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-   -   Due settimane in Italia! (http://www.playa.info/playa-del-carmen-forum/72264-due-settimane-italia.html)

Debbiec 06-05-2014 02:16 PM

Due settimane in Italia!
 
So last year my husband and I decided that for our mutual 60th birthdays this year :eek::oldman:- we would take a trip to Italy - and make it a long one, to see as much as possible. I started planning the itinerary about a year in advance - we were there from May 2- 17. I used the internet, friends, travel books - and planned it out as best I could. Turned out I did a good job :joker:
Disclaimer: I bought a new camera THE DAY BEFORE we left. Bad idea. I didn't really know how to use it right; the pics aren't as good as I know the camera can do. Some of these are with my iPhone and I swear they're as good or better *sigh*

We flew into Milan, overnight from Newark. Had requested an upgrade EIGHT MONTHS IN ADVANCE and didn't get it. Don't even get me started on United. At any rate, from the airport we rented our car for the trip, and drove up to Lake Como, our base for 2 nights. We stayed at the Albergo Terminus hotel in Como, the southern tip of the lake.

The car we drove around Italy for 2 weeks - a Fiat 500L. Pretty big for a car in Italy, as we found out.

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Some Lake Como pics:

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We settled into our hotel, napped a little, and walked around the town. Our hotel was right on the water, in the main Plaza of town. It was Saturday night, and Glenn went to mass in a beautiful little church while I sat at a cafe and had....well....a cocktail, of course....

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and I made a little friend, too!!
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Then we took the furnicular up the side of the mountain to an adorable restaurant aptly named Bella Vista, which had a beautiful view of the lake and the alps behind....too late for a picture, though :(. Delicious branzino, as seen from the before and after photos!!

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Debbiec 06-05-2014 03:42 PM

Day 2 - to Milan on the train!

A little cappuccino at the stations waiting for the train...

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Castello Sforzesco, where all the Visconti lords lived. Pretty cool, but there was a cheesy flea market going on inside in the courtyard...kind of ruined the mood.

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On to the Piazza del Duomo - the cathedral took 6 centuries to build. Again, there was some sort of crazy festival going on, and besides being so crowded this silly hot air baloon was in the plaza. The building is gorgeous, though....

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Sunday mass going on inside, so we couldn't get under the dome

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Across the street from the Piazza is a popular shopping area of Milan called the Galleria. It's absolutely stunning, filled with high end shops, and the artistry of the construction is amazing.

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beautiful floors

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We strolled a street known for cute boutique shopping....but it was Sunday, and they were all buttoned up. Via Spiga

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Debbiec 06-05-2014 03:58 PM

Back on the train to Como for dinner. We had cocktails on the terrace of the hotel and ate at a really great restaurant called Theoria. I had fish cakes of some local lake fish, they were wonderful. And of course, local italian wine. We never went wrong with the cheap local wines, the italians know what they're doing!!!

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View from our room in the hotel

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Hotel from across the piazza - one of those windows in the middle floor is our room

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Theorie

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Tomorrow, off to Venice!!

DONO 06-05-2014 04:20 PM

Very Nice!

Susie Q Roo 06-05-2014 05:58 PM

I think your pictures are glorious!!!

Debbiec 06-06-2014 10:46 AM

Thanks, Susie!!
So Monday morning, off to Venice. Some of our friends thought we were CRAZY to drive around Italy. "They're all crazy drivers!!", they said. We found... not at ALL. The Autostrada is very easy to understand....just stay in the middle lane unless you're a truck and going slow, or want to fly past everyone at about 150km. Everyone seems to abide by this rule, so it's quite simple. Now - rural roads are a whole other story, but more on that later.

The one regret I have on this trip is not staying in Lake Como for another day, to have time to take a cruise around the lake to see the villas from the water, and and stop at Bellaggio and Cernobbio. I had originally planned that, but my husband then informed me that there was NO way we were going to Italy and not going to the Ferrarri factory, so Lake Como lost out. Then he loved Como and now wants to go back there. Go figure.

Anyhow, when you drive to Venice, you have to park your car and get a boat to get to your hotel, since Venice is made up of 180 islands and there are no roads. So packing for this 2 night stay was a challenge, as if packing for a 2 week driving trip wasn't hard enough. We didn't really stay anywhere long enough to have laundry done, and it was expensive, to boot. So ladies, you can imagine.

On the way TO our hotel, we took a private water taxi, because I knew we'd never find it if we were just dropped off by the water bus near the hotel. I was right....we would have been totally lost. Good choice to spend the money, there.

Some scenes of our first afternoon in Venice:

Our hotel: Right on a canal. the room at the top with the little balcony with flowers is ours. Called AD Place, only 12 rooms, really nice.

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The Grand Canal at the end of our little canal. Here you can see the Vaporetto station (the water bus) and the gondolas waiting for peeps.

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A little church on the way to Piazza San Marco

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We decided to sit and have a cappuccino and a snack in the Piazza after the drive and transport to the hotel, and when you do this, in the Piazza, where there is music being paid, you will pay TOP DOLLAR!! I think we had 2 drinks and some finger sandwiches, then cappuccinos, and the bill was around 80 euros, YIKES!! Once in a lifetime thing, though....

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Yikes!! Gondola traffic jam!!

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crummy picture, sorry, like I said, I need to learn to use the camera, especially the lighting part. Dinner at this cute little restaurant on the canal near our hotel - in the near distance, the Grand Canal, again. I think I had my first gnocchi of the trip here....where I realized that I've never REALLY had gnocchi melt in my mouth like that....just fabulous.

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Debbiec 06-06-2014 11:23 AM

Second day in Venice - sight seeing. Piazza San Marco again where we visited the basilica and the Doge's Palace.
One thing I ABSOLUTELY did right in planning this trip was to get tickets on line before we went for everything possible. You pay maybe 2-4 euros extra, but when you zip past the hundreds of people waiting on line to buy tickets to get in everywhere, you know it's worth it.

Piazza San Marco. The basilica had a lot of work being done on the facade. And my photo must be tilted, because I do NOT remember the bell tower being tilted like this....

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The clock tower. this is REALLY cool. The figures on the top move ever so slightly around the bell each hour. And the time is displayed in roman numerals. It was 10:15am, as you can see.

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Inside the basilica, the "wall of gold", I think it was called. Depictions of apostles and saints in each "frame". It was amazing.

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the Doge's Palace - where Venice's rulers lived until Italy became unified. Incredibly opulent inside, and I couldn't take very many pictures because the walls and ceilings were covered in frescos. Honestly, in Italy you become almost immune to all the magnificent art. It's crazy.

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The coolest part of the Doge's Palace is the prison. You could feel the doom and gloom.

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The Bridge of Sighs connects the palace, where the prisoners were judged and condemned, to the prison itself across a canal. It was said you could hear the prisoners sigh as they were walked across and caught their last glimpse of the light of day through the bars...

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The view from inside the bridge: (into the sun, not a great pic)

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Afternoon was lunch, shopping, walk to the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal, stuff like that.

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The refurbished opera house
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Doorbells that caught my eye. Imagine, all the last names were italian!!

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Debbiec 06-06-2014 11:40 AM

Last night in Venice - evening gondola ride. Yeah, it's expensive (80 euros for 40 minutes, and that's with no singer) - but I mean, c'mon, it's Venice, you HAVE to do it.

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And away we go....

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past pretty windows

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shops - you can pull your boat up and go in!!

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Even a supermarket

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Into the Grand Canal - then back!!

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Thanks for the ride, Giovanni!!
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Tomorrow - to Maranello, for Ferrari factory tour!!

SharonD 06-06-2014 01:59 PM

Omgosh! Amazing, it's just totally amazing! Thanks for remembering me and letting me know you're doing your TR! I have some sad news, we are not going to be able to go, a couple of different hiccups that seemed to make it almost impossible to coordinate everyone's schedules. And yesterday I found out my elderly cat is in renal failure. She is a very unfriendly cat to everyone but my husband and me. There is no way anyone else could give her the meds and subq fluids she will need. Remember, I work for a vet and no one in the clinic can handle her! So, we will be home for the forseeable future, taking care of her. She loves me and has been my little feline companion for almost 18 years

I'm loving this report, what a beautiful place!

Rissask 06-06-2014 03:10 PM

Wow, wow....WOW.

I do believe this is going to be my very favourite trip report, ever. :clap:

Loving it so far. And I think your photos are great!

Quote:

One thing I ABSOLUTELY did right in planning this trip was to get tickets on line before we went for everything possible. You pay maybe 2-4 euros extra, but when you zip past the hundreds of people waiting on line to buy tickets to get in everywhere, you know it's worth it.
excellent tip! Keep them coming, we sooo wanted to go to Florence this fall but when you only have a week...sigh. :( We will get there some day though!

Debbiec 06-06-2014 03:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SharonD (Post 2052854)
Omgosh! Amazing, it's just totally amazing! Thanks for remembering me and letting me know you're doing your TR! I have some sad news, we are not going to be able to go, a couple of different hiccups that seemed to make it almost impossible to coordinate everyone's schedules. And yesterday I found out my elderly cat is in renal failure. She is a very unfriendly cat to everyone but my husband and me. There is no way anyone else could give her the meds and subq fluids she will need. Remember, I work for a vet and no one in the clinic can handle her! So, we will be home for the forseeable future, taking care of her. She loves me and has been my little feline companion for almost 18 years

I'm loving this report, what a beautiful place!

Well then, you can travel vicariously....through my trip report!! It's fun to relive it through doing this.....

Debbiec 06-06-2014 03:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rissask (Post 2052863)
Wow, wow....WOW.

I do believe this is going to be my very favourite trip report, ever. :clap:

Loving it so far. And I think your photos are great!



excellent tip! Keep them coming, we sooo wanted to go to Florence this fall but when you only have a week...sigh. :( We will get there some day though!

Glad you like it, Riss!! :D

Mnbruce 06-07-2014 12:10 AM

Love the photos!!

Debbiec 06-09-2014 08:30 AM

Modena and the Ferrari Factory
 
Between Venice and the Cinque Terre, we made a pit stop (:joker:) in Maranello, which is located in north central Italy near Modena and Bologna. No visit to Italy would be complete without seeing the Ferrari factory, according to my husband...so I indulged him. BTW, also in the area are Lamborghini and Maserati, but come on....enough is enough, we are in ITALY, for goodness sake!!

These are some pictures of the museum...the factory "tour" was a small bus ride through the grounds of the factory. You can't actually get IN the factory for a tour unless you OWN a Ferrari, and have made an appointment through your dealer and have documentation (like a registration) to prove you own one. GEEZ. But the ride around was cool, you could see things happening like painting assembling a few things, stuff like that.

And the SOUND....the whole TOWN sounds like zipping Ferraris, because the test track is right there, and they also drive the cars around the town itself to test them. They're shrink wrapped in white, it's pretty neat.

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They're not ALWAYS red...

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Brand new model: 4-seater, and AWD!! Nuts for a Ferrari

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All the Formula One winners

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Of course, the requisite Photo Booth shot

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It really was fun. The whole TOWN is red. The hotel where we stayed had a Ferrari in the lobby.

But next: Le Cinque Terre!!

Rissask 06-09-2014 09:56 AM

Ha- I love that shot of him in the car! He looks like he is in his glory there. You are a good wife. ;) :D


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