We spent a few days on Lake Como in Northern Italy visiting Varenna and Bellagio. The lake is surrounded by mountains rising as high as 8500 ft elevation. We toured Villa Carlotta and Villa del Balbianello, both incredible!
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012
After leaving Venice, we drove along the Grande Strada delle Dolomiti which begins in Belluno and travels thru The Dolomite Mountains. We visited Cortina d’ Ampezzo then traveled over Passo Pordoi and Passo Sella both offering breathtaking views. We stayed in a little village called Selva Val Gardena which is framed by the peaks of the Sella Group. We headed out early the next morning to catch sunrise and then did a short hike in the Alpe di Siusi, Europe’s largest high alpine meadow, located between Val di Fassa and Val Gardena.
Location: Sëlva, Italy
Saturday, May 26, 2012
We have explored many islands around Venice including Murano, Burano and San Giorgio. Murano is world renowned for its glass making industry. We had a chance to watch glass blowing up close and visited several of the glass galleries. Burano is a charming little fishing village famous for its lace making and brightly colored houses. San Giorgio is directly across from Piazza San Marco on the main island. We went to top of bell tower to get a nice view overlooking the lagoon.
Venice (Venezia) is an enchanting city. It is located on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. The main form of transportation is by Vaporetto (water buses) which run up and down the Grand Canal. We've covered a lot of areas including Piazza San Marco, San Polo, Rialto, Zattere and Accademia. We visited the Rialto Market one morning and watched all the merchants sell fresh fish, fruits and vegetables to the locals. We did a tour of Basillica de San Marco while the interior was lit up and the walls, ceilings and domes are completely covered in mosaics. We're right around the corner from Piazza San Marco which has been extremely convenient and allowed us to enjoy it after the crowds thin out.
Location: Venice, Italy
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The drive thru Tuscany has been breathtaking with rolling hills, wildflower fields, tall cypress trees, vineyards and charming hilltop towns. There are poppies, lupines and many other wildflowers in bloom. We've explored many winding backroads with amazing scenery unfolding around every turn. It is truly magical to watch the light dance over the hills and valleys! The Val d'Orcia is probably one of the most beautiful valleys in the Tuscany area with views that could be mistaken for the Blue Ridge Mtns back home.
Tuscany is filled with charming little towns and villages, many perched on the hilltops offering incredible views of the surrounding valleys. Our home base was Montepulciano which is a walled city, built on a sloping and narrow limestone ridge. The streets are very narrow and steep and can be challenging to navigate even in a small auto. The churches are impressive and usually the focal point of each town's main piazza. One of our favorite hilltop towns was Montalcino where we climbed the towers in the Montalcino castle - very cool! Other hilltop towns we visited included Monteriggioni, Montisi and Pienza.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Location: Florence, Italy