"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, August 20, 2012

Home from Italy!

Italy 2012
Isn't this picture so quintessential Venice?

We arrived home from Italy on Thursday afternoon. I had a teacher's in-service all day Friday. When I got home from that we immediately left for a camping trip with our church friends. We got home late Sunday afternoon. Today I had to go in to work for a few hours. Now, finally, I have a moment to reflect on our wonderful trip to Italy. As my husband, my daughter, and I were sitting at dinner one of the last nights in Venice we started picking out our favorites from the trip.  Here are a few of mine:

View from our hotel window of the Duomo and bell tower in Siena.
Favorite city: Siena or Verona. Both had so much to offer yet neither were run over by tourists like Florence and Venice.  You also got a sense that people really lived there. I think that Siena edges out a win because of the beautiful view that we could see out our hotel window.

The seafood spaghetti in Venice was fresh.
Favorite meal: I kept ordering things that sounded exotic then liked something my husband ordered better. The food that I liked the best, that I ordered, was the pear and cheese ravioli in a cream sauce. The most memorable meal was the picnic we ate on the train after we visited the market in Florence and purchased a loaf of fresh bread, a wedge of cheese, a ripe tomato, and a few peaches. We cut everything up with a tiny knife that my daughter purchased since we couldn't bring a knife on the airplane and ate as the scenery flew by.

Taken the day we arrived in Rome.  Ready for our first adventure.
Favorite hotel: Hotel Nazionale in Rome. It was located on Parliament Square, centrally located to many tourist destinations and just around the corner from a wonderful gelato store, Giolitti.  We visited it every day at least once. They had a wonderful breakfast buffet where I could make my own cappuccino every morning. The first morning I made three. We were even able to watch a few hours of the Olympics, though it was broadcast in German on an English station (Eurosport).  Go figure.

After a long, hot day of sight-seeing nothing cools you down better than a dish of gelato.
Favorite gelato: Rick Steves, the writer of many guidebooks on European travels, always makes a gelato recommendation for every Italian town he visits. We tried many of his suggestions. We really like Giolitti in Rome but it is very popular and extremely busy. Grom's Gelato stores in Florence and Siena were good but kind of pricey.  All of us agreed that our favorite was the one we stumbled upon in Verona, Gelateria Ponte Pietra. We were taking a self-guided Rick Steves walking tour of the town and found this gem off the beaten path.  Carly had canella (cinnamon flavor) that was so good she still makes yummy noises when she thinks of it. I had a Rum Raisin that was just perfect, not too rummy. And Don had passion fruit and coconut, one of his favorite flavors.

Sant'Anastasia, Verona
Baroque music concert, Frari Basilica, Venice
Favorite cathedral: Every town we visited had cathedrals. Many of them were beyond lovely, even gaudy. In a lot of ways they all kind of blur together in my mind with each having some feature that I really liked but I can't remember specifically what was where. It was thrilling to be in St Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City because they are so famous and contain such famous works by Michelangelo and Rapheal. St Mark's Basilica in Venice was unique because the walls and ceilings were all covered in mosaics instead of frescoes like the other churches. The Duomos in Florence and Siena were both breath-taking for their beauty and the scope of the architecture. San Dominica in Siena actually housed the head of St. Catherine in a glass and silver box.  Now that is unique and pretty creepy. My favorite two churches were in Verona and Venice. Sant-Anastasia in Verona is simply lovely and the atmosphere worshipful. We went to the Frari Basilica in Venice at Rick Steves suggestion and stumbled upon a free Baroque concert. We stayed to absorb as much of the  music and the atmosphere as we could.

Via dell'Amore path between two villages in the Cinque Terre
Surprising moment: As my family and I walked the Via dell'Amore path from Riomaggiore and Manarola in the Cinque Terre we approached a open tunnel and heard a man playing an accordion.  Don started singing along to the song, Yesterday by the Beatles  All the sudden I was swept up in the moment and started weeping for the sheer joy of the moment. As we were exiting the tunnel the accordion player started playing the Louis Armstrong song, What a Wonderful World.  It certainly is!


  1. What a fantastic trip! I love Italy and would go there much more often than I have if someone handed me a bunch of money. I love the musician in the tunnel story, that's the sort of thing you'll remember forever

  2. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I just love Italy (though I've only been to Rome, Florence, and Venice) and would love to go back again some day.

  3. Welcome back!! (yes, I know I am a bit behind)

    Thank you for sharing your memories and your lovely photos - I really enjoyed both. I have never been to Italy but would love to go. It sounds like you and your family had a wonderful trip!


  4. Wow sounds like a great tour in Italy. Love that he played Wonderful World. I have not been to Italy but have spent a few trips in southern France. thx for the info.


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