September 2017
  • Day11

    Sunday, Planes trains buses and automobi

    September 17, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    Sun September 17
    Planes ,trains ,buses and automobiles!
    Breakfast at hotel with just a few stragglers from the group. The front desk arranged for a car to take us to Bologna Airport. Norm & Patricia joined us , which cut the bill in half for us! Waited in a very long line at Lufthansa check-in only to find out the flights to Frankfurt were full. The gal did all she could to help us. She said Flights out of Milan to Frankfurt looked ok. From airport, we took a bus to the Bologna train station, got on speed train to Milan Centrale 1hour 7 minutes , transferred to local train to Milan Airport unfortunately that flight was full too. So we got a room at the Sheraton Hotel which is a very nice hotel attached to the airport. We checked in went up to our room number 1109 which was about a half A mile from the lobby. Dropped our things off and then went down to the little bar called Monterosa and had an Aperol spritz and a pizza. We ordered a buffalo mozzarella and Parm ham pizza with a side of anchovies. Christy took one bite of the pizza and tasted anchovies yuck! We believe that they must've put anchovies on the pizza and then took them off and it left the taste of fish on our beautiful pizza. Went back to the room washed up Cristi checked our flights for tomorrow we will head out after breakfast and shoot for the 11 o'clockRead more

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  • Day9

    Cinque Terre September 15

    September 15, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Friday September 15
    Early wake up 6:15am. Breakfast and in the bus by 7:45am. Through Lucca , spotted a few hot air balloons along the way, and then along the coast. We leave Chianti and enter Liguria region. Known for focaccia, seafood and pesto. La Spezia is where we pick up our local guide Gianluca. Our first is Manarola , curvy tiny streets with lovely colorful hillside homes along the way. We then take the local train along the beautiful waters , only 2 minutes , to Riomaggiore. Another quaint little town with shops and restaurants all over. We stopped and had some wonderful olive focaccia and excellent mixed calamari! Deliciosa! Back on the train to Monterosso. Walked along the water to the center of town. Adorable streets lined with cafes and shops galore. We stopped at a place to Aperol spritz. No ice! Cristi enjoyed hers and finished mine for a change! Cristi had a beautiful caprese salad. We shopped around the quaint little shops. Got a few things. Got a gelato and limon granita and continued walking. I waited to have accughe (anchovies)gamberi (shrimp)& calamari fritto! Finally found it at the entrance of the train station! Back on the train to La Spezia, not a very pretty town. We said good bye to Gianluca. Riccardo, our bus driver was there for us. An hour and a half drive back to hotel. Up to the room to freshen up. Had a drink in the lobby bar with a few if the group. Met up with Glenn and Marg to walk to our Bistro del Corso with our umbrellas. Just a light rain. We had 8o'clock reservations, the lady told us 5-10 minutes, we sat outside under the awning. She brought us Prosecco and wonderful flat bread , on the house! We were seated at 8:45. Very slow service, but good food. Marg ordered the penne with prosciutto & zucchini, Glenn had a spicy salami pizza, aka pepperoni, Cristi & I shared a salad & ravioli with butter and sage. Family run restaurant! The Nonnie was in the kitchen working hard, the young son greeted us, husband was washing & drying dishes by hand! Walked home by 10:45pm.Read more

  • Day8

    Lucca, Pisa & Il Poggio Sept 14

    September 14, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Sept 14
    We woke up to a gray day and took the bus to walled city of Lucca and met with the local tour guide. We walked up on the wall as he explained about the town. It was drizzling/raining the entire time we were there. So much for hot weather....It was a lovely town filled with a lot of shops. Part of the tradition is they place candles around the windows and doorways of the and light them several times a year, Easter, christmas and when the bishop comes. We arrived the day after the bishop arrived and we lucky enough to see a part of a mass. Our free time started around 10:30 and the area was bustling. We had Tuscan bean soup and crusty sliced bread with percorino and salame with was warmed. We have yet to have a great panini. Our waiter's name was Andre and he is Brazilian and Italian. Cari spotted the cutest magnet of an Aperol bottle, so we each bought one to gift to the other. Back to the bus on our way to Pisa. We took a small train (like Disney land) from the bus stop to the entrance of the walled city. The weather was still overcast but not raining. After walking through the countless vendors we arrived to the landmarks. What a site!!! Three structures in one area. The Baptistry ( where because of the shape is perfect for echoing. A woman stood in the center of the room, made a sound and it echoed. Amazing how that worked. It was only about 3 mins. The next building was the Duomo. The side of the duomo and cathedrals look similar because of the marble that is used. The square of the miracles and a bronze statue of the fallen angel. We did a little shopping and I had a gelato. By the time we left there was sun shine and blue skies. Drive to Monte Carlo - Fattoria il Poggio to make pasta. Our chef was name Laura and she made three different dishes for us 1 - ragu (onions, 1 clove garlic, onion, celery and carrots) olive oil, meat and a little white wine, 2 - sautee mushrooms ( put mushrooms in the pan first, drizzle with a lot of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic) and a little water , 3 - tomatoes, garlic, olive oil - and all served on saltless bread. Next pasta demonstration - we each had a bowl, egg, flours and a rolling pin. It was fun to make it again. It seems so easy.....We took a walk to the vineyard and the machine they use to press olive oil. Back to the cellar for dinner and wine. They served 3 white and 2 reds,one of the names is Otium and I thought Valerie asked for Opium. HAHA....We had a little scare as Maneshia (female) fainted and Cari stepped into action, it turned out she hadn't taken her iron pills. Back to the party, we had - meat and cheese platter, fat pasta with the cooked ragu, fried potatoes (delicious), grilled rib, chicken and sausage, biscotti and sweet wine. Cari kept disappearing and I thought she was checking on Maneshia but she was really dancing. There was a DJ in the garden area and the music was great. When dinner was over we all went outside to dance. It was great fun!!! Back to the bus and hotel....until tomorrow!!!Read more

  • Day7

    Montecatini Alto Sept 13

    September 13, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Slept in a little bit. 16 of our group went to Florence today. Went down for a nice breakfast and then walked into town looking for a spa so we could enjoy a massage or some kind of treatment. The place we went into had nothing available, appointments are necessary. We tried the big one "The Excelsior " they also were unavailable. So we continued to walk through the park area to find the Funicular. A 25 seat train/Wagon on an uphill track that takes you up to Montecatini Alto. Small cobble stoned streets and a darling village with lots of small shops and a lovely little piazza. We sat to have lunch. Cristi had a spritz and a piedina which was pretty pathetic.. a flour tortilla with one slice prosciutto and lots of lettuce. We shared a mixed salad I had a glass of white vino and a lovely plate of caccia & Pepe pasta. White cream sauce over capellini, perfetto! Took the funicular back down the hill , walked through the park to the hotel. Showered, washed the hair, relaxed a bit. And then went out for a pretty long walk along the Main Street with several upscale shops . it's a busy little town with primarily a younger scene. Stopped and had a espresso. Checked out the Columbia House Spa for availability etc. we ended up sitting in some wonderfully comfortable outdoor furniture on the patio at Syrah wine bar, Terri Maninna had recommended. We both had spritz', in fact we shared a third one ! They had a self serve appetizer table. Kind of a weird combination of food. Three puréed dips with sliced baguettes around each. The brown one that looked like baby poo she says was 'meat' ! Not so good. The yellow tan one looked like hummus, wasn't! She says it's potato, real bland. The gray one was ripe olive, yay! Like a tapenade. There were a couple of family style plates of Farro salad, couscous, rice with green olives. Some orange purée was some sort of veggie, maybe carrot, or root of some kind. Marg and Glenn walked by , so we joined them to take a walk to find dinner. We ended up at a place down a little alley way, only two other people there when we arrived. We shared a salad . Cristi had a Margherita pizza, I had gnocchi with pistachio cream sauce, it was very good. Took a leisurely walk back to hotel.Read more

  • Day6

    Chianti Greve September 12

    September 12, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Sept 12th We both slept well, up at 7, breakfast at 7:30, board the bus at 8:30. Buffet breakfast with the usual salami, mortadella, Brie, cheese, fruit, bread, eggs, coffee...typical European style. We arrive at the town of Greve around 10:00 and walked into the cute plaza, they are know for boar meats. We had coffee, a pasty and walked around to going inside some of the stores. It was a short bus ride through the hills to Castello di Verrazzano Winery. The bridge in NY was named after the verrazzano family. Cari was taking a selfie and as I went to photo bomb her the wind came up covered my face. We cracked up!!! So much as a career as a photo bomber😂. We had a lovely tour of the small property and were able to see bunches of grapes hanging to make holy wine which" Various suggestions have been made as to the origins of its name, none of which has been verified: wine of miracles that alleviates suffering in people with the plague, a wine similar to the one made in Xantos, a Greek island where Passito was made, otherwise simply the holy wine used in religious Mass; the etymology of Vinsanto, to this day, remains intriguing and mysterious." On to the wine tasting and lunch. The dinning area was lovely and there was a wood burning oven. First course: salame 2nd course: pecorino w/aged thick balsamic, 3: Penne w/tomato sauce with dried seasoning on the side. 4:pork roast and canneli beans, 4: biscotti with a tasting of their holy sweet wine. The biscotti definitely needed to be soaked in the wine, they were so hard they could have been used as a weapon. The 3 wines we tasted - white, chianti Classico and chianti reserve were flowing. Every one had a great time. I was sitting next to Glenn and (the kids )Valerie and Manuel cute young couple and Cari sat next Marg and Barbara. (Ted Turner) and Martha and John from Kentucky. On the bus ride home Lynn (tour guide) put on Dean Martin Volaré and "When the moon hits your eye" everyone sang along to only the first verse HAHAHA. I was a fun bus ride home and then it became very quiet, everyone fell sleep. We went back to the room until 6:15 and met with our Canadian Friends Marg & Giacomo (Glenn) for dinner. We walked a few blocks away to Vittorio Trattorio and saw Valerie and Manuel so we all ate together. We shared the smallest mixed salad, I had ravioli with cream and walnut sauce - good , and Cari had gnocchi bolognese - good. I stopped and bought a coco gelato on the way home. Another great day!Read more

  • Day5

    Sienna & San Gimignano Sept 11

    September 11, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Breakfast & then on the bus at 8:30am. We had an Italian guide name Margarita when we got to Siena . Toured the basilica Caterinia., the beautiful ornate church of sienna and then to the central arena of where the Palio happens twice a year. A huge courtyard with shops and restaurants around. We stopped and had aperol spritz and pizza ristuca( prosciutto & arugula! Perfetto! . Continued onto San Gimignano . The countryside was lovely. So picturesque! Walked up to the towers, shopped along the way . So many ceramic shops! Returned to hotel at 7:15pm. Dinner at the hotel with the group at 8. So fun. Wonderful meal. Celery and zucchini cream zuppa, pasta with a pesto red sauce, then a wonderful sea bass with potato soufle, semifreddo dessert. Back to the room by 10.Read more

  • Day4

    Our new friends on this tour

    September 10, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    Lynn was our tour guide. Originally from San Francisco, moved to Italy 30 years ago very sweet lady reminded me of Diann Sorenson .

    Marg & Glenn aka Giacomo Caputo, Trail, British Colombia
    Patricia & Barbara(Ted Turner's girlfriend) Newport Beach
    Pat, wild and crazy & Barb ,quiet reserved
    John& Martha, Kentucky
    Charles & Kathy , Boston
    Norm & , NYC
    Barry & Doris , NYC
    Valerie & Manuel, youngest couple of the trip , Portland
    Sonja, single traveler , San Francisco
    Manesha , anemia fainting spell, Baltimore
    Cora,always holding up the group, Florida
    Elena, Cora's daughter, Florida
    Steve & wife, latecomers from San Francisco
    Read more

  • Day4

    Flo to Montecatini via train Sept 10

    September 10, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    Woke up to rain....it had thundered and rained during the night and the streets were very wet. There were a couple of downpours while we where getting ready, had breakfast in the room, strong, strong coffee and croissants while the church bells were happily ringing every 15 minutes from the duomo. We walked to the corner cafe to eat one piece of turkey on a big dry roll and a small container of mixed fruit, not our best meal. The taxi picked us up at 11:32 am and arrived at the train station at 11:37 for 16E. I had forgotten how large the train station was, we found the platform, boarded the train and arrived in Montecatini around 1:00pm. We found a taxi driver outside the station to get us to the hotel Francia & Quirninale. The town was wet and quiet. Upon arrival we were showed a room that was stuffy and small so we upgrade to the 5th floor, balcony room. Time to eat again! The town was mostly closed for siesta so we ate at Cafe New York and had our usual - , Aperol and caprese on a bed of mixed greens. We have decided to decline bread in the future mostly because it is missing something like "flavor." Back to the room and rest until we meet the group at 6:45. We love our new room. We made our way downstairs, introduced ourselves, met Lynn our guide and off to dinner. There are 24 in the group in a 52 passenger bus. Yeah we get the back row. We sat at a table for six with Marg and Glenn an Italian from Canada ( He was complaining the his name was not very Italian so Cari name him Giacomo) and Patricia and Barbara from a Newport Beach. We had a wonderful group and I laughed till I cried. Dinner was fun! started with Tuscan Bean soup (garbanzo bean very tasty) and roastedveal with potatoes and gravy and baked Alaska. Off to a good start. Buono Notte!!Read more