Posts Tagged ‘cinque terre’

Hill Towns

May 22nd, 2009

May 22

overorvieto_sm

Looking Over Tuscan Countryside Of Orvieto

Had breakfast at the Internet cafe/modern wine bar while trying to finish a post finally from the Cinque Terre.  Afterwards, we went to the mall/market that comes to town once a week on Fridays, and the fish store that is only open with the fresh fish on Fridays.

We hired a cool driver today, Alesandro, and he drove us first an hour away to Orvieto.  Its a small town on the top of a cliff, that was once covered by water, then later volcanic substance.  Eventually, all the water went away, and they needed a way to get to water, especially during the 2 year siege by Rome.  So they built these underground caves, wells, pigeon coops (for food), and they basically created an underground city. We traversed through 2 long tunnels of caves and rooms that once held olive oil mills and fully situated cities.  There are currently over 1000 caves discovered like these here, basically a hollowed out cliff that the town sits on.

On this town is even a giant, beautiful, cathedral.  My guess is that in some time in the future, this entire town will collapse.  The last giant erosion was in 1992.

todi_sm

Our second town that we drove to was Todi (no, not the soccer player Totti).  We spent an hour in its town center that for the day was the flower market and gift market.  My mom bought some home made acacia honey, and I lounged on the church stairs.  This was a pleasant town, with what seemed to be pleasant people.  We ate lunch there.  I had ravioli with spinach and ricotta in a creamy sauce and of course, it was quite delicious.  

winebar_sm

We drove to a third town called Deruta–the porcelain capital of Italy.  Yawn.  I ate a gelato, had a coke, and milled about.

This entire day we have been chauffeured (whats the Italian word for that?) around in a Mercedes Benz mini van, toting 6 adults and the driver.  We have been on extremely winding roads and I have battling car sickness.  Kathy Blenkush has brought along these cool wristband type thing that has a bead in the middle of it that is supposed to apply pressure to a pressure point in your wrist that eases motion sickness.  I am not sure if it helped me or not, but I am glad I didn’t go without it.

Made it back to Montalcino and had a glass of wine while working on the Internet.  I needed to email our Rome apartment to let them know our approximate arrival time, as well as try to book a room for Kathy and Jeane inpinchi_sm Rome, as well as trying to secure ticket reservations for them to the Vatican museum with us.  Talked to grandad via skype while there and he told me m a racist Italian joke (ok, I told him, but I’ll give him credit since older people can say whatever they want and get away with it).

Made it back upstairs and ate some yummy pinchi and sausage pasta my mom made, and then settled down with some wine and a game of chance (card game similar to golf card game).

Ciao Firenze

May 19th, 2009

I know that I owe write ups on the Cinque Terre still, and then Florence.  Hopefully I can accomplish that on the train today.  Its our last day in Florence.  We catch the 5pm train to Montalcino tonight.  Last night we had a great dinner that Mom commented would be one of the half dozen meals that she remembers for the rest of her life.

Quest For The Perfect Pizza

May 16th, 2009

May 16th 

mercato_smIt was kind of odd, being in a big city again.  It kind of felt like I was in civilization again.  That isn’t a good or a bad thing, it just felt like there was a large town now, and lots of people.

I really wanted to get some items posted to my site, so we spent a good chunk of time this morning on the Internet in our hotel’s bar.

After that we started heading out into the streets, walking around, enjoying sunny Florence.  Two days ago on our hike in the Cinque Terre, Lisa lost her sunglasses.  And today, when we left the hotel, I had forgotten mine.  So we hit up a sunglass store and shopped around.  We now both have some european shades to add flair to our trip.

We continued across the duomo piazza, past the rustic building, to the central mercato.  In Florence, they have 4 or 5 blocks that are just street vendor after street vendor.  Often times, the vendor’s push cart is merely in front of their store that is in the building behind them.  Some pushcarts are selling leather wallets, others are selling leather purses or belts.  Some sell souvenir tshirts, while others sell glass or necklaces.

I love this part of Florence.  It is kind of like a giant flea market or swap meet if you will.  11 years ago when I was here, we’d have to walk through this market every day to get to the park where our group would eat our lunch of nutella, bananas and cold cuts.  I have very fond memories of walking through here.  Plus, I love shopping here cause you can barter and find cool items.  Today I bought some soccer jerseys, a belt and a wallet.

I had some friends going to Florence 10 years ago and they bought me a wallet.  It is a wallet I have used since then.  Of course it has been falling apart for a few years, but I said I needed to replace it with one from Florence.  Today I did.

pizzabargello_smWe followed this up with lunch near Piazza Della Signoria.  This piazza is near an old fortress/palace which is now a governmental building and a museum.  In this piazza are replica statues of David and many others.    We had a pizza and it was one of the best yet.

This is a good time to talk about my pizza quest (if I haven’t already).  Once again, 11 years ago, I ate pizza in Italy, mainly in southern Italy (Brindisi, Rome…) and it was amazing.  I will never forget it.  It was not like pizza at all.  I would cut into the dough, which was soggy with its toppings.  As soon as I would cut into it, the pizza would practically drain off.  It was like a big doughy, tomato-y, cheesy soup.  Since then I have always held, that pizza in italy is so entirely different than we have come to know it in the states.  

During this trip, the pizza has been delicious, and different from the states, but nowhere near what I remember.  I am on a search for the perfect, soupy pizza.

Today’s pizza was much soupier, but still not the same.  Though, I have developed a theory on this trip.  The pizza has gotten better, the further south in Italy we have travelled.  I think it might be a regional thing.  Much like their sauces are regional (creamy base to tomato base), maybe their pizza is too.  Do I really have to travel back to Brindisi to experience this again?

obarwine_smWe were still sore from our hike a couple of days ago, and still interested in finding a massage to work those kinks out.  We asked our concierge and the best they had to offer was having the masseuses come to our room.  I’ve never done that before, and it was a little weird having it in our own room, but of course once I slipped off into relax mode, I forgot all about that.

After our massages, we were in our room, and we heard a lot of clatter from the street below us.  We looked out our window and the street was packed with people, in orderly lines and groups, like a giant marching band.  It was like a parade, but it was a protest.  It was a giant protest march.  The signs they were carrying spoke of communism, of schools, of 1972.  They were singing, chanting, clapping, playing drums and instruments.  It stretched from the Duomo, all the way to Piazza Signoria.

obarview_smFor dinner tonight, we went to the Golden View, Open Bar restaurant which is just on the other side of the Arno.  It was spectacular.  Great views, great food, lovely company.  The restaurant was all white and had a really bright and cheery atmosphere.  We started our meal with some mixed Crostini.  Our second course was some Gnocchi for Lisa, and some Penne for me.  Then, Lisa had some Chicken I believe that she loved, and I had a giant steak Florentina.  I figured, when in Florence…

All were extremely delicious, and the wine and service were great too.  It was unbeatable.

We walked home happy and satisfied, taking pictures of the river, the bridge, and all the crazy town folk.

 

sunset_sm

Firenze

May 16th, 2009

Just uploaded two new posts from my time in Venice.  Did not get a chance to do the spell check though, sorry.  I was also able to get the youtube inserted into the san siro milan game post.   We are in Florence right now.  I have not had a chance to write about Cinque Terre yet, or our travel problems, but soon enough.  My parents arrive here tomorrow and we will go see David, as well as the next day we will take a segway tour.

Ran into Josh Wold yesterday near the Ponte Vecchio.  Crazy.

The Italian Sausage And The Trek For Ta-Ta’s

May 14th, 2009

manarola_sm9 hours of travel yesterday, today we had planned what eventually became a 7 hour hike.  That is right, we are officially crazy.

The Cinque Terre is a series of 5 towns that are right on the west coast of Italy, built into the cliffs and walls of the Ligurian Sea.  Each town is really beautiful, full of pastel buildings,  right on the water.  It is my goal to touch the water in each town.

Today we woke up and caught the 930 am train back to town one of the five (we are staying in town 4, Vernazza).  We were going to do the hike that connects all 5 towns.  We started in Riomaggiore at about 10am.  We walked through the town and touched the water at the bottom, and then started the walk on the via del amore.

guvano_smOur first walk was about 20 minutes of length,from Riomaggiore to Manarola on the edge of a cliff over looking gorgeous blue water.  It was really pleasant. In Manarola we sampled a couple of different focacia breads.  One with olives, and one plain. The walk between Manarola an Corniglia was about 45 minutes.  In this  town 3:  Corniglia, we had to walk up 400 stairs as this town is high above the water on the cliffs.

In Corniglia we enjoyed a slice of pizza and some more bubbly water and enjoyed a gorgeous view off of a precipice.

We knew from our guide book, that there was a nude beach somewhere near Corniglia.  I wanted to give it a try.  You can call it an attempt to be european, you can call it an attempt to swim in the town, you can call it an attempt to site italian ta-ta’s.  Whatever you want to call it, it was well worth it (though, only 2 of those 3 came true).

After hiking through some jungle like alleys in some thick green bushes, we finally came across some signs for Guvano beach.  We were high up a cliff, how were we possibly going to get to the water far below?  This path that the sign directed us towards, was narrow, and extremely steep.  One slip of the foot, and it was a long tumble. During one stretch, they had some wires that you could hang onto as it was that steep.

It took us about  30 sweaty harrowing minutes to reah the water below.  This beach was all rocks. The water was crashing on some rocks in the ocean as well.  The beach was occupied by one tan bald, well built man sunning in one direction, face down and naked when we walked by.  Over in another corner were 3 ladies that were clothed in bathing suits.

We found a little spot, and put our stuff down.  I dropped my clothes and laid out the way God intended.  Including us, there were 6 people on this beach, and sadly it was only the two guys that were going European style.  My trek for italian ta-ta’s continues.

beach_smThe italian man kept turning over, eventually facing himself directly towards us.  I didn’t fully trust him, and therefore unfortunately, had to keep my eye on him.  He was definitely trying to show off for the ladies (or was it me), and I decided to call him the Italian Sausage.

I put my clothes back on, and was readying myself to leave, when the other ladies got up and started walking off.  He started putting his clothes on.  So we sat down again and waited, and when they were all gone, I took off my clothes again and started frolicing in the waves.  It was refreshing and cleansing after all the hiking of the day.

Five or ten minutes later we began our hike back up the steep hill again which took us another 30 minutes up steep cliffs, stairs, even having to crawl in a couple of spots.  Once back to the trail, it took us a good nother 60 minutes to reach town 4, Vernazza. We were, tired, and my legs were even shaking from all this exercise.  This day was a tough workout underneath the italian sun.

cinque_smWe didn’t traverse the entire town of Vernazza, since this is the town we were sleeping in and had already explored it.  However, we did stop at Il Pirata (the much famed Il Pirata-at leas the owners “the Cannoli Brothers” would tell you).  Here we refreshed ourselves with some fresh granita:  half strawberry, half lemon, with a touch of cream on top.  Refreshing, delicious, and just what we needed before beginning our final 90-100 minute hike to town #5.

Most of these hikes have been up and down steep and tiny paths.  This final hike was no different.  It was so pretty though, with ocean and cliff on one side of you, green plants at our feets, and to the right there were miles of vineyards growing up the hills.  This is the italian coast.  The climate here is so nice that it can grow all sorts of plants from different climates.  We passed farfalle (butterflies), yellow and purple flowers, cactus, tall grass, and many more.octupus_sm

When town 5 arrived, I wanted to crash.  It was Montorosso Al Mare, and it was a long stretch of beach.  We got a gelato and tried to explore some of the town, but we were exhausted.  We walked around a little bit, but then plopped down on the beach.  I climbed into the water and I had now swam in 3 of the 5 towns, and touched the water in all 5.  After 7 hours of hiking, it was quite a cleansing experience.

We caught the train an went back to Vernazza where we showered (though, mine used all the hot water and left lisa with cold) and then started some new sweaty laundry.  We hiked up the hill near the water to Il Castelo restaurant.  We tried to make reservations for 90 minutes later so that we could finish the laundry.  The waiter did not recommend later for some reason (it later rained), and so we sat immediately.

vernazza_smWe ordered the antipasti mare which was a cold and a fried plate of seafood appetizers.  There was octupus, swordfish, prawns, mussels, anchovies, fried anchovies, and many other strange looking items, most with bones or eyes still attached.  All this to go along with, of course, some wine and a terriffic view.

After the appetizers, lisa ran back to the laundromat and changed our wash to the dryer.  For dinner was a large plate (for 2) of seafood risotto, and some pasta with meat sauce and pesto.  The seafood risotto was full of many more items that I had no idea how to eat.  Lisa didn’t have any risotto, and just when I was wishing there was someone to share it with, so it wouldn’t go to waste, the couple next to us from Quebec asked us how it was.  We shared it with them, and enjoyed some conversations.  They even demonstrated for us how to de-head and legs the prawns to get to the meat.

cannoli_smWe had a lovely time and as the rain started to go down, we walked up to the other side of town to Il Pirata and ordered 2 cannoli for take away.  Took them to our rooms, ate them, and slept peacefully.

I Just Got Lost, Every River That I Tried To Cross

May 12th, 2009

May 12

We awoke to street noises and the st. mark’s bell and then got our day started around 9am.  We debated heading all the way back to the train station to check the schedule for our exit the next day, but instead decided to hit the internet cafe.  I also was needing to email our next hotel as they wanted notice a few days in advance, of our approximate arrival time.

We got to the internet cafe, and it was not due to open for another 15 minutes, so we found a nearby street cafe and had an espresso and a cappichino.  It was my first attempt (I think) at an espresso and I must say it was quite bitter, I think I eventually had a bigger sugar to coffee ratio.  However, I had most of lisa’s cappichino and it was the best one yet of the trip.

The cafe opened and we took care of buisness.  At that point we decided to get on a water bus and make our way across the backside of the canal and go to a few churces across the way.  But once on the bus, we had front seats in the air, we didn’t want to get off at the 3rd stop.  So we decided to stay on for all 15 stops and then get off at the last stop and do the Accademia museum instead.  We were enjoying our cheap bus ride, in the open air.  Part of me thought we should just go round and round all day.  It was that much fun.  Though, we got off at the Accademia museum, and before going in the museum, ate some pizza at a cafe right outside.  Mike would have loved this pizza because it was not very high quality and tasted like it was frozen pizza from back home.  Lisa barely made it through a slice, and I wasn’t gonna leave it.  

There was no line for the museum and it was not very crowded.  It started with some byzantine art, but worked our way through art by Veronese, Bellini, Giogiorne, and some Tintoretto’s.  I recall from my trip in 1997, that my favorite two items from this place was The Tempest by San Giogiorne and The Feast in the House of Levi by Veronese.  I’m not sure why I included the Tempest, because on further review, there wasn’t much special to it.  Although, it had a long and complicated history, so maybe that is what I found so pleasing.  Veronese however, I think I really like.  I like many of his pieces, and The Feast I think is one of my favorites.  I also like the story and history behind it.  It takes up a giant wall and is full of details.  I think I could spend hours looking at it.

redentore_sm

Part of me wishes that there were some great museums with just one or two pieces of art.  I think I’d like to once, just sit for 2 hours in front of one piece, reflecting, praying, writing, and seeing what thoughts come to mind.  But in days of fast travel, and even quicker society, there isn’t time for that.  Maybe one day.

Speaking of speed, we made it through that museum in a mere 45 minutes.  Hopped back onto the water bus, with intentions and determinations this time of getting to the churches across the way.  The first church was called Il Redentore (the Redeemer).  This church is beautiful.  Not only is it pretty, but every nave seemed to have a great piece of art by Tintoretto.  I loved the arches, and the domes and the perked ceilings.  I snapped a couple of pictures, but then got reprimanded, albeit kindly.  Il Redentore has a cool background story.

sangiogiore_smWe walked a few blocks and then realized that we needed another water bus, and found our way to San Giogore church.  Lisa enjoyed the beauty of this one more than the last.  It is a gorgeous church with a large campinelle.  It housed great works of art, and we could take pictures more freely, and explore more depths of the choirs and main basillica.  We took the elevator up the campinelle for great views of Venice.  As Dr. Carlander would have said, “beautiful.”  Lisa must be getting at least slightly annoyed, as I keep reminicing about when I was here last, travelling with school, enjoy the friendship of Andrew.  Some things that we are doing, such as visiting these 2 churches, were things that I did and enjoyed so much before.

Along those lines, after San Giogore, we took a water bus to the San Salute church, which when I was here, was our stop.  I was attempting to find my way back to the hotel I stayed at before, so I could show her where we would climb in and out of the window, and how it was right across from where a famous poet once lived. We found the Hotel Messener, but despite going in every alley, could not find my window or the poets house.

tintoretto_smWe traversed over bridges, through alleys, across squares and then more bridges and found our way back to our room.  I did some Snide prep work and we rested.  Then, we went back to the itnernet cafe where I spent a frustrating 2 hours trying to publish my Snides.  The attempt to upload a video to youtube kept failing, I would get typed and insert a bunch of photos and tags, and then the computer or server would freeze and when I would re-enter into the right page, I’d find that I lost 20-30 minutes of work.  We kept buying 30 minute increments, and eventually I completed (all but the youtube video) of my posts up until Venice.

We then walked about 45 minutes looking for the perfect place to enjoy our last meal in Venice.  Sadly, we didn’t find the perfect place, but gave up  looking cause we were tired of walking, and energetic for food.  I had a caprese that was substandard and Lisa ate some very good minnestrone soup.  My next plate was Spaghetti Pomodoro which was very delicious, and she had a pizza Margerhita that was substandard.  All of this chased down by frizzante (Peligrino).

We made our way back to our hotel, stopping briefly to take some very nice pictures in St. Mark’s square, as the sky light was perfect.  We tried to set an alarm lisa downloaded for her computer as we were going to attempt to wake up at 5:00 am so that we could catch the 6:00 am water bus, that would get us to the train station by 6:30 so that we could catch the 7:20 train ride to the Cinque Terre.  This train ride would take approximatley 7 hours so we didn’t want to miss the early train as the next one was 2 hours later and wouldn’t get us to our destination till 6pm.

Needless to say, I was not expecting a great night of sleep, as I had my doubts on if the alarm would work.  Little did I know, that it was going to be an even worse night of sleep than I expected and would still end in failure, with slight redemption.

stmarksdusk_sm

Bye Venice

May 12th, 2009

Just uploaded a lot of snide’s, although with computer issues.  We leave tomorrow morning from venice at 5 am for a 7 hour train ride to the cinque terre.  Ciao Bellisimo

Venezia

May 12th, 2009

I have about 5 or 6 posts already typed out, just no internet to post them.  I am in Venice right now getting lost.  I think I will have a chance once I reach the Cinque Terre tomorrow to do some posting.  Much love.

Earth To Italy

April 27th, 2009

So I have been planning a trip to Italy to travel around as well as to visit my parents.  Finding hotels has not been an easy process.  For instance, during my time in Rome, there will be a sporting event that could equate to our Super Bowl. Google Earth has this great feature where you can turn on icons to represent lodging.  But even with that great tool, almost every place I searched for in Rome ended up being unavailable.  Eventually I found a place through http://www.vrbo.com.  

I figured out general locations where I wanted to be situated in each city.  Then, when looking for a room, often the hotel would claim that they are near that location.  But Google Earth has been a great tool in this.  I would merely punch in the address of the hotel, and it would show me exactly where it was in relation to where I wanted to be.  You would be surprised at how many hotels claimed to be near the Duomo in Florence, only to be not so close.

At this point I have everywhere booked, except for 3 nights – 2 of those nights are in the Cinque Terre.  Here are the screenshots from Google Earth and websites where appropriate.

 
Here is my itinerary:

  • May 7th leave San Diego
  • 8th land in Milan
  • 8-9 Lake Como
  • 10th Milan (I am hoping to  get tickets to the soccer game or the opera as a fallback)
  • 11-12 Venice
  • 13-14 Cinque Terre
  • 15, 16, 17, 18 Florence
  • 19, 20, 21, 22 Montalcino
  • 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 Rome
  • May 28th Fly home

 

Lake Como
La Pergola

La Pergola, Hotel and Restaurant, drawn from a sixteenth century-building, lies by the lake, in a most typical fishermen’s hamlet called Pescallo, right on a shore of the promontory of Bellagio, turning south-east and facing the Lecco branch of Lake Como. The House was drawn from a building dating back to 1500, and assigned to a convent in the past centuries. The centre of Bellagio is but 10 minutes’ walk, among the luxuriant olive trees and mediterranean vegetation spread out on the Spartivento Point.

La Pergola

 

Milan
Best Western Cristoforo Colombo
About a 15 minute walk from the train station and about a 15 minute walk from the Duomo.  Im desperately hoping to get tickets to the Juve v. Milan soccer game, but am considering the opera as a backup plan.

milanhotel

Venice
Hotel Ai Do Mori
They have a crappy website.  They need Gorirra.  But it is only about 10 meters from St. Mark’s Square.  

Venice Hotel

 

Cinque Terre
Vernazza
Ivo Camere
The apartment which is also in the center of the town is accessible via a characteristic “carugio” (small side street) and is steps away from the piazza and the sea. 

vernazzahotel

 

Florence
Brunelleschi Hotel 
Hotel Brunelleschi is located in the middle, pedestrian area of the historical center of Florence, just steps away from the Cathedral and the Signoria Square, from a part overlooking the Via Calzaiuoli.

Florence Hotel

 

Montalcino
With My Parents
Next time I get the address from my parents, I’ll take a Google Earth pic.

montalcino

 

Rome
Private Apartment
its perfect location. From there the most important sights of the City can be reached with a short walk. You are just in the heart of the centre. 200 metres from Piazza Navona and Pantheon, 300 metres from Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain and, in the opposite direction, just crossing the Tiber, you can reach Sant’Angelo Castel and St.Peter Cathedral (400 metres).

Rome Apartment

This Week I'm Thinking About: Jonathan Wilt