Italy 2011

After leaving La Riserva di Castel d’Appio our next destination was Milan for three nights. In Milan the highlights were the Milan_Cathedral, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Basilica di S. Ambrogio.

While staying in Milan we also took a day trip to Bellagio to tour the beautiful Lake Como area.

From Milan we traveled to Garda, a very popular Italian tourist resort town located on Lake Garda, for two nights. The next morning we traveled into Verona to see Verona’s highlights including the Casa di Giulietta – (The House of Juliet as in Romeo and Juliet)

From Garda our next destination was Venice for two nights. Since we had a car and cars are not allowed inside Venice proper we stayed outside of town in Fell, Italy and caught a local bus the next morning to travel into Venice. We took a water taxi over to Murano Island to tour the Murano Glass Museum. After touring the museum we took the water taxi back to the Venice proper and walked around and road the water taxis to the Venice highlights.

From Venice our next destination was Florence. We spent six nights in a lovely hotel called Hotel David, currently the number one hotel in Florence according to the ratings of TripAdvisor customers in Florence. Hotel David was just outside the central area of Florence, but located very close to several bus route stops. There’s no metro in Florence, but their bus system works quite well. With a bus map in hand we were able to get to all the Florence highlights quite easily. We toured the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze to see Michelangelo’s magnificent marble statue of the biblical hero, David, the Uffizi Gallery to view Italian Renaissance art, featuring works by Botticelli, Titian, Michelangelo and da Vinci, etc, the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo, Piazza della Signoria, Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and lots more.

While in the area we also took a day trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa .

From Florence we traveled to Monte San Saveno for five nights to tour the lovely Tuscan countryside and visit several Tuscan wineries. We loved just driving through the beautiful Tuscan countryside stopping at some of the local wineries to sample their wines and tour their wineries. For lunch most days we’d find a local restaurant in one of the many villages we traveled through. Near our hotel we found a couple of restaurants, Ristorante Bar La Scuderia and Podere Pendolino, which could accommodate a gluten allergy and had very good food. In fact the food at Podere Pendolino was so good we had several meals there. They served a great gluten-free pizza and a mouth watering gluten-free Tiramasu.

As we traveled around the Tuscan countryside, we found we really liked the beautiful hills in the Montalcino area of Tuscany and favored the Montalcino area wines the most of the Tuscan area wine we sampled. We found many of the places Sue had seen in the movie, Letters to Juliet, including Caparzo Winery near Montalcino, which gave us a tour of their winery and  Relais Borgo Scopeto in the Chanti area of Tuscany.  One of our highlights of our visit to the Tuscan area was touring the Castello di Brolelo castle and winery in the Chanti area of Tuscany.

From Tuscany we traveled to Pontecagnano, Italy for three nights to see the Amalfi coast and the ruins of Pompeii.

After Pontecagnano we drove to Dream Suites, our hotel in Rome for the next six nights. Luckily it was on a Saturday when we made the trip and Joe had only a few minutes after we arrived in central Rome to make it back out of the non-resident no driving zone. We unloaded the luggage and then Joe drove to the Rome airport in Fiumicino to drop off the car we’d had for 31 days and took the train back to Rome. Our hotel was conveniently located two blocks away from a metro stop. Rome has many highlights and we spent the next five days hitting most of them.

High on our list to do while in Rome included touring the Vatican grounds, museum, St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

Another day in Rome including touring the Colosseum and the surrounding ancient grounds.