Italy

Well we have had a whirlwind few days here in Italy.  It’s been a lot of fun and good with a bit of frustration sprinkled in.  It’s definately harder to be spontaneous in Italy and we’ve found it difficult to find nice, affordable places to stay.  Minus our hotel in Florence, which was a bit of a dump, we have managed to stumble upon some nice places.  We are now in Genova for the next two nights.  The hotel is beautiful – we’ll see about the city.  It’s a little too bustling for my taste, but we’re going to give it a try tonight.  We may head over to San Margharita for the day tomorrow to enjoy the beach and the beauty.

Here are a few pics.  We have definately seen all of the beauty of Italy.  One observation – Italy is truly a beautiful country, but it’s been tainted and marred by a lot of grit and grime as well.  We’ve found that you have to be willing to either drive through the ugly to get to the beautiful or else drive a long way out of your way to see the beautiful alone. 

Places we’ve visited are:

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Northern Italy.  The drive from the mountains of Austria into Northern Italy was nothing short of spectacular.  We were sad to see that part of the trip end and, knowing what we know now, we probably would have spent one more day in Austria…

San Gimignano was one of our favorite places in Tuscany.  We made it from Hallstatt to S. Gimignano in one long day of driving.  We took back roads through the mountains and through the Tuscan Hills which made it longer but much more fun and scenic.  Our Agriturismo in S. Gimignano was my favorite place.  It overlooked the city and was just a beautiful place to stay.

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Tuscany is absolutely gorgeous.  The hills are so green and it’s just such a fun place to drive and explore.  Of course, driving in Italy has been a fun experience.  If you see Lee, ask him about driving the streets of Florence.  Let’s just say God’s mercies were upon us!

After S. Gimignano we headed to Sienna.  We LOVED it!  We totally regret not spending the night there instead of heading over to Montepulciano, which was a beautiful city, but very boring.  Anyway, here are a few pics:

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The Tuscan Hills.  So beautiful. This was at a winery where we did an impromptu wine tasting.  Now we have to figure out how to get the three bottles of wine we bought back home...

The Tuscan Hills. So beautiful. This was at a winery where we did an impromptu wine tasting. Now we have to figure out how to get the three bottles of wine we bought back home...

The sun setting over the hills from Montepulciano.

The sun setting over the hills from Montepulciano.

From Montepulciano we headed to Florence.  This was our stressful day.  We couldn’t find a hotel we liked got totally stressed and finally paid too much for a hotel we really didn’t like.  Despite the crazy of the morning, however, we got into the city by 3:00 and stayed until midnight.  It was amazing to watch the sun set over the Duomo knowing that for centuries that building has graced the horizen.  I was fascinated by the history in Florence.  It’s so beautiful, but again, I find it sad that the history is buried between so much nonsense and commercialization.  It’s unfortunate.

The only thing we made it a point to see in Florence was the statue of The David.  Neither of us are huge art lovers and while it would have been nice to see some of the great masterpieces, we didn’t care to wait hours in line.  So we kept it simple. 

There’s no other way to put it, other than to say seeing that statue of The David was awe inspiring.  Knowing it was carved out of a single piece of marble by one of the greatest sculptors in all of history 506 years ago makes it jaw dropping.  But when you see the statue up close and see the precision and detail that went into it, it takes your breath away.  I’m really glad we took the time to visit the museum, and I’m glad we persevered and stayed in Florence – we ended up having a great time.

I hope you appreciate this picture because I totally broke the rules by taking it.

I hope you appreciate this picture because I totally broke the rules by taking it. Yes, I know he's naked...

The painting inside the Duomo was fascinating.  There was so much thought, depth, spiritualism and talent that went into creating these masterpieces.

The painting inside the Duomo was fascinating. There was so much thought, depth, spiritualism and talent that went into creating these masterpieces.

The sun setting over Florence from the Piazzale Michaelangelo

The sun setting over Florence from the Piazzale Michaelangelo

Gettin' a kiss from my favorite guy as we onerlook the city. I do eventually plan to crop out the poor girl's legs behind us.

Gettin' a kiss from my favorite guy as we onerlook the city. I do eventually plan to crop out the poor girl's legs behind us.

We spoke to a couple of local girls at a restaurant earlier in the afternoon and asked them to tell us a good hot spot for after dark.  They directed us to a very swanky cliff top restaurant called Flo where we enjoyed an all you can eat buffet, excellent wine and views of the entire city.  It was us and all the Italians…and we were under dressed.  Stupid Americans…

This morning we got up and took our time driving through Pisa where we dashed to the Leaning Tower, took a picture to prove we were there, then hit the road again.  We stopped Lerici for lunch – a beautiful spot right on the water, then drove down through Portofino to Genova where we actually reserved a hotel room for the next two nights.  The hotel is very nice and relaxing.  I’m not sure we’re going to love Genova, though.  It’s kind of crazy.  So we may drive up the coast a bit further to spend the day tomorrow.  Today is Lee’s birthday so I’m letting him take an afternoon nap then we’ll head out for a late dinner, hopefully with a view!

Pardon the dreadful sunglasses. Mine borke after we arrived and these were the only ones I could afford without paying too much.  Yikes...

Pisa - We came, we saw, we conquered. Pardon the dreadful sunglasses. Mine broke after we arrived and these were the only ones I could afford without paying too much. Yikes...

We've seen all there is to see on this trip - Mountains, Countryside, City and Beach. Yeah!!

We've seen all there is to see on this trip - Mountains, Countryside, City and Beach. Yeah!!

The view of Lerici from our lunch table.  Not too shabby.

The view of Lerici from our lunch table. Not too shabby.

So here’s to hoping we have fun in Genova tomorrow and can enjoy the next couple of days before heading home.  We’re having fun and have loved our time, but we’re looking forward to seeing our kiddos in a few days!  Ciao!

Comments

  1. amazing pictures! glad you’re having fun.

    happy birthday, lee!

  2. Here is how to bring the wine in! Wrap each bottle in a pair of jeans- works great! You can each bring in two bottles- and other stuff as well, just NO MEATS or fresh fruits/veg- they are heavy, so check the weight! we have had no trouble at all and no broken bottles, but if you have a bag, wrap it in that first! Love the pictures- and appreciate the driving comments- it is a challenge in firenze! Ciao! Jen

  3. AHH! So exciting! Everything is beautiful but from your pictures I’d have to say that I’m voting for a visit to Austria over Italy! I’m impressed over your brave sense of adventure! I wish we could be there to hear your stories and laugh with you! Maybe in say, eh, 6 months? He he he he! kiss, kiss!
    Tiff

  4. Oh Yeay! Love your photos. (We had a tour guide who was American in San Gimignano who was super sweet and gave us a great personal tour. I’d forgotten about her until now.)

    How romantic. That last photo of you on steps. (Are those the Spanish steps?) Is my favorite of you. Just captures your personality. You look gorgeous.

  5. Nicole H. says:

    Kelli, looks like you’re having an amazing trip! Your pictures bring back many special memories for me! They’re just beautiful. I stayed a couple of days in Genova and it is bustling, but I just couldn’t help but think of Christopher Columbus. That someone from what was a much smaller town would end up on such important voyages. Spent part of an evening along the water in awe. What a wonderful adventure you’re having!! And happy birthday, Lee!

  6. Everything is so gorgeous! Thanks for taking time to blog and let us live vicariously through you…and for taking that illegal picture of The David. Stunning!

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