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Trip Report Davies' 2nd Italy Adventure - May 13, 2012 - July 19, 2012 - Revision 1

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Bill and I have been full-time RVer's for almost 5 years now. We left Southern California January 2012 to travel the USA for a couple of years. Once we reached Florida, I got the bright idea to store the truck and trailer and fly to Italy for two months. So we stored our truck and trailer in Orlando, FL and flew to Rome on 5/13/2012. We returned to Orlando on 7/18/2012. I posted pictures and comments just about every day on Facebook. After the trip, I extracted the data into a file. Here is the chronology 'as is'. I planned the trip and booked 16 B&B's. We rented a Fiat and drove the entire two months from place to place. The two months cost us $15,000.00 (not including airfare) and we wouldn't change a thing! There definitely will be a 'next time'.

5/11/2012
Lovely! I either have a stomach flu or something else. Playing the waiting game for the next couple of hours to see if I have to trot on over to urgent care....sigh. (turns out that I did go to urgent care and found out I had a bad case of diverticulitis). This was a result of an overdose of POPCORN! Pills in my purse, we're off to Italy on 5/13. Alas, I can have NO VINO for 10 days.
5/13
Today is THE day! We fly to JFK from Orlando around 11AM and then on to Rome, Italy. I'll be posting pix/status periodically. Ciao Bambino's! We boarded and were ready to be taken through the safety spiel and then an ‘announcement!’ "We're having a mechanical problem and need everyone to deplane". Now we're off the plane...waiting.
5/14
Finally arrived in Rome at 1:30PM Monday after a 3 hour delay at JFK Airport. We didn't sleep much on the stinky HOT plane but the agony was worth it. Bill is snoring and I'm about to crash (only had 6 hours sleep since the evening of 5/12). The Tuscan hills and valleys are lush and green. This B&B Casa Di Leo in Cortona, Italy is lovely and the host is very welcoming. I found them on booking.com. Now I wish we were staying at this B&B more than 3 nights. We had dinner in Cortona at a little pizza place.
5/16
Sleep glorious sleep! I got 8 solid hours last night and now have a good groggy feeling. Yesterday we drove to Castiglone Del Lago (picture attached) and Arezzo. They're both Tuscan walled cities. Dinner last night was at Ristorante Ambrosa in Cortona. Leo, who owns this B&B with his son, is one of the chefs. The Spinach Flan and the pasta with fresh anchovies were delish. We're leaving shortly to explore. We got a late start today. It actually rained a bit this A.M. That's okay. We were still tired so after breakfast we took a nap. We splurged and lunched in Cortona at Relais "Il Falconiere". Too gorgeous! I've been reading about this place for years in Frances Mayes' books. Bill had steak tartar, and ravioli. I had a platter of cheese and pici pasta while resting my feet on a little stool under the table. Our next stop was Frances Mayes' home (Bramasole). Sigh…she didn't invite me in. We then drove about 50 miles to Citta de Castello in the province of Perugia. On the way to and from we traveled through gorgeous scenery. We stopped by Borga di Vagli. Tomorrow, after 3 nights, we leave Cortona and head to Rimini for 5 nights.
5/19
We’re having a gelato in lovely San Marino Italy. WIFI has been iffy. Long drive from Cortona to Rimini two days ago. On our way to Rimini, we stopped at Sansepulcro for lunch (wonderful lentil and faro soup). When we checked in at Residence Lugano, we SLEPT for 12 hours. Between my antibiotics and Bill's sinus issue, jet lag, etc. etc., we can't get enough sleep. We dragged ourselves out of bed, had a terrific lunch at a place down the street and drove around Rimini's beach town. There are hundreds of hotels and cafes. Since it's in the 50's and breezy we didn't feel like getting into the water. Besides that, all of the private beaches make it inconvenient to just plop down on the beach. Instead, we went to our first Italian Super Market. It was like Disneyland for me! I went right back to our studio apartment and made a pot of red sauce and a side of grilled veggies. Next, it was laundry time. The complex has only one washing machine and one dryer. Too late, I found out that the dryer was not working. So we have pants, tops and undies hanging around the apartment. Today the weather was beautiful. We spent the whole day at the beautiful walled hill town of San Marino. We felt a significant earthquake at 4AM back in Rimini...rolling, jerky...but so far, we can't find anything on the internet. It didn't wake me because I wasn’t asleep. The Italian guys in the room next door were just finishing up their partying.
5/21
We drove to Castello Gradara (THE most charming small pristine walled city). We continued on to Pesaro. Tomorrow we leave Rimini and head to Bologna for 5 nights at Centro Turistico Citta di Bologna. It's in the country. We may not be online for a few days.
5/22
Our accommodation at Centro Turistico Citta di Bologna is wonderful! We're staying at a 5-star camping facility in a bungalow. Pristine room and grounds and the linens are NICE and are changed daily. There is a fridge so we eat breakfast in and our other meals out. When we arrived, I got into bed a slept. This was the last day of my antibiotics. I’m feeling much better.
5/23
We drove to Piazza Maggiore and visited the Museum of the History of Bologna and then had a terrific homey lunch.
5/24
We drove about 40 km to Castelfranco Emilio and other nearby cities. We also drove to Marandola (about km from North of Bologna. That city was hard hit by last week's earthquake. We saw a lot of falling brick and roped off areas. We had lunch while in the area and then visited San Prospero (lots of deserted charming buildings). Cherry (duroni) season has arrived so we bought giant ones and they are delish! One is not allowed to taste the fruit before purchasing. The fruits and vegies (and cookies) here are just too good!
5/25
We drove to Castel San Pietro Terme, Italy. Lovely little walled city. We bought local cheese, bread and pastries and had lunch in a park.
5/26
We returned to the Piazza Maggiore area of Bologna. We visited the Archaeological Museum of Bologna and then grabbed a huge piece of pizza. We encountered a wedding and a food/wine event. Like the locals, we sat on the steps in Piazza Maggiore people watching. Tomorrow we head to Venice for 4 nights.
5/27
Ciao from Venice! We arrived at San Marco Square at 3PM by water bus. We parked our rental car for the 4 nights we'll be here. No cars allowed on Vence! It's lovely just as I imagined only MORE of everything! It took us about an hour to find our hotel but even that was enjoyable! We had a drink in the Piazza San Marco accompanied by lovely music ...really FEELS like Italy. Later we ate Branzino (the whole fish was baked in a hard salt shell....looked like a mummy when it was brought to the table. (Ristorante La Nuova Grotta). Our hotel (Hotel Bel Sito e Berlno is charming....great detail in all ways. www.hotelbelsito.info
5/28
Lovely but tiring day. We hit the pavement at 9AM and didn't return to our room until 3PM! And we only sat down for a 45 min lunch. We took a long nap! We had dinner at a place along a canal and then returned to the hotel to play Spite and Malice. I won! Now it's just about time for bed. What sights and sounds. Love it all but we overdid the walking bit today. Tomorrow we'll return to the Piazza San Marco area and explore more in depth. We have tickets to a concert tomorrow for an evening of Vivaldi music. We'll reserve a gondola the night after tomorrow. It is WONDERFUL not having to hurry.
5/29
Yes we felt the earthquake this morning at 9AM. It was quite a shaker. We are fine. The center was again near Bologna...around Modena, etc. We got up early, had our free hotel breakfast which is plentiful and good! Then we went on another long trek, eventually ending up in Piazza San Marco. We toured Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) and The Basilica of San Marco. We walked through the Bridge of Sighs on our way to the prison area of Palazzo Ducale. This evening we attended a concert by Interpreti Veneziani. They played Vivaldi (heavenly!). www.interpretiveneziani.com
5/30
We rode a water bus to Murano…famous for glass pieces. I started my souvenir shopping. We had the BEST meal ever at Trattoria Al Corollo http://www.trattorialcorallo.com/ I raised my glass to my dad. (pasta with mussels and clams, fried squid and sardines...yum!) It would be his kind of place. When we returned to Venice, we hopped aboard a gondola and went for a smooth ride around the canals.
5/31
We left Venice around 11AM and are now in Verona at Park Hotel Elefante www.hotelelefante.it Quaint, clean, love it! Reminds of a place one would find in France. We will be here for 2 nights.
6/1
Verona is lovely. We liked it better than Bologna. I bought some gold-colored shoes. We found Giuletta's tomb and house. Bill was romantic and bought a lock. We wrote our name and date on it and locked it to the gate of locks in Giuletta's home entrance. It symbolizes eternal love. Yes ...awwwwwww......
http://www.comune.verona.it/turismo/Passeggiando/inglese/itineraryA/giulietta.htm
Then the GPS found a fantastic trattoria for us to lunch.http://www.facebook.com/pages/Trattoria-da-Nat/194690403880942
Reasonable, friendly, and delicious. And then it was time for practicalities....time to find a laundromat and it FINALLY was not a traumatic experience. Tomorrow we head to Medesano (medi-zano) near Parma for a couple of nights.
6/2
Medesano is a lovely town and the hotel is pretty nice but it’s located behind an abandoned hotel construction site. Unsightly! A Bill is having trouble with his netbook and until that is fixed, I can't easily upload pictures. In the meantime, I'll just take a few with my Android and post when I'm near a hot spot. Ciao!
6/3
Last night we followed a recommendation that turned into an adventure. While at a local pasticceria (pastry shop) in Medesano, we asked the owner about a suggestion for a place for dinner. Turns out that he wants to go to Seattle WA someday, and on, and on...and… finally he wrote down a place about 12 km away. Down the country road we drove looking for the little sign for La Collina Del Sole. Aha! We turned left and continued up a steep curvy one lane road for quite a distance. We almost gave up because we’d driven a distance and there it was! Are we happy we persisted and found this treasure. Dinner was terrific, the view amazing, friendly staff, the price reasonable. GO!!!!!!http://www.agriturismoparma-lacollinadelsole.it/
We're back at our hotel for a bit. We drove to the center of Parma today. It's okay. I prefer the smaller cities. Our hotel is about 20 km away and in a prettier area. On the way back we stopped in at a trattoria that was very busy. Dishes of food were flying out of the kitchen. We weren't starved but thought we'd have a lite bite. Bill wanted a dish of strawberries and cream and I wanted an antipasta. Well he ended up with a large bowl of fruit (delicious kiwi's, pineapple, strawberries, and cherries) and I was brought 3 small dishes of goodies. I thought "oh this is perfect...not too much"...THEN the waiter returned with 6 more small dishes! Then he brought thin pizza bread and later, lemoncello. All this for 24 Euro! No dinner tonight! After feasting, we stopped at Niceto, a neighboring town of Medesano. Staying in the rest of the evening....this is our 20th day in Italy; 44 more days to go. Loving every moment but right now we're tired. However, I think I have enough energy to beat Bill at Spite and Malice.
6/4
Even though we woke up to rain, we went out to explore the Parma area. First stop was to buy a hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano from Bertinelli Gianni E Nicola in Medesano. Then we decided to tour a couple of castles. First stop was The Sanvitale Castle of Fontanellato (16th century)http://www.castellidelducato.it/CastelliDelDucato/viewSingleCastle.action?typeReq=parmaCastlesW&id=42&codeLocale=UK&currField=homepage
and the second was in Salsomaggiore from the 11th century (no kidding!). That was The Scipione Castle of Marquis Pellavicino.http://www.castellidelducato.it/CastelliDelDucato/viewSingleCastle.action?typeReq=otherCastlesW&id=73&codeLocale=UK&currField=homepage
We also stopped for a light lunch (really) in Pellegrino Parmense. Mid-afternoon, the rain stopped and everything was clear as a bell. I loooooove these smaller towns. Salsomaggiore is absolutely gorgeous. Poppies everywhere!
6/5
What a busy day! The weather was warm and clear. I'm breaking each activity into a separate Facebook status because that's how much I have to post! First we drove 60 km to Piacenza. I like this city as much as Verona. Now usually I breeze into a cathedral, say "Beautiful" and exit. This cathedral wasn't highly decorated but it was huge and solid and very very old. Nearby in a grassy piazza, we chatted with Maria Grace, her friend Julio and her 2 year old grandson William. We managed to converse despite our language barriers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piacenza_Cathedral. The second item on our agenda
was to tour Castell'Arquato. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castell'Arquato. Again today, we had a private tour. This must be the perfect time to visit castles or not too many people are interested in them??? The town is pristine...reminds me a bit of San Gimignano (flower pots, well-kept structures). It's more affluent than most of these little cities. What we actually toured (basically climbed) was the Fortress and what a view! I'll post a video later. Then we drove 35 km from Castell'Arguato to Bardi. There we toured Fortezza di Bardi. This is the most rustic fortress we've seen. It's not all dusted off as most are. I loved the rustic look. It's complete with torture chambers ...that wasn't the highlight for me....kind of scary. But there were all kinds of mazes and stairwells…places to get lost. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardi,_Emilia-Romagna. The road to Bardi was winding and high in the mountains. The 25 km drive from Bardi back Medesano was therefore also just as curvy down the gorgeous mountain. You will see from the pics I post later that the mountains are lush with vegetation. Bill said he enjoyed driving but he's beat and is presently snoring. We stopped at a pizza place on the way home but were both going through the motions eating...tired and slap happy…and the pizza wasn’t great. Tomorrow we leave Medesano and head to Arliano near Lucca. We'll stay at Villa Del Seminario for 7 nights. http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/villa-del-seminario.en.html?aid=311088%3Blabel%3Dvilla-del-seminario-riH_5uV_9qOv42oPTwJbhAS82811241
63%3Bws%3D&gclid=CPf-vtf4t7ACFYQXzQod8Ck2Jw
There will be a lot of site seeing to do in that area (Pisa, Montacatini, perhaps Florence (though we might save that for when we are in the Chianti region), Cinque Terre , Portofino. and more.
6/6
We arrived in Arliano, Italy around 4PM.
6/7
We spent about an hour today in Pisa (about 20 km from our hotel in Arliano) taking the usual pics of holding up the leaning tower. I loved the Tower but wasn’t in love with the rest of the city. Then, because I was stupidly wearing my NEW Italian shoes, I developed blisters. This happened about the same time that we were going to have to feed the parking meter more coins so we decided to leave, buy some band-aids, and return in a couple of days. I changed shoes and we drove to Lido di Camaiore and had lunch at the Ligurian Sea. The water felt great on my feet. Tonight we drove 10 km to Lucca for dinner at Osteria Miranda. Tomorrow we plan to change rooms....we're upgrading only because we want a room with one of the new matresses. This one is lumpy! Other than that, our room is great and so is Villa Del Seminario. Until the 1980's it was a Catholic seminary. It and the grounds are pretty and peaceful.
6/8
We stayed around the hotel almost all day. Around 1:30PM we drove 19 km to have lunch at Antica Locanda di Sesto http://www.anticalocandadisesto.it/inglese/home.htm
Trip Advisor ranked it #1 as the best trattoria in Lucca. Bill chose the boar and I had the 'brick chicken'. Delicious! These late lunch/early dinners are really the way to go. Tomorrow we will drive to La Spezia, to catch the train to the Cinque Terra cities (on the Italian Riviera). We'll use a combination of travel options (train, ferry, and our feet) to get around. It will be another total adventure.
6/9
Wedding congrats to my niece Diana and her love Joe. They were married today in Cherry Valley Massachusetts. We wish you both only happiness and tons of patience to Joe. (Hey he is marrying a 'Maglietto' woman!). We would have been there if we weren't in Italy. The day Diana called to tell me about the wedding we were at the Houston airport purchasing our tickets to Rome! Change of plans. We didn't go to the Cinque Terra today. We'll wait until Monday to go when the weekend crowd is gone. Instead, we drove about 30 km to lovely Montecatini for lunch. On our return we stopped at Lucca. And, yay! I found a place to have a mani/pedi (not so easy). We also drove around Nozzano Castillo....tiny cute little town about 4 km from our hotel.
6/10
We drove to Marina di Pisa...needed some ocean air. The weather was gorgeous and there were lots of sunbathers lying on huge rocks (there is no sand). Lunch was just okay but only because I ordered poorly. After a long walk we drove to Livorno but wish we hadn't ....kind of a dirty city...mostly a harbor area. When we returned to the hotel, there was an elaborate children's birthday party starting on the hotel grounds. I'm talking champagne for the adults under umbrella'd tables, waiters, etc and in another garden area, the children are being entertained by hired sitters and a lot of activity. We may do Cinque Terra tomorrow.
6/11
What a fantastic day! We drove to La Spezia, parked, took the train to the first of the Cinque Terre...Riomaggiore. From there we walked to Manarola and had lunch at Marina Piccola. Then we took the train to Monterosso al Mare, then to Vernazza, then to Corniglia and finally returned to La Spezia around 10:15PM. It was exhausting but wonderful. Each town is very unique. The Italian Riveria is GORGEOUS. We must have climbed 1500 stairs and countless other steps and walkways.
6/12
I haven’t posted a quarter of what we take with both of our cameras. We were dead last night when we returned. We had only enough energy for a shower and to close our eyes. We'd hoped to take a ferry rather than the train to/from a couple of the cities but the water was too rough so the ferries didn't run. Once the train let us off in Riomaggiore, it was a reasonable walk to Manarola. However part of the path was closed to Corniglia. We took the train from Manarola to the most northern Cinque Terre city (Monterossa) and then worked our way south. Corniglia was the last town we visited. We stayed too late and almost missed the last train back. When we return to Italy, we will definitely spend more time in the Italian Riviera. http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/italy/cinqueterre.htm.
Tomorrow we leave Arliano and head to Piombino for 3 nights. Lazed around the hotel half the day and then drove into Pisa for lunch and to say farewell to The Leaning Tower of Pisa. We're in horse meat eating country...it is used in their Bolognese sauce, so I steered clear. We took a slow drive back to the hotel taking snapshots along the road. I feel bad that I couldn't hook up with my cousin Al Misso who lives in the Lucca area but I had no way to reach him. Tomorrow we leave Arliano and head to Piombino for 3 nights http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/28755. While there one of the things we plan to do is to take a ferry to Elba Island. Thus far all our lodging were booked through booking.com. This will be our first stay in a private home and booked through airbnb.com.
6/13
Nice drive to Piombino! We stopped in Volterra for lunch (yes..THE Volterra . Scenes from the Steph Meyers Twilight sagas were filmed here.
6/14
We're back at the B&B after a full day. Drove to a mini-Volterra type walled city called Campiglia Maritima, followed by a beach town called Follonica, followed by a quick wine tasting at L' Etrusco. We bought a bottle of 2007 Cab Sauvignon. Then we drove to Barratti and had lunch at a place overlooking the gulf. We could have been in Maui by the look of it! Next stop a little Etruscan city called Populonia where they are still doing archeological digs and finding items that are 600 BC. We visited their small museum. It is the only Etruscan town built by the sea. What a view! Finally, we drove to the active city of Piombino. This town too is right on the Ligurian Sea. And did I forget to tell you about the fields of sunflowers! If you are looking for the pictures from our first month in Italy, they are now in a separate photo album called 'Davies Italy-Month 1 of 2'. Since we are now officially in our 2nd month here, today's and pictures following will be in 'Davies-Italy-Month 2 of 2'.
6/15
Heading to the ferry...we'll spend the day on Elba Island. Bill and I sure know how to use every minute of a day. It took 30 min for the ferry to take us and our car to Elba Island. We drove 3/4 of the perimeter of Elba (about 150 km using the main road). There were beautiful ocean views, gorgeous beaches, a couple of walled cities http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elba. Many areas of Italy resemble California...especially Elba. We could have been driving around San Diego, Santa Barbara, PCH, Palos Verdes, Agoura Hills, etc., etc. It's all lovely. We'll return to California but are not sure to which of the 'Italy looking areas of CA' though. Tomorrow we leave Piombino and head to Cerveteri for two nights at a B&B.
6/16
We drove 200 km from Piombino to Cerveteri (Chur-vet-eri). Delia and Guiliano's B&B is lovely and they are so gracious. We wish we’d planned a longer stay. Delia designed this 13 year old spacious home. We couldn't have been more content here. They invited us for dinner both evenings. They said "no cost" and we said "no way" and presented them with a very nice tip. The veggies were picked from their garden each morning and everything...the crostata, the bread, jam, is home-made. I don't know when I've had a more delicious apricot. The first evening Silvia and Guiseppe, a couple in their 30's from Rome, also dined with us. She is a singer and he is a musician. Delia and Guiliano retired from Alitalia Airlines. Our almost non-existent Italian and their limited English didn't prove to be much of a problem.
6/17
It’s a lovely morning here in Cerveteri. It’s Father’s Day. Sending hugs to our son-in-laws. Delia served us a huge breakfast including a newly made crostata. We spent half the day at the Necropoli della Banditaccia walking around and on Etruscan tombs and toured the Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1158 There are thousands of tombs in the area and we saw plenty. That’s not something we get a chance to do ever! This second evening of dining at the B&B was even better than the first night. I watched and took pictures of Delia cooking dinner. She made stuffed zucchini flowers, fried fresh anchovies, spaghetti with chopped white fish, zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic. Then, there was a fresh-from-the-garden green salad. For dessert she brought out a dish of fresh fruit and a drink made from lemon sorbet, vodka, and prosecco. We were blown away by the whole experience. Later I taught Delia to play Spite and Malice. We found this B&B through www.airbnb.com and highly recommend it! Before we left Delia told me I was very “sympatico”. When we return to Italy, we will definitely come back to this B&B.
6/18
We are heading to Sorrento for 7 nights. Wifi has been limited here in Cerveteri. Today was our longest drive between lodgings...a little over 300 km. Am I glad we are not staying in Naples. Just driving through it we could see how congested it is. We will however, visit the town in a few days. The Cassiopea B&B in Preazzano (Sorrento) is also lovely. It's a remodeled 17th century building. The drive up to the B&B prepared us for the narrow winding roads we'll soon be taking to Positano on the Amalfi Coast. As soon as we arrived, the host brought out a huge tray of fruit, cheese, juice, walnuts, etc, etc. and sat down with a map to explain how to get everywhere we wanted to see during our week in the area. We found this B&B through www.venere.com. Tonight we walked to a local pizzeria in town. We had spaghetti vongole (clams) and had the BEST pesto and swordfish pizza. We were beginning to think Italy couldn't make a good pizza because we haven't been happy with the ones we've had until tonight.
6/19
We’re off to explore Sorrento...and to find a lavenderia (laundry).
6/20
Capri and Anacapri, Italy. Our adventures continue! Yes we arrived in Capri yesterday at 10:30AM but we didn't return to Sorrento last night because we MISSED THE BOAT! So we turned lemons into lemoncello, found a hotel, had a yummy dinner at Capricorno and hung around a piazza listening to fabulous music. The long story: Since we didn't want to ride on the typical tourist cattle boat, we hired a private boat for 4 hours so we could snorkle. When we returned, we took a bus to Anacapri and walked for about an hour. Then we got on the wrong return bus. Instead of it taking us to the marina, it took us to Capri (which is in between Anacapri (top of the island) and the marina), so we walked around Capri and then stopped for a glass of vino, chips, and olives and to gaze at the gorgeous view. At 7:15PM we decided we'd better head back to Sorrento so we checked the boat schedule. The last boat to Sorrento left at 6:30PM! Oh noooooo...We were stuck on Capri! We had a fabulous day (and night) on Capri. We snorkeled at four grottos. We saw the Blue Grotto but did not go in since we were able to see (and snorkle into) so many other grottos (plus EVERYONE told us waiting in the 'line' wasn't worth it for two minutes of viewing). After dinner at the active piazza, we met a couple; he is from Westlake Village and she is from San Diego. The piazza was alive with singing, dancing, and people enjoying a coffee or a wine. A funny while at Anacapri: I saw this cute little patio with a typical 'Nonna' sitting on her porch crocheting. I asked "Can I take a picture?" She said "Come come" and opened the gate and I'm thinking I wish she was my Nonna. Anyway, I'm getting ready for the photo shoot and she pulls out a cart and removes a cover. Turns out she's a vendor incognito selling crocheted baby hats and booties. Too funny! Yes, Diana I bought a pair of booties for your bambino!
6/21
Capri and Anacapri, Italy. This morning we beat the crowd and were the first on the chair lifts to Seggiovian Monte Solaro...spectacular views. We could point to everywhere we'd been the day before. When we came back 'down to earth', we rode the bus from Anacapri to Capri and took the Funicula (enclosed type of escalator/bus) down to the marina just in time for the 11:30AM boat to Sorrento. While waiting in line, we started talking to a couple from Liverpool. They were headed back to Sorrento after only two hours on Capri because they didn't think it had much to offer!!! Say what? Dinner tonight was at Preazzano, Italy at Frate Cosimo.
6/22
Well we were on our way to Pompei but we had to turn around because the "road was closed"....not sure why but we suspect road construction. We were informed that we could get to Pompei via Positano but decided to change our plans. Instead we took a ferry to Naples and spent the afternoon there. Sorrento and Naples are practically next door neighbors but as different from each other as New York City is from San Diego. Still Naples is interesting but I sure wouldn't want to wander around the back streets.
6/23
No road closure today so we drove to Pompei. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeii. We found out that yesterday's closure was due to a protest. We were in awe of Pompeii and spent almost four hours there. It is so interesting to see how people live/lived. But it was HOT and we were absolutely filthy when we returned to the B&B. We immediately took showers. I fell today in the street of huge cobblestones...those stones are slippery. I was only concerned about my camera. At this point I don't think I hurt myself. I'm sure my body will let me know by morning. Bill is resting and I just finished uploading pictures and just finished a load of wash. Thank you Cassiopea B&B for letting me use your wash machine. The clothes are now outside on a drying rack. Ahhhh laundry in Italy! This evening we will continue searching for "the best pizzeria in town". "It has no sign and is just down from the church, near the market...you may have to ask someone to point it out." Okay? OKAY!
6/24
Drove through Vico Equense. Crowded cities today; returned to the B&B for the rest of the day. Tomorrow we leave Preazzano (Sorrento) and head to Positano for four nights at Colle dell'ara B&B. http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/italy-positano-colle-dell-ara-details.html
6/25
We left Preazzano (Sorrento) and moved to Positano where we will be for four nights. It was only 10km but was an hour's drive. So we are driving waaaaaay up to find Colle Dell'Ara B&B and there, as informed, is the buzzer…installed on the side of the mountain. We're told someone will be down in 5 minutes. You will see from the pictures that our luggage was put into a metal basket on a cable and pulled up the mountain side to the B&B. We parked our car below and walked up the mountain on crude inconsistent steps and paths straight up to the B&B! This took about 15 minutes. We were out of breath but also breathless. This place is sooo worth it! The view of the city of Positano is the best! The gardens are lovely. There are 4 bedrooms and a huge living area. We took the bus down into town and spent a few hours having lunch and browsing. Around 6:30PM we returned to the B&B (via bus) and again climbed the path. We are getting fantastic exercise.
6/26
Today we drove from Positano along the Amalfi Coast and to Ravello for lunch. Our turn around point was Salerno. We have heard horror stories from several people about the Amalfi Coast but we have to say that it REALLY wasn't THAT bad. Now I can see if you are on a tour bus, it could be scary. There are railings all along the road. We felt entirely safe and in control. The city of Amalfi is a larger, busier version of Positano. It was okay but we preferred and absolutely loved Ravello. It's a lovely, peaceful city with beautiful gardens. We drove as far as Salerno before heading back to Positano. Salerno is a typical beach town with hundreds of apartment buildings...NOT at all what I expected. I wouldn't return there.
6/27
We spent the morning hanging out at the B&B...reading...napping. We'll walk down the hill to a trattoria in about 2 hours for lunch. A couple just left the B&B to get married! AND YEP they have to climb down (and up again) the 160 steps plus paths connecting those steps. We returned from lunch just before they returned. The B&B host was running around trying to put together a quick wedding celebration for the couple. I helped with the champagne and rose petals. The five of us toasted the newlyweds. The wine is poured generously and FREELY at this place. On another note, I find it interesting that even after a substantial lunch I can still crave tortilla chips. And, on another note, Bill and I agree that one would think in Italy you would smell olive oil and garlic around every corner....not the case at all. In fact we never smell anything cooking.
6/28
We visited Nocello which is a short distance up the road from our B&B. Unbelievable ocean views. Then then we took the bus down to the center of Positano for lunch and to further explore. No matter which way you glance it's amazing. The weather has been HOT and sticky. Tomorrow we leave Positano and drive about 140 km to Bovino in Puglia. So the Italians beat the Germans tonight at soccer. You should hear the celebration. The whole B&B was watching! All of Positano was watching! All of Italy was watching! The internet was clogged for EVER! And the honking and fireworks continue. We are very high up the mountain above the colorful main town of Positano...you can hear the celebration all the way up here.
6/29
It was a very long drive from Positano to Bovino. We were starving and found a farmhouse with a rusty sign indicating that it was a restaurant though it didn’t look like it was open. We parked, a barking dog came from somewhere, and a nonna-type lady came out of a small door in the back of the building. I asked “Mangia?” and she said “si, si”. A man unlocked the main door and turned on the light. The place was clean and charming. The nonna-type woman came in and asked “Risotto?” and we said “si”. Let me tell you, this was the BEST risotto we’d ever had! Then we ordered meat, wine, biscotti, etc, etc.

We are staying two nights at Casa Del Borgo in Bovino (Puglia) http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/la-casa-del-borgo.en.html. I knew the B&B was near the main piazza but didn't realize we'd be practically on top of it. Oh if only you could have been in the car as Bill drove up the narrow, cobbled streets to get to our B&B. These streets were not designed for cars…even a tiny Fiat. At a couple points we had to put in the side mirrors. The B&B was charming and the building was from some very old century that we haven't figured out yet. The B&B host took us on a tour of the town introducing us to people and setting us up for dinner. Bovino is darned OLD and they don't get many tourists but our B&B host is trying to get it going. I picked Bovino because it was near Accadia and Foggia (Grandfather Maglietto's area) and driveable to Potenza and San Fele (Grandmother Maglietto's area). I couldn't believe I was actually walking around San Fele and Accadia yesterday. San Fele is another of those walled cities very high on a mountain top, no one speaks English, and they also do not see many tourists. We met a Pasquale Papa (Grandma's maiden name was Papa) but since we couldn't communicate, I couldn't confirm him as a cousin. We really didn't have time to hunt down cemeteries. Accadia is a bit sad. It seems something happened in 2000 to cause the older section of the city to be evacuated. That area is a ghost town. We'll research. There were however, Italian flags flying everywhere in support of the Italian soccer team. ITALY'S SUPPORTING NATIONAL TEAM - TUTTA ITALIA FA IL TIFO PER LA NAZIONALE. Countless Italian flags can be seen outside every home, balcony or windows throughout Italy, supporting "gli Azzurri" for tomorrow Eurocup final. Did you take out your flag already? FORZA ITALIA!
7/1
The long drive from Bovino to Teramo took us along the Adriatic coastline which was lovely. We are staying one night at the Hotel Gran Sasso. The town was excited for the soccer game to begin. Businesses closed early. We finally found a sport’s bar and ordered an ‘interesting’ hamburger. The bar moved a large TV outside onto the piazza to watch the big game. Tomorrow we'll drive to Figline Valdarno in Toscana for 7 nights. While there, we will the Chianti Wine Country, Florence, and more hill towns.
7/2
On our way from Teramo to Figline Valdarno we stopped in Deruta for lunch and to shop. I was very excited about being there. I already own a few larger pieces of Deruta and now I've added about 6 smaller pieces. Lovely! We are staying 7 nights at Norcenni Girasole Club. We’ll just hang around the resort for a couple of days...laundry, swim, wine taste, etc. We might even relax.
7/4
We took the bus into Florence to spend the day. When we first arrived I thought "how are we going to see all of this city in one day.” By 5, Bill and I were done (babbling, complaining about sore ankles and knees...AND it was so blasted hot!). But, yes, we loved the city. We saw a lot but not all by far. There were several tour groups and we just didn't feel like standing in line. Actually we don't feel deprived by doing that. There were plenty of statues to go around. My favorite part of the city is Ponte Vecchio. We did tour Santa Maria Novella as well. The area around La Cupola Del Duomo and Piazza Della Signoria is simply amazing. Who knows...perhaps we'll return in a couple of days. Some of you have asked about the resort we are staying at in Figline Valdarno. First off the city is in Chianti country and very near Florence. Norcenni Girasole Club is a 'Camping Village and Villa Resort'. When I booked it, I didn't know about the camping part. We have a chalet. Hundreds of people are here staying in the tent area, the camper/trailer area, chalets of all sizes, apartments, and huge villas. It's like a Club Med. We're in the hills on a huge property. There are two pool areas that each have 4 pools some of which are basically 'water worlds'. There are 6 restaurants. There are events, bars, music, tennis courts, etc. I could go on and on. Evidently there are several of these type resorts all over Italy. http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/norcenni-girasole.en.html?aid=311984%3Blabel%3Dnorcenni-girasole-Ktylpj5n25dknJjKbgkxaAS4915214533%3Apl%3Ata%3Ap1%3Ap2%3Aac%3Aap1t1%3Aneg%3Bws%3D&gclid=CPv9-_PNgLECFQRJ3wodfCE7AQ
7/6
It was pool day yesterday. Wine tasting today! We drove through some of the 'Chianti Classico' Region and stopped at 5 wineries. The winery I was MOST looking forward to visiting was Ruffino because we have always loved their Chianti's. They are a giant here but do not have a tasting room! We bought a bottle of wine from two of the wineries" Castello Di Querceto Winery (Querceto means "Oak Forest" so of course we had to visit) and Casaloste Winery. No tasting fees, decent pours, individual attention...LOVE it! However, we still love our California wines best. At 8:30 tonight we attended a wine tasting and 'discussion' at the villa. There were 20 of us at a long table in the wine cellar. Il Colombaio di Cencio Winery talked about their winery in the Chianti Classico region and we tasted 3 of their wines. http://www.winesandwine.com/winery/il-colombaio-di-cencio-4803.html. Our table mates to our right were from Holland and to our left were from Ireland. After the tasting we all went upstairs to the patio for a couple of hours...under the stars...listening to a guitar player. He played Oh Solo Mia to me.
7/7
Relaxing day...slept in, missed breakfast (on purpose....getting kind of tired of "Italian breakfasts), made coffee, went to lunch overlooking one of the pools, played Spite and Malice (I won), came back to the room, I read, Bill played Sudoku, showered, and in a bit we will take the trolley to the upper area of this resort and have some dinner. Tomorrow should be more of the same but we will try to actually make it into the pool.
7/9
We arrived in Montepulciano around 10:30AM today and will be here at Albergo La Terrazza for 4 nights www.laterrazzadimontepulciano.it Eccentric host! Pristine lovely room right IN the walled city!!!
7/10
Bill was pampered at an old fashioned barbershop when we visited San Quirico D'Orcia. He looks dapper. Then we drove to the city of Montalcino for lunch. On the return to Montepulciano we stopped at St. Biago Church. We’d been in Tuscany in 2005 and remembered it well. Tomorrow at 11AM we'll visit a nearby spa and slip into their grotto for a couple of hours....healing power in them there waters. 7/11
Leaving now for The Moon Cave at Terme di Montepulciano Spa http://www.termedimontepulciano.it/
After our grotto soak at the spa, we drove to Monticchiello, then Pienza for lunch and then we returned to Montepulciano to continue our exploration of this fabulous city. Now it's dinner time....
I'm up too late....WIFI is a 'little' better here but still a struggle. I'm hoping we'll have a better connection/access when we are in Rome. We have tonight and tomorrow night here in Montepulciano and then 4 nights in Rome before flying back to Orlando on 7/17.

7/12
We spent most of the day in Cortona. Now we've come full circle. May 13th we arrived in Rome and drove directly to Cortona for 4 nights. Today is our last day in Tuscany so we spent it in Cortona, my favorite Tuscan city. Tomorrow we leave for Rome and will spend our last 4 nights there. When we returned late day to Montepulciano, we did one last load of laundry, and then found Tolosa Winery where they let us tour their wine cave/Etruscan tomb. It boggles my mind to know that I'm in a tomb that dates BC! Then we had a not so great dinner at Enoteca Bruschetteria. Chaos!
7/13
Arrived in Rome at Hotel Navona around 1PM. We turned in the rental car and will taxi it (and hoof it) our remaining days here.
7/14
Walked our feet off and now we are resting. We toured The Colosseum and surrounding area. Tonight we'll hang around The Spanish Steps area. We skipped dinner...too full from lunch but not too full for Badington's Tea Room. Then we walked up and down and around the Spanish Steps and then WALKED from there to the Trevi, then to Piazza Navona for a nightcap.
7/15
Rest time again after a busy afternoon. After breakfast in Campo Fiori, we walked along the Tiber River to St. Peter's Basilica. Then we had lunch and walked back towards our hotel. Of course we stopped along the way to oooh and awww at everything. No plans yet for this evening but I'm sure we'll come up with something.
7/16
I keep telling Bill that "today, we'll just take a short walk" but it never happens...we just keep going and going. Today we took a taxi to Piazza Del Popolo. Chiesa Di Santa Maria Del Popolo is gorgeous. It was built in the early 15th century and was renovated and rebuilt etc into the 17th centruy. Then we walked all (I mean ALL) around Villa Borghese. It reminded us of NY's Central Park and LA's Griffith Park with a bit of the Getty Museum all in one. After lunch at La Casina dell' Orologic, we walked to The Spanish Steps and by then our feet were killing us so we sat and had refreshments. Then we took a taxi to Piazza Navona to say farewell.
7/17
Our flight from Rome leaves at 3PM. We have connections at Heathrow in London and in New York before our final landing in Orlando on 7/18. Since this was basically a free flight for us (vouchers), we had to take what we could get. No problemo since we have all the time in the world! And you better believe if we have a chance to volunteer our seats, we definitely WILL. Anyway, Bill and I want to tell you all that it was a pleasure having you as travel mates during the two months we spent in Italy. You were really no trouble at all. In fact, when we return to the states to continue our USA traveling, we would like you to hitch a ride with us again.
7/18
Back in Orlando, just picked up the truck and we are now on our way to Tampa for a week with the Broes.
7/19
What a disorienting day...gotta get back in the swing of it. I booked RV parks through 8/8.. Bill and I went for a pedicure! It's wine time!

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