Category Archives: Italy

Wrapping up our 6 week European Vacation in Central Italy and Portugal

During our 6 week European summer vacation, we sailed on a boat or ferry 4 times, flew on 5 planes, rode 7 trains, hopped on 12 buses, took over 40 metro rides, and took countless tours. We walked well over 100 miles during the 6 weeks. We had not weighed ourselves until we returned to the USA and were surprised to see that we all lost weight.

We wrapped up the vacation in Central Italy and Portugal — this blog covers that time. If you want to see our other adventures, you will find them here:

Florence Italy

This was our second visit to Florence. Florence has a picturesque river that flows through and is nice for an afternoon walk. One of the biggest attractions here is to see the statue of David. The statue is huge, it must be 20 feet tall.

Florence Italy

Florence Italy

The statue of David

The statue of David

The Duomo

The Duomo

How do you like this bicycle?

How do you like this bicycle?

Tuscany Italy

When planning our European trip, Ryan staked out what he really wanted to do. He wanted to experience a Chianti wine tour in Tuscany. This turned out to be our favorite wine tour that we took during our trip. The Tuscan hills are mesmerizing, full of vineyards and castles. The tour provided plenty of wine (4 bottles for our table), Tuscan food, and great conversation with other people on the tour.

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany

After the tour, we went into the town of Chianti to a wine bar that offered over 100 wines. It was really cool, you put money on a sort of debit card (as much as you like) and use that card to activate a machine that pours either a small taste or a full glass of a wine. What a cool machine — I wonder why wine stores in the states don’t have this, it would be great.

Wine tasting by machine

Wine tasting by machine

Rome

After leaving Tuscany, we headed down to Rome (Ryan said we took the time to “roam” around). We had also visited Rome a few years ago but never had the time to visit the Colosseum, so we took this opportunity to tour it. The outside is pretty well-preserved but we were a bit disappointed in the interior. It suffered a major earthquake many years ago that left much of it in ruins. Similarly the ruins of Rome are also similar to this — worn and many landmarks are hardly recognizable as to how they once were. But it is incredibly rich in history and fun to visit.

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

Rome

As we were walking around Rome, we came across this guy.How does it do it?

Wanna ride?

Wanna ride?

Pompeii Italy

A few months ago we saw the movie Pompeii — a cool story about the Italian town that was overtaken from a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Because lava never reached Pompeii (only burning ash), people in the town that died in the eruption were preserved in the state in which they died — the carbon in the ash had that effect. The ruins are in pretty good shape, you could see bath  houses, homes, and areas of the town. It was a big area of ruins and was (in our minds) more impressive than the ruins in Rome.

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii dog frozen in death

Pompeii dog frozen in death

Pompeii person frozen in death

Pompeii person frozen in death

After visiting Pompeii, we hiked Mount Vesuvius. It  is a steep 45 degree hike to the top rewarded by great views of Naples and the craters left by the eruption.

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Capri Italy

Just outside of Naples is a trendy island called Capri. We took a day trip and experienced the island. It has a very Mediterranean feel, initially inhabited by Greece. It is also home to The Blue Grotto — an ocean cave that lights up the vibrant blue water as you enter via row-boat. Ryan and I swam there as well, it was very rocky but the water was definitely refreshing.

Capri

Capri

Capri

Capri

Capri

Capri

Capri

Capri

Capri

Capri

The Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto

Ryan preparing to enter the Blue Grotto

Ryan preparing to enter the Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto

The opening of the Blue Grotto

The opening of the Blue Grotto

Lisbon Portugal

Our final stop in Europe was Lisbon Portugal. We could have spent more time here, there are lots of places in Portugal to see. Lisbon is a coastal city that is rich in history, clean, and better maintained than many other European cities we visited. We noticed that many buildings have a tile facade which is very distinct to this European nation.

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Well  that concludes our summer vacation, we hope you enjoyed following along with our travels. The trip was a blast and it was great traveling with Ryan — we have not traveled together in a few years. We just wish our oldest son, Cameron, could have joined us as well.

 

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Summer in Northern Italy and the Italian Riviera

When we last visited Italy in 2007, we visited central Italy but never made it up north. This time we spent time up north and in the Italian Riviera. We started this trip in Milan. For us, Milan was not as grandiose as Paris, but it is a city with plenty of museums, castles, churches and a world-renowned fashion district.

Milan

Duomo

One of the most famous landmarks is the Duomo (means Italian Cathedral Church). It is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente and is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan. The Duomo took 6 centuries to complete and is currently the 5th largest in the world.

Duomo

Duomo

Fashion District

Like New York and Paris, Milan has an impressive fashion district. You will see stores for almost every well-known designer including Prada, Gucci, and Giorgio Armani.

Gate leading to the fashion district

Gate leading to the fashion district

Fashion District

Fashion District

Fashion District

Fashion District

Fashion District

Fashion District

Sforza Castle

Another famous Milan landmark is the Sforza Castle. It was built-in he 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. After visiting many of the castles in France, it was not as impressive as those but it is certainly worth a visit.

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

La Scala Opera House

Inaugurated in 1778, the La Scala Opera House is home to Italy’s greatest operatic artists. The building exterior is understated but the interior is pretty impressive.

Milan Opera House

Milan Opera House

Milan Opera House

Milan Opera House

Lake Como

After a few days in Milan, we caught a train to Lake Como. I’ve read about Lake Como for many years and always wanted to visit. It did not disappoint. The lake is surrounded by gorgeous mountains populated with small villages. We spent our time in Bellagio — a 2 hour scenic ferry ride from Como.

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Notice the Yellow Lab swimming in Lake Como

Notice the Yellow Lab swimming in Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Very close to Bellagio is Villa del Balbianello, a castle where a scene from Star Wars II and Casino Royale were shot.

Villa del Balbianello

Villa del Balbianello

Italian Riviera

I enjoyed the Italian Riviera more than any other place visited on our trip thus far. It is scenic, full of life, and has lots of water activities. All great ingredients for a fun vacation.

Monterosso

We stayed in Monterosso and visited the other villages via train during the day (just minutes away by train). Monterosso was our favorite, it was large enough to have great restaurants and shopping areas but small enough to feel intimate.

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

I woke up early one morning and hiked to the top of Monterosso for some incredible views.

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

Monterosso

Monterosso

A small chapel resides at the top that overlooks the city. It was small, only about 7 or so pews on each side of the church.

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

I stumbled on an Italian artist painting the landscape, very cool!

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

Vernazza

About 3 years ago, Lynn and I were in Breckenridge Colorado and purchased an enlarged photograph of a Greek Island from a travel photographer. He had traveled all over the world and had some incredible pictures of Italy. We struggled between purchasing the picture of Greece vs. a picture of Vernazza. Since then, I have wanted to capture that picture.

On this trip, I got the shot! I hiked for about an hour to get to the spot I needed to shoot this picture. In reality, I could have hiked about 15 minutes if I had known where to go, but I missed the turnoff and took the long way around.

I took the picture from a lot of different angles — which one do you like best?

Vernazza

Vernazza – Angle 1

Vernazza

Vernazza – Angle 2

Vernazza

Vernazza – Angle 3

Vernazza

Vernazza – Angle 4

Vernazza

Vernazza – Angle 5

On my way back down the mountain, I came across this cat sleeping in front of a residence. I awoke him from his slumber, he did not look happy.

Cat in Vernazza

Cat in Vernazza

Cat in Vernazza

Cat in Vernazza

Next we are heading to Florence, Tuscany (for a Chianti wine tour), Rome, Pompeii, and Capri Italy. We will end our trip in Lisbon Portugal.