All posts tagged: Italy

Damn sunglasses!

Florence, Italy Florence. Time to pack up and leave our lodgings in Cavriglia for Florence, but not before another visit to our new favourite butcher in Greve. On the way to said slaughter house we bypassed to the tiny hamlet of Volpaia, an 11th century fortress town high in the hills of Chianti. Lovely town, but our bovine shop awaits As I navigated our journey through the winding roads of the Chianti, my brand new mirrored sunglasses just snapped at the bottom of the rim. Devastated, cannot believe a €30 pair of sunglasses only lasted a week. Obviously too aggressive on the corners with my driving. Time for a decent pair, as these cheap sunnies are starting to add up!! I digress, our old friend Cleve recommended checking put the dried pigs penis riding stock at the butchers, who could resist? But sadly we could not find one! Seriously, this shop is so great it was sad to have to head off to Florence, but head off we did, sans GPS. Eventually we had to …

Another hot day…

Tuscany, Italy Another hot day in the Tuscan sun that started with a run up and down the hills in searing heat. Straight into the swimming pool after the run so as to avoid heat exhaustion, and to give the body a jolt back to normalcy. With that done we got ourselves ready and headed into Siena. This town is a lot bigger than we had anticipated, and being amongst the tourist groups again, was an indication of what crowds we were in for. Grabbed a copy of the local map, which of course set us back €1, nothing for free when tourists are involved, and set off to explore Siena. The map was a relic of ye olde days and looked like it had been drawn using crayons, but managed to get us through. The main road Banchi Di Sotto, was packed with tourists and lined with the ever increasing popular souvenir shops, suffice to say this was going to be a quick visit for Hughy and I. We walked to the local Duomo …

Under a Hot Tuscan Sun

Tuscany, Italy Ah, the serenity. After what seems like weeks, actually it is weeks, we finally have the sounds of silence. No traffic, garbo’s at dawn, drunken yobbo’s, crowds…..did I mention traffic? Tuscany, quiet, peaceful….and a pool! Have I talked about the heat? Hot! 32-34 every day lately, and humid. Sweat city. We haven’t mentioned breakfast much, but our morning diet lately has consisted of bakery/cake/bakery/bread…repeat! This morning we had muesli. Muesli, with MILK! Thank God for self contained accommodation. We got a few tips from people, thank you, and after getting provisions for dinner (i.e. beer!) we headed off to the Chianti region and a few reds. First stop Greve in Chianti, yes GPS that is GREVE in Chianti…..GREVE, not San Polo!! Nice place San Polo, just not Greve, and 20 minutes further away. We reach Greve in Chianti, and a lovely place it is. We wander around the main piazza looking at the shops, checking out the tourism info joint, enjoying the sunshine, and come across the most incredible shop we have ever …

Hello Tuscany

Tuscany, Italy This morning we woke to the remnants of the previous days storm, with a hazy cloud cover over Assisi. As now was not the time for panoramic photos of the city, we headed to brekky followed by a walk into the centre, all up hill of course, for a coffee overlooking the Basilica of St Francis. By 9.30 the cloud began to disappear and we made our way to Rocca Maggiore……or so we thought. Following the map we headed down a path that we believed was leading us to this medieval building, before deciding it was actually leading us up the ‘garden path’. Back tracking down from whence we came, we asked for directions before heading off on a different path, through the city lane ways of Assisi, before finally coming across the Rocca Maggiore, but not before drowning in a sea of sweat. Parting with our standard €5 we entered the medieval building which was erected as a German feudal castle in 1174. During a popular rising the Duke Conrad of Lutzen …

St Francis of Assisi ( patron saint of animals )

Assisi, Italy Up early for a run before brekky and a quick macchiato before catching a cab to our hire car and heading off to Assisi. Hugh was a true expert at the wheel, he has got this driving caper down pat. The drive was simple enough, managed to avoid the tolls and arrived in Assisi around 2.30pm. Disappointing news upon arrival, Beerock was 6kms from where we were staying which meant someone had to drive, so the idea was quickly ditched and Assisi it was for the night. Views of this beautiful town from afar looked amazing and we were not disappointed upon arrival. Managed to find a park near the Hotel, quickly grabbed our 20kg luggage before the rain clouds closed in and a heavy downpour ensued. The welcome relief from the heat was greatly appreciated, it was a strange feeling to actually feel coolness instead of stifling heat. Once the rain had passed after half an hour we headed out to explore Assisi. We took in the Basilica of St Clare, which …

Gnocchi, gnocchi, gnocchi

Rome, Italy Our last full day in Rome, so we needed to push on and see as much as possible. Another hot and humid day awaited, so yesterday’s extravaganza that was the laundry Nonna, will be put to the test. We had pre-booked tickets to the Galleria Borghese, and trudged up the steps and through the beautiful gardens of villa Borghese to the museum. There goes a litre of sweat! The Galleria only allows 200 people per two hour time slot so as not to overcrowd the experience, and it worked well. The sculptures, especially by Bernini, were absolutely awesome. I never thought I’d like marble statues as much as I did…the detail was amazing. Two hours went by pretty quickly and we headed back down the hill to our studio, past the trinket sellers, and the umbrella Sellers, and the water sellers….till we got to the end of the gardens, with a lovely view over Piazza Popolo. The view was great, but not nearly as wonderful as the stirring rendition of a famous Bob …

More walking in Rome

Rome, Italy Up early for a run around Villa Borghese before the heat set in, quick brekky then Hugh needed to write yesterday’s Blog as we were too tired last night. Decided on a coffee overlooking the Piazza Del Popolo and Whack!!! $15 dollars later we had consumed 2 Cappuccinos and were still only a quarter through the Blog. I made the call for Hugh to return to our room and finish the Blog whilst I walked to the Villa Borghese Museum to purchase tickets for tomorrow. An hour later, one wrong turn added an extra 25 minutes to my walk. Arrghh, Hugh was pacing the Piazza waiting for me whilst being absconded by 15 Pakistani salesman wanting to sell him hats, sunglasses, roses, trinkets, you name they had it.   Blog still not finished we returned to the room, finished the Blog and set about starting our day. But not before we addressed the issue of clothes washing. We were directed to a Laundromat around the corner from our Hotel who charged €20 for …

“Private tour of Rome”

Rome, Italy It’s an early start today, as we have booked a private guide for the day, starting at the Colosseum. As is per our want we walked from our apartment as the owner, Adriano said it was only 1km down the road. 45 minutes later we arrived, already hot and sweaty, to meet our guide for the day, Sara. Thanks Adriano, me thinks more like 3km! First stop, The Colosseum. Impressively large, with a capacity in its day of about 70,000. The crowds build quickly and early, so we are soon jostling the tour groups for the better vantage points and camera opportunities….thank God I’m tall. Spent about an hour looking around this outstanding stadium, imagining Russell Crowe all the while. Actually the film Gladiator definitely helped image life in this cruel place. Next stop, the Roman Forum, the ruins of the houses of the ruling parties. It’s also where the cremation site of Julius Caesar is, behind a large stone sculpture wall. It’s a plain dirt pile only distinguished by some old flowers …

Goodbye Amalfi, Hello Rome

Rome, Italy Our last day in Amalfi was pretty relaxed with brekky, a coffee at our favourite cafe, a couple of photos before finalising our packing and walking the 77 steps down to our awaiting driver. All going to plan so far!! The drive back to Napoli was very relaxing as our driver took us the back route through the lovely countryside, accompanied by some lovely Italian music, interspersed with the latest Top 40 songs and a couple of pop songs in Italian, quite the repertoire of music. It took us 45 minutes to get from Amalfi to Napoli and 20 minutes to get from the Napoli freeway exit to the train station, which was only 5kms, the traffic in this city is unbelievable. Dog eat dog when driving. Our train was on time so we made the journey along the platform to coach number 2, of 15 carriages, so we were the second last carriage, and proceeded to board the train, but not before a gentleman offered to lift our bags onto the train …

Last day in Amalfi

mAmalfi, Italy Lazy start to the day as we needed to organise our train ride to Rome, transport from Amalfi to Naples and from Rome train station to hotel for tomorrow. After this much effort we headed off to our favourite coffee place before finally starting our day at midday!! First things first we needed a pair of sunnies for Hugh, thanks to him donating his old pair to the blue grotto yesterday. Thankfully we found a pair within our Euro price range, albeit a pair that can only be described as ‘Southern Italian Chic’ in Hugh’s words. Next on the shopping list was a bottle of Lemoncello, but from which of the 200 shops that sell it, was the authentic one??? Settled on a shop that made it on site and purchased a bottle that we could keep long after the Lemoncello had been consumed. A bit of solitude and reflection was needed, so a visit to the Duomo Amalfi was in order, €2 at the ready for Rachael’s candle. A lovely church it …