Thursday, February 19, 2015

Italy: A recap or our Italy Holiday/Vacation 2014

 Before I start our Italian Family vacation recap I would  like to say this blog post is in memory of my sister -in-law Angela who 5 months after this photo was taken lost her life to cancer.   We miss her and feel so blessed to have traveled with her and her husband.  We have so many wonderful memories of her and our time spent doing what she had hoped and prayed to be able to do.  

 Angela lived every minute of life with love, grace, and gratitude.

                                         This is the way we will remember her.

Angela loved the warmth of the sun, sand between her toes and the ocean. She's smiling and looking down at us in happiness.

               ** The meaning of Ciao is an acknowledgment that can be used to say hello or goodbye        

Come with me on a day by day explanation of our Italy Land Tour.
Departed US on Thursday Sept 18 PM and Sept. 19 Arrived at the Milan Airport and were met by a driver who transported us and another couple by car to Lecco

Lecco is in the Lombardy Region which is in the Northern Part of Italy known more universally as the Lake Como Area.



 We checked into the NH Pontevecchio Hotel-Lecco and met our tour guide Sara.
After a brief visit with Sara we walked through the city and had coffee and took in some sights.
That evening we had a meeting with all 45 people who would be on our tour and had dinner with all at the hotel.


Saturday, Sept. 20 Lake Como
Traveled by luxury coach to the Lake Como Area and visited Villa Carlotta.

Angela and Joe
Following our visit at the Villa we took a Lake Cruise and then journeyed to the beautiful village of Bellagio.

Angela was craving prosciutto and she managed to eat it all with quite a bit of enthusiasm I'd say! :)

We walked to the top of the village to taken in a beautiful sunset and gorgeous panoramic views.

  Breathtaking to say the least.  The walk was all up hill all the time and difficult but we did it.
After our visit to the village we found our way back for our group meal at a hotel restaurant in Bellagio arranged by the tour company.

We then returned to our hotel in Lecco, but witnessed many close shaves by the large bus on some very narrow roads with heavy auto traffic.

Sunday, Sept. 21  After a full breakfast, we boarded the luxury coach for our trip to Venice.  In route to Venice we made a stop at Verona for some sight seeing in that quaint town.
It was between 66 to 75 degrees

We enjoyed a guided sightseeing tour by bus followed by a walking tour with local expert guide. The walking tour included a view of the balcony made famous by Romeo and Juliette.
The crowds were very deep in the area of the balcony.
Joe and I had the best gnocchi at a local outdoor restaurant.


We boarded the luxury coach in route to Venice.

Arrived in Venice in the late afternoon and went directly to the pier by bus.  The bus was loaded onto a  Ferry and we were transported to Lido Island and checked into the Venezia 2000 Hotel.
That evening we had a group dinner as arranged by the tour company.
Monday Sept. 22 Discover Venezia



We cruised across the lagoon to St. Mark’s area in a private water taxi.

Guided walking tour featuring the famous Bridge of the Sighs, Dogi’s Palace, St. Mark’s Square and Basilica and the Venice Theater.

St. Mark's Square
Traditional Glass Blowing Tour Murano Glass and Leonardo Leather
Gondola Ride for those who so desired.
Gnocchi and Pizza for lunch at at sidewalk café.
Extensive walking throughout Venice on our own following the guided walking tour.

Purchase of necklace at Murano glassworks and leather wallet at Leonardo Leather.

Coffee and Gelato in St. Mark’s Square while being entertained by live music at the Florian.
Return to Lido by private water-taxi and bus ride to hotel.
That evening there was a very large hailstorm which confined us to the hotel for dinner. It really shocked us.  The thunder, lighting and hailstones no lie were the size of oranges.  Darn I didn't get a picture! 
Tuesday, Sept 23 Departed Venice by luxury coach in route to Florence and stopping in Bologna in route.
70 to 80 degrees
Bologna was a very nice area with a great deal to see. I actually enjoyed the walk in Bologna and browsing.  Peaceful and lots of tourists but we were in no hurry so it was an added stop we did not expect.

We had a great lunch at an upscale eatery named Diana.

After our stop in Bologna we boarded the luxury coach to complete our trip to Florence.
In Florence, we checked into the Palazzo Ricasoli Hotel-Firenze-Florence.
That evening we enjoyed a group dinner arranged by the tour company at a local restaurant.
Wednesday, Sept 24
We had an extensive walking tour of Florence Cathedrals and Museums followed by some free time to explore.

Thursday, Sept 25 We took a tour of Siena and San Gimignano which was an add on which included a stop at a winery in route back to our hotel.


Plenty of wine and appetizers
In Siena

Friday, Sept 26 We departed Florence in route to Assisi and made a stop at a church built within a church before ascending to Assisi.  In Assisi we checked into the
La Terrazza Hotel-Assisi.

 We enjoyed a guided tour of Assisi and had a great polenta and sausage lunch followed by the best gelato ever at a gelateria.



Saturday, September 26, We departed our hotel by private car with driver to visit Al's family in Cantiano and the birthplace of Joyce’s grandfather in Frontone.

It was spectacular beyond words.  Many pictures were taken to capture the wonderful moments.

That evening the group dined at the above restaurant(this woman and two others made pasta for all 45 of us in 3 hours using 30 dozen of eggs and I forget how much flour.  The tour guide called it the restaurant from nowhere. Yes that is what they called it.

Assisi birthplace of St. Francis

We strolled in the village and had lunch
Visit of the Upper and Lower Basilica of St. Francis and Giotto’s frescoes in the company of a Franciscan Friar

Sept. 27
Frontone and Cantiano day to see Serafini and Vispi Family  Dinner with Vispi’s at their restaurant.
Evening the Restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

Sept. 28
  54 to 78 degrees
Pompeii 79 AD
Guided tour of the excavations site.
stayed overnight but didn’t get much of a chance to see the sights.  Did buy Sabra (Sara)a necklace there for her kindness and hard work getting our family trip to fit into the tour.

Check in Majestic Hotel.  Few hours to check sights but not enough time to enjoy Sorrento
Sept. 29  Monday Temperature 66 to 84 degrees
Isle of Capri
Sept. 30


 “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

Angela and Joe enjoyed the water taxi at Lake Como!
Oct. 1 Home to Pittsburgh

Oct. 2 back to reality and Pittsburgh, Pa.
NH Pontevecchio Hotel-Lecco
Venezia 2000 Hotel
Palazzo Ricasoli Hotel-Firenze-Florence
La Terrazza Hotel-Assisi
Majestic Palace Hotel-Sant’Agnello
President Hotel-Roma
Temperature varied from 66 in a.m to 88 late afternoon.  It really depended on location.  A light jacket was a good idea.
Basilica of St. Mary
Florence Tuscany
Sant’Agnello & Scanfati

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