North America, Europe · 6 Days · 26 Moments · April 2017

Kent & Bridgette's Italian Adventure

27 April 2017

Bumming around Montepulciano. We wandered into an old Etruscan cave now turned wine cellar, had some amazing local Tuscan pasta and wine and, (unfortunately), got rained on.

26 April 2017

Here's the view from our accommodation in the Tuscan countryside, just outside the small town of Montepulciano (that's the town on the top of the hill you can see in the background). Actually, it's an "agriturismo" - Italian for farmhouse. They grow wine and olives, harvest honey, and... Presumably just drink said wine and honey. We had to drive down an extremely long dirt road to get here. - Kent
Second stop in Tuscany: Barone Ricasoli. It's a castle. And they have wine. And gorgeous views. Any questions? -Kent
First stop in Tuscany: The incredible Antinori winery. It's one of the biggest wineries in Chianti. Built pretty recently, it's a modern marvel in modern architecture. I mean, it's a _winery_ with almost zero carbon footprint. Great wine and beautiful views too. - Kent
After Florence, we rented a car to drive through the countryside of Tuscany. We were supposed to get a tiny little, stick shift Fiat, but I guess the clerk at Hertz thought the stupid American's should get a giant, automatic Ford instead. *shrug* Works for me! Sidenote: in most respects driving in Italy is the same as in the US. They drive on the same side of the road, there are lots of pretty clear signs and Google Maps gets you anywhere your need to go. Oh, except they DRIVE LIKE FUCKING CRAZY PEOPLE! Lane markers are apparently mere suggestions (especially on dangerous curves). Pedestrians staunchly believe they are immortal and dare you to prove otherwise. And I'm not sure how fast 120 kilometers per hour is, but grannies ride my ass when I drive that (it feels fast). And I haven't decided if this is efficient or terrifying, but there are hardly any traffic lights here. Just intersections where you gamble your life on who gets to go first. -Kent

25 April 2017

The big thing to do in Florence is see the art museums. There are endless paintings, statues and other great works of art to see. We did see some of the most famous pieces, but mostly we chose to just enjoy the culture of Florence. Oh, and the amazing views! Here are some shots from the top of the Westin hotel overlooking the river. Indescribably beautiful!
Finished off our evening strolling the Arno river and popping into a few enotecas for a glass of vino. Finished our evening on the terrace at the Westin, watching the sunset over Florence. Beautiful day! Then of course we needed a snack on the way home and ducked into some little sandwich shop on a back street. It was a magical moment stuffing our faces full of prosciutto and foccacia while strolling through Piazza del Duomo!
Full day in Florence! Enjoyed a cappuccino on our balcony before setting off to tour the Accademia and stroll around town. Checked out the Duomo and Baptistry, Palazzo Vecchio, and Uffizi gallery. Stopped for an amazing lunch at an authentic spot off a side street, followed by a cappuccino in the Piazza Della Signoria.
Here's the view from our balcony in Florence: overlooking the duomo, the most famous sight in the city.

24 April 2017

After the gelato festival, we decided to stop into a swanky bar at the top of the hill for a couple glasses of Chianti. It was quite the celebration to finally be having a glass of wine 3 days into our Italy trip! (Damn GI bug!) After that, we headed towards our home and decided to walk through the adorably hipster San Niccolo neighborhood. We stopped in a lively bar and settled in for a couple more glasses of wine and a GIANT meat and cheese plate! (We did not know that we ordered the plate big enough for a table of 8.) We really should have taken the after photo- we did some damage! We loved the Primitivo wine and the service so much that we took home a bottle! -Bridge
A few shots from the Piazza Michaelango, where we caught a Gelato festival. Scenic views looking down on Florence. Sidenote: ice cream is good, gelato is even better! Then we had drinks at a trendy restaurant right next door with said view. - Kent P. S. My wife is a TROOPER! Not even food poisoning can slow her down. We took half a day to recuperate in Rome and then, despite my protests, she insisted we continue with our scheduld itinerary of walking all day and eating and drinking Italian meat, cheese and wine. Good God!
Bye bye Rome, Hello Florence!! We took the high speed train from Rome to Florence and were SO impressed! Never have we seen such a new, clean train that left on time and arrived early! Such an easy journey!! We checked into yet another perfectly lovely B&B with a Duomo view, dumped our bags, and headed out to the Gelato festival! We hiked the steep climb up to Piazza Michelangelo, and the view was absolutely worth it! (And so was the Gelato!). We were fortunate enough to be in Florence during the International Gelato festival taking place right there in the Piazza, so it would have been irresponsible of us to not partake!! I was finally feeling better by this point, so I figured I would dive right back into solid foods with ALL the gelato that I could stuff in my face! So many unique and amazing flavors! "Buontalenti" was one of my favorites. We tasted until we could taste no more! And of course we stayed for the gorgeous sunset over Florence! -Bridge
Took the "frecciorosa" (bullet train) from Rome to Florence. These Italians really have public transport figured out. Cleanest, most efficient train I've ever been on. Here's a few shots from during the trip.
Scavi tour at the Vatican: Photos were forbidden during this tour, but we absolutely wanted to take note, the Scavi tour at the Vatican was phenomenal!! Our favorite part of the Vatican by far. The tour took us through the ancient ruins and necropolis found under the Basilica that far dated many of the modern Christian structures that we see today. In the 1930s, archeologists uncovered burial grounds and monuments that had been covered for over a century. Looking into these ruins was such an interesting look back in time. Our tour guide was excellent, but instructed us to exit through a random door... we ended up popping up right in front of the main altar of the Basilica that is normally blocked off!! We of course figured we were not supposed to be there, but snapped a few photos just before the Vatican guards jumped us! -Bridge
The Vatican Crypts were amazing. Nobody actually knew they existed until they were rediscovered in the 1940's. Unfortunately, pi turns inside the crypt were not allowed so you just get random pictures of the altar inside St. Peter's Basilica (once again, words can not describe how enormous it is!) and our walk back to the hotel. -Kent

23 April 2017

We did the "Heart of Rome" walk at night. It was absolutely gorgeous! The city is beautiful at night. - Kent
Stopped for tea (for sick pitiful me) at a little cafe off the Campo de Fiori. Service was lacking but ambiance was lovely. Loved our romantic walk through the heart of Rome! Stops at Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi, and ending at the Spanish Steps. We were accosted by a man trying to "sell us flowers." We were pretty sure he was trying to rob us. Nevertheless, the night was gorgeous! A little chilly, but Rome is such a gorgeous city by day and night.
The Colloseum. Built in 70-80 Ad ish. It only took 10 years to build, which is rather impressive for the time.
So... got a bit of a late start today... what we have neglected to mention was that I've been struggling with a horrid case of food poisoning. At one point Kent actually said, "honey, mentally prepare yourself to go to the hospital, I know you don't want to, but I'm taking you." Of course I protested but promised to get some rest... so we missed out on a day and a half of Rome :( BUT after rest and a liquid diet, I think I'm on the mend!! Do you KNOW how much it sucks to NOT consume meat, cheese, pasta, wine, and pizza your first few days in Italy?? BOO!!! But my sweet and loving husband ate soup and drank tea with me, saying we "are in this together," despite my insisting he indulge! So grateful for blush and concealer! Here we are at the Victor Emmanuel monument, the Colosseum, Forum, and Arch of Constantine. It is SO impressive that the Romans could build these grandiose structures that could survive over a century. Everywhere you look there is something old and noteworthy! -B

22 April 2017

A few more from the magnificent Basilica. -Bridge
St. Peter's Basilica. Pictures can't even do this place justice. It was enormous! You could fit 5 typical Catholic churches from back home in it. It was truly awe inspiring. I'll be honest, I didn't have high expectations for the Vatican. I probably would have skipped it, but St. Peter's Basilica is amazing. My favorite place so far! - Kent
Like Kent said, the Vatican was gorgeous, but was a total mosh pit! Our guided tour with Overome was informational, but fighting the crowds and dodging other tourists took away from some of the splendor. We walked from our hotel to the Vatican and back to soak in all that is Rome! Love this city! Could absolutely spend weeks here! -Bridge
First stop: a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Basilica and The Sistine Chapel. So crowded!! Didn't get very many photos because we were being rushed through a VERY crowded place. The Museums are basically the Vatican's enormous collection of artwork: statues, paintings, tapestries, etc. We rushed through it in an hour but you could spend days just in the Museums. No Photo are allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but it was pretty neat too. It's about the size of a typical Catholic church back home, but it's covered with paintings on the ceiling and walls. You could almost feel the history.
Checked into our hotel! Being treated to a lovely cafe on the balcony! A little tired and jet lagged... but catching the traveler's high!

21 April 2017

First stop: Rome!!
We're going to Italy!