Monday, October 8, 2012

Venice - A City Like NO Other

So after our 2 hour break from eachother on the train due to the seat mix-up we were back together in the Magical City of Venice!
Stepping out of the train station is like being on another planet, there are no bikes, no cars, no buses but boats just squeezing past eachother write in front of you at the edge of the steps. I was so in awe I didn't even pick-up my camera or my iPhone. We got a water bus ticket for one hour and rode it with all our luggage to the Rialto Bridge. Our plan was to quickly drop off our bags and hop back on the bus to San Marcos Bridge and the main city square. But we had a little difficulty finding our hotel and lugging all our luggage through the narrow streets and by the time we had found it we were spent. So we took 30 minutes cooling off and gathering ourselves before going down to grab a bite to eat and a little vino bianco.
Again Maria has found us a lovely Bed & Brekfast in a great location just a building away from some very high end Hotels and a few blocks from Piazza St. Marco. The breakfast room overlooks the Ponte dei Fuseri bridge and our window is right over the main corridor so you can hear the Italian people going about there day.

Our Hotel straight ahead at the end of the corridor.

We walked around the rest of the evening and evening to Piazza San Marco then crossed over the Campiello Bridge and over to the Fondamenta Salute Point that provides great views of San Giorgio and Piazza San Marco.


Of course we couldn't do all this walking without a little treat to give us energy!


In the morning we woke up grabbed a quick breakfast at our B&B and then headed over the Rialto Bridge to check out the Fish Market.

We found a few more gifts to stuff into our bags (Not Fist) and then continued into St. Croce to see some artwork in the St Polo and the St. Maria Gloriosa del Frari Churches. We grabbed lunch in a great spot just over the bridge from St. Maria Gloriosa. On our walk back to the Rialto bridge we took a different route and stumbled upon a community yard sale.

 You know your typical yard sale with Morino Glass and keys from the 1800's. Maria found a blue and white mini vase made of Morino glass but I talked her out of it because of the difficulty bringing it home in one piece.

So we have now made it back to our hotel so Maria can take a 30 minute siesta and it give me time to catch up on the Blog and add photos for you all to see.
After Maria's re-charge we headed over to Piazza St Marco to purchase our water bus tickets to the airport the next morning. After the sad reality that we were leaving the next day we proceeded to get lost and away from the craziness of St Mark's. Down a few small alleys and you have done just that, found a bridge all our own with a gondola or taxi passing under now and then and a group crossing here and there.

Back strolling the streets it wasn't long before we saw some pizza in the window and we had to grab a seat and a bite. Now we were energized to continue shopping, and that's when we ran into the Family Maria made friends with on the train. I was finally introduced and we wished each other a safe trip home.
It was at this time Maria had brought up the vase at the market that she didn't buy so I gave in and we headed back over the Rialto bridge and hopped that the market would still be going on and the vase had not sold. Well as they say it was meant to be, Maria scored the vase and she is ecstatic now we hope we can keep it in one piece.

 Our big decision was if and where we should go out for dinner on our last night in Italy in the most romantic city? The IF was because we both had allergies hit us this day and we were a bit of a mess. We sucked it up and had an incredible dinner with a pre dinner treat of melon custard with ham in a shot glass. Back to the room to try and figure out how to pack up all our clothes, wine, olive oil, gifts and pastries Maria was dead set on bringing home. They actually survived the trip home and were a great treat this morning!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day through Tuscany into Florence

In Sienna I loved the Dumo. It is beautful just like the Dumo in florence, Breath taking.

That morning we packed  up and hit a large market hoping to score some deals. But this market turned out to be more for the locals and didn't have the deals on trinkets and Italy stuff we were looking to buy. But Maria remembered a pair of boots she had seen the night before and the stores were just opening so Maria has some new boots to kick around. We rushed back to our hotel to check out and it was back into the car and on to San Gamiano, with a couple of small stops on the way.
Our First stop was Monteriggioni, a Midevel town. It  had olive trees linning the outside walls and the walls surrounded the entire small town. It was a very small town but it gives the feel of how it would have been to walk around in the midievel times.

After this quick stop we continued on to the Manhatten of Tuscany, San Gimignano. This town is known for it's tall towers as the towns people would try to out do eachother and build the tallest tower in town. I think there is only 12 towers left but at it's peak this town had 70+ towers and the people could walk from tower to tower without going down to street level.


We got to town just in time to eat before the 2 hour lunch break where most of the shops and some restaurants close. This was probably our best meal of the trip so far and I will have to come back and post up the name. After lunch we walked the streets and hiked up to the top of town with incredible almost 360 degree views of the rolling Tuscan hills.

At this point getting into the car we toyed with the idea of driving out to Pisa before going into Florence. But we decided due to the time and the hassel of turning in the car we did not need to add this stress so it was onto Florence via the back roads thanks to our GPS we got for free for taking a dirty rental car. We dropped the car off on the out skirts of town and gathered all of our luggage and now wine bottles and hopped on a city bus to the center of town where our Bed & Breakfast was.

Another killer location for our room in Florence just half a block from this, the Duomo and that write up to come during our train ride to Venice tomorrow, so check back again!


Our Bed & Breakfast ended up being just half a block from the Duomo, one block from the high end retailers and a short walk to the two main plazas in town.

We started off our full day with a great breakfast and caffee' latte' at our B&B then walked across the river and up the hill to Michelangelo's park for an incredible look out over the entire city. After exploring a church and hill top cemetery we headed down the hill and back across the river where we found a German market setting up for lunch.

The location of our B&B allowed us to pop in to use the bathroom and freshen up without losing too much time. It was also helpful when we saw the line for the Gallery that holds the original David statue for us to stop by and have the care taker make a reservation for later in the day so we wouldn't wait as long. With the reservation our wait was about 15 min rather than over an hour! Along with the statue of David is about six other unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo. Those were interesting to see with just the front carved out and little detail to them. But the main attraction is the statue of David and although we had seen the two replicas outside this one is astounding and I would say its the greatest art piece I have ever seen and will probably ever see..... And there there was this, the fourth statue of David that we saw that day.

Next we popped over to the train station to purchase our tickets to Venice the next morning. We thought we were set until just a bit ago when we boarded the train only to find out our seats are in different cars so now I am sitting here writing this while Maria is two cars away either making a new Friend or sleeping. :p
Back to Florence, we had a delicious dinner last night down a small side street that we had seen the night before during our exploring. I had an incredible meat ravioli Chefs choice while Maria had a great four cheese Alfredo pasta and we split a healthy salad.
This morning we woke up early to see the Duomo without the huge crowds and visit a market to buy more gifts for our family and friends. Another great breakfast at our B&B then we grabbed our bags and walked about 8 blocks to to the train station and off to our last city Venice.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tuscany Day 2

This day in Tuscany we woke up after an easy night in the small town of Montalcino and did another quick loop of the town before hitting the Market for some snacks for the road trip.

On our way into town the day before we saw the town of Montepulciano and it looked incredible. So we decided to back track a little and visit it.

On our way we found a beautiful winery where we took photos, bought wine at a great price along with a few bottles of olive oil.

In Montepulciano we walked the steep streets from Church to Church until Siesta time when we hit the road again with our snacks from the grocery store.

We then continued on the back roads to Siena where we accidentally drove into the town walls and parked. Shortly after visiting the main Plaza we found out we will be ticketed so we reserved a hotel with parking and luckily got out of town before getting ticketed and came back into town at another entrance by our hotel. After cleaning up we walked the stores and then had a beautiful dinner in the greatest plaza in Italy.


Sienna ended up being a pleasant surprise for us although our pricey hotel was less then desirable. I would definitely come back for the horse race they have among the 17 neighborhoods for bragging rights.

Still another day in Northern Tuscany to come on our way to Florence, stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Back Online

In one of our most expensive hotels of the trip besides upcoming Venice we did not have WiFi. They had an old boat anchor of a Windows down in the hotel lobby that was frozen on the desktop. So we could not add photos or report but we will try to catch up tonight or tomorrow morning from Florence.

Just before entering Florence on a back road into town we saw a US Military cemetary but unfortunately just as we were parking they asked us to leave because it was closing time. I snapped a couple quick photos from the car. We wish we could have been 10 minutes earlier to pay our respects to the soldiers who paid the ultimate price on foreign soil for our Freedom and the Democracy of foreign citizens.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Driving throgh tuscany

Our last morning in Rome. We finally were able to eat on our balcony, yes no rain. We were out and about strolling Via del Corso, its the rodeo drive of Rome. We could only window shop because everything was closed untill who knows becasue the stores dont have times posted.  However we didnt have time to shop because today was the day to pick up the car becasue we were hitting the road through Tuscany! 

But first we needed to pack up and take a bus ride over to Termini Staion. Wow what a busy place. After trading our car twice due to lack of cleanliness we finally were given a complamentary GPS and a dirty car. :( Well the GPS was a heaven sent because it is crazy to drive down here, there are like 10 signs for a single pole and they expect for our eyeballs to read that FAST.

Our first stop was Orvieto. It sits on top of a huge hill. Amazing! To  get to the city  we took a tram up a steep hill.  After a short bus ride there was a beautiful church, impressive!! 


Then it was off the Astrada toll road and into Tuscany and the rolling hills, farm houses and happy sheep in our trusty little rental car.

Our last stop for the day was Montalcino where we got a room right at the end of the main street where we walked, sampled wine and grabbed dinner.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Less walking Mark demanded.....ya right! Rome is  a must walk town.  The coble streets and history everywhere you turn.  Today's day beginning was much slower. Woke up sore!  We finally got our selves together after I cooked breakfast!   Couldn't use our bacony to eat like planned,  due to RAIN. Yes rain, it began at 2 AM. Thunder, wind, and lightning!  
We finally  dragged our selves to get coffee att Sant' Eustachio Cafe, recomended by Mari, my friend (thanks Mari). How ever they are a coffee houae that caters to locas! We had a bit of trouble  ordering and yes we ordered the wrong drink !  I guess we are not  pros yet.  After the coffee issue we grabbed the wrong bus to the collosium.  OOPs.  We finally arrived with a bit more walking than expected.  The challenge of this part of the story was that it was sunny, HUMMID! It felt like 200degrees! At the collusimum there were like a milllion people already!  The good thing is that we had bought the "Roma Pass" which allowed us to cut the long line and get in at no extra charge than our pass :). 
The Colusium was impressive! 

After taking tons of pics of the colusium, we went to get our caffee latte' that we know we like. While having our coffee and decideing to get lunch as well it started raining again. We walked over to the Piazza del Campidoglio that is soo impressive.

After a little shopping we decided to drop off our gifts and freshen up from a sweat and rain soaked day. After a shower and kicking our feet up we walked in the RAIN to the Trevi Foutain, grabed a light dinner and walked down the Spanish Steps.


We even managed to  shop a bit MORE.
Again we ended the day beyond exausted.  Tomorrow the driving adventure begins, Mark is looking foward to it but first we are going to walk over to the Castle St Angelo over by the Vatican. We are Roman Walking Foolios.. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Exploring Rome! What a stroll...

It's Maria writing today cuz Mark is a bit Tired :) . We began our day @ 8 am. A good idea because the streets were empty. As we left our apartment we turned the corner and to our amazement there was the Pantheon!

After that we Headed to Piazza Navona, where we picked up some coffee and pastries and sat to enjoy the sights. We then walked to "Campo de Fiori" where there was an open Market! Lots of great smells of fresh fruits, oils, pasta, ex..... The streets easily lead us to the "Ghetto" where there were ruins and a church. It was still only 10ish, so we crossed the Tevere River and went to Trastevere, a working class neighborhood . Great narrow cobble stone streets and more impressive Fountains and churches.
We worked our way up to the Vaticano museum. Wow what a walk! We arrived to the museum along with tons of other people! Walking to see Sistine Chapel Ceiling was challenging, there were so many people and I almost had a melt down. Mark quickly helped me settle down and we got through it! :) After that we were pooped but still headed to Saint Pietro, this was our last sight of the day.

We arrived exhausted to our apartment! But before grabbing a bus to head home, we stopped by a market to grab refreshments!!! And food for breakfast tomorrow to enjoy on our balcony.
Ok yes Mark is alive, he said I made him walk 20 miles today. He and I are now contemplating on where we will go for dinner. Must we go out and walk..... Don't know if our feet will respond......

Friday, September 28, 2012

We have arrived to our Italy Apartment!

We landed safely met a lady from NY named Paula and let her take our driver after we were dropped off.
We just got the tour of our apartment but the best shot will come tomorrow morning from our fourth floor patio.
Here are some pics for now.