotel on Facebook. She translated the Italian and it sounded good. Everyone agreed we should do it so she wrote to Maurizio, at the hotel, and he made reservations.. We had a very special dinner with four courses and a different wine with each course. We all agreed this was the best meal we have ever eaten!
35: This pasta course was such a big deal it took 3 hours to assemble and all the Italians had their pictures taken with it. | Lamb with crunchy skin and potatoes | A type of sponge cake with a soft chocolate that melted in your mouth. | I guess this says it all! | Maurizio took great care of us, translating and treating us very well. He even gave us a very special after dinner drink. | Nick listened attentively for a good half hour to a history of the fort and town in Italian!!
36: Sunday - Day 11 Civitella, Campli and the Adriatic Sea | narrowest street in the world
37: Campli is a small town nestled in the heart of Teramo's hillside. Campli was inhabited in pre-Roman times and it reached its prime during the Middle Ages when it became a meeting place for painters and artists such as Giotto and Raffaello. | The Adriatic Sea - very rough! | another market
38: Monday - Day 12 Capestrano and Sulmona | Eric Nicolas 5 South Grandview Dr. Latham, NY 12110 97209 | Today was the best day of the trip for Bill We went to Capestrano where his grandfather was born. He was able to find someone who spoke English in the police station and he helped Bill copy census records that showed his great grandparent's family. We learned that Bill's grandfather father was a farmer and he probably worked in the vineyards.
39: The tranquil and delightful little town was once owned by the Medici family. The majestic Piccolomini Castle, with two cylindrical towers dominates the market square. Capestrano is the origin of the famous warrior statue, which was found by a farmer while working in his vineyard.
40: Parla inglese? No - but she keeps talking in Italian, very cute.
41: Sulmona Sulmona is one of the prettiest small cities in Abruzzo. It conserves much of its medieval past such as its Cathedral, its architecture, and a medieval gate and aqueduct. Sulmona is famous for its confetti candy, sugared almonds made into floral shapes. | Hotel Armando's | 21 arched medieval aqueduct built in 1256
42: Pacentro was a "Most Beautiful Villages in Italy" winner. It was first settled around the 8th century, and occupies a lovely setting at 2132 feet on the western hills of the Majella National Park. It has gained some celebrity as the hometown of Madonna's parents. | Today was our last day for sightseeing. In the morning we toured the little town of Pacentro - very cute. Then we thought we'd drive to a ski village. We traveled up, up , up the mountain and when the winding, steep, road was covered with snow we decided it wasn't safe and turned around. Instead we drove to Chieti to see the Capestrano Warrior in the museum there. Our GPS took us up the steepest, scariest, most winding street I have ever been on. Tomorrow we fly home. | Tuesday - Day 13 Pacentro, Chieti, and back to Roma
43: These stone shelters are scattered throughout the hills. They were built many years ago as places where shepherds could be protected from the weather. | As we drove up the steep and winding road, the temperature dropped to 1 degree C.
44: Chieti ~ A quick stop to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale to see the Capestrano Warrior and our last pizza and wine lunch at Casina dei Tigli
45: We had a wonderful two weeks in Italy with Tina and Bill. Putting nearly 2,000 miles on our rental car we saw much of Toscana, Umbria, and Abruzzo. Highlights were the hilltop towns, especially Civitella del Tront0 which I think is one of the most beautiful places. We also had our best meal of the entire trip there at the restaurant at Hotel Zunica. Our last night in Italy was spent at the Hilton Rome. All went well until we got to Newark and found our original flight was canceled and then due to weather we spent 10 hours waiting for our flight home. Ciao Italy | 50? tunnels