Showing posts with label italian adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label italian adventure. Show all posts


{Italy} Venice

Friends! My last post about my wonderful trip to Italy last fall will be about ...  the lovely Venice. If you're new around here and would like to catch up with my fabulous vacation, you can read all the posts here.

I have to preface this post with a couple things. First, I was pretty anti-Venice. I have no idea. I'd heard some negative things in the past and I just didn't really care if I ever went. The friend I was staying with practically shoved me on the train. Second, it rained the entire day I was there. And it was that heavy mist type of rain that is impossible NOT to be soaking wet when you're walking around in and never ceases to make me super cranky if I have to be out in (and also made my pictures sorta gloomy! ;). So, as you can imagine, I went into my day in Venice with an awesome attitude!

And you know what's crazy?? I LOVED, loved, loved Venice. Like, kicking myself that Chris and I didn't spend a few days there. I'm sitting here trying to find the right word to describe how I felt about Venice and all I can come up with is .... enchanted. Venice is enchanting. It felt like another world entirely - the architecture, the water, the boats, the history. I completely fell in love. And I didn't care that I was wandering around in the rain because I just wanted to explore every nook and cranny.

I started my day on a water taxi that took me on an amazing tour of the city. At the end of the route, before the ocean, is the palace and it was a great place to start. From there, I wandered back toward the train station - which took hours and I got lost more than once :).

Loved all the stripes! These guys were all over the place -- I'm sure they have a purpose, I just don't know what it is :).

I know, they're incredibly tourist-y, and I didn't go on one, but the gondolas were so cool! Much more fun to look at than the water-skiing type boats :).

Friends, thanks so much for following along on my Italian adventures. It's been so much fun for me to both capture and relive my vacation, and I appreciate you all coming along for the ride :)

Have you ever been to Venice? What was your experience? And, have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a vacation spot?


{Italy} Modena & Florence

Let's start today with the give away winner. First, I want to thank you ALL who entered. It was so fun to hear from so many people coming out of the proverbial "woodwork" and to hear your favorite Christmas songs. My random number generator, aka the Husband, picked #21 and that is my friend Laura from Markham Street Design! Laura's favorite Christmas song is "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." Laura, congrats and I'll email you :)

Friends, I still have more to tell you about Italy! Previously, we talked about the amazing Cinque Terre. I have this post and one more to share with you about our Italian vacation that happened back in October. If you'd like to read my previous Italy posts, you can find them here. The last week of my time there, I stayed with a friend and traveled solo to a few different cities. I've been spreading out my posts over the last couple months because, well, this isn't a travel blog :). So, I hope you'll hang in with me for another post -- probably after the new year!

My last week was based out of Modena, at a friend's apartment. I shared her amazing 300-year-old apartment here. She is a very good friend from college and we have one of those friendships where no matter how long it's been since you've seen each other, you pick up where you left off. We had a blast. Modena itself is NOT touristy and there is very little English spoken/written. So, you can imagine her reading me an entire pizza menu one night while we were ordering take out. In the restaurant :). Modena has an amazing daily farmers market, which I navigated by myself in order to make dinner one night. Trying to describe that I wanted to buy cabbage was .... interesting!

Chris was in Modena for an afternoon before he flew home. We had lunch with my friend and a huge group of her friends at a winery/vinegary. It was a beautiful location, beautiful meal and FIVE hours later, we were practically best friends with everyone in the group! :)

One of the day trips I took during the week was to Florence. Have you been? It's so amazing. I spent a weekend there about 10 years ago and I'd forgotten just how much I loved it. Luckily, last time I was there I hit all the tourist spots, so this time I just spent a few hours wandering, exploring neighborhoods and people watching. It was fabulous.
I did visit the Florence Duomo again this time. I just can't get over the intricacy and detail in the architecture. It's such a work of art. On the left is the duomo from the ground. On the right is the ground from the top of the dome. Yikes!

Can you spot the neighborhood watch dog?? He was vicious for something so little!

After wandering for a few hours, I was exhausted! And still had a couple hours before my train. So obviously I found a seat at a cafe at the base of the duomo, ordered the largest gin and tonic I could find, a snack and read and relaxed for awhile. It was a seriously awesome day.

Do you guys travel by yourself? I've never done an multi-day trip by myself, but I do love a good day trip every once in a while. How about you?


{inspired} Italian painted ceilings

So you know how painted ceilings are sort of a thing these days? I thought you guys would like to take a peak at how painted ceiling were done in homes 300 years ago. The last week I was in Italy, I stayed with a friend who lives in a beautiful 300-year-old building. The ceilings? Were Ah-maze-ing. Let's take a look.

Above is the entry way. From the front door, you walk into the pink/coral entry way area. The right is the ceiling detail. Gorgeous right? Oh, and on a side note, do you see the french doors that lead into the living room? There were a lot of amazing architectural details in this place too.

And here is the living room. Also? My friend is from Turkey and brought that amazing blue lamp back from an Istanbul market. I need one - it was beautiful :). The down side to the ceiling, although they're amazing, is that my friend was having a really hard time decorating around them because they are so bold. For example, she loves the blue light, but felt like it clashed with the ceiling. So while I was drooling over them, I do agree that they're a bit of a commitment!

Here is the design over the bedrooms. Please disregard the mess that was my bed :). I LOVED the yellow above this room. And, the high ceilings? Swoon!

I thought this was interesting. Because the ceilings are so old, they're protected by a historical code, so builders/remodelers can't hurt them. So instead of walls reaching to the ceiling, they separated a couple of bedrooms and a bathroom with these glass partitions. They are high enough that you can't look through them, and they preserve the ceiling and the view. Interesting!

So while they are incredibly bold, I would LOVE to design a room around them. I can just imagine making the ceiling the focal point and bringing other shapes and patterns to compliment them. Maybe I'll work up a mood board one of these days :).

Friends, on a completely different note, I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving! How do you celebrate? Dinner with family? Friends? We'll be joining my mom's side of the family for a huge dinner -- I'm super excited! Enjoy!!


{italy} Cinque Terre

Have any of you been to Cinque Terre? It is lovely. And, it kinda felt like camp. In the best possible way :). I'll explain.

Cinque Terre is made up of five (Cinque!) tiny towns dotting the eastern Italian coast. Each town is jammed built into a hillside, with pretty much one main street. Why does this matter? While you're there, you see the same people over and over again. You start to recognize people. And then befriend them. You even recognize people when you go to the next town over. It's a small world type of place, friends!

As in Tuscany, we didn't book hotels rooms for these couple nights either. We found a room in 5 minutes flat after exiting the train station, but everyone we talked to thought we were crazy, so I'm don't know if I recommend that. We arrived in Manarola close to 5 and immediately went to the waterfront for a drink. This was actually our anniversary! And, is one of the most fun and memorable nights of the entire trip.

See, we were sitting in this restaurant enjoying the sunset when we befriended another couple from the US and another couple from Australia. They'd met earlier in the day one town away. They were awesome! And, we ended up having dinner with them, which included splitting five bottles of wine, a bottle of lemoncello AND shots of grappa. Um, yeah. Guess what we learned at 7 a.m. the next day? Manarola has a wake up call! The town bell tower rings THIRTY times at 7 a.m. YAH! :)

The next day we traveled to a couple different towns and explored. Now, if you've heard of Cinque Terre, you know it's most famous for it's hiking trails between the towns. They were closed. But that didn't damper our experience in the least. We wandered, ate gelato, met a lovely couple from Colorado and a lovely couple from Atlanta, who it turns out we were staying right next door to on our second night (see, camp!), and had an amazing day.

All in all it was just .... chill. Which is a really great way to end a vacation. For Chris :).

Because it was hardly the end of my vacation! Next up I'll tell you a little about where I traveled on my own. And, I have a peek into a good friends 300 year old apartment. You'll be in awe.


{italy} under the tuscan sun

Don't worry, I'm running out of movie titles to name my posts after :). Shall we take a tour through Tuscany today? When we left off, we were wandering our way through Rome. The day after our packed-full of goodness day in Rome, we picked up a rental car and headed up to Tuscany. Have any of you ever driven in Rome? Oh goodness, I don't recommend it. At one point four lanes merged down to one and I thought I was going to die. I wish I'd taken a photo to show you, but I was too busy holding on for dear life :).

What I do recommend though, is having a car in Tuscany. We wanted to stay away from the bigger cities and stick to the smaller hill towns -- and most aren't easily accessible by train. A car was the best way to stay off the beaten path and we had an amazing time exploring.

Chris quickly learned that Jenn + back roads + an Italy guide book = adventure! I'm wanted to stop everywhere. We had no itinerary -- we didn't even have a hotel room for that night! So we just meandered north. Our first stop was for lunch in Orvieto, home of the beautiful stripey church! I'm sure the church has another name, but I just loved it's stripes :).

After Orvieto, we stopped at Civita di Bagnoregio,  a TINY, beautiful hill town. Does Chris look nervous? :) The foot bridge is the only way to access this cute little town and it was a little intense!

Technically, Civita is in Umbria, just south of Tuscany. Isn't the Umbrian countryside dramatic?

When we left Rome, our rough plan was to stop in Montepulciano for one night and then continue north. We completely lucked out though and found an AMAZING hotel room. The photo above? Our view from the room. We immediately booked a second night :).

Montepulciano is also a hill town and has these deep, deep wine cellars that are ancient and still used to produce wine. We toured a couple, and of course did our fare share of tasting as well. 

We also ventured out and explored a couple neighboring hill towns and a couple nearby wineries. Above is a photo of Montepulciano taken from a nearby winery. Where there's a chance we ate this as a picnic lunch:

Um, when in Rome, er, Italy? There were crackers too, oh, and wine. :)

When pressured to say what my favorite part of our trip was, these couple days are it. Montepulciano is a sleepy, un-touristy (at least when we were there) town, with great cafes, cute shops and of course, the aforementioned wine cellars. We had such a great time just wandering around and exploring. We saw and did a lot, but because of the pace of the town, it felt incredibly relaxing :). And, as you can see above, Chris made a friend! And, do you recognize the tower in the top left photo? Yeah, there's actually a scene in "Under the Tuscan Sun" filmed in front of that building.

Upon leaving Tuscany, we headed north and east for a completely different experience. Next up, we'll talk about the amazing Cinque Terre!


{Italy} A Roman Holiday

So friends, shall we talk about our recent adventures in Italy? I've finally made it through all 600+ photos and I can't wait to share our trip with you! For me, the trip was split into two parts -- one week traveling with Chris and one week staying with a good friend from college, who moved to Italy a few years ago. That's right, Chris had to leave after only seven days! :(. Just to give you a little overview, Chris and I spent two nights in Rome, two nights in Tuscany, two nights in Cinque Terre and one night in Modena, with my friend, before he left. I then stayed in Modena (it was SO NICE not to be moving hotels every couple days!) and took day trips to Florence, Verona, Venice and a couple other cute small towns.

As for sharing our trip with you, we began our trip in Rome, let's start there, yes? We actually flew into Milan and took a three hour train down to Rome, where we arrived late afternoon. Honestly, it was a crazy long day, but it worked out perfectly. We got settled in our hotel, ate dinner and went to bed early. It was super helpful for our jet lag, but we did have to cram a LOT into day two :).

We started our day at the Vatican. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but it was HUGE. And there were SO many people. But the museum and the artwork and the architecture were amazing. 

Of course, the Vatican led us directly to St. Peter's Basilica, which was our main goal of the entire venture. (Oh, and I know, it's free. It's a long and boring story why we went through the Vatican to get there. But if you're visiting Rome, shoot me an email, because in that case the why is worth knowing!). So, when I started college I was actually an art major. Even though I switched after a couple semesters, one of my favorite classes of all, and the one that by far made the biggest impact on me, was art history. I LOVED that class. And one of the statues we studied, and that I fell head over heals for, was Michaelangelo's Pieta.

Well, it lives at St. Peter's. I knew it would be even more amazing in person, but was still in complete awe. It's actually behind glass now -- there was a vandalism episode in the 70's -- and that was kind of a bummer, but even separated by glass it was beautiful and powerful and amazing.

After that we simply wandered. It's what we do best. We picked out a few things on the map that we'd like to see and we just wandered through various neighborhoods to get to those places, taking in the sights and sounds as we went along. We stopped where we felt like it, got off course if we saw something interesting and generally just had a lot of fun.
We spent a few minutes at the Trevi Fountain.

And, quite awhile at the Pantheon. Which is so, so cool. Oldest church in Rome, dating back to Caesar! 

And wow, you can completely see my gray hair in the photo above. Yikes!

We ended our day at a lovely little restaurant near the river. We didn't intend to go anywhere near the river, but an Irish woman we met earlier in the afternoon when we stopped to watch a street performer recommended this neighborhood for dinner. She was right. We sat outside a tiny restaurant along a super sweet little street and shared a beautiful Italian dinner. The next day we'd risk our lives to rent a car and drive out of Rome heading for Tuscany, but that evening was perfect.