North America, Europe · 21 Days · 77 Moments · June 2018

Archini Family in Venice and Slovenia

3 July 2018

Last romp around Piran. Clio left early in the Am to head back to England. We had a great time. Saw a shell museum. Bought Mattia and giacomo bracelets because of course you can find them near Italy! And ate at another amazing fish restaurant (only I ate the fish, again). Then we drove back to Venice!!!!!!! We stayed at a hotel airport, brought back our rental car, bam.... did you note the look on Mattia’s face? Yup. He’s done. Spiked a 104 fever this afternoon. We kept in down all night and the next day while we were flying. He did great. No vomit. We are ready to come home!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 July 2018

Giacomo makes the evening appetizer plate! (Inspired by this Campari spritz!)
Today we went to the famous salt pans of istria where currently there is a lovely wetlands Marsh and nature preserve that was was awesome for birdwatching. We met Clio for lunch on a boat where I feasted on fresh fish!!! And then of course another dip in the Adriatic!

1 July 2018

Evening frolicking in Piran! Oh and the ice Cream rocks here too!
While Clio and Chris and Mattia were napping, giacomo and I explored the “beach” a ledge of rock. We saw nude bathing and American backpackers and had a blast swimming in the sea.
Exploring the coastal town of Piran! The coastline of Slovenia is only 46.6 km long... short, sweet, and gorgeous. This is a cobblestoned hodgepodge of narrow streets and stone steps and devastating cliffs and views! We love it here. And it’s a perfect place to end our Journey.

30 June 2018

Our terrace in Piran! Those bells are loud!
And then we arrived in Piran!!! Our last stop in Slovenia. Excited for our last three days of travel and we are already totally mesmerized by this entrancing Slovenian coast line. It’s splendid. A Venetian feel (on a clear day you can actually see Venice!) with a Baltic kick. Love this place! And Clio is staying with us!
We found this swinging carousel game (another device that would never be allowed in the US) and Mattia was in heaven. Giacomo Hated it... so no photo of him! We worked up and appetite and had a lovely meal where we discovered that Mattia LOVES bones!
We left Firbas behind and headed out for our longest drive of the trip all the way to the west coast. On the way we stopped at a castle in Celjne. This actually turned out to be one of the most fun! They were having a “knights day” there and we were able to shoot crossbows and little axes (forgot what they are called) and play chess. The kids loved this of course and the “knights” were very friendly.
Some random photos that didn’t make the original cut!

29 June 2018

On the ride back to Firbas we drove through one of the wine routes... a road that goes from the town of Ormoz to Jeruzalem. This area is famous for its white wines! Gorgeous scenery. Mattia was asleep in the car and drop ins are not common so we didn’t taste the goods! Giacomo gathered fresh eggs from the coup and he and Chris played a sunset game of soccer after dinner!
On an overcast day in the Eastern part of Slovenia we travelled to the border of Hungary, practically. Health spas from natural hot springs are extremely popular all over Slovenia but especially in this region. We chose one called Terme 3000. We didn’t get a lot of pics since we were in the water most of the time but g tried his first water slide and we had a pretty fun time!
In the morning after breakfast we went to feed the animals in the barn! Mattia was overjoyed. Horses, chickens, goats, sheep, cows, rabbits!!!

28 June 2018

The kids made friends. We did some archery and played some soccer. It’s a beautiful setting for sure. They are famous for their products made from the Williams pear, pictured here.
After Ptuj, we arrived at our second farm stay, run by the family Firbas. This was east of Maribor, the larger “city” in eastern Slovenia. You definitely feel the difference in this area... no foreign tourists. A lot less English. Less dramatic landscape. The people who stayed with us at the farm stay were all from Ljubljana. It was nice to arrive somewhere and know that we don’t have to cook for ourselves! Mom, this was fried cauliflower... good, but not yours! The kids loved the Slovenian soups, which opened every meal.
Today we travelled all the way east! On the way we stoped to walk around Ptuj, a Roman town from 2 thousand years ago. Of course we went to a castle and saw a museum filled with costumed from their famous yearly parade. More in next set!

27 June 2018

We went to City Park with our guide and tooled around there for a spell. Then we went down the river banks to some of the city’s outskirts. It was so nice to be on a bike. Not something that we have done before and well worth it. Giacomo was very confident and did a great job! Mattia enjoyed it as well until we accidentally clipped his chin in the helmet strap hook. Whoops!
We discovered the perfect breakfast place with a wonderfully helpful owner and ended up going a great bike tour around this extremely bikable city.

26 June 2018

After the caves we went to Predjama castle, marvelously built into the cliffs.. an actual cave dwelling of sorts from the Middle Ages. It was supposedly very dank and dreary to live there but well fortified and great for defense! Giacomo Rang the bell three time for good luck!
Today we took a day trip to see one of the most amazing cave systems in the karst region of Slovenia. Slovenia is well recognized for the their caves and this was an amazing tour with an actual Underground Railroad!

25 June 2018

Dinner at one of the best places we ate in Ljubljana. We actually had a hard time finding solid food there. I think if we had taken the time to get out of the sweet little (touristy) old town we could have found more places- but that’s tough with kids! And we also loved the outdoor cafes and terraces so Mattia and giacomo could run around! We then walked home through street music and theatrics. What a great human city.
And then of course the boat tour we’ve heard so much about! Chris will send me the phot of the tour guide. He was a hoot!!
The castle housed several interesting exhibits. The first was. Dragon exhibit where we learned about the mythology of the dragon, protector of the city and giver of water. Giacomo jumped out of a dragon egg! And then we stopped at the puppet museum. Slovenians love their crafts and showmanship and are well known for their puppetry.., This museum was quite interactive and the kids enjoyed finger puppets, show puppets as well as Marrionettes !
At the top of the castle the views were incredible! We took a Time Machine history tour through the castle in which people from history came to Life to tell the tale of the city, from romans to napoleon to the mayor who declared Ljubljana the city of dragons.
Raining today and it’s also the day in 1991 that Slovenia declared their independence from ex Yugoslavia so pretty much the whole city was shut down. We walked through the old town and followed the Roman road up to the Ljubljana castle.

24 June 2018

It was raining when we arrived so we went to the House of experiments which was a science museum/fun house that we of course got wholly sucked into. The museums here are so accessible and well laid out and the staff so helpful. We enjoyed this place tremendously. Yes that’s giacomo on a bed of nails!
First evening in Ljubljana. We fell In love pretty much immediately with this little slice of heaven. Extremely pedestrianized and very sweet with perfect sequences of bridges across the river and cafes that line its banks. Plus amazing gelato and great coffee. What more could you ask for?
And our final venture up near the alps was at the newly reopened Vintgar gorge. This was an amazing walk down into the far depths a beautiful gorge mostly over planks and bridges that have been there for over a century. It had been closed for repairs for a while so this was very exciting.

23 June 2018

We went up to another Slap after Vogel and then giacomo and I walked the local fairy trail which took us over bridges and into meadows and to a picturesque shore by the lake. Perfect and very full day!
And then we went up to Vogel. We don’t have Any pictures of the gondola ride because is was so crazy scary. I NEVER would have gone I don’t think if i had actually researched the ride. It was up up up and steep and crazy. I was petrified. Just held close to my boys and did funny prayers and mantras. Ha!!
The next day we enjoyed the farmers market in the main part of Lake Bohinj. Sweet sweet sweet! Amazing mild and fresh cheeses from cows and sheep just around the Corner. The baked good are filled with nuts and fresh ricotta-like Cheese and are Just perfectly sweetened. Of course everywhere we go there are child friendly play structures. This county is a child paradise. Oh and a bit of grocery shopping led to these amazing shOes!!

22 June 2018

Giacomo love on the way back from Dinner
Chris and giacomo enjoyed a toboggan run down the face of the mountain above Bled while Mattia slept. We were told of a great pizzeria “Just Down the street” which took us through an overgrown trail. Then when we thought to ourselves “Um where are we going?” a clearing appeared and ahhh some yummy food. Slovenian ideas of a short stroll are quite different then ours. Love it!
After lunch we circled back to Lake Bled which we hadn’t spent time in. Of Course we climbed the hill to The Castle! Our first castle of the trip. Giacomo loved it. The views were remarkable if the castle itself was stripped down and commercial at best.
More Radovljica
Good morning! Yes it’s raining! Of course that doesn’t stop us. (And we were secretly happy that we got to use our heavy rain gear that we brought!). Off to the town of Radovljica where there is the sweetest Bee museum and a lovely little square as well as perfect views...great for a wet day!
We descended into the Lake Bohinj area around 3pm. It was all stunning. Honestly we couldn’t have been more awestruck by the gentle yet majestic glory of the scenery. Rain was in the forecast so we decided to stop en route and go for a swim in the lake. We made dinner out of provisions from our last stop... very happy with our fun little gnome house near the lake.

21 June 2018

Giacomo tells Mattia “be sure the wear some flowers in your hair”
Bam! Lunch in the alps. We love it here!
And we are in the alps!!!!!!! From the Soca river up up up... so many twists and turns and so steep. Chris was dynamite at navigating the turns.

20 June 2018

We put the kids to bed at the farm stay and hung out here for a few hours. Yes!
And the Force de resistance, slap kozjak, the waterfall at the end of the offshoot... Paula would have had a heart-attack getting there. Of course we topped it all off with Lunch at the local campground which was wonderful. Trout is king here! As is meat. Chris was in heaven. Cheese and sausage , my favorite, is abundant.
And finally we dropped into the soca River valley and found visual treats everywhere! The Soca river is gorgeous and turquoise and clear clear clear. we were actually on Italian third line of defense so the trail was peppered with trenches and magazine storage areas. It was super intense.
Today was our first full day in the Soca valley area. We did the Kobarid historic trail which is a 5km loop with some offshoots starting at the Kobarid museum which was extraordinary. We in the us don’t talk of the First World War much at all but I remember so many of my favorite authors being influenced bu The Great War. Hemingway spent time In Kobarid as he was a volunteer on the Italian side, an ambulance driver. The trail took us up to a monument that commemorates the fallen soldiers of the area and then up to a settlement in antiquity that us currently an archeological site.
Our lovely new home for a few days even comes equipped with a two year old!! So there are tons of toys for the kids to play with.
A few more from our hike today. Chris at the museum, cheese aging on racks at the cheese museum, and bee hives, which are abundant in Slovenia and very much a prized pass time. They cultivate bees, enough just for their own use, and have been doing so for so long that it is part of their folk arts culture. Painting the boxes is a craft/art.

19 June 2018

On our walk back we looked at several sculptures that pepper the town. They make up a route called the Pot Miro which are various artist tributes to the perils of the First World War.
We walked to our first slap (waterfall) called Kramez. We weren’t prepared so we went skinny dipping. It’s amazing how few people there are here, both Slovenians and tourists. We had the place to ourselves. It really acts as a swimming pool for the toddlers since it is fairly shallow. It was freeeeezing!!!! Chris yelped!
It was so wonderful to be driving and we couldn’t have picked a better place to do it. Driving up through Friuli-Veneziano and then into Slovenia was so picturesque. You definitely feel that you are leaving Italy- to a place ... undefined, so far, for us. We meandered up over rolling hills and the as we approached our farm stay called Turistična kmetija Kranjc, the roads got steeper with many more hairpins and sharp drop offs. Of course, the first thing we did upon arrival in Our town of Kosec was go for a walk... and what a walk it was!
We took our drying laundry down. We did a little grocery shopping and got our last gelato and off to piazzale Roma to get our car. Not too harrowing of a process actually. The car was big enough to fit all of our stuff and Chris was excited to drive! Ciao ciao Venezia!

18 June 2018

me doing my Lampwork!
And back on the boat and to the “big island”!!
The other glass working they do in Murano is cold work I.e. grinding and sand Blasting. The Panizzi brothers pretty much do the work for all the famous artisans of the area and they have their own beautiful cadre as well. We ended up at a glassblowing place built from the runs of an old church. I want that chandelier!! But where can it go??
Giacomo at work!!
This is Alessia Fuga’s lampworking shop! Gorgeous items. We are here to actually learn to lampwork! It is so much harder then you might think. The glass heats up and becomes very mobile and you have to keep turning turning turning the glass rod so it doesn’t plop off. It was very cool. Giacomo was entranced. Mattia ran around the piazza outside and made friends with the Nonne.
Ok! So today was our big trip to Murano! My friend Marjorie from Sarah Lawrence has put together some incredible tours of Venice via her company OG Venice. she met us at the express vaporetto stop and then bam! We were off. We learned about how Morrow making was first perfected in Murano and how the Artists of Murano had to STAY on the island in order to avoid their secrets being spread. In exchange, they could marry royalty and were forgiven for all their crimes! What a life! First stop was the BaRbini family’s workshop where they craft incredible Mirrors- not my style but very beautiful.

17 June 2018

Just some food shots here of a dinner c and I shared at a restaurant just below our apartment. Yes, the kids were sleeping!!
In the afternoon we went to the Jewish ghetto part of town and took a tour of the synagogues. Then we met up with Cheryl and crew for a drink and “chit chat”. Giacomo and Mattia hung out with Cheryl’s goddaughter. We had pizza in the campo santa Margherita. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful send off. She leaves for Puglia on Tuesday!
Our morning walk to the natural history museum. We love watching the everyday tasks like garbage collecting and restaurant deliveries, all down on this maze of canals and waterways. The natural history museum was fun, air conditioned. I haven’t mentioned that Venice is in the high 80s! Way too hot and we don’t have air conditioning in our place!
So Italian!
And we are off to Cheryl’s party! Giacomo slept in until 10am today so he is well rested for tonight! We have chiara staying with Mattia (already fast friends) and we made our way to giacomo’s friend Dario’s restaurant near the Rialto! Omg what a dinner. Giacomo did great! 5 courses. And then dessert. He chit chatted. He tried things. He was great company. We were exhausted at midnight and so we sprung for a water taxi that brought us all the way back to our home where Mattia was fast asleep. Great day !

16 June 2018

Giacomo sat next to his art teacher ms. RichArts (ms Richards) sister, Gail, at dinner!
Gelato!! Mine! Boat! Mine!
A little rest, gondola rides across the canals, steps made of old decomposing books, Aqua Alta, more pigeons...
Another day in Venezia! We walked around to the Guggenheim museum but didn’t end up going in... ha! We’ve been there before! We may go another time. Who knows! It’s so fun because we keep running into Cheryl’s group all over town.. it’s like we are natives. We ate at a wonderful restaurant I quickly researched- all Italians, gondoliers, locals... we also watched a Spanish kid kick a ball around... the World Cup has started! Of course did some window shopping as you do.

15 June 2018

We ended our day with ice cream then dinner near by our apartment (awful- I totally missed... turned out to be a bar more then a restaurant and there were all kinds of unsavory folk there and the food was horrible!!). I stayed up and went grocery shopping and made a few work calls as the boats went home for the evening.
Alberto took us to Castello neighborhood where he lives and works and showed us his studio... giacomo was mesmerized. He is very very talented. And soft and gentle. Mattia chased pigeons, as he does. And stores Mimi in interesting places for safe keeping.
We then had lunch near santo Stefano where we met up with Cheryl and a group of her friends to meet a marble paper artist named Alberto! For lunch I got my first seppie dish! With polenta and it was wonderful. Chris has a seafood risotto and giacomo and matti... well pasta with red Sauce of course!
After San Marco we walked over the Rialto bridge and made our way to the market. Even though it was late it was still bustling. Giacomo loved it. Mattia slept. I swooned over the fresh beautiful fish and produce. Wow!
Giacomo on the vaporetto!
Chris and the boys went on a morning walk while I continued to get my bearings (as the travel guide in the family). They got a few pastries and walked along our local canal. Yes we have arrived indeed! Today we rode our first vaporetto. Giacomo got a little woozy (but several days into it... he’s got his sea legs!). We decided to go directly to San Marco, which was totally overwhelming so much so that we didn’t take any pictures. We wanted out of there !

14 June 2018

Giacomo experimenting with photography!
And we actually ventured out the very first day to get our bearings. Gabriella does not like to not have a sense of where she is and got a little frustrated being the guide on no sleep but after getting disoriented a few times, she figured it out and we were able to get first gelato on the boardwalk, go shopping at the super market and run around the bridges and canals and “campi” of our little slice of Dorsoduro. We got into bed by six and seven pm. Done and done!

13 June 2018

What a journi!!! We left San Francisoc early in the AM to get to the airport by 6am for our flight. Only to find out that it was delayed! We luckily were helped by a woman named “ miss jones “, a fabulous lady who loved the kids and switched our flight to go through Chicago and then onto Venice with a two hour layover and seats next to each other for each flight!! Mattia was a trooper. He actually slept for five or six hours on the floor between the seats!! He called the area “my bed”. So if he keeps that up ... the world is our oyster! Unfortunately the adults got pretty much zero sleep.. but hey, that’s our lot. We arrived in Venice at 11:30 AM and took a bus to Piazzale Roma where Rafaele our host helped us to our airbnb in the university neighborhood in Dorsoduro. It’s quiet and perfect for us!