Wow, what a great hike yesterday in the mountains above Lake Como! Just the two of us and a guide on a nearly 7-mile hike with some unbelievable views of the lake, centuries old stone dwellings in tiny hamlets, remnants of old Roman roads, and even a mountain ram and his mate right on the trail. After the hike (and a short nap back at the hotel) we took the cable train up to the village at the top of the mountain where we enjoyed a cappuccino while watching the sun set over the lake. A fitting way, we thought, to punctuate the end of our wonderful Italian honeymoon.
6 days ago
It's tough to describe how incredibly beautiful Lake Como scenery is. With the dramatic and imposing Alps as the backdrop, travel posters of Switzerland immediately come to mind. But the posters wouldn't do Como justice. Our hotel room in the town of Como overlooks the southwest tip of the lake, and today we took a boat tour about halfway up (past George Clooney's place) to the very charming resort town of Bellagio. While there we stumbled on a wonderful shop with all kinds of things made of olive wood. The shop was owned by an older gentlemen who made everything for sale right there on site. Lisa was pretty excited about such a find and loaded up on cooking utensils, including a mezzaluna and gnocchi board which she was trained to use in our Tuscany cooking class. She can't wait to try out what she learned. Tomorrow we're going on a hike in the hills above the lake.
7 days ago
Yesterday was our last full day in the beautiful city of Venice where after two gray and rainy days the sun came out! We started the day with a relaxing and romantic private gondola ride where our gondolier entertained us by whistling "Santa Lucia" and a couple other of his favorite tunes. We then took a tour of the stunning Basilica and Piazza di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale. We finished the day by wandering the charming narrow streets (often getting lost) and some of the more than 400 bridges in Venice, including the Rialto Bridge, and enjoying a wonderful dinner. Lisa ordered penne amatriciana and claimed it was the best pasta she'd had in Italy ( which is saying something). Today we hop on a train to our final stop in Italy, Lake Como.
9 days ago
Our first day in Venice we visited Murano Glass factory, and of course had to make a purchase. Next day we took a tour to Verona (their 2000 year old colosseum is still used for concerts) after stopping at a winery in Valpolicella to taste some wonderful Amarone and other tasty reds. Our "tour mates" were a nice couple from Southern California, originally from Mexico. Perhaps Lisa's most memorable thing about him (a successful physician) was not that he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with his wife and son but that he ate horse meat for lunch.
10 days ago
Nice wine tasting and lunch at Castello di Verrazzano winery followed by exploring a few small towns in Chianti. Good wine, good food, met some nice folks, saw some amazing countryside, and my beautiful wife by my side. Doesn't get any better!
11 October 2016
Today we participated in a half day cooking class in the Chianti countryside. There were seven of us making gnocchi, mushroom risotto, turkey and pork roasted with rosemary and sage, and tiramisu for dessert. Everything was delicious. On the way back to the hotel we made an impromptu stop at a tiny farm producing wine and olive oil. The hand-lettered wood sign at the road proclaiming their existence read "Direct sale - vino and olio". A father and daughter ran the entire operation. The $12 Chianti Classico and $6 basil olive oil we bought were really tasty.
10 October 2016
Yesterday we spent the day touring southern Tuscany, including Montalcino and Montepulciano. Even the cloudy and rainy weather couldn't hide views of the Tuscan hills so incredibly beautiful that they didn't seem real. One experience all too real, however, occurred after leaving a winery -- a car coming the opposite way pretty much forced us into a ditch at the edge of a narrow gravel road. We had to go get the winery workers to pull us out. They were very kind, though, and seemed happy to help us even though we interrupted their loading of freshly harvested grapes.
9 October 2016
A fond farewell to Florence then spent the morning in Pisa. Enjoyed a coffee while watching runners go past in a local race. Then rented a car and drove to our next accommodations in the Tuscany countryside. A beautiful 600 year old villa, where they were kind enough to have a nice bottle of wine waiting for us in our room.
8 October 2016
A wonderful day today in Cinque Terre. Five main villages (cinque is five in Italian) through the mountains along the Mediterranean coast, all of the villages with a quaint old country charm, centuries old churches and narrow cobblestone streets. We hiked 2.6 miles between two of the villages, a fairly challenging one with some steep climbs and rocky trails.
View from Manarola village church on Cinque Terre
Trying to wake up as we prepare for our full day Cinque Terre walk.
7 October 2016
A honeymoon gift from the hotel in Florence.
Rubbing Il Porcelino's snout for luck, a simple dinner of lasagna and house red wine. Then a window display of really creepy Italian masks grabbed our attention.
Late afternoon on Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence.
The Duomo in Florence. I'd forgotten how stunning it was. The details are unbelievable.
More traffic than driver expected so we were wondering if we'd make the train. But we did with time to spare. On to Firenze!
Our last morning by the sea in the enchanting town of Sorrento. Now we're on our way to the train station in Naples for a 3-hr ride to Florence.
6 October 2016
Wonderful fresh fish dinner and wine at Vela Bianca. Molto bene!
Ravello -- Lisa's purchase of beautiful hand-painted dishes, celebrated afterward with cups of cappuccino!
Today's drive along the Amalfi Coast with stops in Positano, Amalfi, Scala and Ravello was delightful. The scenery was breathtaking, so beautiful it was nearly surreal. And I got to share it with my beautiful wife!❤️
Cappuccino in Ravello on the plaza. Yum.
Lunch in Scala today along Amalfi Coast. Bellisima!
Mermaid Island along Amalfi Coast.
We had absolutely ideal weather yesterday for our tour of Capri (Ka' pree). Only 12 of us on a boat, sailed all around the island and saw many beautiful rock formations and caves. Explored Anacapri and Capri towns, and did a bit of shopping.
5 October 2016
Capri rock formations
Yesterday's trip to Capri
4 October 2016
Flying across the Alps🏔
Lisa got excited when passing a Kusmi Tea kiosk, so she had to go buy some!
Bonjour! Just landed in Paris CDG Airport, waiting to board flight to Naples. I'd forgotten what a nice airport this is. And restrooms exceptionally clean.
3 October 2016
First, and I hope only, mishap of our trip already occurred. I left a pair of glasses in the restroom at Atlanta Airport.😖
French Chardonnay (Pays D'OC)
Kudos to Air France on their chocolate dessert!👍👍
On board plane in Atlanta awaiting takeoff for our 8h 20m flight to Paris. Nice Premium Economy seats, although on bulkhead so no under seat storage.
Eating lunch in Charlotte Airport before boarding plane for Italy!