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Trip Report A Walk in Tuscany, New Places to Discover, & A Life Time of memories

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It starts with a spark,
The spark becomes a dream.

Then with focus and a little
serendipity the dream becomes reality.

I know this cocktail,
it's one that gives me
a life well lived
~standing in front of breathless wonders~

This spark comes
on an ordinary day while eating,
mindlessly thumbing thru
a Budget Travel magazine,
my eyes rest upon
Two sisters, their Mother
walking the white ribbon roads
of Tuscany.

No cars, traveling only by feet
with plenty of nature and at the end of each day
good food, drink and cheer.

that instant, sitting at my table,
began the foaming up of a dream and
the questions that would not lie still began.


Could I do this?
Could I find someone to do it with?
& finally
How can I NOT do this?

How can I not say yes to standing in front of breathless wonder?



So an adventure is made up.
The planning nearly as fun as and much longer than the journey.



Eventually this adventure becomes;
Myself and 2 companions
would fly to Rome,
immediately take a train to
Orvieto for 3 nights to get over jet lag.

Train to Siena for an overnight before we
begin the walking tour for 8 days,
with www.girosole.com


Then on to new discoveries;
Florence for 5 days,
4 days in Switzerland to visit
a hometown friend who lives there now;
and finishing with a quick layover in London,
with just enough time to get a taste of the city.

  • Report Abuse

    Continuing with the adventure, and forgot to mention I will post pictures on my blog,
    www.themidlifeadventuress.com


    ARRIVAL IN ROME


    We must look as though we are missing something.

    Which must be why strange men, speaking a language foreign to my ear keep coming up to us.

    With one and two word sentences I respond.
    No-no Taxi, Grazie- ATM?
    And I follow one…to another circle of men…no, this is not what I want.

    And then off we go to an ATM but wait...this does not look like what I need.
    I think there is a surcharge for exchange at this ATM, but I am not sure? I am not sure of anything right about now except that I don’t want to follow strange men anywhere, anymore-Bye bye-Grazie, Grazie.

    This happens in the span of a few minutes, but it also happened to me last time I landed at FCO.

    Exhaustion and Excitement all at the same time.

    As it was last time, this time it is the same; a minor detail not researched in advance…where to find an ATM.

    Note to self- research where the ATMs are before you land in a foreign airport!

    It’s a minor mess up of not knowing where the ATM is because if I keep walking towards the glass doors there should be someone holding up a card with my name on the other side.

    And there is…Yippee.

    I reserved a shuttle before I left home with ROME SHUTTLE LIMOUSINE-
    www.romeshuttlelimousine.com

    After nearly 24 hours and too many time zones to count flying in a plane from Hawaii to get to Rome, this is the best option for us, 45 euro to take us to the Termini Rail station from FCO.

    Stress free arrivals and departures is my goal and where I will splurge-taxis or shuttles, to get me to and from airports to wherever I am staying-the cost is so worth it to me.

    Our excitement overtakes as we see the sights of Rome on the drive to the Termini- look there at that building with the beautiful dome, and look is that the coliseum;

    as we stare out the window and ignore the driver- did he really just gave a woman pushing a baby stroller that hand gesture as she starts to walk where he wants to go, and did she give it right back to him with a few choice words as she cuts across lanes of traffic not caring about the chaos she is causing.

    Arriving at the station we head straight to the Kiosk to buy a train ticket and get some Euros from the ATM.

    The purchase of the train tickets to Orvieto is easy, but the ATM, this simple transaction that I do countless times in my life at home and even abroad, is more than it seems I can accomplish right now.

    Exhaustion set back in.

    We decide to wait. We really don’t need money right now.

    After all, we will be in Orvieto in about 1 ½ hours, we can get money there, which should feel more calm and safe than in the train station where we are feeling unsure in doing things that we normally don’t think twice about doing.

    But, while waiting for our train we decide we need something to drink. So we have a plan, which I like/need.

    Two of us will stay by the luggage and G will go off to just get a small amount from the ATM so that we can buy a fresh juice smoothie from the little place that does not take credit cards.
    Why we decide it took two people to guard our little bundle of carry on only luggage and send one person, who has never been to Europe, off to do this challenging task of getting money out of a machine is beyond me.

    Today I now see the flaw in this logic and can only chock it up to foggy thinking after flying ½ way around the world.

    Off she goes and soon comes back her tale that she went to the woman at the glass booth, not the ATM as we had planned for her to do and she gave her this much in dollars and she only got this much back. Do we think that’s right?

    Ah well…when we are thinking straight it will all make sense.
    But right now we have money to go get our juice and start the drama of waiting for our platform to be announced.

    So here is my question to the schedulers of trains in Europe,
    Why do they wait so long to post the platform for each train?
    Do they really not know which track until 10 minutes before the train is scheduled to pull in?
    Or do they just like to build suspense & drama?
    Which now begins for us.

    So many questions to ask in our heads again and again as we stand with others in front of the big board.

    Are we reading the ticket right, why is it not showing on the board yet, it is gonna show-right? And will we have enough time to get on board when it does finally show? … until finally we can let our breath out & say out loud there it is-that’s it right? That’s our platform and when we all agree…the dash to the platform begins.

    And my next question I think as I am situated in my seat…why, if you are traveling on a first class ticket your car is the one that is furthest down the platform?
    Shouldn’t it be the opposite?



    A few take aways from our arrival in a foreign country;
    either bring a little bit of money of that country with you or research at home exactly where to get it.

    But the biggest take away, because you can’t plan for everything is

    Go with the flow-Let it be.

    I will need this sage advice more than once on this adventure.

  • Report Abuse

    They wait to announce in case something goes wrong on the line and they have to make a change. You'll know because everyone will "tut" grab their bags and head off to another patform, either helping the infirm or pushing them out of the way.

    On for the ride. :-)

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    After a delay in getting the photos up on my blog

    www.themidlifeadventuress.com

    I am happy to say the photos are up &
    I am continuing on with this trip report-

    The gentleman at the exit of that train station
    with the big smile
    is our hostess’s father in law, Luca,
    who does not speak much English,
    But with body language
    we understand everything he is telling us.

    And he understands
    the curvy one way streets of Orvieto where he is from.

    He parks, we get out of the car…and before us is the spectacular vista
    -our reason for choosing this B&B-
    we all go to the rim and take in the beauty.
    B&B Ripa is much better in person.

    www.ripamedici.it

    This apartment, on the edge of town is so very quiet at night, but only a short stroll away from the center of town.
    It is the perfect layout for two couples
    as each bedroom has its’ own bathroom,
    and lovely view…

    ~love that view~

    Once inside, the foyer is charming,
    a still life of a writers' desk with books, an old black typewriter, a coat stand
    which soon holds our scarves, hats
    & brings an inside smile to me each time I come in.

    The living room & dining room separate the two bedrooms
    and is a comfortable space to come together in.
    There is also a small kitchen with everything one should need to make a meal or just hold a few snacks and drinks.

    Straight ahead from the foyer is the room that G&T will call home for the next 3 days.

    I am across the living room in my own beautiful blue room.

    With its own beautiful view.

    Sabrina, our hostess, will not return home
    until tomorrow afternoon from her unavoidable business which keeps her in Rome.

    Luca, after a brief introduction to the apartment,
    spreads out maps on the dining room table & marks them up with the highlights of his town.

    We are given coupons for tomorrow mornings coffee & pastries at the Blue Bar café around the corner as Sabrina will not be home in time for breakfast at her home, but will call us to meet when she returns.

    We spend sometime in the apartment
    marveling where we are & how wonderful this apt is;
    Until we decide to go explore the town,
    get some money, and eat lunch
    before we sit down and never want to leave.
    So back on our feet...


    We head round the corner
    & find an ATM
    -which gives us money without any trouble-
    a small grocer
    & the studio of a young man
    who is carrying on the tradition of Salvatore Ferragamo by
    -making works of art which disguise themselves as shoes.

    We passed his studio daily & are so enamored by his workshop
    we can't help but go beyond peering in the window
    & step in to see his process and the tools of his creations close up.

    We find a restaurant filled with locals that we return to more than once in the coming days,
    - it is that good-
    Grandpa is the chef, daughter is the waitress & the patrons are from the neighborhood.
    The mural on the wall is not the most peaceful depiction of mankind,
    but I suppose that reflects the societies that Orvieto has seen.

    Trattoria la Grotta on Via Luca Signorelli 5.

    Each time we go I crave the same thing as my 1st meal here

    ~fresh tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms~

    This becomes my go to meal for the rest of the trip if I see it on the menu.

    Sometimes they bring it with parmigiano sometimes not.
    Either way, I am never disappointed.

    That first day we walk the town going in and out of shops.

    Before I was a shopper-
    a collector of things- souvenirs & stuff.
    And to a degree I still am.
    But now in much smaller doses and much smaller things.

    A bookmark, a pair of earnings
    -things easy to carry-
    - chocolate bonbons that I can consume before they have time to get heavy in my bag.

    While browsing on Via Duomo I head into Chocostore,
    if you know me you are not surprised by this,
    a store filled with chocolate and a bunch of cute things-

    I'm in.

    I find a wonderfully illustrated book about Pinocchio
    -who was born in this region-
    the young man shopkeeper tells me that it is his & his uncle’s book.


    Well now, I have to buy it.

    And the icing on the cake-
    would I like him to autograph it and go next door to his uncle’s shop and meet him too, he asked?

    Books are my downfall,
    my thing I should resist buying on a trip,

    -but can never.

    His uncle is the artist.
    I can see why I am drawn to his illustrations;
    they are colorful and happy, just as he is.

    I find that now,
    unlike before,
    shopping for me is a sort of like a cultural outing to see beautiful things I cannot see at home.

    But for me,
    just like at art museums,
    when I am done-I’m done.

    It becomes too much of being inside.

    Of being tempted by things I don’t need,
    don't fit in my life,
    nor don’t want to carry for the remainder of my journey.

    I need to move on to having experiences, not things.

    Like climbing up Torre del Moro;

    Huffing and puffing to get to the top, loosing layers as I climb higher.

    ~And then Magic~

    We reach the top at exactly 5pm.

    The bells begin to ring,
    pay attention,
    you are here now,
    being rewarded
    with this beautiful view of the Marble Duomo,
    the countryside
    & the clouds.

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    Dee_Dee-thanks and yes,for sure-experiences over things!

    ~Time in Orvieto Was Outstanding~

    Orvieto was the perfect choice for us to spend a few days in to get acclimated.
    -a perfect town to adjust to living at a slower speed
    - a place of transition from normal life.

    We began each day with coffee;
    The first day at Blue Bar Café.
    Via Garibaldi, 23

    Still a little ding-y from time travel I ask for a Marocchino.
    The woman behind the bar looks at me in total
    non-comprehension.
    I look back at her stunned.
    Really?
    I had studied this
    ...
    What to order,
    The order of ordering.

    But no... apparently, not enough, I did not get it right.

    The Italian man standing next to me, amused by my attempt, ordered for me then turned to me & said,
    Starbucks has not come to Orvieto
    -YET.
    We laugh.
    Hummmm?

    I swear that is what I ordered last time I was in Italy!

    -A brand new world is so challenging yet exciting to experience.

    Even if I don't get my normal coffee drink,
    I did get a coffee drink and pastry and
    I was sitting at a coffee bar in Orvieto,
    All was good...

    But I was reminded how good does not compare to great
    when we had our breakfast the next few mornings at Sabrina's home.

    Sabrina is one of those people who you instantly love.
    She is comfortable in her own skin and makes you feel like you have been friends forever.

    Mama Mia
    ~
    She is an Italian knockout in personality, looks and cuisine.

    Her home is as comfortable as she is,
    & the breakfasts she prepared for us was grand.

    One morning a frittata with the deliciousness of local vegetables sprinkled with the taste of olive oil.
    Another morning- farm fresh eggs-easy over.
    Oh and there was a potato puff thingy that was
    melt in your mouth delicious too.

    The table also held pastries, yogurts, fruit, cereals and juice.

    All this came out of her kitchen- her domain-no entry per favore.

    The cappuccinos flowed,
    The conversation was easy.
    We talked about Italy;
    About Orvieto & the change in how her children are growing up now compared to how she did.

    We talked about household tips & running a B&B,
    where to go in Orvieto and beyond.

    She made us laugh with her family stories,
    As all the while we ate her fabulous food laid out on a big dining table in her living room.

    Every second spent in her company was enjoyable.
    But things were awaiting us so it was necessary to tear ourselves away to go explore.
    ~
    While in Orvieto we visit the Duomo, admiring the stonework and tried to read the paintings-looking to understand the culture thru the Art.
    ~
    We ate bonbons
    -the joy of picking them by their colorful wrappings
    almost as good as the eating-

    We wandered the streets,
    We sat down and as the water & wine flowed
    hear stories of a long ago grandfather who brought water to his Italian village,
    and the grandmother who brought to America the food of her country to keep some of her homeland present within
    while passing on to the next generation of U.S. born the flavors of Italy.

    We made friends with the cats at sunset
    and watched the locals.

    One evening a lady catches my attention.
    She was absolutely theatrical in her being,
    from the yellow fur wrap against her red hair,
    down to her blossoming skirt,
    which lead my eye to her killer black high heels
    -which I admit, sparked a bit of shoe envy in me.
    I capture her picture and on the way back to the apartment I think about her.

    I think I know who she is.
    I Google her, and yes it was her

    ~Marlena De Blasi~
    The American woman who finds love with a Venetian, moves to Italy, finds a new life & writes about it.
    A thousand days in Venice & A thousand days in Tuscany are two of her books that I have read.

    I fell in love with Orvieto.
    But my favorite day here,
    about an hour bus ride away from Orvieto,

    Was the day I spent in Civita di Bagnoregio

    pictures to follow soon...

    www.themidlifeadventuress.com

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    ~A different type of travel tale~

    One pretty perfect day in
    in Civita di Bagnoregio



    When we are in our day to day life
    we often don’t get the chance for
    deep, full connections.

    We only have enough time for a Facebook Like
    Which is not bad,
    but always leaves me wanting more.

    This day in Civita di Bagnoregio
    I got to step into more.

    At breakfast G&T tell me,
    much to my chagrin,
    that they prefer to stay in Orvieto
    and not go by bus to Civita di Bagnoregio.

    If feels like I have been shot.
    For the next minutes I am simultaneously talking out loud about other things
    and at the same time,
    like someone who has just heard bad news,
    processing the shock to my heart
    and accepting the fact that
    if I am gonna experience this Breathless Wonder.
    I will need to go alone.

    I warp my head around this fact,
    and steel myself for doing it alone.
    I don’t know why this makes me inwardly nervous-
    I mean really,
    what could possibly happen to me?
    But that is what fear is-irrational.
    I know this about fear and me.

    I also know that
    while I prefer when in a foreign environment to be with people I know,
    I also know that I will keep trying until I feel comfortable traveling alone,
    so that I won't miss those moments that are magical;
    Those moments where I am standing in front of
    Breathless Wonder.

    G&T walk with me towards the part of town
    we have not been to yet and where I need to catch the bus.
    Until I actually buy the ticket I know
    I still have that opportunity to stay in my comfort zone
    and just wander with G&T
    -following wherever they may be-

    But I don’t want to do this.
    I have succumbed to fear before while traveling
    and it usually leads to disappointment.


    Once I buy the bus ticket I become brave.
    I become committed.
    Even when we cannot find where I should meet the bus, I release G&T to go off and start their day.
    I will be fine; I am close-
    I will find the bus stop.
    And I do,
    &
    I am more than fine.


    With one little word- Hi,
    I open myself up to having the most wonderful day.
    With a second Hi,
    we were a trio for the next 6 hours.
    Three women who spoke the same language, English,
    -and also that language of the heart.

    N is a retired documentary film maker, who loves gardening and adventure.
    M is my age,and like me,
    doing all she needs to do work wise to get the money to taveland shifting things in her life
    so that she is able to travel.

    They both are traveling on their own,
    M for about a month and N for a few months.

    Damn!
    I want to be brave too.
    I want to travel to a foreign country on my own
    AND like it.

    Truth is
    I don’t need the reassurance of knowing someone is beside me in a foreign place,
    as much as I need the comfort of someone who knows me there
    -If that makes sense?

    N, being a documentary film maker for the experiences,
    & not so much for the money
    has lead a very interesting life with lots of richness.
    M has that joie de vivre…
    that sprit,
    which allows her to wear multiple clothes at the same time
    -a dress, a skirt & pants

    - not because she is crazy
    but because she is cold
    and can bring us all to a real laugh-out-loud laughter about it.

    We fall easily in step with each other
    as we cross over to this magical mount
    which is accessible only by foot;

    Making it feel fairy-tale-secret-like.

    Civita di Bagnoregio is my kind of place.
    No Cars.
    Piazzas with doors, windows and flower boxes fill my vision.
    A snap shot at every look.


    At an outside table where we are the only late lunch patrons
    is where we continue our discussion of
    how at this time in our lives it is more important to feed your soul.


    Rosemary infused beans
    cooked in a hearth over an open fire
    along with bread charred in smoke
    and white wine
    fuels our talk about the feeling that time is flashing by
    and that things you used to easily carry
    no longer carry you.

    The why, what and how
    of shedding and stepping into our next chapter
    is something which carries our conversation at lunch.

    Later I am amazed that these two women,
    who I will never see again crossed my path,
    and that we all 3 feel the same way at this point in our lives.

    Does it take to getting to be a woman of a certain age
    before your burning desires become an undeniable driving force?
    And is it that we can say out loud, what we are holding inside,
    because we will never see each other again?
    I don’t know those answers,
    I only know that it was a fabulous day.

    We wander after lunch
    walking the village complete.


    On our way across the foot bridge back to the bus
    we cross paths with a couple that M had met earlier in her journey.
    They are staying in this village.

    I have this fantasy after visiting the old town of Viason de Romaine in Provence, France
    and now Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy
    to stay somewhere for a few weeks that is secluded,


    A town which allows only the littlest of cars
    or better yet,no cars.

    In a cottage with a beautiful garden and wide expansive vista.
    Reading and walking
    (& swimming if in summer).

    I will need to move this desire to the top of the list.

    I would not have changed a minute of my time in Orvieto,
    but as usual there are things left undone.

    Next time,
    I would make sure I got an email address of those I meet along the journey
    who I would like to stay in contact with

    -I did get N’s address,
    but M hopped off the bus before we got back to Orvieto.

    ~A true spontaneous gypsy soul that gal~


    I would also go to Bar Blue at night.

    And have a picnic on the low wall outside my apartment watching the light of the day fall over the valley before I fell into bed.

    Oh, and then there was the old world coffee bar attached to
    the Teatro Mancinelli @ Corso Cavour 122

    Sabrina told us this was the gathering place when she was growing up.

    Imagine that...

    It would be fabulous to see a show or concert at this old world theater
    and perhaps a drink in the bar to cap off the night.
    This time we just walked around looking at the frescos until we were told,
    no- no-no-
    it was closed.

    And we really wanted to check out Orvieto Underground
    @ Piazza Duomo 23,
    we missed the last tour by about a ½ hour.

    Oh well,
    another thing to add to next time...

    PS...
    photos on my blog @
    www.themidlifeadventuress.com

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    Enjoyed your story so far and hope you will continue. I went to Berlin, London and Paris over Christmas. Once again I was solo and had a great time. But I understand that it's nice to share a perfect moment with people you know. At the same time venturing out of your comfort zone makes you feel 10 feet tall :)
    My friend and I had planned to walk the last section of the Camino de Santiago this year. We've spoken about it for 2 years. But she kept avoiding the "when are we booking" conversation. In the end I went ahead and booked my trip. It was go it alone or not go at all.

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    Ozgirl07-
    Bravo for you being 10 feet tall and going for it alone.

    I just turned down house sitting in Switzerland for 3 weeks this summer because I couldn't find someone to go with me. ( I am still 5'5)

    "In the end you only regret the chances you didn't take"

    Turning down this essentially free trip to Switzerland I have a feeling is gonna be one of my big life's regrets.

    I have not been on Fodors for awhile as work project intruded on my "real" life.

    To get over my regret of not going to Switzerland I think I will finsh this trip report
    And in the process relive it.

    Ozgirl good on u for booking and actually going for the Camino-something I really want to do.
    I will watch for your trip report.

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