Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lake Como

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!  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Dolomiti

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.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Venice at Night

Thought I’d share just a few final images from Venice.  The most magical time is when the sun goes down, the twilight skies appear and more importantly the crowds thin out. The lights in the piazza and colors reflecting in the canals are truly enchanting...

Venice Islands

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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuscany Landscape

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 Hill Towns

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


Arrived in Italy on Thursday - finally!  Spent the last few days in Florence (Firenza).  Watched the sun rise over the city lighting up the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and the Duomo - gorgeous!  Walked from one end of the city to the other, again and again, but so much to see and enjoy along the way. Visited the Boboli Gardens and toured several churches.  The finale was a climb up 414 steps to top of the Campanile di Griotto/bell tower to enjoy unique views of the city and closeup view of the Duomo.  Next, heading on a drive thru the Tuscany region...