Italy

Espresso breaks, crazy drivers, and green rolling hills.

Bringing Dakota across the Tyrrhenian Sea from Spain to Italy was bittersweet. We loved Spain and had scheduled just two weeks to visit our favorite parts of Italy before taking Dakota to the dock in Genova  for her journey back home.   We started this journey 5 months ago thinking we would have enough time to visit everywhere we wanted.  As this quest comes to an end, we now realize how wrong we were.

Smooth sailing on the way to Italy.

Smooth sailing on the way to Italy.

Umbrian Countryside

The countryside of Italy is stunning. After driving through fierce wind and tormenting rain, attempting to understand directions in Italian, and taking a dirt road (because the main road was closed due to downed trees) we finally made it to our first stop, Orvieto. Our camp was at the base of the walled city, right next to the funicular that would take us up the hill.  As we walked around town the next morning, we noted the striped black and white stonework of Orvieto’s Duomo.  Even though we have visited many churches, we are always in awe of the craftsman ship of the mosaics, stained glass, carvings, and paintings.

We shopped a little in this historic town.  Maria, at Arte del Cuoio, made purses right on site.  We ordered a couple for gifts and watched as Maria expertly cut the leather with a blade and then began crafting our purses.

After ordering a purse, Maria immediately began crafting the leather that would soon take shape as our bag.

After ordering a purse, Maria immediately began crafting the leather that would soon take shape as our bag.

Assisi – home of Saint Frances

 

P1250587

Beautiful Italian hill towns

The Umbrian countryside rivals the the beauty of the Tuscan Hills. Here we saw rich farms and vineyards with grapes, oranges, lemons, olives and even chestnut trees.

We attempted to ride our bikes to Assisi through the spectacular countryside, but didn’t quite make it.  Our path was blocked and we had to turn back.  We returned to camp and resorted to the taking the bus. It was a nice bike ride though, in fact, probably the most scenic of our trip.

P1250509

Jeanette leading the way.

I think were lost!

I think we’re lost!

A selfie to show off my new haircut (and the Basilica of  Saint Francis)

A selfie to show off my new haircut (and the Basilica of Saint Francis).

 

The Basilica of St. Francis
This basilica had many relics from St. Francis, including his tunic, some of his writings signed with his signature tau cross (last letter in Hebrew alphabet and symbolizes being faithful to the end), the chalice and plate he used for the Eucharist, and his simple knotted rope tie that are used as a reminder of a monk’s vows.

Who could argue with the message of St. Francis?  He treated each creature, whether prince or pauper, or even animal equally, with respect.  His message of living simply, and taking care of the environment is just as important today as it was in the 11th century.

P1250582

The actual tunics of St. Francis and St. Claire.

We enjoyed just wandering and finding our peace away from the crowds.

So many stairs in hill towns/

So many stairs in hill towns.

Wondering the streets of Tuscan hill towns.

Wondering the streets of Tuscan hill towns.

We met Raul that owned a small farm just a few miles from Montepulciano.  He ran a campground while growing grapes and olives.  Here he brought us a liter of his wine.

We met Raul who owned a small farm just a few miles from Montepulciano. He ran a campground while growing grapes and olives. Here he brought us a liter wine made from his grapes..

 

Pisa and Lucca

Pisa –  like the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is worth the visit.  It is much more impressive in person than in pictures.  It actually leans 15 feet to the south and it appears ready to tumble at any time.  We rode our bikes to town (no hills here), and walked through the impressive Duomo.

Goo thing we weren't here during the busy season.

Good thing we weren’t here during the busy season.

P1250816

The amazing Giovanni Pisano pulpit is a highlight of the Duomo with 400 intricately carved marble figures.

 

The town of Pisa is so much more than its famous tower.  We biked through the town (finding the best ice cream of our entire trip), over the bridge crossing the Arno River, and through Pisa’s historic squares.

A bike trip along the Arno river.

A bike trip along the Arno river.

The walled city of Lucca, even without any famous sights, is still one of our favorite places.  We enjoyed biking atop the Renaissance wall while enjoying the views of the town below with its many gardens,  walking to town at nightfall in the rain (and walking back in harder rainfall ), and browsing the back streets of the town by day. This is the perfect place to just linger, relax and enjoy great company and wonderful food.

Old walled city of Lucca.

Old walled city of Lucca.

Castle roof top garden?

Castle roof top garden?

Jeanette, the camp site gourmet.

Jeanette, the camp site gourmet.

 

Siena

This Tuscany hill town seems to be everyone’s favorite destination with good reason. Lounging at a cafe in the main square, IL Campo, watching all types of people relaxing and enjoying the day,  we were hard pressed to find any fault with this mostly traffic-free historic town.
Fun-fact:). The color Burnt Siena is named for the color of the soil in Siena.

IL Campo, the town square is the home to the famous Palio horse races.  It’s hard to imagine the horses and the crowds when we see people just plopping down on the bricks, and chillin’.

IL Campo night life, Siena

IL Campo night life, Siena

We enjoyed the green and white striped Duomo and the museum in Siena. The Duomo contains incredible artwork, Including beautiful mosaic floors and statues by Michelangelo and sculptures by Bernini.

Siena Dumeo

Siena Duomo

Amazing architecture

Amazing architecture

The inside of the Siena Deumo is more like a museum.

The inside of the Siena Duomo more like a museum.

Ruffugio, Santa Margarita, and Portofino – the Italian Rivierra.

About an half hour from Portofino, also know as the land of the rich and famous, is Santa Margarita, a beautiful, gleaming harbor-front town that offered us fabulous restaurants, restful strolls and relaxing beach life, as well as top-notch shopping if the spirit had moved us (never with Steve).

Portofino -the jewelry shops, the haute couture, and numerous boutiquesand beautiful views are exactly why people come here.  We came too, but didn’t stay long, instead we just rolled in on the bus and out again –   We did enjoy the views of the pristine waters and interesting architecture as we walked between the towns.

The Italian Riveria

The Italian Riviera

One of the many beaches of the area

One of the many fancy beaches of the area.  The water is a beautiful blue-green.

Off to Gevona, time to get ready for the trip home.

Off to Genova, time to get ready for Dakota’s  trip home, and our flight to the Azores.

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Italy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s