A Tour through Northern Italy

Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 12:39 PM
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A Tour through Northern Italy

This TR should probably be named “A Tour of the Churches of Northern Italy”!

I spent 4-1/2 weeks in September-October traveling around northern Italy. It was a wonderful trip! I visited the following cities/towns:

Milan
Como/Bellagio
Parma
Modena
Bologna
Ravenna
Ferrara
Verona
Vicenza
Padua
Venice

Flew into Milan and out of Venice. Got around using a rental car although this trip would have been perfectly suited for train travel.

What follows is basically my travel journal via emails to friends and family during my trip. They want to hear from me during my trips so they know I’m ok and all is well.

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...NpSno2bWszcDV3

If you click on the <- arrow on the left side of the page, a page will open with all this photos in a smaller size. You can click on any photo to enlarge it.


9/13/2023

Trip not off to a great start…airline broke a wheel on my suitcase between ILM and LGA and it won’t roll! AA at JFK can’t do anything, maybe Milan….

Sitting here SIPPING my $28 glass of wine!



9/16/2023

Hoping I’ve resolved my luggage issue. Outside wheel covering broke and was stuck between the wheel and the outside covering. So. I took a pair a scissors and dug it all out. Seems to be moving freely (while not on the ground!). Looks like another wheel may be beginning the same problem. Hope it all works out!

Been very busy! Walking lots and my hips are yelling… no, screaming at me! LOL!

So far have done the 4 routes of the Hop On Hop Off buses (4 of them) multiple times since they also get me close to other places I want to visit. So got my money there. My ticket ran out today but it may be worth considering buying it again!

Saw DaVinci’s The Last Supper yesterday. Stunning! Also toured the church it is located in. Supposed to be an UNESCO World Heritage site (in addition to TLS) but I didn’t think the church was all that.

Saw the Duomo, gorgeous from the outside but very gothic inside. Also, saw it’s museum which wasn’t my cup of tea. Gothic religious gargoyles, etc.

Walked along the Galleria Vittorio Emanuel, a high-end shopping arcade. Tons of people. Saw the mosaic bull on the floor whose private parts you’re supposed to spin on for good luck!

Today, took the last tour on the 4th line, saw DaVinci’s huge horse (really a replica built to his specs.) His original had been destroyed. Then went to the Castle which hold DaVinci’s last Pieta (unfinished, he was working on it at the time of his death).

And saw the Bosch Verticale Towers, three apartment towers edged by projecting concrete balconies covered top to bottom which 800 trees and 5000 shrubs!

Tomorrow, need to get a SIM card for my phone. Want to see the DaVinci Natl Science and Technology Museum and hopefully a tour of La Scala.



9/20/2023

So much to see, so little time!

After searching and searching, I finally found Leonardo’s Science and Technology Museum. Hop On Hop Off bus that I was on wasn’t going there due to street construction, of course they don’t tell you that kind of useful info! Luckily, I asked about the stop when I was getting on the bus! Told me to transfer to another bus and get off at the next stop which didn’t make sense since the bus I was on also made that stop! Well, got off and started searching and searching. As were others that I ran into apparently! After I passed the construction and saw a billboard of his Madonna and Child paint, I thought I must be on the right track! Yay!!! Well, NO!!!! I asked a young couple, they said they were searching for the same place. I didn’t have a SIM card yet but they did so I thought I’d follow them but they were headed in the direction that I’d just came from. I ended up turning around and when I spotted the construction, it finally registered… it must be over in that area somewhere! Duh! Found it, but it was the exit! LOL! Wasn’t laughing then. Had to go about 2 blocks further around the corner to get to the entrance! Not a tremendous amount of displays relating to Leonardo. I think his home in Avignon did a much better presentation.

Heading back, I visited the Basilica of Saint Ambrogio. Beautiful ancient church originally from the 4th century both inside and out. Frescoes and gorgeous mosaics from hundreds of years ago. Good stop.

Making my way back to the bus when it flew by me before I could find the stop! An hour wait for the next bus so I finally made a cafe stop and had a glass of vino bianco!

I had started the day with a visit to the castle which was impressive! Saw Leonardo’s last Pieta which is unfinished. He was working on it up until his death. Some other very nice pieces in their museum. And, wow, some of those painted ceilings were amazing. They had some kind of kids day going on in the courtyard with different activities, the kiddos were having fun!

Yesterday, I started out at San Satiro, a church built in the 800’s. Really nice altar, domes, and ceilings! Then went onto a museum that claimed to have the most paintings by DaVinci and others by Botticelli, Tintoretto, Titian, etc. I think I saw one painting by one of the grand masters! Never saw even one of the others! Then, I went into their crypt for a lackluster visit.

But, then onto my tour of La Scala! A security guard approached me as I was walking up and told me to follow him. He showed me a staircase of at least 4 levels of very steep steps! He must of smelled the panic on me and told me to follow him! LOL! Took me up an elevator, showed me the meeting point, took me to the top of that horrendous stairwell and had the man there check me in! LOL! Thank God for kind people in the world!!! The tour was great and the opera house is stunning! Got to sit in the “marriage” box while listening to the tour director. It’s a large box directly looking onto center stage. It used to be for wedding parties of some sort. Now, you have to know someone famous affiliated with the opera house to get into it… its seats are never for sale. They were setting up the stage for a performance of The Barber of Seville last night while we were on the tour.

Got caught in a couple of really heavy downpours while trying to get to my bus for the hotel. By the time the rain let up, I missed it and stood in a taxi line for over 1-1/2 hours!

Picked up a rental car today and drove to Lake Como. I’m staying in Como as I could not find a place in Bellagio or Varena for under $1000/night! Way out of my budget!
🤣. It’s a very nice small apt. Very clean with everything one or two people would need. It’s directly across the street from the lake.

I took a walk along the lake earlier. Very pretty! Sat down and had a couple glasses of vino and some chips. Wonderfully relaxing.

Currently doing laundry! Too bad the place doesn’t have a dryer!

I’m here for 3 nights.

Last edited by joannyc; Mar 23rd, 2024 at 12:49 PM.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 12:43 PM
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9/23/2023

Como was beautiful until the rain came! LOL! My second day called for 90% chance of rain so I decided to go to the Duomo instead of Bellagio. Came out of the Duomo, the sun was shining so I hightailed it over to the boat dock to buy tickets for Bellagio! Yay! Or so I thought, me and at least 1000 of my closest buddies were in the ticket line! By the time I got up to the window, I would have had less than a hour in Bellagio before having to come back, no brainer. On the slow boat (to China), it takes 2-1/2 hours from Como to Bellagio and the same back, no fast boats had tickets available. It didn’t rain at all that day!



Next day, 100% chance of rain! Still, stubborn as I can be, got to the boat dock and purchased the slow boat at 10:10 am departure. Started raining while in the ticket line, stopped sometime on our 2-1/2 hr. ride to Bellagio, but started pouring when we hit Bellagio! Of course! Met a nice group of people from Wisconsin on the boat. A married couple and a female friend/relative? We shared the same table for the trip.



Got to Bellagio in the pouring rain and walked around for a bit but decided to have lunch since I hadn’t eaten that day. Found a place towards the end of town and had a very good tagliatelle with roasted boar ragu and black truffles! Place was very busy. When I asked for my check, the waitress said she was sorry that she didn’t have time to talk to me as she likes to talk to travelers and find out about people, where they are from, why they are traveling, their life story, etc.! Sweet! Walked around some more before my boat left. Wanted to take the little site seeing train but worried I might miss my fast boat back to Como.



Next day, left Como in the rain, to travel to Parma. Arrived, found my parking garage, met Renato who showed me to my apt, all went well. He started taking my luggage up the ramp of the parking garage when some young guy ran down the ramp, grabbed it, and ran it up to the top and next door to my apt! Except that my canvas briefcase tore on both sides of the handle, guess I’ll be looking for a new one to come home although I think I have a ton of them in my apt! I’ll see what I can fit in my suitcase.



My apt is absolutely lovely! I love the wrap-around balcony! And everything else about this apt! Yesterday, was kind of a day of rest, I took that bottle of fizzy wine and sat on the balcony for a long time!!! LOL!!! Then, I walked around a bit. Later, had an amazing dinner! The food was so good I went back 2 nights later.



Today, did some laundry, had lunch… wow, what a sandwich… just ate the meat and veggies, not the huge roll! Not too many veggies have been consumed this trip! Then went to the church of St. John the Evangelist, the Baptistry, and finally after the wedding party left, the Duomo. The bride was from Iowa!!! LOL!!! She wanted a big ta do! She got it! Seems every trip I take, I run into a wedding at a church I want to see. I was actually in the church one time when the wedding party arrived, thought I better get out fast! LOL! Tonight, went to another restaurant near me. Not as good as last nights but OK. Got some more rain later in the day today, bummer. Bit, it didn’t last long, thanks to God!



Tomorrow, I’ll be seeing some more sites here in Parma. Then, Monday, I head to Modena. I bought Renato a bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as a thank you to give him when I collect my car. Seems he and his wife run (own?) the parking garage and he works with my host/hostess to get people to the apt.!





9/24/2023



I bought Renato a bottle of red wine, I saw him when I left the apt today… he was drinking white! Hopefully, it’s white in the early part of the day and red later on! LOL!!!





9/25/2023



I got pulled over by the Polizia today!



LOL!



They saw my license plate, I guess, when I was pulling out of the ticket booth going onto the autostrada. Asked to see my license and car papers. Gave them my license (not even my IDP!) and while I was looking for the rental papers, I heard the woman say to the man ”North Carolina”. She handed me back my license and told me everything is OK! LOL!!!!



Good thing, I was trying to think where I had the rental agreement, I didn’t remember them handing me one when I picked the car up. Then remembered I did get an email with the info in it!





9/26/2023



Renato and his wife really enjoyed receiving the bottle of wine. She even drove my car up the steep ramp out of the garage! Well worth the 5 euros!!! LOL! Plus, the 60 euros parking fee!



Made it to Modena yesterday. Got here very early and check wasn’t until 2pm so took a drive through Emilia Romana country, some vineyards, etc. Very pretty.



Somethings work and something’s don’t so you give up or improvise! Yesterday, the only thing I got to see was the Duomo. But, boy, was it beautiful! I wanted to go to the Duomo Museum also but it was closed. Ended walking around a lot. Saw some of the other sites that you cannot enter, e.g., the Palazzo Ducale which is now a military academy. Same happened in Parma at their P. Ducale.



Today, went to Sant Barnaba but it was closed. But there was a sign that Tuesdays there are 4pm concerts in the church. OK, I’ll come back later and see the church and listen to a concert! Yay! Well, no, went back at 4pm still not open. A woman came by, asked me if I was there for that, told me ‘not today’ or something to that effect!



I had 3 parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar tours that I wanted to take. They are all 10-15 km away from here. Well, I found free parking on the street close to my hotel. I am not giving it up!!! LOL!!! Free parking or 30 euros/night for hotel parking (90 euros!). After my initial trip to Sant Barnaba, I went to the covered market today. I love those places! The cheese monger saved the day on the parm and balsamic tours! He gave me 3 tastings of parm cheese aged 18 months, 36 mos, and 60 mos. I went with the 36 mos, it is delicious. Then he gave me a lesson on balsamic vinegar and gave me 3 tastings of different qualities and grape to vinegar content. The middle one was delicious so went with that! My first 2 souvenirs! LOL!



Walked out close to the edge of town to the Fountain del Due Fiume for a couple of pics. Probably wasn’t worth it.



Also, went unsuccessfully to a couple of museums on the other side of town. One is closed for renovation while the other is open but my legs were so tired I couldn’t bring myself to climb the steps! And, the elevator was a glass enclosed one so that wasn’t happening!



Next door was the church of Sant Agostino. Wowza, it was beautiful!!!! And, huge! You wonder how they built these churches, castles, etc. hundreds of years ago without the technology we have today! Honestly, they were better than we are today!



Then I went to the Palazzo Comunale which is a govt bldg but has a few beautiful rooms worth seeing. Of course, my guide didn’t speak English and I tried to follow his Italian but… so so. The rooms were beautiful! I would have been happier to be left on my own instead of struggling to understand him.



About the only thing left to see tomorrow is the Duomo museum. Unless, I get an itch to go to the Ferrari museum. But, kind of doubting that.





9/29/2023



I’m in Bologna now. Arrived yesterday. Making my travel days down days in order to rest a bit… doesn’t that sound old!!! LOL!!!



Went to dinner last night at a pizza place the host recommended. Thought I was ordering a pizza but got a calzone! There were about 75 different pizza variations on the menu, I ordered the one with prosciutto and mushrooms which happened to be called Calzone…. didn’t really think it was going to be a calzone! It was huge!!!!! And, not so great. Ate half. Would have been better maybe if they had some sauce inside or on the side, just dried up sauce on the top. Took the other half with me but dumped in a garbage can on the way home.



Today was a busy day, walked over 6-1/4 miles. Not that I wanted to…. But gps, both waze and google maps, kept screwing me up on the way back to the apartment! I kept following the arrows, etc. and the distance just kept getting longer! Guess I needed it with all the wine and “small snacks”!



Had my first church door closed in my face on this trip. I remember that happening frequently on one trip to Spain! The nun was closing up early for their siesta time! She offered to let me in but I told her I’d come back at a later time.



I saw a long line at the Oratorio de Santa Cecilia so I got in line. I never pass up a good church! It was kind of weird, thought it was a holdover from Covid… people spaced themselves out about 5 feet apart. Got to the front of the line… it was a food pantry!!!!!!! LOL!!!!! Most of the people in line didn’t look homeless or needy! Live and learn. So embarrassing!



Boy, I sure do get my church time in while on vacation! Makes up for the rest of the year! Went to Basilica of San Peteroni which was begun building in 1390. It is huge and gorgeous! It’s still not finished.



Right there in the main square, there was the Statue/fountain to Neptune, the library where you can see through the glass floor, the ancient Roman ruins, and the Palazzo Communal (which I hope to see tomorrow for its beautiful rooms).



I also saw the two remaining towers that are landmarks here. Dante mentioned them in The Inferno.



Then, a stroll over to Santo Stefan’s, an unusual basilica that contains 4-7 connected churches depending on who you believe! LOL! Currently, most of it is 10th C architecture but was started in the 4th C.



Also, went to the Church of Santa Maria della Vita. A church has been here since the 13th C. The current church was built in the 17 or 18th C. They have clay carvings of the Lamentation over the Dead Christ. Beautiful!



All of these churches are so beautiful and over the top!



I also walked thru what they call the Quadrilatero, a maze of streets with shops and restaurants. It was here that I found one of the food markets that I wanted to visit. Wasn’t impressed with it all that much.



I wish taxi stands were more available! I certainly would have used one to get home tonight!!!!


Oh, also went to the University chapel this morning! Lots of church pictures! And, took the little tourist train around the city!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 12:46 PM
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10/2//2023

Saturday, I got into a VERY popular restaurant for lunch! They don’t take reservations; you just wait on line. I saw the line the day before and this day it was half the size! So to the back of the line I go!!! Within 45 min., I was seated and had my food! It was delicious! As good as all the reviews I’ve read. Worth the wait!

Also, went to the Anatomical Theater. But, buying tickets online while you have a foreign SIM card in your phone is a real pita! The security guard was trying to help me buy it online. After numerous attempts, I got the dreaded message that the bank wanted to text me a security code to my US phone number…. Not going to work, I have my Italian SIM card in my phone! Anyway, this man was fabulous! He went up to the ticket window to explain my issue. He got the OK and waved me up! They let me pay for my ticket there. Whew! Thanks to so many lovely people here! The theater is the oldest medical training theater in the world. It was built in 1637! The dissecting/mortuary table is a fairly thin slab of marble on a wooden frame. The students would sit in wooden bleacher seats around the room. Kinda glad I wasn’t around in those times! 🤣

Walking down one of the main drags, I came across a very bizarre parade! A live drum band followed by people dressed in very weird costumes, and floats! I have no idea what it was about.

On Sunday, I took a little train to the Sanctuary of San Luca, high above Bologna about 5 km outside of the city! What another gorgeous church! The city decided back in the 1600’s or so to build covered porticoes from the center of Bologna to the Sanctuary. And the citizens were very willing to pay. 5km of porticoes! Can you imagine how long and how much that cost? And, it is all uphill to get up there!

Walked around the university area when I got back.

Went to dinner at a place my host recommended. Should have called for a reservation but figured it’s a local place and they might not speak English. No website or booking site! So went a few minutes before they opened and stood in line with about a dozen people. The place was sold out but they let me share a large table with a couple and their grown daughter with grand baby from Germany. The grandmother was Italian but I guess moved to Germany with her family. They were staying at the family home there. They were lovely! The place looked like a dump, think Italian men’s club with old photos and junk stuck up on the walls and lying around! But it was clean and the food delicious!

Came to Ravenna today! Took the non-toll roads and, boy, were most of them narrow! I wanted to shut my eyes when tractor trailers were coming towards me! But, some beautiful vistas among vineyards. Beats the autostrada! And that cost!

Wowza, wowza, wowza!!!! The mosaics here are unbelievably stunning!!!!! I started out seeing Dante’s tomb. No mosaics, lol! Then went to the Basilica of San Francesco behind it. The crypt is flooded with fresh water and has gold fish in it, have to admit that I didn’t see any but I wasn’t looking for them at the time! There was a bit of a line behind me, I forgot about the gold fish, so took a couple of quick pics and let the next people view.

Then, onto the Duomo. Again, very pretty. And, the baptistery was stunning with its mosaics! Then I went to a mausoleum where the mosaics are said to be the best in Ravenna! It is just amazing how artists did so much gorgeous work in such small dimensions covering such large areas! Truly amazing! Then, onto the Basilica San Vitale. Again, jaw dropping! WOW! Gorgeous!

Found the covered market on my way back to the hotel, not impressed. More bars/restaurants than market items.

Still have a number of places to see tomorrow and Wednesday before going to Ferrara.



10/6/2023

So, since Tuesday… I forgot to tell you about the lovely people I met in the hotel in Ravenna. I stopped in the lobby bar on my way back to the hotel on Tuesday. It’s very small, just 2 couches with 2 chairs and 1 table each. The other couch and chairs were occupied, so I sat at the empty couch. A gentleman asked if he could join me… of course! How can you hog the only seating available??? He was from Holland and began a tour from there that morning. He was very nice, retired with a younger wife who he left home so she could go to work!!! LOL! Maybe not so much a gentleman!!! Then, a woman from his group joined us, she was very outgoing and nice. Asked me when I joined their group, I responded “I have not, you two just joined my group!” Then their tour guide came by and sat down, the other two left a bit later, and he and I were chatting. We talked so long that one of his tour group had to come over to get him so they could go to dinner! 🤣🤣🤣.

Next day, I continued on my quest for mosaics. I went to the Chapel of St. Andrew; it again was stunning! I just can’t believe how they accomplished this gorgeous work in that day and age! Then, I headed to another…. guess what… a church! Surprise, surprise! Again, more gorgeous mosaics. And, a banana tree whose leaves you wouldn’t believe the size of, HUGE! Then onto… wait for it…. another church! For their floor mosaics. Again, lovely.

Then, a little rest in a beautiful courtyard with a glass of wine… and I refused the chips! For once!

That evening, I was taking something out to my car when a couple from the US started talking to me in the hotel lobby. Very nice couple. When I checked out the next day, she had left a note for me at the front desk saying how much she enjoyed meeting me and gave me her phone and email to keep in touch! We later chatted via Messenger and she said that I had given her husband the courage he needed to rent a car and drive in Italy… LOL!

Next day, went to the last of the mosaic churches outside of town on a detour to Ferrara. Again, beautiful!

In Ferrara, I had another great room at my BnB. Had basically a swimming pool in the room! A huge, huge jacuzzi! And, it was a 1/2 block from the castle! Walked forever to find a restaurant that was supposed to be close to me, gps kept leading me further and further away. Finally, gave up and had Japanese! Next day, I saw the restaurant I was looking for… 2 doors down from me! LOL! Oh, well!

Next day, I went to the castle to tour it. Has many beautiful ceilings! But my panic mode got the best of me. I had to walk up two very steep ramps of old, worn, uneven bricks. Ok, got through that, not happily. Then came upon a set of steps that are open at the back… well, that set off my panic. I stood there for the longest time trying to work up the nerve to go up them and even made it to the first step but was shaking so much, I turned around! Probably worse decision… going down those steep ramps of uneven, worn bricks! No handrails so I was trying to hang onto the brick walls. I can’t afford to fall and break anything; I’m driving a manual transmission car!!! Got down the first ramp and turned the corner and still hanging on the walls started down the second ramp. Then the man working there saw me and came up the ramp and grabbed my hands and guided me down!!!! What a savior! I said I was finished but he told me to go to the first door and someone would take me to the elevator! What another lovely, lovely person!!! Got to the 1st floor (our 2nd floor) and wow the ceilings were stunning with frescoes on them! So many rooms, all richly decorated. Can’t thank that man enough for his telling me to go find the man to take me to the elevator! And, for helping me down that ramp!

Went over to the Cathedral which is under restoration and I thought was closed. Later realized it didn’t open again until 3pm so went in then. But there is only one (beautiful) chapel open to the public. The rest of the cathedral is closed for restoration.

Went to a couple of other museums which were closed! Finally, the cathedral’s museum was open! Some lovely works and tapestries.

Arrived in Verona today with some hiccups. I charged my phone all night last night. It died on my way to Verona! Of course, I think I can find the hotel all by myself, hah! Of course I can’t! No internet while driving so the iPad wasn’t of any use. The charging plug in the car is the old cigarette lighter kind. I remember that I brought my old gps with that kind of charger. Find a parking lot, open the suitcase, dig for it in the bottom of my bag and think I’m saved! Yes, it turns on, finds Italy, but can’t find the street or hotel I need! I finally put my reading glasses on and see a port for today’s chargers!!! LOL!!! Back in my suitcase, I look for my phone charger and then the world is right again.

Got to my hotel, checked in, and went out to site see. Again, not my day. I'm a block from the old city walls! At least for tonight, changing hotels tomorrow. The arena is supposed to be right inside basically. I wandered and wandered with my gps sending me further and further away from the arena, I gave up! I asked a couple of different people but their direction didn’t get me any closer either! I know they were trying to be helpful but they both sent me in opposite directions! The only thing I saw today was Juliette’s tomb after a major detour in that museum through rooms that didn’t interest me… now why does she have a tomb when she was a fictional character??? And, the tomb was open and empty to boot! LOL!

Had a lovely dinner at the trattoria next door tonight . But, too much food as always, I left at least 1/2 of both courses. I feel bad leaving so much food. How do the Italian women stay so skinny???

Hopefully a more successful Verona day tomorrow and part of Sunday!



10/9/2023

Greetings from Vicenza!

But, first back to Verona…. Had a much more successful day on Saturday! Yay!!! Started out going the wrong way by following my gps… this can’t be right! Decided to follow some of the tour groups, best decision ever. However, I didn’t know where they were coming from and where they were going! Lucky for me they were going to the Arena.

The arena is huge and very well intact. They still hold performances there. Just the night before, the two ladies who had given me bad directions to get to it, did know that a famous Italian singer was performing there that night. 🙄

Then made my way with gobs and gobs of people coming and going who don’t know how to stay to their right into the touristic center. People walk right at you expecting you to move! It seems like some of them actually aim for you!!! Ugh!

Another hot and sunny day walking to all of the sites. Saw just about everything I wanted to see in Verona on this day! Made up for yesterday! OMG, Juliette’s balcony was a human mess! Took a couple of quick pics and fled! Only a few things left for Sunday. Come Sunday, I went to three of the 5 sites I wanted to see… Castelvecchio, the bridge behind it with its very pretty view, and San Zeno in Oratorio which was overrated. I decided that I didn’t need to walk to the other side of the city to see another church, San Fermo, or Romeo’s house so called it an early day!

Met a lovely couple in the hotel bar last night from Australia. Had a very nice visit with them! I am not the one reaching out to others in the hotels! They are coming to me! LOL! I was sitting across the room from them when they started chatting with me and they said “we will move over to you so we’re not talking loudly across the room”.

Now in Vicenza. Very small apt. But clean. Not my best choice and it has a funky smell. Btw, some of the towns I’ve visited have had funky smells throughout the entire town!

Staying in the ZTL zone so had to park outside it and walk in with luggage. Not a real treat on cobblestones! Had an issue finding the correct parking lot but the host kept in touch and gave me the correct directions.

Walked around the historical center a bit and found one of the 2 tourist information centers… closed on Mondays! Found the second one and got a map. Found a place in a nice piazza to sit and have a drink while I mapped out tomorrow’s plan. Heard the kids at the next table speaking English. One was saying you have to visit OBX, Wilmington is really nice, etc! Had to laugh and turn around to say “I live in Wilmington!” Small world! They had some friends join them and one came over to ask if he could take a chair. Sure. I asked where are you from? New Jersey! LOL! Very small world!

Had a great dinner tonight! Escargot and ravioli stuffed with lobster. Then came back to do some laundry!


10/14/2023

I spent my second day in Vicenza seeing basically all the sites! Very busy day! Started out in the main square and all of its Palladio-glory! He was a 16th C architect known for his palaces, churches, etc. The Venetian region contains so many of his works, I think there are over 20 buildings by him still standing in Vicenza alone. Beautiful works of art! History lesson over!

I went to the Teatro Olimpico also built in the 1500’s by Palladio. It is amazing inside! The stage was cool as to how it was designed. I think it was the first indoor theater built in stone or something like that.

Then over to the Civic Art Gallery. A few very nice works there.

Then, because I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms, I went to the Church of Santa Cortona. 🤣. Another very pretty church. It has a Bellini painting, The Baptism of Christ.

Next, down the block to the Palazzo Leone Montanari. Wow! The sculptures in this home are amazing! And, angels/cherubs sculpted all over the ceilings. And, a very intricate art piece, Fall of the Rebel Angels.

The Basilica Palladian, in this case using the word Basilica as a meeting place not a church with a saint’s bones, was huge and beautiful. It has large open porticoes which Palladio was into apparently! Also saw his Loggio of the Capitaniato from the outside, what a pretty building.

Then everyone seemed to have a bit of a surprise when a falcon landed on a balcony! I heard this very strange noise like a workman was scraping something across a cement floor, came around the street corner and everyone was looking up. I walked a few yards down the street and saw a man who was apparently his handler, had the glove thing on! LOL! Don’t know if he had the bird out there or the bird escaped and he showed up to bring him home but the bird was having none of it! The man was whistling and shaking a small piece of meat in his hand but the bird ignored him for the longest time. Then eventually flew over to the man but decided to fly the coop again a block later! LOL! Guess I need to look up if falcons are common to that area.

Walked around some more to see more Palladio architecture. Then had dinner in a very nice deserted restaurant! I’ve never picked a place that had no one in it but it worked out! Maybe it was just too early, around 7-7:30? It did fill up as the night went on.

Leaving Vicenza the next day I went to another palazzo. Waited forever to get a parking spot in the tiny lot… little did I know there are NO illegal spots here apparently! Waited an hour to park, it wasn’t really worth it but the grounds were very nice.

Got to Padua that afternoon. Note to self or anyone else! Do not rent an apartment that is in the historical center that doesn’t have nearby parking. 400 meters doesn’t sound like a great distance but a 35 lb. suitcase with semi-broken wheels on cobblestones is not the way to go! Little did I know until I got to the apartment that I could have taken a cab after asking the apt. hostess! She never thought to tell any clients they could take a taxi from the parking! I took one this morning but it was no easy feat when departing.

This was another great town! My apt was a block from the main square of the historical center. Lots of markets, my fav!

The Basilica of Saint Anthony was gorgeous. Saw his tomb, jaw, tongue, and vocal cords. He was a great orator. More beautiful frescoes.

Off to the Botanical Gardens of Padua. The university developed these gardens and they grow a lot of medicinal herbs etc. here. Quite interesting but I was being dive-bombed by flies and bees so got out of there pretty quickly!

Hit some more places on my itinerary including the anatomical theater at the university. That was a waste of time quite honestly. Should have believed the reviews I read.

Went to the Scrovegni Chapel which was amazing! Giotto’s frescoes were just spellbinding! Loved it.

Also saw the baptistry next to the Duomo. Ok, I crashed a funeral for the Duomo visit! LOL! The frescoes in the baptistery were just stunning! And they had a good audio guide explaining the various scenes.

Lots of kids graduating from the University every day. When they graduate, they are given a wreath of laurel which they wear on their heads and proceed to party with family and friends!

Now in Venice. I am not a boat person!!! I splurged and took a private boat taxi to my hotel. I have no idea what it cost (no receipt) and really don’t care! I was shaking like a leaf trying to get on and off! The man who took me was probably very sorry he did! When he got me to the hotel, the dock was one of those loose, floating docks and I was paralyzed with fear! A young couple came to my rescue! They came down the ramp and he grabbed my luggage and she grabbed me. She said she could see how much I was shaking! I may be holed up in my hotel for the next few days! I didn’t have this happen last time I was here. Hopefully, I will be better with the aliguana boats! They have ramps directly onto the boats! Not climbing steps out of the boat and across the water to the floating dock that freaked me out!



10/15/2023

OMG, you should see the young ladies sitting next to me at the hotel bar! Had pasta for lunch today so thought I’d grab some wine and “small snacks” they provide for my dinner. In come these two dressed to the hilt! False eyelashes for miles, hair done, and one in an evening dress and the other in, I don’t even know what! It looks like a thong bathing suit with an overlay of see-through black lace! They just ordered a bottle of wine and a sandwich. Then were asking where to go for nightlife. Well, you have to take the boat across and then I don’t know where the waiter was telling them. Haven’t even gotten their sandwich yet and it’s 9:45pm! LOL! Oh, to be young again! But, have to say, we did chat for a minute and they are very nice.

The bartender here is a hoot! About 85 yrs old but really funny and nice!

Went to Murano today. Cute island! Walked around for a bit until the sky got very dark. After the first crack of thunder, I thought I’d better find a lunch spot. Apparently, I found the largest and most popular restaurant on the island. It was good. Spaghetti alle vongole (clams).

The man who just sat down next to me at the bar just stole one of my chips! LOL!



10/17/2023

Missed my flight! LOL! Flying tomorrow to PHL, overnight there, then onto ILM on Thursday morning.


THE END OF A GREAT TRIP!

Last edited by joannyc; Mar 23rd, 2024 at 12:48 PM.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 12:55 PM
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Update: I received an email from the rental car company recently that I received a speeding ticket... 4kph over the speed limit! Less than 2.5mph! LOL! Haven't received the ticket in the mail yet, could take upto a year to receive apparently!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 01:07 PM
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What a wonderful report and gorgeous pictures! Thank you!
Now I am adding some new destinations to the never ending list, but what a delightful problem to have!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 01:28 PM
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Good report and fun to read about places we've visited and loved (and miss). The PIeta at Castello Sforzesco is by Michelangelo.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by coral22
What a wonderful report and gorgeous pictures! Thank you!
Now I am adding some new destinations to the never ending list, but what a delightful problem to have!
Coral22, thanks very much! It was a wonderful time! So hope you enjoy your planning and trip!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by maitaitom
Good report and fun to read about places we've visited and loved (and miss). The PIeta at Castello Sforzesco is by Michelangelo.
Oops, you are certainly correct, Maitai! Sorry about the error! Too much DaVinci/Michelangelo on the brain... or maybe just too much vino bianco!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 02:34 PM
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"or maybe just too much vino bianco! "

Yes, that affliction has wreaked havoc on my trip reports, as well. I have a friend headed for Bologna in about six weeks. Any restaurant recommendation from your time there? Thanks!

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Old Mar 24th, 2024, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by joannyc
Oops, you are certainly correct, Maitai! Sorry about the error! Too much DaVinci/Michelangelo on the brain... or maybe just too much vino bianco!
At least I got it correctly labeled on the photo! 🤣
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Old Mar 25th, 2024, 10:26 AM
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Hello Joannyc, first of all compliments for your "light and airy" trip report and the pictures.
You travelled on your own, which I always find admirable. I myself have attended a number of Italian language classes (one or more weeks) in Turin and Bologna and thus travelled 'da sola'. I always got the impression that the restaurant staff didn't always quite know how to deal with my being on my own (especially for Sunday lunch!) and as a result I often was offered a table in some corner near the ladies room or next to the entrance to the kitchen. Until I protested in (rudimental) Italian and asked for a better table of course, then they would become all charming and helpful.
My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy next month. Parma is one of the towns on our list to visit on our way to Montepulciano.
Question: Parma: was there a reason for you to prefer an apartment to a hotel as you stayed for only a couple of nights?
Question #2: do you remember the name of the restaurant you so liked in Parma?
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Old Mar 25th, 2024, 10:31 AM
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All my favorite stops in that area, a very sensible highlights trip.
You'll probably find that that 2.5km/h extra had an allowance in it on top that they just didn't bother to tell you about, I'd pay it and move on.
As you say all of it could have been done by train, while the rain at that time is not only normal but much needed after recent (and coming summer) droughts.
Thanks for writing it up
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Old Mar 25th, 2024, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Elisabeth54
Hello Joannyc, first of all compliments for your "light and airy" trip report and the pictures.
You travelled on your own, which I always find admirable. I myself have attended a number of Italian language classes (one or more weeks) in Turin and Bologna and thus travelled 'da sola'. I always got the impression that the restaurant staff didn't always quite know how to deal with my being on my own (especially for Sunday lunch!) and as a result I often was offered a table in some corner near the ladies room or next to the entrance to the kitchen. Until I protested in (rudimental) Italian and asked for a better table of course, then they would become all charming and helpful.
My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy next month. Parma is one of the towns on our list to visit on our way to Montepulciano.
Question: Parma: was there a reason for you to prefer an apartment to a hotel as you stayed for only a couple of nights?
Question #2: do you remember the name of the restaurant you so liked in Parma?

Thanks very much, Elizabeth54! It was a terrific trip!

The Parma restaurant is La Greppia in the historic center. You can see reviews and pictures online at TripAdvisor and other sites.

I splurged out on this trip since I hadn’t travelled since 2019 due to Covid. The apartment was wonderful! It had a huge wrap around balcony and large and well appointed rooms, was located in the historic center, and, most importantly, a clothes washer! I was there for 3 nights. I stayed at a combo of hotels, AirBnBs, and VRBOs during the trip.


Enjoy your trip!

Last edited by joannyc; Mar 25th, 2024 at 07:12 PM.
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Old Mar 25th, 2024, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
All my favorite stops in that area, a very sensible highlights trip.
You'll probably find that that 2.5km/h extra had an allowance in it on top that they just didn't bother to tell you about, I'd pay it and move on.
As you say all of it could have been done by train, while the rain at that time is not only normal but much needed after recent (and coming summer) droughts.
Thanks for writing it up
Thanks very much, Billboburgler! Yes, the traffic ticket did have a reduction of 4 or 5 KPH, so the 4kph included that reduction. I have every intention of paying it when I receive the ticket. I just found it humorous that it was such a small amount over the limit.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by joannyc
Thanks very much, Elizabeth54! It was a terrific trip!

The Parma restaurant is La Greppia in the historic center. You can see reviews and pictures online at TripAdvisor and other sites.

I splurged out on this trip since I hadn’t travelled since 2019 due to Covid. The apartment was wonderful! It had a huge wrap around balcony and large and well appointed rooms, was located in the historic center, and, most importantly, a clothes washer! I was there for 3 nights. I stayed at a combo of hotels, AirBnBs, and VRBOs during the trip.


Enjoy your trip!
JOANNYC do you mind sharing the name and address of the apartment in Parma? We have decided to spend a few days there on our way down to Tuscany at the beginning of May. Thanks a lot!
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Elisabeth54
JOANNYC do you mind sharing the name and address of the apartment in Parma? We have decided to spend a few days there on our way down to Tuscany at the beginning of May. Thanks a lot!
Sure, Elizabeth54… here’s the link.

https://www.vrbo.com/10198323ha?unit...2Bhasc%2Bemail
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 01:28 PM
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Wonderful photo report, thank you! I really enjoy Northern Italy and have been to most of the places you visited, but not Vicenza or Lake Como (nor Parma). Did you have a favorite location? And did Bellagio seem too "resort-y" to you?

[I know "too resort-y" is subjective, but I've always avoided the lakes for fear they would be too...something.]

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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 01:41 PM
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That restaurant in Parma is now on our list. Thanks!
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 02:29 PM
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I loved your report to some of our favorite places. You write with such a zest for living and traveling! Thanks for writing this report, a keeper for sure!
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by joannyc
Sure, Elizabeth54… here’s the link.

https://www.vrbo.com/10198323ha?unit...2Bhasc%2Bemail
It looks stunning but alas it's not available for our dates and no wonder! Thank you for sharing the information.
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