One of the reasons we prefer to travel by personal car is the freedom we have to wander, and in Tuscany wandering, and getting lost sometimes, is the best way to see the magnificent countryside. And we were blessed with amazing ‘photogenic’ weather. It would rain for a bit during the day and then these amazing clouds would fill the sky and create beautiful light and shadows across the rolling hills. It was May so everything was green and lush. For this set of images, we start with the Madonna Di Vitaleta Chapel, which we stumbled across on the way to Pienza. Driving along StradaRead More →

Our first full day after arriving in Montalcino, we followed Robert’s advice and did a big circle around the Val d’Orcia, starting with a visit to the Sant’Antimo Abbey, then on to Bagno Vignoni and ending up in Pienza, another World Heritage Site and the hill-top town with the most iconic views of the Tuscan countryside.   We arrived in the early morning to a beautiful view of Sant’Antimo Abbey.   After a few minutes a bus arrived with a group of students, who enjoyed the grounds around the abbey.   We wandered around taking photos. Grima found a beautiful view of red Italian poppiesRead More →

From Pisa we drove to the small town of Montalcino in Val d’Orcia Tuscany, part of a World Heritage Site for Humanity. Montalcino is named after an oak tree variety that once covered the mountainous area around the town. It’s also the center of over too producers of the famous Brunello di Montalcino wine. We stayed for three nights at the Palazzina Cesira (Via Soccorso Saloni, 2, 53024 Montalcino SI, Italy). The Cesira is a bed and breakfast run by Robert, an Italian/American and his wife, Lucilla. Lucilla was a little under the weather but we did enjoy the company of Robert, also an accomplishedRead More →

We didn’t want to miss Pisa on the way down to Tuscany, but only managed a half day there, enough time to battle the crowds in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) and stroll down Via Santa Maria to the Arno River and back.   Walking through Largo Griffi Cocco passing the Ebraico Cemetery, one passes through throngs of tourist junk vendors and some performance artists. Noticed these two ‘mystics’ doing their thing. Quite startling at first glance until it became obvious how they did it.   The Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of Pisa), is a beautiful structure built between 1152 and 1363,Read More →

From Cinque Terre we travelled to Pisa, but on the way got ‘lost’ in Carrara and jumped over for a couple hours in Lucca. Driving south on the Autostrata Azzurra (A12) we noticed an unusual formation on the mountains to the east that we hadn’t noticed before. The peaks were white and it wasn’t snow. Fortunately we were driving ourselves so decided, what the heck, let’s take the first road east to see what we can see. It was an interesting drive and ultimately led us through the town of Carrara and up the winding mountain road of Via Martiri, past the little town ofRead More →

On our second day in Cinque Terre we visited the towns of Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza – a very full day. Monterosso is the largest town of the five lands and has an actual beach. It’s also reached by train. After spending the morning there we hopped back on the train to Vernazza, where we stayed until after sunset. Vernazza is still a true fishing village with a protected harbor and one of the most photographed towns of Cinque Terre. It is also the only town with a lookout tower, originally built to protect the town from pirates.   Tunnel into town from theRead More →

From Modena we headed to Cinque Terre (Five Lands, comprising Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore), representing five villages clinging to the mountain sides on the northwest coast of Italy. They say it’s the ‘poor man’s Almalfi Coast’. We found it quite wonderful, and an incredible workout as most every place is either up or down. We were there for a couple days and managed to see Marionola, Vernazza and Monterosso. Reaching any of the towns via car is problematic, so we stayed in La Spezia, an industrial town just down the cost and took the train to Cinque Terre each day.  Read More →

From Verona, we drove a short 100 kilometers to Modena, Italy to stay a couple days with a friend and her son from Grima’s school days in Chile. It was a treat for Grima to meet Mara after more than 40 years and get to know her son, Dany, who showed us around Modena.   One nice thing about having a car in Italy rather than taking trains or busses, is that we can choose to serendipitously travel and stop in places one normally wouldn’t see. Such was this yellow silo type structure in a field of yellow.   Mara, Dany and Grima on aRead More →

Italy – People of Verona We were in Verona only a couple days. The second night we went to the old town and wandered up the Via Pellicciai to the Piazza Erbe, where we sat down for gelato on the Via Cappello. Had a wonderful time people watching.     The older couple window gazing…   The young couple stealing a kiss…   The family also enjoying their gelato   And the cell phones… God, the cell phones. Everywhere, and starting out young! Earlier in the day we sat down for lunch at a cozy outdoor cafe and a couple with their son and daughterRead More →

Not as well known as Lake Como, Lake Garda, none the less, is a must see in Northern Italy. Extending over 32 miles from the base of the Dolomites it is home to a couple dozen picturesque communities. We took a day from Verona to travel to Lake Garda, only a few kilometers away and traveled up the east coast almost to its northern point, stopping as much as possible to admire the scenery and grab a bit of lunch. Our biggest mistake was in not allowing more than one day to see this amazing place. One could easily spend a week exploring the communitiesRead More →