Sunday, July 22, 2012

La Spezia - Cinque Terre

 Our hotel was in La Spezia, but we really didn't spend much time there. The Cinque Terre are 5 towns that you can only get to by train or boat or hike. We road the train in and spend the day.
 The Cinque Terre is on of the places that when you see pictures of it on the internet or something. You think to yourself it really can't be that beautiful in person. But when you see it in person you think. WOW! it is amazing.
 This shot is the view we had as we hiked back from Monterosso to Vernazza. Bill and I had taken our swimming suites and spent most of the day on the beach of Monterossa.
 A couple more pictures as we hiked to Vernazza. I think if you were to ask Bill his favorite place of the trip he would say The Cinque Terre!

San Gimignano and Pisa

 San Gimignano is a beautiful village in the Tuscan region of Italy. It sit upon a beautiful hill and has amazing views in every direction. 

 We were lucky to be there on the day of a big festival. The parades at San Gimignano were not as flamboyant as Venice, but still fun to see. 
A couple of views from the city. I really loved this area. It has the very laid back and easy going feeling. Also San Gimignano had the best Gilato I had the entire trip.

Here are a few shots of Pisa. Bill doing the obligatory "holding the tour up" shot. I was really quite amazed at how far it was leaning. I think the last shot, I straitened it out in the view of my camera. I must subconsciously not like seeing it lean. :)    

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Florence Cont. - American Military Cemetery an Memorial

On our way out of Florence we stopped at the American Cemetery and Memorial. What a beautiful and peaceful place!

 The Florence American Cemetery and Memorial site in Italy covers 70 acres. The wooded hills that frame its western perimeter rise several hundred feet. Between the two entrance buildings, a bridge leads to the burial area where the headstones of 4,402 of our military dead are arrayed in symmetrical curved rows upon the hillside.
One of the ladies that was in our group was able to find her friends father's grave and the people at the cemetery gave her a flag and some other information to give to her. It was very special. This last picture is the view you see from the cemetery. I thought to my self as I looked out that I hope the families that chose to bury their loved ones here are comforted to know that they are in a beautiful place and that they are treated with the utmost respect.

Europe Trip 2012 cont. Florence Itay

 Florence was really exciting to visit. This is the birthplace of the Renaissance!! This is where Michelangelo and Leonardo De Vinci walked...painted and worked. Our hotel was right around the corner from this 11th century baptistery of John the Baptist. You can not move in this city without seeing history!
 This is a close-up picture of the sculptures on the baptistery. I was in awe... I bumped into so many people and wobbled my ankles on the cobble stones the entire time I was in Florence because I could not stop looking at all the buildings. How do people that live here get used to it? I don't think I would ever tire of looking at all the beauty there.
 I really have no words to express standing at the base of the David. It is truly breathtaking. I literally had tears when I seen him. I was amazed.

The two pictures above are from a beautiful square, I wish I could remember all the names of the squares and building of Florence. This one had the carousel and there was usually a musician playing. I love the way everyone seems to live outdoors. 

 Ponte Vecchio Bridge, and the lower picture is taken from the bridge looking down to the bridge below. When we were on Ponte Vecchio were two guitar player that were wonderful. It was so fun to just sit and listen to them play. At one point a large group of teens joined in the song.

One of the statures at the bridge. So beautiful and yet not even a famous sculpture... Just there. This is how all of Florence is! Beauty and art at every turn.
 We went through the Uffizi museum, it holds the worlds most important collection of Renaissance art. It was so amazing! This is the view of Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi.
 There was a festival going on while we were in Florence. Part of this festival is a game, but they say it is more like a brawl... the only rule is that you can't bite. This was the green team. I am pretty sure that they one their match that day.
 Part of the parade was these flag throwers... pretty cool :)
One square was full of sculptures. I loved the beheading of Medusa. 
 One last view overlooking Florence. It was such an amazing city and I hope that one day I can go back, there is so much to see and I just got a small taste of it.

Europe Trip 2012 – Venice Italy

I never thought that Bill and I would be able to go to Europe, but we flew out on Tuesday June 12 for Venice Italy. This was one of those places that I had on my personal bucket list. There is just something very beautiful and magical about Venice whenever I would look at pictures. A few years back Bill had asked me if there was one place I would like to see in the world where would that be? My answer had been Venice Italy. 

Bill and I at one of the many bridges in Venice 

 I must say I was not disappointed! I only wish I had a better vocabulary to express how I felt about it. But so far all I can say was “Magical”. We stayed on the island of Lido a very sweet quite island and Bill and I had a lovely morning run while we were there. Lido has a great beach and I wish we could have spent some time relaxing there. But being on a tour you know that time is a precious commodity and I wanted as much time as I could on the main island of Venice.

 We rode the boat/bus to Venice and all I can say is I had a wonderful time. We were there for about a day and a half. Not nearly enough time, but as I write more about this trip I am sure that will be the running theme. Some of the things I enjoyed about Venice were really quite simple. I love just walking around… getting lost in all her narrow walkways and bridges, seeing all the beautiful flower boxes on the windows and lavishly dreaming about how it would have been to walk those same paths during her prime. One day I know I will have to go back to Venice… of all the places I visited on this trip she is my favorite.

 We rode the boat out to Burano Island, also known as the lace island. This island is small and quaint with its brightly colored houses. I loved walking around and enjoying some gelato mmmm I enjoyed a lot of gelato during this trip! Burano is known for the lace making, but as in so many things this is becoming a lost art. There were a few older ladies in the shops still making lace but for the most part the laces they sell are all manufactured somewhere else. If you do get a piece of their handmade lace it will cost you a pretty Euro. I think this is true to be said for most of the art that used to be produced in any part of the world. We buy cheap mass produced things instead of artist made items.


 I was please on a couple of occasions to find gluten free pasta at some restaurants so I didn’t feel too deprived having my dietary restrictions.

The last night there we took a gondola ride through the canals and out to the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. I had tears in my eyes and down my cheeks numerous times while in Venice. Bill asked me a few times if I was OK, I just didn’t want to leave…. EVER! Venice was truly magical for me, but I also wanted to see all the other things this trip had to offer, so I dried my eyes and got ready for Florence!