Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Che io fatto in mi vacanza estate

I’m not sure if I wrote that correctly, but it should say “What I did on my summer vacation”. I know, technically it's still spring, but I don't care.

What DID I do? I’m glad you asked.

Well, I went to Italy, in case you missed that news. And what a trip I had. Twenty days of pretty near bliss. This is my 3,000 meter overview, with more details to come in follow-on entries.

The green fields of Tuscany with Siena in the background.
I went from home to BWI Airport to Philadelphia (there, had a four-hour flight delay - one of the low points) to Rome. I emailed my travel agent and when I landed in Rome had an email with a rescheduled train ticket and the name of my new driver in Florence. Hooray, Monica of CulturalItaly!

The Campo in Siena
I took the train to Florence and a limo van from there to Siena.

I stayed in Siena, Tuscany, for five days and did day trips to Chiusure, Asciano, Pienza, Montepulchiano, Castellina di Chianti, Azienda, San Gimignano, Montalcino, and Quercegrossa. I visited an agriturismo farm, four wineries, attended a private cooking class, and had a walking tour of Siena. It was a packed five days.

Dacia Stepway Sandero
I rented a car in Siena and drove to Pergugia, Umbria, where, again, I stayed for five days. 

Cars drive on the right side of the road. While there were some excitable and aggressive drivers, I didn't think any more so than in the US. I noted far less of a patrol presence on the roadways than in the US. I did have to accustom myself to clutching and shifting again. It had been awhile. Merge ramps are relatively short, so you have to be ready to launch or hit the brakes.

It was rainy and cloudy around Perugia most of my time there. However, the sites I was visiting were south a ways, so I had pleasant and sunny drives most of the time.

I did day trips to Orvieto, Città di Bagnoreggio, the mountain top village of Pettino (no GPS signal) above Campello sul Clitunno, near Spoleto, for a truffle hunt experience, Assisi, and Bevagna. 

Very busy five days again. I had almost no time for gelato...but I managed.
Cittâ di Bagnoreggio
Mountain top near Pettino

I dropped off my rental car and took the train from Perugia to Rome to meet family there. 

Italian Air Force displays Italian flag colors
Credit: www.fanpage.it
We had AirBnB's near the Pantheon, a very good coffee shop, a bunch of gelato places too numerous to count, and a restaurant we kind of adopted: Clemente alla Maddalena

We made our way around  Rome for a couple days, taking in some sites, but unable to see some because of closures for Festa di Republicca

A photo of the parade taken from the Capitoline Museum

That's OK. Rick Steves says vacation or site see as if you're coming back. 

A Florence sunset
After a couple days we headed to Florence by train. We found our AirBnB and discovered a delightful place with a rooftop terrace. 

Again, we had a convenient cafe nearby, an essential ingredient for beginning the tourist's day. We closed out our first evening in Florence witnessing a beautiful sunset from our terrace with a bottle of vino rosso. What could be better? 

We tooled around Florence for a couple days, seeing its sites and succumbing to the beauty of its art, architecture, and gardens. 

We then grabbed a train to Venice. 

Canal Living
Venice! It really is as beautiful as advertised. We arrived in the evening, and fears about navigating the water taxi system quickly dissipated. They have set it up as fool proof as possible. That doesn't mean you won't have to ask a question or two to make sure you're heading in the right direction on the right number boat, but, still, fairly easy to use. 

"Building Bridges" by Lorenzo Quinn

In the two days we were in Venice, we managed to see a good deal of the highlights, do some ambling around, and easily convince ourselves that, yes, Venice, we would be back.

A view on Palatine Hill
Then we were headed back to Rome for the final leg of our journey. Same rooms as before, so we felt comfortable in our surroundings as if we were seasoned Romans. 

We climbed around Palatine Hill. We navigated the Metro system (yay, us) to get us to Vatican City and back. We ate at our favorite places. And then we were heading to the airport for our trip home.

The Dome of St. Peter's Basilica

I felt a little guilty last week after returning home. I enjoyed this vacation so much, I felt like I had gotten away with something. I guess I did. I came home with wonderful memories, new friends, and a greater appreciation for a culture that I've always admired. I brought home over 130 Euros, so I guess I better plan on returning real soon.