More Pictures

Few more that didn’t fit in my last post…

Lucca

Open window above us was our apartment

Duomo in Florence

Florence in the background

Chrissy and me in the Bobali gardens in Florence

Gusta Pizza, Florence

Chrissy was less than thrilled with the Hotel Alla Salute in Venice

Looking trendy with our Chacos in Venice

 

Gondola Ride!

Dinner of salami, baguette and cheese over looking the canal

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Travel Time

One week. That’s all it’s been since I last posted. Yet I feel like it could’ve been a month. Let me clarify, it’s not that the trip is dragging on, it’s that every hour we are seeing something completely new, each day we venture somewhere else. As I write I see vineyards rolling by, green shutters flung open as we whiz by small Italian towns on the way from Venice to Lake Como. Life is good and like this two-hour train ride, the view is changing fast and it’s hard to keep up.

Chrissy and me riding bikes on the walls around Lucca
In the spirit of trying–since my last post–here is where we have been (pay attention, you don’t want to miss the cities rolling by). We left the paradise of Positano, headed north to Lucca, then traveled back east to Florence, up to Venice and are now steaming ahead to Como. And I used to think that the three hour trip from Chapel Hill to the North Carolina coast was a busy travel day.

Each has been spellbinding in its own way. I loved Lucca for the same reason I love Carrboro. It’s off the beaten path, less touristy but packs an bigger punch of life. Great food, better people and a small town that is content in itself. Florence is what you’ve heard–beautiful, artsy and lots of tourists. Yet, the thriving study abroad programs in Florence make it seem like you’ve discovered your own college town abroad.

UNC t-shirt found at the Lions Fountain Irish Pub in Florence

The Venetian lifestyle happens at a slow pace of beautiful wooden boats, designer clothing, palatial hotels, blue skies and $10 cappuccinos. Needless to say, that’s not the life we lived–we stayed in a rundown hotel that was seemingly operated by the Russian mafia and thats claim to fame was that Allen Ginsberg might have stayed there (from the looks of it, they have not changed one thing since, evidenced by the carpets which appeared to have experienced one too many of those Beat generation parties). The day started off with an casual tornado (apparently we slept through it–ignorance is bliss they say) and continued with on-and-off rain. However, even through all this, I remain a fan. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to brag, “Hell yeah, I’ve seen the floating city, navigated the canals on a gondola and took touristy pictures in front of St. Mark’s square.”

The three of us in front of St. Mark’s Basilica

One last update as the train’s cogging has slowed and we lurch into Como. Coty, our long-lost friend, has returned! Her family generously put her back on a plane and told her to celebrate her grandmother through her love of travel. So for now, we’re doing just that…while trying to keep up with the changing outlooks and views as we speed through Italy!

Next up, we slow down (or do we?) and begin our work-stay at Tenuta Antica, a farm in northwestern Italy, for two weeks.

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Napoli, Sorrento and Positano

Here are pictures from our past few days…

Napoli
Naples = where pizza was first invented and boy, they sure still know how to make it
In front of Mt Vesuvius, bay of Naples
Sorrento sunset
View of Vesuvius from Sorrento
After dinner picture–can’t tell here but we has an unbelievable view
Market in Sorrento
Their famous lemons for limoncello
Chrissy helping our tour guide at Pompeii
Pompeii
Positano: heaven on earth. Best place we’ve been so far.
We went on a private tour of the Amalfi coastline…one of the prettiest things I’ve ever done and will probably go down as one of this trips highlights
In a grotto…
After swimming in the sea…cold but crystal clear turquoise water. Daddy I got you a rock.
Villa Palumbo
View from our room
That’s all for now! Heavy travel day tomorrow as we head to Lucca!

 

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Vatican City and Napoli

Friday was our biggest touring day yet as we visited Vatican City in the morning following by a walking tour that included the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. The Sistene Chapel was breathtaking and something you could stare at for days and still not see it all. My favorite, however, was St. Peter’s Basilica which was incredible. It was the biggest church I will probably ever seen with gold everything. It holds the graves of all the past popes and is full of amazing statues and art. It perfectly summed up the Roman grandeur we had been experiencing all week.

One of the men who works at the Hotel Lancelot gave us a route around Rome and told us interesting stories about each remaining site. Even more importantly, he gave us where to eat–San Crispino for the best gelato in Rome and then a small, quiet restaurant where I feasted on smoked swordfish for my antipasti and then finished with saltimbocca for my main coarse. Probably the best eating we did in Rome.

Trevi Fountain & throwing coins in to make a wish
Spanish Steps
Pantheon (above and below)
Coliseum at Night:

Today (Saturday) we hopped on a train to Naples which took about two hours and was a surprisingly simple process. We checked into our hostel–6 Small Rooms–where we have a private triple with huge ceilings and a balcony out over the street. It’s anything but small. Our room was not quite ready when we arrived so Coty treated us to her attempts to sing and play a guitar that was in the common room until another guest offered us some of the pasta he had just cooked–probably to make her stop singing. The rest of the day we walked around Naples eating pizza and checking out the more lively cultural scene this city offers. Although I will say if you get too far away from the good areas, the graffiti increases and you start to feel the stranger danger. We also did not spot a single other American or even Englishman only the street today. Also gone were the hoardes of Asian tourists with cameras ready at all times. Slightly rougher but definitely a more authentic picture of what Italy is really like.

Waiting for our room to be ready
The room

 

Tomorrow we set sail for Sorrento where we will reside for two nights in Hostel Seven. From there we hope to make day trips to Pompeii and Capri.

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Roman Holiday

Coming to Rome I heard that it was overrated, too touristy and not a place to spend much time. I disagree. Granted I’ve never been to any other italian town so I dont have much of a comparison but everything so far has been molte e enorme.

The first day we arrived after a long 8-hour flight (20-hour total travel time…we were tired to say the least). We finally arrived at our hotel–Casa Santa Pudenziana–a women-only convent where we stayed in a six-person room. It was quite the experience, especially when we were awoken in the morning by a screaming italian wanting to clean the room and for us to check out. Needless to say, we quickly obeyed her wishes.

The first day, we explored the weaving streets near our hotels, visited the beautiful church connected with the convent and toured the Santa Maria Maggiore church. Each was beautiful–almost Disney Epcot seeming in their perfection. Today, Thursday, we roamed the Roman ruins (say that five times fast). It was a lot of walking but completely worth it. Everything was bigger and more spectacular than you’re even thinking right now. As a fan of sports, the coliseum was especially breathtaking. It was gigantic, holding 75,000 during its prime–much bigger than even our beloved Dean Dome. Another fun fact of the day: the coliseum was once filled with water to reenact naval battles for show.

Tomorrow we turn Catholic as we visit the Vatican and Sistine Chapel then Saturday head south for a week in Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast!

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Welcome!

If you’re seeing this then you’ve made it to my blog! It’s a work in progress so hang with me while I try to figure this thing out…

To come…Europe Travel Plans!

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