A Travellerspoint blog

Italy # 8

Florence

sunny 22 °C

It is late on our last evening in Italy. We have returned to our favourite restaurant. We dined on veal and lamb followed by pecorino and honey. We drank lovely wine from Montepulciano followed by a recommendation from the waiter which tasted like medicine.

Today we finally got to see David. The 2 hour line up was probably worth it because it is wonderful as you walk down the passage towards it - a bit like seeing an old friend. The rest of our day was taken up with wandering the old streets and eating some fantastic gelati.

Yesterday we finally got into the Duomo. The highlight was climbing to the top of the camponile (belltower) and seeing the wonderous views across Florence. We also visited the Medici chapel at San Lorenzo.

Vicky finally bought a bag from at Furla. Bulgari will have to wait until next time!

So it is arriverderci from Italy and Ola to Spain. Hopefully we will have a computer capable of USB connection for more photos next time.

Great news about the crows, the sport news here is all about the soccer game between Roma and Manchester and the preceeding crowd fights.

Posted by GVCharlton 14:12 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (4)

Italy # 7

Firenze

sunny 21 °C

Arrived here in Florence yesterday after driving from Lucca and Esther we managed to restrict ourselves to 140km/hr this trip, but have topped 170km/hr on previous autostrades! Dumped car at airport and got the shuttle into the city right next to our hotel.

Speaking of our hotel...we have a 2 storey suite of rooms designed to commemorate Paul Anka's last entry into the charts!!! Dated is one word you could use, probably was great 30 years ago, but it's certainly interesting.

Spent 2 days here and walked and walked!! People everywhere - its like being in a Footy Park crowd all the time, but not a Power game of course. Today lined up for two hours to see the Uffizi - every Renaissance painter you would ever want to see, but we particularly enjoyed the Bottocelli room and Michelangelo paintings, unfortunately the Durer room was closed and we only got a brief glimpse of the Rembrandts.

Although Easter Sunday sounds like the perfect time to see the Duomo, the crowds are so huge we can't get near the door, but we are going to try go to a service tomorrow.

Now to the shopping!!! leather jackets all round, trying to avoid the dodgy traders, thanks Kaye for your tips! Vicky is circling - like a shark - ready to bite the bottom of a handbag seller. Bulgari tops the price list at 1200 euro ( $1900 ). It was interesting that we were treated seriously by all the fancy designer shops - no pretty woman situations - to the extent that in Bulgari we got the blokes card and it was handshakes all round!

Eating lots of pasta and drinking cheap grog and watching CSI in Italian. Two more days here - with Michelangelo's David and the Duomo tomorrow - and perhaps a pair of shoes !!

Posted by GVCharlton 09:28 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Italy # 6

Umbria and Tuscany

sunny 21 °C

Greetings from Lucca!

We left Amalfi on Wednesday morning and struck out on our own after throwing Rod and Loi out of the car at the confusing Naples airport.

We drove for quite a while until reaching the lovely hilltop town of Assisi. We spent half an dhour driving about looking for our hotel only to find it was near the city gate just under the magnificent basillica of San Francesco (THE Saint Francis of Assisi) The town was cold and windy as we walked up to the church. The streets were filled with interesting little shops and businesses many selling local products like cross stitch and lace. It was very cold with the wind whistling about thre streets but we made ourselves warm in a little bar by the church. We had a fantastic pasta meal in the main square before heading back to our hotel to warm up.

The next day we drove into Tuscany to Montepulciano. This was a medieval hilltop village with more narrow streets of beautiful buildings this time made of stone. We explored the streets up to the top of the hill. There were magnificent classic Tuscan views from all of the doorways and through the arches as the weather grew finer and sunnier. We ate bread wine and cheese for lunch before heading off to Sienna.

We drove right into Sienna nearly lobbing into the main square before finding a one way way road down a cliff to a dodgy park. This place was full of people, although it was late afternoon and the day before Easter. We followed a walking trail around the oldest part of the city which lead to a handbag shop for Vicky and a trouser shop for Graeme.

We left Sienna for Monteriggiore and our accommodation at Castelbigozzi. This was a 12th century castle/manor/farm on the top of a hill in classic Tuscan style. Our room had great wooden beams and our shuttered windows had views across the Tuscan hills. This is the view from our window.

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Today we drove to San Gimignano which was yet again another hilltop medieval village. The feature of this place was its towers built about 900 years ago. More walking and lots of browsing and another trail from the Eyewitness book and that is about it for the whole medieval hilltop tuscan village experience.

We are in Lucca which is another medieval town but this time not io a hill. We drove into the town through an amazing system of walls a bit like a classic castle. Inside it is very cosmopolitan with lots of shops and businesses. Everyone whizzes about on bikes. We hired two bikes and rode around the top of the wall.

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Good Friday is a bit different here with the streets absolutely chockers with families promenading - as busy as Friday night before Christmas in Rundle Mall.

Tomorrow it is onto Florence for four days. Vicky has found a few gaps in her wardrobe re the whole leather bag and jacket thing. It could get very messy!

By the way - click on the photos for a bigger view AND keep the comments coming!!

Posted by GVCharlton 12:03 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Italy #5

Amalfi

sunny 18 °C

We are in the beautiful coastal town of Amalfi, south of Rome.

We returned from Tunisia on Saturday evening after a long days travelling. We had a maniac driver break his personal best from the airport into Rome where we met up with Rod and Loi - brother and sister in law - at the same hotel we had stayed at previously.

The next morning we stuffed about for nearly two hours getting our hire car and then got lost leaving Rome! A generous Roman recognised our plight and we followed him for about ten minutes to the road which led to the Autostrada, which led to where we are now - beautiful Amalfi. Rod drove heroically in Rome and Graeme did the Amalfi coast road! Remember this is a manual left hand drive car!

Our hotel - the Antica Repubblica - is just off the main street up a little laneway. We have a room at the top of a few more stairs. The hotel is a delightful six room boutique number run by the lovely Francesca during the day and Renato at night. Salvatore took our car and vanished with it to a parking spot up in the Amalfi Hills!

We have walked all over the place along the pathways and lanes right up into the hills above. We have dined at beautiful little restaurants where the pasta and sauces were made fresh that day. We have driven to the slightly disappointing Positano which apparently livens up with the hotter weather and clearer skies. We have hired a lovely old wooden power boat and sailed long the coast looking at all the sights and we have driven up to Ravello to see the most astounding view down the coat towards Salerno.

There has been some shopping here too with Amalfi being the centre of the limoncello industry and every second shop a ceramic factory. We have made a number of friends especially the staff at a little outside bar where we drink the house wine before dinner each night and the old gent in suit and hat who showed us the way to the hotel and who we keep bumpig into in the street. It could be because of our winning personalities but it is most likely because Rod and Graeme are about 30 centimetres taller than anyone else in town, or because Vicky is a blonde with a wallet!

Tomorrow it is off to Tuscany after dropping Rod and Loi at Naples. Hopefully there will be some more photos soon - this computer was invented in 1972 before the USB was thought of. Arrividerci.

Posted by GVCharlton 07:01 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (4)

Tunisia #3

Gabes to Tunis

sunny 18 °C

Well the whole Tunisia thing ended up on Saturday. The final highlight was a visit to the small town of El Jem which has an absolutely magnificent Colosseum. This is in much better condition than the one in Rome with almost all original stone and many many rooms underneath showing where the slaves and gladiators and animals were held before the show.

Our last night was in Hammamet where we had our best hotel. We visited yet another souk - market - and then had a nice meal in the hotel.

The next morning we travelled to Tunis. We spent the morning in the souk - once again - before making our way to the airport and back to Italy.

We are really enjoying the comments people have left here and at our email addresses.

Posted by GVCharlton 10:19 Archived in Tunisia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

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