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Finally...our 19 day glorious October 2007 (very long detailed) trip report to Italy!

Finally...our 19 day glorious October 2007 (very long detailed) trip report to Italy!

Old Jul 31st, 2008, 04:18 AM
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Grazie all!

Thx for the kind comments....

I hope to carve out some time to finish soon!

Aquagirl: not sure when the gondola price peaks, but when we grabbed one, there were only 2 gondoliers at the dock (pick up your ride at the loading area on the Orseolo canal just behind St. Mark's. You'll avoid the hoardes/prices on the Grand Canal).

Ciao for now...
A/S
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 05:44 AM
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Adventureseeker. You are amazing! I am traveling to Italy for 10 days in September beginning at the LO in Venice for 2 nights. Our time at each stop is limited (2 nights Venice, 2 nights CT, 3 nights Montalcino and 3 nights Rome) so I am trying to get as much information to be as efficent as possible and these tips are invaluable. Thanks for your great report!
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 01:45 PM
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Reddots,

LUCKY you. You're staying in Venice at LO (a favorite) and going to the CT. Be sure to spend some time in Vernazza.

Montalcino is simply stunning. I'll make a point to get my Montalcino report done before you take off.....

Ciao for now!
A/S
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 06:32 PM
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After having stayed at LO last fall
for 3 nights, it's the only place I
would go to in Venice. If there were a downside, it's that the breakfast are so wonderful one will
never have any room for lunch at the
great places recommended on this board !! I could never summon the
nerve to ask Barbara for the receipe
for the fruit filled cake.
Perhaps I could put Reddots up to
this task !!
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 06:39 PM
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Thanks for the great report! Bookmarking for our next trip!
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Old Aug 17th, 2008, 07:41 PM
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Old Oct 3rd, 2008, 09:21 AM
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Old Oct 3rd, 2008, 10:11 AM
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adventureseeker, please finish your trip report! I'm waiting until the end to print it out.

Thanks!!!!
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Old Oct 4th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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I'll get working on the rest of the report.

Thx for stopping by!

Ciao....for now!
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Old Oct 10th, 2008, 03:26 AM
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Your review is amazing. Thank you so much for all the advice. Loved the pictures too! What type of camera did you take with you to Italy? We are going in a few weeks and can't decide if we should take a small portable one or our big one. What do you think?
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Old Oct 10th, 2008, 07:39 AM
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blondshell,

Grazie for your kind comments.

I used a <b>Canon PowershotA540</b> (4X optical zoom and 6.0 pixels). I swear by Canon digitals. This is my second Canon Powershot and I HIGHLY recommmend it.

Since I'm a photoholic, I considered buying a bulky digital SLR for the trip, but so glad I didn't. I took hundreds and hundreds of photos on my Canon and brought back 3 filled-to-the-brim memory cards and &quot;pointed and shot&quot; anything and everything as well as used the camera for a dozen videos.

I'm also glad we left the camcorder at home. Quick, easy was what I was looking for. And...more importantly, I was so very pleased with the photos/videos captured.

Even nearly a year ago, these photos are my prized treasures and just like this report (which has become my <u>legible</u> journal), they are priceless to me.

Have a fabulous trip!

Buon Viaggio....
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Old Oct 10th, 2008, 07:52 AM
  #252  
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Upcoming installments:

<b><u>TUSCANY:<b></b></u>

*Monte San Savino
*Arezzo
*Montalcino
*Pienza
*Montepulciano
*more from <i>Sogna Piccolo</i>

Our last day in Italy (Florence)....

Ciao for now!</b>
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Old Oct 10th, 2008, 10:37 AM
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I am so happy you are going to continue with your report. Can't wait for it!
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Old Oct 14th, 2008, 04:47 AM
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I'm back! This has been a bittersweet week for us. It has been a year since our &quot;19 day glorious October 2007 trip to Italy&quot;. We bask in daily conversations of &quot;what were doing right now, a year ago?&quot; Such wonderful memories to last a lifetime....

Thank you for taking this journey with us on our trip report.....

<b>TUSCANY

Part 4 (October 22, 2007)

Day 13

A lazy day in Sogna and the charming town of Monte San Savino!

<u>DAY 2 TUSCAN MORNING</u></b>
Another cozy morning in the cottage. I woke at 6:40am...wanting to just laze away in this heavenly bed yet anxious to plant myself in the slipcovered chair downstairs with a cup of tea, wrapped in the warm knitted throw, listening to classical music while writing in my journal and figuring out what the &quot;hilltown du jour&quot; would be. So, up I got.....

Before all this, I opened up the interior wooden panel that covered the windows to say &quot;good morning&quot; to Sogna. Sogna looked colder than the morning before. The clouds hung low and I was glad to be inside and warm.

Another morning that I had to nix my picture-perfect idea of having a tuscan breakfast al fresco under a not-so-sun-dappled pergola. Oh well! We still had 5 more mornings to create that scenario. Besides, we haven't been to the grocer yet to load up on supplies.

Last night we talked about just chillin' (literally) at the cottage to do 12 days of dirty laundry and enjoy the cottage. That sounded appealing, but I felt we needed to at least load up on groceries. Our hopes of doing that task yesterday didn't work out with most grocery stores in smaller towns being closed on Sundays.

I get up to change the CD and notice an MP3 connection to the stereo system....cool! I retrieve my iPod, plug it in and voila! I go to my &quot;Italy-lounge&quot; playlist and sink back down in the chair.

I wonder about how happy I am at this moment...a trip so long in the planning that we still have a week left to explore and has so far been beyond our wildest dreams. I think about what it would be like on our next trip to Italy (and of course, there will be another, and another, etc.).

<b><u> PONDERING</u></b>
Would it be as wonderful? There is no doubt. After doing many of the &quot;must-do's&quot; &quot;top 10's&quot; and &quot;must-sees&quot; on many traveler's lists, our next trip will be filled with more lingering, sitting at cafes, engaging with the locals and doing more of the off-the-beaten path adventures. Which I'm glad to say we did much of all the above, managed to cross our &quot;musts&quot; off the list and still be spontaneous to make unexpected discoveries.

A handful of songs later, Sting blares through my iPod. I think about his estate close by in Figline. Again, I want to pinch myself on how lucky I feel to be here. To make it more perfect, our son would be here with us and our golden retriever curled up in front of a warm crackling fire. Hmmm...a warm fire would really be nice right now!

I hear DH scrambling upstairs and I go to pour him a cup of tea. Our cupboards are bare, but we always travel with our fave teas (Tazo: Lotus Green Tea and Passion blend). I look in the fridge to see what we can scare up for breakfast. There are a couple yogurts, so that will work.

Back to my spot on the chair. I hear DH opening the shutter to say good morning to Sogna. He then makes his way downstairs, grabs his cup of tea and joins me. We talk about our daily plan and have our yogurts. The verdict: laundry and an afternoon drive....Sounds good to me.

After a good hour, we finally peel ourselves off the couch and begin our task of &quot;life in a tuscan cottage&quot;.....laundry!

<b><u>LAUNDRY AND SNAKES...OH MY!</u></b>
We were shown the village laundry room yesterday by the only person we saw during our entire 7 day stay in Sogna. She is from London and owns a cottage here. While showing us the laundry room which was its own picturesque stone cottage, she told us to keep the door locked and closed to &quot;keep the snakes out&quot;. Yikes! She said they were harmless, nevertheless....yikes! (I'm happy to report that we encountered no snakes....phew!)

We were a sight lugging our dirty laundry through this sleepy picturesque village. But then again, there were no other souls to witness this spectacle.

Inside the laundry room was a washing machine, dryer, and a clothesline (and no snakes). All machines were in German. Luckily, the instruction manual was nearby, but not in English. We managed to figure out some of the buttons (we think), and I'm happy to report that our clothes came out just fine.

We spent a couple hours doing a few loads of filled-to-the brim dirty laundry. It felt good to get this task completed and all we needed to do now was to get some groceries. We had a list of all the local Farmer's Markets as this was the way we really wanted to load up.....just like the locals do. There were none in the nearby towns for the next couple of days.

It's 2pm, we're done with our chores, dressed (in bundled layers) and ready to head out. Our destination: Monte San Savino. This would be our hilltown du jour. We basically took out the map and did an &quot;eenie-meenie-mynie-moe&quot; at the nearby towns. Did I mention how blistery cold it is?

<b><u>ON THE ROAD TO MONTE SAN SAVINO</u></b>
Monte San Savino is very small medievel hilltown 25 minutes from Sogna (keep in mind that 10-15 minutes is the drive downhill!).

On the drive downhill we were on the lookout for kindling and smaller wood. Next to our cottage was the <i>fornaio</i> which housed cords of firewood. All of which were too large and damp to really get a good fire going all night long. To no avial, we searched high and low for an axe in the cottage. This was bumming me out...I wanted a fire every night, all night long.

We get to the roundabout intersection and see that infamous scene all throughout Tuscany: a handful of roadsigns with a gazillion hilltown names and arrows pointing in their direction. Bingo....we see Monte San Savino. Off we go.....

We are happy to take this winding, leisure drive in the scenic countryside. We comment how different and lovely it must look during all seasons. It still has much green, but this cold snap has Mother Nature working her magic as we begin to see some glorious Autumn colors of reds, oranges and yellows. Gorgeous! I see smoke coming out the chimneys of stone cottages sprinkled here and there. I roll my window down to take in the heavenly perfume of Autumn: crisp air, dewy leaves and woodburning fires.

We easily arrive at Monte San Savino and are thrilled that there is more than enough places to park outside of the town wall. (Remember our fiasco yesterday in Siena?). This is a very welcoming sight, indeed. There is also no one in sight. We spy a few of my fave cars parked (rusty old fiats, land rovers, etc. in need of some major TLC).

Near our parking spot is an antique store that had its larger pieces strewn outside. We immediately notice a rusty vintage Italian motorbike....very cool! Unfortunately, it was midday and although the store was wide open, we believe that the owner was taking his/her siesta!

<b>Next up....Inside the walls of charming Monte San Savino.

</b>
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Old Oct 14th, 2008, 03:36 PM
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Brava!
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Old Oct 16th, 2008, 05:56 AM
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<b>TUSCANY

Part 5 (October 22, 2007)

Day 13

Inside the walls of Monte San Savino!

<u>OUR FIRST ENCOUNTER-THE AFTERNOON SIESTA</u></b>
It's about 2:30pm and the rule still holds true....Italians love (and partake of) their afternoon siesta! As we easily made our way beyond the walls of this charming small town, not a store was open nor was a soul around. There were a few antique stores with wonderful wares in the window (including a very curious black/white <i>gatto</i> (cat) minding shop. It was biting cold and if only we could hold out to check out these charming shops when the owner returns from his siesta!

<b>TIP #1:</b> don't start your day in Tuscany at the beginning of Siesta time!

Although it is very cold, we're enjoying the lack of crowds and the serenity of having our very own Tuscan hilltown to ourselves (that is until we realize how hungry we are!). A far cry from bustling and busy Siena.

<b>TIP #2:</b> don't arrive hungry at the beginning of Siesta time!

I read that <b>Monte San Savino</b> was one of the first urban settlements in Tuscany. It was a small village filled with a plethora of tiny churches and great architectural buildings. I take photos of rusty wrought iron crosses and ceramic religious icons perched at the top of the stone arches. (remember the tip from Venice: Look up for interesting discoveries). These images looked even more gorgeous against the gray cold sky. There are many old clocks at the top of buildings and I snap away...yet another subject to add to my photo collection: clocks.

As we wandered down the cobbled street (which really was more like an alley), we came across a <i>Palazzo</i> (palace) and wandered through the atrium while exploring the inner courtyard and halls. A placard read that it was a convent...a very old one. It was hauntingly beautiful and made for a excellent photo op. Plus...it was warmer inside the battered old stone walls.

When we make it back on the street, the cold seems to have kicked into high gear. I pulled my neck scarf up to cover the lower part of my face.

<b><u>THAR SHE BLOWS....A CAFE'!</u></b>
We finally stumble across a cafe' (that is surprisingly open) and beeline in. Not sure if we're more cold or hungry, we belly up to the bar to order. I've got a slight sweet tooth, but the pastries in the case don't look appealing to satisy my craving. I order a hot cocoa and DH is intrigued by the tapped spout of <i>&quot;gassato acqua&quot;</i> (carbonated water) and <i>&quot;non-gassato acqua&quot;</i>(still water) on the counter, so he orders a....water (non-gas). It's more of a modern style coffeehouse, not so &quot;tuscan&quot; and cozy. We grab a table and enjoy being in the company of others. Although there is only one other customer quietly reading the newspaper.

<b><u>POTTERY FESTIVAL???</u></b>
I see a poster of an &quot;Italian Ceramic Pottery festival&quot;...right here in Monte San Savino. And it is today! Yippee! It's now 4pm and we make our way to the festival. We find the place protected by tall heavy wooden doors held together by an ancient thick rusted chain and lock. Signs are posted everywhere about the festival, but no one is around. I peer in through the crack and see some pottery plaques on the walls displayed in the courtyard, but no sign of life. We decide that siesta is still in affect and walk around a bit more to keep the blood circulating and to wait out the &quot;festival&quot; reopening.

It's kinda funny that it really isn't wasn't a festival, but more of a showing. At the top of my list was to bring back some unique Italian Pottery. I collect little dishes, bowls and mini-pitchers from Italy which all I have found at flea markets, antique stores and on eBay. I was on a quest to bring some home.

We stick around for another 45 minutes and are enjoying this sleepy little off-the-beaten path Tuscan hilltown. We wander down narrow alleyways and come across a walkway that is on the outside of the walled town. The surrounding hills are lush and green with a sprinkling of villa here and there. It's simply lovely.

<b>TIP #3:</b> Explore off-the-beaten path Tuscan villages for a real treat! Experience real Tuscan life at its fullest (if you see any...ha!).

We make it back to the festival site to find the doors in the same locked position as we left it. As I peer in once more, there is no sign of life. However, there is a stone planter with red geraniums smack dab in the middle of the courtyard which is now illuminated from the dreary afternoon gray sky.

The cold is getting the best of us and we're hungry, so we bid adieu to Monte San Savino. Such a lovely gem of a town....in the Tuscan hillside.

Back at the car, the temperature reads 7 degrees Celsius. Again, Celsius not really registering on my Farenheit brain...all I know is that it is doggone cold! My question to DH...does it snow in Tuscany?

<b>Next...the Adventures of an American in an Italian Supermarket!
</b>

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Old Oct 16th, 2008, 08:01 AM
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BTW...how hard is it to find your way in Rome. I reserved a rental car and am staying at the Shereton just outside of town. Does a GPS work there. Can you recommend any organized day tours for me to get the lay of the land. Thanks.
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Old Oct 16th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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adventureseeker, this is excellent! I had been awaiting your return. Can't wait for the rest!

howie67, are you referring to driving in Rome? Please please please don't do this! Rome is not made for driving tourists. The historic center is relatively compact and easy to get around by walking, taking the bus or the metro. A car is not necessary.

Tracy
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Old Oct 16th, 2008, 12:33 PM
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howie67,

We didn't do Rome on this trip, BUT returned a car in Florence and it was a nightmare. We spent nearly an hour (armed with an excellent detailed map and good sense of direction) circling the small city of Florence trying to find the car rental return. I imagine Rome, being a larger city, would be the same problem.

Tip: Get very detailed street by street directions from the car rental agency.

tcreath,

Grazie for the warm welcome back!

We're leaving for a 9 day trip to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa tomorrow as I'm now <b>&quot;adventureseeking&quot;</b> south of the border! ....be back soon to finish!

Ciao for now....

A/S

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Old Oct 16th, 2008, 04:28 PM
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